Richibi’s Weblog

Just another weblog

Month: October, 2012

happy hallowe’en

                                                                                                                                                        just in time a brew to invigorate the season,
courtesy of Shakespeare 


               (from “Macbeth”, act IV, scene 1)


Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot. 

           Double, double toil and trouble; 
           Fire burn and cauldron bubble.  
                                                                                                                                               Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

           Double, double toil and trouble; 
           Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

            Double, double toil and trouble;
            Fire burn and cauldron bubble


                                  William Shakespeare




“Song of the South”‏ – Walt Disney

it’s been over fifty years since I’ve seen this movie,
never thought I’d see it again but now for the magic
of the Internet, the boundless trove of irreducible
treasures, like those in Ali-Baba’s caves, or the
attics of our ancestors, stowed away, open again
to our poetic or otherwise imaginations, at our
very fingertips
I remembered this movie to be wonderful, moving,
but not much else, except for the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-
Dah” theme, which is unforgettable, and a single
plot twist it would be unchivalrous to divulge 
it has apparently been controversial, and is
presently banned, it would appear, in cinemas,
but it would be to my mind as racially insensitive
as “Huckleberry Finn”, “Tom Sawyer’, or even
“Gone with the Wind” have been, when they
were patently giving voice rather to a shocking
human cultural, and political, abomination, 
however awkwardly, that is still powerfully,
shamefully, even manifestly, resonant
this is not a universal, note, condition, every
season for any culture has its bugbears, its
demons and monsters, and woe to the
unfortunate and inadvertent victim 
in perhaps his most wonderful movie, and there
were quite a few, Song of the South“, Walt Disney 
lets us know that we’re all in this together, and
that kindness meets kindness in everyone, when
you open your heart 
and that the reverse is horrible 
Walt Disney is of course one of the great cultural
influences of the 20th Century, dismissed among
the titans as merely for kids
Walt Disney will be for an entire generation the
place where we learned our moral ABCs, much
more than in the dire Bible
as such he’s no less significant an artist, not at
all less significant, than Monet, Picasso, for
instance, Beethoven, Shakespeare, in shaping
our present moral and aesthetic world 
you’ll need some Kleenex 
you can also sing along 
psst: filmed, I’m sure, right here in beautiful Stanley
         Park behind my place in Vancouver, even the
         animated portions    

“The Trojan Women” – Euripides

the purpose of any art essentially is to either
inform or entertain, preferably both together,
therefore comedy would be associated with
entertaining whereas tragedy with informing
and, as such, this last would be perhaps more
intellectually demanding, so be it 
the strength nevertheless of great tragedy is in
its level of delivering immediacy and fascination,
which is to say entertainment, of great comedy
its obverse, insight  
The Trojan Women” was written in 415 BC by
Euripides, a tragedian at the very summit still,
2400 years later, count them, of remarkable 
historical achievement 
the war with Troy had taken place a full 800
hundred years earlier, Homer had written the
alternate Bible to our Western civilization,
The Iliad“, still with Proust to my mind the
very summit of our Occidental accomplishment,  
resonating across the ages as powerfully as
even the pyramids, extraordinary to read,
from about, again count them, astounding
millennia, nearly unimaginable centuries, 
850 BC  
Helen had been abducted from Sparta, according
to that side of the story, by Paris, the son of King
Priam of Troy, she had been whisked away not
unwillingly according to that prince of that city,
from where she became known to us as Helen of
Troy, rather than of her original Sparta
the Trojan War ensued
the Trojans were creamed by the Achaeans, the
Greeks, the Spartans, interchangeable terms,
under Menelaus, king of Sparta, and his brother,
Agamemnon, older brother, and king of Mycenae,
the greater incorporating kingdom   
the Trojan women remain to pay the price of
war, after so many centuries still their horror is
vivid, nor do we need to look far for equivalent
modern instances, they were all slaughtered or
enslaved, ‘nough, or maybe not ‘nough, said 
here we get perhaps the best interpretation
we’ll ever see, with a cast we’ll probably not
in a long while again put together – Katharine
Hepburn in perhaps her greatest role – “Once
I was queen in Troy”, she says, and you will
profoundly believe her – Vanessa Redgrave
doesn’t get ever much better as she reaches
chthonically, which is to say from the very
entrails of her earth, her soul, for a cry of
anguish you are not likely to ever forget – 
Geneviève Bujold, a mad Cassandra, and
Irene Papas, the very incarnation of the
most beautiful woman in the world
all tear up the screen in their moments,
leaving you breathless and helpless before
their art and evocative power, only Helen,
because of her beauty, insidiously manages
in the story to reasonably comfortably
survive, making mincemeat meanwhile
out of her big bad, he would have it, 
Helen had been the gift to Paris, who’d had
to choose among the goddesses, Hera, Athena,
Aphrodite, which of these was the most
beautiful, but only when Aphrodite had bribed
him with the gift of the most beautiful woman
in the world instead of from either other deity
power and glory, had he chosen Helen
the other two of course reponded with the
devastation at Troy, Olympians were not prone
to be easy, Christian mercy would find in that
pagan unequivalency propitious ground 
wonderful rendering of the traditional Greek
chorus – the Greek version of back-up girls,
“doo-wop, doo-wop” or “she loves him, she
loves him” – commenting on the tempestuous
one of my favourite ever films   



“Années de pèlerinage” – Franz Liszt

                                                                                                                                                      Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886)

