My Favorite Christmas Poem…

…  is the glorious middle english masterpiece, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and rather too long to share here.    I am listening to the lovely Simon Armitage translation,   which includes along with the alliterative poetic translation a full reading of the poem in the original middle english.

One may read the original text of here, courtesy of the University of Toronto libraries.     The goodly and honest readers at  offer a fine reading of W.A. Neilson’s prose translation,  the text of which  can be found here, courtesy of the York University, also in Toronto.

May you one and all have a wonderful holiday season, blessed with friends, family, frivolity and cheer!


A poem currently on my mind.

I encountered a quote from this recently – a few lines of the last stanza,  and was so star struck that I had to find the whole work.   It’s a fine read,  and worth memorizing.   I’ve taken a great deal of comfort and insight from reflecting on it.

The Old Astronomer to his Pupil –  Sarah Williams, 1868

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ’tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and smiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles!

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

Poetry Project Prompt Post

Following a link on my friend Teabird’s blog, I have just learned about the Poetry Project. I love the alliterative mundanity of the post title this lets me use.

– by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sorrow like a ceaseless rain
Beats upon my heart.
People twist and scream in pain, —
Dawn will find them still again;
This has neither wax nor wane,
Neither stop nor start.

People dress and go to town;
I sit in my chair.
All my thoughts are slow and brown:
Standing up or sitting down
Little matters, or what gown
Or what shoes I wear.

A lovely poem you’ve never read.

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,

But as for me, alas, I may no more;

The vain travail hath wearied me so sore.

Yet may I by no means my wearied mind

Draw from the deer: but as she fleeth afore,

Fainting I follow.  I leave off therefore,

Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.

Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,

As well as I may spend his time in vain:

And, graven with diamonds, in letters plain

There is written her fair neck round about:

Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am;

And wylde for to hold, though I seem tame.

–Sir Thomas Wyatt, 1503-1542

from the Petrarch

100 Books

I saw this on face,  and since it was on the profile of a person I don’t really care for (old college frenemy),  and I’m feeling competetive today,  I thought I’d give it a go.  He had read 36 of the books.

1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen   X +
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien  X +
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte  X
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee X
6 The Bible X
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell X +
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller X +
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare X +
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier X
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien X +
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger X +
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald X +
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy X
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams X +
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky X +
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck X +
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll X +
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame X +
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis X +
34 Emma – Jane Austen X +
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen X +
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis (What’s up with Narnia being on here twice?) X +
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini X +
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne X +
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell X +
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving X +
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery X +
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood X +
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding X
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert X +
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen X +
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley X
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon X +
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov X +
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold X +
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville X +
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens X +
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker X +
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett X +
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce X +
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray X +
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens X +
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker X +
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
() 86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White X +
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X +
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery X +
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams X
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas X
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare X +
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl X +
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo X +

55 – not bad.   Some books I mean to read, some I wish I hadn’t.   All in all, I’ve got to say…. 55 is more then 36.  /gloat.

Which I have not seen before, and leads me to believe I need to read more Whitman.

Unfolded Out Of The Folds
by Walt Whitman
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman, man comes unfolded, and is
always to come unfolded;
Unfolded only out of the superbest woman of the earth, is to come the
superbest man of the earth;
Unfolded out of the friendliest woman, is to come the friendliest
Unfolded only out of the perfect body of a woman, can a man be form’d
of perfect body;
Unfolded only out of the inimitable poem of the woman, can come the
poems of man–(only thence have my poems come;)
Unfolded out of the strong and arrogant woman I love, only thence can
appear the strong and arrogant man I love;
Unfolded by brawny embraces from the well-muscled woman I love, only
thence come the brawny embraces of the man;
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman’s brain, come all the folds of
the man’s brain, duly obedient;
Unfolded out of the justice of the woman, all justice is unfolded;
Unfolded out of the sympathy of the woman is all sympathy: 10
A man is a great thing upon the earth, and through eternity–but
every jot of the greatness of man is unfolded out of woman,
First the man is shaped in the woman, he can then be shaped in

In which Anna goes shopping, and knits.

