Friday, 29 August 2008

Three snaps of Blickling Hall in Norfolk, a Jacobean pile built in the 1620s on the site of a house possibly lived in by Anne Boleyn. Possibly, because it depends apparently whether you think Anne Boleyn was born in 1501 or 1507. If the former she probably did live here, if the latter then not as she was living somewhere else (Hever Castle in Kent). Anyway it's a splendid place later owned by Sir John Fastolfe that some folks believe might have been the model for Shakespeare's Falstaff (except Fastolfe was completely unlike Shakespeare's Falstaff in every respect). Highlights were the library, the orangery, the brickwork (a wonderful example of English bond - see below where each layer of brick alternates between a side-on brick (a 'stretcher' - yes indeed) and a head-on brick (a 'header')) and the secondhand bookshop.

Here among other things I found a copy of a critical study of the American poet and psychiatrist Merrill Moore. Moore wrote nothing but sonnets, thousands of them (see One Thousand Autobiographical Sonnets, 1938) mostly pretty terrible, but he was admired by William Carlos Williams who famously dismissed the sonnet as a contemporary irrelevance. "Merrill Moore's sonnets are magnificent. Never in this world did I expect to praise a living writer because of his sonnets, but these have been a revelation to me" writes Williams in an afterword to the above. Here is an example:


Clothilda in the park was weeping, weeping,
Where the sunlight on the grass was sleeping.
I was thinking then of Troy's woe,
How Trojan women wept when forced to go
Back to the plains beyond the city wall
After the triumph and the city's fall;
So I approached and was prepared to hear
A tragic tale misapprehend my ear.

She was eight, Clothilda was; I feared
A deeper wounding than the one she shared
With time that day - "See the squirrel, see!
He always keeps on the other side of the tree"
She pointed, "from me. I cannot come near.
It hurts me that the squirrel bears me fear."

Hmm. Williams' regard for Moore puzzled me for some time until I discovered that Moore treated Williams on the occasions that the good Doctor suffered near mental breakdown (see Paul Mariani's exhaustive biography of Williams for more on this). This professional help is the only reason I can think of for Williams' wrongheadedness.

Anyway, Blickling Hall was great. Typically however there's no mention of social relations in any of the literature and it was annoying to see a scullery maid in costume in the Hall's kitchens showing a group of children a bunch of obscure kitchen implements and how they were used 'in the past' without any mention of how this might all need further analysis. Education. Hmm.

Hall, front view.

The moat

English bond

Thursday, 28 August 2008

In the Assarts no. 32


When I grow up I want to be
I thomas wyatt & hang around
the stately homes of england.
Alas I am not in this dance
the little necks of england
slipped & crowned
so long anne Boleyn you spoiled
my holiday theory of value.
How to explain the flowers to
I thomas wyatt when I was rescued by
her falling
head on my moustache.
O anne Boleyn was there room in
the room that you roomed in?

Monday, 18 August 2008

F & V

There are two highlights in the otherwise dull Bond film The World Is Not Enough which was shown on ITV a few nights ago. First is the appearance of British poet Jeff Nuttall as Dr Arkov, a nuclear scientist who is bumped off in his one and only scene for not going along with the dastardly plans of evil terrorist Robert Carlyle. Second is Robbie Coltrane who plays a Russian capitalist (and Casino owner) called Zukovsky (first name irrelevant). I'd like to think that Jeff Nuttall had something to do with suggesting the name to the producers. Who knows?

It was wildly and weirdly incongruous to hear the name Zukovsky in this context though of course it's spelt with a 'v' rather than an 'f'. I say of course because the 'real' Zukofsky's name was spelt with an 'f' though over the years countless critics have opted for the more angular letter which if you don't know Zukofsky might seem the more likely given all the other letters in his name. There is however clearly a form of racism at work here - the 'v' ensures that Zukofsky is kept more Russian than American, a move which is in the interest of the more conservative critics who refused (and continue to refuse) to acknowledge his poetry which is seen as alien and unassimilable.

In one of his notebooks Zukofsky himself relates a telling anecdote in this vein. A German immigrant arriving at Ellis Island at the end of the C19th was asked his name by a US official. He replied sardonically in German, "Schon Vergessen" ("already forgotten") only to be given the name Sean Ferguson. At a stroke he became Irish. Note the 'f' for 'v' substitution again.

Of course the use of British actors to ham up foreign villains in Bond films is no less despicable.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

another assart


Repeat I am not a crossbowman
not with these arms
I blunder on
o poesy I couldn't put it together
better as well as I
thomas wyatt
now the spy who loved me
is masturbating with the ruler
o anne boleyn
I'm straight &
half as good as you &
quite the way you do

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Two new assarts


Noli me tangere for nancys I am
this is not a book of nancy
but if nancy was a forest
I woke up half way through
her & began on my obscure self.
If I was a forest I'd have
all the kings men in me,
all the queens.
If I was a crossbowman.
If nancy was a crossbowman.
If nancy was a sonnet firing n-rays
at the battle of nancy.
If I was a repeating crossbowman.
Si j'├ętais un cranequinier.


I lost my way in a new
york school way
& did simply anything
by phone. Hi
jimmy do something you
great charming girl on great
neck I said sorry I
up all your horse jimmy
died to say
& john kiss'd jimmy &
jim kiss'd johnny &
if I was a crossbowman
I'd say to everyone just bye.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Significant lead...

It turns out that the birdie who told me about the identity of the a**e in my recent post might himself have been the perpetrator after all. Imagine. Can you see the similarity? He's not such a little birdie either!

Friday, 1 August 2008


Following my previous post, click on the link below for some pics of the last Xing the Line reading (though it seems to have included the previous one too. When I've worked out how to use flickr properly I'll let you know. Until then please put up with my incompetence...