RBW Online ISSUE
22nd February 2013
RBW 2013 poetry collection published as a free e-book in full colour on Facebook, ISSUU and RBW main website on the BOOKS page. Thanks and congratulations to all who took part in this project.
Nikolai Bukharin (9 October 1888 – 15 March 1938)
a Bolshevik revolutionary and theorist.
History moves in contradictions. The skeleton of historic existence, the economic structure of society, also develops in contradictions. Forms eternally follow forms. Everything has only a passing being. The dynamic force of life creates the new over and over again — such is the law inherent in reality. Imperialism and World Economy (1917), Ch. 15
We see now that infringement of freedom is necessary with regard to the opponents of the revolution. At a time of revolution we cannot allow freedom for the enemies of the people and of the revolution. That is a surely clear, irrefutable conclusion. Programme of the World Revolution (1918), Ch. VII
But to everything in this world there comes an end; there even comes an end to the torments suffered in those intermediate states of transition when the last secret tear of one's soul is bitterly swallowed, and the crisis passes, resolving itself into some new sort of phase, which even as it comes into existence is fated in turn to pass away, to disappear in the eternal changing of the times and seasons. How It All Began : The Prison Novel, one of Bukharin's final works while in prison, as translated by George Shriver, (1998), Ch.8
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Speaking of the young C.C. members, I wish to say a few words about Bukharin and Pyatakov. They are, in my opinion, the most outstanding figures, and the following must be borne in mind about them: Bukharin is not only a most valuable and major theorist of the Party; he is also rightly considered the favourite of the whole Party, but his theoretical views can be classified as fully Marxist only with great reserve, for there is something scholastic about him (he has never made a study of the dialectics, and, I think, never fully understood it). Vladimir Lenin, Last Testament, Letter to the Congress (1922), Letter II
Tiger feeding time. Anyone who wasn’t awestruck by their sheer power and agility wasn’t looking properly.
Solipsism noun belief in self as only the reality one can believe in as being a true knowledge and everything else is impossible Emanation noun the act of sending something out, emitting or giving out Apropos preposition with regard to: adj appropriate â€” just right for something Inexorable adj unstoppable, adamant and without pity; not moved by persuasion or pleading Voluptuous adj sensual, indulgent, inclined towards pleasure Ramshackle adj badly build or derelict, rundown, on point of collapse Repletion noun state of being full or gorged, over eaten, state of being fully satisfied Dyscrasia noun blood disorder and unusual condition of the cells in the blood can be linked to poisoning by drugs Adulteration verb make something impure by adding inferior elements or substances to it
LIFE OBSERVATIONS Without the safety net of a union young people, desperate for work of any kind, can fall prey to unscrupulous companies exploiting virtual slave labour. How a bit of sunshine can brighten the spirits. Asking for advice and then not getting the tea and sympathy or pat on the back one wanted can not always be character building. Hospital Doctors donâ€™t wear white coats anymore (?) Sitting in the foyer of a large hospital waiting area I noticed only one person in every dozens or so was using the hand cleaning gel ... Issue 274 Page 3
Walking on Cannock Chase can be life affirming and lift the gloom of winter.
MEDITATION Meditation by the river Becomes the river Letting thoughts flow Bubbling thoughts merge to focus The colour Orange Matches the sky Could Tranquillity ever stalk us? Or is that as unlikely As a Doughnut Sandwich? As ridiculous as a TuTu Health Hazard? Let the thoughts flow Let the Dancing begin!
Random Words: astronomy, ostentation, fundamental, flagellation, fiddle, schooldays, happiness, precious, Oscar, meeting Assignment: Borrowed or Lent
2012: RBW FREE e-books NOW PUBLISHED on RBW and issuu.com http://www.risingbrookwriters.org.uk/ DynamicPage.aspx?PageID=52 http://issuu.com/risingbrookwriters
Steph’s two FREE poetry e-chapbooks now published on www.issuu.com/ risingbrookwriters and on RBW main site
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CLIVE’s three FREE e-books NOW PUBLISHED on RBW and issuu http://www.risingbrookwriters.org.uk/DynamicPage.aspx? PageID=52 http://issuu.com/risingbrookwriters
Latest Competitions: Fosseway Writers' poetry Competition | Closing Date: 07-Mar-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/competitions/?id=1310 Flamingofeather Poetry Competition 2013 | Closing Date: 15-Mar-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/competitions/?id=1308 African Prisons Project Poetry Competition 2013 | Closing Date: 20-Mar-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/competitions/?id=1312 Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (March 2013) | Closing Date: 31 -Mar-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/competitions/?id=1311 Poets and Players Poetry Prize plus Whitworth Prize | Closing Date: 05-Apr-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/competitions/?id=1313
New Magazines: English Chicago Review, The http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/magazines/magazines/?id=677
Event: BIRMINGHAM: Hit the Ode | 28-Feb-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/events/readings/?id=8557
Latest News: Reading Group resource on Poetry Library website | 13-Feb-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/news/library/?id=1019 Poet Tony Conran has died | 09-Feb-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/news/poetryscene/?id=1016 Maurice Riordan is the new editor of Poetry Review | 08-Feb-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/news/poetryscene/?id=1015 Poetry Magazines received in January 2013 | 01-Feb-13 http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/news/library/?id=1014
http://www.worldbookday.com/ World Book Day: Thursday 7 March.
