The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Caelica: Sonnet 100
By Fulke Greville

In night when colours all to black are cast,
Distinction lost, or gone down with the light;
The eye a watch to inward senses plac'd,
Not seeing, yet still having power of sight,

Gives vain alarums to the inward sense,
Where fear stirr'd up with witty tyranny,
Confounds all powers, and thorough self-offence,
Doth forge and raise impossibility:

Such as in thick depriving darknesses,
Proper reflections of the error be,
And images of self-confusednesses,
Which hurt imaginations only see;

  And from this nothing seen, tells news of devils,
  Which but expressions be of inward evils.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "My favorite poem for Halloween was written in the 16th century: the hundredth poem in 'Caelica,' a book-length sequence composed over a lifetime by Fulke Greville," writes Robert Pinsky. "He was Lord Brooke, an eminent statesman under Elizabeth I and James I, and a close friend of his fellow poet Philip Sidney. Greville's sonnet analyzes the experience of seeing spooks or devils. The devils, he says, are psychological, the products of 'hurt imaginations.' They are not less fearsome, or less real, for coming from inside the this observant description, the 'inward sense' of fantasy stirs up the 'self-offence' of monstrous visions. The 'witty tyranny' of human imagination dominates and discomforts."

My entire day, when not trying to recover from the Great CD Disaster of last night, was spent doing Halloween-y things at the Smithsonian Institution, so rather than blather about them, I shall explain in pictures. The first was the Día de los Muertos celebration at the National Museum of the American Indian downtown, and the second was the Air & Scare event at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.

The loveliest plane ever flown by Pan Am, the clipper Flying Cloud. Howard Hughes had one of these beauties. The monster standing below it is my elder son.

The Udvar-Hazy Center, which houses many of the planes, rockets and other fabulous flying machines that there's no room to display at the Air & Space Museum downtown, had a party complete with trick-or-treating courtesy free candy from M&M Mars, demonstrations of spooky space effects and Star Wars stormtroopers patrolling the building. Here are Superman, a ninja and a whole lot of other people coming from the hanger with the shuttle Enterprise behind them as we went in.

Younger son dressed as -- wait for it -- a penguin. Here he attempts to plot flights for the Concorde, which may no longer fly Kennedy-to-Orly but can still be given theoretical routes to Paris from Dulles Airport which is only a mile or so from the museum.

There were also free model airplanes for everyone so kids could practice aerodynamics. Okay, mostly they practiced falling over trying to get their planes to go farther than their siblings' planes, but since the planes had ghosts and bats and pumpkins and stuff decorating them, no one complained.

El Día de los Muertos was a rather more serious affair, with demonstrations of papercutting, sugar skulls, ritual candlelighting and various other aspects of the holiday in Mexico. Here is a shrine with bread shaped to look like people, photos of relatives, spirit offerings, copal incense and paper flowers among its tributes.

The sugar skulls were unfortunately for demonstration purposes only, meaning that we could neither make our own nor eat the ones that were there. We did get to taste the batter, which was tempting enough!

The crowd was somewhat older and more somber at the National Museum of the American Indian, but there were still kids in costumes or with makeup and some running around in the museum's open spaces.

On the way home, we stopped at Target to get bookcases to replace our defunct big CD holder (on the theory that CDs in cases weigh considerably less than their equivalent volume in books, we figure the shelves can surely hold them) and since we also had to get Halloween candy for Tuesday, ended up so hungry that we had to go out to Popeye's. So it has not been a low-calorie day but it was a very fun one. Also, I was led along the path to Hell by someone whose intentions are likely wicked. Whatever shall I give her for Halloween? My first choice is a bootleg DVD of The Search for John Gissing, but since several years of searching have failed to turn up even a copy I can watch, I may have to settle for a spanking chocolate pie.

Wow, it's late, but in half an hour it'll be earlier than now!

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