Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Winter Interval


 Design by Eugene Grasset 1899 (courtesy of AbeBooks)

"The sage left nothing in his ink-horn."   Don Quixote  Miguel Cervantes

                                                  ~  A winter Interval follows ~ 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Impresa della Pause

Maiolica  plate from the dinner service of Isabella D'Este, Nicola da Urbino c.1525

The story of Phaedra and Hippolytus, with the central arms of Gonzaga-D'Este
© Victoria & Albert Museum

[The musical scroll below the coat of arms, with its moment of silence, is Isabella D'Este's personal device.]  

Friday, 16 January 2015

Departure of St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist returning to the Desert

Egg tempera on wood, Giovanni di Paolo, 1454  © National Gallery, London

[I fell in love with this painting on my first visit to the National Gallery and always try to see it when I am there.]

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Departure of Merlin

Cover illustration by Edmund Dulac, 1933*

"And then, soon after, the Lady of the Lake [Nimue] and Merlin departed; and by the way as they went Merlin showed her many wonders, and came into Cornwall.

…And so, upon a time, it happened that Merlin showed to her a rock where there was a great wonder, and wrought by enchantment, which went under a stone.   So, by her subtle craft and working, she made Merlin to go under the stone to let her wit of the marvels there; but she wrought so there for him, that he came out never, for all the craft that he could do: and so she departed, and left Merlin."

The Noble and Joyous History of King Arthur:  the Book of Morgan le Fay  Sir Thomas Malory

* Dulac returned to this theme for The American Weekly in March 1940 (see Colin White)

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Hpe, Lve, Valur and ?

"Black stared into his tankard, while the tavern clock ticked sixty times. ' I hate things with an O in their names, ' cried Black.  'That goes for clocks and parrots.'  He threw his tankard at the clock and broke it open, but there was nothing inside but works, no rubies, no emeralds, and no sapphires and no map.

Littlejack, the man with the map. (by Ronald Searle)

'The parrot's name is Magraw,' said Littlejack. ' There aint no O in that.'

Black stood up and smote the table with his fist. ' I'll get rid of O, in upper case and lower,' cried the man in black.  'I'll issue an edict.  All words in books or signs with an O in them shall have the O erased or painted out. We'll print new books and paint new signs without an O in them.'

And so the locksmith became a lcksmith, and the bootmaker a btmaker, and people whispered like conspirators when they said the names. Loves Labours Lost  and Mother Goose flattened out like a pricked balloon.  Books were bks and Robin Hood was Rbinhd.  Little Goody Two shoes lost her O's and so did Goldilocks, and the former became a whisper, and the latter sounded like a key jiggled in a clock.  It was impossible to read 'cockadoodledoo' aloud and parents gave up reading to their children, and some gave up reading altogether, and their search for the precious jewels went on."

Hope, Love, Valour and Freedom!  and a Happy New Year

The Wonderful O  James Thurber
© the estate of James Thurber,
Ronald Searle illustration for Penguin Books

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Season's Greetings, with ancient splendours

Season's Greetings and thanks to all those whose blogs I enjoy so much, such as Anecdotal Evidence,
English Buildings, Fired Up, First Known when Lost,  James Russell, Spitalfields Life, Quad Royal,  and many others.

"For lo! the days are hastening on
By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold.
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing."

The Angels' Song: It came upon the midnight clear  Edmund H. Sears, 1849

Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Yuletide journey

[Sir Gawain rides through the lawless wilderness of the Wirral, in search of the Green Man to return his challenge]

"But, if those fights were fierce, winter was worse
Where chilling water spilled out of the clouds
Freezing as it fell, pelting the pale ground.
Almost killed by sleet, he sleeps in all his armour
More nights than enough among the rough rocks,
Where plummeting creeks from the summits ran cold
Or hung above his head in hard ice-blades.
This way, in danger, in pain and hardship,
Over the land the knight rides till Christmas Eve,
Then in despair on his ride,
He cries in a plangent tone
That Mary be his guide
To a house, a warm hearth-stone.
Hunched on bare branches, doleful birds
Piped out pitiful calls in the bitter cold."

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, trans. Keith Harrison
© The Folio Society, 1983

Carving at Brant Broughton church, Lincolnshire
© Pitkin Publishing, photocredit T. Negus