Lest we forget: the reality of #terrorism

So much of the harsh reality of life is glossed over. We’re shielded from pictures of abortion, given its intrinsic horror, despite convulsing over it in public debate, war pictures are always empty rubble filled streets (in the UK media) – not body parts etc. And because of certain tensions, terrorism, which is hardly on the decline, is primarily viewed almost as a political and societal challenge, as opposed to violent murder.

So it’s a painful, if salutary, experience to appreciate what actually happens to people – victims and families. Here is an extract from an article on the somewhat dishonest debate on the confirmation of Gina Haspel as the new CIA Director.

Gordon Haberman concurs: “Our beautiful, vibrant, loving Andrea was subjected to torture.  She was alive after the building was hit and then brutalized in a desperate attempt to escape the inferno.  She was then ripped apart as she died.  It haunts me till this day.  I only hope she was dead before being dismembered in this manner.  In seventeen years, they have recovered and identified eleven pieces of her.  Do I worry about how those who perpetrated this act were treated after being caught alive and are still alive?  No.”

He was referring to his daughter, of course. The father’s pain is crushing, understandably.  Forgiveness is needed throughout life, but you can only forget and move on if the reality of what happened is acknowledged honestly. Plenty of people are not interested in that happening.

Haberman Rose 2.2
The 9/11 memorial is heartbreaking, believe me
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Protecting/hating women – the #Clinton rulebook.

A women writes…but the problem is that the woman in question is Ann Coulter. Ms Coulter is tall, blonde, ferociously articulate, very funny, very opinionated, very well informed, and she’s also a dynamite writer. She’s the Lefties’ nightmare stalking in broad daylight, with a high output of books, columns, TV appearances and the rest. She is – like your humble author – one of the few people who predicted Trump’s success, and for the correct reasons.

She is of the mainstream, with her media presence, but stands apart from it. She is thick skinned (she must be) but takes torrential abuse from her political opposites, and here’s the kicker – much of it revolves around her appearance and her gender. It is appallingly sexist, violent and bigoted. All the accusations hurled by people to whom the same terms simultaneously apply. The hypocrisy is as breathtaking as it is predictable.

All of which is a preamble to her latest column, on the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kinds of abuse of women – the answer, in case you wondered, is it depend on who is doing the alleged abuse. Put simply, would a friend of luvvies and liberals like Harvey Weinstein be in trouble today – with the #metoo hordes revelling in his downfall – had Hillary won the election?

Clearly not. And the same double standards apply over here in the UK, I would venture.

Take it away Ms Coulter:

A New York Times article on Weinstein’s court appearance noted how the “ground shifted” last year, finally ending the “code of silence” surrounding powerful men. Why “last year,” if this has been going on for decades? The article explained that Weinstein’s power was enormous, his connections extensive and his willingness to play dirty without bounds. Did Harvey lose his money and connections “last year”?

Nope. But “last year” was the first year of Trump’s presidency, or as I like to think of it, the first year of Hillary not being president. Ever.  The liberal protection racket for sexual predators was always intimately intertwined with the Clintons. The template used to defend Bill Clinton became a model for all left-wing sexual predators. They all hired the same lawyers and detectives and counted on the same cultural elites to mete out punishment to anyone who stood in the way of their Caligula lifestyles. It was Total War against the original #MeToo movement. Even Teddy Kennedy never plotted revenge on reporters or smeared his sexual conquests as bimbos, trailer park trash and stalkers. That was the Clinton model.

She has a point. It gets worse, as back then private investigators were hired to find dirt on anyone who had spilt the beans on the Clinton bad behaviour. This, by the way, is fact, not paranoia or speculation. Any dirt would, do, irrespective of whether it was true, or of the damage it would cause. Nice, huh? As Ann goes on:

No one cared about any of our private lives. The only point was to humiliate anyone who hadn’t endorsed Clinton’s treatment of women as his sexual playthings. There were plenty who did.

Well into the Monica Lewinsky scandal — which followed the Gennifer Flowers scandal, the Paula Jones scandal, the Dolly Kyle Browning scandal, the Elizabeth Ward Gracen scandal, the Sally Perdue scandal and the Kathleen Willey scandal — feminist icon Gloria Steinem wrote her infamous New York Times op-ed, announcing the “One Free Grope” rule for progressive men.

“He takes no for an answer,” Steinem explained. Whether he was groping Kathleen Willey in the Oval Office or dropping his pants for Paula Jones in the Excelsior Hotel, she said, Clinton “accepted rejection.”  Soon thereafter, we found out about Juanita Broaddrick.

