Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts

Archive for July 30th, 2009

July 30th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Enter The Walrus’s writing contest: Deadline July 31, 2009

Hurry, Hurry: To celebrate The Walruss annual summer reading issue—featuring stories by Lee Henderson, Rivka Galchen (listen to our conversation here), Stephen Marche & 2008 Giller Prize winner Joseph Boyden (ditto here) — the mag is pleased to announce The Walrus Guilty Pleasures Writing Contest!

To enter, write the first paragraph of a novel in one of the following genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Western, Ghost Story/Gothic.

"Make it the most gripping, titilating, and action-packed read of the summer!" Send submissions to by July 31, and you could win a prize package from Fairmont Hotels & Resorts or a Walrus prize package, and have your work published at!

July 30th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

A.E. Housman – The Chestnut Casts His Flambeaux

The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away,
The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers.
Pass me the can, lad; there’s an end of May.

There’s one spoilt spring to scant our mortal lot,
One season ruined of your little store.
May will be fine next year as like as not:
But ay, but then we shall be twenty-four.

We for a certainty are not the first
Have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled
Their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed
Whatever brute and blackguard made the world.

It is in truth iniquity on high
To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave,
And mar the merriment as you and I
Fare on our long fool’s-errand to the grave.

Iniquity it is; but pass the can.
My lad, no pair of kings our mothers bore;
Our only portion is the estate of man:
We want the moon, but we shall get no more.

If here to-day the cloud of thunder lours
To-morrow it will hie on far behests;
The flesh will grieve on other bones than ours
Soon, and the soul will mourn in other breasts.

The troubles of our proud and angry dust
Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.

from Last Poems, 1922

July 30th, 2009 • Posted in On Book Collecting

Housman, Barth and Harvard Square

I was admiring my copy of Housman’s Last Poems this morning. It took me back to the rickety old stairs I once climbed to reach a dusty garret, home to a wise, white-haired bookseller who sold it to me. Dickensian it was. Floor boards cluttered with piles of valuable books. Difficult to navigate around them all. The place was located just off Harvard Square. I’ll be  there next week, for a short time. Nowhere near the number of used bookstores there were when I first visited 16 years ago…still, thankfully, there’s Lame Duck Books.

I’m able to date the visit because my wife at the time was, at the time, pregnant with our first daughter. And now that my mind is there…I was in another shop, nearby, located on a second floor…much brighter, and more expensive. I remember drooling over a lovely first edition of John Barth’s The Sot Weed Factor. What frolicking fun that book is!

Peter Keisogloff