MEAN.

Archibald MacLeish famously ended his 1926 “Ars Poetica” with “A poem should not mean/ But be.” I learn from Peter Howarth in the LRB that Robert Frost put a nasty spin on this in a notebook entry: “A poem shouldn’t mean, it should be mean.” So much for the grandfatherly figure maundering about roads not taken, so beloved of careless skimmers of anthologies.

Comments

  1. mollymooly says:

    A poet should not mean, but de-

  2. Maybe he meant “average”.

  3. A poem should not be average, but median.

  4. Mean also means “common” or “humble”. Remember in the Christmas song “What Child is This?” (1865) where the baby Jesus lies in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Frost was 9 years old when that was written. So, what was the most common meaning of “mean” back then? Too bad you need a subscription to see the rest of the context.
    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

  5. careless skimmers
    In some high schools this was required reading.

  6. It’s really hard for a modern reader to appreciate how incredibly influential MacLeish’s Ars Poetica was at the time. He simplified the Modernist project into an easily graspable dictum. It’s all so very familiar today but back then and for years to come as modernism spread through the literary world Ars Poetica was the program for a revolution.
    Still a fine poem, mind.
    I wonder how many times “A poem should not mean/But be” showed up in other people’s manifestos or as epigraphs to other works. I know of at least one classic work, Icelandic poet Steinn Steinar‘s masterpiece Tíminn og vatnið which, in its first edition, had that as its epigraph (removed once published in a book).

  7. Noetica says:

    A poet should not mean, but de-
    A poem should not be average, but median.
    Apo|em|mean|der|sing|én|I|OU|sly|for|U|save|rage|hum|
    ant|ype|sto|mbarvelat|tit|udet|hat’s|whatit|take|
    sattitude|Atit|,Dude|mean|median|ormodec|entrail|
    tenden|cyan|yway|but|what|butt|wat|doe|si|tmean|a|
    Poem|t’me’an|you?

  8. A poem meanders ingeniously
    for us average human types tomb arvel at
    titude that’s what it takes attitude at it,
    dude mean median or mode centrail tendency
    any way but what but twat
    does it mean a poem t’me’an you.

    I’m thinking of “how do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death”.

  9. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Robert Frost put a nasty spin on this in a notebook entry: “A poem shouldn’t mean, it should be mean.” So much for the grandfatherly figure maundering about roads not taken, so beloved of careless skimmers of anthologies.

    Robert Frost’s father died of tuberculosis in 1885, when Frost was 11, leaving the family with just $8. Frost’s mother died of cancer in 1900. In 1920 Frost had to commit his younger sister, Jeanie, to a mental hospital, where she died nine years later. Both Frost and his mother suffered from depression and his daughter Irma was committed to a mental hospital in 1947. Frost’s wife, Elinor, also experienced bouts of depression.
    Elinor and Robert Frost had six children: son Elliot (1896–1904, died of cholera),…son Carol (1902–1940, committed suicide), … daughter Marjorie (1905–1934, died as a result of puerperal fever after childbirth), and daughter Elinor Bettina (died three days after birth in 1907). Only two outlived their father. Frost’s wife, who had heart problems throughout her life, developed breast cancer in 1937, and died of heart failure in 1938.

    So much for the asshole, always depicted making crabby comments, so beloved of careless writers in the LRB.

  10. jamessal says:

    Cruelly hard life notwithstanding, Frost’s having been a super-competitive curmudgeon does take some of the bite out of his famous tennis-with-the-net-down quip.

  11. jamessal says:

    I hadn’t known his life was that cruel, though. Interesting Howarth didn’t include any of those details in the piece — or maybe he did, I read (and enjoyed) it months ago. They seem relevant, anyway.

  12. A.J. P. Crown says:

    You never hear that stuff, only that he was an asshole, I don’t know why.
    I didn’t know until I stole that quote from Wiki that his father had also been an editor at the San Francisco Examiner. That’s an association no one ought to have to live with, although I’d actually vote for the San Francisco Chronicle as the all-time worst paper in the USA.

