Friday, June 14, 2024

Love in a mist

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). Frome, 11 June 2024.


Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). A seed mix (maybe 'Persian Jewels') introduced in Laura's garden twenty years ago and constantly generating new variants. I don't know why the population never settles down. I don't understand genetics, so am prone to the unworthy thought that no-one else does either. 

My favourite this year is the spectacular one shown above, growing (rather appropriately) beside the grass called Yorkshire Fog.


Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). Frome, 11 June 2024.

The coloured parts are actually the sepals. On a very doubled individual like this the tiny petals seem to be completely absent. 

One thing I hadn't appreciated before is how much the sepal-colours change. The pic below shows the same flower four days later.



Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). Frome, 15 June 2024.



Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). Frome, 11 June 2024.


In Sweden it's called Jungfrun i det gröna (the maiden in the green). 



Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). Frome, 11 June 2024.

The spice known as nigella or black cumin comes from the related species Nigella sativa

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). Frome, 11 June 2024.

Here's one that resembles the wild plant of southern Europe.  It has just five pale blue sepals. The petals are the ring of small hooked structures surrounding the stamens.



Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). Frome, 15 June 2024.



Tuesday, June 11, 2024

John Welcome: On The Stretch (1969)



John Welcome, On The Stretch: A Richard Graham Adventure (Faber and Faber, 1969)

The County Corway Foxhounds hunted one of the most sporting countries in Ireland. So Bailey's Hunting Directory had told me before I left. It also said that every sort of obstacle was to be met, from tall, narrow single banks to broad doubles and the occasional stone wall. From the observations I had made when driving through it, I thought that the description of the country was probably accurate. Bailey's had also noted an almost complete absence of wire. I remembered,  too, a friend of mine who had hunted here some years back telling me that it was not an easy country to cross and that you were well-advised to have a horse that knew his job if you were to avoid being involved in some moving accidents by flood and field. (Ch 6)


On the stretch: obliged to use one's utmost powers.

Country: area of land that a hunt is allowed to ride over.

Moving accidents by flood and field: Othello Act I Scene 3. The Shakespearean tag was well-known in foxhunting circles.

Moving accidents by flood and field

[Image source: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/162207502637 .]

Richard Graham, former amateur jockey and British secret service operative, has been sent on a job to Ireland. His supposed employer (actually object of surveillance) has given him the day off to go fox-hunting. Arriving at the meet:

The weather still held and the mountains stood out against the sky, brooding over us, blue, remote and mysterious. Behind and below the village the country rolled away, a sea of grass fenced by those formidable banks. It was a foxhunter's paradise. It was also, I had the sense to see, a survival, something out of the last century. No jets disturbed the air, no lorries thundered here, no screaming youths with beards bore down on us with banners. Here was the blood and bones of a sport made for men. As I pulled the Land Rover to a halt behind a large green horse box, I speculated idly on how long it would last.

For Graham, hunt saboteurs are a noisy manifestation of modern life, like lorries and jets. We're getting into a debate about power that Graham never gets close to resolving. 

The country is superb but this smart hunt, Graham realizes, is fuelled by new money and is not altogether the authentic heart of Anglo-Irishness...

A few yards away from me two pretty boys were sharing a magnum of champagne on the bonnet of an Aston-Martin with one of the blue-coated girls. Another young man put his racing whip underneath his arm and remarked that yesterday he'd had a fall at the third at Wincanton. It was more like Kirby Gate than the South of Ireland and sat a little oddly, I thought, on the heirs of Flurry Knox and Dr. Hickey. (Ch 6)

Kirby Gate: the meet of the Quorn Hunt in Leicestershire, formerly a haunt of the rich and powerful, as shown below in its heyday, c. 1900.

A meet at Kirby Gate


[Image source: https://hallandadams.co.uk/products/kirby-gate .]

Flurry Knox and Dr. Hickey: characters in Somerville and Ross' Irish RM stories. 

When the chase begins Graham finds that "this fashionable field, like most fashionable fields, were not too great to go". He finds himself up front with "the top-sawyers". In particular a business-like girl on a "blood weed" who rides superbly. She turns out to be the daughter of the impoverished Anglo-Irish aristocrat Arthur Ravidge, and is thus Graham's adversary, supposedly. 

After a thrilling chase the hunt ends with the fox going to ground in a "shore" (Irish dialect for a drain, from the same Anglo-Norman origin as "sewer"). 

Top-sawyer: originally the worker who stands above the timber in a sawpit. Hence a person in a position of advantage or eminence.

Blood weed: The only definition I've seen is "a horse lacking substance". But this four-year-old is evidently as exceptional as its rider.

Graham and the girl have time for a drink. She asks for a port and brandy. Drinks and fast cars are notable features of the story. In the second half it expertly moves up through the gears and there's less time for drinks. At one point Graham, like the fox, saves his own life by slithering through a coastal drain.

Port and brandy: formerly a popular British pub combination.

Reluctantly missing out the race at "Tigerstown" and the ensuing stewards' enquiry, here's a longer extract from when the action starts to ramp up. 

Graham has gone to a Dublin address to follow a lead, but it turns out to be in a square of derelict Georgian houses scheduled for demolition. And then he's shot at from cover, so he flees into the house, but finds the back door barred. They're coming in after him.

Climbing on to the bath I reached up. I could just get my hands on the lid of the trap-door. Pushing upwards I managed to slide it to one side. Then I gripped the edges of the trap and pulled myself upwards.

Fear gave me both strength and impulsion. One agonized kick and I had got myself half through the opening; another and my weight was on my biceps. A desperate heave and I was up and inside. Then I quietly slid back the door.

It was only just in time. As I lay panting, the door of the bathroom opened. There were footsteps below me and a noise as if a door of a cupboard was being pulled at. It came free and then there was a grunt of disgust and the footsteps went away. 

I looked around in the gloom. Beside me was a huge galvanized tank with a sort of laocoön of lead pipes entwined about it. Leading to the tank from the roof was a lead-lined catchment channel. This was broken and leaking which explained the drip I had heard. The place was festooned with spiders' webs. But, praise be, just above my head, there was a sky-light.

The searchers, so far as I could ascertain from the noises off, were now in the upper part of the house. I didn't deceive myself that I was safe or anything like it. Sooner or later they were going to discover that there was no way out except the front door and after that it was only a question of time until they found me.

