Big Dickens

I have the complete Dickens on my shelf – paperback & hardcover. The paperbacks are Penguin classics with lots of notes. Some of the hardcovers are the classic Oxford editions. My Nicholas Nickleby is a 2 volume reproduction of the original serialized version that includes the ads etc. Some of the books I have read more than once. I have also sat through various Masterpiece Theatre explorations of the novels, seen movies & musicals of same & have Five of the Christmas books also as mp3s. I have resisted downloading the entire works as ebook.

I’m not sure which Dickens was the first I actually read – probably A Christmas Carol, though it could have been Oliver Twist, or was the Pickwick Papers? There was one of the Pickwick stories in out high school English literature text. The one where they go skating. I was in focused pursuit at one time of getting everything, even the obscure ones, like Master Humphrey’s Clock.

It was the boy hero that captivated me. I didn’t recognize the accuracy of his depiction of the poverty of time though. Recent readings show how unstinting he was with that cultural context. People caught up in journeys, quests in following their dreams & hopes. He was a master plotter who did count on coincidence a bit much, & often fell back on the long lost relative, but who cares.

What still inspires me about him is his ability to create complex, human villains i.e. Mr. Murdstone, Daniel Quilp, Uriah Heep, Bill Sykes. He had a gift for names that rivals Shakespeare’s. His heroes were too good to be real, his women either good little wives, generous relatives or harsh thanks to the men in their lives. His narrative structure was simple, almost formulaic, stories were told in linear movements, with some backstory when needed.

I’ve always like the fact that he was an unabashed sentimentalist and that as a writer he had no compunction in manipulating the readers emotions. When I realized he wrote drafts by hand – let that sink in a little – by hand – I was staggered. Of course he was being usually paid by the word so his books did get rather long. But his shorter works are also stunning: Hard Times is one of his best works.

Day and Night

day never holds me 

as fully as the night

in light there is always

a part that doesn’t get revealed

doesn’t get illuminated

turn as fast as I can

part of me is always in shadow

 

light is not the total lover

always leaves one part untouched

night covers all

nothing gets omitted 

over-looked

holds me in toto

comforting tender complete

caressing even where I cannot see

I was submerged and protected

no night burn for me 

for being too long naked in its glance

but I do welcome the sun

the energy released in my flesh and bones

by the ignition of my skin

 

if I had to make choice 

between night and day

as to which would be the better lover

I couldn’t say

day brings flowers

night brings stars

both return despite 

my placid display of cliches

tender is the night

bright is the day

as one retreats 

to make way for the other

I am saddened

I want to hold them both

straddle those slippery moments

when one makes way

gracefully stepping aside 

they do not fight 

to see who will be next

there is no resentment

that I have taken each 

in their own time

that I give myself equally to them

give myself without question 

without doubt

so do not make me choice

 

when I die

will I go into the light

or merely roll over 

into the comforting dark

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August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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Do You Hear What I Hear

 How quickly do you get tired of festive music? Two minutes? Two days? Over the years I’ve built up a little collection of Christmas music that covers languages: Welsh, Russian, Swedish, French and even some Elvis. I dig them out once a year & give them their annual listenings.

lane02does it come in green

I do favour the campy/cheesy side of things with the Beach Boys, The Ventures; special favourites Booker T & The MG’s go hand in hand with Jimmy Smith. I even have one of my family’s Christmas lp’s: Eddie Fisher. I can’t say as I have an absolute favourite though. Brenda Lee’s Rocking ‘Round the Christmas Tree is pretty close to perfect though. Plus Silent Night sung by a choir of starving children on an ice flow (just kidding).

lane03lane way bargains

One thing I always enjoy is a A Christmas Carol beautifully read in complete – a free download – takes a couple of hours to listen to but it has spoiled me for any movie version. I have it burned to a cd along with Dylan Thomas reading A Child’s Christmas in Wales, plus the Million Dollar Man’s Christmas adventures, and (could it get any better?) Charles Laughton reading a Pickwick Christmas and (too much?) Ronald Coleman in a very abridged Christmas Carol.

lane01red daisies

Yeah I love Christmas but I’m always happy when its over.

 

samples

another piece out of the archives:

Circle

it’s hard to resist the notions of patterns

how the repeated gets repeated

the notion

that if you go back to the same bed

you leave in the morning

you have really gone nowhere

start to finish

at the same point

doesn’t equal progress

yet   for many that is progress

to maintain the same pattern

to have the comfort

of ending back where they started from

I do not resist the comfort and ease

of repetition

that gives structure

funny though

how much quicker and smaller these

rituals become

the older one becomes

the aching years and summers of youth

are the all too fast and brief

flash from one winter to the next

winters coming too close together

and summers never long enough

flowers come go  come go

and the gardening continues

when will the circle be broken

things are done

to keep that break from happening

the right foods for the heart

exercise  avoid the sun

drinking lots of water

a few less morsels at every meal

to cut down on the burden of the waist

each a little ritual

in hopes of avoiding the break

each

to add a few morsels of days

the gift of the moment

the miracle of breath

and joy of experiencing

what there remains to be experienced

days are numbered

but no one knows what those numbers are

we don’t know

what they are going to add up to

what will remain

is rarely equalled to

what we may have done

the mark made disappears with time

I decided not to worry about the mark made

but to enjoy what there is to enjoy

to create sustain without concern

leaving a legacy

is the least of my intent

a few memories will linger

till the last of those

who remember me

are gone

that is enough for me

another of the aging details

I sometimes forget

is about what may remain

who gets what

maybe I’ll give it all way

before the break

shedding is a good stage

to prepare me for the transition

into the next one

shed all that I wouldn’t want to move with

pretend my life

is to be reduced to a single room

what would I want to keep

make it that simple

and see what

loses its hold on me

what is really wanted

and what is there merely

because I have a place for it

those things that are pleasant enough

but which it

may be time to live without

to move on

to clear and clear

make more empty shelves

and leave them empty

invite the emptiness

into the present day

to prepare me for

what may be the void

when the circle is broken

ice01

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