YE SLIGHTY OBLONG TABLE OF TRENTBY YE CAST OF CHARACTERS NB: Historical accuracy is NOT encouraged
Nobles and similar Harffa Ye Kyng. Not ye sharpest knyfe in ye drawer. Queen Agatha (the tight fisted) Don Key O’Tee Spanish ambassador to Court of Kyng Harffa .. Wants saint’s big toe back Baron Leonard Bluddschott (Stoneybroke) Gwenever Goodenough Wyfe of ye Baron Della Bluddschott Ugly Daughter of Baron Bluddschott. GalLa of Hadnt Hall A Prince but Charmless Daniel Smithers Constable of Bluddschott Castle and maybe the Corowner of the County Old Maids Vera, Gloria and Bertha husband hunting sisters of Baron Bluddschott Evil Sherriff and Baron Morbidd up to no good Morgan le Fey king’s evil sister - Merlin the king’s magician Ye Knights [they’re better during the day] Lancealittle, Dwayne Cottavere, Percivere Mailish (Narrator) Page to Baron Bluddschott (Probably Son by wife’s sister) Religiouse Lionel, Bishop of Trentby keeper of the Mappa Tuessdi Abbot Costello of Nottalot, a Nasturtium Abbey desperate for pilgrim pennies Vladimir A monk from far off somewhere, a Calligrapher Wyllfa the Druid Sorcerer Others Big Jock A Welsh poacher and short wide-boy. Robbin’ Hoodie another poacher and wide-boy. Peeping Barry member of Hoodie’s gang of miscreants Clarence the cook and a Wandering Troubadour None living The Ghostly Sword of Bluddschott Castle The Mappa Tuessdi ... Velum maps of the known world bought in a bazaar in Constantinople for a few pennies by Vladimir oft times copied The toe bone of St. Gastric. Gallstone of St. Hilarious Crocodile and a Unicorn and a Dragon carved in stone Good luck, we ’ ll need it ...
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Meanwhile many miles away ... Waving away the novice cleric who had shown him in, Merlin stood in front of the map. Was there something he had missed? The runes were clear enough once you moved them from their disguised positions, read them backwards and figured out the anagram. All leads led to Bluddschott. But where? He had scoured the woods for clues, the lake for islands, the cliffs for caves, the shoreline for hidden signs of ancient settlement. Nothing, not so much as a bone chess piece and you could fall over them everywhere. That only left the castle itself. There was nothing in the solar or the kitchens, nothing in the sables of the buttery or the brew house. Certainly nothing in Wyllfa’s tower. Where did that leave? Only the cellars and the guest apartments where the king and his ladies were being accommodated. He couldn’t go rooting through there without some difficulty, Morgan would have laid some enchantment to keep snoopers out of her chamber, that was a given and the Queen and her ladies in waiting weren’t exactly inviting strangers into their private little world. Surely the old ones who left this message would have marked their secret in plain sight. That’s what he would have done. ‘You again, said the voice. Merlin spun round, his cloak of magpie feathers floating like a gathering storm around his bent shoulders. ‘A thing of beauty,’ he replied answering the Abbot. ‘Is a joy forever.’ Abbot Costello sighed: ‘Even if it’s a fake?’ ‘Even so,’ agreed the sorcerer. ‘What are you seeking in this?’ asked the Abbot rubbing his hands together so that the rubies in his rings flashed sparks of scarlet in the gloom. One of the flashes illuminated a carved effigy on a tomb for a brief second and then was gone. ‘Who is that?’ asked Merlin his long bony fingers tracing the fine features of the fallen knight preserved in stone. He stopped with a sharp intake of breath. His eye fell on the shield laid across the chest of the statute. ‘Ahh,’ said the Abbot, ‘Baron Bluddschott the first. May the angels pray for his damnable soul for a thousand years.’ ‘Your pardon, I know not this history.’ ‘Why should you, it is a tale of woe and bad tidings, of jealousy and star struck lovers parted by an evil curse.’ ‘But the shield. What means this?’ ‘The dragon beneath the feet of the rampant unicorn and the open mouthed crocodile. What indeed... lost in the mist of time. I know not its meaning. The lettering has worn away.’ Seeing Merlin’s downcast countenance and wishing to say on the right side of the most powerful wizard in the kingdom, he added: ‘Perhaps the carving at the castle has fared better.’ The feather cape flapped and shimmered as Merlin’s gaze bored into Costello’s eye. ‘Answer with care Abbot,’ his hand rested on the stone carving, ‘where in the castle is such a shield to be found?’ The Abbot shivered such was the menace in the question, ‘Why in plain view, surely you’ve seen it? It’s in the old hall.’ ‘There is no such in the hall,’ replied the wizard and a cold invisible hand
