Monday, February 02, 2015

Yes, I watched as much as I could of the tennis yesterday. Sunday mornings are hard work, what with getting to Mass and getting lunch ready to slap on the table when we get home, so I couldn't watch much. What I managed of the early sets was terrific. I gather Murray then sort of collapsed.

Knitting went well. I am acquiring the knack of giving the whole thing – Archie's top-down sweater – a quarter turn after each dp needle. I am using a set of my beloved Cubics. The plan is to go ahead and finish the sleeve to the length required by the pattern, including the hem which will be red. I think perhaps I will allow myself to use the red for the purled turn-line, although that is a bit bold.

Then if the length is wrong or Archie doesn't like the red hem when he sees it, I'll take it out.

Eng Lit

A new biography of T.S. Eliot has just been published. We are hesitating over whether to buy. The author has clearly been enormously conscientious in tracking down influences. “From his earliest years,” the review in the Sunday Times said yesterday, “Eliot's brain was storing away scraps of language that caught his attention.”

Well, I've got one of those – not T.S. Eliot, but Shakespeare.

In his Gallic War, Caesar describes in some detail his first invasion of Britain – eighty transports and a number of warships, an impressive armada. The British put up a stiff resistance – wearing woad, I hope – and were picking off the Roman soldiers as they waded ashore. So Caesar brought the warships around and ran them aground on the enemy's right flank from which position he could employ, among other things, slings and arrows. The words often occur together in Caesar.

I wouldn't suggest that Shakespeare had this passage consciously in mind when he wrote Hamlet's great speech. Just that his schoolboy self at Stratford Grammar School stood in imagination with his countrymen one day, as they took arms against that utterly unfamiliar sea of troubles. And perhaps even got his knuckles rapped for not knowing what fundis and sagittis were. And the image got stored away, with so much else.

You're welcome to it, if you should be writing a commentary on Hamlet.


  1. Another lovely bit of learning with my morning tea.

  2. Anonymous6:40 PM

    Is it Robert Crawford's Young Eliot, coming out this week? Just found an article by Crawford in a mid-January Guardian, prompted by your opening paragraph. Will watch for this, and must get back to the Guardian books column on a more regular basis. Truly, Jean, you guide us to many wonderful things.
    - Beth in Ontario

  3. =Tamar9:09 PM

    Neat connection! I love it when things correlate like that.