Sunday, 7 May 2017

T.S. Eliot – Selected Poems 1954

“There will be time, there will be time,
To prepare a face to meet the faces you meet;
There will be time to murder and create.” (Eliot ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, 1954, p.4).



“I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.” (Eliot ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, 1954, p.7).

“Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon
You have the scene arrange itself – as it will seem to do –
With ‘I have saved this afternoon for you’;” (Eliot ‘Portrait of a lady’, 1954, p.8).

“And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters,
And you heard the sparrow in the gutters,
You had a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands.” (Eliot ‘Preludes, 1954, p.14).

“Twleve o’clock.
Along the reaches of the street
Held in lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations,
Its divisions and precisions.” (Eliot ‘Rhapsody on a windy night’, 1954, p.16).

“I saw the ‘potamus take wing
Ascending from the damp savannas,
And quiring angels round him sing
The praise of God, in loud hosannas.” (Eliot ‘Gerontion’, 1954, p.31).

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.” (Eliot ‘The waste land’, 1954, p.41).

“Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.

                                       A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.

                                     Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.” (Eliot ‘The waste land’, 1954, p.53).

“After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palaces and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience.” (Eliot ‘The waste land’, 1954, p.54).

“”This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.” (Eliot ‘The hollow men’, 1954, p.70).

“Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will.” (Eliot ‘Ash Wednesday’, 1954, p.74).

“At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitful face of hope and of despair.” (Eliot ‘Ash Wednesday’, 1954, p.77).

“And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.” (Eliot ‘Ash Wednesday’, 1954, p.80).

“This: were we led all the way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, on the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.” (Eliot ‘Ash Wednesday’, 1954, p.88).

 “The pain of living and the drug of dreams
Curl up the small soul in the window seat.” (Eliot ‘Animula’, 1954, p.91).

“What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands
What water lapping the bow
And scent pf pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog
What images return
O my daughter.

Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning
Death
Those who glitter with the glory of the hummingbird, meaning
Death
Those who sit in the sty of contentment, meaning
Death
Those who suffer the ecstasy of animals, meaning
Death

Are become unsubstantial, reduced by a wind,
A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog
By this grace dissolved in place.” (Eliot ‘Marina’, 1954, p.93).

“The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
O perpetual revolution of configured stars,
O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge and motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.97).

“All men are ready to invest their money
But most expect dividends.
I say to you: Make perfect your will.
I say: take no thought of the harvest,
But only of proper sowing.” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.99).

“Of all that was done in the past, you eat the fruit, either rotten or ripe.
And the Church must be forever building, and always decaying, and always being restored.” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.103).


“When the Stranger says: ‘What is the meaning of this city?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?’
What will be your answer? ‘We all dwell together
To make money from each other’? or ‘This is a community’?
And the Stranger will depart and return to the desert.
O my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger,
Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.

O weariness of men who turn from GOD
To the grandeur of your mind and the glory of your action,
To arts and inventions and daring enterprises,
To schemes of human greatness thoroughly discredited,
Binding the earth and the water to your service,
Exploiting the seas and developing the mountains,
Dividing the stars into common and preferred,
Engaged in devising the perfect refrigerator,
Engaged in woring out a rational morality,
Engaged in printing as many books as possible,
Plotting of happiness and flinging empty bottles,
Turning from your vacancy to fevered enthusiasm
For nation or race or what you call humanity;
Though you forget the way to the Temple,
There is one who remembers the way to your door:
Life you may evade, but Death you shall not.
You shall not deny the Stranger.” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.107).

“…what have we to do
But stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards
In an age which advances progressively backwards?” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.110).
“Out of the formless stone, when the artist unites himself with stone,
Spring always new forms of life, from the soul of man that is joined to the soul of stone;” “…what have we to do
But stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards
In an age which advances progressively backwards?” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.111).

“The LORD who created must wish us to create
And employ our creation again in His service
Which is already His service in creating.” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.112).

“Light.
Light.
The visible reminder of Invisible Light.” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.112).
“Be not too curious if Good and Evil;
Seek not to count the future waves of Time;
But be ye satisfied that you have light
Enough to take your step and find your foothold.” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.113).
“Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward
And see the light that fractures through unquiet water.
We see ligh but see not whence it comes.