grasped round the Abbot’s chubby jowls and squeezed the breath from his throat. The Abbot’s hands shot up and tried to free his throat from the icy grip. ‘The OLD hall,’ he whispered. The invisible grip slackened. ‘Behind what are now the kitchens. The hall was split up into storage rooms and a scullery when the castle was remodelled by the present Baron Bluddschott’s grandfather. It’s common knowledge.’ With that Merlin was gone leaving the Abbot both shaken and puzzled. Whatever was there of such importance in the old hall?
Teaching Astronomy had not been her first choice of subject. She’d always thought the department reeked of old fogies in ostentatious bow ties whose fundamental reason for living seemed to be to bamboozle hungover under graduates with too much information. She’d never been a hair shirt enthusiast: self-flagellation wasn’t really up her street. Miss Ashcroft might have been a blue-stocking, but she wasn’t one to fiddle on the sidelines of academic circles, she believed one’s schooldays were a precious rite of passage, the result of which led to happiness. There were exceptions. In five minutes was the meeting with Oscar. In a moment of panic she prayed he had left the worm hole he claimed he’d captured in a corned beef tin at home.
SUBMISSION REMINDER We are still collecting memories of MY FIRST JOB or MY JOB IN PEACE TIME NATIONAL SERVICE If you haven’t yet sent in your memory submission can you please do so this week. Thank you.
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And many, many thanks to those who have already done so.
MY FIRST JOB
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During my mid 1950s equivalent of a ‘gap year’ (which, incidentally, extended over the next thirty years!) Morris Motors was advertising for a staff car driver to complete their all female team of four. I applied, and much to my surprise, considering my lack of experience, was accepted. Being the junior I was allotted a Morris Oxford while the senior driver swanned around in a Morris Six, considered more suitable for her illustrious passengers; but I had more fun, like digging us out of a snowdrift in the Derbyshire Peak District while my two male passengers pretended not to notice as they continued their discussion of pending business, cocooned snugly in blankets in the back of the car. I quite understood, after all, snow and ice clinging to their highly polished shoes and trouser turn-ups would not present the appropriate image; oh yes, I understood very well – and remembered. It was most unfortunate that on arrival at our destination the only parking space was in the middle of what appeared to be a lake, due to the proximity of snow to a heat source; steam gushing out from I know not what, possibly an ancient heating system or the kitchen? On another trip to Derbyshire my passenger didn’t realise until we were almost there that he had the wrong date for his appointment; however, being a resourceful man he suggested we make a small detour to Chatsworth House, where we had a very merry day at our employer’s expense. Perhaps my most enjoyable trips were to the Cowley factory; apart from the first time when I waited for my passenger for several hours on a cold day with no lunch. After this experience I politely refused a repeat performance and insisted on a time for collection. This arrangement freed me to explore Oxford. It amused me to take coffee in the Randolph, dressed in my rather smart uniform with no identifying marking, aware of surreptitious glances from other guests. Afterwards I would wander about the back streets finding delightful little antique shops, most of which far too expensive for my slender purse, before having lunch in one of the myriad charming little restaurants – on expenses, of course. My most memorable experience has to be driving a lorry. It happened this way; sometimes, if there was no time to go into Oxford, I would drop into the transport café near the Cowley works where the lorry drivers had lunch or whatever, depending on the time of day. On one such occasion one of the drivers, who I knew slightly from the car garage, called across to me, ‘Fancy to drive my truck?’ Several expectant faces turned in my direction. To general surprise I replied ‘Yes please, how about when I’ve finished my tea?’ You will probably recall why one didn’t see women driving lorries, buses or suchlike in those dim and distant days; with no power assisted steering or modern hydraulic braking systems, no heating and hard uncomfortable seats. After less than a mile, with aching arms from wrenching the enormous steering wheel, right leg numb from jamming my foot hard on the brakes and sweating from exertion, I threw in the towel – oh, how I wished I had one! That year with Morris Motors was a lot of fun and a wonderful experience but the novelty eventually palled, so I decided to move on.
