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
This is not the post I had in mind for today – but we’re having a true snowfall for the fist time in… oh, I don’t know: years, I rather believe.
It started last night, just as I drove home – which was, if you ask me, absolutely perfect, as far as sentimental fallacy goes – and it’s been snowing through the whole night, and still snowing cats and dogs. Past beautiful, that’s what it is. Continue reading
No, it isn’t snowing here. I wish… Well, perhaps not right now, tonight being “my” Canterville Ghost’s second first night* – but still.
Not that I have many hopes, actually: it never snows in my corner of the world. It used to, but it almost never does it anymore… I did catch a rather epic snowfall in Bologna a few weeks ago – but right here? It hasn’t happened in years, much less in December – when, by rights, tradition and sentimental fallacy, it should snow cats and dogs. Continue reading
So, the last day of November… Time for reviews, isn’t it?
Let’s begin with my not-quite-NaNoWriMo. I meant to work on my new on spec play – the one without even a working title – and so I did: the other night I finished the first draft, with a couple of days to spare. It is a very first-drafty first draft, and will require a lot of work still, of course – but there it is, and not too horrible. I think I can count it as done.
But that’s not all. Considering how December is a month for sporadic writing at best, I might as well take stock of my writing year in general. Let’s see… Continue reading
It would have been Seamus Heaney’s birthday, today… So I thought I’d remember him with one of Ross Wilson’s sketched portraits and a poem – one of those miracles of thought, light, questions, wonder, and images so vivid you can taste them on your tongue. Continue reading
Oh, let’s have some poetry, today – poetry and theatre. Kit Marlowe’s Duc de Guise, painting the full colours of his restless ambition, proudly boasting his cleverness and strength – and, most of all, chomping at the bit:
Now Guise, begin those deepe ingendred thoughts
To burst abroad, those never dying flames,
Which cannot be extinguisht but by bloud.
Oft have I leveld, and at last have learnd,
That perill is the cheefest way to happines,
And resolution honors fairest aime.
What glory is there in a common good,
That hanges for every peasant to atchive?
That like I best that flyes beyond my reach.
Set me to scale the high Peramides,
And thereon set the Diadem of Fraunce,
Ile either rend it with my nayles to naught,
Or mount the top with my aspiring winges,
Although my downfall be the deepest hell.
For this, I wake, when others think I sleepe,
For this, I waite, that scorn attendance else:
For this, my quenchles thirst whereon I builde,
Hath often pleaded kindred to the King.
For this, this head, this heart, this hand and sworde,
Contrive, imagine and fully execute
Matters of importe, aimed at by many,
Yet understoode by none.
For this, hath heaven engendred me of earth,
For this, the earth sustaines my bodies weight,
And with this wait Ile counterpoise a Crowne,
Or with seditions weary all the worlde:
For this, from Spaine the stately Catholic
Sends Indian golde to coyne me French ecues:
For this have I a largesse from the Pope,
A pension and a dispensation too:
And by that priviledge to worke upon,
My policye hath framde religion.
Religion: O Diabole.
Fye, I am ashamde, how ever that I seeme,
To think a word of such a simple sound,
Of so great matter should be made the ground.
The gentle King whose pleasure uncontrolde,
Weakneth his body, and will waste his Realme,
If I repaire not what he ruinates:
Him as a childe I dayly winne with words,
So that for proofe, he barely beares the name:
I execute, and he sustaines the blame.
The Mother Queene workes wonders for my sake,
And in my love entombes the hope of Fraunce:
Rifling the bowels of her treasurie,
To supply my wants and necessitie.
Paris hath full five hundred Colledges,
As Monestaries, Priories, Abbyes and halles,
Wherein are thirtie thousand able men,
Besides a thousand sturdy student Catholicks,
And more: of my knowledge in one cloyster keep,
Five hundred fatte Franciscan Fryers and priestes.
All this and more, if more may be comprisde,
To bring the will of our desires to end.
Since thou hast all the Cardes within thy hands
To shuffle or to cut, take this as surest thing:
That right or wrong, thou deal’st thy selfe a King.
I but, Navarre. Tis but a nook of France.
Sufficient yet for such a pettie King:
That with a rablement of his hereticks,
Blindes Europs eyes and troubleth our estate:
Him will we–
(Pointing to his Sworde.)
But first lets follow those in France.
That hinder our possession to the crowne:
As Caesar to his souldiers, so say I:
Those that hate me, will I learn to loath.
Give me a look, that when I bend the browes,
Pale death may walke in furrowes of my face:
A hand, that with a graspe may gripe the world,
An eare, to heare what my detractors say,
A royall seate, a scepter and a crowne:
That those which doe behold them may become
As men that stand and gase against the Sunne.
The plot is laide, and things shall come to passe,
Where resolution strives for victory.
One imagines that Ned Alleyn, with his imposing presence and deep, dark voice, must have been rather impressive in the part.
And besides… what can I say? I never read Marlowe’s dark heroes without imagining that there must have been days when he felt too large and too fiery for his own circumstances – and not much besides poetry as an outlet. Is it fanciful to think that he was the one forever burning for things beyond his reach?
Last night, after rehearsals, it was far too hot to go home – and, the rehearsals having gone passably well, we weren’t in the mood to disperse yet anyway. So we sat, more or less in the dark, in the garden of our makeshift rehearsal room. We sat in a circle, and began to tell each other the combination of Sonnets 55 and 81 that ends the play.
We all said it in turn, the game being to do it as differently as we could from the person before us. Again and again we said it… Continue reading