And this is my epic…

And this is my epic…

Listening time: under 4 minutes.A marvelous account of a butcher bursting in to Lawrence Durrell’s office during the short period after the war when the Brits managed Rhodes.  At one point the temporary administration decided to issue a new proclamation on...
Pah to the Iliad

Pah to the Iliad

Tom dismisses one of the world’s greatest epics, a 3,000 year old classic of war, on the grounds that its heroes cannot be verified and nor did they even use cannon. Pitiful. Unlike the Duke of Wellington, alive and well in Tom’s time and in full...
All the details of the tree

All the details of the tree

A fine injunction to a writer, first to face truth and then to give unhidden all the details. Neither is easy.’Face truth, wrapped in a puzzle. …You’ll tellYour tale in writing?  Make sure that you giveUnhidden, all the details of the tree.’...
Scum-skinned tide

Scum-skinned tide

Something alarmingly contemporary about this polluted surface in Dante’s Inferno, especially when he discerns, through the miasma, dead souls fleeing.”Now train your gaze across that scum-skinned tide,”He said to me as he set my eyes free,”To...
Beware rash judgement

Beware rash judgement

Dante is cautioned to beware those who pass speedy judgement – ‘Anyone and his wife’ who think in witnessing a deed they can securely make assumptions about its karmic consequences.’So we should be strict towardsAll people when they judge at...
Yours to win, not lose

Yours to win, not lose

These racing monosyllables have the pace and certainty of one who runs, and lives, as if he can only win. I have a certain admiration for such bounding assurance.’But this one ran as if the race were hisTo win, not lose.  As his life was, and is.”… e...
Of sisters dissimilar

Of sisters dissimilar

Dante meets the two sisters in Purgatory, and Leah describes, with Dantesque pithiness, the difference between them.For other quotations concerning rather more similar sisters, see Jane Eyre, or a few examples of sister-shared insanity in Mervyn Peake’s...
A poet’s prayer

A poet’s prayer

In fact, a prayer for any writer. Having just read John Drury’s marvelous appreciation of George Herbert’s life and his vivifying skills of poetry, I am more conscious than usual of the need for such fortifying.  Drury’s Music at Midnight is, among...
Slow words emerging

Slow words emerging

A halting mode of speech, the words slow-emerging, like the tearing of pages from a long-closed book. That is how Dante’s translator presents us with the first encounter with Virgil, who would be his guide through much of his journey.’His words emerged: as...
All-encompassing flow

All-encompassing flow

The cadence of this metaphor has the abundance and freshness of clear, flowing water. It likens Virgil, whom Dante views as the poet who taught him how to write, to multiple sources of inspiration: spring, well, fountain and river.This liquid idea cascades naturally...
The urge of bees

The urge of bees

A charming way to convey the genesis of ideas or desires, likening them to the urge of bees to make honey. They are already buzzing about our garden, prodding nooks and crannies for suitable nests.’It follows that the human intellectCan’t have the first...
The sin of fence-sitting

The sin of fence-sitting

Clearly, sitting on the fence, hedging your bets, watching which way the wind blows, is a sin which leads to hell and a suitably inverted punishment.For having never run in one direction or another in your life (‘never-living sprinters’), you are condemned...
Frayed by sin

Frayed by sin

A surprising one, this, as sin is often presented, nowadays, as socially acceptable, even desirable ‘vice’ – something naughty-but-nice, essentially pleasurable and barely tainted by guilt (or is guilt the only sin left?)Dante suggests instead that...

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