1 recall the work mother used to put into her pantry to keep four of us lads growing and my dad and uncle Jack as well. We had no Tesco about then to feed the family, most things came from the land we grew up on. A thing that everyone would like to go back to, but don't realize the work that this involved. I Remember Mother’s Pantry Mother’s pantry six long shelves, beams held bacon pair of hams, At far end was safe for beef joint, above a shelf for all the jams, Kilner jars both empty and full, filled top shelved four jars deep, Bread in bin held six loaves, lid on cheese and butter to keep. She picked and peeled the fruit she needed, all the summer long, The pears she quartered packed in tall jars, always with a song, Sugar syrup was poured over, till jar it over flowed, The tops new seals were tightened lightly, only till they're boiled. Plumbs and damsons as they’re ready, they were done the same, Birco boiler with false bottom, all the jars to steam, Six inches water turned on full, fifteen jars it held, One hour simmering lifted out, lids firm on as if to weld. When they cooled the lids were tested, lose ones she re-boiled. On the shelves she did put them, with all the jars she'd toiled Onions beetroot eggs and gherkins, also cabbage red, All the shelves were filled to bustin, right up to the bin for bread. Sunday morning father lifted, down his twelve bore gun, Down far field he was looking, for a rabbit run, Just disturb them in the long grass, let them have a shot, Pick it up and gut it, dove tail back legs, dinner he had got. Hang it two days to let meat set, mother skins it like a vest Head and feet off for the pan, quartered all the rest, Short crust pastry then is rolled, to fasten down the top Blackbird pie vent then is fitted, poured down its beak the stock. Rabbit pie hot for dinner, or it’s better cold, With bread or taters it tastes good, crust all big and bold, It should be served along with what, all rabbits love to eat, Carrots cabbage turnips sprouts, peas and lots of leeks When it come to chicken, or it’s more likely an old hen, Mother’s really mustard, as she walks around the pen, Looking for the one, that's not broody or in lay The poor old thing, ring its neck, without undue delay.
When it comes to geese and ducks, they're dealt the same, Dressing them as we all watch, the cat from outside in she came, Neck chopped off she would remove, wind pipe from the duck, Then to her mouth she put and blew, out came a startling quack. On the geese removed the feet, at knee joint half way up, The sinews had to be pulled out, or leg they would be tough, On handing us the feet with long, sinews hanging out, We pulled to make webbed stretch n close, causing us to shout. The butcher came to kill the pig, upon the bench he put him, Scalding water washed all over, scrape hair up to his chin, Lifted up to highest beam, his guts they did remove, We kids learnt more of what to store, of this we did approve. Some pork was given out, to whom killed pigs at different time, Shoulder sides and hams were salted, fat was rendered down, Loved the scratching nice and crispy, lard stored all in jars, Hams and sides covered in muslin, hung in pantry by my pa. Pastry she did make on Satdee, we kids could help to taste Mince pies jam tarts large n small, we always had what's left, Dried currants by the handful, spread on just half the dough, Flapped over rolled and pressed, in the oven would go. It always gained some colour, the pastry in our hands, Hands got cleaner, with the rolling - cutting with the bands, Out of oven, each of ours did come, Eaten as they hit the table, never left a crumb. A mouse trap fully loaded, behind the pantry door, With lump of stale cheese, standing on the floor, It was always at the ready, in case invaders came, They never stood a chance get fat, always us to blame. Mother tected pantry door but never it was locked, We always knew what she had got, neeth the jars she stacked, So all my life the pantry loaded, to the gunnels high, We lads we never felt pain of hunger, like mouse that we deny. ‘Owd Fred’ ________ This is a quotation by J G Holland --“God gives every bird its food but he does not throw it into its nest.”
