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Monday, 2 July 2012

Poor, mazéd world


Hazelwood Power Station, Victoria, Australia: photo by Simpsons fan 66, 16 October 2007

These are the forgeries of iealousie,
And neuer since the middle Summers spring
Met we on hil, in dale, forrest, or mead,
By paued fountaine, or by rushie brooke,
Or in the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling Winde,
But with thy braules thou hast disturb’d our sport.
Therefore the Windes, piping to vs in vaine,
As in reuenge, haue suck’d vp from the sea
Contagious fogges: Which falling in the Land,
Hath euerie petty Riuer made so proud,
That they haue ouer-borne their Continents.
The Oxe hath therefore stretch’d his yoake in vaine,
The Ploughman lost his sweat, and the greene Corne
Hath rotted, ere his youth attain’d a beard:
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And Crowes are fatted with the murrion flocke.
The nine mens Morris is fild vp with mud,

And the queint Mazes in the wanton greene,
For lacke of tread are vndistinguishable.
The humane mortals want their winter heere,
No night is now with hymne or caroll blest;
Therefore the Moone (the gouernesse of floods)
Pale in her anger, washes all the aire;
That Rheumaticke diseases doe abound.
And through this distemperature, we see
The seasons alter; hoared headed Frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson Rose,
And on old Hyems chinne and Icie crowne,
An odorous Chaplet of sweet Sommer buds
Is as in mockry set. The Spring, the Sommer,
The childing Autumne, angry Winter change
Their wonted Liueries, and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knowes not which is which;
And this same progeny of euills,
Comes from our debate, from our dissention,
We are their parents and originall.

William Shakespeare: from A Midsommer Nights Dreame (II.I.81-121), 1600, faithfully reproduced in facsimile from the edition of 1623 (London 1910)

A tanker drops fire retardant while fighting the Flagstaff wildfire in Boulder
: photo by Jeremy Papasso/AP via the Guardian, 27 June 2012

2012 Super Derecho storm. Deciding what to move/leave in situ: photo by Master George, 30 June 2012

2012 Super Derecho storm. Giant spinning tops over DC now: photo by Mike Lee, 29 June 2012

 OK CuriousDog. The storm's over. You can get off me now: photo by Mike Lee, 29 June 2012

Swimming pool pipe damaged by a flying chair in Super Derecho storm: photo by Master George, 30 June 2012


TC said...

The disruption of natural order in the play is put down to a row between the Queen and King of Fairies. Things in the natural world are only put back into balance and harmony by the reconciliation of these not quite human creatures.

Had they been human instead, one expects they'd have just kept up the row until the poor maz´d world had been wrought into such a state it could never be put right. And then as it fell to ruin around them they'd have kept on squabbling right into the eternal night.

One of my Shakespeare teachers, G. B. Harrison, suggested the weather reference ought to be taken as the prime evidence in dating composition of the play.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream was probably written late in 1594 or early in 1595. There are a few topical allusions which can be identified.

"1. Titania's speech (II.i.87-117) on the evil weather was presumably inspired by the excessively bad summer of 1594, which caused a failure of the harvest and much distress. There are several contemporary records of the disaster. Thus John Stow, in his Annals:

"'This year in the month of May, fell many great showers of rain, but in the months of June and July, much more; for it commonly rained every day, or night, until St. James's Day, and two days after together most extremely, all which, notwithstanding in the month of August there followed a fair harvest, but in the month of September fell great rains, which raised high waters, such as stayed the carriages, and bare down bridges, at Cambridge, Ware and elsewhere, in many places. Also the price of grain grew to be such as a strike or bushel of rye was sold for five shillings, a bushel of wheat for six, seven, or eight shillings, & c, for still it rose in price, which dearth happened (after the common opinion) more by means of overmuch transporting by our own merchants for their private gain, than through the unseasonableness of the weather passed.'"

(G.B. Harrison, 1948)

E. K. Chambers, another great scholar of that epoch in which theory had not yet been conceived of, concluded, from his studies of the documents of the time, that the storms had begun a bit earlier. Their apocalyptic presentation might thus be easier to imagine, given the duration.

