"At our first luncheon he [T.S. Eliot] asked me what I wanted to do. I said: 'Be a poet.' 'I can understand you wanting to write poems, but I don't quite know what you mean by "being a poet,"' he objected."
[Between 1910 and 1930, the scholar Robin Flower went many times to the Blasket Islands off the southwest coast of Ireland in search of the Irish tradition. The islanders spoke only Irish, which Flower learned well. The Blaskets were abandoned for the mainland by the last islanders in 1953. Here, the island's poet Tomás Ó Crithin (1856-1937) is speaking in Irish of his youth while Flower takes down his words.]
"You would hear no word of English in Dingle that time, but Irish only spoken through all the streets and houses. The country was full to the lid of songs and stories, and you would not put a stir out of you from getting up in the morning to lying down at night but you would meet a poet, man or woman, making songs on all that would be happening. It is not now as it was then, but it is like a sea on ebb, and only pools here and there among the rocks. And it is a good thought of us to put down the songs and stories before they are lost from the world forever."
[Flower] At times I would stop him as an unfamiliar word or strange twist of phrase struck across my ear, and he would courteously explain it.... Thus on one occasion the phrase "the treacherous horse that brought destruction on Troy" came into a song.
"And what horse was that?" I said.
"It was the horse of wood," he answered, "that was made to be given to the King that was over Troy. They took it with them and brought it into the very middle of the city, and it was lovely to look upon. It was in that city Helen was, she that brought the world to death; every man that used to come with a host seeking her, there would go no man of them safe home without falling because of Helen before the city of Troy. It was said that the whole world would have fallen because of Helen that time if it had not been for the thought this man had, to give the horse of wood to the King. There was an opening in it unknown to all, two men in it, and it full of powder and shot. When the horse was in the midst of the city, and every one of them weary from looking at it, a night of the nights my pair opened the horse and out with them. They brought with them their share of powder and shot. They scattered it here and there through the city in the deep night; they set fire to it and left not a living soul in Troy that wasn't burnt that night."
The scullions were Danish... and they smugly explained to Regvidsen time and time again that Iceland was not a country and Icelanders were not people. They insisted furthermore that the lice-infested pack of slaves that lived on that funnel of Hell scrabbled along only on whale oil, rotten shark meat, and alms from the king.
When I was writing the movie Mean Girls-- which hopefully is playing on TBS right now!-- I went to a workshop taught by Rosalind Wiseman as part of my research. Rosalind wrote the nonfiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes that Mean Girls was based on, and she conducted a lot of self-esteem and bullying workshops with women and girls around the country. She did this particular exercise in a hotel ballroom in Washington, D.C., with about two hundred grown women, asking them to write down the moment they first "knew they were a woman." Meaning, "When did you first feel like a grown woman and not a girl?" We wrote down our answers and shared them, first in pairs, then in larger groups. The group of women was racially and economically diverse, but the answers had a very similar theme. Almost everyone first realized they were becoming a grown woman when some dude did something nasty to them. "I was walking home from ballet and a guy in a car yelled, 'Lick me!'" "I was babysitting my younger cousins when a guy drove by and yelled, 'Nice ass'." There were pretty much zero examples like "I first knew I was a woman when my mother and father took me out to dinner to celebrate my success on the debate team." It was mostly men yelling shit from cars. Are they a patrol sent out to let girls know they've crossed into puberty?
...Peter France... spoke of how a translation can become a source of insight, but also pointed out that translation from a minority into a majority language can be seen as a political act: one of aggression, of colonisation, in which 'the translator is a raider, bringing home booty which is then made available like tea or sugar to consumers in the dominant cultures'.
Joe [Kennedy Sr.] worked long hours and was often away all night. Rose never asked where he had been, any more than her mother had asked Honey Fitz. But at some point in 1920 she moved back to her parents' house for several weeks. After attending a religious retreat, she returned to Beals Street determined to fulfil her wifely and maternal duties. In 1921, they found a bigger house in the same neighborhood with a private bedroom for Rose. Soon they began taking separate vacations. Years later, when their granddaughter Caroline asked how they handled their differences, Rose explained: 'I would just say "Yes, dear," and then I'd go to Paris.'
The French Nation distinguishes itself among Nations by the characteristic of Excitability; with the good, but also with the perilous evil, which belongs to that. Rebellion, explosion, of unknown extent is to be calculated on.
--Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) in The French Revolution: A History (1837), ch. 1.2.VIII
In the German parks there are special seats labelled, 'Only for grown-ups' ('Nur für Erwachsene'), and the German small boy, anxious to sit down and reading that notice, passes by, and hunts for a seat on which children are permitted to rest; and there he seats himself, careful not to touch the woodwork with his muddy boots. Imagine a seat in Regent's or Saint James's Park labelled 'Only for grown-ups'! Every child for five miles round would be trying to get on that seat, and hauling other children off who were on. As for any 'grown-up', he would never be able to get within half a mile of that seat for the crowd. The German small boy, who has accidentally sat down on such without noticing, rises with a start when his error is pointed out to him, and goes away with downcast head, blushing to the roots of his hair with shame and regret.
Families, when a child is born, want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence
having wrecked my whole life,
only hope the baby will prove
ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
by becoming a cabinet minister.