As Bob Herbert wrote in The New York Times, the reaction of the feminists to Clinton’s predatory behavior “can most charitably be described as restrained.” (This was when the Times was still an occasionally serious newspaper.)

Not one Senate Democrat voted to remove Clinton from office for various felonies related to his sexual assaults.  The message was clear. Liberal men got a pass for any sexual misconduct, even rape. But woe be to those who accused them. (Even last year, NBC News was still following the old rule: It fired Ronan Farrow rather than publish his Weinstein expose.)

Liberal males treated progressive politics like carbon credits for rape. Last year, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt reported that Democratic sexual predators on Capitol Hill say, “I can’t be sexist; I’m a progressive.” ….. It’s hard to avoid the impression that a big part of the reason Weinstein was finally exposed is that the Clinton machine is dead. Trump killed it. Would anyone have called out Weinstein if his good friend Hillary Clinton were “Madame President”? I doubt it. The Clinton protection racket would have gone on and on and on.  After years of feminists excusing sexual predators, once the Clintons were out of the way, the dam broke. There was no reason to keep humiliating themselves by defending the indefensible.

The Worst Generation has flatlined. There are no more Clintons to save. But as absolutely intellectually convinced as I am of the Clintons’ demise, I’d feel a lot better if someone would keep a wooden stake handy.

This is the truth of the current sorry state of affairs amongst the rich and powerful. Don’t ever give these people a pass again.

billnharvey
Well……?

 

Great Landscapes: Grant Wood

Everyone knows American Gothic, which, great though it is, is in some ways slightly unrepresentative of Wood’s work, although it absolutely captures a certain Midwest ambience – Wood was basically an Iowan to the end of his days (1942, aged 51, pancreatic cancer), although he had a most eclectic approach to art – visiting Europe and soaking up Northern Renaissance masterpieces, amongst others.

In landscape terms though I present three. Two had the ‘wow’ factor when I first saw them, but the first is a deceptively simple pastorale which is almost abstract in what it depicts, Spring Turning:

gwstSpring_Turning_by_Grant_Wood,_1936
Spring Turning, 1936. Reynolda House Museum of American Art, North Carolina

Completely original and in its own way, very influential.

The next is a dark fable neatly trapped in the confines of a rectangular frame, Death on the Ridge Road. You could view this simply as an almost cartoonish reflection on the burgeoning spate of motor vehicle deaths as America industrialised and became richer, or just as easily you can turn it in on itself, like this author did: To deepen and nuance the scholarly understanding of this painting, depictions of automobiles and nature within the image are closely considered, focusing on the metaphorical content they express.  This analysis regards questions about what cars and nature meant to Americans at this time.  How might cars represent manhood in Wood’s painting?  If they are a vehicle for gender identity, might their placement and movement in the image suggest the struggle for acceptance that homosexuals faced generally, and Wood may have faced specifically?

You decide. It is a brilliant composition, delivered with great technical assurance.

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Death on the Ridge Road, 1935. Williams College Museum of Art, Massachusetts

Lastly, the earliest of the three, an epic, cinematic snapshot of a key moment in American history – Wood is one of the most instinctively American of painters. I still marvel at the perspective – a precursor of drone photography – the New England neatness, the perfect evocation of night, and the arcadian landscape disappearing behind the buildings, those perfect trees. Paul Revere himself is almost incidental – shades there of Bruegel’s Icarus, a feature not lost on WH Auden.

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The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, 1931. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

The NHS: decline and fall?

I’ve worked in the NHS for 32 years, man and boy, so to speak.

I don’t do private work, though I don’t have an issue with it ideologically.

I admire Bevan and Beveridge who kicked off the whole enterprise in 1948, although I’m pretty sure that they’d be horrified by what much of the NHS and the associated welfare state has become.

We do seem however, to be approaching an NHS End of Days scenario, by which I do not mean the ludicrous cry of “they’re privatising the NHS”. ‘They’, generally speaking, are not capable of such sophisticated thinking, and ‘they’ are unable to tame the behemoth of NHS spending. It’s probably not possible under the current provision. The answer is not more money.

It’s always interesting to gauge what outside healthcare providers think of the NHS. When I get tourists and similar in as emergencies, they often can’t believe that all this is ‘free’. It isn’t of course, if you pay tax, but you know what they mean. The unappealing spectacle of billing and insurance checks is absent from our clinical areas. But what seemed free, high quality and good value, has been overtaken by hangers on, from the shop floor to the upper tier of government. Everyone wants a slice of the pies – both the goodwill and ‘nobility’ associated with providing healthcare, and also the financial rewards*** embedded within its now enormous bureaucracy.

