Category Archives: elegies

music swims back to me

by Anne Sexton 

Wait Mister. Which way is home?  
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.  
There are no sign posts in this room,  
four ladies, over eighty,
in diapers every one of them.
La la la, Oh music swims back to me  
and I can feel the tune they played  
the night they left me
in this private institution on a hill.

Imagine it. A radio playing
and everyone here was crazy.
I liked it and danced in a circle.  
Music pours over the sense  
and in a funny way
music sees more than I.
I mean it remembers better;
remembers the first night here.
It was the strangled cold of November;  
even the stars were strapped in the sky  
and that moon too bright
forking through the bars to stick me  
with a singing in the head.
I have forgotten all the rest.

They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.  
and there are no signs to tell the way,  
just the radio beating to itself  
and the song that remembers  
more than I. Oh, la la la,  
this music swims back to me.  
The night I came I danced a circle  
and was not afraid.


lollai, lollai, litil child, thi fote is in the whele

Lollai, lollai, litil child, whi wepistou so sore?
Nedis mostou wepe, hit was iyarkid the yore
Euer to lib in sorow, and sich and mourne euere,
As thin eldren did er this while hi aliues wore.
Lollai, lollai, litil child, child lolai, lullow.
Into vncuth world incommen so ertow.
Bestis and thos foules, the fisses in the flode,
And euch schef aliues imakid of bone and blode,
Whan hi commith to the world hi doth ham silf sum gode;
Al bot the wrech brol that is of Adam is blode.
Lollai, lollai, litil child, to kar ertou bemette;
Thou nost noght this worldis wild before the is isette.
Child, if betidith that thou ssalt thriue and the,
Thench thou were ifostred vp thi moder kne.
Euer hab mund in thi hert of thos thinges thre:
Whan thou commist, whan thou art and what ssal com of the.
Lollai, lollai, litil child, child lollai, lollai,
With sorow thou com into this world, with sorow ssalt wend awai.
Ne tristou to this world, hit is thi ful vo.
The rich he makith pouer, the pore rich also;
Hit turneth wo to wel and ek wel to wo.
Ne trist no man to this world, whil hit turnith so.
Lollai, lollai, litil child, thi fote is in the whele.
Thou nost whoder turne to wo other wele.
Child, thou ert a pilgrim in wikidnis ibor,
Thou wandrest in this fals world, thou loke the bifor.
Deth ssal com with a blast vte of a well dim horre
Adam is kin dun to cast, him silf hath ido befor.
Lollai, lollai, litil child, so wo the worth Adam
In the lond of paradis, throgh wikidnes of Satan.
Child, thou nert a pilgrim bot an vncuthe gist,
Thi dawes beth itold, thi iurneis beth icast;
Whoder thou salt wend north or est,
Deth the sal betide with bitter bale in brest.
Lollai, lollai, litil child, this wo Adam the wroght,
Whan he of the appil ete and Eue hit him betacht.

(Before 1350 AD) Harley MS. 913 BL, London

movable type: immovable figura

Typecases (holders for individual pieces of movable type) from the China Printing Museum in Beijing, the largest printing museum in the world.  Although movable type was introduced into the Western world by Gutenberg, the process was invented in China centuries prior.

I visited the museum in July 2009 and there were three floors plus a huge warehouse of obsolete printing machines, incl. some massive newspaper offset ones. But there were no other visitors and they initially sent me up a pitch black staircase to the third floor. I used my feet to find the stairs in an eerie hesitant shuffle. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures. A woman was assigned to quietly follow me through the museum.

Wooden movable type was first developed around 1040 AD by Bi Sheng(毕昇) (990–1051), as described by the Chinese scholar Shen Kuo (1031–1095), but was abandoned in favour of clay movable types due to the presence of wood grains and the unevenness of the wooden type after being soaked in ink. In 1298, Wang Zhen, a governmental official of Jingde, Anhui province, China, re-invented a method of making movable wooden types. He made more than 30,000 wooden movable types and printed 100 copies of Records of Jingde County (旌德县志), a book of more than 60,000 Chinese characters. Soon afterwards, he summarized his invention in his book A method of making moveable wooden types for printing books. Although the wooden type was more durable under the mechanical rigors of handling, repeated printing wore the character faces down, and the types could only be replaced by carving new pieces. This system was later enhanced by pressing wooden blocks into sand and casting metal types from the depression in copper, bronze, iron or tin. The set of wafer-like metal stamp types could be assembled to form pages, inked, and page impressions taken from rubbings on cloth or paper.

A particular difficulty posed the logistical problems of handling the several thousand characters whose command is required for full literacy in Chinese.

umbrellas entering the forbidden en masse (Beijing)

here’s the truth: I take it all back (essay of sorts)

‘anti-statement’ (in which I natter on about deletion/nothingness/poetic stuff) is now online at Angel House Press. It’s part of an essay series published by AHP on a fairly regular basis. The ‘anti-statement’ was written in response to a prompt for a writing group, many moons ago. There’s a real range of styles and content in these essays, all of which are well worth looking at.

Link to all the essays:

Link to my essay (pdf):


stellar evolution (life/death)

small stars
The helium core runs out, and the outer layers drift away from the core as a gaseous shell, called a planetary nebula. The remaining core (80% of the original star) is now in its final stages. The core becomes a white dwarf that eventually cools and dims. When it stops shining, the now dead star is called a black dwarf.

massive stars
The core collapses in less than a second, causing an explosion called a supernova, in which a shockwave blows off the outer layers of the star. (The actual supernova shines brighter than the entire galaxy for a short time).

Sometimes the core survives the explosion. If the surviving core is between 1.5 – 3 solar masses it contracts to become a tiny, dense, neutron star. If the core is much greater than 3 solar masses, the core contracts to become a black hole.

ring around the (variance)

A pocket full of posies;
Hush! hush! hush! hush!
We’re all tumbled down.

Ring a ring a Rosie,
A bottle full of posie,
All the girls in our town
Ring for little Josie.

Ring a-ring o’ roses,
A pocketful of posies.
a-tishoo!, a-tishoo!.
We all fall down.

Wir sind der Kinder dreien,
sitzen unter’m Hollerbusch
Und machen alle Huschhuschhusch!

Ring around the rosey,
A pocketful of posies.
ashes, ashes.
We all fall down.

Ring around a rosey,
A pocket full of posey
Husha, husha
We all fall down!.

Ring a ring a rosie
A pocketful of posies
a-tishoo!, a-tishoo!
We all fall down.

Ring-a Ring-a roses,
Pocket full of poses.
Husha, Busha.
We all fall down.

Kolo kolo mlýnský
Za čtyři rýnský,
Kolo se nám polámalo,
Mnoho škody nadělalo,
Udělalo bác!

Ring around the rosey,
Pocket full of posies.
Upstairs, downstairs.
We all fall down.

Picking up the roses,
picking up the roses,
Atishoo!, Atishoo!
We all jump up.

The bird up on the steeple,
Sits high above the people.
ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo.
We all fall down. 

バラの花輪だ 手をつなごうよ,
ポケットに 花束さして,
ハックション! ハックション! 
みんな ころぼ。

Cows in the meadow,
eating buttercups.
thunder, lightning
We all stand up!’_Roses