Contemplating Destinations

It reads like an homage to the gazetteer form.

Nowhere is the appeal of the airport more concentrated than in the television screens that hang in rows from the terminal ceilings to announce the departure and arrival of flights, whose absence of aesthetic self-consciousness and whose workmanlike casing and pedestrian typefaces do nothing to disguise their emotional charge and imaginative allure. Tokyo, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Warsaw, Seattle, Rio. The screens bear all the poetic resonance of the last line of James Joyce's Ulysses, which is at once a record of where the novel was written and, no less important, a symbol of the cosmopolitan spirit behind its composition: "Trieste, Zurich, Paris." The constant calls of the screens, some accompanied by the impatient pulsating of a cursor, suggest with what ease our seemingly entrenched lives might be altered were we simply to walk down a corridor and onto a craft that in a few hours would land us in a place of which we had no memories and where no one knew our name. How pleasant to hold in mind though the crevasses of our moods, at three in the afternoon, when lassitude and despair threaten, that there is always a plane taking off for somewhere, for Baudelaire's 'anywhere! anywhere!: Trieste, Zurich, Paris.

Alain De Botton. "On Travelling Places" in The Art of Travel
And a shelf of books in a library?

And so for day 2219

Food in Lear

Most of his limericks that feature food are devoted to the demise of the character due to overeating or feature curious food choices such as spiders. This limerick stands out for me because not only of its edible element but also by its position in the last line.

There was an Old Man of the coast,
Who placidly sat on a post;
        But when it was cold
        He relinquished his hold
And called for some hot buttered toast.
Implied is some domestic help able and willing to supply the requested sustenance.

Edward Lear. Complete Nonsense.

And so for day 2218

Gate and Way

These lines are from a stanza (room) at the end of the first page of the first poem (not the end of the poem). The omniscient third person speaker keeps the distance between guest and host alive with possibility and speaks with authority about the future which is figured in the sleeping babies.

The guests are leaving. They say goodnight.
It's a long way to the next house, long as from planet to planet.
Sleeping babies in their arms just got the first lesson:
how to open the door. The rest they will learn.
Goran Simić Immigrant Blues "Open the Door" translated by Amela Simić.

And so for day 2217

Howard "Trapping" Browning

Opening lines of the dramatic monologue by Robert Browning, "My Last Duchess" where the Duke of Ferrara guides a visitor to a portrait

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
As the poem progresses the reader intimates that the Duke had her murdered.

It is this story that gives bite to Richard Howard's "Nikolaus Mardruz to His Master Ferdinand, Count of Tyrol, 1565" and the speaker is a diplomat arranging a marriage.
     as his avarice,
     no "cause" for dismay:
once ensconced here as the Duchess, your daughter
     need no more apprehend the Duke’s
                         murderous temper
                         than his matchless taste.
     For I have devised a means whereby
the dowry so flagrantly pursued by our
     insolvent Duke ("no
     just pretence of mine
be disallowed" indeed!), instead of being
     paid as he pleads in one globose sum,
                         should drip into his
                         coffers by degrees —
     say, one fifth each year—then after five
such years, the dowry itself to be doubled,
     always assuming
     that Her Grace enjoys
her usual smiling health. The years are her
Further relishing the moment is provided by the fact that Howard collects this poem in a book entitled Trappings.

And so for day 2216

Concentration Contemplation

Nelson Ball in the introduction to Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer by bpNicol (Coach House Press, 2004) writes

Concrete poetry at its best is a contemplative poetry, allowing the writer and the reader to consider visual, aural and literal meanings together.
We add that this type of contemplation actively engages the lips and eyes.

And so for day 2215

The Italian Side

A note on translation by Maureen B. Fant.

