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Archive for April, 2013

Rocky, you see, lived down on Long Island somewhere, miles away from New York; and not only that, but he had told me himself more than once that he never got up before twelve, and seldom earlier than one. Constitutionally the laziest young devil in America, he had hit on a walk in life which enabled him to go the limit in that direction. He was a poet. At least, he wrote poems when he did anything; but most of his time, as far as I could make out, he spent in a sort of trance. He told me once that he could sit on a fence, watching a worm and wondering what on earth it was up to, for hours at a stretch.

He had his scheme of life worked out to a fine point. About once a month he would take three days writing a few poems; the other three hundred and twenty-nine days of the year he rested. I didn’t know there was enough money in poetry to support a chappie, even in the way in which Rocky lived; but it seems that, if you stick to exhortations to young men to lead the strenuous life and don’t shove in any rhymes, American editors fight for the stuff. Rocky showed me one of his things once. It began:

Be!
Be!
The past is dead.
To-morrow is not born.
Be to-day!
To-day!
Be with every nerve,
With every muscle,
With every drop of your red blood!
Be!

It was printed opposite the frontispiece of a magazine with a sort of scroll round it, and a picture in the middle of a fairly-nude chappie, with bulging muscles, giving the rising sun the glad eye. Rocky said they gave him a hundred dollars for it, and he stayed in bed till four in the afternoon for over a month.

P. G. Wodehouse, The Aunt and the Sluggard, in My Man Jeeves (1919).

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Do you know Marvis Bay? It’s in Dorsetshire. It isn’t what you’d call a fiercely exciting spot, but it has its good points. You spend the day there bathing and sitting on the sands, and in the evening you stroll out on the shore with the gnats. At nine o’clock you rub ointment on the wounds and go to bed.

It seemed to suit poor old Freddie. Once the moon was up and the breeze sighing in the trees, you couldn’t drag him from that beach with a rope. He became quite a popular pet with the gnats. They’d hang round waiting for him to come out, and would give perfectly good strollers the miss-in-baulk just so as to be in good condition for him.

P. G. Wodehouse, Helping Freddie, in My Man Jeeves (1919).

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Rise heart; thy Lord is risen.  Sing his praise
                                                  Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
                                                  With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.
 
Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
                                                  With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
                                                  Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.
 
Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
                                                  Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts vied
                                                  And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

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There are two sports whose architecture fills me ever with wonder: golf and baseball. Of these two, it is baseball that stirs me to the very depths. Maybe the association of golf with country-club exclusivity cuts away at its magic; maybe a Scottish lad who grows up near St Andrews feels about golf as American boys do about baseball. Baseball unites heaven and earth: it inscribes a pattern of clean lines, orbs, and diamonds upon the dust from which we were formed and in which we toil, and the lush green in which we find rest. Upon that heaven-and-earth field, prodigal sons set out on barren base paths; and we watch and wait to see if they will make it back home.

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A human touch! a pang of death!
    And in a low delight
Thou liest, waiting for new breath.
    For morning out of night.
 
Thou risest up: the earth is fair,
    The wind is cool; thou art free!
Is it a dream of hell’s despair
    Dissolves in ecstasy?
 
That man did touch thee! Eyes divine
    Make sunrise in thy soul;
Thou seest love in order shine:—
    His health hath made thee whole!
 
Thou, sharing in the awful doom,
    Didst help thy Lord to die;
Then, weeping o’er his empty tomb,
    Didst hear him Mary cry.
 
He stands in haste; he cannot stop;
    Home to his God he fares:
“Go tell my brothers I go up
    To my Father, mine and theirs.”
 
Run, Mary! lift thy heavenly voice;
    Cry, cry, and heed not how;
Make all the new-risen world rejoice—
    Its first apostle thou!

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