Random Thursday: Random Ranting Iambic

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

It’s only fair: I did one on Bacon.


Fitzgerald Monkeys

I was going to make some kind of parallel
with the perils of downsizing without adjusting one’s expectations,
but that’s sort of the definition of Fitzgerald, so . . .

(Thanks for the reassurance, Andy!  Ook Eek!)


Beautifully Written, but Still Statutory

Romeo and Juliet for Reals

I feel the same way about Romeo & Juliet that I do about The Giving Tree.

Since that little nerve is already starting to tick in my left eyelid,
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

(Thanks, Kev–I needed that!)


Who’s in Primary?

Lay on, Mr. Leibowitz.

And damned be him that first cries, “I’ve heard enough!”

(My husband sent me this to celebrate baseball season.  Huzzah?)


If He Had . . .

Shakespeare makes it up

. . . .we’d be using it right now.

Kind of frightening, right?


If you ever encounter someone who wonders aloud why Shakespeare isn’t translated into modern English so people can understand it
inform them that Shakespeare actually wrote in modern English
and slap a copy of the Canterbury Tales into their hands.

After they ask you why you’ve given them a Dutch doorstop,
take another big linguistic step back
and hit ’em upside the head with a untranslated copy of Beowulf
and send ’em to the theater to see Midsummer Night’s Dream.

(I might be a little testy today . . .)


To Edit or Not to Edit

You have to wonder . . .

“Bums in seats.”

Well . . . yeah.


But Meanwhile . . .

I have no post for you today.

But I do have an image of the Ultimate Imaginary Wrinkle Dog that will magically make you forgive me all transgressions, past, present and future and make you come back tomorrow for the first Poetry Wednesday we’ve had for a while.

Himalayan Squishie


More of Dave Kellett’s irresistible squishiness—oh, hush, you know what I mean—can be found here.  And here.  And starting here.

See you tomorrow!

Poetry Wednesday: One Talking Duck’s Opinion

Dave Kellett, whom I’ve exaulted mentioned here before, is the creator of one of my favorite webcomics, Sheldonwhich is ostensibly about a ten-year old billionaire and his talking duck (and the billionaire’s best friend, his grandpa, and his pug and the talking duck’s lizard son)

Not only is Sheldon sweet and funny and sarcastic and nerdy, it also examines literature, philosophy, language, historical precedent . . .  and poetry:

Eliot Sheldon

Just because it’s funny, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.



Sheldon® is owned lock, stock, and legalities by the amazing Dave Kellett, who has so far been blessedly non-litigious about my borrowing of his strips for this blog, possibly because he doesn’t know me from Eve.

Poetry Wednesday: Tell it Slant, Emily

A friend once told me that Emily Dickenson’s poetry was like something Wednesday Addams might write.

And while I’d argue that Christina Rossetti* would be a closer match to Wednesday’s style, I get the point:  Emily Dickenson’s stuff  might be whimsical, but most of it ain’t light-and-fluffy whimsical.

I mean, even that bird of hers bit that poor anthropomorphized** worm in half.   And there are times when her penchant for layered thought doesn’t quite fit the bill.

But I like her poems anyway, or most of ‘em—she wrote over four hundred, so there’s something in her oeuvre for almost everyone, even those of us who prefer not to dwell on our own mortality, thanks so very much.***

And I can’t help but adore her definition of poetry:

“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?”


I’m not going to bother with a biography today—there are a million of ‘em out there written by far more articulate people and I stayed up way too late last night trying to bend characters to my mighty will,^ so I’m even less articulate than usual.

But look her up if you have a minute—she was a fascinating woman who may or may not have led exactly the life she wanted.  And her poems are over 125 years old and still being read and interpreted and quoted.

So no matter what some talking ducks might think, the lady clearly had it going on.

Here are a few of her verses that speak to me, or at least speak to me today^^—it varies.   If I’ve missed one of your favorites—and odds are, I have— please share them in the comments.

Share two, they’re small.  Or at least compact.

Tell All The Truth
(Emily Dickenson)

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth’s superb surprise;

As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.

A Word
(Emily Dickenson)

A Word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

The Brain
(Emily Dickenson)

The Brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God,
For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.

I Lost a World
(Emily Dickenson)

I lost a world the other day.
Has anybody found?
You ’ll know it by the row of stars
Around its forehead bound.
A rich man might not notice it;
Yet to my frugal eye
Of more esteem than ducats.
Oh, find it, sir, for me!

(Emily Dickenson)

Remembrance has a rear and front,—
’T is something like a house;
It has a garret also
For refuse and the mouse,

Besides, the deepest cellar
That ever mason hewed;
Look to it, by its fathoms
Ourselves be not pursued.