The first time I wrote Italian recipes for an American publisher, I was shocked to realize how far over to the Italian side I'd slid in my thirty years in Italy. I didn't own an instant-read thermometer and hadn't touched my measuring spoons in decades. I know when my garlic was golden by looking at it — no idea how long it took to get there. And yet, when you get right down to it, I still have my U.S. passport, and I still want a recipe to tell me what to do.
Just what is the Italian side?
And yet there is an elegance to the formal, elliptical Italian recipe style, which Oretta represents. There is something seductive about cooking without a safety net of numbers, and there is considerable logic to the refusal to give temperatures and timing for somebody else's equipment or for quantities of salt without first tasting the salty ingredients. Are we all cooking in identical laboratories? Certainly not.
Oretta Zanni de Vita and Maureen B. Fant Pasta the Italian Way: Sauces and Shapes.

And so for day 2214

Dream Snatcher - Poem Hatcher

From biology through mythology, Kay Ryan ends this poem with an allusion to Coleridge's Visitor. Don't answer the door. Make some time, just some wee bit of time, to relish the judiciously placed repetition . . . as if examining the patterns of yolk splatter.

A chick has just so much time
to chip its way out, just so much
One backward look by any of us
can cost what it cost Orpheus.
Neither may you answer
the stranger's knock:
you know it is the Person from Porlock
who has dreams for dinner,
his napkin stained the most delicate colors.
Kay Ryan "Doubt" in The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press, 2010)

And so for day 2213

Gene Splicing

Stitching a new beast ...

ABC The Aleph Beth Book, bpNichol (Oberon Press, 1971)
"Tune" in The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, Kay Ryan (Grove Press, 2010)

And so for day 2212

Dogs in Homer

Priam to Hector in Lisa Jarnot's translation from Book XXII of The Iliad:

And then for me
last of all
that at my door
the hungry dogs
will feast upon my flesh,
that someone with a
heave of gleaming bronze
will pull life from my limbs —
and even that the dogs in my own halls
those that I fed and those
that were bred to stand watch at the door —
they will lap up all my blood
in their heart-wild frenzy
and then will sleep fast
at the gate.
(You should also see what she does with crocodiles in Reptile House)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

See also "Dogs and Heroes in Homer" Bernard Knox's review of
Nature and Culture in the Iliad: The Tragedy of Hector
by James M. Redfield
A Companion to the Iliad (Based on the Translation by Richmond Lattimore)
by Malcolm M. Willcock
in New York Review of Books April 29, 1976 Issue
The dog, in Homer, is a predator and scavenger; he is "the most completely domesticated animal but he remains an animal. The dog thus represents man’s resistance to acculturation" and "stands for an element within us that is permanently uncivilized." The danger run by the warrior, who, according to Redfield, "stands on the frontier of culture and nature," is that he may become a dog — a transformation suggested often in the similes — and more, a cannibal. This is a theme often hinted at and finally brought into the open in Achilles' wish that he could bring himself to chop Hector's flesh and eat it raw (XXII 347).
The dog is thus an emblem of the impurity of battle. The warrior becomes a mad dog as he enacts the inner contradiction of battle. On behalf of a human community the warrior is impelled to leave community and act in an inhuman way. He becomes a distorted, impure being; great in his power, he is at the same time reduced to something less than himself.
Hector was a mad dog in the rage of battle but he is now a corpse. "To the passive impurity of Hector—marked by the impure condition of his body — corresponds the active impurity of Achilles — marked by his inability to find any limit to his act."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks to the work of Jarnot, it is in the pathos invoked by Priam that lingers long after reading the speeches of Achilles and Hector. The image of one's own dogs drinking one's own blood is rendered all the more striking by the figure of the sleeping dogs at the end of the speech.

And so for day 2211


"Odd Blocks" — it's the opening poem to Kay Ryan's The Best of It: New and Selected Poems".

monuments to
randomness become
fixed points in
finding home.
And why not
also in the self,
the odd blocks,
all lost and left,
become first facts
toward which later
a little town
looks back?
Self and landscape — also applicable to the elements of the poem and the poems of the book. Embedded in the middle of "Odd Blocks" is the statement that marks both a beginning and an ending: "Order is always / starting over." A set of lines that sticks out in its own way with a different lithology.

Erratic: An erratic is a boulder transported and deposited by a glacier having a lithology different than the bedrock upon which it is sitting. Erratics are useful indicators of patterns of former ice flow.

And so for day 2210