    Années de pèlerinage 

         Première année: Suisse (published in 1855)

                1 Chapelle de Guillaume Tell
                2 Au lac de Wallenstadt
                3 Pastorale
                4 Au bord d’une source
                5 Orage
                6 Vallée d’Obermann
                7 Églogue
                8 Le mal du pays
                9 Les cloches de Genève

                                    Alfred Brendel, pianoforte
          Deuxième année – Italie (published in 1858)
                   1 Sposalizio
                   2 Il Pensieroso
                   3 Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa 
                   4 Sonetto 47 del Petrarca
                   5 Sonetto 104 del Petrarca
                   6 Sonetto 123 del Petrarca
                   7 Après une lecture du Dante. Fantasia quasi una Sonata
                                           Lazar Berman, piano


         Troisième année  (published in 1883)
                1 Angélus! Prière aux anges gardiens
                2 Aux cyprès de la Villa d’Este I 
                3 Aux cyprès de la Villa d’Este II
                4 Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este
                5 Sunt lacrymae rerum
                6 Marche funèbre
                7 Sursum corda

                                            Lazar Berman, piano

music as literature



XXVl. I lived with visions for my company – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXVl. I lived with visions for my company

I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweeter music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world’s dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes. Then THOU didst come–to be,
Belovèd, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendours (better, yet the same,
As river-water hallowed into fonts),
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants
Because God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


compare Joyce Kilmer‘s

“Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”

from Kilmer‘s Trees“, where Elizabeth Barrett Browning
in her poem has of course a much more Romantic view
of things nearly a century earlier, and where the source
of her telling light is rather the much more human
Robert Browning

a fair match, I first wondered, Browning or a tree

then thought, what do I now mean, a good one
and two respective centuries later, by God, the
genesis of all this inscrutable incontrovertible
horn of bounteous and wondrous plenty

I am of course still wondering, despite even the
Sisyphean exponentiality of those wonders

in the end I believe a tree is no less the equal
of a Robert Browning, as proof of the divine

about the divine itself however I’ll reserve
judgment, though my own personal experience
of miracles has made me believe in at least the
ineffably miraculous, the immanence ever of a
mystical, multidimensional order – “There are
more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, /
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

maybe therefore of the divine

but this could easily be just ultimately empty

so presently I cede

interesting that the question was even popping
up however, finally, after centuries of obligatory
Christian, and obfuscating, dogma, a personal
quest, rather than adherence by ecclesiastical
ordinance, for a proof of God


the importance of believing in your dreams‏

                                                                                                                                                 today on the Internet I was looking for something
completely different when I inadvertently fell upon
this, for a movie I’ve never been able to abide
Shirley MacLaine won her only Oscar, having missed
out on her other way more wonderful performances,
Irma la Douce“, “The Apartment“, her unforgettable  
Some Came Running“, where she makes easy
mincemeat out of both already established celebrities
Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, for instance  

here in her acceptance speech she reminds us how                                       integral our reality can be to our dreams 


XXV. A heavy heart, Belovèd, have I borne – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXV. A heavy heart, Belovèd, have I borne

A heavy heart, Belovèd, have I borne
From year to year until I saw thy face,
And sorrow after sorrow took the place
Of all those natural joys as lightly worn
As the stringed pearls, each lifted in its turn
By a beating heart at dance-time. Hopes apace
Were changed to long despairs, till God’s own grace
Could scarcely lift above the world forlorn
My heavy heart. Then thou didst bid me bring
And let it drop adown thy calmly great
Deep being! Fast it sinketh, as a thing
Which its own nature doth precipitate,
While thine doth close above it, mediating
Betwixt the stars and the unaccomplished fate.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


despite a rigorous rhyme scheme and a mostly
strict iambic pentameter here, which is to say
each verse is given five, or penta, metres, or
beats, where iambic means that the accent is
on the second syllable of each of those five
individual metres, ta-da, ta-da, ta-da times
five, should your Greek be understandably
amiss, Elizabeth still manages to skew the
pace of the piece again in this instance,
turning her poetry, as always, into a more
direct and purposeful prose

just try to follow the sentence metrically as
in a more traditional poem, or song, you’ll
block her headlong and unfettered propulsion

alteration of the beat is not much different
from what composers were doing then with
music, the early eighteen-hundreds, not much
different indeed at all, and which they did for
the very same particular reason, greater
authenticity, the truth part of the iconic
imperatives of beauty and truth

incidentally, where Elizabeth was trying to
invigorate poetry by giving it the apparent
immediacy of prose you might’ve noted
that in my own flurry of literary tidbits,
however ever so humble, I’ve been quite
consciously peppering prose rather with
the elements of poetry, for better or for
worse, but in my mind to reflect a less,
dare I say, prosaic, more inherently
enchanting, vision of the world


“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” – Thomas Gray

                                            for Wills (and June)

when a friend told of her sister’s sudden death only
a day after they’d laughed over the phone together
I could only think of words for her of condolence,
but which could never reach the depth of compassion
I intended in so grievous a fall 
I looked for an appropriate poem in my recall of
those that had profoundly touched me to do with
came first to my memory despite the very nearly half
century since I’d read it, “tolling” still despite those
many intervening years 
it is no wonder I remembered, it is upon reading it
again the most beautiful poem I’ve ever come upon 
it isn’t a short poem, 128 lines
but give yourself a private moment  just to ponder,
assimilate, it’s searing wisdom