Sunday, September 30, 2012


Garden at Selborne

To Samuel Barker

[With a copy of ‘The Invitation To Selborne.’]

                         Selborne, Nov. 3, 1774.

       Dear Sam,

When I sat down to write to you in verse, my whole design was to show you how easy a thing it might be with a little care for a nephew to excell his uncle in the business of versification ; but as you have so fully answered that intent by your excellent lines, you must for the future excuse my replying in the same way, and make some allowance for the difference of ages.

However, at any time when you find your muse propitious, I shall always rejoice to see a copy of your performance, and shall be ready to commend, and what is more rare and more sincere, even to object and criticise when there is occasion. 

John Dryden

A little turn for English poetry is no doubt a pretty accomplishment for a young gentlemen, and will not only enable him to read and relish our best poets, but will, like dancing to the body, have an happy influence even upon his prose compositions.  Our best poets have been our best prose writers ; of assertion Dryden and Pope are notorious instances.  It would be in vain to think of saying much here on the art of versification ; instead of the narrow limits of a letter, such a subject would require a large volume.  However, I must say in a few words that the way to excel is to copy only from our best writers.  The great grace of poetry consists in a perpetual variation of your cadences : if possible no two lines following ought to have their pause at the same feet.


Alexander Pope  

Another beauty should not be passed over ; and that is throwing the sense and power into the third line, which adds a dignity and freedom to your expressions.  Dryden introduced this practice, and carried it to great perfection ; but his successor, Pope, by his over exactness, corrected away that noble liberty, and almost reduced every sentence within the narrow bounds of a couplet.  Alliteration, or the art of introducing words beginning with the same letter in the same or following line, has also a fine effect when managed with discretion.  Dryden and Pope practised this art with wonderful success.  As, for example, where you say “the polished needle,” the epithet “burnished” would be better for the reason above.  But then you must avoid affectation in this case, and let the alliteration slide in, as it were, without design ; and this secret will make your lines bold and nervous.  There are also in poetry allusions, similes and a thousand nameless graces, the efficacy of which nothing can make you sensible of but the careful reading of our best poets, and a nice and judicious application of their beauties.  I need not add that you should be careful to seem not to take any pains about your rhimes ; they should fall in, as it were, of themselves.  Our old poets laboured as much formerly to lug in two rhiming words as a butcher does to drag an ox to be slaughtered ; but Pope has set such a pattern of ease in that way, that few composers now are faulty in the business of rhiming . . .


Stream at Selborne

NOTE:  I think this charming letter of Gilbert White (of Selborne) to his nephew Samuel Barker speaks for itselfThis Samuel Barker was the grandson of the noted 18th century English Hebraist Samuel Barker, about whom see HERE for more.

One of three known images of Gilbert White.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


You're walking 'round in my Memory
That only gets Stronger and Stronger
Smudged mascara and Pill-shaped eyes
Everything you want was bought with Lies. 

But what can I do about It?
They say You won't last any Longer
All the gates of Love you won't walk through
The only Gates you see are colored Blue. 

I See You Peering Through Frosted Windows
Eyes Don't Smile, All They Do Is Cry :
Funny Face Is All Right !
Funny Face Is All Right !
Funny Face Is All Right !

Note:  Dave Davies' finest composition?  Some people think so.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Note:  The five recipes included below, all of them simple to prepare, were published in The Museum of Modern Art Artists’ Cookbook (New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1977).

I cannot recall how I came to own several copies of this book.  Even though I’m very familiar with its contents – it’s a really charming spiral and board-bound volume with nice portraits and anecdote-filled profiles of each of the famous, New York City-based artists whose recipes are included – I’ve never cooked any of them.

That’s about to change, however.  I think I’d really like all of these.


Laitance Bourgeois  (Louise Bourgeois)

Serves 6-8

2 pounds soft roe, preferably herring or sardine
Soybean oil or butter
Fresh lemon juice

Sauté soft roe in a small amount of oil or butter on both sides, about 5 minutes in all.  Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice.

Note:  Louise says soft roe is available in the spring.  It is full of vitamin A and very tasty.  In France, laitance is an everyday family dish.
Art:  Maman, 1999

Liverwurst In Beer (Robert Motherwell)

Serves 8-10 as an appetizer

1 pound liverwurst in natural casing
1 can of beer

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put liverwurst in baking pan and pour beer to depth of ½ inch.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Slice the liverwurst and serve it either on toast points or with an airy French or Italian bread.

Art:  Elegy To The Spanish Republic No. 110, 1971

Red Salad (Salvador Dali)

Serves 4 for lunch or 8 as a first course

8 ounces red beets, diced
8 ounces smoked tongue, diced
12 ounces red cabbage, finely grated
5 tablespoons heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 shallot, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Iceberg lettuce leaves

Combine cream, tomato paste, sugar, shallot and pepper.  Beat with a whisk until mixture is light and foamy, about 3 minutes.  Slowly beat in lemon juice.  Place beets, cabbage and tongue in a bowl.  Add dressing and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve on a bed of lettuce.

Art:  Lobster Telephone (Aphrodisiac Telephone), 1936


Broccoli Sandwich With Sardines  
 (Alex Katz)

Serves 2-3

1 small loaf Italian bread
4 broccoli flowerets, steamed
1 4-ounce can Port Clyde sardines, drained
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Cut bread in half lengthwise.  Arrange sardines across bottom half of bread.  Spread broccoli over sardines.  Sprinkle generously with oil and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cover, press down and slice diagonally into 3 or 4 wedges.

Art:  Milly and Sally, 1984


Dutch Breakfast (Willem de Kooning)

2 thick slices white bread, buttered
2 slices roast beef or boiled ham
2 eggs, fried
Salt and pepper

Place slices of meat on bread and top with one fried egg each.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Art:  Woman V, 1952-3

Headnote Art:  Still from Un Chien Andalou, Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, 1929