Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to light…it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature… literature does its best to maintain that its concern is with the mind; that the body is a sheet of plain glass through which the soul looks straight and clear.
In July came the Allied counter-offensive, and now in her moment of approaching triumph France knew to the full her great desolation, as it lay revealed by the retreating armies. For not only had there been a holocaust of homesteads, but the country was strewn with murdered trees, cut down in their hour of most perfect leafing; orchards struck to the ground, an orgy of destruction, as the mighty forces rolled back like a tide, to recoil on themselves-- incredulous, amazed, maddened by the outrage of coming disaster. For mad they must surely have been, since no man is a more faithful lover of trees than the German.
Stephen as she drove through that devastated country would find herself thinking of Martin Hallam-- Martin who had touched the old thorns on the hills with such respectful and pitiful fingers: "Have you ever thought about the enormous courage of trees? I have and it seems to me amazing. The Lord dumps them down and they've just got to stick it, no matter what happens-- that must need some courage." Martin had believed in a heaven for trees, a forest heaven for all the faithful; and looking at those pitiful, leafy corpses, Stephen would want to believe in that heaven.
What shall we do for timber?
The last of the woods is down.
Kilcash and house of its glory
and the bell of the house are gone;
the spot where her lady waited
that shamed all women for grace
when earls came sailing to meet her
and Mass was said in that place.
My cross and my affliction
your gates are taken away,
your avenue needs attention,
goats in the garden stray;
your courtyard's filled with water
and the great earls where are they?
The earls, the lady, the people
beaten into the clay.
Nor sound of duck or of geese there
hawk's cry or eagle's call,
nor humming of the bees there
that brought honey and wax for all,
nor the sweet gentle song of the birds there
when the sun has gone down to the West
nor a cuckoo atop of the boughs there
singing the world to rest.
There's a mist there tumbling from branches
unstirred by night and by day,
and a darkness falling from heaven,
and our fortunes have ebbed away;
there's no holly nor hazel nor ash there
but pastures of rock and stone,
the crown of the forest is withered
and the last of its game is gone.
I beseech of Mary and Jesus
that the great come home again
with long dances danced in the garden
fiddle music and mirth among men,
that Kilcash the home of our fathers
be lifted on high again
and from that to the deluge of waters
in bounty and peace remain.
-- Translation by Frank O'Connor (1903-1966) in The Wild Bird's Nest: Poems From the Irish (publ. Cuala Press, Dubln, 1932).
Not many people today realize that much of Ireland was covered with a vast oak forest until the 1700s. The name elements "derry" or "dare" mean "oak grove" in Irish--dóire; "-kill-" means "forest"-- coill.
Holly, hazel and ash were considered holy or lucky.
During the Penal Laws era, between 1695 and 1800, the British rulers of Ireland cut down most of the trees and shipped them away, both to build ships for the British navy and to prevent native outlaws from hiding in the forests. Most of the trees were cut down within two generations, leaving the bare green sheep-grazed hills that the Irish landscape is known for today.
This poem is an anonymous Irish lament of the era when the native Irish earls had fled, the old aristocracy that had supported Irish bards had been dispossessed by the Anglo-Irish, the old castles were in ruins, and the trees were falling fast. The sale of the Kilcash timbers was announced in 1797 so it is probable that the song dates to about that time. For more information about this poem:
The mostly treeless countryside around Kilcash today
Caoine Cill Cháis
Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad? Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár; níl trácht ar Chill Cháis ná ar a teaghlach is ní bainfear a cling go bráth. An áit úd a gcónaiodh an deighbhean fuair gradam is meidhir thar mhnáibh, bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraingt tar toinn ann is an t-aifreann binn á rá.
Ní chluinim fuiaim lachan ná gé ann, ná fiolar ag éamh sois cuain, ná fiú na mbeacha chun saothair thabharfadh mil agus céir don tslua. Níl ceol binn milis na n-éan ann le hamharc an lae a dhul uainn, náan chuaichín i mbarra na ngéag ann, ós í chuirfeadh an saol chun suain.
Tá ceo ag titim ar chraobha ann ná glanann le gréin ná lá, tá smúid ag titim ón spéir ann is a cuid uisce g léir ag trá. Níl coll, níl cuileann, níl caor ann, ach clocha is maolchlocháin, páirc an chomhair gan chraobh ann is d' imigh an géim chun fáin.
Anois mar bharr ar gach míghreanni, chuaigh prionsa na nGael thar sáil anonn le hainnir na míne fuair gradam sa bhFrainc is sa Spáinn. Anois tá a cuallacht á caoineadh, gheibbeadh airgead buí agus bán; 's í ná tógladh sillbh na ndaoine, ach cara na bhfíorbhochtán.
