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Low Barometer
By Robert Bridges


The south-wind strengthens to a gale,
Across the moon the clouds fly fast,
The house is smitten as with a flail,
The chimney shudders to the blast.

On such a night, when Air has loosed
Its guardian grasp on blood and brain,
Old terrors then of god or ghost
Creep from their caves to life again;

And Reason kens he herits in
A haunted house. Tenants unknown
Assert their squalid lease of sin
With earlier title than his own.

Unbodied presences, the pack'd
Pollution and remorse of Time,
Slipp'd from oblivion reenact
The horrors of unhouseld crime.

Some men would quell the thing with prayer
Whose sightless footsteps pad the floor,
Whose fearful trespass mounts the stair
Or bursts the lock'd forbidden door.

Some have seen corpses long interr'd
Escape from hallowing control,
Pale charnel forms -- nay ev'n have heard
The shrilling of a troubled soul,

That wanders till the dawn hath cross'd
The dolorous dark, or Earth hath wound
Closer her storm-spredd cloak, and thrust
The baleful phantoms underground.

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From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, in which Robert Pinsky celebrates Halloween by stating, "Reason lives in a haunted house." Using stormy imagery, English poet laureate Bridges "compares inner and outer weather: As reduced air pressure releases the tremendous, sometimes destructive energy of a storm, so, too, can the reduced pressures of custom or inhibition release tremendous, sometimes destructive human terrors, guilts and impulses." The archaic language of this poem "contributes to the atmosphere of troubling, half-suppressed unconscious forces...[converting] fairly conventional Halloween-show images of fearfulness into a portrait of what may be the most frightening spectacle of all: ourselves."

We were going to go hiking on Catoctin on Saturday, but it was so wet in our backyard that we figured the mountain trails, sheltered from the sun, would probably be muddy and slippery, so we put it off till next weekend when maybe [livejournal.com profile] apaulled's parents can join us. Instead we did chores we've been putting off, like getting Adam new sneakers (he needs them to go climbing on Sunday), getting printer labels for holiday cards, and getting $3 Hanes sweatpants for the kids on sale at Target. Then we stopped at World Market, which had just received a shipment of Cadbury holiday tins, huzzah!

Wrote three Trek articles -- Shatner feeling sorry for himself, Nichols being delighted with herself, Captain Pike possibly having a bigger role in Trek XI than Captain Kirk -- and watched Marie Antoinette on cable, which I hadn't seen. I enjoyed it in somewhat the same way as I enjoyed Elizabeth, which is to say that I didn't care how historically insane it was because the locations and the costumes were so magnificent. I don't admire even a feminist reconstituted Marie Antoinette anywhere near the way I admire Elizabeth, and the clothes did more acting than many of the actors, but even with the Knight's Tale approach to soundtrack and dancing, it manages to be affecting. And, I mean, the opera!


A farm in the Blue Ridge foothills above Frederick, Maryland.


This is the barn at Kiparoo Farm Studio.


Trees turning on the hillsides.


Alpacas on a different hillside in the late afternoon sun.


Hayrides are the perfect transportation to and from the pumpkin patch.


There are decorations for Halloween everywhere.


And the moon rises over dry cornfields.


Sunday morning I have a meeting at the Hebrew school about Bar Mitzvah stuff. Sunday evening I have a Samhain ritual. I like it when I get both religions on the same day.

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