Follow Mumbling Jack, my new blog

  • How Manet Times - Let’s begin with a simple fact: time passes faster in the mountains than it does at sea level. —Carlo Rovelli From tremulous-trunked Ash on a mountain down...
    1 day ago

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías

Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías audiofile (12:33)

A lot of people find this blog by searching for Lorca's Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías. The original audio I posted was of poor quality and was broken in segments because of audioblogger's constraints, so I've decided to post a new, cleaner version which is all of a piece. Text here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wine From These Grapes title page

One of my favourite parts of "Wine From These Grapes" is the title page. (Click on image for a larger view.)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Edna St. Vincent Millay

A new used bookstore opened in Charlottetown on Friday, just across the street from where I work. So before work, I took a look in, and found an edition of Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Wine From These Grapes," printed in 1934. I read and re-read it at work, came home and just finished recording six poems from it; Autumn Daybreak, Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies, In The Grave No Flower, Sonnet, Spring in the Garden, The Fledgling. You can find the audio files here.

I'm too tired to look for links to the text of the poems — it's 6 am here, and I gotta sleep — but I'll either link to them tomorrow or scan them in and post them as an update.

update: Below are the texts to the above-mentioned poems. I've tried to stay as true as possible to how they are laid-out in "Wine From These Grapes."


COLD wind of autumn, blowing loud

At dawn, a fortnight overdue,

jostling the doors, and tearing through

My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,

I know—for I can hear the hiss

And scrape of leaves along the floor—

How many boughs, lashed bare by this,

Will rake the cluttered sky once more.

Tardy, and somewhat south of east,

The sun will rise at length, made known

More by the meagre light increased

Than by a disk in splendour shown;

When, having but to turn my head,

Through the stripped maple I shall see,

Bleak and remembered, patched with red,

The hill all summer hid from me.


CHILDHOOD is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age

The child is grown, and puts away childish things.

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.

Nobody that matters, that is. Distant relatives of course

Die, whom one never has seen or has seen for an hour,

And they gave one candy in a pink-and-green striped bag, or a jack-knife,

And went away, and cannot really be said to have lived at all.

And cats die. They lie on the floor and lash their tails,

And their reticent fur is suddenly all in motion

With fleas that one never knew were there,

Polished and brown, knowing all there is to know,

Trekking off into the living world.

You fetch a shoe-box, but it's much too small, because she won't curl up now:

So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep.

But you do not wake up a month from then, two months,

A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night

And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say Oh, God! Oh, God!

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,—mothers and fathers don't die.

And if you have said, "For heaven's sake, must you always be kissing a person?"

Or, "I do wish to gracious you'd stop tapping on the window with your thimble!"

Tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow if you're busy having fun,

Is plenty of time to say, "I'm sorry, mother."

To be grown up is to sit at the table with people who have died, who neither listen nor speak;

Who do not drink their tea, though they always said

Tea was such a comfort.

Run down into the cellar and bring up the last jar of raspberries; they are not tempted.

Flatter them, ask them what was it they said exactly

That time, to the bishop, or to the overseer, or to Mrs. Mason;

They are not taken in.

Shout at them, get red in the face, rise,

Drag them up out of their chairs by their stiff shoulders and shake them and yell at them;

They are not startled, they are not even embarrassed; they slide back into their chairs.

Your tea is cold now.

You drink it standing up,

And leave the house.


HERE dock and tare.

But there

No flower.

Here beggar-ticks, 'tis true;

Here the rank-smelling

Thorn-apple,-and who

Would plant this by his dwelling?

Here every manner of weed

To mock the faithful harrow:

Thistles, that feed

None but the finches; yarrow,

Blue vervain, yellow charlock; here

Bindweed, that chokes the struggling year;

Broad plantain and narrow.

But there no flower.

The rye is vexed and thinned,

The wheat comes limping home,

By vetch and whiteweed harried, and the sandy bloom

Of the sour-grass; here

Dandelions,—and the wind

Will blow them everywhere.