I got to go to the yarn shop today!

I got a lovely bundle of Romney roving – 6 oz. I love the color on this. Also some more wool wash.

Romney Roving

A copy of the current Vogue Knitting, and a book I’ve been wanting for a while – Montse Stanley’s Knitter’s Handbook.
New Books

And I’ve been working on Kelly’s wedding shawl, my Ravelympics project. I’ve completed the first 19 rows, and all the single bead rows. Next up – triple bead rows. I have 276 stitches on the needles, up from 60 cast on, and 36/504 pearls.

Ravelympics Day 2.

In which Anna knits a sock, and buys books.

The local big box bookstore is having it’s end of January clearance sale right now, which is always a good opportunity to pick up books. We went Saturday evening, and here’s my haul:


My own copy of The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, so that I can stop paying to rent it from the library, two books by Jim Harrison ( they didn’t have the one I wanted though, Farmer), a nice hardback copy of The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie to replace my tattered paperback, and Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman. That last one wasn’t on sale — but I ran into some friends from my Monday knit night by the knitting section, and and and….. how could it have ended otherwise?

Oh, and that one on the bottom? Not a book – chocolate. I thought it was filled chocolates, but it turned out to be a presentation box of little individually wrapped solid chocolate wafers. Very yummy – and definitely moderation friendly.

Here is my Dublin Bay sock (opens the PDF) in progress:

Dublin Bay in Tea&Cream

This is being knit in that gorgeous Tea & Cream yarn that I got from the Loopy Ewe, on size 1 needles. Melanie and I are knitting this together, and I am quite enjoying it – the lace pattern is simple and charming, and vaguely familiar. It’s almost identical to the turkish stitch that I make my string bags with. I’m pretty happy with how fast it knits – and how easy it is to pick up the pattern when I’ve had to rip it back. Some lace you just can’t rip back, but this one is easy to read.

Madeline L’Engle: 1918-2007

I have always wondered if she took private amusement in the first line of A Wrinkle In Time.  I hope so.   I know that it always gives me immense pleasure to read those famous (infamous?) words.

Requiscat in pace, Madeline.   I hope that you have found your ring of endless light.

The World
by Henry Vaughn (1621-1695)


I saw Eternity the other night
Like a great Ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright,
And round beneath it, Time is hours, days, years
Driven by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov’d, in which the world
And all her train were hurl’d;
The doting lover in his quaintest strain
Did there complain,
Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights,
Wit’s sour delights,
With gloves, and knots the silly snares of pleasure
Yet his dear treasure
All scatter’d lay, while he his eyes did pour
Upon a flower.

The darksome statesman hung with weights and woe
Like a thick midnight fog mov’d there so slow
He did nor stay, nor go;
Condemning thoughts (like sad eclipses) scowl
Upon his soul,
And clouds of crying witnesses without
Pursued him with one shout.
Yet digg’d the mole, and lest his ways be found
Work’d under ground,
Where he did clutch his prey, but one did see
That policy,
Churches and altars fed him, perjuries
Were gnats and flies,
It rain’d about him blood and tears, but he
Drank them as free.

The fearful miser on a heap of rust
Sat pining all his life there, did scarce trust
His own hands with the dust,
But would not place one piece above, but lives
In fear of thieves.
Thousands there were as frantic as himself
And hugg’d each one his pelf,
The downright epicure plac’d heav’n in sense
And scorn’d pretnece
While others slipt into a wide excess
Said little less;
The weaker sort slight, trivial wares enslave
Who think them brave,
And poor, despised Truth sat counting by
Their victory.

Yet some, who all this while did weep and sing,
And sing, and weep, soar’d up into the Ring,
But most would use no wing.
O fools (said I,) thus to prefer dark night
Before true light,
To live in grots, and caves, and hate the day
Because it shows the way,
The way which from the dead and dark abode
Leads up to God,
A way where you might tread the Sun, and be
More bright than he.
But as I did their madness so discuss
One whisper’d thus,
“This Ring the Bridegroom did for none provide
But for his bride.”