I’ve said before, I think, how utterly fascinated I am with the way each era, since the late 17th Century, has tried to mould a Shakespeare of its own. Rewriting his works to make them merrier, or more classical, or less earthy, but also refashioning again and again what (comparatively) little we know of him into one or other ideal portrait – from John Aubrey’s merry poacher to W.H. Ireland’s perfect gentleman… Continue reading
I love Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great – and by that I mean the first of the two parts. It may be rougher around the edges than his later work, but it’s breathlessly fiery. With his blank iambic pentameter, with the historical subject-matter, and his unpunished bloodthirsty hero, the boy (all of twenty-three at the time) was breaking ground in many ways – and knew it well. Continue reading
I’m in the mood for poetry today – so why not some Emily Dickinson? Emily is one of a surprising number of poets in my literary pantheon… and I call it surprising because I don’t write poetry, unless it is by accident. Then again, I read it, and I’ve always wished I knew how apply to prose the compact effectiveness of it… Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now – and I mean quite some time. Last Spring, as I adapted Puck of Pook’s Hill for the stage and chose Rackham illustrations to make into scenery, and later, as I rehearsed the thing with my cherry-picked cast, and then as our Monday drew close – and later again, when all was done and gone well… Only, there was always something else to post about, or perhaps it was too soon, or… you know how it goes.
But at last, here we go. Continue reading
I cannot say I’ve been waiting for the summer to end… I’m lucky in that heat doesn’t bother me overmuch. Still, I like Autumn when it comes: September, October, the sweetness of the golden light, the first chills, the turning leaves… And, perhaps most of all, the fires. The scent of smoke, the flames seen from afar, glittering in the twilight… Continue reading
I first came across Tom o’Bedlam via Kipling – in Stalky & Co., when Beetle (or was it M’Turk?) copies in his notebook the eerie and fantastical last verse:
With a host of furious fancies
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wide world’s end:
Methinks it is no journey.
Rant ahead, I warn you. A mild rant – but still.
So I took this MOOC – let’s name no names – about poetry. I don’t write poetry, but I greatly admire the skill of compressing meaning into a limited amount of words, structured and highly shimmering. I’ve always yearned to achieve at least a little of that focused effectiveness… And last year, in the spirit of “you won’t know until you try in earnest”, I’ve decided to stop yearning, and try instead. So I took a MOOC – and liked it a good deal. I’m not saying that I wrote good poetry, mind – but exploring the mechanism was absolutely fascinating. Continue reading
I think it’s safe to assume that we’ve all begged for one more minute as children: one more minute of play before bedtime, before going to do our homework, before being given an injection… As though that “one more minute” might somehow change things…
As we grow up, it takes small, everyday forms – such as the “snooze” button of the alarm clock, or lingering a little over a coffee break before that unpleasant meeting, or procrastination in general. Or else, in really bad moments, we revert to that kind of panicked, irrational craving for “one more minute”, just to stave off the bad things a little longer, to keep them away – no matter how little – to not have them happen just yet. Continue reading