On the Burning of Lord Mansfield's Library, Together With His Mss. by the Mob, In the Month of June, 1780
By William Cowper
When wit and genius meet their doom
In all devouring flame,
They tell us of the fate of Rome,
And bid us fear the same.
O'er Murray's loss the Muses wept,
They felt the rude alarm,
Yet bless'd the guardian care that kept
His sacred head from harm.
There memory, like the bee that's fed
From Flora's balmy store,
The quintessence of all he read
Had treasured up before.
The lawless herd, with fury blind
Have done him cruel wrong;
The flowers are gone, -- but still we find
The honey on his tongue.
"Tom Wayne, owner of Prospero's Books in Kansas City, Mo., has made headlines by burning books in protest after finding that he could no longer give away excess stock, even to thrift shops," writes Robert Pinsky in Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Some of us recycle books with a twinge of regret, even guilt. Nazis and other oppressors have burned books. In 1780, as part of anti-Catholic riots in England, a London mob destroyed the house and library of the great judge and politician William Murray, Earl of Mansfield." Cowper wrote the above poem about the burning of Murray's books, about which Pinsky says, "The phrase 'sacred head' may seem too much, but the 80-year-old jurist was extremely distinguished; among other things, he had delivered the judgment that effectively ended slavery in England. Cowper's poem can be understood as valuing information in our contemporary, digital sense since he distinguishes between the lost books -- flowers that are gone -- and the 'quintessence' of honey that bee-like memory preserves. The information and memory are more important than the vessel."
Saturday younger son had what is likely to be his last organized soccer game, since in middle school all the leagues require tryouts and he has absolutely no interest in playing competitively. While apaulled took him to the soccer team party afterward -- at which the coach announced that he, too, is retiring -- I wrote short articles on Nana Visitor and J.J. Abrams and started the laundry that I fear is not going to get finished till Monday, since we have to drive my parents to the airport for their trip to Greece on Sunday.
In the late afternoon we went with my in-laws to see the Frederick Keys...our annual pilgrimage for making sure younger son has good Hebrew school attendance (more difficult than it sounds, as everyone has sports and stuff weekend mornings and not that many kids get the free passes. It was not the Keys' best game -- I saw my first minor league grand slam, scored by the Myrtle Beach Pelicans when the game had been tied 3-3 -- but despite drizzle and endless mid-inning silly activities from musical chairs to throwing frisbees into the crowd, they Keys came back to win 9-8, powered in part by a home run by a player just brought back from another local team, the Bowie Baysox. Of course, it helped that they got two unearned runs off an error, but who's counting?
As you can see, this was a strike!
Unfortunately, this was not. (The Keys wore NASCAR jerseys that they auctioned off to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association of Western Maryland, some of which were signed by NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya who drives the #42 Havoline car in the Busch and Nextel Cup series -- the car was on display at the stadium but I didn't even bother to go admire it!)
It was a Cub Scouts sleepover night, meaning that they got to take over the stadium after the game ended. Here they present the colors for the Star Spangled Banner.
A colorful scoreboard lists the daily celebrants while Keyote and the crowd sing "Happy Birthday."
Keyote attempted to hit the first pitch, but it didn't quite make it to the plate.
While the Pelicans, in blue, warmed up, local elementary school jugglers showed off their skills.