  13. John Emerson says:

    $8 went a lot farther in those days, you know.
    Kemnneth Rexroth was orphaned at age 13 too, and lived somewhat on his own thereafter. His “Autobiographical Novel” should not be taken literally, however.

  14. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Oops, sorry. I meant ‘worst paper in the world’.

  15. No one will learn about Frost’s own wounds and tragedies by reading his poetry; he left no clues. An appalling chain of misfortunes, numerous deaths in the family, madness, suicides, and silence about this, as if confirming his Puritan heritage, which demands that one conceal what is private behind a stoic facade. The worst part of all this is that in concerning oneself with him one is menaced by a sense of one’s own particular existence. If the boundaries of the human personality are so fluid that we truly do not know who we are and are constantly trying on different changes of costume, how did Frost manage? It is impossible to grasp who he really was, aside from his unswerving striving toward his goal of fame, in an attempt to exact revenge for his own defeats in life. [...] In Frost’s defense, I should add that he did not soften the cruel truth about human life, as he perceived it, and if his readers and listeners did not understand that very well, all the better for them.
    (From Czeslaw Milosz’s essay on Frost. NB: Taking those passages out of context has probably distorted their meaning a little, but I can’t quote the whole thing.)

  16. I think the Uruguayan author Horacio Quiroga could give Frost a run for his money in the Writers With Awful Lives stakes. A shortened version of Quiroga’s Wikipedia bio:
    When [Quiroga] was only two months old his father accidentally shot himself while returning from a hunting expedition. [As a young man he] moved to Paris but, after meeting with a series of disasters, decided it was not the place for him…In 1903, while attempting to explain to a friend how to operate a gun, he accidentally fired it, killing his friend. Quiroga was interrogated, put on trial, and eventually exonerated. [Quiroga then moved to the Argentine province of Misiones.] In 1909 he married Ana Maria Ciries, a former student, and they had two children, Eglé and Darío. In 1915 Ana Maria, deeply depressed by the hard work and loneliness of their life on the frontier, poisoned herself with cyanide. For several years Quiroga lived in Buenos Aires, while continually visiting his property in Misiones. In 1927 he married Ana Maria Brancho, thirty years his junior, who also disliked life in Misiones, and eventually left him. In 1937 Quiroga was diagnosed with cancer and committed suicide by dosing himself with cyanide. Both his children from his first marriage also committed suicide later in their lives.

  17. A.J. P. Crown says:

    $8 went a lot farther in those days, you know.
    Ever since you found out they’d named a street after you in Napier, New Zealand, you’ve lost all your sympathy for the little guy, John Emerson.

  18. A.J. P. Crown says:

    It’s 2 shootings, a murder trial and 4 suicides (Total: 7 victims) vs 1 TB, cholora, puerperal fever, dying at birth and suicide, 2 cancers and 5 mental illnesses (Total: 12 victims).
    My Robert Frost beats your Horacio Quiroga any day of the week.

  19. A.J. P. Crown says:

    And “orphaned at age 13″ doesn’t even count.

  20. My Robert Frost beats your Horacio Quiroga any day of the week.
    Hey, if we’re going to play the literary equivalent of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen then I’m going to have to disagree. My Quiroga had a more miserable life than your Frost. Frost never killed himself, his best friend or anyone else for that matter. His wife didn’t commit suicide either. And Frost’s family merely suffered the usual range of standard-issue Victorian-era diseases, physical and mental.

  21. jamessal says:

    Also, two of Quiroga’s suicides took place after he died. You could argue the kids must have been miserable, making him more miserable, but that is conjecture — and inadmissible as far as I’m concerned.
    Frost would be happy to know he won this battle too.

  22. jamessal says:

    Hey, if we’re going to play the literary equivalent of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen
    Oh, we’re doing it. We are definitely doing it.

  23. jamessal says:

    One more thing, not Quiroga’s fault, but hunting accidents just aren’t garnering much sympathy these post-Cheney days.

  24. Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen
    Actually, At Last the 1948 Show, by the other Frost.