The sky-light was one of those affairs which are operated by a long iron handle and open outwards. The handle was rusted and the whole thing jammed with the dirt and deposit of ages. I squirmed myself into a position where I could get hold of it. Then I pulled it back and pushed it up. The window creaked and groaned, opened a few inches and stuck. I thought I heard footsteps coming down from above. Putting my shoulder under the window frame I heaved. The thing moved a bit more with a rasp of old and angry hinges. I heaved again. By this time I was making a hell of a noise, what with the protests of the window and my own struggles. I was past caring. I wanted out and that was all. With a bang the window came right away from its hinge and went clattering across the slates. The cool breeze of evening blew in on to my face. I clambered out on to the roof.

By now it was almost dark. Some distance away I could see lights on in houses and the evening glow of the city was reflected in the sky.

The slates were wet and slippery. Moreover the securing nails had rusted away so that the whole roof seemed to be shifting and moving underneath my hands. About six feet below me guttering ran along the roof edge. Putting my feet into this I tried to steady myself as best I could and to look around. The guttering didn't seem too secure, either. I felt it move as my weight came on to it.

Then I heard sounds of movement in the bathroom beneath me . . . (Ch 8)


Laocoön: referring to the celebrated classical sculpture of Laocoön and his two sons being overwhelmed by sea serpents. 

Laocoön and his sons


[Image source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laoco%C3%B6n_and_His_Sons .]

Perhaps Dickens was the more direct source:

“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings.

(A Christmas Carol, Stave 5.)


One book that I don't suppose John Welcome had read is Richard Wright's Native Son (1940). Bigger Thomas likewise tries to escape his pursuers by getting out on the roof, but he isn't as lucky as Richard Graham.

In Dublin, swathes of Georgian houses whose owners had moved out tended to become dilapidated tenements. The government was not sympathetic to preserving these emblems of the colonial era, and there were economic factors favouring redevelopment. Consequently there was a good deal of demolition of Georgian Dublin in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Richard Graham is oblivious to the political resonance, but Irish readers could not be. On The Stretch is a lament, part nostalgic and part caustic, over the remains of Ascendancy Ireland. 



*

John Welcome (pseudonym of John Brennan, 1914 - 2010) was an Anglo-Irish solicitor in Co Wexford, educated at Sedbergh and Oxford, a keen huntsman and horse-racing enthusiast. 

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/analysis/lawyer-who-took-up-literary-reins/58779.article




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Saturday, June 08, 2024

Schumann's violin concerto

 


A clip from the third movement polonaise (which is in D major), showing the five note leitmotiv which occurs in all three movements. I mean it's the general shape that recurs, not the exact intervals. (It also occurs near the start of the Op 131 Fantasy in C for Violin and Orchestra.) In the first movement it's the basis of the second subject, so we hear a lot of it. In the second movement it's less central but nonetheless occurs in several passages. Here in the third movement it's the main rondo theme (but now preceded by a couple of other ascending semiquavers, not shown in the image above).

Both those works were written in 1853. Schumann's mental breakdown came not long afterwards. In my opinion there's no sign of it in the utterly lovely violin concerto, but maybe Clara and Joachim thought differently; at any rate it was effectively suppressed and its first performance wasn't until 83 years later.

There's maybe something melancholy about compositions that were basically lost until long after the time they would affect the main course of musical history. I feel it listening to Berwald's powerfully unusual symphonies, and again with Schumann's powerfully unusual violin concerto. They take us off to new places, but no-one else knew, so what does it matter?

Not that I feel the same about Haydn's trumpet concerto, now one of the most familiar and beloved cornerstones of trumpet repertoire. If 19th century listeners didn't hear it (basically because the keyed trumpet never took off), that was just their loss. 

It takes a while to feel certain the violin concerto doesn't have something wrong with it. That first movement, simply alternating its two themes (ABABABABA) -- is that a permissible way to build a first movement? Of course they are not just repetitions, there's magical transformation, but it isn't of the usual sonata kind. The word development doesn't seem right when some of the most striking ideas are more about stripping down the music than elaborating it. 

We worry. Schumann's orchestral music has a long history of being viewed patronizingly. Was the madness affecting him? And then the absence of virtuoso writing or high register passages, and what about the tempi? 

But I have an idea that Schumann's violin concerto did have one pretty significant influence: on Brahms' second piano concerto. (Another very unusual concerto.) There's the general subsuming of solo instrument to an equal partnership in the music, and the cello duet with the solo instrument in the slow movement, but where I really see the influence is in those elegantly relaxed finales. There's even a moment (the music pauses and rustling strings signal a key change), when it feels like Brahms is quoting. 


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Thursday, June 06, 2024

Sitting around at Mum n Dad's

 


Dad got his penknife and fixed the top of the water bottle I'd brought from Somerset and couldn't unscrew.

We were discussing school meals. My mum had bought this tart at Blackbrooks for us to share, but my dad didn't fancy the custard. I used to loathe custard at school too, but now I've dealt with the issue by simply calling it vaniljsås, and then I like it.

My mum went to högskolan in Sundsvall. She was a shy eater and didn't have school dinners. She went home in the lunch hour instead (though she didn't necessarily eat much at home either).

Once when she was going home she was followed by Tok-Bertil ("Mad Bertil") and had to take refuge in a shop. The shopkeeper had to call for her mum to come and get her. 

Tok-Bertil was the well-known local idiot. He may easily have been harmless, or he may not. No-one knew, but you didn't want to be followed by him.

My mum has been friends with Berit since they were 11. (She has an even older friend, Bo.)  

Dad said that when he was at school in Penrith they used to bait the village idiot. Shocking, but it was just what schoolboys did, in those days. (c. 1945).

Once, in the 1970s, my Dad was in the Penrith area and decided to visit his old school. He sauntered in to what was now a police HQ and began taking photos. 

Security descended. It was at the height of IRA activity on what was then called "the mainland". My dad was questioned at length by an unsmiling intelligence officer. When he tells this story he makes himself sound like a slightly hysterical Bertie Wooster, prattling away fondly about his schooldays. 

Eventually the intelligence officer decided my dad actually was as oblivious as he sounded. He ordered him to walk to his car without looking to left or right, get in, drive away, and never come back. 

My mum did national service. She was a "Lotta". She did it with some other girls from her school. Her best friend Anna-Greta, Birgitta Pettersson and Margareta Alvar. 

She learned how to spot planes and to radio in the details. She had a muster point with instructions to assemble if the sirens went, meaning Sweden was at war. They also sold hot drinks at ski events, wearing their smart uniforms. 




Portrait of Ptolemy I (on a coin by a later Ptolemy).  