O Light invisible, we glorify Thee!” (Eliot ‘Choruses from the Rock’, 1954, p.114).

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Boys in the boat – Daniel James Brown 2013

Well, this book
pretty much sums up all I learned.


„No didactic teaching will place these values in a young man’s soul. He has to get them by his own observations and lessons.” (Brown quoting Pocock, 2013, p.7).

“The university, and rowing, had made him (Al Ulbrickson, the coach) who he was. Now they were almost a religion to him. His job was to win converts.” (Brown, 2013, p.16).

“The common denominator in all these conditions – whether in the lungs, the muscles, or the bones – is overwhelming pain. (…) pain is part and parcel of the deal. It’s not a question of whether you will be hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.” (Brown, 2013, p.40).

“to make sure the boys weren’t overtraining and dropping below their optimal weight.” (Brown, 2013, p.41).

“Look, Son, if there’s one thing I’ve figured out about life, it’s that if you want to be happy, you have to learn to be happy on your own.” (Brown, 2013, p.58).

“And they pulled with all their hearts. When horses pulled like that, Charlie told Joe, they could pull far more than twice what each could pull alone. They’d pull, he said, till the log moved, the harness borke, or their hearts gave out.” (Brown, 2013, p.63).

“Anxiety, self-doubt, and bickering replaced that night’s buoyant optimism as Bolles (coach) scrutinized each of them anew trying to figure out who to keep in the boat and who to demote.” (Brown, 2013, p.84).

mind in boat: “from the time an oarsman steps into a racing shell until the moment that the boat crosses the finish line, he must keep his eyes focused on what is happening inside the boat. His whole world must shrink down to the small space within the gunwales. He must maintain a singular focus in the rower just ahead of him and the voice of the coxswain calling out commands.” (Brown, 2013, p.90).

“As the California boat fell into the field of view of the Washington boys, their confidence surged. The pain that had been building in their arms and legs and chests did not abate, but it fled to the backs of their minds, chased there by a sense, almost, of invulnerability.” (Brown, 2013, p.98).

About being left by his father: “”I just don’t understand why you don’t get angry.” Joe continued to stare ahead through the windshield. “It takes energy to get angry. It eats you up inside. I can’t waste my energy like that and expect to get ahead. When they left, it took everything I had in me just to survive. Now I have to stay focused.” (Brown, 2013, p.134).

“The brutal afternoon workouts left him exhausted and sore but feeling cleansed, as if someone had scrubbed out his osul with a stiff wire brush.” (Brown, 2013, p.135).

On the racing shell: “Looked at another way, it is a work of art, an expression of the human spirit, with its unbounded hunger for the ideal, for beauty, for purity, for grace.” (Brown, 2013, p.136).

“After all he had been through, it was obvious that he still remained utterly disposable, even at the crew house, the one place he had started to feel more or less at home.” (Brown, 2013, p.155).

“There were too many days when they rowed not as crews but as boatfuls of individuals. The more he scolded them for personal technical issues, even as he preached teamsmanship, the more the boys seemed to sink into their own separate and sometimes defiant little worlds.” (Brown, 2013, p.158).

“Many crews, even winning crews, never really find it. Others find it but can’t sustain it, It’s called “swing”. It only happens when all eight oarsmen are rowing in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of synch with those of all the others. (…) Only then will the boat continue to run, unchecked, fluidlyand gracefully between the pull of the oars. Only then will it feel as if the boat is a part of each of them, moving as if on its own.” (Brown, 2013, p.161). And if you try to pull harder, you will destroy it. Everyone should only pull at 90%. The boat will life 1-2 cm out of the water.

“Occasionally the sophomores won, but usually they lost. They rowed well when left on their own, but the moment they got a glimpse of the older boys they fell apart completely. Months of taunting had gotten under their skins.” (Brown, 2013, p.177).

“At the same time, the exertion required to maintain a high rate makes the physical pain all the more devastating and therefore the likelihood of a miscue greater. In this sense, speed is both the rower’s ultimate goal and also his greatest foe. (…) “Rowing is like a beautiful duck. On the surface it is all grace, but underneath the bastard’s paddling like mad.”” (Brown, 2013, p.178).

