Location: Iowa, United States

61 years old (pretty old for a blogger) proud to be a grandpa

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sailing to Byzantium

I remember reading this poem many years ago and liking it very much. I re-read it recently and now that I'm sixty it hits me where I live. It took me awhile to understand all of the references and imagry but it was worth the effort. I think it's one of the greatest poems, ever.

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees -
Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

-- William Butler Yeats --1927

Out of touch, I guess...

I work with a lot of new, young librarians. Three of them are in their middle to late 20's. Josh is happily married to a woman, Kate is a lesbian in a serious relationship. Barb is very single and very straight. All of these young people are nice and not really bohemian types. Josh is a Roman Catholic. At the annual national conference where the librarians in our field gather, it is customary for collegues to room together to save money. The three of them shared a room. Is this wierd or just an outgrowth of living in an era of co-ed dorms, etc., etc? I have no reason to believe that any extracurricular sexual activity took place (in fact I'm certain it didn't). Still,I mean what's the deal here?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Preceded in death by George Washington

I like to read obituaries. It’s the first part of the local paper I turn to and I check the NYT obituaries almost daily. Here’s something I don’t understand: the obituaries in local papers seem to state as a matter of course, “preceded in death by his/her parents” no matter how old the dead person is. A guy can be 105 years old and, sure enough, there’s the statement, “preceded in death by his parents.” Do we really need to be told this? If we’re reading about somebody this old, would the question ever come to mind, “Gee I wonder if his parents are still living?” If the writer of the obituary really wants to mention these long ago dead people, why not put birth and death dates when the parents are first noted. And if for some reason the parents are still alive (can’t they be mentioned in the “survived by….”section (or maybe the reader could be directed to the Guinness Book of World Records.
P.S. As you can see, this is a “desperation blog” (posting something so my blog doesn’t dry up and blow away from disuse.)