Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shakespeare's Sonnet XVII

Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill'd with your most high deserts?
Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say 'This poet lies;
Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly faces.'

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

No Second Troy

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
with misery, or that she would of late
have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
that is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

--- W.B.Yeats

Friday, June 10, 2011

Football Jokes from the Guardian, Part 5

--- Every time a challenge has been thrown down to them this season, Arsene Wenger's young team have risen heroically to meet it. But in the light of last night's draw between Manchester United and Newcastle, which breathed fresh scope for fun into the Premier League title race, we must remind ourselves that there are limits to what even lion-hearted prodigies can do and, difficult though it may be to believe, at some point this season Arsenal may fail to screw up an opportunity to win something.
For surely even they can't have many more c0ck-ups in reserve? Already this season they, like sailors who've slipped LSD into the scuttlebutt, have delved deep into the absurd in search of ways of wasting opportunities: they've thrown away a four-goal lead, managed to get their striker sent off for shooting wide, conceded a penalty in the 12th minute of stoppage time, fielded no fewer than four goalkeeping clowns and even lost a cup final to none other than Birmingham City, for crying out loud. So when they travel to White Lane tonight, what wacky way can they possibly find of responding to the gauntlet thrown down last night by Sir Alex Ferguson's teases?

--- The Mill says that if Clichy had been entrusted with the crucifixion, Jesus would probably have been nailed to a haystack or a bucket of water or dung, because, yes, Clichy has no idea what a good cross is.

--- Arsène Wenger, has given up any notions of knowing what a defender looks like, and will instead go back to scouting French sides for undersized wide attacking types that he can call on when the other eight are injured.

--- Arsene wenger will snap up Jack Rodwell because, let's face it, you can't have too many promising young midfielders.

--- That would open the way for Tomas Rosicky to leave the Emirates for ... for ... We can't think of who would buy Tomas so will just leave it there.

--- Bacary Sagna is likely to return to the fold, which sadly means there is unlikely to be any comedy intervention from Emmanuel Eboue.

--- Arsène Wenger has decided he needs an old-fashioned defender. The kind who tackles, heads, marks people at corners, displays positional sense, doesn't air-kick the ball in the six-yard box and maybe, just maybe, can defend.

--- "Re: Alexander Hleb failing to adjust to Birmingham's style of play. Yeah, that whole winning trophies thing can be tough to get used to" - Nicholas Einhorn.

--- Fading Frank Lampard will totter back and forth in a manner that is but a couple of unhinged late tackles away from being a precise re-enactment of a modern-day Paul Scholes display

--- "Reading is still not a city, despite being bigger than Southampton and Portsmouth (I'm not bitter honestly). Having been a long-time reader of the Fiver, I always wondered what type of idiot bothered to write and correct you on these insignificant details. It now seems that I'm that type of idiot. Ho hum" - Russ Brown.

--- Jamie Carragher's challenge on Xxxx, a tackle so X-rated it should have come with a freephone number to call and assurances that it wouldn't appear on your bill

--- Kenny Dalglish is going to have to keep Italian ornament, Alberto Aquilani, after Juventus opted not to sign the flint-boned midfielder. Still, anything that keeps Christian Poulsen away from the first team can only be a good thing.

--- "I think you'll find Stoke is in the feekin' midlands you southern muppets" - Joseph Gibson.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Enchantress of Florence

I will always remember this book as the one that re-awakened my interest in Salman Rushdie. Prior to this, I had twice tried (unsuccessfully) to read his most successful book, 'Midnight's Children', and had given him up as a writer too convoluted for his own good.

I suppose its the Florence in the title that attracted me to this book (I'm a huge fan of Italy, and all things Italian). The review served only to intrigue me further. A heady mixture of old Indian empires, Italian culture and a healthy does of enchantment were promised. So I decided to give it a try.

It turned out to be an inspired choice. The story follows an Italian visitor to the Indian emperor Akbar's court claiming to be his relative. As preposterous as this suggestion seems, the visitor weaves a web of tales that make his claim seem not just credible but very probable. But this is just the pretext for this book. Its real strength is the narration. The author explores everything from the concept of religion, the intricacies of the Mughal emperor Akbar's court (& his nine jewels, the Navratnas), the events shaping up in Italy at the same time, to the depths of human nature. To combine so effortlessly two vastly different societies (mughal India and catholic Italy), and to flit gracefully from one to the other, and back; is the true achievement of this book.

Finally, this book establishes Rushdie firmly as a magician... of words! Some of the sentences are nothing less than exquisite necklaces woven from a string of wonderfully simple and necessarily complex gems of words. Most of the passages are an absolute joy to read. It makes one marvel at the heights to which human imagination can reach when at its inspired best.