Friday, July 08, 2005

The London bombings

"Fragments" to be "shored" against "ruin"

My friend Q.'s response to my note yesterday was a very British jewel: "Yes, tin helmet firmly affixed on bean, sandbags at the door, sticky tape on the windows, but the kettle is on and we'll soon have steaming mugs of sweet tea to hand. Don't panic!"

Q. was chiding me for my note--and I took that as proof of absolute well-being. In his words we find a self-deprecating pride, a gentle mocking of the "Mrs. Miniver" approach that got Britons through the Blitz--and, by golly, was going to see them through this brush with Islamist lunatics.


The secret of British composure is that Britons really do feel proud of their civilization. On the whole, they apologize for very little, which is as it should be. Their message to terrorists is always likely to be straight and robust: "How dare you! I'm British!"

--Tunku Varadarajan, "Take Courage," The Wall Street Journal

* * *

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

--from Auden's "In Memory of W. B. Yeats"

* * *

"Oh! thou big white God aloft there somewhere in yon darkness, have
mercy on this small black boy down here; preserve him from all men
that have no bowels to feel fear!"

--from Herman Melville, Moby Dick

* * *

For Mercy has a human heart
Pity, a human face;
And Love, the human form divine;
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine:
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew.
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.

--from William Blake, "Divine Image"

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.