  25. Amazing, i feel that RF is going to be my next favorite poet
    another extreme, i’m reading SB and think if all this was his mental state all the time how he managed to write all that down and even publish his amazing books, there was some deep dissociation from self going on and recalled a homeless person on the A line when i was going to JFK, he explained to me when the last stop at the airport will come and was writing something into his notebook, paper, from time to time, i was curious what but couldn’t read it from where i sat and felt impossible to look at him longer, or offer him money, i should have done so, but felt it was intruding his privacy, so stupid
    life is kinda fair in distribution of happiness, fame, immortality though it seems so uneven
    SB wrote he would have been at home in ‘the high depression of Gobi’, i thought it was high elevation, but yes, he would have been happy perhaps, unknown

  26. “SB wrote he would have been at home in ‘the high depression of Gobi’”
    Remaarkable, I read this line in situ this very morning.

  27. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Come on, cancer beats suicide.
    I don’t know what you think you’re doing in the Gobi Desert, Conrad. You go home this instant.

  28. A.J. P. Crown says:

    And who is this SB she keeps talking about? Saul Bellow? Samuel Beckett? Sally Bowles? Sid Barratt?

  29. i liked Saul Bellow’s short stories too, but not that acutely

  30. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Shirley Bassey?

  31. John Emerson says:

    My son’s cousin took an off-road tour of Mongolia, including the Gobi in springtime. The Gobi is called “semi-desert” and is really booming with life at that time.
    Beckett’s reall toughness would have been tested by a year in Ohio.

  32. John Emerson says:

    Timbuktu, Samarkand and the Gobi Desert are real places now, that you can go to if you want. No longer can they be images of exoticism.
    The hardest places to go to of any interest now are Burma and Ethiopia / Upper Egypt / Sudan, for politico-military reasons.

  33. John Emerson says:

    Timbuktu is much diminished, but Samarqand and neighboring cities have wondeerful architecture.

  34. John: I went to a lecture some years ago about the underground watercourses that have been discovered (via satellite radar) under the Sahara– The lecturer told the story that he once took a visitor from the Sahara region around the Arizona desert. The visitor’s comment was that it was a not a desert, it was a jungle.

  35. Come on, cancer beats suicide
    I think you’ll find Quiroga had cancer and committed suicide, so that’s a twofer. Also, Frost farmed “north of Boston” where all the wildlife he had to worry about was stray adult-oriented rock groups. Quiroga lived and worked in the tropics, trying to start a cotton plantation in the Chaco, then moving to Misiones, a jungly bit of Argentina which has no dry season, but plenty of dangerous fauna and diseases. Frost’s efforts to match this were pathetic. According to his Wikipedia bio, Frost once “went on an excursion to the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia”. Ooh, scary. Did Frost try to supplement his income by inventing a machine to kill ants and a project to make wine from oranges? Quiroga had to. Did Frost lose his job and his only source of income and have to be supported by his friends shortly before his death? No, he was gallivanting around with JFK, the wuss.

  36. Fact for John Emerson: Tempe AZ, where I spent 3 years, and which really would have sent Beckett over the edge, is twinned with Timbuktu.

  37. John Emerson says:

    As far as the four Yorkshireman poverty competition goes, I think that no one can beat Knut Hamsun. He was self-educated and came from a poor family in the Norwegian Far North, and at 13 was apprenticed to a rope-maker. I have trouble imagining anyone lowlier than an apprentice ropemaker. I can’t even imagine a proud master ropemaker strutting around revelling in his master’s status. Of course, this was Norway where there wasn’t much to revel in.

  38. No one will learn about Frost’s own wounds and tragedies by reading his poetry; he left no clues … how did Frost manage? It is impossible to grasp who he really was … In Frost’s defense, I should add

    What defense, what charge? Is there any justification for prying into a man’s life, except for one’s own personal reasons? In what you quote by Milosz, I find no personal involvement, only haruspical lit-crit – and that not even done in an interesting way. It’s the same tabloid intellectual tripe that has been boiled over Plath, Beckett, and the rest. This kind of thing needs delicacy, not disembowelment.

  39. On the other hand, nothing wrong with a round of Four Yorkshiremen! It’s the po-faced hand-wringing that chaps my ass.

