Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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From Luggnagg to Japan

A rice field to-day near the school where I work. There are a lot of fields like this everywhere.

I had a discussion about Gulliver's Travels to-day with some other teachers. Looking through one of the text books for the second year junior high school students, I was surprised to learn there's an annual festival for Gulliver held in Kannosaki. This is to commemorate the fact that Gulliver visits Japan near the end of the book. One of the few books I was able to bring with me in my luggage is the 1952 Britannica edition of Gulliver's Travels. One of the teachers, despite my assurances to him that even native English speakers struggle with 18th century literature, is now making a valiant attempt to read it.

It seemed like a good book to read when travelling to a distant land. I was reading it on the train but now I've switched to reading Macaulay's History of England. Whatever else you might say about him, Macaulay's prose is lovely, even when describing things that should be intensely dull by all rights.

The wits and the Puritans had never been on friendly terms. There was no sympathy between the two classes. They looked on the whole system of human life from different points and in different lights. The earnest of each was the jest of the other. The pleasures of each were the torments of the other. To the stern precisian even the innocent sport of the fancy seemed a crime. To light and festive natures the solemnity of the zealous brethren furnished copious matter of ridicule. From the Reformation to the civil war, almost every writer, gifted with a fine sense of the ludicrous, had taken some opportunity of assailing the straighthaired, snuffling, whining saints, who christened their children out of the Book of Nehemiah, who groaned in spirit at the sight of Jack in the Green, and who thought it impious to taste plum porridge on Christmas day. At length a time came when the laughers began to look grave in their turn. The rigid, ungainly zealots, after having furnished much good sport during two generations, rose up in arms, conquered, ruled, and, grimly smiling, trod down under their feet the whole crowd of mockers. The wounds inflicted by gay and petulant malice were retaliated with the gloomy and implacable malice peculiar to bigots who mistake their own rancour for virtue. The theatres were closed. The players were flogged. The press was put under the guardianship of austere licensers. The Muses were banished from their own favourite haunts, Cambridge and Oxford. Cowly, Crashaw, and Cleveland were ejected from their fellowships. The young candidate for academical honours was no longer required to write Ovidian epistles or Virgilian pastorals, but was strictly interrogated by a synod of lowering Supralapsarians as to the day and hour when he experienced the new birth. Such a system was of course fruitful of hypocrites. Under sober clothing and under visages composed to the expression of austerity lay hid during several years the intense desire of license and of revenge. At length that desire was gratified. The Restoration emancipated thousands of minds from a yoke which had become insupportable. The old fight recommenced, but with an animosity altogether new. It was now not a sportive combat, but a war to the death.

Twitter Sonnet #1366

The mountain's wing resembles heights of dance.
In time for bronze and marble, gods appear.
Between the worlds was just an idle chance.
The lobby glass was frightful all austere.
Familiar names perhaps combine in soup.
The pretty clock offends the rusty eye.
Reminders flip the spokes an endless loop.
A game of dice requites a second try.
The tiny dragons formed a perfect sign.
Directions changed as wind conceals the voice.
A finger grew from old and ragged twine.
The answer fades behind an endless choice.
The coat contains a set of boards and pawns.
The watching cat inspects her meal and yawns.
Tags: gulliver's travels, history of england, jonathan swift, thomas babington macaulay
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