“Even as rowers must subsume their often fierce sense of independence and self-reliance, at the same time they must hold true to their individuality, their unique capabilities as oarsmen and oarswomen or, for that matter, as human beings.” (Brown, 2013, p.178).“Each must be prepared to compromise something in the way of optimizing his stroke for the overall benefit of the boat – the shorter-armed man reaching a little farther, the longer-armed man foreshortening his reach just a bit.” (Brown, 2013, p.179).

“And capitalizing on diversity is perhaps even more important when it comes to the characters of the oarsmen. A crew composed entirely of eight amped-up, overtly aggressive oarsmen will often degenerate into a dysfunctional brawl in a boat or exhaust itself in the first leg of a long race. (…) Good crews are good belnds of personalities: someone to lead the charge, someone to hold something in reserve, someone to pick a fight, someone to make peace, someone to think things through, someone to charge ahead without thinking.” (Brown, 2013, p.179).

“It is an exquisite thing when it all comes together in just the right way. The intense bonding and the sense of exhilaration that results from it are what many oarsmen row for, far more than for trophies or accolades.” (Brown, 2013, p.180).

“Demoted and promoted and demoted again, he’d start to think of himself as a kind of yo-yo in the hand of the coaches, or the Fates, he wasn’t sure which – up one minute, down the next. The sense of purpose crew gave him brought with it the constant danger of failing and thereby losing the precious but fragile pride that his early successes had brought him.” (Brown, 2013, p.196).

“He said for him the craft of building a boat was like religion. It wasn’t enough to master the technical details of it. You had to give yourself up to it spiritually; you had to surrender yourself absolutely to it. When you were done and walked away from the boat you had to feel that you had left a piece of yourself behind in it forever, a bit of your heart. He turned to Joe. “Rowing,” he said, “is like that. And a lot of life is like that too, the parts that really matter anyway.” (Brown, 2013, p.215).

“One afternoon he asked Joe how he came to be there, at the shell house. It was a big question asked in a small way, Joe realized. (…) “Why do you row?” “What do you hope to get out of it, Joe?”” (Brown, 2013, p.219).

“When you get the rhythm in an eight, it’s pure pleasure to be in it. It’s not hard work when the rhythm comes – that “swing” as they call it. I’ve heard men shriek with delight when that swing came in an eight; it’s a thing they’ll never forget as long as they live.” (Brown, 2013, p.229).

“He wanted to spend the first few weeks working on the fundamentals. “As a general rule,” he said, “men are in a more receptive mood for pointers when working with familiar teammates.” (Brown, 2013, p.229).

“He told Joe that there were times when he seemed to think he was the only fellow in the boat, as if it was up to him to row the boat across the finish line all by himself. When a man rowed like that, he said, he was bound to attack the water rather than work with it, and worse, he was bound not to let his crew help him row.
He suggested that Joe think of a well-rowed race as a symphony, and himself as just one player in the orchestra. If one fellow in an orchestra was playing out of tune, or playing at a different tempo, the whole piece would naturally be ruined. That’s the way it was with rowing. (…) And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew. It wasn’t just the rowing but his crewmates that he had to give himself up to, even if it meant getting  his feelings hurt.
Pocock paused and looked at Joe. “If you don’t like some fellow in the boat, Joe, you have to learn to like him. It has to matter to you whether he wins the race, not just whether you do.” (Brown, 2013, p.235).

“”Joe, when you really start trusting those boys, you will feel a power at work within you that is far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined. Sometimes, you will feel as if you have rowed right off the planet and are rowing among the stars.” (Brown, 2013, p.235).

 “He liked these boys. He didn’t know Gordy Adam and Don Hume well, but both made a point in welcoming him aboard.” (Brown, 2013, p.239).

“giving himself up to the crew’s effort entirely, rowing as if he were an extension of the man in front of him and the man behind him.” (Brown, 2013, p.240).“the transformation wasn’t so much that he was trying to do what Pocock had said as that this was a bunch of boys with whom he could do it.” (Brown, 2013, p.240).

