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Wednesday, 29 April 2009


The happiness promised in names like Lord's
Valley and Wind Gap recedes like the fading
Of a rainbow, yet hope walks in anyway,
Where there's life she's there--nature's utopian
Possibility remains part of the scheme
As long as there's a breeze to blow the past away.

Study of Sorrel, Cow Parsley and Willow Saplings: Peter De Wint, 1805-1810 (Whitworth Art Gallery)


Anonymous said...

Lovely. Spare, elegant, almost austere..wonderful last line: "As long as there's a breeze to blow the past away."

A perfect example of the distillation of copious amounts of experience, wisdom and thought into a small artefact that thrums with significance.

TC/BTP said...


One hastens to bow to the view of an expert.

To march to the beat of a different thrummer... that takes thrum nerve... and here it's barely yet Thpring at that.

Anonymous said...

"One hastens to bow to the view of an expert."

There's no call for sarcasm, Clark...and 'thrums' is a precise and useful word.

I dunno, I can't remember if it's in common usage in the US (despite having lived there for many years).

It's what a high-tension cable does in a strong wind...vibrates and hums, giving the impression of great supressed power.

If you stand in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge on a day of high winds, you'll hear a 'thrumming'.

TC/BTP said...


"One hastens to bow to the generous support of a practised, skilled and disciplined fellow respecter of these same ancient minor arts, especially when the view is expressed as as pleasantly and thoughtfully as this comment, which, though delightful, is probably undeserved," would perhaps have been a more gracious response.

Please excuse my lame attempt at self-deprecation. I was tickled not only pink, but maybe even to the point of sanguinity attained by an over-boiled lobster, by the thrumming bit. I do indeed love a good thrum. Hart Crane, also socially awkward, used the word himself, and yet then would nonetheless perhaps have been embarrassed and made awkward to have been told his verse was thrumming. You know these Yanks. But he would have been secretly delighted of course.

Funny about thrums. To "play a stringed instrument idly, monotonously or unskillfully, strum rhythmically without playing a tune," which Oxford would have us read as the primary sense of the verb, seems oddly stingy to me as I expect it would to you. Sir Walter Scott once employed this dour sense of the verb in saying: "Boswell has thrummed on his topic till it is threadbare." Rather mean, that. Contrastingly, the purely descriptive onomatopoetic use, as in "Spinning wheels are thrumming..." (Westminster Gazette) would seem preferable in every way.

Certainly a guitarist doth thrum if he is in the rhythm section. Of course that would be the section one would wish to be in, were poem-writing the object of the enterprise.

A cat too might be said or thought to thrum at least thrum of the time, esp. when purring.

It is a cold and windy morning with the wind indeed thrumming mercilessly thro' the filigreed upper reaches of the Golden Gate span, beneath which the Pacific Ocean inexorably approaches us, much as one would wish the pacific spirit of congeniality between poets separated by thousands of miles of tonal distance, yet united by spending way too much of their time playing with these things with which we do play, would at this moment inexorably also approach.

Then again, Mish, one might well have simply and honestly said, "Thanks very much, my friend."

Anonymous said...

I was only teasing you, Tom... evidence of discomfort with what I'm sure is an undeserved compliment.

I'm glad you like 'thrums'. The Oxford definition is a bit mean-spirited. The first sense of the word that occurs to me is of 'thrumming' as evidence of power on hold, power that might be released at any moment.

I remember the thrum a mooring cable made as I stood next to it in the docks in Hamburg. I put my hand on the cable and I could feel this powerful vibration.

When I called my companion's attention to the sound, he nodded and told me that just such a cable had snapped some months previously and taken some poor bastard's leg off.

I agree with you about cat thrums. Pongo thrums (or purrs, as some would prefer) but it feels and sounds like a thrum. There's certainly a deal of supressed power there, but held in abeyance and not under tension.