Here is Ted Noel, a retired US anaesthetist, musing on the problem:

Bevan succeeded, but his victory is being erased by the Law of Subsidy**. What was sold as a boon to the poor has become a subsidy for bureaucrats. The Law of the Bureaucrat declares that while a bureaucracy may have been created to deal with a perceived problem, the bureaucrat’s Prime Directive is to ensure that he has a job forever. And because he was appointed to solve the problem, he’s smarter than everyone else and should be paid accordingly.

Perversely, the bureaucrat can never solve the problem, or his job would disappear. So he continues with the language that created him, trying to sell greater and greater funding for his failed enterprise. And when it fails more dramatically, he blames anyone but himself, and gets rewarded with a bigger budget. Ultimately, as Margaret Thatcher famously quipped, “The problem with liberalism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

The Law of Subsidy has killed the NHS. It just doesn’t realize that it is dead. But thousands of those it was created to care for are dead, because it simply cannot fulfill its promised goals.

He may be right.

hospital-ward-1950s-cropped
…good times

 

**The Law of Subsidy says that “When you subsidise something, you get more of it and it gets more expensive.”

*** subsequent to this blog post, here’s a nice confirmatory piece from the estimable Max Pemberton

Knifonomics (part 39): we’re all the same

can

I haven’t blogged in this area for more than a year. What is there to say, other than Trump’s tax cuts will be interesting to watch, given the positive precedents of Kennedy, Reagan and Thatcher .

However, public spending brings out the worst in politicians, in terms of pandering to various interest groups – at all points on the political spectrum – and the persistent inability to cut back. Cutting back, not because of a desire to hammer ‘the poor’ etc, but more because the fabled future generations will be saddled with the potentially unpayable bill.

The can is always licked down the road (see also NHS management techniques).

However, here in Western Europe, there is a view that the USA is different, and that greedy capitalists have failed to apply a welfare state type of safety net. Not so however. Virtually everything in this passage on the new bipartisan US budget deal applies to pretty much all developed economies in Europe and North America. Singapore, not so much.

Of course, last week’s agreement has some virtues. You can’t spend so much money and get nothing in return. We may be spared another government shutdown over the budget, because the agreement sets spending levels for two years. Similarly, the agreement suspends the federal debt ceiling — how much the government can borrow — through early 2019. This presumably postpones another self-destructive debate over whether the government should default on its debt, damaging its credit rating and flirting with a financial crisis.

In truth, much of the spending authorized by the agreement is desirable. Future deficits have been wildly underestimated, because projections for defense and non-defense “discretionary” spending were unrealistically low. On defense, Obama’s budgets reduced readiness, left the services too small and made it harder to counter new technological threats, most notably cyberwarfare. There was a similar squeeze on many vital domestic agencies, from the Internal Revenue Service to the National Parks.

To some extent, the new agreement represents a catch-up from this stringency. Meanwhile, so-called “entitlement” programs such as Social Security and Medicare — for which people automatically qualify — were largely untouched. They represent about 70 percent of federal spending. Together, costly entitlements and expanded discretionary spending produce enormous deficits, exceeding $1 trillion a year, as far as the eye can see. 

That’s a huge gap — roughly 5 percent of our gross domestic product — to close or shrink. Most politicians are can-kickers. They want nothing to do with the necessary tax increases or spending cuts, including possible reductions in Social Security, to curb the out-of-control deficits.

Ignoring them seems to involve few economic or political costs. The extra borrowing caused by deficits hasn’t sent interest rates sky-high. Indeed, after the Great Recession, deficits helped the economy recover. Now, despite our political and social problems, foreigners still seem happy to hold U.S. Treasury securities as “safe” financial assets. In general, the public doesn’t seem aggrieved by big deficits, especially when compared with the alternatives.

How many people know that 70% of US federal government spending goes on social security and healthcare? I’m not sure exactly how the two compare, but in the UK it’s half that, 34%. The single biggest chunk is on pensions, of course. And the public, by and large, are happy with it.

We are indeed, all in the same boat. Except Singapore.

