1) What the English of Shakespeare, Beowulf, and King Arthur actually sounded like. James Harbeck’s conceit is “Let’s hop into a time machine and go back to the England of yore!” He makes stops at Shakespeare (a sonnet read by Ben Crystal), Chaucer (read by Diane Jones), a century earlier (a Middle English song performed by the Anonymous 4), and Beowulf; don’t get excited (as I did) when the machine goes back to the time of King Arthur — there’s no reconstructed Old Brythonic. Instead, we get the Breton singer Nolwenn Leroy singing about three young sailors. And the video clips are in the wrong order, which is a bit annoying. But it’s worth it to hear Benjamin Bagby’s stentorian rendition of “Hwæt! We Gardena…”
2) Stan Carey has a nice post about Yeats’s handwriting (which “resembles a mouse’s electrocardiogram” according to Daniel Albright), spelling, and punctuation, featuring a quote from Albright’s preamble to the Everyman Library edition of Yeats’s poems which he edited:
[…] I suppose that Yeats was too ignorant of punctuation to make his deviations from standard practice significant. Although Yeats surely wished to make his canon a text worthy of reverence, he conceived poetry as an experience of the ear, not of the eye. He could not spell even simple English words; he went to his grave using such forms as intreage [‘intrigue’] and proffesrship. His eyesight was so poor that he gave up fiction-writing because the proof-reading was too strenuous. Finally, Yeats himself admitted, ‘I do not understand stops. I write my work so completely for the ear that I feel helpless when I have to measure pauses by stops and commas’.
3) The wilderness library, by P. Sainath: “At 73, P.V. Chinnathambi runs one of the loneliest libraries anywhere. In the middle of the forested wilderness of Kerala’s Idukki district, the library’s 160-books — all classics — are regularly borrowed, read, and returned by poor, Muthavan adivasis.” Great photos. (Thanks, Trevor!)
4) The meaning and origin of the expression: At sixes and sevens. Phrases.org says about all that can be said about this mysterious phrase. (Thanks, Paul!)