Save there.


No flower.


TIME, that renews the tissues of this frame,

That built the child and hardened the soft bone,

Taught him to wail, to blink, to walk alone,

Stare, question, wonder, give the world a name,

Forget the watery darkness whence he came,

Attends no less the boy to manhood grown,

Brings him new raiment, strips him of his own;

All skins are shed at length, remorse, even shame.

Such hope is mine, if this indeed be true,

I dread no more the first white in my hair,

Or even age itself, the easy shoe,

The cane, the wrinkled hands, the special chair:

Time, doing this to me, may alter too

My sorrow, into something I can bear.


AH, CANNOT the curled shoots of the larkspur that you loved so,

Cannot the spiny poppy that no winter kills

Instruct you how to return through the thawing ground and the thin snow

Into this April sun that is driving the mist between the hills?

A good friend to the monkshood in a time of need

You were, and the lupine's friend as well;

But I see the lupine lift the ground like a tough weed

And the earth over the monkshood swell

And I fear that not a root in all this heaving sea

Of land, has nudged you where you lie, has found

Patience and time to direct you, numb and stupid as you still must be

From your first winter underground.


SO, ART thou feathered, art thou flown,

Thou naked thing?—and canst alone

Upon the unsolid summer air

Sustain thyself, and prosper there?

Shall I no more with anxious note

Advise thee through the happy day,

Thrusting the worm into thythroat,

Bearing thine excrement away?

Alas, I think I see thee yet,

Perched on the windy parapet,

Defer thy flight a moment still

To clean thy wing with careful bill.

And thou art feathered, thou art flown;

And hast a project of thine own.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Still Kicking

Been sort of a long week. I'll be posting a bit over the weekend. Maybe another Emily/Wikipedia attempt. Maybe some audio. Maybe even some baseball.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Moose (Elizabeth Bishop)

The Moose audio file (6:35).

Elizabeth Bishop's 'The Moose' is a poem set in a bus travelling west through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. No destination is mentioned, or needed. The narrator begins "From narrow provinces / of fish and bread and tea...." Which is as succinct and apt a description of the Maritime Provinces as has ever been written. I know those three things, salt fish (and sometimes salt meat), heavy bread, and sweet tea, kept my parents and grandparents fed and warm in some thin, thin times. And, though times were better in my childhood, I remember the big jars of herring in brine and the salt cod hanging in the cold back porch every winter.

The poem's text can be found here.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Tale of Custard the Dragon (Ogden Nash)

Custard the Dragon audio file.

The Tale of Custard the Dragon is a fun children's poem requested by humble servant a little while back. You can find the poem's text here.

The weekend

I'll be putting more audio up on Saturday and/or Sunday. Anything to avoid cutting the lawn for the first time this year.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Minor League Split Stats Database

The Minor League Splits Database is an amazing resource for dedicated baseball fans. Developed by Jeff Sackmann at BrewCrewBall, this tool will allow you to see what minor leaguers have done at home, on the road, vs lefties, vs righties and much more. For Blue Jays fans, here are alphabetical lists of all Jays minor league hitters, and all Jays minor league pitchers. Simply click on a player's name to see his stats.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Housman Parody (anonymous)

Housman parody (audio file here).

Found this piece a while ago posted on amazon as a review of A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad. The text can be found in the comments on this post.

This Love Song (John MacKenzie)

This Love Song (audio file here) is a piece I've been working on, off and on, for about six years. Thought I had finished it last year (though something about it still bugged me), but it came into my head tonight and I realized that I could fix it some more. So I had at it, and what you'll hear is what I did. I haven't written down the changes yet, and I'm going to sleep as soon as I finish this entry, so I can't post the text until tomorrow.

It needs some mournful music behind it. I did the previous version a few times with a local band called Out From Under, and it seemed to be a crowd-pleaser.

update: here's the text.

