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Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Portrait of Author as Politely Homicidal Child


File:'Bartlett - Taj Mahal, Twilight', c. 1919.jpg

How pleasant an existence is. In the night
That is still to be silent images splash

Their lakes across the wall of a dark cafe:
Upon this screen appears a turquoise sea

With minarets distant. Laps upon red clay
This sea. Shimmer reflects this and that in it.

In the sea there prinks, bathed in moonlight,

The young emerald, Platonic evening star,

Wondering homunculus, one day
To become disdainful emperor of this or that.

File:'Prayers at Sunset, Udaipur, India', woodblock print by Charles W. Bartlett, 1919, Honolulu Academy of Arts.jpg

Taj Mahal, Twilight: Charles W. Bartlett, 1919 (private collection)
Prayers at Sunset, Udaipur: Charles W. Bartlett, 1919 (Honolulu Academy of Arts)


Rachel Loden said...

Prink! Perfect word in the perfect position. O to have time to loll about in the OED: "If the Groome get his Bride, he will so pranke it, and she so prinke it, that..there wil be such ioy, as if Summer should neuer heare of Winter."

Such brilliance loose in this poem.

TC said...

Hello again my dear.

Prink, I believe, is my #1 favourite word in English.

No one in the world I would rather share it with at 5:39 a.m. than you.

Rachel Loden said...

Tom, who else is guarding the word-hoard at this hour?

Only me and thee -- we will stand watch together, we will not sleep!

Let the prinking world go by with its daylight, its sad vocabulary.


Ah, how nice to see some Bartlett's again! And this lovely poem -- with its "prinks" (already so noted) followed by "Wondering homunculus)"). I left you another "comment" on 12.2 yesterday. And here something "reflected" of today --


orange of sky on horizon above blackness
of trees, song sparrow calling on branch
in foreground, sound of waves in channel

that this earlier “was done,”
presented instances

as “action,” things at hand,
related to the hand

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
white cloud in pale blue sky on horizon

~otto~ said...

Ah, to be a disdainful emperor of this or that.

(I had to look up "prink.")

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

Hells bells Tom, you just don't write here anymore. And we send cards, poems, love letters and everything. Next we're sending snow!

Now, "Prink" has us momentarily thinking of one more addition for "Cutie-Pie"...because if anything practices the art of prinking, it is a kitten.

And then again, walking-around and said aloud, by the third time you're saying "prick".

Holding off.

Stu said...

Yes indeed, 'prinks' seems the perfect word in this case.

The sea flashes upon the wall so vividly here.

I'm in love with Bartlett's work too.

TC said...


Thank you, I will return shortly to 12.2. Meanwhile I am wowed by the way, in this latest "chapter" of your grand maritime adventure, the spectrum extension into orange heats up the light above the solstitial horizonal blackness; such "small" variation upon the expected morning illumination becoming a momentous plot twist to an antlike follower of the textual surface (may as well admit my diminished vision and myopic reading pace, anyway I love endless texts); and the foreground call of the song sparrow, again a minimal thing, equally looming oddly large, standing out from the steady "silent" implied sound of wave-water, and thus becoming here, given the date of the posting, a sort of quiet ri-poste to all ambient outside-the-poem over-killing hallelujah chorusings (thus a welcoming sound, to be honest).

But I did wonder about the "was done" being "at hand", "related to the hand"; and was caused to wonder if, perhaps, these thousands upon countless thousands of serial pieces have been, dare one say it in such a context, actually hand-writ?

TC said...


You are the most generous snowman in the Multiverse.

Awfully cold here too; no snow, but then again, no heat; numb fingers talking.

We are deeply committed to the understanding that Cutie Pie's name was part of the Grand Design of the Universe. I have discussed this with Sages. The Creator has a Master Plan.

