Just above the wild boar on the south nave of Washington National Cathedral are several smaller gargoyles and grotesques. Without binoculars or a zoomable camera, you might easily stroll by without ever noticing them, but it’s worth stopping in front of the garden and looking up. The most interesting critters aren’t about to clamber down to you, however much some of them may in fact desire to do so.
AN OCTOPUS REAPPRAISES HER LOBSTER
I hear the hot breath of the lobster I love;
The trees wilt below us; there’s nothing above.
You snore and I shudder, for sleepless I know
The oath of adventure we swore long ago:
“Between us, our limbs number eighteen in all;
Let’s creep from this tank and slip over the wall
And forever be free! Let’s aspire to perch
On a spire of our own on the loftiest church.”
You clawed at my tentacle, tender and green,
Like the first awkward kiss of a king and his queen.
You scuttled, I swam; through the garden we went.
Where grass gripped the stones, we began our ascent.
A lobster lives long, as no octopus can,
But a lobster has in him but one perfect plan.
I longed for longevity; no girl expects
To ask of her lobster, “So what happens next?”
You curl up contentedly, dreaming of me;
I cling to my cornice and scarcely feel free.
“I won’t let you down,” you once vowed, and I sighed.
I love that you’re honest; I wish you had lied.
(For all the entries in this series, hit the “looking up” tag.)
Like Charlemagne in the mind of a 19th-century French nationalist, this blog should, in the weeks ahead, come roaring back to life as the tired soul behind it strikes a happier balance between the things he wants to do and the things he needs to do. In the meantime, enjoy these links re-plucked from the great, fecund florilegium of the Web.
The Cimmerian hears echoes of Robert E. Howard in last week’s discovery of Persian bones.
Why do the spiders in The Hobbit hate being called “attercop”? Jason Fisher explains.
Open Letters Monthly reviews a new translation of Orlando Furioso.
Lex Fajardo visits comic shops in Scandinavia.
Come on, you know you’ve wondered about ancient Roman toilets.
Wulfstan speaks! Hear Anglo-Saxon sermons across a thousand years.
Neil Verma defends historical fiction and ponders the relationship of video games to reading.
Jake Seliger ponders an op-ed about teaching, Borges on literature, and the silly debate among writers about word processors.
Where are the wild things? Janet Potter reads the book based on the movie based on the book.
Bibliographing reads the 19th-century kunstmärchen of Ludwig Tieck.
Writer Beware asks: Do authors need “virtual assistants?” (The answer: no.)
And so the exhausted medievalist flees to Ocean City, Maryland, intent on finding time to become reacquainted with The Hobbit for next Wednesday’s class. (He first read the book here—bought it on the boardwalk—more than 25 years ago.) But after golfing among Vikings and honoring the deathless gods of the dragon temple, what seaside novelty can entertain the Tolkien-minded teacher?
Weary, he rests at the edge of the wintry surf.
What’s that? You say you’ve found something lightly amusing and relevant to my lesson plan? Lead on, O friend of friends!
I say, what rises beyond this eldritch wood? Such a wonder can hardly be the work of man.
Zoom in, O magical steed!
Aye, nothing says “magic elf sanctuary” like storks. But surely, O lavender-maned tour guide, the name of this place is mere coincidence?
I see. So why, O hooféd Vergil ‘mongst the bayside shades, would a hobbit need a parking space?
It’s like a driveway to the Shire! Those round-top doors make me want to go there, and back again!
But wait—what’s that funny smell around back?
Run, fat hobbitses! It’s a cookbook! It’s a cookbook!