Aicim ar Mhuire is ar Iosa go dtaga sí arís chughainn slán, go mbeidh rincí fada ag gabháil timpeall, ceol veidhlín is tinte cnámh; go dtógtar an baile seo ár sinsear Cill Chais bhreá arís go hard, is go bráth nó go dtiocfaidh an díle ná feictear é arís ar lár.
When the man of God had leisure to read his holy books, the fly would trot up and down his codex: and should some one call him, or he had to go about other business, he would instruct the fly to sit down upon the line at which he had halted, and keep his place until he should return to continue his interrupted reading: which the fly infallibly would do.
The largest genetic study of African populations reveals a greater diversity among the continent's cultural groups than previously known....the new research shows that "no single African population is representative of the diversity of the continent," says study coauthor Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Tishkoff and her colleagues analyzed particular DNA sequences... from more than 3000 people from 121 different populations scattered throughout Africa....
To reach remote groups, such as the Pygmies of Cameroon and the hunter-gatherers of Tanzania, researchers drove off-road and set up makeshift labs with equipment powered by their car battery.
..."We knew that African populations were diverse in culture, art, religious ideas," says Roy King of Stanford University School of Medicine. "Now we see that genetic diversity goes along these same lines"....
It turns out that the San bushmen of southern Africa have the most distinct, and therefore oldest, genetic sequences, the team reports....
Genetic information from African-Americans living in three U.S. cities and an additional state was also collected and analyzed. On average, African-Americans inherited 71 percent of their DNA from western Africa, 8 percent from other locations in Africa and 13 percent from Europe, the team says. Most of the African-Americans in the study had mixed ancestry from different regions of western Africa, which made tracing ancestry to particular ethnic groups difficult....
The researchers are quick to point out that the data set is incomplete. "We analyzed 121 populations out of a possible 2000," Tishkoff says....
When the first atom was split in 1932, the newspaper man asked Rutherford why he split atoms and Rutherford said, "Oh, we're like children, we have to take the watch apart to see how it works." And I think that is absolutely right. That's how it all began....It was our nature that we just are tinkerers, and then of course it turned out that when you did that with uranium that it fell apart in an even more spectacular way, which we call fission. And as soon as you discovered that, then you knew how to make bombs.
I have known a few spider curators in my time, and they can on occasion be troublesome. For more than fifteen years I was the curator of mammals at the Australian Museum in Sydney, and my office was located between that of the nation's foremost snake expert and the museum's curator of spiders. Accidents do happen in museums, and I have on occasion found myself sitting at my desk not suspecting that a live snake lurked in my filing cabinet. Yet it was the rather eccentric habits of the curator of spiders that most unnerved me. I don't count myself as a great arachnophobe, but on occasion*, when dashing out of my office door on some urgent errand and bumping into the curator, whose hands were full of deadly Sydney funnel-web spiders, I admit to being discomforted**.
He was a delightful fellow to be sure-- bearded, gentle, and erudite-- but I dreaded visiting his office, for aquariums containing live spiders had been crammed into every corner, and the walkways between them were so narrow that the room seemed transformed into a den of oversized, hairy-legged monstrosities. Worst of all, he was so fond of his charges that whenever I crossed his threshold he would invariably reach into an aquarium and enthusiastically wave his latest acquisition in my face. .....
Until recently the goliath tarantula of Amazonia was believed to be the largest spider on earth. Then someone collected an enormous spider in the remote rain forests of southeastern Peru. Its body was almost four inches long, and its legs spanned almost ten inches. It is said by those familiar with these near-mythical beasts that up to fifty share a single burrow, and that they cooperate in the hunt. Hillyard's clinical description of this new and as yet unnamed discovery (though it has been called araños pollo, chicken spider) has embedded in it the stuff of nightmares. I can imagine the scientist intent on studying them struggling through precipitous country and an endless tangle of roots, vines, and thickets as he forces his way toward their habitat. And then, in a sudden silence, he hears the drumming of countless hairy legs on dry leaves as the colony erupts from their abode. Though just how the spiders "cooperate in prey capture to overcome large animals" is perhaps best left unimagined.
Where can you and Luise have been hiding, to know so little of the ways of the world? I should have thought it was quite impossible to spend any time at all at any court without getting quite a good idea of it. If one were to detest every man who is fond of young fellows, it would be impossible to find even six people to like, or at least not to dislike. Some of them hate women and only love me, others like both men and women, some only like children of ten or eleven, others young men between seventeen and twenty-five. Most are in this category. Other debauchees, who love neither men nor women, amuse themselves all alone, but there are only a few of those. And then there are those who don't mind what they have, human or animal; they take whatever comes along. I know someone here who brags that he has had relations with everything under the sun except toads.