Lemons and Empire

My neighbor gave my wife a bucket of lemons yesterday, and I’m discovering how to make limoncello today.  Apparently, before their circuitous path to the New World and their introduction to Europeans, lemon trees were first cultivated in South Asia, somewhere in the vicinity of Assam.

“Watteauer and Watteauer”

In a letter to Cissie Sinclair written in 1937, Beckett wonders if he is avoiding going to see Jack Yeats on his Thursday “at-home” evenings because of the growing significance of Yeats’s work for his thinking about images.  At least, that is one of the implications of the way Beckett talks about Yeats.

nobody loves moralists

Episode Zbigniew Herbert We walk by the sea-shore holding firmly in our hands the two ends of an antique dialogue —do you love me? —I love you with furrowed eyebrows I summarize all wisdom of the two testaments astrologers prophets philosophers of the gardens and cloistered philosophers

denying dunedin

In 1966 a forty-year-old James K. Baxter returned to the University of Otago, having that year published one of his most successful collections, Pig Island Letters.  Yet the memories and landscapes surrounding his adolescence are not revisited with the same elaborate abstractions that characterized his early verse.  In “Travelling to Dunedin,” Baxter begins to use the […]

“on mirror mirrored”

In On the Boiler (1939), W.B. Yeats’s Swiftian impersonation of a “mad ship’s carpenter” in Sligo who used to stand on a boiler to denounce his neighbors, the poet (or the collapsing mind of the speaker) rails against the degeneration of European culture.  The customs and ceremonies of old Europe–including, but not restricted to, the smashed […]

“of employing my thoughts”

‘Enterprise and effort,’ he would say to us (on his back), ‘are delightful to me.  I believe I am truly cosmopolitan.  I have the deepest sympathy with them.  I lie in a shady place like this, and think of adventurous spirits going to the North Pole, or penetrating to the heart of the Torrid Zone, […]