From my dad's collection of ancient coins. I spent an hour chatting with him about them, and took numerous photos, most of which were total failures. 



Portrait of Alexander the Great bearing the horns of Ammon, on a Thracian coin from the reign of Lysimachus. 

Lysimachus, like Ptolemy I, had been one of Alexander's generals.

Ptolemy wrote a history of Alexander's campaigns. It's lost, but it was one of Arrian's main sources. 




The books you live with. My mum is reading Lilla Marilla for the hundredth time. 

This is one of the Anne of Green Gables books by the Canadian author L. M. Montgomery; the final one, in terms of the narrative sequence, though not the last to be written. In English it's called Rilla of Ingleside. It was written soon after WW1, which plays a big part in the story. 


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Wednesday, June 05, 2024

The beginning of June


Armenian Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus). Frome, 3 June 2024.


A vast bramble thicket in Frome beside the river, and the bees were going absolutely crazy.

Blackberries (Rubus fructicosus agg.) nearly always reproduce by apomixis: the gene-bearing part of the seed is produced asexually and the offspring are clones of the parent plant. Nearly always, pollen is not used to fertilize the ovule.

Nevertheless insect pollination is required to set viable seed, in particular to stimulate the formation of the endosperm (the seed's food bank). This is called "pseudogamous apomixis", because pollination is required. 

Some other habitual apomicts, such as dandelions and hawkweeds, apparently don't need insect visitors. (Nevertheless bees often visit dandelion flowers.)

The effect of apomixis is to throttle down genetic variation. New DNA combinations occur, but only rarely. 

Instead clonally identical family lines can be discerned and each can be treated as a species ("microspecies"),  e.g. from the point of view of ecology, habit, habitat, distribution etc.

Yet they are unlike species in two huge respects. 1. All individuals within a microspecies are clones with identical DNA. In a normal species there is DNA variation. 2. A species normally delimits a population which is preferential for sexual reproduction. But in this case sexual reproduction, when it occurs, is presumably just as likely to occur between different microspecies as between members of the same microspecies. 

[All this is what I've laboriously worked out from asking the experts and reading stuff online. I could easily have got something wrong, or stated something with more confidence than it really merits.]

This particular bramble microspecies is Rubus armeniacus, native to Armenia and N Iran. It ought to be called Armenian Blackberry but is more commonly (and inaccurately) called Himalayan Blackberry. It's invasive in the British Isles, especially in urban environments, where it's easy to recognize because of its vigour and size. 

It has spread widely in Sweden too (Sw: Armeniskt Björnbär), competing with native blackberries in those parts of the country where brambles can grow at all (the south and west coast, basically).


Armenian Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus). Frome, 3 June 2024.





Nipplewort (Lapsana communis). Frome, 3 June 2024.

Nipplewort (Lapsana communis) by the river. The English name refers to the shape of the buds. In accordance with the "doctrine of signatures" the plant was once used to treat cracked and bruised nipples.

The Swedish name is "Harkål" ("Hare-cabbage").

The young leaves are certainly edible by humans. I have no idea if they appeal to hares.



Wall Lettuce (Lactuca muralis). Frome, 3 June 2024.

Wall Lettuce (Lactuca muralis), appropriately growing on a wall. 

I always associate it with the preceding species, I suppose because both have small dandelion-like flowers, are similar-size plants and flower at the same time. 

But only a rank beginner could confuse them, even for a moment.... well, that was me in 1982.

The upper stem and buds of Wall Lettuce are usually a rich dark purple-red but I've seen photos where they're green (like Nipplewort). So also check the dissimilar leaf-shapes and the flowers of Wall Lettuce having only five straps, whereas Nipplewort flowers have about a dozen.

Wall Lettuce is edible (young leaves and shoots). Like all lettuces, it becomes much less palatable when it flowers.


Swedish name: Skogssallat (Wood Lettuce).... common as far north as Gästrikland, present though rare further north.


Leaves of Nipplewort (left) and Wall Lettuce (right)




Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus). Frome, 3 June 2024.

Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus). Lots of pods, and a couple of final flowers.

In the British Isles it's an archaeophyte (ancient introduction). It's toxic, but was valued for medicinal use. Originally for eye impairment; Dioscorides reports the legend that swallows used it to cure their young of blindness. As often happens with already available medicines it was then co-opted for numerous unrelated uses. Fans of the doctrine of signatures decided that the yellow latex made it a good treatment for jaundice.

A useful history:

Sylwia Zielińska et al., "Greater Celandine's Ups and Downs−21 Centuries of Medicinal Uses of Chelidonium majus From the Viewpoint of Today's Pharmacology", Frontiers in Pharmacology 9 299 (2018).

Swedish name: Skelört ("Swallow-wort"), also sometimes Svalört.

[To be pedantically comprehensive, the plant known in English as White Swallow-wort (Vincetoxicum hirundinaria) is called Tulkört in Swedish. "Tulk" is thought to mean a wading bird such as turnstone or redshank (SAOB Tolk).]


Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). Frome, 5 June 2024.

A single Common Spotted Orchid that's turned up on a Frome trading estate.

The Swedish name is Skogsnycklar ("Wood keys"). In Sweden it's considered a subspecies of Heath Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata, Sw: Jungfru Marie nycklar ("Virgin Mary keys")).

Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). Frome, 5 June 2024.


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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Pelle Molin


Nämforsen, painting by Pelle Molin c.1891

[Image source: Wikipedia .]



HARDY FOLK

Two red hill-villages stood opposite, each on its own high cliff; far down between them ran the strong black river, brawling and roaring through rapids and waterfalls on its way to the sea.

Directly between the villages lay a stretch of calm water, but above it and below it the rapids ran foaming and white. 

This tale begins with the moo-stone.

When the river ran high the moo-stone lay far below the surface of the water, but at low water it sometimes thrust its sharp black head out of the depths. Like all larger obstacles in a current it formed a backwater behind it.

The local name for it was the eddy. Whenever there was a drop in the powerful spurting of the lower fall, and the mountain wind Åk-vissla wasn't rushing down the dale, then you could hear a mooing sound from the stone on still and quiet nights, as the water ran over it. Thus it got the name "moo-stone". 

Now, as everyone knows, the salmon rest up in such places, when they are tired of swimming against the current, and here they may easily be caught.

The farmers on the southern bank had fishing nets there, because the moo-stone lay within their part of the river. Those who dwelt on the northern side looked on enviously and put out nets on their own side, but they caught nothing to speak of.

