Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The press of footsteps 
was as thick here; 

and the same consideration 
of the suffering he had had, 

perplexed and terrified him. 
He began to fear that all this 

intricacy in his brain would 
drive him mad; and that his 
thoughts already lost coherence 

as the footprints did, 
and were pieced on 
to one another, 

with the same trackless 
involutions, and varieties 
of indistinct shapes.

(D&S, Ch. 59)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chaucer's House of Tidings, c. 1384

'Then why are you here?' he asked.

'I will tell you,' I said. 'To learn something new, I know not what, tidings of this or that, of love or maybe of some other happiness. For certainly, he who brought me said I would see and hear some wonderful things in this place. But these things I have heard cannot be what he meant.'

'No?' he said. And I answered, 'No, by God! For I have known since I was a little child that people desire praise and a lasting name, although I had no idea how or indeed where fame was achieved until now.'

'I know well the things you want to hear,' he said. Come with me and have no fear, for I shall lead you to where you will hear many things.' Then I went with him out of the palace. And standing in a nearby valley I saw a building so strange that the house of Daedalus, that was called the Labyrinth, could not have been so wonderful to look at nor so curiously constructed. For constantly, as swiftly as thought, this outlandish house turned about and was never still. And there came from it a noise that was for all the world like the roaring of a stone when it is propelled through the air from a siege engine.

And this house was made of withies and wicker, like the material men make into cages, panniers and baskets; and in addition to the rushing noise of a stone, and the wickerwork, this house was full of things hurrying, with loud creakings and many other movements, and it had as many entrances as there are leaves on the trees during the summer and on the roof could be seen many thousands of holes to let out the sound. And throughout the day and night these doors were left wide open; there was no porter to admit or bar the passage of conversation and there was no rest in that place nor any time at all when it was not brimful of news – news of wars, of peace, of marriages, of journeys, of delays, of death, of life, of love, of hate; and lo! this house of which I write, let me make it absolutely clear, was not small, for it was sixty miles in length and although the timber was of no strength it was built to last! – to last for as long as Fortune, who is as much the mother of events as the sea is of wells and springs, is pleased to see it last. And it was shaped like a cage.

'In all my years,' I said, 'I have never seen such a house as this.' And as I pondered over this, I became aware that my eagle was perched high upon a stone nearby, and I went over to him and said: 'Let me stay a little longer, I pray you, and for God's love, let me see what wonderful things lie in this house, for yet, perhaps, I might learn something from it, or something that I will like, before I go.'

(Excerpted from a prose translation of "The House of Fame":

Mr. Toots (fr. Dombey & Son)