"The bad weather described in ii. I. 81-117 is probably that which began in March 1564, prevailed during the greater part of that year, and ushered in a long period of corn shortage."

(E. K. Chambers, 1930)

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The wait for summer long
the summer about a week
in all. It was mysterious
to imagine
any thing else.

TC said...

That's the good thing about deprivation -- a spur to imagination, which gallops off into mystery and is not seen again until Boxing Day.

TC said...

But do they have Boxing Day in Nome??

ACravan said...

This is a really stunning assemblage of words and pictures. I'm so pleased you added the historical notes. A lot of sturm und drang around here this morning has been my bad weather; whoever invented the conference call allowing more than two people at once to trouble each other on telephone lines should have been stopped in their tracks. Thank heaven for the speaker apparatus and mute button. It allowed me to spend more time with this. Curtis

TC said...

When we haue shuffle'd off this mortall coile,
What dreames may come, amid a conference call?

Hazen said...

One can learn history here too. An excellent post, Tom.

Two of the past three nights we spent in the basement as, first, the derecho and then the most terrifying of thunderstorms blew through. Big limbs came down, the crowns of the giant oaks were shredded. Tree-top salad covers the ground. Trees fell on houses just blocks away. There’s more in the offing.

The country teeters on the brink of political chaos and now Nature adds to the dysfuntionality with its ‘progeny of evils’: floods, fires, high winds, killer heat waves, every one a body blow. The future got here a lot sooner than I thought. I figured another four or five years before the bottom starts to give way.



What a pleasure, first to see these first two lines come up ("These are the forgeries of iealousie,
And neuer since the middle Summers spring," archaic spelling and all), then to realize from whence they are arriving (midsummer or so, some 400-plus years ago) and then to come upon these two lines, which we (in the Shakespeare class) gave full attention to for more than an hour this spring --
"And the queint Mazes in the wanton greene,
For lacke of tread are vndistinguishable."
("Mazes" echoed in "the mazèd world" below, "quaint" once upon a time meaning "female external genitals," as in Chaucer's The Miller's Tale, "Prively he caught hir by the queynte" [1386]). . .


light coming into fog against invisible
ridge, crow calling from branch in left
foreground, no sound of wave in channel

though “action” translation
of things, insofar as

that was, therefore because
there can be, present

grey white fog against invisible ridge,
line of pelicans flapping toward point

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The quaint mazed world
of soggy bales
next door--
waiting for one
of the Leatherwoods
(on the greene
now loose cubes
color burnt butter)
to fetch them
in their temporary
of all
things summer
the frowny moone
"..working for the
rat race..."
of dancing
"...just living on dreams..."
"...naked woman naked man..."
and a nice suntan.

(lyric fragments from The Specials)

Susan Kay Anderson said...

No Boxing Day
but the blanket toss
puts a summer feeling
on things
up in Nome--
Sledge Island
in the far distance
gold dust on the beach
in the near
the caribou
going mad
more than friendly
and the Musk Ox
tromping near
the soft gravel bed
of eggs & milk

Wooden Boy said...

"And on old Hyems chinne and Icie crowne, An odorous Chaplet of sweet Sommer buds Is as in mockry set"

I love this image; an Archimboldo gone awry.

With these homogeneous days we inhabit, it's hard to get the sense of how far time is out of joint now.

TC said...

It almost seems that time as known walked out of the joint in a huff some time back, and we didn't even notice. Now we're all racing in a heat to get nowhere, or else frozen stiff, having got there and not knowing how to break the ice. CuriousDog hardly knows what to think. And none of it's down to him.

It's almost enough to make one nostalgic for those one week summers in Nome, when there was that welcome respite in which to sit back and enjoy such wonders of the micro-summer as the Eskimo high kick.

But those quaint wonders never lasted long.

Hazen, hope you can get out of the basement. Within two days, if we can get past today's date with the surgeon and tomorrow's inevitable fireworks, not to mention the current invasion of the BTP dashboard sanctuary by a ferocious swarm of gnashing meatballs, I can promise you that there will be a visit to a site of doubtful repute that seems to have been named in your honour.