The biggest farmer on the south side was called Zakris, and he had a half share in everything that was taken. The biggest farmer north of the river was called Kerstop and he took a half share in all the northern farmers' sense of grievance.

And every time he came down to find nothing he brooded on an effective means of making the salmon take the northern channel.

Late one half-lit summer night he rowed out on the river, and he had a strange contraption in the boat. 

Now the moo-stone was so formed that its upper edge was narrow and high; below it there was a walled hollow and in this he placed a paddlewheel, lodged it in place, saw that it  could turn, and with a little smile rowed his boat back north until it dipped within the cliff's deep shadow.

The next day he stood behind a barn and watched the southside farmers pull in their nets. Not one living creature! "Aye aye," said Kerstop. The next day he did the same. Not a single fin! "Fancy that," said Kerstop. He heard how they invoked the prince of darkness. 

The third day he had his own net out, but first he watched the others' catch. Not a thing! "Yes, but damn it," said Kerstop. He heard how their curses crossed each other.

Only when he saw the last blue cotton jacket disappear over the brow of the hill did he row out and take from his own net a heap of silver-scaled salmon.

*

The beginning of a story by the Ångermanland artist/author Pelle Molin (1864 - 1896), rather approximately rendered. The original is in old spelling with lots of northern dialect.

The feud continues into the next generation, until the day that Kerstop's son survives Zakris' wicked challenge to cross the river before the ice has set fast, and thus wins Zakris' daughter. 

The story was published in the posthumous collection Ådalens Poesi (1897). Ådalen is the valley of the big river Ångermanälven. Molin was born beside the river in Tjäll, just east of Sollefteå, but during his most productive years (1890-94) he lived further upstream at Näsåker, his mother's birthplace. 

[Internationally the name Ådalen is mostly known for the infamous shootings of striking workers in 1931. That was in the broad lower part of the valley at Lunde, south of Kramfors.]

On an 1895 trip in search of a painting subject Pelle Molin was trapped for several days in terrible weather on the Sulitelma massif. (At the time Sulitelma was thought to be the highest mountain in Sweden.) He died the following year in Bodø (Norway), shortly before his 32nd birthday.

*

Ådalens Poesi, complete online text. 

https://runeberg.org/adalen/

Contains page images as well as transcript; useful as there were a couple of transcription errors in the page I translated.

Swedish text of the above extract:


KÄRNFOLK.

Två röda fjällbyar lågo midt emot hvarandra på hvar sin höga nipa; djupt nere och emellan dem gick den kraftiga svarta älfven med larm och dån i forsar och fall, på sin väg mot hafvet.

Mellan byarne gick älfven i sel, som är spakvatten; men ofvan och nedan gick forsen skummig och hvit.

Vid råmstenen börjas denna historia.

Då floden gick hög nådde råmstenen på långt när icke vattenytan, men vid lågvatten stack han ibland sitt svarta slipade hufvud upp ur djupet. Som alla kraftigare hinder i en ström gjorde han nedanför sig ett bakvatten.

I bygden kallades detta eda. Bar ej sunnan det kraftiga hväset från nedra fallet eller fjällvinden Åk-visslans breda ljudström ned genom dalen, råmade stenen i vindstilla och tysta nätter, då vattnet gick öfver honom. Af detta hade han sitt namn.

Nu, som hvar man vet, hvilar laxen på dylika ställen, då han tröttnat i strömmen, och där fångas han gärna.

Bönderna på södra sidan hade nätfiske där, därför att råmstenen låg inom deras vattenrätt; norrborna tittade afundsjukt på, satte sina nät på sin sida, men funno ingenting att tala om.

Största bond’ på södra sidan hette Zakris och hade halfparten af allt som ficks. Största bond’ norr om ån hette Kerstop, och han tog åt sig halfparten af all norråböndernas förargelse.

För hvarje gång han gick ner till “inget“, funderade han på talande utvägar att få laxen att gå efter norra fåran.

Sent en halfljus sommarnatt rodde han ut på älfven och hade en konstig maskin i båten.

Nu var råmstenen så bygd, att öfre kanten stod smal och hög; nedanför var en fördjupning med väggar och i den satte han en kvarnkall, gjorde den godt fast, såg till att den var rörlig och rodde småflinande sin snipa norröfver, till denna dök in i nipans djupa skugga.

Dagen därpå stod han bakom en lada och åsåg söråböndernas vittje. Inte ett lif! “Jojo“, sa’ Kerstop. Följande dag på samma sätt. Inte en fena! “Betänk“, sa’ Kerstop. Han hörde hur de åkallade afgrunds-fursten.

Tredje dagen hade han sina egna nät ute, men såg först på de andras vittje. Inte ett lif! “Ja, men besitta“, sa’ Kerstop. Han hörde hur förbannelserna korsade hvarandra.

Först då han såg den sista blå bomullsjackan försvinna bakom nipkrönet, rodde han ut och tog ur sina egna nät en hop silfverfjälliga laxar.


Kärnfolk....  Kärn means "core". The term (often used in military contexts, though not here) connotes toughness, genuineness, reliability.

Sel ..... A Norrland term meaning a smooth, broad, calm stretch of river (hence possible to row across). The word appears in place-names dotted round Ångermanälven: Åsele, Långsele, Ramsele, Junsele...  A "sel" was then an important river feature, because infrequent. Nowadays the appearance of Sweden's big northern rivers has changed. They have become one long "sel", interrupted only by hydroelectric dams. The treacherous brawling river as described and painted by Pelle Molin belongs to history. 

Talande ..... "weighty" SAOB 10b, approximately. 

Kvarnkall.... the drive wheel of a mill, with paddles round the rim. Of course it wouldn't spin when totally immersed, but perhaps it would jiggle enough to frighten the fish.


Åkvisslan, painting by Pelle Molin


*

I heard of Pelle Molin via another Ångermanland author, Bo R Holmberg in his YA novel Spådomen (The Prediction, 1988). 

Here Lasse's artist uncle Arne has shown up.

He usually came home once a year, but no-one knew when he was coming. 

Suddenly he just turned up, as a rule in a taxi from the station at Nybystrand [nb = Nyland].

But this time he had come on a Vespa.

-- I'm renting a cottage in Nordingrå, he said. I've been there a few weeks trying to capture the light. I borrowed the Vespa.

He was different. He had his own times. He sat up half the nights and read or drew, but in the morning when everyone else got up he slept on and dragged himself up only in time for elevenses.

Arvid had some downtime for a bit now. All the hay was in the barns. He sat at the table too, but in jeans and work-shirt.

