Happy Birthday Housman


An encouragement here to the self-published author.  A.E Housman wrote his book of 63 poems entitled “A Shropshire Lad” but could not find a publisher to print them.  So he took matters into his own hands and part funded the publication.

Housman was born March 26th 1859.  Apart from being a very popular poet he was also a classical scholar, and possibly the most respected classicist in his day.  He shares his birthday with none less than Robert Frost.  Two such titans of Poetry deserve separate birthday posts, so Frost must wait another year.

From a slow start in 1896 the popularity of the book snowballed and it has remained in print ever since.  The poems have appeared in song lyrics and later in film.  There is a funeral oration scene from “Out of Africa” where Meryl Streep reads “To an athlete dying young” , George Emerson carries a copy of “A Shropshire Lad” in “Room With A View”  and this short couple of verses makes an appearance at the very end of the movie “Walkabout”.

XL. Into my heart on air that kills: by A.E. Housman
(from A Shropshire Lad)

Into my heart on air that kills
from yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
what spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

Space Race


On this day in 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik.  The USA woke up to the fact that the space race had begun, and they were not even at the starting blocks.

With the launch of Sputnik the Russians engineered what was called by Eisenhower “the Sputnik crisis”.  The Russians proved they had rockets capable of launching nuclear warheads and reaching the USA.  The payload of 83 Kilos was initially dismissed by the US scientists as preposterous.  They were planning on launching a sub 10 kilo package and did not have the raw power available to shift  such a large mass into orbit.

With the launch of Sputnik the world changed overnight.  The USA, which thought of itself as the premier power in the world, found itself in second place.

In response Eisenhower commissioned the creation of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  DARPA pioneered computer networking and led directly to the creation of the Internet.

At the same time he created NASA to take responsibility for space exploration from the Military arms, which were focused on development of warhead delivery systems.

In the United Kingdom the launch of Sputnik brought into sharp relief that the nation, once the workshop of the world, was now a technological backwater.  Great Britain did not have the capability to enter the space race.

But Outer Space; by Robert Frost (from ‘In the Clearing’ published 1962)

But outer Space,
At least this far,
For all the fuss
Of the populace
Stays more popular
Than populous




Bjorking Brilliant


Oh yeah, they all laughed in the office when I drew Iceland.  Euro 2016 championship sweepstakes and I got the team that was considered the total no-hoper.

Well who’s laughing now suckers?  Spain, Austria and Croatia all gone.  Ireland, heads high, good effort, but gone.  England….embarrassed, humiliated, shocked.  Brexit 2.

Iceland, a country with a population that could just about fill a decent stadium if you let them stand on the pitch.  Iceland, who have 21 players from their national league in their squad and only 2 players who made it on the international stage.

Iceland may get no further in the competition, but they have been worth every penny of my entry fee.  Come on the land of fire and ice.  Or ice and fire if you are a Game of Thrones fan.  July 3rd we take on the French on their own doorstep.  L’hiver arrive!

Fire and Ice; by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.




Golden Words

The theme today is Gold.  Gold as a metal has little useful purpose.  It does not corrode, so it is useful in certain applications, such as filling teeth and in certain electronics.  In truth though, you can easily find a cheaper substitute.

Gold is valuable because of its symbology and rarity.  In terms of Symbology Gold is an enduring and pure element.  A person who is described as “gold” is pure and good, as in the Spandau Ballet song.

Tolkien describes Aragorn as Gold that does not glitter.  A true element disguised as something base.

This is a reversal of the Shakespeare quote from the Merchant of Venice.  All that Glisters is not gold, do not be swayed by the surface of a thing, look deep for the “true gold”.

Frost also contrasts the enduring power of metal gold with the ephemeral quality of youth, natures first green.

Finally, Carlyle supports the idea of “concealed worth” by labeling Silence as Golden, Words are Silver, in contrast to the commonly held tenet of the “Golden Tongue”.

Pardon how rough these thought are, this is a rush job.

Firstly here is “Gold” by Spandau Ballet:


Merchant of Venice Act II – Scene VII: by William Shakespeare

All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgement old
Your answer had not been inscroll’d
Fare you well, your suit is cold.

All that is Gold does not glitter: by J.R.R. Tolkien

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king

Nothing gold can stay: by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Silence is Golden; by Thomas Carlyle

Speech is too often not, as the Frenchman defined it, the art of concealing Thought;

but of quite stifling and suspending Thought, so that there is none to conceal.

Speech too is great, but not the greatest.

As the Swiss Inscription says: Sprecfien ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden (Speech is silvern, Silence is golden);

or as I might rather express it: Speech is of Time, Silence is of Eternity.