This Love Song

Fair warning, folks — when I finished this song I knew immediately that it ranked as at least number eight on the top ten list of the saddest songs in the world. And that's without a mention of guns, trains, or even whiskey. See, I couldn't put any of those in or the whole world would drown in tears. What I'm saying is, I had to cut the feet off this song, clip its wings, disable it, so to speak — yeah, this song parks in handicapped spaces. Another thing, it's a talkie ... if this song were to be sung the sun itself would cry and the moon sink far beyond the cold embrace of sky. Hit it, boys.

I dreamt my heart was a whippoorwill's cry
under the full moon's glare.
I dreamt two fingers touched my shoulder
and broke this love song there.

But I was walking in the empty night,
my hands were empty too.
I found this broken love song
the wind was whistling through.
I gathered up the pieces
and I took them home for you.

Yeah, I was walking in the empty night,
my hands were empty too.
I found this broken love song,
rust eating through its blue.
I carried home the pieces
and I painted them with you.

(And now the harbour's thick with ice,
the north wind blows and blows,
god's hollow voice fills the sky,
the fields are blind with snow.)

I dreamt my heart was a robin's cry
under a cloud-caught moon.
I dreamt this love song wasn't broken,
and I would see you soon.

But I'm walking in the empty night,
my hands are empty too.
I've found this broken love song,
it's all I have of you.
I've got this broken love song,
it's all I know that that's true.

(And, yeah, the harbour's thick with ice,
the north wind blows and blows,
god's hollow voice fills the sky,
the fields are blind with snow.)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Time, Time, Time

No time to post this afternoon. Got to get to the bank. Tonight, after work, I'll be putting up the audio of a couple of poems.

Willie Nelson

Went to see a Willie Nelson show tonight. It was good. Wasn't a life-changing event or anything, but it was good. Got to hear Pancho and Lefty (written by the great Townes Van Zandt), Me and Paul, and Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain live, finally. Sadly, he didn't do Red Headed Stranger.

But he did do about six Hank songs which pleased the hell out of me, though I could've done without Jambalaya — Six More Miles (to the Graveyard) would've been a much better choice.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

King(s) Albert

Albert Pujols hit his major league leading 16th home run last night. There is no doubt that we are seeing one of the greatest players ever to wear a major league uniform. Baseball Prospectus has a nice little article on him which begins with this

Prince Albert seems a fitting name for the St. Louis Cardinals’ resident superstar. It’s a simple, regal name for a player who makes hitting look easy, whose presence at the plate inspires the kind of awe normally reserved for royalty.

But compare Albert Pujols’ performance in the first five years of his career to those of MLB’s other greats, and the name Prince starts to look inadequate. By the numbers, Pujols looks more like a king.
In one of my fantasy baseball leagues, there's been a little discussion on Pujols and how many home runs he'll hit this year and whether he has a chance at that rare baseball feat, the Triple Crown. Here's my take on that (stats are from The Hardball Times great stats database).

Pujols has made it clear that he is the best player in baseball. The only place Alex Rodriguez can even make a run at him is in fantasy baseball. (Though if he were still a shortstop, there might be still a small question as to who is more valuable in real life.)

Pujols current homerun rate is unsustainable for mortals. He's raised his home run per fly ball percentage this season from 21.7 to 32.7, that's got to drop a little. Still, the home run rate won't drop off a whole lot because he's also lofting the ball more; his ground ball percentage has gone down to 41.7 from 46 in each of the last two seasons.

He's also batting .500 with runners in scoring position; he hit .343 and .331 with RISP the last two seasons, so the RBI rate will come down a little too. Still, you have to figure his BA is only going to rise because he's actually been unlucky there this year: his batting average on balls in play is just .208; it was .308 and .314 the last two years.

Also his line drive percentage is down to 11.2 from 20 and 17.3, so that's going to rise; which should translate to more doubles for him, which in turn should keep his RBI rate from falling too much -- extra base hits move runners.

So yeah, I'd say he has a real good chance at the Triple Crown -- as good a chance as anyone has had in years -- because even though RBI are team-dependent, Pujols teammates get on base enough and he hits with enough power and for such a high average while making good contact often that he's almost custom-built for a Triple Crown title.

