Friday, July 29, 2011

Swallows and Amazons

Swallows and Amazons is a children's book by the English author, Arthur Ransome.

Chapter 1. Part 1 (the video was too long for YouTube to accept, so I had to break it up into two videos).

This is the second part of Chapter 1.

The epigraph to Chapter 1 is a quote from one of the most famous poems by the English poet, John Keats (1795 - 1821). Keats was 26 when he died. The poem is titled "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer", and the last four lines of the sonnet are quoted.  The last line is very famous. Here is the text of the poem:

 Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
 And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
 Round many western islands have I been
 Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
 Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
 That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
 Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
 Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
 Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
 When a new planet swims into his ken;
 Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
 He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
 Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
 Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Four Quartets: A Different Tack on Some Familiar Lines

On the left is a web built by a 17-day-old European house spider, Zygiella x-notata.
On the right is a web constructed by a 188-day-old spider of the same species.
Researchers suspect that elderly spiders, like elderly humans, might suffer from neurological deterioration resulting from the aging process.

These lines are from the second movement of "East Coker", the second quartet of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets:

          ...There is, it seems to us,
     At best, only a limited value
     In the knowledge derived from experience.

And so these lines, also from "East Coker",

          ...Do not let me hear
     Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,...

might also apply to spiders....