Plaque on the Floor of Elsinore Castle On this damned spot Polonius Was killed at Elsinore He was only a nosy Parquet But this was his tragic floor.
Brontesaurus Charlotte, Anne and Emily Wrote their poems, after tea, They sought to teach the universe It's sad they only made it verse. Their book came out embossed with gold But only two were ever sold. Yet this fact has the power to teach They were too tight to buy one each.
Poet Tony Conran has died | 09-Feb-13 The death of the Welsh poet Tony Conran has been announced, he was 81 years-old. A well respected poet and critic, in 1967 he cotranslated and edited the Penguin Book of Welsh Verse . The publisher of his books, paid the following tribute:
"His translations from Welsh poetry stretching over a thousand years were landmarks, and testimony to his ability to empathise with writers and writing across centuries of differing experiences and conditions. Tony's own poetry was often demanding, sometimes almost mesmerising in its craft and conviction." Bangor University (where Conran taught in the English Dept) have posted an obituary: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/alumni/Obituaries2013info.php.en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Conran http://mortality-branchlinesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/rip-tony-conranpoet.html
Wirral Festival of Firsts 2013 New Photographic Competition launches! Third Open Poetry Competition launches!
Visit the Festival website: festivaloffirsts.com to take a look at the Photographic Competition gallery. The Photographic Competition is open to all* â€“ simply go to the competition page on the website and make the minimal payment of ÂŁ3 which entitles you to upload two photographs. The Third Wirral Festival of Firsts Open Poetry Competition has also just launched. Again, this competition is open to all. Poetry Competition entries can be made online or by post. Both competitions will close on 1st June 2013, and prizes will be awarded at a gala reception to launch the 2013 Festival on Saturday 6th July 2013 in Hoylake.
National Short Story Week Newsletter. The latest Mslexia short story is now available for you to listen to and download. Go to http://mslexia.shortstoryradio.com to hear "What Goes Around" by Tamsin Cottis. The story won last year's Mslexia short story competition, and if you are a short story writer, there's still time to enter the 2013 competition. Details are on the story link above. Don't forget too that we have details of some of the latest short story collections on our blog, at http://blog.nationalshortstoryweek.org.uk
Stafford Art Group Oddfellows Hall Spring Exhibition March 15th and 16th Captain Cook Oil on canvas board 16x20 unframed
Pictures for all tastes and pockets. Home-made cakes and coffee available.
This old cookery book was found in the loft encased in a leather binder. It is clearly so old it is out of copyright. It used to belong to Grandpa Ted, who being a widower for over a decade was an excellent cook on a wood burning Aga. He had made some notes in the back of the book of some page numbers which may have been recipes he had tried out. His marmalade loaf tin cake was to die for.
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Mary Anne (alternatively Mary Ann or Marian) Evans (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880), known by the pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist and translator. She penned seven novels, including Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876).
Portrait by Frederick William Burton. 1864 Images Wikipedia.
Nuneaton born, she used a male pen name to ensure her works would be taken seriously. Virginia Wolfe commented Eliot’s work was written for ‘grown up people’. Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot's life, but it is said she wanted to escape the stereotype of women only being able to write light hearted romances. An additional factor might have been to shield her private life from public scrutiny and to prevent scandal (she had a relationship with the married writer George Henry Lewes, who she lived with for over 20 years). Her 1872 work, Middlemarch, has been described as the greatest novel in the English language. Mary Anne Evans was the third child of Robert Evans (1773–1849) and Christiana Evans (née Pearson) (1788–1836), the daughter of a local farmer. Mary Anne's name was sometimes shortened to Marian. Robert Evans, of Welsh ancestry, was the manager of the Arbury Hall Estate for the Newdigate family in Warwickshire, and Mary Anne was born at South Farm. In 1820 the family moved to a house named Griff, near Nuneaton. After age sixteen, Eliot had little formal education. However, thanks to her father's role on the estate, she had access to the library of Arbury Hall, which helped her self-education and breadth of learning. Her classical education left its mark; it has been observed that "George Eliot's novels draw heavily on Greek literature and the themes are influenced by Greek tragedy". Religion: she was brought up within a strict low church, Anglican family but Eliot trod her own path as a adult. Issue 274 Page 16
Move to London and editorship of the Westminster Review
