Take a lucky dip in this refreshing pool of posts, randomly selected like literary Russian roulette (but more fun and much safer). Or filter by category to take a deeper dive into specific themes.  Enjoy!

Of wood and winter

Filling up the reservoirs with summer warmth, to keep the 'blood-sullen winter' at bay.  But a 'frost-stiffened wood' can be crunchingly beautiful too.

Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf (London: Faber &...

Roucouler

The second syllable has the clue, here is how to bill and coo...

This soft word can mean to whisper sweet nothings, or if you're less sentimental, you can use...

Non-negotiable

The 17th century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi names her price and sticks to it, in a letter to her patron. Incidentally slipping in some slurs on her Neapolitan counterparts.

Elsewhere...

This is my life

This statement of arrow-straight simplicity could serve as an occasional sanity check. If it rings true, we’re on track. If it causes a flinch or a wince, we probably aren’t living as we could or would...

Flute-like whistle

Williamson uses - and invents - a number of words to convey the sounds of otters.  Whistling can be in affection or playfulness or fear, grief or warning.  Other sounds...

A heart-pounding meeting

A charming first hand account of meeting the great Goethe, by the young German poet Friedrich Hölderlin, awe-struck but also reassured by the simplicity of his hero.  It made me...

Fate-spinning crones

Elsewhere Leigh Fermor talks of 'black-coiffed crones'.  Here they are 'fate-spinning', giving a terrifying and timeless aspect to them, reinforced by their sitting beneath 'the snarl of the slogan'.  'Crone'...

Appreciation is a better mode for the understanding of achievement than are all the analytical kinds of accounting for the emergence of exceptional individuals.  Appreciation may judge, but always with gratitude, and frequently with awe and wonder.  

By ‘appreciation’ I mean something more than ‘adequate esteem’.  Need also enters into it, in the particular sense of turning to the genius of others in order to redress a lack in oneself, or finding in genius a stimulus to one’s own powers, whatever these may emerge as being.

Source: Harold Bloom, Genius (London: Fourth Estate, 2002), p. 5

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