It should now be safe to post. Please let me know if you experience any problems with the site. For more details about recent changes, follow the “more” link below.
August 25, 2005
August 6, 2005
Down by the Salley Gardens
by W. B. Yeats
Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.
In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.
This is the first poem by Yeats that I remember reading. It’s probably my favorite boy-meets-girl-loses-same poem. It’s definitely among my favorite poems to recite. It’s reliably lyrical and never grows tired.
June 25, 2005
The Innards Have Been Upgraded Again
I’ve gone and done it again, exercising my authority over this little corner of the webiverse. I upgraded the WordPress software to fix a few annoying bugs (like its former refusal to alphabetize the post categories) and plug some security leaks. Please let me know if I’ve broken anything in the process. And, as always, I take requests.
You may need to hold down the ‘Ctrl’ button while reloading the post page and/or the main MoW page to see any changes (holding ‘Ctrl’ down tells your browser to pull a full new copy, rather than pulling it from its cache). Otherwise, enjoy the new-and-improved Mind of Winter.
April 8, 2005
First, I should apologize if anyone has experienced difficulty with the site recently. I had a small communication error with the webhost and some configuration files were deleted. Everything’s been recovered, but there was a day or two of garbage loading… Anyway, in straightening that stuff out, I made a few minor changes to the layout:
March 27, 2005
Easter Egg Salad
by Billy Collins
Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.
Other comments are more offhand, dismissive —
“Nonsense.” “Please!” “HA!!” —
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote “Don’t be a ninny”
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.
Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls “Metaphor” next to a stanza of Eliot’s.
Another notes the presence of “Irony”
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.
Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
“Absolutely,” they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
“Yes.” “Bull’s-eye.” “My man!”
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.
And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written “Man vs. Nature”
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.
We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.
Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoriao
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page—
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.
And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.
Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page
A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil—
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet—
“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”
For whatever reason, this reminds me of Hoke.
I can recall only one margin note I ever came across in a library book. It was in a section of Plato’s Republic dealing with what sort of poetry makes noble citizens and such claptrap. One of my predecessors had noted beside one of these proposals “then Homer becomes Herodotus”.
I don’t believe I have ever scribbled in a book I didn’t own. I have managed to mark up a few texts, but almost exclusively with asterisks, brackets, and question marks. I tried underlining with Hegel. It did not go well. I did, however, at least once manage to delve into actual notes. My copy of the Meno has “Knowledge as Easter Egg Hunt” scribbled in the margin.
Out of curiosity, what became of the ability to create new categories? It seems to me that Billy Collins could use one.