-- I just got here, Arne said. Riding a Vespa was an experience, with the wind in my face all through this monstrous nature that God created when he was both angry and smiling, as Pelle Molin put it.

He really spoke like that. It was hard to believe he was Dad's and Arvid's brother.

-- He's always been like that, Arvid used to say. He's flaky* and has never done a day's work in his life.

Arvid poured coffee in the saucer and slurped it.

Arne got up and stretched. He patted his stomach contentedly, pulled a cigarette from his breast pocket and flipped it around in his hand.

-- Here time stands still, he said and lit the cigarette. Here you walk between the cowshed and the cabin day after day. You've done it for thirty-forty years and you'll carry on the same for maybe twenty more.

-- There are those who will do it too, said Arvid and his jaws tightened. There are those who understand about responsibility. 


* "en slingbirum". As often happens, most online occurences of this dialect word come from Holmberg's own books.

Lasse appreciates Arne's free and easy ways, the way he talks to the boys just the same as the adults. But he bristles at Arne's reductive view of village life. This chapter becomes a meditation on Lasse's own thoughts of being a writer.

(Arne's quote comes from Pelle Molin's lyrical prose piece "Gamla Ådalen".)

*


[Image source: https://www.svenskfilmdatabas.se/sv/item/?type=film&itemid=4223#plot-summary .]


A still from the 1947 movie Ådalens Poesi, based on the story "Kärnfolk". Olle (Kerstop's son, played by Carl-Henrik (Kenne) Fant) fights with Zakris (played by Adolf Jahr).



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Lost leaves


*

Satisfaction

Nevertheless, I'm still worried. I dug him out of a hole, --  but not without a cost. Manchester Piccadilly. 74. 


And after a little pause he repeated:

No, decidedly not without a cost.

The whole time we sit here, I reflected, we do nothing but speak like short stories.

I smoothed my cheek and then picked at a little deformity. 

Do you ever come across one of those hairs that doesn't break through the top layer of skin, but goes on growing in a long thin silky coil  between the layers until eventually you find it and pull it out?

Fake query. Just want to talk about yourself.

I was prevented from continuing, but I smarted with the injustice of it. I had simply been going to remark how unretentive the roots of these hairs were, how easily they came out. And to wonder, why was that?

What was it the waves were always saying? I was old now, past my best. A surgeon turned butcher (a phrase I had just read in a music article about aged conductors). I sat on a balcony and looked at water, wrapped up in a coat. 

He rose unsteadily to his feet. His legs were a bit stiff from sitting.

All right?

I knew. I was still the child who knew though everything was wrong.

And the remarkable nutshell of a double-bass.

*

The plummet

A man went pike-fishing recently.

He stood at the end of a trembling wooden jetty and he fished in the black cap of the past, just as if there never were any hydrocarbons in Iraq etc., but nevertheless as if a very small can of oil, with the precious appearance of a spice, was permitted to a poor boat-owner out here and was mined not by Shell Gazprom or Statoil, not from the expiring ice-cubes of the global engine-rooms, not from clergy rockets of Basra and Kirkuk but only from the webbed inners of his own shed.

But you must never get oil on the spinner because the fish have a very strong sense of smell. The man drew the plummet down through the clean rag and into the misty air that rose from the lake, and the gravity of the apparatus drew it down smoothly until it broke the black surface of the water. Now the hooks weights and traces began to swim octopus lowering like a child propelling towards the bottom of the deep end. And still he could feel it falling like the octopus plastic bag in spasms, the lure through the water until the line lay among the clams and weed, the haunt of the grass-snakes. He could still feel via the tensed rod each jingle of its hooks lying in the deep lake bottom though the lake was black and everywhere the evening drew down.

Mosquitoes attacked his hat and wrists. The keys lay still on the weed for a moment, like a collapsed marionette. Then he twitched the rod-end and began a slow lazy reel to left and back. And just as the spinner began to ascend towards the trembling jetty where he stood, just then there was a single sharp and heavy blow. And a second later the lure came out of the water gleaming and dripping as if nothing in particular had happened to it.

He knew this fish. He had hoped the grandsons would catch it, but that didn't happen. Before they went home they caught a few jacks and a perch, just big enough to lay alongside the kebabs. But nothing more had been heard of the knockmeister since his own first chilly evenings on the lake.

The cottage was silent, everyone had gone back to their worlds except for them. Now in the warm swamp-dark evening he sighted the lake with his rod and his fifty years of pike-fishing. He dribbled the hinged lure along the weedpaths in the black water, patient, unhurried, interpreting the silence without emotion. The pike saw the twirling flakes of light but did not watch them. Only when it began to seem late, when the first thoughts of TV and coffee and Marika had passed by, only then. That was the time.


Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Fern-grass (Catapodium rigidum)

Fern-grass (Catapodium rigidum). Frome, 5 May 2024.


A briefly immaculate "lawn" of Fern-grass on a stony sloping bank in a Frome trading estate. 

Like most grasses it has been given numerous scientific names. It is now Catapodium rigidum but in the books of my youth it was Desmazeria rigida

It's a small annual grass of dry places. I usually see it in town on walls, stone-heaps, etc. I've read that it also appears on sand and chalk.

Fairly common in most of the British Isles: its heartland is SW Europe, N Africa, the Middle East and Macaronesia (which I had to look up... it means the volcanic island groups of the E Atlantic: Cape Verde, Canaries, Madeira, Azores...)

The Swedish name is styvgröe ("stiff grass") but it has only been recorded in Sweden as a rare urban casual (Gotland, Uppsala and a few other scattered places). 

It was recently found on Peberholm/Pepparholm, the 1995 artificial island where the Öresund Bridge (connecting Denmark to Sweden) becomes a tunnel, a place with no public access but visited annually by biologists studying natural colonisation. It now has 600 plant and moss species, and thirty species of nesting birds including a large colony of spoonbills. 


Fern-grass (Catapodium rigidum). Frome, 5 May 2024.

The rigidity/stiffness refers to the stem and the spikelet stalks. The English name notes the vague resemblance to a fern frond. 


Fern-grass (Catapodium rigidum). Frome, 20 May 2024.

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

(Matthew 13: 5-6)

Fern-grass may be specialized for stony ground, but the Parable of the Sower still applies, it's a chancy sort of environment. A couple of sunny weeks later, you can see that a good few of the hopeful young plants have perished. The rest, however, are cracking on; seed dispersal has already begun. 


Fern-grass (Catapodium rigidum). Frome, 20 May 2024.