 

How to write (an occasional series: 2)

A nice profile in the FT, of a writer that I’d never come across, Denis Johnson, who died last May. Sounds like his stuff is worth a try, but I’m quoting his description of a writer’s life here. A lyrical ode to his modus operandi. Sounds kind of fun, and blogging is, perhaps, its pale imitation:

denisjohnson
Denis Johnson

“Writing. It’s easy work . . . You make your own hours, mess around the house in your pajamas, listening to jazz recordings and sipping coffee while another day makes its escape . . . Bouts of poverty come along, anxiety, shocking debt, but nothing lasts forever. I’ve gone from rags to riches and back again, and more than once. Whatever happens to you, you put it on a page, work it into a shape, cast it in a light. It’s not much different, really, from filming a parade of clouds across the sky and calling it a movie — although it has to be admitted that the clouds can descend, take you up, carry you to all kinds of places, some of them terrible, and you don’t get back where you came from for years and years.”

It seems appropriate to add a little jazz.

Nuns

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Homeless in Manhattan

Today being Sunday it seems reasonable to post some pretty basic upfront religious stuff. The sort of thing that makes people uncomfortable, allegedly, although I’m not convinced of that.

Nuns get a mixed press, ranging from pity through bafflement to admiration. I understand all three on different levels, but the reality is that they vary hugely in the nature of their work and vocations, and they are certainly not wimps. They’ve chosen a tough path in life. It was typical of Obama that he completely failed to understand this particular group of voters, and assumed that they would be easy targets. How wrong he was (1, 2, 3).

Here is an extract from a book by the well known Cardinal Dolan (one of the many societal differences between here and the US, he doesn’t shy away from getting stuck in), courtesy of Kathryn Jean Lopez. If you’ve spent time with the wretched, the incurably ill, the violent drug addicts and the dying, you’ll see that this rings entirely true. He was visiting the Missionaries of Charity on Good Friday – Mother Teresa’s order – in New York, where I think their base is up by Harlem:

As I went from bed to bed, I noticed one emaciated man in the corner who seemed agitated, and kept beckoning to me to come to him. As I began in turn to approach his bed, the sister halted me, warning that this man was unusually violent, hateful to all, and had actually attempted to bite the attending sisters a number of times. Of course, you realize the consequences being bitten by one with AIDS. However, the poor man kept signaling for me to come near. What was I to do? What would any priest do? Slowly, cautiously, I approached, and carefully extended the crucifix, which he grasped and kissed — not the feet, I remember so vividly — but the crucified Lord. He then lay back down, exhausted. The next day, Holy Saturday, the sisters called to tell me that the same man had asked to see me. I went, and, again, in company with two of the sisters as “bodyguards,” approached him. As I got nearer he whispered, “I want to be baptized!” I moved a few inches closer, and expressing satisfaction, asked if he could explain to me why he desired to enter the Church. “I know nothing about Christianity or the Catholic Church,” he said, with the little bit of strength he had left. “In fact, I have hated religion all my life. All I do know is that for three months I have been here dying. These sisters are always happy! When I curse them, they look at me with compassion in their eyes. All I know is that they have joy and I don’t. When I ask them in desperation why they are so happy, all they answer is ‘Jesus.’ I want this Jesus. Baptize me and give me this Jesus! Give me joy!” Never as a priest has it brought me more satisfaction to baptize, anoint, and give first Holy Communion to someone. He died at 3:15 on Easter morning. It’s sanctity that that man saw in the sisters. They radiated holy joy.

He has a point

Where did it all go wrong? (AKA politics today)

That faintly nauseous feeling engendered by numerous politicians of various tribes, with the high points exemplified by the twin peaks of Blair and Obama in their hubristic primes. Yup, it’s got a name now, which I hadn’t quite twigged before.

Progressivism.

It’s one of those bland words/phrases – think liberalism, neconservatism, social justice – which gets knocked about in the media and the political arena, often without people pausing to consider what it means.

Well here’s the ideal definition:

Progressivism was imported from Europe and would result in a radical break from America’s heritage. In fact it is best described as an elitist-driven counterrevolution to the American Revolution, in which the sovereignty of the individual, natural law, natural rights, and the civil society — built on a foundation of thousands of years of enlightened thinking and human experience — would be drastically altered and even abandoned for an ideological agenda broadly characterized as “historical progress.”

Progressivism is the idea of the inevitability of historical progress and the perfectibility of man — and his self-realization — through the national community or collective… progressivism’s emphasis on material egalitarianism and societal engineering, and its insistence on concentrated, centralized administrative rule, lead inescapably to varying degrees of autocratic governance.

