The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

The Fall of Rome
By W.H. Auden

(for Cyril Connolly)

The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar's double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.


Poet's Choice this week is in honor of the 100th birthday of Auden, who "was inventive, but not in what he found to say or in formal matters; his distinctive originality is in his omnivorous imagination," according to Robert Pinsky. "He included in his poetry every sort of thing that attracted his eye, every sort of word or speech he heard or read. He devised a tone, a feeling of wry, informed and doom-ridden attentiveness, as seen here...the adroitness of this writing is strong, not merely showy, because the poem implies that the adroitness, too, is mortal and vulnerable, just as the mind that presents 'cerebrotonic' and 'fisc' knows that the last word will belong to 'muscle-bound' and 'very fast.' The theme and materials of this poem were not new when Auden wrote it, but he knew how to give them permanent bite."

Since I missed the maple sugaring festival my family went to while I was doing interviews at Farpoint, we all went to the annual Brookside Nature Center Maple Syrup Festival (2005 photos here). It was a very pretty above-freezing day, so the sap was flowing, the snow was melting and the park was mobbed -- we were lucky to get a parking place! Fortunately they had not run out of samples and they ran the film continuously all day about how the trees are tapped instead of only at certain times. There were lots of kids running around inside the nature center -- the snakes were actually awake. Since we were up near where she lives, we also went to visit perkypaduan and Georgie, and we stopped in Totally Fish, the Aspen Hill aquarium store, not as large and clean as the one in Congressional but it has 5-6' tiger sharks in a big open tank.

The red maple trees in Wheaton Regional Park around Brookside Nature Center are being tapped for sap.

Local children are recruited to help take the sap...

...carried the old fashioned way back to the log cabin.

Once collected, the sap is boiled down...

...using wood stored in this shed.

Inside the cabin, hotcake batter is mixed...

...and cooked in the fireplace so people can sample the locally-made syrup.

A good thing I worked at Farpoint, too, because finally, J.J. Abrams has committed to direct Star Trek XI...a Starfleet Academy movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Last weekend I interviewed Harve Bennett, who wrote an Academy script that was greenlit several years ago -- which, according to Bennett, means that under WGA rules, they have to give him some sort of credit/compensation, or he can use legal means to hold up the movie. I will root for Bennett, since it would be so very like Paramount to screw over the original writer in favor of their Flavor of the Month who's already ten minutes ago. I don't watch Lost, so I don't have any opinion on it this season vs. last season, but given that the critics who cover television find Abrams-Cuse-Lindelof as arrogant as Aaron Sorkin (and boy is that saying something), I have little expectation that I will enjoy much about a Team Abrams Trek movie.

Am very bummed that the American Dime Museum is about to auction its oddities, including what's purported to be Amelia Earhart's finger mummified by cannibals and the world's largest rat (actually a stuffed capibara but who's being picky). But am still thrilled by Ever After, which we stuck on to record and ended up watching in the morning while older son was working at Hebrew school. Anjelica Huston terrorizing Drew Barrymore (who needs no mice to save herself) and Leonardo da Vinci designing Danielle's dress for the ball -- what better version of Cinderella could there be? And in the evening we finally got the conclusion to The State Within, after watching most of the second part over again plus a break for the BBC America rerun of Doctor Who's "Bad Wolf." Conclusion with a cliffhanger ending, augh, though that in no way diminished our enjoyment! Are they planning a sequel or just trying to leave it open-ended, since in the real world nothing would be resolved in fifteen minutes?

Again it struck me just how well the women on this miniseries are written...they all have their flaws and idiocies but they're also all smart and strong in their own ways, the token babe is really nonexistent -- it's annoying they had to get in gratuitous shots of Jane with her shirt off but I didn't find it unrealistic, and I loved her character overall -- I was nervous about the gay guys appearing to be the villains, but Nicholas wasn't any more an idiot to be sleeping with Christopher than Mark was to be sleeping with Jane, so the two dangerous liaisons balanced each other out. I also really like how very unafraid Jane was, both when she was being chased and when she attacked her attackers. I got a bit confused why she had to go to Tampa -- she had the copies of the discs hidden there and had to send them to the hotel, was that it? Because I don't remember seeing her send anything other than the postcard alerting Mark to their existence.

Adair doesn't make a lot of sense to me, since he was in touch with Sinclair through Mark and could presumably have tracked him down much sooner, and I find it hard to believe that Caroline could have been so completely in the dark about what his company was up to if she was thinking about marrying him -- spoiled little rich girl -- but it was pretty obvious all along that it would be someone with strong corporate rather than patriotic interests behind everything, and I really didn't think it would be the formidably awesome Lynne Warner whom I have liked all along much better than I would if this was real life. *g* Oh and hahahaha, am I to presume that one of the writers/producers was an X-Files fan and that was why the sex scene was in room 1013, or did something happen in the year 1013 I am an idiot for not knowing about?

They're still threatening us with snow tomorrow. May stay home, fold laundry and watch the Oscars.

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