1st august 2005

passed the vile baton of the poisonous meme

Once more from the crapulous geegaw, but this time it's a bit easier somehow, working out one's ten favourite poems. Although what I treasure most are not whole poems but lines or phrases, like gong-tormented sea or and the big planets hanging or as the team's head-brass flashed out on the turn or bee-loud glade; or a bird came down the walk, or pluck the strings of our insipid lutes.
Anyway, in no order at all:

Gary Snyder - Axe Handles
James Joyce - She Weeps Over Rahoon
Wallace Stevens - Le Monocle de Mon Oncle
James Elroy Flecker - The Old Ships
John Berryman - Dream Song #171
Randall Jarrell - The Woman at the Washington Zoo
Rilke - Autumn Day
Louis MacNeice - Autumn Journal
Edward Thomas - Adlestrop
Robert Lowell - Skunk Hour

| comment

6th august 2005

* * * announcement * * *

bhikku is off on its summer holidays once more, this time for much tzatziki and retsina.


| comment

21st august 2005

Awaking from a dream of Jarman
(the views from all his windows really Blakes -
Where antique banknotes lit the fire
And all the past was poured upon it,
Deeds of title, crockery and crystal -
To colour it, he said)
I thought of Samuel Palmer,
His journey into Sussex
And all that he found in that great
Republic of Trees.

| comment

22nd august 2005


When he went home at night to the empty house in Winchester Square, after a day spent with his inquisitive country-women, he wandered into the big dusky dining-room, where the candle he took from the hall-table, after letting himself in, constituted the only illumination. The square was still, the house was still; when he raised one of the windows of the dining-room to let in the air, he heard the slow creak of the boots of a solitary policeman. His own step, in the empty room, seemed loud and sonorous; some of the carpets had been raised, and whenever he moved he roused a melancholy echo. He sat down in one of the armchairs; the big, dark dining table twinkled here and there in the small candle-light; the pictures on the wall, all of them very brown, looked vague and incoherent.

- Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

| comment

24th august 2005

kids come running for the great taste of . . . salep

Latecomers (try to come in and find your seats quietly, please) may not know of this site's obsession with saloop and salep, so bear with me while I crank out the dictionary definitions once more:


A hot drink consisting of an infusion of powdered SALEP or (later) of sassafras, with milk and sugar, formerly sold in the streets of London in the night and early morning.


[= F. salep, Sp. sal├ęp, Pg. salepo, a. Turkish salep, a. Arabic thaleb (pronounced in some parts saleb), taken to be a shortening of khasyu 'th-thalab orchis (lit. 'fox's testicles'; cf. the Eng. name DOGSTONES.)]

A nutritive meal, starch, or jelly made from the dried tubers of various orchidaceous plants, chiefly those of the genus Orchis; formerly also used as a drug.

Although over the years I've consulted many experts in British history and literature (e.g. my mother), none of them have been able to shed any light on the use of saloop in London (or indeed have heard of it).

Rumours that it's still for sale on the streets of Istanbul and even Australia have yet to be substantiated.

And yet maybe I ate some last week without realizing it. In the splendid Δωδώνη (Dodoni) gelaterias in Greece, where among many others I tried the chili ice-cream (actually pineapple flavour with chili syrup, interesting but rather bland) and the perfect yogurt-with-honey flavour (reproducing the only Greek breakfast worth having), tucked away on the back of the menu was a phrase along of the lines of 'we use only the finest salep in our products.'
I suppose that this might tie in with the 400 years of Turkish occupation endured by the Greeks, which they seem strangely keen to remember (the skirts of the National Guard have 400 pleats, one for each year - and if you think soldiers in skirts are odd, you should see the tights - in that heat, the rashes they get must be appalling).
Anyway, it seems that salep smooths and inhibits melting in an ice-cream. And while it was invisible to the taste, at least I've eaten some of it.

| comment