Yup, we can all recognise that, whether we like it or not. I’m a ‘not’. It’s the opposite of true democracy, subsidiarity, respect for others, charitable endeavour etc. A surefire way of stifling altruism and enterprise, of crushing freedom of thought and speech. It’s neither specifically Left nor Right. It is a horrible amorphous blob of state control. It has ravaged the UK (especially Scotland), parts of Europe and is trying to take over the USA.

The author of the above is populist (and popular) Jewish intellectual, Mark Levin.

There is a lot of bullshit about when it comes to describing ideologies, political philosophy, the roles of the state and the individual, all that stuff – but I reckon the above description is a keeper. It always helps to know your enemy.

Stalin poses ad demagod WW2 Propaganda Poster
Raise your hand if you support progressivism!

 

 

 

Poetry Corner: Robert Lowell

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I live near an old whaling port, and the air I breathe is usually sea air.  Having grown up in a city far from the coast I can tell you that it’s very different.  However, by some distance, the most nautical, seafaring, ocean-soaked environment that I’ve ever been to is Cape Cod.  The Perfect Storm is not a great movie, but it does capture something of this essence – life on the edge of a vast and dangerous ocean. Another poet who had a remarkable gift of evoking the sea was Orcadian George Mackay Brown, from another community where the sea, with its gifts and snares, permeates daily life. Interestingly, Lowell visited the rarely travelled Brown in Orkney – see this great little memoir. The only other writing that I’ve come across that’s comparable when it comes to conjuring up images of man and the sea is Masefield’s short and brilliant Cargoes.

Nantucket_NASA_2002
Nantucket

But back to Lowell. A manic depressive New Englander who died aged only 60, in 1977, he was highly successful in his lifetime, albeit life was never smooth for him. Oddly, like Mackay Brown, he was a convert to Catholicism.

This poem is longish, but worth it.  The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket (1946. Try this very brief interpretation)

[FOR WARREN WINSLOW, DEAD AT SEA]
Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air and the beasts of the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. 