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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Man in the moon

Hawthorn: the preferred thorn for hedging in the British Isles. 




Man in the moon   stands and strides
On his pitchfork    his burden he beareth
It is much wonder    that he na down slides
For doubt lest he fall    he shuddereth and sheareth
When the frost freezes    much chill he bides
The thorns beeth keen    his clothing to teareth
No wight in the world    knows when he reclines
Nor but it be the hedge    what weeds he weareth

Whither trowest this man   hath the way take?
He hath set his one foot    his other beforen
For none haste that he hath   nor mishap may him shake
He is the slowest man    that ever was y-boren
Like as in the field    setting his stakes
In hope of his thorn-plants   to knit up his dooren 
He must with his twaybill    more trusses make
Or else all his day's work   shall be for-loren

This same man on high    when as he be there
As if in the moon    he were born and bred
He leaneth on his fork    just like a grey friar
This crooked dottard   sore he is a-dread
It is many days a-gone    since that he was here
I reckon of his errand     he must not have sped
He hath hewed somewhere   a burden of briar
And hence some hayward    hath taken his pledge

What if thy pledge be taken    bring home thy truss
Set forth thine other foot    stride over street
We shall pray the hayward    home to our house
And put him at his ease      to the Nth degree
Drink to him dearly    with full good booze
And our dame douce    shall sit by his knee
When he is as drunk    as a drowned mouse
Then the pledge from the bailiff    we shall redeem

This man hears me not     though I to him cry
I reckon the churl is deaf    the Devil him to-draw
Though I yell full loud    he will not hie
The listless lad    kens nowt about the law
Hop forth Hubert       hosèd pie
I reckon thou art swallowed      into the maw
Though I harangue him    till my teeth grind
The churl will not a-down    ere the day dawn


A medieval lyric that's an outlier in many respects. Nothing churchly about it, nothing courtly or romantic, no clear social or political message. And thus, more undisguisedly than usual, we come up against our deep ignorance of medieval life: why does this poem exist, why was it written, who for, what is the occasion and performing context?

Composed maybe around 1300 CE. From the celebrated Harley MS (2253). The meaning of some of the lines remains very debatable, partly because of unusual language and partly because the nature of the poem is unfamiliar and common conventions of medieval lyric don't help a lot. 

My rendering is basically focussed on trying to share the feel of the poem, eg. the elaborate rhyme scheme (abababab) combined with an Old English rhythm (half-lines with two stresses in each) and alliteration to taste. I've done my best to approximate the meaning too, but if you object that it's scarcely a translation, I couldn't disagree.

*

The poem embroiders on a legend of the man in the moon as a peasant carrying a bundle of thorns.  In many versions he's banished to the moon for committing an offence, and sometimes there's an association with Cain, and perhaps the idea that if you're stuck on the moon you'll never get beyond the sublunary zone and up to heaven.

Shakespeare refers to the legend:


QUINCE  Ay, or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern and say he comes to disfigure or to present the person of Moonshine  (Midsummer Night's Dream, III.1)

ANTONIO (plotting) ..... The man i’ th’ moon’s too slow .... (The Tempest, II.1)

STEPHANO (to Caliban) Out o’ th’ moon, I do assure thee. I was the
man i’ th’ moon when time was. (The Tempest, II.2)



*

Mandatory hedging was a big part of a medieval peasant's existence. The kind of hedging method referred to here is as follows:

1. Set a line of stakes, a meter or two apart. 

2. In the gaps (doors) plant young thorn plants. (Hawthorn is the preferred species.)

3. Cut and gather bundles of thorn, brushwood or briar and heap them over the living plants. This protects them and it also makes the hedge stockproof while they grow to maturity. Eventually the living plants will displace the cut material. 

The scenario posited in Stanza 3 is that the man has been caught by the hayward cutting briar (=bramble) improperly (e.g. on a Sunday) or from somewhere he wasn't supposed to; someone else's hedge, maybe. He's been forced to give a pledge (basically an IOU), which the hayward passes on to another officer, the bailiff, for safekeeping. The pledge must be redeemed by paying a fine.

The idea in Stanza 4 is presumably to use money pilfered from the drunken hayward to pay the fine.

(Cooking up this nefarious scheme constitutes "knowing about the law", it would appear!)

[More info:

R.J. Menner, "The Man in the Moon and Hedging", The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol 48 No 1 (Jan 1949), pp. 1-14 (https://www.jstor.org/stable/27714995 .)]

*

Here's the original Middle English text:


Mon in þe mone stond & strit
on is botforke is burþen he bereþ
hit is muche wonder þat he na doun slyt
for doute leste he valle he shoddreþ ant shereþ
when þe forst freseþ muche chele he byd
þe þornes beþ kene is hattren to tereþ
Nis no wyþt in þe world þat wot wen he syt
ne bote hit bue þe hegge whet wedes he wereþ

whider trowe þis mon ha þe wey take
he haþ set is o fot is oþer toforen
For non hiþte þat he haþ ne syþt me hym ner shake
he is þe sloweste mon þat euer wes yboren
Wher he were o þe feld pycchynde stake
for hope of ys þornes to dutten is doren
He mot myd is twybyl oþer trous make
oþer al is dayes werk þer were yloren

Þis ilke mon vpon heh whener he were
wher he were y þe mone boren ant yfed
He leneþ on is forke ase a grey frere
þis crokede caynard sore he is adred
Hit is mony day go þat he was here
ichot of is ernde he naþ nout ysped
He haþ hewe sumwher a burþen of brere
þarefore sum hayward haþ taken ys wed

Yef þy wed ys ytake bring hom þe trous
sete forþ þyn oþer fot stryd ouer sty
We shule preye þe haywart hom to vr hous
ant maken hym at heyse for þe maystry
Drynke to hym deorly of fol god bous
ant oure dame douse shal sitten hym by
When þat he is dronke ase a dreynt mous
þenne we schule borewe þe wed ate bayly

Þis mon hereþ me nout þah ich to hym crye
ichot þe cherl is def þe del hym todrawe
Þah ich ȝeȝe vpon heþ nulle nout hye
þe lostlase ladde con nout o lawe
Hupe forþ hubert hosede pye
ichot þart amarscled into þe mawe
Þah me teone wiþ hym þat myn teh mye
þe cherld nul nout adoun er þe day dawe

(Text from Frances McSparran's transcription of Harley MS 2253:  
https://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/cme/HarLyr?rgn=main;view=fulltext . This poem is headed "Brook 30; Ker 81". The only thing I've changed is to separate the stanzas.)

