Monday, 22 January 2018

Poetry Revisited: No Songs in Winter by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

No Songs in Winter

(from The Sisters’ Tragedy,
with Other Poems, Lyrical and Dramatic
: 1890)

I.
The robin and the oriole,
The linnet and the wren—
When shall I see their fairyships,
And hear their songs again?

II.
The wind among the poplar trees,
At midnight, makes its moan;
The slim red cardinal flowers are dead,
And all sweet things are flown!

III.
A great white face looks down from heaven,
The great white face of Snow;
I cannot sing or morn or even,
The demon haunts me so!

IV.
It strikes me dumb, it freezes me,
I sing a broken strain—
Wait till the robins and the wrens
And the linnets come again!

Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907)
American writer, poet, critic, and editor

Friday, 19 January 2018

Book Review: The Pianist by Władysław Szpilman

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21081507-the-pianistWithout doubt, the vast majority of Eastern European Jews who died during World War II and weren’t shot or otherwise killed on the spot wretchedly lost their lives in the overcrowded ghettos or in the concentration camps spattered across the Third Reich. Today it’s common knowledge that the latter were designed as extermination camps of industrial dimensions or as forced labour camps where the younger and stronger were selected to slowly starve to death while (often pointlessly) slaving away “for the benefit of the German people”. But some escaped this horrible fate getting the unexpected chance to go underground like The Pianist Władysław Szpilman whom unknown hands dragged from his family boarding the train to Treblinka (and certain death) and who, after some more months of forced labour, managed to go into hiding in Warsaw to write down his and his family’s story after the war.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Poetry Revisited: Bright Thoughts for a Dark Day by Mrs. J. C. Yule

Bright Thoughts for a Dark Day

(from Poems of the Heart and Home: 1881)

Will the shadows be lifted to-morrow?—
     Will the sunshine come ever again?—
Will the clouds, that are weeping in sorrow,
     Their glorious beauty regain?
Will the forest stand forth in its greenness?—
     The meadows smile sweet as before?—
And the sky, in its placid sereneness,
     Bend lovingly o’er us once more?

Will the birds sing again as we heard them,
     Ere the tempest their gentle notes hushed?—
Will the breeze float again in its freedom,
     Where lately its melody gushed?
Will the beautiful angel of sunset
     Drape the heavens in crimson and gold,
As the day-king serenely retireth,
     ’Mid grandeur and glory untold?

Yea; the clouds will be lifted to-morrow,
     From valley, and hill-top, and plain;
And sunshine, and gladness, and beauty
     Will visit the landscape again;—
The forest, the field, and the river
     Will bask in the joy-giving ray;
And the angel of sunset, as ever,
     Will smile o’er the farewell of day.

For the longest day hastes to its ending,—
     The darkest night speeds to the day;—
O’er thickest clouds, ever, the sunbeam
     Shines on with unfaltering ray;—
Though thou walk amid shadows, thy Father
     Makes His word and his promises thine;
And, whatever the storms that may gather,
     At length thro’ the gloom He will shine!

Mrs. J. C. Yule, née Pamelia Sarah Vining (1826-1897)
Canadian poet

Friday, 12 January 2018

Bookish Déjà Vu: If Not Now, When? by Primo Levi

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/136096.If_Not_Now_When

As Nazi troops advanced eastward following Hitler’s megalomaniacal order to conquer living space for Aryan or really German citizens, they virtually depopulated entire villages along their marching routes chasing men, women and children from their homes, deporting them to ghettos and concentration camps or, even worse, massacring them on the spot without pity. Above all – though not only – the Jewish population suffered under the terror of the altogether cynical regime. But German reign over Poland was far from peaceful, even less welcome! Just like the French the Poles offered resistance from the start and as Germany continued her expansion politics invading even the Soviet Union the fight became fiercer and better organised. Partisan bands formed and among the fighters were also Russian Jews like the protagonist of Primo Levi’s novel If Not Now, When? that I reviewed in July 2016 and that I’m re-blogging today as a Bookish Déjà Vu.

