Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Worst Treason – Victor Hugo

Today is Victor Hugo’s 208th birthday.

The Worst Treason
–Victor Hugo
from: Chatiments
Translated by: Henry Carrington

The deepest infamy man can attain,
Is to strangle Rome, or France enchain;
Whate’er the place, the land, the city be,
‘T is to rob man of soul and liberty;
‘T is with drawn sword the senate to invade,
And murder law in its own court betrayed.
To enslave the land is guilt of such black dye,
It is ne’er quitted by God’s vengeful eye;
The crime once done, they day of grace expires,
Heaven’s punishment, which, howe’er slow, ne’er tires,
Begins to march, and comes serene and calm,
With her steel knotted whip beneath her arm.

Dearth of Jewish Fantasy Authors

Why there is no Jewish Narnia

An interesting article on the absence of Jewish fantasy authors. The writer is careful to define fantasy as that which takes place in a distinctly alien land. Golems are fantasy, but most of these stories take place in otherwise realistic universes.

To put it crudely, if Christianity is a fantasy religion, then Judaism is a science fiction religion. If the former is individualistic, magical, and salvationist, the latter is collective, technical, and this-worldly. Judaism’s divine drama is connected with a specific people in a specific place within a specific history. Its halakhic core is not, I think, convincingly represented in fantasy allegory. In its rabbinic elaboration, even the messianic idea is shorn of its mythic and apocalyptic potential. Whereas fantasy grows naturally out of Christian soil, Judaism’s more adamant separation from myth and magic render classic elements of the fantasy genre undeveloped or suspect in the Jewish imaginative tradition.

And while the writer doesn’t discuss comic books…the focus on fantastic worlds eliminates most of these as well. The Marvel and DC universes are largely realistic, except for the presence of mutants.

While not directly related to the theme, I like how JRR Tolkein responded to German publishers who asked for proof he was Aryan. Read the article.

Repost: George, Ted, Jeri and Drew

Below originally posted in 2003

People Born on Feb 22:

Founding Father, George Washington in 1732
Poet, James Lowell in 1819
Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay in 1892
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 1932
Basketball star “Dr. J” Julius Erving in 1950
Actress Jeri Ryan in 1968
Actress Drew Barrymore in 1975

An image is coming to mind involving the last two…I think I have to go now…

ReadWritePoem #114

For ReadWritePrompt #114 we were provided with a list of words from which to create a poem.

To write to this prompt, pick as many (or few) of these words as you want and write a poem using them.

Wordle: Read_Write_Poem_114

I like word challenge poems, and there were several evocative words to choose from. I composed two poems:

Sacred Sounds

Children slurping
the milk remaining
in a bowl of frosted flakes

The patter of rain
against frictionless backs
in a frog-filled pond.

The frequent belching
and nightly hacksaw snores
a devoted wife ignores

The lyrical mutterings
of the legendary
red crowned crane

Nails pounded
through human hands
into decaying wood.

Valentine’s Day 2010

The hacksaw
with its layer of dried red frosting
I tossed into the lake.

The body parts
I hid inside long term storage
at the airport.

In silent mutterings
I practiced the patter
I’d give to the police.

She deserved it.

She had used her nails,
painted blood-red,
to scratch my crown.

She didn’t appreciate
my lubricious friction.
Big words for a whore.

Her last.

*Note: I realize I misread the word ‘fiction’ in their prompt as ‘friction.’


ReadWritePoem’s February challenge is to write some centos

Basically, a Cento is a poem made up of lines from other poems.

I think I shall attempt their 5-day challenge. Though the cento is not new to me.

I wrote the following back in 2007 based on John Berryman’s Dream Songs.
You have to realize that in England, “Harry” is a very common nickname for “Henry.” (e.g. Prince Harry is really Prince Henry.)
So even though I believe JK Rowling never states it in the books, I assume that’s Harry Potter’s real name.
Or at least I assumed it for the purpose of this poem.

Henry Potter – Age 50 – Reflects.
by John Newmark

1. No Christmas jaunts for fractured cats;
2. Henry is tired of the winter.
3. Alone. They all abandoned Henry —wonder!

4. Old, yellow, and in a gown
5. Henry sats in de bar & was odd,
6. lighting the past of Henry, of his glorious
7. white rear bare in the air.

8. Something bizarre about Henry.
9. Henry was not a coward. Much.
10. So may be Henry was a human being.

11. One day the whole affair will fall apart;
12. Peace to his ashes then.

1. John Berryman, Dream Song 65, l.13
2. Dream Song 77, line 8
3. Dream Song 52, l.7
4. Dream Song 5, l.1
5. Dream Song 74, l. 7
6. Dream Song 25, l.2
7. Dream Song 93, l.16
8. Dream Song 78, l.5
9 Dream Song 13, l.3
10. Dream Song 13, l.7
11. Dream Song 134, l.8
12. Dream Song 134, l.14

Repeat: Why Do Some People…

The below originally appeared August 23, 2003

Why do some people feel the need to erect monuments to their deities on public ground?

I believe in God. I love God. I go to services and pray. But when I visit a courthouse, capitol building, public school, I don’t expect to see monuments to God’s greatness. They don’t belong there. They belong in our homes and in our churches. (Unless you feel such monuments border on idolatry, and your religion states you aren’t supposed to construct idols, then perhaps they don’t belong in your homes or in your churches. But that’s for you to decide.)

Our forefathers were motivated by religion to come to this country. This fact SHOULD be taught to our students. History books should NOT be rewritten to downplay religion’s role in the formation of this country. This doesn’t violate any freedoms.

The stories in the Bible can be taught to our students — as literature. It is important for the literature student to be able to identify allusions to Judeo-Christian-Islamic, Greek, and Roman mythos. Without this knowledge, understanding of literature is crippled.

However, instructing our children as to the proper way to pray is a role that belongs to the parents, and the churches. Organizing school prayer forces one religion’s mode of prayer on those of different faiths. Letting students lead doesn’t solve this, as while each day a different student might lead, each day others will be led down a prayer they do not accept. (And if hypothetically 5% of the student body were one religion, and 95% another, than 95% of the time the minority would feel ostracized.) Setting aside a few minutes each day for silent prayer isn’t offensive, at least not to me. But I don’t see the point. Any child can pray silently at any time during the day they wish. They don’t need the time set aside for them to do it.

There is a time for everything…
There is a place for everything…
dairy shouldn’t be mixed with meat
government shouldn’t be mixed with religion