Monday, July 19, 2010

We were mountain men and we liked it.

"My old grandad said that when he had at last made his way to the top of the big rim where he could see over into the Carolina Piedmont, he expected to start down the mountain slope. But, when he got there and looked, all he could see was a great blue ocean of peaks stretching out into the haze of the distance as far as he could see.

"Laurel and rhododendron were in great plenty, along with sweet shrub and witch hazel, wild sweet williiam and holly, alder and sassafrass, sumac and buckeye. The herbs were there too. "Yarb" doctors have dug them up for generations. There are still those in the hollows who know how to brew for distempers and aches -dog hobble and mullein, horsemint and wild cherry, boneset and queen of the meadow, ginseng and lady-slipper...

"There had never been any pillared mansions in those remote slopes and valleys. Nor had there been any ease from labor. The cabins had been not much better than those of slave quarters on the plantations.

"When you think about the mountains in the old days, don't you go thinkin' about them in terms of picnics and these little walks you call hikes. I remember the ox-carts strainin' and creakin' and complainin' along the ridges. I think of men walking a hundred and fifty miles and fetching back things they needed on their backs, or maybe packin' it in on a horse. Some drove oxen and it took a couple of months to come and go. It was long hard work.

"We were mountain men and we liked it."

The South and the Southerner, Ralph McGill, 1964. Offered for sale by Chewybooks as of July 19, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I will, then, be a toad.

"In 1894, Stephen Crane called on his friend, bringing a roll of manuscript for him to read. It was a group of poems he had written during the past few days, poems which amazed his friend with their power. When asked if he had any others, Crane replied,"I have four or five up here," and he pointed to his forehead, "all in a little row. That's the way they come - in little rows, all ready to be put down on paper." He had written nine the day before, and he "put down" another before he left.

"Crane, then twenty-two, was struggling to earn his living as a journalist.He himself had paid to publish his first novel, Maggie:A Girl of the Streets, and found no one wished to buy it. His life was miserable: he slept on the floor of a studio and had little certainty of eating three meals a day.

"He wanted to experience everything possible, to be a participant in whatever happened. He was an angry young man, in rebellion against easy respectibility and the genteel tradition. He had a fierce sense of justice and a hatred for cruelty, whether he found it in the vengeful God of his forefathers, or in man's inhumanity to man. He was determined to be his own judge of what was right or wrong. He placed kindness and integrity among the highest virtues and set for himself a heroic ideal. "There was in Crane a strain of chivalry," said Joseph Conrad, "which made him safe to trust with one's life."

A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," repied the universe,
"the fact has not created in me
"A sense of obligation."


"Think as I think," said a man,
"Or you are abominably wicked;
"You are a toad."

And after I had thought of it,
I said, "I will, then, be a toad."

Poems of Stephen Crane, Selected by Gerald D. MacDonald, Woodcuts by Nonny Hogrogian, First Edition, Second Printing ,1964. Offered for sale by Chewybooks as of July 14, 2010.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Enchanted Playhouse

"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." ~ CS Lewis~

"It was the visit to Cousin Alice that began it, for Cousin Alice's little 'Lizbeth Ann, who was just about as big as Patty and Polly, had a playhouse - the loveliest little playhouse!

"It had a porch on the front, and a path leading to the door. There was a row of bright red geraniums at either side of the path, and 'Lizbeth Ann had even put an even row of cockleshells right in front of the red geraniums, for all the world like Mistress Mary's garden!"
"From that day Patty and Polly could think of nothing but a playhouse. They talked and talked about it.

"The tent made quite a nice playhouse, but not as nice as the Pigpen House, and neither one was half as nice as 'Lizbeth Ann's."

"While they nibbled seedcakes and drank cambric tea, they told Miss Merriweather all about 'Lizbeth Ann's playhouse and how they had tried to have one too. "I remember one I had when I was little," said Miss Merriweather. "My brothers made it for me, up in an apple tree."

"Come, come you youngsters, I've thought of something," said Cap'n Holly. "How'd you like a house under that old dory back there? It's way above high-water mark. I'll tip it over, then we can brace it up with logs on end, so you can crawl underneath." Then he told them all about Mr. Peggotty's house, made out of a boat, in a book written by a man named Charles Dickens. Patty, Polly and Alec listened eagerly and couldn't wait to have a house like Mr. Peggotty's."

"Then tomorrow came, and the wind blew, and there was an awful storm.

"Was it a hurricane Daddy?" they asked. "Yes it was." Daddy said.

"Everything was sopping wet, but Patty, Polly and Alec had to go and see it all. On they went, through the long wet grass, and there, right on their own field, stood the most enchanting little playhouse. It was tipped to one side, and its windows were broken, but it was still an enchanted playhouse. They looked in through the broken windows, and there, all piled up in one corner, and soaking wet, were little tables and chairs, and a little bureau too.

"That very day Joe started repairing the little house. He put in strong cement underpinnings; he put new glass in the windows, fresh paper on the walls, and painted inside and out. Mother made pretty flowered curtains for the windows and bought a gay new rug for the floor.

"It was such a lovely little playhouse! "It's almost too good to be true," sighed Polly happily. "Yes but it is true," said Patty. "We have a real playhouse at last!"

The Enchanted Playhouse, by Mabel Betsy Hill, First and Only Edition, 1950. Offered for sale by Chewybooks, as of July 10, 2010.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The kings sleep in the ground

Ind raith i comair in dairfhedo,
Ba Bruidgi, ba Cathail,
Ba Aedo, ba Aillello,
Ba Conaing. ba Cuilini,
Ocus ba Maile Duin:
Ind raith dar eis caich ar uair,
ocus ind rig foait i n-uir.

The fort over against the oakwood,

It was Bruidge's, it was Cahill's,

It was Aed's, it was Aillil's,

It was Conaing's, it was Cuiline's,

It was Mael Duin's:

The fort remains after each in turn,

And the kings sleep in the ground.

"And so it was first told of to a mortal, this crown that was in the well, and if it had not been told about, this crown of Bruin, the war that the rest of Ireland waged against Cncobar's kingdom, the war for the Brown Bull of Cooley, would not have been.

"For when Nera went back to the world of mortals he told the King and Queen of Connacht, Ailill and Maeve, about the treasure in the well. They broke into the Fairy Mound of Cruachan to possess themselves of the crown of Bruin. Some say the treasure was taken by them and some say they could neither reach or nor take it, but the storytellers of Ireland have to speak about it because the foray brought the Battle Goddess Morrigu into the Fairy Mound of Cruachan.

The Frenzied Prince Being Heroic Stories of Ancient Ireland, Told by Padraic Colum, Illustrated by Willy Pogany, 1943, Stated First Edition, embossed green cloth with gold gilt titling, illustrated endpapers,color plates throughout, includes original dust jacket. Retained for personal collection.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.

Mankind is not likely to salvage civilization unless he can evolve a system of good and evil which is independent of heaven and hell.

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

Political chaos is connected with the decay of language.

The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun.

War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.

We of the sinking middle class may sink without further struggles into the working class where we belong, and probably when we get there it will not be so dreadful as we feared, for, after all, we have nothing to lose.

What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

George Orwell (June 25, 1903- January 21, 1950)