The University of Michigan's online Middle English Dictionary is very helpful (select "Entire Entry" when you're searching):

*

I'm drawn to Matti Rissanen's idea of the poem as a recitation piece in a tavern context. (Stanza 4's "our house" being the tavern, and our "dame douce" the landlady). Though, as ever, it's hard to conceive how genuine oral minstrel work created in a popular context would be artfully rhymed and end up being recorded in a manuscript. Though the tone of "The Man in the Moon" is unique, its elaborate form has a general resemblance to other Harley poems. One of them, the doleful "Song of the husbandman", likewise speaks of haywards and bailiffs and pledges. Perhaps our poem's comedy connects with the four Anglo-Norman fabliaux that appear in the same booklet. The overall impression given by the Harley ms is of a resourceful and sophisticated trilingual  literary culture.

Still, a tavern feels like the kind of imaginary recitation context projected by the poem itself.

I also agree with him that "Hubert" probably relates more to the proverbial magpie than to the man himself. In other words Hubert isn't actually the name of the man in the moon, as some commentators assume.

[Matti Rissanen, "Colloquial and Comic Elements in 'The Man in the Moon'", Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, Vol 81 No 1 (1980), pp. 42-46 (https://www.jstor.org/stable/43343303 .)]

To build on the tavern idea, there's the delightful intuition that the reciter addresses (but is ignored by) a mute fellow-performer who represents the Man in the Moon by standing on one leg or hopping about. I'm not sure who came up with that, but I found it in the notes on David Haden's translation: 


The author even proposes that there's a third performer who represents the Hedge. Which perhaps too closely recalls Shakespeare's "rude mechanicals" with their Moonshine and Wall.

But if I was planning a school class, I would absolutely incorporate a performance along those lines!

*

On a vaguely related note...  How to tell common hawthorn from midland hawthorn:




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Thursday, May 09, 2024

William Wycherley: Love in a Wood (1671)

Ranger and Lydia in William Wycherley's Love in a Wood (1671)


Love in a Wood isn't performed nearly as often as it merits and I couldn't find any stills, so I made my own illustration, incompetently pilfering Sir Peter Lely (Lydia is based on the beauty in "The Music Lesson", Ranger on Lely's portrait of William Wycherley himself).

Lydia and Ranger are one of the five very distinct couples with which the play ends, and I may as well start with this pair. But immediately I realise I've made a stupid mistake, because Lydia ought to be wearing mourning. We never learn why, but it's relevant to Wycherley's wonderfully intricate plot: Lydia tricks Ranger into mistaking her for Christina, who's also in mourning. (The trick backfires on her.)

When we first meet Ranger, drinking at the French House* with Vincent and Dapperwit, he's briefly called away to a lady in a coach; returning, he says: 

Ran. I have had just now a visit from my mistress, who is as jealous of me as a wife of her husband when she lies in:—my cousin Lydia,—you have heard me speak of her.

Vin. But she is more troublesome than a wife that lies in, because she follows you to your haunts. Why do you allow her that privilege before her time?

Ran. Faith, I may allow her any privilege, and be too hard for her yet. How do you think I have cheated her to-night?—Women are poor credulous creatures, easily deceived.

Vin. We are poor credulous creatures, when we think 'em so.

Ran. Intending a ramble to St. James's Park to-night, upon some probable hopes of some fresh game I have in chase, I appointed her to stay at home; with a promise to come to her within this hour, that she might not spoil the scent and prevent my sport.

Vin. She'll be even with you when you are married, I warrant you. 

(Act I Scene 2)

["Mistress" as used by the men is about as vague in its meanings as "girlfriend"; intentionally so, to preserve the atmosphere of masculine freedom and sexual boasting. In this case, the respectable Lydia is evidently Ranger's fiancée. (Whereas the reputation of young Lucy, Dapperwit's "mistress", is more in question; at the end Dapperwit's outraged that Gripe should outsmart him by marrying Lucy, his former "wench".)]

[* Probably Chatelain's French House in Covent Garden. It's about a 20 minute walk from there to St James's Park. Evidently Ranger has no intention of keeping his appointment with Lydia.]

Though engaged to be married, Ranger still wants his sexual adventures, at least for now. Lydia wants to keep tabs on him. Each plays tricks on the other; Lydia isn't taken in by this one, contrary to Ranger's belief in the credulity of women. 

On the whole the pair seem pretty well matched. Of the five couples at the end, they're one of the more hopeful prospects. I'd give them six months at least: not because Ranger has forsworn his rakish adventuring -- that's as maybe --, but because they intrigue with equal enthusiasm, they seem to understand each other, and they're both able to compromise. 

If you've ever surrendered to the fascinations of Love Island or Made In Chelsea or MAFS you'll recognize this kind of discussion. Love in a Wood has something in common with that kind of show. 

To be honest, we don't care very deeply about the post-show futures of the participants. What we relish is the behaviour, the dynamics, the untruths and awkward moments that unfold before our eyes. We love it when people talk behind each other's back, like Dapperwit while Ranger is downstairs.

Dap. This Ranger, Mr. Vincent, is as false to his friend as his wench.

Vin. You have no reason to say so, but because he is absent.

Dap. 'Tis disobliging to tell a man of his faults to his face. If he had but your grave parts and manly wit, I should adore him; but, a pox! he is a mere buffoon, a jack-pudding, let me perish!

(Act I Scene 2)

And we love it when people get to hear what their partners say about them, as when Lydia overhears Ranger saying this sort of thing to Christina:

Ran. .... Besides, I would not for the world have given her troublesome love so much encouragement, to have disturbed my future addresses to you; for the foolish woman does perpetually torment me to make our relation nearer ....

Ran. If she were here, she would satisfy you she were not capable of the honour to be taken for you:—though in the dark. Faith, my cousin is but a tolerable woman to a man that had not seen you.

(Act 2 Scene 2)

And we love that delicious moment when someone blatantly caught in the wrong tries to work out exactly how much the other person knows:


Ran. Indeed, cousin, besides my business, another cause I did not wait on you was, my apprehension you were gone to the Park, notwithstanding your promise to the contrary.

Lyd. Therefore, you went to the Park to visit me there, notwithstanding your promise to the contrary?

Ran. Who, I at the Park! when I had promised to wait upon you at your lodging! But were you at the Park, madam?

Lyd. Who, I at the Park! when I had promised to wait for you at home! I was no more at the Park than you were. Were you at the Park?

