Thank you, Max
I should have known a 'look at the worst' was from Hardy, 'Wintertime nighs'
indeed. Have you ever seen the poem he wrote on his deathbed, where he asks
how Chesterton and Belloc would feel in his shoes, as it were?
Do I take it though that the adaptation 'a +long+ look at the worst' is
actually my coinage? Cor, blimey!
'meliorist' is very Victorian, very George Eliot, 'ameliorate' was another
of their favourite words. There is an hilarious account somewhere of Herbert
Spencer bending on a knee to propose to Ms Evans and she refusing him, I
can't remember who by though. I think it was on one of the Thames bridges.
A Chide's Alphabet
Painting Without Numbers
----- Original Message -----
From: "cooee" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, June 19, 2002 9:10 PM
Subject: Re: are we there?
If way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst.
This is how the line from Hardy comes to mind, now to check it...In
Tenebris, the poem of two under that title which has long lines...doesn't
the short-line one begin 'Wintertime nighs'? ... here it is, poem 136 in
Gibson's New Wessex edition... oops there are three in the sequence. No 2 is
the one we need:
When the clouds' swoln bosoms echo back the shouts of the many and strong...
[not promising...could be Kipling...]
That things are all as they best may be, save a few to be right ere long,
[four quatrains, and here is the fourth -]
Let him in whose ears the low-voiced Best is killed by the clash of the
Who holds that if way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the
Who feels that delight is a delicate growth cramped by crookedness, custom,
Get him up and be gone as one shaped awry; he disturbs the order here.
I seem to recall that Hardy hated being called a pessimist, and suggested
the word meliorist was preferable, a word connected somehow with George
'Wintertime nighs' is vintage Hardy, anyway. I once used its opening phrase
as title for a mild Melbourne winter poem of my own...
Now the drought has broken
the garden taps can give away
their hoses and stand apart
high and dry.
In her motheršs garden
the growing girl fosters
spring bulbs trusting
the promised fullness of time.
She wants to mark out
boundaries: this is
my garden, these stakes
mark the fence, right round.
Winter is coming, the dry
stalks break and are removed.
Caterpillars have crept from sight.
Here are the chrysalises
fastened in safe corners
sheltering against winter.
Fingers off they must stay put
till spring wings their way.
Here we have dragged
the dead trees felled,
their several severed limbs
yielding to the saw good lengths
for the firewood stack.
They should see us through.
But the current Melbourne winter is so far so dry that the sprinkler system
got turned on yesterday for a few minutes and today will need another go.
Max Richards at Cooee