Sheldon® is one of the best webcomics ever produced, and Dave Kellett is its brilliant and essentially non-litigious creator.  Revere him.


*Who gets my personal vote for the Thomas Hardy Mental Funk Award

**I might be exaggerating (and showing off) just a tad . . . But that line still seems a bit too nature red in beak and claw to me.


*** Plus, most of them are short, so when things get weird, at least they aren’t weird at length—which, especially after tackling Dante Alighieri, can come as something of a relief.

^Actually, I was bending the laws of  elevator physics while trying to ignore the fact that everyone is wired for instant communications.  We all came to an agreement in the end, I think—I finished up so stinkin’ late I’m afraid to look.

^^No deep psychological mysteries here . . .

Poetry Wednesday: A touch of Frost less traveled by

Robert Frost is one of those poets whom almost everyone has read, but usually in small doses of roads less traveled and stopping on snowy evenings.

But the man clearly wrote more than that—four Pulitzer’s worth over his lifetime.  His first poem, “My Butterfly, an Elegy,” was published when he was twenty*, although he didn’t start writing full-time until he was thirty-eight** and moved his family to England, or more specifically, the small village of Dymock in Gloucestershire, which was already the stomping grounds of several influential poets,  including Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Ezra Pound, an American who helped promote Mr. Frost.***

Mr. Frost prudently returned to America at the start of the first World War and settled in New Hampshire, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the natural images in most of his poems, though his sense of whimsy is often overlooked:

A Dust of Snow
(Robert Frost)

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

As a genealogist and confessed taphophile,^ I’m also fond of this one:

In a Disused Graveyard
(Robert Frost)

The living come with grassy tread
To read the gravestones on the hill;
The graveyard draws the living still,
But never anymore the dead.
The verses in it say and say:
“The ones who living come today
To read the stones and go away
Tomorrow dead will come to stay.”
So sure of death the marbles rhyme,
Yet can’t help marking all the time
How no one dead will seem to come.
What is it men are shrinking from?
It would be easy to be clever
And tell the stones:
Men hate to die
And have stopped dying now forever.
I think they would believe the lie.

Even when his poems have urban settings, one gets the sense that he doesn’t particularly want to be there:

Acquainted by the Night
(Robert Frost)

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
O luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

And he didn’t much care for urban sprawl, either:

A Brook in the City
(Robert Frost)

The firm house lingers, though averse to square
With the new city street it has to wear
A number in.
But what about the brook
That held the house as in an elbow-crook?
I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength
And impulse, having dipped a finger length
And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed
A flower to try its currents where they crossed.
The meadow grass could be cemented down
From growing under pavements of a town;
The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame.
Is water wood to serve a brook the same?
How else dispose of an immortal force No longer needed?
Staunch it at its source With cinder loads dumped down?
The brook was thrown
Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone
In fetid darkness still to live and run –
And all for nothing it had ever done
Except forget to go in fear perhaps.
No one would know except for ancient maps
That such a brook ran water.
But I wonder
If from its being kept forever under
The thoughts may not have risen that so keep
This new-built city from both work and sleep.

There’s obviously more to Robert Frost than a couple of inspirational poems—not that I’m knocking anything that has such universal, timeless resonance.

I’m just saying that it might be worth it to check out some of his poems less traveled and see which ones speak to you, personally.


Sheldon® is the property of the remarkable, brilliant, and ultimately non-litigious Dave Kellett.

*It’s here if you’d like to read it.  The only comment I’m going to make about it is that it’s reassuring to know that we all have to start somewhere . . . and the man shed a lot of purple over the years.

**Something else I find reassuring.

***Until Frost asked him to stop—the reasons aren’t entirely clear, though he may have feared that the reviews weren’t describing his work accurately. Despite this, they remained lifelong friends, which says a lot about Robert Frost’s loyalty and patience, as Ezra Pound was certifiably unstable.  I’m not just saying this because I don’t care for most of his stuff—he was at one point arrested for treason and declared mentally unfit for trial. I heard a recording of Pound reading “With Usura,” before I was told his history, and I can’t say I was much surprised that he was institutionalized. He reminds me of a library patron who sounds perfectly sane until he asks you to proofread a letter to his congressman that explains his beliefs that the president was born in Osama bin Laden’s mansion in Paris because they’re secretly second cousins—and when you hand it back, he gives you a special tin foil hat because you’re the only person who understands him.

^Yes, it’s true . . . I like cemeteries. What did you think it meant?