Ran. The Park had been a dismal desert to me, notwithstanding all the good company in it, if I had wanted yours.

Lyd. [Aside.] Because it has been the constant endeavour of men to keep women ignorant, they think us so; but 'tis that increases our inquisitiveness, and makes us know them ignorant as false. ...

(Act III Scene 3)

(Ranger's rapid calculations go something like this: She knows I broke my promise to visit her at her home, but she can't be sure I went to the Park... unless she was at the Park herself and saw me .... but if she was, then she also broke her promise to me ....)

Meanwhile Lydia, holding back from outright confrontation, at least gets some revenge for those overheard comments: 

Lyd. [to Dapperwit] Take him with you, sir. I suppose his business may be there to borrow, or win, money, and I ought not to be his hindrance; for when he has none, he has his desperate designs upon that little I have -- for want of money makes as devout lovers as Christians. 

Dap. I hope, madam, he offers you no less security than his liberty.

Lyd. His liberty! As poor a pawn to take up money on, as honour. He is like the desperate bankrupts of this age, who, if they can get people's fortunes into their hands, care not though they spend them in jail, all their lives.

(Act III Scene 3)

*

Let's briefly run an eye over those other couples:

Christina and Valentine. The posh pair, who look like they've stepped out of a heroic tragedy. Christina is simply a jewel. But let's hope that Valentine learns to master his jealousy and propensity for violence. 

Dapperwit and Martha. Dapperwit is a self-conscious wit, all the funnier because he's not actually very good at it, though he can certainly manage slander, lying and selfishness. And, with all that, a certain winning childishness. "A pox, I think women take inconstancy from me, worse than from any man breathing," he remarks at one point. Unceremoniously dumped by Lucy, he thinks he's struck gold when Martha is all over him; she's the only daughter of the aged and wealthy alderman Gripe. Then he learns that Martha is only marrying him because she's six months pregnant...

Gripe and Lucy .... and besides, the miserly old puritan instantly determines to marry young Lucy to prevent Martha inheriting his money. Secondary benefit, he obtains the object of his lecherous desires. Third benefit, he gets to reclaim all the money he previously had to pay Lucy to avoid a court case for assault. Lucy, willingly embracing a hard-nosed approach to life, wins big for her rapacious mother Mrs Crossbite and the seedy fixer Mrs Joyner. 

Sir Simon Addleplot and Lady Flippant. There's precious little enthusiasm on either side for this match, and that's before they learn the state of each other's finances. At least these two incompetent players in the marriage market have finally found someone they're capable of deceiving. They're both very funny, though. The widowed Lady Flippant's method is to haunt fashionable meeting places and take every opportunity to state how opposed she is to marriage. Sir Simon plumes himself on his Macchiavellian pursuit of two women, all the while adopting a clownish disguise that haplessly reveals his true character. 

*

I've now mentioned twelve of the main roles. There's one more: Mr Vincent, the pot-companion of Ranger and Dapperwit, and the friend of Valentine. He attracts our attention (more than he should?) because he's the one major character who has no stake in the game, either sexual or financial. And because his good sense is very much needed by his fellows. 

Dominic F. Martia argues that Vincent is placed in contrast to Mrs Joyner: he is a virtuous enabler who assists others, not to line his purse but from true friendship and principle. There's a lot to be said for this idea, but in the earlier part of the play there are distinct hints of a more mixed picture. He's a "good-fellow" (II.1), characterized by his fondness for a bottle or three. There are also hints that his relations with women are troubled, that he doesn't talk to them easily (anyway not without a drink) and that he sometimes raises his fists. (Some of this is Dapperwit's trash-talking, but not all.) If Vincent is admirably discreet and unjudgmental, if he deprecates airing others' dirty linen, it's maybe because he has plenty of his own.

Here as elsewhere Love in a Wood blithely sketches a London in which dazzle and squalor don't just coexist but are intertwined. It's celebratory in form, but its darker shadows are a crucial part of the picture.

[Dominic F. Martia, The Restoration Love Ethos and the Representation of Love in the Plays of William Wycherley, PhD dissertation (Loyola University, 1972). https://ecommons.luc.edu/luc_diss/1207 . Lively, informative and full of good ideas: recommended!]


*

Love in a Wood, William Wycherley's first play, was first performed during Lent (Feb-Mar) in 1671, at the first Theatre Royal in Covent Garden. It was published in 1672 (or perhaps late 1671). 

Online text of Love in a Wood:

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/55426/55426-h/55426-h.htm

This is W.C. Ward's 1893 edition of Wycherley's plays. Be warned, Ward numbers the scenes differently from the 1996 Oxford edition of Wycherley's plays by Peter Dixon that I've referenced here. 

Dixon's notes are a treasure trove; I just wish he'd added one on the play's opening speech.

Lady Flip. Not a husband to be had for money!—Come, come, I might have been a better housewife for myself, as the world goes now, if I had dealt for an heir with his guardian, uncle, or mother-in-law; and you are no better than a chouse, a cheat.

(Act I Scene 1)

Am I the only person who has no idea what Lady Flippant means by "dealt for an heir with his guardian," etc ?


*

The two emblematically confusing night-scenes in St James's Park are surrounded by scenes in nearby locations: the play is lovingly organized as a kind of gazetteer of fashionable London. The settings are:

I.1 Gripe's house in the evening (in the City)
I.2 The French House (Covent Garden -- evening)
II.1 St James's Park at night
II.2 Christina's lodging (in the "Old Pall Mall", i.e. the street called Pall Mall -- after midnight)
II.3 The street outside (Pall Mall -- night)
II.4 Vincent's lodging (near Pall Mall -- night)
III.1 Mrs Crossbite's house (in an obscure retired street -- or alley -- the next morning)
III.2 Mrs Crossbite's dining room
III.3 Lydia's lodging (the location isn't specific, but it seems to be near Covent Garden)
IV.1 Gripe's house
IV.2 Another room in Gripe's house 
IV.3 The Old Pall Mall (i.e. Pall Mall -- about 19:30)
IV.4 Vincent's lodging (near Pall Mall -- about 20:00)
V.1 St James's Park (at night)
V.2 The dining room at Mulberry Garden House (at the west end of St James's Park -- night).

*

A post about the Mulberry Garden, mentioned several times in Love in a Wood and the location of its final scene (gracefully glancing at the secondary meaning of the title, which primarily means "love in a state of confusion"):

https://michaelpeverett.blogspot.com/2024/04/mulberry-garden.html



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