“All were merged into one smoothly working machine; they were, in fact, a poem of motion, a symphony of swinging blades.” (Brown, 2013, p.249).

“To be of championship calibre, a crew must have total confidence in each other, able to drive with abandon, confident that no man will get the full weight of the pull.” (Brown quoting Pokock, 2013, p.251).

“The boat began to swing. The bow began to rise out of the water.” (Brown, 2013, p.270).

 “”I never expect to see a better rowed race.” Then he stepped down. Nobody cheered. Nobody stood up and applauded. Everyone just sat, silently soaking in the moment.” (Brown, 2013, p.273).

“All of Seattle – and much of the rest of the country – would be listening. There would be no place to hide if the boys didn’t come through for him.” (Brown, 2013, p.280).

“All along Joe Rantz had figured that he was the weak link in the crew. He’d been added to the boat last, he’d often struggled to master the technical side of the sport, and he still tended to row erratically. But what Joe didn’t yet know – what he wouldn’t, in fact, fully realize until much later, when he and the other boys were becoming old men – was that every boy in the boat felt exactly the same that summer. Every one of them believed he was simply lucky to be rowing in the boat, that he might fail the others at any moment. Every one of them was fiercely determined not to let that happen.” (Brown, 2013, p.326).

“Al Ubrickson did what he always did before big races: he backed off the training.” (Brown, 2013, p.327).

“rowing slow and low, limbering up, enjoying the in and out of their breathing, the synchronized flexing and relaxing of their muscles. The boat felt easy under them, sleek and lithe.
Anxiety had bubbled up in Joe’s belly all morning, but it started now to give way to a tenuous sense of calm, more determined than nervous.” (Brown, 2013, p.340).

“boat and men forged together, bounding fiercely forward like a living thing.
Then they rowed into a world of confusion. They were in full sprint mode, ratheting the stroke rate up toward forty, when they hit a wall of sound.” (Brown, 2013, p.348).

“and knew that somehow the boys had to go even higher, give even more than they were giving, even as he knew they were already giving everything they had.” (Brown, 2013, p.349).

 “Someone whispered, “Who won?” Roger Morris croaked, “Well … we did … I think.” (Brown, 2013, p.350).

“Where is the spiritual value of rowing? … The losing of self entirely to the cooperative effort of the crew as a whole.” (Brown quoting Pocock, 2013, p.353).

“He had spent much of the night simply staring at his gold medal, contemplating it as it hung on the end of his bunk. As much as he had wanted it, and as much as he understood what it would mean to everyone back home and to the rest of the world, during the night he had come to realize that the medal wasn’t the most important thing he would take home from Germany.” (Brown, 2013, p.355).

“there was nothing more he could do to win the race, beyond what he was already doing. Except for one thing. He could finally abandon all doubt, trust absolutely without reservation that he and the boy in front of him and the boys behind him would all do precisely what they needed to do at precisely the instant they needed to do it. He had known in that instant that there could be no hesitation, no shred of indecision. He had no choice but to throw himself into each stroke as if he were throwing himself off of a cliff into a void, with unquestioned faith that the others would be there to save him from catching the whole weight of the shell on his blade. And he had done it. Over and over, forty-four times per minute, he had hurled himself blindly into his future, not just believing but knowing that the other boys would be there for him, all of them, moment by precious moment.
In the white-hot emotional furnace of those final meters at Grünau, Joe and the boys had finally forged the prize they had sought all season, the prize Joe had sought nearly all his life.
Now he felt whole. He was ready to go home.” (Brown, 2013, p.355).

“Harmony, balance, and rhythm. They’re the three things that stay with you your whole life. Without them civilization is out of whack. And that’s why an oarsman, when he goes out in life, he can fight it, he can handle life. That’s what he gets from rowing.” (Brown, 2013, p.357).

“in four years of college rowing, each of them had rowed approximately 4,344 miles, far enough to take him from Seattly to Japan. Along the way, each had taken roughly 469,000 strokes with his oar, all in preparation for only 28 miles of actual collegiate racing.” (Brown, 2013, p.359).