Categories
Miscellaneous writing

Night Mail

This is the night mail crossing the Border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,

Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner, the girl next door.

Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient’s against her, but she’s on time.

Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,

Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from bushes at her blank-faced coaches.

Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.

In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in a bedroom gently shakes.

Dawn freshens, Her climb is done.
Down towards Glasgow she descends,
Towards the steam tugs yelping down a glade of cranes
Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
All Scotland waits for her:
In dark glens, beside pale-green lochs
Men long for news.

Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from girl and boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or to visit relations,
And applications for situations,
And timid lovers’ declarations,
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled on the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, the adoring,
The cold and official and the heart’s outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

Thousands are still asleep,
Dreaming of terrifying monsters
Or of friendly tea beside the band in Cranston’s or Crawford’s:

Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
They continue their dreams,
But shall wake soon and hope for letters,
And none will hear the postman’s knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

W. H. Auden 1936

Categories
Miscellaneous writing

Icarus moment

About suffering they were never wrong,

The Old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position: how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

For the miraculous birth, there always must be

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

On a pond at the edge of the wood:

They never forgot

That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course

Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse

Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Categories
Miscellaneous writing

Snow

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes— 
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands—
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Snow by Louis MacNeice

credit: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/91395/snow-582b58513ffae

Categories
Miscellaneous writing

Dover Beach

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

First stanza of Matthew Arnold’s poem of 1867

From https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43588/dover-beach

Categories
Miscellaneous writing

Sailing to Byzantium

‘That is no country for old men. The young/ In one another’s arms, birds in the trees/ – Those dying generations – at their song./ The salmon-falls, the macerel-crowded seas,/ Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long/ Whatever is begotten, born, and dies./ Caught in that sensual music all neglect/ Monuments of unageing intellect.’

first stanza.

WB Yeats from The Collected Poems [1973], Macmillan, London, p.217.

Categories
Miscellaneous writing

did you ever think

did you ever think life would be such a party

with bright lights

beating

warming your skin with abandon

abandoned to delights

far from knowing

where they lead

yet secure in

excitement

mushy with heady intoxicants


did you ever think that?


Categories
Thoughts on lettering

Typeface recognition needed – and answered Albertus!

Today I visited a second-hand bookshop near to where I live. Unfortunately it is closing soon so they are having a fire sale. All stock is 75 per cent off.

I stumbled across some beauties. That’s the wonderful thing about actually visiting a bookstore rather than virtual browsing on ABE – you never know what you might.

And among the pile of books I bought was one by a mid 20th century British poet, Louis MacNeice, who I collect off and on. He was a mate of Auden’s (him with the grizzled face) and wrote some great stuff, particularly in the build up to the second world war. He was trained in the classics and spent a lot of his working life at the BBC. As now poets have to earn a living somehow.

faber and faber published his work (along with many of the leading poets of the time – TS Eliot was a director, so understandably had a preference for poetry).

The books are always presented in a distinctive typographic manner – the covers especially  – and this one is no exception. Take a look.

What I would like to know is does anyone know the typeface. The name is on the tip of my tongue but I can’t quite get it out…

I particularly like the use of the lower case n.

I knew it – came to me today – the typeface is Albertus, designed by Berthold Wolpe.

Here it is in all its beauty