welcome back to fred’s literary corner.

just finished reading eats, shoots & leaves: the zero tolerance approach to punctuation by lynne truss. i imagine most people have heard about this book by now. all in all it was a quick and mostly diverting read. there was some correct usage that i didn’t know, some i did know, some i didn’t know i knew, and some i didn’t know i didn’t know. also, incorporates a lot of history about where our punctuation comes from, and choice quotes from famous writers such as shaw and gertrude stein about punctuation. surprisingly, given its trim size, the book could have been edited a bit; but it’s still a good read and has me using semicolons more often with a little less guilt. the humor is a bit predictable, but there are some bits that made me laugh out loud like some sort of english major nerd.

read the earliest english poems translated by michael alexander a while back. def. an interesting collection; most are of excerpts. had a good balance of the typical ragin’ vikings fare and some surprisingly eloquent ballad-y type bits. also had great introductions to each selection.

anyway, here’s a bit from one that i found particularly worthwhile.

“The Wanderer”

Awakeneth after this friendless man,
seeth before him fallow waves,
seabirds bathing, broading out feathers,
snow and hail swirl, hoar-frost falling.
Then all the heavier his heart’s wounds,
sore for his loved lord. Sorrow freshens.

Remembered kinsmen press through his mind;
he singeth out gladly, scanneth eagerly
men from the same hearth. They swim away.
Sailors’ ghosts bring not many
known songs there. Care grows fresh
in him who shall send forth too often
over locked waves his weary spirit.

The wine-halls crumble; their wielders lie
bereft of bliss, the band all fallen
proud by the wall. War took off some,
carried them on their course hence; one a bird bore
over the high sea; one the hoar wolf
dealt to death; one his drear-cheeked
earl stretched in an earthen trench.

In the earth-realm all is crossed;
Wierd’s will changeth the world.
Wealth is lent us, friends are lent us,
man is lent, kin is lent;
all this earth’s frame shall stand empty.


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