Read my review »

Thursday, 11 January 2018

*New* Decade Challenge 2018: The List

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/19115351-new-decade-challange-january-1-2018---december-31-2018
click on the image to go to the
challenge post on GOODREADS

1 January – 31 December 2018

(Nearly) A Century in Ten Books
– planned and reviewed –
(subject to change) 

1920-29: Rebecca West: The Judge (1922)
1930-39: François Mauriac: Vipers' Tangle (1932), original French title: Le Nœud de vipères
1940-49: Władysław Szpilman: The Pianist (1946), original Polish title: Śmierć miasta 
1950-59: Flannery O’Connor: Wise Blood (1952)
1960-69: Iris Murdoch: An Unofficial Rose (1963)
1970-79: Robert Ludlum: The Road to Gandolfo (1975)
1980-80: Szabó Magda: The Door (1987), original Hungarian title: Az ajtó
1990-99: Lídia Jorge: The Migrant Painter of Birds (1998), original Portuguese title: O Vale da Paixão
2000-09: Mo Yan: Frog (2009, original Chinese title:
2010-18: Zichao Deng: Xanadu (2013)

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

2018 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge: The List

https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/reading-challenges/2018-alphabet-soup-reading-challenge/
click on the image to go to the
challenge post on Escape With A Good Book
1 January – 31 December 2018

An Alphabet of Book Titles
– planned and reviewed –
(subject to change) 

  • Maria Àngels Anglada: The Auschwitz Violin (1994), original Catalan title: El violí d’Auschwitz
  • Jeannie Ebner: The Bengal Tiger (1983), original German title: Der Königstiger
  • Barbara Fischmuth: Convent School (1968), original German title: Die Klosterschule
  • Szabó Magda: The Door (1987), original Hungarian title: Az ajtó
  • Peter Rosegger: The Earth and the Fullness Thereof (1900), original German title: Erdsegen
  • Mo Yan: Frog (2009), original Chinese title:
  • Jenny Erpenbeck: Go, Went, Gone (2015), original German title: Gehen, ging, gegangen
  • Rabindranath Tagore: The Home and the World (1916)
  • Maryse Condé: I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (1986), original French title: Moi, Tituba, sorcière... noire de Salem
  • Rebecca West: The Judge (1922)
  • André Kaminski: Kith and Kin (1986), original German title: Nächstes Jahr in Jerusalem
  • Elisabeth von Heyking: The Letters Which Never Reached Him (1903), original German title: Briefe, die ihn nicht erreichten
  • Lídia Jorge: The Migrant Painter of Birds (1998), original Portuguese title: O Vale da Paixão
  • Vicente Blanco Ibáñez: The Naked Lady (1906), original Spanish title: La maja desnuda, also published in English as Woman Triumphant
  • Kingsley Amis: The Old Devils (1986)
  • Władysław Szpilman: The Pianist (1946), original Polish title: Śmierć miasta
  • Tanizaki Jun'ichiro: Quicksand (1928-30), original Japanese title:
  • Robert Ludlum: The Road to Gandolfo (1975)
  • Angela Carter: Shadow Dance (1966)
  • Dacia Maraini: Train to Budapest (2010), original Italian title: Il treno dell’ultima notte
  • Iris Murdoch: An Unofficial Rose (1963)
  • François Mauriac: Vipers' Tangle (1932), original French title: Le Nœud de vipères
  • Flannery O'Connor: Wise Blood (1952)
  • Zichao Deng: Xanadu (2013)
  • J.M. Coetzee: Youth (2002)
  • Italo Svevo: Zeno's Conscience (1923), original Italien title: La coscienza di Zeno

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge: The List

https://blbooks.blogspot.com/2017/10/2018-share-tea-reading-challenge.html
click on the image to go to the
challenge post on Becky's Book Reviews
1 January – 31 December 2018

Books Read While Sipping Tea
– to be completed as the year advances –

  • Maria Àngels Anglada: The Auschwitz Violin (1994), original Catalan title: El violí d’Auschwitz
  • Elisabeth von Heyking: The Letters That Never Reached Him (1903), original German title: Briefe, die ihn nicht erreichten