The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

From "Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, D.S.P.D."
By Jonathan Swift

  "For poetry, he's past his prime;
He takes an hour to find a rhyme;
His fire is out, his wit decayed,
His fancy sunk, his Muse a jade.
I'd have him throw away his pen--
But there's no talking to some men."
  And then their tenderness appears
By adding largely to my years:
"He's older than he would be reckoned,
And well remembers Charles the Second.
He hardly drinks a pint of wine;
And that, I doubt, is no good sign.
His stomach, too, begins to fail;
Last year we thought him strong and hale;
But now he's quite another thing;
I wish he may hold out till spring."
They hug themselves, and reason thus:
"It is not yet so bad with us."


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World by Robert Pinsky, who wrote that Swift (the initials stand for 'Dean of Saint Patrick's, Dublin') "had the amusing idea of writing a poem ostensibly about his own death, after the fact, observing the behavior of his friends and enemies. The poem is all the funnier and more imaginative because Swift uses his death as an occasion to write about all sorts of things...apparently, he intended the work to be published only after his actual death, though in fact it appeared in his lifetime." Pinsky adds that the friends in Swift's poem "are not scoundrels. Swift is interested in their psychology, the human quirks that can make us vain about our predictions or take pleasure in sounding authoritative about the decay of our friends. The poem is delightful partly because it encourages a fresh look at ourselves.

Younger son's soccer game got rained out, so we drove to Baltimore and went to the Maryland Historical Society, which usually costs money but is free this month as part of Free Fall Baltimore. They have some great exhibits including an original longhand manuscript of the Star Spangled Banner, religious artifacts, slave-made pottery and instruments, locally-made silver and clocks, magnificent furniture, a local historic art gallery and a kids' room where ours got to practice dredging oysters and sitting at desks with inkwells. I always forget that this state was so invested in the tobacco trade and that slavery was actually legal here longer than in the Confederacy, since the Emancipation Proclamation didn't apply to Northern states which the Union army emphatically made certain Maryland remained, but this state also has a historic commitment to religious freedom -- got around restrictions on Jews holding public office by letting anyone who believed in an afterlife hold the positions -- and produced many of the great debaters, orators and literary abolitionists because of its position at the center of the conflict.

This is the reproduction of Francis Scott Key's manuscript that is on display during all the hours the museum is open.

Four times a day for five minutes each time, the reproduction slides aside and the actual manuscript written by Key is displayed. (Sorry about the blur: this photo was of course taken without flash, while the one above was taken with flash.)

The Ark and the Dove, the two ships that brought the original colonists to Maryland under charter from Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore.

A diorama of Father Andrew White celebrating mass on the first Maryland Day, March 25, 1634.

I do this every year but I think my total take this year is down somewhat!

My LiveJournal Trick-or-Treat Haul
cruisedirector goes trick-or-treating, dressed up as Denny Crane in a flamingo suit.
beckyo gives you 1 light yellow root beer-flavoured pieces of chewing gum.
beeej gives you 1 red-orange coffee-flavoured nuggets.
celandineb tricks you! You get a dead frog.
dark_cygnet gives you 4 dark blue raspberry-flavoured pieces of taffy.
dementordelta tricks you! You lose 4 pieces of candy!
gblvr gives you 1 mauve apple-flavoured gummy bats.
mamadracula tricks you! You lose 1 pieces of candy!
muccamukk gives you 11 white root beer-flavoured gummy bats.
sparowe tricks you! You get a rotten egg.
vertigo66 gives you 6 light green licorice-flavoured pieces of bubblegum.
cruisedirector ends up with 19 pieces of candy, a dead frog, and a rotten egg.
Go trick-or-treating! Username:
Another fun meme brought to you by rfreebern.

sparowe, you never seemed the type for such wickedness! *sobs* Though it doesn't really surprise me from mamadracula. But dementordelta, if you're going to be that way about my candy, no more pie for you! And celandineb, I guess I had that coming after what I did to you... *g*</center>

And speaking of Jewish historical stuff, a friend of my uncle's discovered this site, which purports to reveal which Jewish families are direct descendants of King David in order to hold a "family reunion" with uncomfortable political overtones about who should own Jerusalem. My mother mentioned it to me because her original family name is on the list, and when I looked up the name in a superficial Google search, I was surprised to discover that the Jews from the cited dynastic family came from the Polish-Belarussian border, which I believe is where my mother's family was also from. It turns out there is a worldwide DNA project to determine whether the family of that name from the Polish border and the family of that name from the Ukraine are related, though I wonder whether frequent Ashkenazi Jewish genetic problems like Tay-Sachs are also being tracked. I did notice that many common American Jewish names are listed as likely descendants of King David, which would (conveniently for certain political groups) give a great many American Jews a "personal claim" to Jerusalem. Hmm, if it turns out I am descended from King David, it would make me a cousin a few thousand times removed of Jesus Christ, too...I wonder if the Davidic Dynasty people would think I should feel a personal attachment there?

Watched SGA's "Suspicion," was somewhat underwhelmed at Weir's governing even though Tayla keeps saying she'd do exactly the same things, loved paralyzed!Rodney and John taunting the Wraith. Rejoiced at the fall of the Yankees, couldn't bring myself to care about the Mets-Dodgers results (I have relatives on each side who were going to be gloating either way). Sunday I would like just a bit of sunshine so we can enjoy the fall outdoors a little!

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