Monday, 20 January 2020

Poetry Revisited: Winter by Frances Anne Kemble


(from Poems: 1859)

I saw him on his throne, far in the North,
Him ye call Winter, picturing him ever
An aged man, whose frame with palsied shiver
Bends o’er the fiery element, his foe.
But him I saw was a young god whose brow
Was crown’d with jagged icicles, and forth
From his keen spirit-like eyes there shone a light
Broad, glaring, and intensely cold and bright.
His breath, like sharp-edged arrows, pierced the air ;
The naked earth crouched shuddering at his feet ;
His finger on all murmuring waters sweet
Lay icily, motion nor sound was there;
Nature seem’d frozen dead; and still and slow
A winding sheet fell o’er her features fair,
Flaky and white from his white wings of snow.

Frances Anne Kemble (1809-1893)
British actress and writer

Monday, 13 January 2020

Poetry Revisited: Dirge for the Year by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Dirge for the Year

(from Posthumous Poems: 1824)

Orphan hours, the year is dead;
          Come and sigh, come and weep;
Merry hours smile instead,
          For the year is but asleep:
See, it smiles as it is sleeping,
Mocking your untimely weeping.

As an earthquake rocks a corse
          In its coffin in the clay,
So white Winter, that rough nurse,
          Rocks the dead-cold year to-day.
Solemn hours ! wail aloud
For your mother in her shroud.

As the wild air stirs and sways
          The tree-swung cradle of a child,
So the breath of these rude days
          Rocks the year: be calm and mild,
Trembling hours; she will arise
With new love within her eyes.

January grey is here,
          Like a sexton by her grave;
February bears the bier,
          March with grief doth howl and rave;
And April weeps but, O ye hours!
Follow with May's fairest flowers.

January 1, 1821

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
English Romantic poet

Friday, 10 January 2020

Bookish Déjà-Vu: The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman by Andrzej Szczypiorski

National Socialism brought the horrors of totalitarianism, race hatred and war virtually all over Europe, but without doubt, Poland was one of the places where it showed its evil face most clearly. Many of the Jewish ghettos and German concentration camps were on occupied Polish territory and the war swept over the country first eastwards, then back westwards. Moreover, there was the well-organised and strong Polish Resistance giving the occupants a hard life and the prosecuted every possible support. Thanks to the excellent forged papers provided by it and to her model Aryan looks, the protagonist of The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman by Andrzej Szczypiorski, which I picked as a bookish déjà-vu, managed to escape sure deportation from Warsaw for years. When an old acquaintance and Jewish informer crosses her way and hands her over to the Nazi authorities to save his own skin, the Resistance comes to her rescue again…

Read my review »

Monday, 6 January 2020

Poetry Revisited: En la festividad de los Santos Reyes – On the Feast of the Holy Kings by St. Teresa of Avila

En la festividad
de los Santos Reyes

(de Obras de Sta Teresa de Jesús,
Tomo VI: 1919)

Pues la estrella
es ya llegada,
vaya con los Reyes
la mi manada.

Vamos todas juntas
a ver el Mesías,
pues vemos cumplidas
ya las profecías.
Pues en nuestros días,
es ya llegada,
vaya con los Reyes
la mi manada.

Llevémosle dones
de grande valor,
pues vienen los Reyes,
con tan gran hervor.
Alégrese hoy
nuestra gran Zagala,
vaya con los Reyes
la mi manada.

No cures, Llorente,
de buscar razón,
para ver que es Dios
aqueste garzón.
Dale el corazón,
y yo esté empeñada:
vaya con los Reyes
la mi manada.

Santa Teresa de Jesús (1515-1582),
nombre secular Teresa Sánchez
de Cepeda Dávila y Ahumada
monja, mística y esritora española

On the Feast
of the Holy Kings

(from Works of St. Teresa of Avila,
Volume VI: 1919)

Now that the star
Has aready arrived,
Go With the Kings
My flock.