I 
A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket— 
The sea was still breaking violently and night   
Had steamed into our North Atlantic Fleet, 
When the drowned sailor clutched the drag-net. Light   
Flashed from his matted head and marble feet,   
He grappled at the net 
With the coiled, hurdling muscles of his thighs: 
The corpse was bloodless, a botch of reds and whites,   
Its open, staring eyes 
Were lustreless dead-lights 
Or cabin-windows on a stranded hulk   
Heavy with sand. We weight the body, close   
Its eyes and heave it seaward whence it came,   
Where the heel-headed dogfish barks its nose   
On Ahab’s void and forehead; and the name   
Is blocked in yellow chalk. 
Sailors, who pitch this portent at the sea   
Where dreadnaughts shall confess 
Its hell-bent deity, 
When you are powerless 
To sand-bag this Atlantic bulwark, faced 
By the earth-shaker, green, unwearied, chaste   
In his steel scales: ask for no Orphean lute 
To pluck life back. The guns of the steeled fleet   
Recoil and then repeat 
The hoarse salute. 
II 
Whenever winds are moving and their breath   
Heaves at the roped-in bulwarks of this pier,   
The terns and sea-gulls tremble at your death   
In these home waters. Sailor, can you hear   
The Pequod’s sea wings, beating landward, fall   
Headlong and break on our Atlantic wall   
Off ’Sconset, where the yawing S-boats splash   
The bellbuoy, with ballooning spinnakers,   
As the entangled, screeching mainsheet clears   
The blocks: off Madaket, where lubbers lash   
The heavy surf and throw their long lead squids   
For blue-fish? Sea-gulls blink their heavy lids   
Seaward. The winds’ wings beat upon the stones,   
Cousin, and scream for you and the claws rush   
At the sea’s throat and wring it in the slush   
Of this old Quaker graveyard where the bones   
Cry out in the long night for the hurt beast   
Bobbing by Ahab’s whaleboats in the East. 
III 
All you recovered from Poseidon died 
With you, my cousin, and the harrowed brine   
Is fruitless on the blue beard of the god,   
Stretching beyond us to the castles in Spain,   
Nantucket’s westward haven. To Cape Cod   
Guns, cradled on the tide, 
Blast the eelgrass about a waterclock 
Of bilge and backwash, roil the salt and sand   
Lashing earth’s scaffold, rock 
Our warships in the hand 
Of the great God, where time’s contrition blues   
Whatever it was these Quaker sailors lost 
In the mad scramble of their lives. They died   
When time was open-eyed, 
Wooden and childish; only bones abide 
There, in the nowhere, where their boats were tossed   
Sky-high, where mariners had fabled news   
Of IS, the whited monster. What it cost   
Them is their secret. In the sperm-whale’s slick   
I see the Quakers drown and hear their cry:   
“If God himself had not been on our side,   
If God himself had not been on our side,   
When the Atlantic rose against us, why,   
Then it had swallowed us up quick.” 
IV 
This is the end of the whaleroad and the whale 
Who spewed Nantucket bones on the thrashed swell   
And stirred the troubled waters to whirlpools   
To send the Pequod packing off to hell:   
This is the end of them, three-quarters fools,   
Snatching at straws to sail 
Seaward and seaward on the turntail whale,   
Spouting out blood and water as it rolls,   
Sick as a dog to these Atlantic shoals: 
Clamavimus, O depths. Let the sea-gulls wail 
For water, for the deep where the high tide   
Mutters to its hurt self, mutters and ebbs.   
Waves wallow in their wash, go out and out,   
Leave only the death-rattle of the crabs,   
The beach increasing, its enormous snout   
Sucking the ocean’s side. 
This is the end of running on the waves; 
We are poured out like water. Who will dance 
The mast-lashed master of Leviathans 
Up from this field of Quakers in their unstoned graves? 
V 
When the whale’s viscera go and the roll   
Of its corruption overruns this world 
Beyond tree-swept Nantucket and Woods Hole   
And Martha’s Vineyard, Sailor, will your sword   
Whistle and fall and sink into the fat? 
In the great ash-pit of Jehoshaphat 
The bones cry for the blood of the white whale,   
The fat flukes arch and whack about its ears,   
The death-lance churns into the sanctuary, tears   
The gun-blue swingle, heaving like a flail, 
And hacks the coiling life out: it works and drags   
And rips the sperm-whale’s midriff into rags,   
Gobbets of blubber spill to wind and weather,   
Sailor, and gulls go round the stoven timbers   
Where the morning stars sing out together 
And thunder shakes the white surf and dismembers   
The red flag hammered in the mast-head. Hide   
Our steel, Jonas Messias, in Thy side. 
VI 
OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM 
There once the penitents took off their shoes   
And then walked barefoot the remaining mile;   
And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file   
Slowly along the munching English lane,   
Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose   
Track of your dragging pain. 
The stream flows down under the druid tree,   
Shiloah’s whirlpools gurgle and make glad   
The castle of God. Sailor, you were glad   
And whistled Sion by that stream. But see: 
Our Lady, too small for her canopy, 
Sits near the altar. There’s no comeliness   
At all or charm in that expressionless 
Face with its heavy eyelids. As before, 
This face, for centuries a memory, 
Non est species, neque decor, 
Expressionless, expresses God: it goes 
Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows,   
Not Calvary’s Cross nor crib at Bethlehem   
Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham. 
VII 
The empty winds are creaking and the oak   
Splatters and splatters on the cenotaph,   
The boughs are trembling and a gaff   
Bobs on the untimely stroke 
Of the greased wash exploding on a shoal-bell   
In the old mouth of the Atlantic. It’s well;   
Atlantic, you are fouled with the blue sailors,   
Sea-monsters, upward angel, downward fish:   
Unmarried and corroding, spare of flesh   
Mart once of supercilious, wing’d clippers,   
Atlantic, where your bell-trap guts its spoil   
You could cut the brackish winds with a knife   
Here in Nantucket, and cast up the time 
When the Lord God formed man from the sea’s slime   
And breathed into his face the breath of life,   
And blue-lung’d combers lumbered to the kill.   

The Lord survives the rainbow of His will.

 

quaker4
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Great Landscapes: Hopper

I guess I’m displaying a degree of ignorance in admitting that I’d always associated Edward Hopper – a real American original – only with  airless city scenes, isolated buildings, lonely people and so on. Like this, in fact:

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Office in a small city, 1953. Metropolitan Museum, Manhattan

..and it is a work of genius, completely original. Hopper spent a lot of time In Cape Cod though, and he did produce terrific seascapes that are highly evocative of that frankly blessed portion of the planet. So, landscapes of a sort.

However, it was only a random spot on Twitter that alerted me to his other work in New England, and here it is. Lush, verdant magnificence, totally different in feel to his more famous stuff, but quite marvellous.  This was nearly 20 years before the painting above.

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First branch of the White River, Vermont. 1938. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

It turns out that there is a book on this period in Hopper’s life, with this watercolour masterpiece on the cover. More weirdly, in a good way, is this blogger’s realisation that he lives in a Hopper painting. The picture above is the view from his driveway.

How cool is that?