As for how many home runs he'll hit ... I'm going to make a stab in the dark and predict that he'll end with 58 big flys. And I'll throw in 53 doubles on top of the home runs, (because I'm thinking that some of those homers he's been hitting and some of those line drives he hasn't been hitting are going to turn into doubles as the season goes on).

Bonus King Alberts: Albert King, lefthanded bluesman; Albert, King of Saxony; King Albert Solitaire.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Shooting of Dan McGrew (Robert Service)

The Shooting of Dan McGrew audio file here. (And Dan McGrew text here)

I find this poem even more fun to recite than The Cremation of Sam McGee. Sure, Robert Service had his faults. His poems were often sentimental, maudlin, forced. But when he got on a roll, as he did in this one, and in Sam McGee, and,
to a much lesser extent, in The Ballad of Casey's Billy Goat (and, showing that he wasn't completely a one trick pony, in The Spell of the Yukon, and My Madonna), Service mostly overcame his weaknesses and created some things of lasting value.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Four Emily Dickinson Poems

The audio file can found at this link.

Emily Dickinson's poetry needs nothing I could say about it.

Three Ted Hughes Poems

Follow this link to the audio for Dehorning, Pike, and View of A Pig.

Ted Hughes moved close to blood and breath, his eye always on the fundamental things of this world, his chosen words often hard, harsh, and blunt, his poetry sometimes so much more like stones and water and flesh than the things themselves that a hyper-real sense of his surroundings seeps from his best work. I believe the man had a great, perhaps overwhelming, capacity for empathy and that the three poems I recorded (thanks to Zach for the suggestions)
and present now for your ears, stark and unflinching as they are — the poems, I mean; I can't speak for your ears — demonstrate that empathy as well as Hughes' mastery of the English language and of his craft.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

So, You're Mike Scioscia

Yes, you're Mike Scioscia, manager of the Angels, and your team is tied with the A's at three runs apiece after eight innings. Dan Johnson is leading off the ninth for Oakland. So do you bring in Scot Shields or K-Rod, or even Brendan Donnelly or Kevin Gregg? You know, guys who can actually pitch and might keep the game tied until your team bats in the bottom of the ninth? Nope, Johnson bats lefthanded — never mind that coming into the game his AVG/OBP/SLG line for the year was a miserable .179/.257/.299 — he bats lefty, so you bring in a lefty to face him.

Never mind that the only lefty in your pen is J. C. Romero, he of the 10 walks, 9 K's and 2 home runs in 10 innings, he of the career BB/9 inning ratio of 4.72, he of the 1.58 career K/BB ratio, never mind all that number stuff ... you bring in your lefty, no matter how much he sucks, because you bring in a lefty to face a lefty, don't you? Yes you do, ooh you silly little thing, yes you do, aren't you precious? And what happens? your walk machine Romero gives up a double to Johnson, gets a lucky fly-out from Adam Melhuse and then walks Bobby Kielty and Mark Ellis, starting a 6-run A's rally and you lose the game.


Because you're a manager, Mike Scioscia, and managers are brilliant. And lefties must face lefties. Everybody knows that.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Georgetown Memories (John MacKenzie)

Georgetown Memories audio recording (the poem's text can be found in the comments on this post).

This poem is a piece I worked on quite a bit a year or so ago. It is based on Li Po's Changgan Memories, best to known to the western world, I guess, in Ezra Pound's version The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter. George Elliot Clarke turned it beautifully to his own purposes in his verse novel Whylah Falls.

I worked mostly from the same source that Pound did: Ernest Fenollosa's Notebook. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out for me.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Any More Poetry Requests?

Seeing as I have recording equipment until Thursday, are there any more requests for poems to be read aloud? I'm planning on doing a bunch anyway, to stockpile, but I'll do any reasonable request. Length isn't much of an issue this week — the amount of time your ass can stand to sit and listen is the only real limit.