Vers de Société
By Philip Larkin
My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps
To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps
You'd care to join us? In a pig's arse, friend.
Day comes to an end.
The gas fire breathes, the trees are darkly swayed.
And so Dear Warlock-Williams: I'm afraid--
Funny how hard it is to be alone.
I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted,
Holding a glass of washing sherry, canted
Over to catch the drivel of some bitch
Who's read nothing but Which;
Just think of all the spare time that has flown
Straight into nothingness by being filled
With forks and faces, rather than repaid
Under a lamp, hearing the noise of wind,
And looking out to see the moon thinned
To an air-sharpened blade.
A life, and yet how sternly it's instilled
All solitude is selfish. No one now
Believes the hermit with his gown and dish
Talking to God (who's gone too); the big wish
Is to have people nice to you, which means
Doing it back somehow.
Virtue is social. Are, then, these routines
Playing at goodness, like going to church?
Something that bores us, something we don't do well
(Asking that ass about his fool research)
But try to feel, because, however crudely,
It shows us what should be?
Too subtle, that. Too decent, too. Oh hell,
Only the young can be alone freely.
The time is shorter now for company,
And sitting by a lamp more often brings
Not peace, but other things.
Beyond the light stand failure and remorse
Whispering Dear Warlock-Williams: Why, of course--
Another from Poet's Choice in Sunday's Washington Post Book World. "Philip Larkin almost tried to sound unattractive and misanthropic...ultra-conservative in politics and art, he praised Margaret Thatcher and mocked experimenters like Picasso," writes Mary Karr. "He didn't read in public and eschewed any fanfare...he never wasted a reader's time but spitefully resented his own being wasted through inane social activity. He opens "Vers de Société" by satirizing an invitation [yet] the poem concludes with Larkin's trademark fear of death, which leads him to accept the invite he initially scorned."
We talked about maybe going downtown today to see the exhibit on China's lost fleet at National Geographic or the one on Afghanistan's treasures at the National Gallery of Art, but laundry and getting organized ended up winning out. So I have nothing really exciting to report, not even on our neighborhood pool's dessert party, which was scheduled for tonight but apparently got switched at some point while we were out of town. The kids swam anyway and played with Adam's good friend, and I got some photos cropped and answered a pile of e-mail.
This plane had a crew of 10 when the Germans shot it down in 1944 during a flight out of England. The man standing on the far right is Harry Shirey, the tail gunner.
Shirey, from Delaware, was sitting here when the plane went down and was a POW for more than a year.
Here is one of Staff Sergeant Shirey's uniforms on display at the museum.
And here is Harry Shirey describing his experiences aboard the aircraft. Born in 1922 in Pennsylvania, a member of the 96th Bomb Group during the war, he now volunteers at the museum.
The ball turret beneath the plane was supposedly one of the safest places to be during flight, though one of the deadliest in the event of a crash.
I still find it hard to believe that a grown man could fit in here, or stay in it for any length of time without going crazy.
Here is a view into the B-17's bomb bay. It could carry 16,000 lbs of bombs.
From juniperus, who got exactly the same result:
NBPC - The Daydreamer
Nature, Background, Big Picture, and Color
You perceive the world with particular attention to nature. You focus on the hidden treasures of life (the background) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the colors around you. Because of the value you place on nature, you tend to find comfort in more subdued settings and find energy in solitude. You like to ponder ideas and imagine the many possibilities of your life without worrying about the details or specifics. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You are a down-to-earth person who enjoys going with the flow.
The Perception Personality Types:
I love that version of the Exodus music that Anna Pavlova uses for her gymnastics floor routine at the Olympics. Does anyone know who did the recording? And whether Pavlova has ever commented on why she chose it? I can't believe her coach, the Russian team coordinator and Pavlova herself (is she related to the dancer of the same name?) are all unaware of the music's origin or what the film and the book it's based on are about.