  40. What defense, what charge?
    Um, this is why I said, “Taking those passages out of context has probably distorted their meaning a little, but I can’t quote the whole thing”. I only quoted the bits relevant to this post and its comments. The first bit I cited obviously refers to the generally unknown tragedies of his life, the second to Frost’s popular image as “the grandfatherly figure maundering about roads not taken, so beloved of careless skimmers of anthologies”. You would have to read the whole essay by Milosz to understand where he’s coming from. The whole point of Milosz’s piece is that Frost is a darker, more complicated poet than his popular image would indicate. In fact, it was a “mask”: “He put himself forward as a rube, a New England farmer, writing in simple language, full of colloquialisms, about his environs and the people who lived there. A real American, digging in the soil, and not from any big city [...] In fact he was someone entirely different [...] His readers valued him for his idyllic mood, which was only a disguise. Beneath was concealed a grim, hopeless vision of man’s fate. A powerful intellect, unusual intelligence, well-read in philosophy, and such enormous deceptiveness that he was capable of hiding his skepticism behind his constant ambivalence, so that his poems deceived with their supposedly wise affability.” Milosz compares Frost to Paul Valéry and Bolesław Leśmian, two poets he sees as having comparably sceptical, post-Darwinian world views, whose verse Milosz likes, then asks, “Why then do I find Frost so disturbing and depressing?” The section “In his defense…” comes after Milosz has quoted Frost’s dictum about free verse being like playing tennis without a net. Milosz says “I, however, am absolutely on Walt Whitman’s side.”

  41. John Emerson says:

    In Beckett’s case, when I found out that a number of his best friends in France were betrayed to the Gestapo by their supposed spiritual adviser, the blackness of his post-WWII work made perfect sense.
    There’s a Vietnamese novel highly recommended by me called “The Sorrow of War”. The narrator is weakly distinguished from the author, both of whom had seen their lives repeatedly devastated by a ten-year-plus war, and both psychologically disintegrating like Beckett protagonists (? w.w. for Beckett!) as the book progresses. To me the autobiographical knowledge makes this “device” more powerful.
    Lawrence Durrell’s later works use the disintegrating author/character device pretty well too, though you read it as Durrell thinking “Why the fuck am I writing fucking novels?”, with no deep trauma behind it.

  42. John Emerson says:

    Rexroth translated some poems by Milosz’s uncle, and the two men became friends, I think.
    Rexroth is God, BTW. I’ve been going through everything he wrote.

  43. This is for Kron–I don’t know where the mariachi thread went off to. The straight poop from my students on mariachis is that you have to go to sastres (tailors) to get the traje de charro (mariachi suit). They get them in Mexico, although someone knows someone a few blocks from the school (in Chicago) who makes them. [This topic excited my students very much, plus they are not used to class on Friday, we were making up Monday's Pulaski Day which the Chicago Public schools recognizes as a holiday, but not the intuition sponsoring the ESL class. Anyhow the students were quite squirrelly today, and started talking even faster than usual so I hope I got the gist of it.]
    The consensus is you get them (the mariachi suits) in Mexico City at the Plasa Garibaldi. You can also get them at Chapala (a lake) and Xochimilco (the floating gardens.) Apparently the mariachi thing used to be centered in Guadalajara, but there was a revival and it relocated to Mexico City. On the lake thing, the shops are on rafts that are growing into the lake and you paddle around on some sort of boat to go from place to place. The suits are decorated with canuto which is singular, collectively the decorations are called canutillo. They drew pictures on the board of different types of canutillo, one a u-shaped with little hooks on the end and also circular ones of different sizes. They nest into each other somehow, not like a snap, but I didn’t get that part. The trajes are caro (expensive), because of the hand work–the students emphasized you can’t use glue–and are either plato or dorado (silver or gold, but I think dorado is gold colored otherwise they would have said oro for the metal gold).
    That was chapter one; there may or may not be a chapter two after tonight’s class.