On the solstice, a Muslim friend asked about my beliefs--he means my lack of beliefs. (He knows me well enough.) I said, I believe in Nature; the solstice is the festive day of the pagan gods. He looked properly skeptical (I felt pretty dumb pretending to be a pagan). So who made Nature, he wisely asked.

Well, Whoever it was, "I believe" that S/He meant Cutie Pie's name to be Cutie Pie.

(Still, it's as Samuel Beckett once said, "Don't kick against the Prinks of Peace".)

TC said...

Rachel, Otto, Bob, and fellow creatures of the night, and early, early morning (and Stu, sane daytime person that and where you are), I am touched, nay deeply moved, by this sportive zest for prinking, surely in keeping with the season if not the ungodly hour.

And we are not the first prink-conscious practitioners of these arts ...for a fine fellow-early-a.m.-prinker, let the nomination go to:

Louisa May Alcott: Little Women (from Chapter II: "New Fashions"):

"I'm going to school this morning; so come up and get ready," said Fanny, a day or two after, as she left the late breakfast-table.

"You look very nice; what have you got to do?" asked Polly, following her into the hall.

"Prink half an hour, and put on her wad," answered the irreverent Tom, whose preparations for school consisted in flinging his cap on to his head, and strapping up several big books, that looked as if they were sometimes used as weapons of defence.

"What is a wad?" asked Polly, while Fanny marched up without deigning any reply.

[editorial interpolation: it's not difficult, really, to view this situation from Fanny's POV, and imagine all sorts of good reasons for not deigning a reply]

"Somebody's hair on the top of her head in the place where it ought not to be;" and Tom went whistling away with an air of sublime indifference as to the state of his own "curly pow."

"Why must you be so fine to go to school?" asked Polly, watching Fan arrange the little frizzles on her forehead, and settle the various streamers and festoons belonging to her dress.

"All the girls do; and it's proper, for you never know who you may meet. I'm going to walk, after my lessons, so I wish you 'd wear your best hat and sack," answered Fanny, trying to stick her own hat on at an angle which defied all the laws of gravitation.

[Fanny may be an inhabitant of the Multiverse, where gravity is relative, in fact perhaps even irrelevant]

"I will, if you don't think this is nice enough. I like the other best, because it has a feather; but this is warmer, so I wear it every day." And Polly ran into her own room, to prink also, fearing that

[and here, coming back late-on to this dimly remembered classic, one was virtually certain the poor girl would be fearing being caught prinking in private, surely a "not done"... but no...]

her friend might be ashamed of her plain costume. "Won't your hands be cold in kid gloves?" she said, as they went down the snowy street, with a north wind blowing in their faces.

"Yes, horrid cold; but my muff is so big, I won't

[reader advisory: as there may be people reading this who are under seventy years of age and thus have never been made, as a schoolchild, to read the text under submission, a spoiler alert is in order... and the hour grows late as well... or shall one say early... let us therefore prink not gently any further into this extremely frigid night...]


Thanks for all such thoughts (dare I say 'profundities'?yes, the sense of how "orange heats up the the light about the solsticial horizontal blackness") the the song sparrow's call against the "'silent' implied sound of wave-water" -- goodness!). Yes, they are 'hand-written' in the notebook first, then typed (where the shaping power of courier "sets" the line). And now there's a pale orange out there, sun up somewhere o'er the ridge ---


first grey light in sky above blackness
of trees, silver of planet above branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

patch of light, few blurred
lines in the clouds

behind the concept, that is,
the absence of this

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
cloudless blue sky to the left of point

Elmo St. Rose said...

the hand is prominent
on the homunculus
mapping the motor

do they teach Charles
Bartlett in art history?

could be stroke prevention
from abstract expressionism

Rachel Loden said...

Tom, the Alcott is delicious! And even more exquisitely (and hilariously) annotated. Many thanks.

Now how do we get you warm? That's what I keep thinking about.

TC said...

behind the concept, that is,
the absence of this

mapping the motor
cortex, orange light on ridge

exquisitely annotated,
now warm?