On her return to England from Europe (1850), she moved to London and began calling herself the writer Marian Evans. She stayed at the house of John Chapman, the radical publisher whom she had met at Rosehill (Coventry) and who had printed her translation. Chapman had recently bought the campaigning, left-wing journal The Westminster Review. Evans became its assistant editor in 1851. Women writers were not uncommon, but Evans's role at the head of a literary enterprise was unusual. She was considered to have an ill-favoured appearance, and it is reported she formed a number of embarrassing, unreciprocated emotional attachments, including that to her employer, the married Chapman, and Herbert Spencer. The philosopher and critic George Henry Lewes met Evans in 1851, and by 1854 they had decided to live together. Lewes was married to Agnes Jervis. They had agreed to have an open marriage, and in addition to the three children they had together, Agnes also had four children by Thornton Leigh Hunt. Since Lewes was named on the birth certificates as the father of these children despite knowing this to be false, thus he was considered complicit in adultery, and not able to divorce Agnes. In July 1854, Lewes and Evans travelled to Weimar and Berlin. Before going to Germany, Evans continued her interest in theological works with a translation of Feuerbach's Essence of Christianity, and while abroad she wrote essays and worked on a translation of Baruch Spinoza's Ethics, which she completed in 1856, but this was not published. The trip to Germany served as a honeymoon as Evans and Lewes with Evans calling herself Marian Evans Lewes, and referring to Lewes as her husband. It was not unusual for men and women in Victorian society to have affairs. What was scandalous was the open admission of the relationship. On 16 May 1880 Eliot courted controversy once more by marrying a man twenty years younger than herself, and changing her name, to Mary Anne Cross. The legal marriage pleased her brother Isaac, who had broken off relations with his sister when she lived with Lewes. John Cross inexplicably fell from their hotel balcony into the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy during their honeymoon. Cross survived and they returned to England. The couple moved to Chelsea but Eliot fell ill with a throat infection. This, coupled with the kidney disease led to her death on 22 December 1880 at the age of 61. Eliot was not buried in Westminster Abbey probably because of her denial of the Christian faith and her life with Lewes. She was interred in Highgate Cemetery (East) in the area reserved for religious dissenters next to George Henry Lewes; Karl Marx's memorial is nearby. In 1980, on the centenary of her death, a memorial stone was established in Poets’ Corner. Several buildings in her birthplace of Nuneaton are named after her or are titles of her novels. For example The George Eliot School (Previously George Eliot Community School) and Middlemarch Junior School. In 1948, Nuneaton Emergency Hospital was named George Eliot Hospital in Eliot's honour. A statue of Eliot can be found in Newgate Street, Nuneaton, and Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery has a display of material related to her.
Scenes of Clerical Life (1858) The Lifted Veil (1859) Adam Bede (1859) The Mill on the Floss (1860) Silas Marner (1861) Romola (1862–63) Felix Holt, the Radical (1866) Middlemarch (1871–72) Daniel Deronda (1876) Impressions of Theophrastus Such (1879)
A snake came to my water-trough On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat, To drink there. In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob tree I came down the steps with my pitcher And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me. He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the stone trough And rested his throat upon the stone bottom, And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness, He sipped with his straight mouth, Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body, Silently. Someone was before me at my water-trough, And I, like a second-comer, waiting. He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do, And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do, And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment, And stooped and drank a little more, Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking. The voice of my education said to me He must be killed, For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous. And voices in me said, if you were a man You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off. But must I confess how I liked him, How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless, Into the burning bowels of this earth ? Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him ? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him ? Was it humility, to feel so honoured ? I felt so honoured.
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And yet those voices : If you were not afraid, you would kill him !
And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more That he should seek my hospitality From out the dark door of the secret earth. He drank enough And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken, And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black, Seeming to lick his lips, And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air, And slowly turned his head, And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream, Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face. And as he put his head into that dreadful hole, And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther, A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole, Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after, Overcame me now his back was turned. I looked round, I put down my pitcher, I picked up a clumsy log And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter. I think it did not hit him, But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste, Writhed like lightning, and was gone Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front, At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination. And immediately I regretted it. I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act ! I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education. And I thought of the albatross, And I wished he would come back, my snake. For he seemed to me again like a king, Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld, Now due to be crowned again. And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords Of life. And I have something to expiate : A pettiness. David Herbert Lawrence 11 September 1885 â€“ 2 March 1930
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Issue 274 RBW Online weekly magazine