  44. The hardest places to go to of any interest now are Burma and Ethiopia
    I was in Ethiopia a few years ago and it wasn’t hard at all, except paying for the plane tickets. The war with Eritrea was over at the time, and the current thing with Somalia hadn’t started yet. Airport Security was very very tight near the Sudan border, and a freaking out hotel owner actually drove me to the airport to talk the airline out of letting me fly on the first anniversary of 9/11. A friend of mine goes to Sudan, but her parents are there and she’s Moslem–not sure if I could get in. Ethiopia is awesome, especially the stone churches at Lalibela.

  45. when I found out that a number of his best friends in France were betrayed to the Gestapo by their supposed spiritual adviser, the blackness of his post-WWII work made perfect sense.
    what are you saying, he betrayed people to the gestapo? if he did so, say, inadvertently, not knowing, no? such a completely confused helpless childlike being he couldn’t have done wrong out of intention, people can’t judge not knowing his real circumstances

  46. No, read, it says the spiritual adviser betrayed his friends. I suppose his friends died then.

  47. It is passive voice. If you want to rewrite the sentence in active voice, you would say “The supposed spiritual adviser of a number of his best friends betrayed them (his best friends) to the Gestapo.” Putting the phrase “spiritual adviser” at the end makes it more powerful because a religious adviser is supposed to be a trusted figure and outside of politics.

  48. i’m so much relieved, sure he couldn’t

  49. marie-lucie says:

    No, he did not betray anyone, but some of his friends were betrayed by someone else.

  50. His readers valued him for his idyllic mood, which was only a disguise.

    The more fools they. Does that idyllic mood have to be Robert Frost’s real mood to be savored? This yearning for tasty personal reality behind a literary artefact such as a poem or a poet! Only the shallow know other people, at the level of their own emptiness. Others yearn to fill the void with God.

    Beneath was concealed a grim, hopeless vision of man’s fate.

    So this is really that. Reductionist claptrap! Frost writes poems, Frost speaks in public – it’s Robert Frost the poet, not your Aunt Sally perhaps concealing her suicidal tendencies again behind false cheerfulness. So you may well worry what Aunt Sally’s real mood is, but not that of the poet Frost. Unless you know him personally, and then his poetry is not the issue.

    “Why then do I find Frost so disturbing and depressing?”

    Well, just don’t read him then, if he offends against your expectations of genu-wine, consistent living and dying. What’s wrong with disturbing and depressing? I read Thomas Bernhard’s depressive neurotic monologue novels when I’m depressed, and they cheer me up for some reason. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but so what? Everybody liked Bernhard personally, except the “Catholic-Nationalsocialist-Austrian establishment” he tears into, neurotically. Do I care whether the real Bernhard stands up? I don’t.
    Does knowing all that about Frost improve our understanding of Frost’s poetry, or hobble it, or something else? Does Milosz want to make an honest posthumous man out of Frost? Revealing all, then plumping for Whitman? Or is he just telling children that Santa Claus doesn’t exist? Big condescending deal. Birds of a feather undeceiving themselves together.
    This violent talk is not directed against you, JCass.

  51. marie-lucie says:

    “betrayed by their spiritual adviser”
    I don’t know the details of the story, but given the well-known habits of the Gestapo, it is possible that the spiritual adviser did not report the group to the Gestapo himself but was tortured into betraying them.
    One hero of the Resistance was captured by the Gestapo and taken to the top floor of their building, where he knew he would be tortured. Once they reached the top of the stairs he threw himself over the railing and fell down six floors below, killing himself so that he would not be tempted to betray his friends.

  52. I’m sorry, Stu, I really can’t make head or tail of your rant. What’s “reductionist” about saying Frost and his poetry are more complicated than his image as an affable American rube or comparing his work to that of Valéry and Leśmian?

  53. some books feel closer than real people, so i don’t see anything wrong in people’s wanting to know more about their idols long passed away
    it’s a form of their continuation in people’s memory

  54. John Emerson says:

    No, Beckett was a member of a resistance group, one member of which was a German spy and also a (defrocked) man of God. It was a horrible story.
    Beckett himself seems to have been an examplary person in most respects. He even was a near-professional-caliber athlete in his youth. His biography made me admire him more; subconsciously I had identified him too much with his characters.
    Beneath was concealed a grim, hopeless vision of man’s fate.
    For Milosz I’m sure that this was not negative criticism. I think he admired him without agreeing him about everything.

