Friday, September 25, 2009

The Staffordshire Hoard.

"You're not going out trudging fields with that machine of yours are you?"
"One day I'll find something really impressive"
"Fat chance"

The "staffordshire hoard" was found this year by a man with a metal detector. The Anglo-Saxons come to life again.
The slide show on flickr is stunning:

The staffordshire Hoard

And the excitement round the traps is palpable.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

medieval films continued:An African Beowulf

An African Beowulf:

There's a trailer


and a discussion of the sadly predictable response in some circles


With any adaptation there is little point in leaping up and down because something has been changed..whether it’s an African Beowulf or the “president’s big push” and “holocaust’ in Jane Holland’s “Lament of the Wanderer”. The interesting question is what do these things do with the original? Do they invite us to go back and rethink our assumptions? Or do they diminish the poem by making it something lesser?
So I have shelled out pennies for a copy, knowing that the money is going to American and Norwegian Cancer research (or so the story goes). And I will report back… It cannot be any worse than the animated version.

Monday, September 21, 2009

set questions for "For all We Know" and "Quiver"

Questions for Quiver as a way of answering why I think it doesn't work.
(WHich I will try and answer later)

1) what is the narrator’s name
2) who is Mara and what is/was Mara’s exact relationship to Will and Nate?
3) Why has Mara been killed? In fact is it Mara or her twin who has been killed?
4) Who is the woman who looks like Mara (Twin or clone)?
5) How did Mara or the woman who looks like her have access to the narrator’s poems? What is the point of her having access to them?
6) What is the point of the long mythological piece?
7) Why was Mara/clone/Twin killed?
8) Who tries to Kill the narrator?
9) Why does mara/twin/clone kill Nate?
10) What is the point of all of this?

Why does my inability to answer these questions in any satisfactory way affect my response to the poem adversely when my inability to answer equally many questions raised by “For all we Know” is part of the pleasure of (re) reading that text?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

lunatics, critics and beautiful music

One of the criticisms levelled against Lady G was that sections of the sequence were "unconvincing". Recently I read a review of a novel which used the same strange criticism.

Here’s a true story. Decide for yourself if it’s “convincing”….

Carlo Geusaldo 1560 -1613 is remembered today, if at all, as composer of music that seems far ahead of its time. It’s beautiful, or at least I think so. He has also been suggested as one of the prototypes of Browning’s Duke in “My Last duchess”…

His life however….

Made Duke on the death of his older brother he was already a respected musician and composer. His marriage was a grand affair; two thousand oysters and 120 roasted goats in a banquet of 120 something courses. His new wife was one of the leading beauties of her day, possibly Leonardo’s model for the Moaning Lisa. Married at fifteen her first husband had died “of an excess of Connubial bliss’. Her second hubby went the same way.

Soon after her marriage to Guesaldo one of his relatives makes a pass at her and learns he has been beaten to it in the extra-connubial bliss stakes. Rebuffed, he tells Guesaldo about her affair. Guesaldo now plans the murder and catching the lovers together kills the man (who is dressed, rather oddly, in a woman’s night dress) and stabs his wife. Running out the house he is said to have stopped and said..she can’t really be ran back inside and stabbed her over twenty times. He then dumped, or had dumped, the dead bodies on the steps to his palace…where they were randomly “molested” by a passing monk.

G flees the scene of the crime for the family home, where he spends the next couple of months cutting down all the trees.

Convinced his second son isn’t his, he decides to get rid of it. He does this, so the story goes, by sitting him on a swing dangling from a balcony and having his attendants keeping the swing going for three days and nights. Being a noted musician and lover of music of course, he hires a choir to sing while the swinging is going on: they sing madrigals about the beauty of death.

It seems he was not prosecuted for the murder of his wife and her lover.

He remarries but treats his new wife so badly so runs away. He spends the last dozen plus years of his life in seclusion, making sure his servants beat him regularly. HE also employs one of them to sleep with him to keep his back warm.
He dies..doesn’t everybody…and apparently you can choose your version of his death. He dies of asthma...or he dies of infections caused by the severe and repeated floggings administered by his servants.

I didn’t make any of this up. But how convincing would it be if I did?