Let’s go all together
To see the Messiah,
Now that we see fulfilled
Already the prophecies.
Now that in our days
It has already arrived,
Go With the Kings
My flock.

Let’s bring him presents
Of great Worth,
Now that the Kings are coming
With such great surge.
Today she rejoices
Our great young girl,
Go With the Kings
My flock.

Don’t bother, Llorente,
To search a reason,
To see that it’s God
This young boy.
Give him the heart
And I be indebted:
Go With the Kings
My flock.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582),
secular name Teresa Sánchez
de Cepeda Dávila y Ahumada
Spanish nun, mystic and writer

Literal translation:
© Edith Lagrazaiana 2020

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

2020 Reading Challenges

Happy New Year! So here we are again at the beginning of a year, even of a new decade this time. Let’s hope that it will have many literary treats – contemporary and classical – in store for us! On Edith’s Miscellany I intend to take things easier in 2020 although my reading list is just as full as usual. I’ve already made my preliminary choice of twenty-six books to review in the odd weeks to come, but if I feel like it I might present the one or other additional one in an even week. As for reading challenges, I decided to sign up again for one that I did already a few times and to continue with the posts for the perpetual one that I’ve been in since 2014. Otherwise, I’ll fill my lines, i.e. I’ll see to it that by the end of the year there will be just as many female as male authors for every letter of the alphabet in my all-time review list.

In 2020, I’m participating in the *New* Decade Challenge of the GOODREADS Bookcrossers Group for the third time in a row. My plan for the next twelve months is to read for it 12 Volumes of Representative Fiction from 120 Years of World Literature starting in the early 1900s through the decade that has just ended. As usual, I’ll have an eye on linguistic diversity choosing books originally written in twelve different languages although I’m afraid that most of them will come from European countries, after all. Literature from other cultures isn’t always easy to get hereabouts, even less in English translation, but I’ll do my best. And of course, I’ll post my book reviews on Edith’s Miscellany and teasers on GOODREADS.

»»» my reading list for 12 Volumes of Representative Fiction from 120 Years of World Literature will go online in due time.

The perpetual reading challenge that I mentioned above is called Read the Nobels. Aloi aka the Guiltless Reader has been hosting it for years with the declared aim to give the writings of the now 116 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature more attention. It’s really a pity that I’m almost the only one left who still posts review duplicates on the Read the Nobels blog. On my own list of en-NOBEL-ed writers, I’ve already ticked off the names of half of the laureates… which leaves me the other half still to discover or to get back to as in the case of Ernest Hemingway or Henryk Sienkiewicz respectively. I expect to read books from the pens of at least four more of them by the end of this year.

»»» see my post for Read the Nobels with the complete list of winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature and the links to my own book reviews here on Edith's Miscellany and on Lagraziana’s Kalliopeion.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Poetry Revisited: Not Yet by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

Not Yet

(from Poems: 1908)

Time brought me many another friend
               That loved me longer.
New love was kind, but in the end
               Old love was stronger.

Years come and go. No New Year yet
               Hath slain December.
And all that should have cried — “Forget!“
               Cries but — “Remember!“

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge (1861-1907)
British novelist and poet

Friday, 27 December 2019

Bookish Déjà-Vu: A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

In The Wizard of Oz little Dorothy learns that “there’s no place like home” although her adventures ended well and she made good friends along the way. Not every return home leads to the same nostalgic illumination, though, especially when much time has passed and there’s little left to remind of the old days. Things change. People come and go like buildings, entire neighbourhoods or even nature. But a return home can as well mean a new start like in my bookish déjá-vu A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy. After twenty years in the USA, Geraldine comes over to her Irish home town for a holiday and then stays for good to bring new life to a run-down old mansion remodelling it with the help of friends and relatives into a cosy little country hotel. Guests with very different backgrounds and sorrows arrive for the grand opening in December…
Read my review »