  55. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Nij: That’s really interesting. Thank you very much.. Weird, because I’ve been all round that Plaza Garibaldi, but maybe it was too long ago. Yeah, let me know if they tell you any more. I think the Norwegian silver balls (sewn) is the way to go. I may be able to interest my daughter in it as a project.

  56. Well, JCass, I suppose I’m handicapped by not knowing about the grandfatherly image of Frost. I’ve only read him for myself. Hat will confirm lacunae in my familiarity with public froth, such as what a “winky” is, although I work in IT. I also have read little of Valéry – his Cahiers are forever being quoted by the philosophers I read.
    I was calling “reductionist” the idea that beneath the rube image is a “grim, hopeless” etc. What is “beneath” is being conceived of as more real, substantial, reducing what is “above” to the status of accident, appearance. Perhaps that sounds too abstract, but it’s only because one sentence can only hold so much. More of a handicap is the fact that I haven’t read Milosz’ article. Maybe I’d change my mind if I read it, but I doubt it, on the evidence of what you quoted. Maybe it doesn’t seem to merit a rant.

  57. It’s amazing how a good mutton curry can improve one’s mood.

  58. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Mark the Evangelist.
    In 828, relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria by two Venetian merchants and were taken to Venice, where the Byzantine Theodore of Amasea had previously been the patron saint. A basilica (St. Mark’s) was built there to house the relics.
    There is a mosaic on this Venetian basilica showing how the sailors covered the body relics with a layer of pork. Since Muslims are not allowed to touch pork, this action was done to prevent Muslim intervention in the relics removal.

    Pretty good trick, huh? Does the Office of Homeland Things know about pork? They could cover the US National Valuables with a pork-scented spray. Every spring the farmer round here sprays the fields with pig shit; it’s very pungent, you can smell it for miles and for days.

  59. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Grumbly Stu, I’ve never read Søren Kierkegård, because I’m not a believer. I might be able to fit him in towards the end of the year, but we’re already very, very booked up. Thanks for the tip, though.

  60. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Ok, Read. You’ve been reading …the Supreme Being. Sponge Bob? Steve Buscemi? Simone de Beauvoir? No, it was definitely a ‘he’. Subramanya Bharathi? Sainte-Beuve? Samuel Butler?

  61. i don’t want the spirits of all those you mentioned to haunt me, so
    i didn’t know who were Subramanya Bharathi and Samuel Butler though

  62. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Well, at least you’ve heard of Sponge Bob.

  63. JJ, I’m thinking particularly of Either/Or, his first book. No “leap of faith” business there, no obscure philosophico-religious droning. He is pretending to be two different people, writing about Mozart, comedies, seduction, marriage, esthetics, everything under the sun. It blew me away – nothing at all like what I had expected to encounter.
    Try it out – don’t bother to read any “background” about K, you don’t need it. Either/Or is itself background enough. Kierkegaard apparently attracts a lot of pseuds who want him to be exclusively mysterious and profound. But to start with, in Either/Or, it suffices to see him as a brilliant essayist, a magician not of card-tricks but of smoke and mirrors. I just looked at the German Wikipedia entry, and nearly dozed off. The English one had pretty much the same effect, although at least it contains this curious paragraph:

    Kierkegaard has also had a considerable influence on 20th-century literature. Figures deeply influenced by his work include W. H. Auden, Jorge Luis Borges, Hermann Hesse, Franz Kafka,[54] David Lodge, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Rainer Maria Rilke, and John Updike.[55]

    I read it in German. I trust there is an English translation by someone with literary talent. Auden and Borges would have made a great translating team.

  64. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Ok, done. Thanks. They’re a suspiciously religious-looking bunch of authors, though. I’m surprised Terry Eagleton isn’t in there.

  65. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Read, how’s SB? Can’t you put me out of my misery? …Otherwise I’m going to tell everybody at Conrad’s blog that you only read Sponge Bob comics.

  66. A.J. P. Crown says:

    It’s Endgame, isn’t it.

  67. i will read it next, meanwhile found Conrad’s blog thanks to your mentioning, thanks

  68. A.J. P. Crown says:

    You’re welcome. Conrad writes very well about London.

  69. John Emerson says:

    The great Danish writers known to the civilized world are Kierkegaard (= “cemetery”), Hans Christian Anderson, and Isak Dineson (who wrote in English).*
    To my knowledge they are not competitive in the Four Yorkshiremen game and never were apprentice ropemakers, but three more peculiar human beings could not be found anywhere in the world.** H C Anderson is supposedly the model for Uriah Heep.
    We must conclude that an all-pastry diet is not beneficial to the normality centers of the brain.
    *Naxo is not read in the civilized world.
    **Dineson was an extremely vivid character but would not be actionably weird in a serious World Court of Weirdness. She was included in order to complete the Olympic team.

  70. HCA had Marfan’s like Lincoln and Chukovsky they say, people with Marfan’s are very productive like their h-ormones forces them to be that and i recalled i read somewhere it was cited like an example of the disease genes working positively
    wikipedia says HCA fell out of bed and it was the cause of his injury and death, so
    but i agree orange wine and tropical heat with mosquitoes are hard to beat
    /wow, the word h-ormone is considered as like questionable content

  71. Arthur, I came across the expression about Gobi in “Texts for Nothing”, but since that functions as a sort of ragbag of bits from Beckett’s works past and future (Pozzo from Godot makes an early cameo), it could be in another work. I’m sure google will tell you in a moment, but I can’t be bothered to check it right now.

  72. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Thanks, Conrad. I’m glad you returned so quickly. I was a bit worried, because of your tendency to walk such long distances. There are no pubs in the Gobi Desert. Did everybody see the piece in the NY Times book review that Jamessal sent me, about Becket’s letters ?

  73. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Whore moans can be quite questionable. I think HCA and SK look alike. I really doubt that Dickens had HC in mind for Heep, Dickens liked HC, he just found him a bit tiresome (he came to stay for five weeks, uninvited).

  74. wow, the word h-ormone is considered as like questionable content
    Sorry about that, it’s one of those things I occasionally add to my blacklist in a fit of frustration over spammers. I’ve removed it, so we can discuss hormones as much as we like.

  75. -s, strikes

  76. John Emerson says:

    If socialism gives you anm erection lasting more than three days, consult a physician.

  77. John Emerson says:

    Another burning question: Was Mr. Churchyard a hunchback? Most recent studies say no. He was stooped and not very robust, but not hunched.

  78. A.J. P. Crun says:

    If I’m going to be verging on the prescriptivist, why not in Danish — a language I don’t even kno? Isn’t kirkegård ‘churchyard’, as it is in Norwegian? So what is Kierkegaard, then? An old spelling of kirkegård? (I think we’ve discussed before that using aa or å in your name is just a question of preference, but people stick to that preference.)
    Where is that Sili? He’s never here when I need him.

  79. From Wikipedia: “A spelling reform in 1948 introduced the letter å, already in use in Norwegian and Swedish, into the Danish alphabet to replace the letter aa; the old usage still occurs in some personal and geographical names and old documents (for example, the name of the city of Aalborg is spelled with Aa following a decision from the City Council in the 1970s).”

  80. A.J. P. Krun says:

    As everyone kno, the greatest great dane wasn’t Isak Dineson played by Meryl Streep flying an airplane, but Tycho Brahe. Nowadays he would have been a Swede, because Skåne is no longer in Denmark. I remember the Brahes are on John’s list of Swedish noble families, but I think everyone who counts considers him Danish — I know I do.

  81. A.J. P. Qrun says:

    Yeah, but that’s bollocks, as far as I know. If I want to call myself Storbraaten and not Storbråten I can do so. I could be wrong, of course.

  82. A.J. P. Q says:

    Look, forget the double A. I was really wondering if kirke had replaced kierke at some point.

  83. marie-lucie says:

    Isak Dineson
    It is a Danish name: Dinesen.

  84. We never found out the context of “mean” in Frost’s notebook entry, if indeed the answer is given somewhere behind the subscription barrier. Is it “nasty”, “average”, or “humble”?

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