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Old 01-02-2014, 03:37 PM   #26
RussellinToronto
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

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Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
Having just finished a novel set around World War I and given it is approaching the centenary of its beginning, I thought a WWI poem would be appropriate.

Dulce et Decorum Est ... Wilfred Owen. (1893-1918)

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a line from the Roman lyrical poet Horace's Odes (III.2.13). The line can be roughly translated into English as: "It is sweet and fitting to die for your country."... It is enlightening to contemplate the view of Scott in My Native Land (#19 of this blog)and this poem of Owen's on patriotism. However you view World War I, no one can deny its pervasive impact upon Western culture even to this day.
Here's Randall Jarrell's WWII poem, one that seems to me to couple with Owen's response to WWI.
Quote:
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.


["A ball turret was a Plexiglas sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24, and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine-guns and one man, a short small man. When this gunner tracked with his machine guns a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in his little sphere, he looked like the foetus in the womb. The fighters which attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose." -- Jarrell's note.]
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Old 01-02-2014, 08:13 PM   #27
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

That's quite the reading list for a single month, I loved Catch-22.

I wonder if you've read some/all of the poker literature (A Big Deal, Biggest Game in Town, Positively Fifth Street, etc). If not, will you be including some of these in this year's reading list?
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Old 01-02-2014, 10:25 PM   #28
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

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Originally Posted by RussellinToronto View Post
Do you know these websites for poetry? Both very useful:
Representative Poetry Online (RPO): http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca
Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/58
Thanks I will check them out.

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Originally Posted by RussellinToronto View Post
Here's Randall Jarrell's WWII poem, one that seems to me to couple with Owen's response to WWI.
Art, Architecture, Poetry....WWI had a huge immediate impact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quantph View Post
That's quite the reading list for a single month, I loved Catch-22.

I wonder if you've read some/all of the poker literature (A Big Deal, Biggest Game in Town, Positively Fifth Street, etc). If not, will you be including some of these in this year's reading list?
No, I will not be reading poker books. Sorry. Thanks for posting though.
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Old 01-03-2014, 08:13 AM   #29
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Wolf Hall By Hilary Mantel

Appears to be a historical fiction set in Tudor England narrated from the perspective of Earl Thomas Cromwell. Pictured below:


Mantel spends a good deal of time situating the reader within the period. She splits narrative and story time with long recollections of earlier time to get some back story biography into Cromwell and his relationship with Wolsey, his position in the world and his past. I am about 100 pages in and whilst not a tear-away page turner it has kept me interested by continually prompting me to access a-prior historical knowledge. Having said that, I have stopped myself from delving too much into the actual lives of the characters.

Probably will need to pick up the pace of my reading if I am only going at 100 pages per day to get through 100 books per year or not have too many 600+ books.
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Old 01-03-2014, 08:17 AM   #30
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I thought a Tudor era poet was called for

A Revocation

WHAT should I say?
--Since Faith is dead,
And Truth away
From you is fled?
Should I be led
With doubleness?
Nay! nay! mistress.

I promised you,
And you promised me,
To be as true
As I would be.
But since I see
Your double heart,
Farewell my part!

Thought for to take
'Tis not my mind;
But to forsake
One so unkind;
And as I find
So will I trust.
Farewell, unjust!

Can ye say nay
But that you said
That I alway
Should be obeyed?
And--thus betrayed
Or that I wist!
Farewell, unkist!

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)

Revocation: Revocation is the act of recall or annulment. It is the reversal of an act, the recalling of a grant or privilege, or the making void of some deed previously existing.

Apt in the age of Henry VIII - you would say?
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Old 01-03-2014, 09:46 AM   #31
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Recommendation:

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, exceptionally written story about a disgusting topic.
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Old 01-04-2014, 05:55 AM   #32
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I finished Part II of Wolf Hall, unfortunately my progress is only a sedate 158 pages.
Mantel ends the second part with a recital of a fable about the birth of memory according to Cicero. It is a gem of a ditty.

http://blog.mnemotechnics.org/simonides-of-ceos-81.html

According to Cicero Simonides of Cheos (566-468 BCE) is the father of memory.... He was a lyric poet, who was the first to extol men, instead of the Gods or Heroes, with public recitals of his poetry (hitherto poems were more often done in private settings).

Not much of his work remains - which leads me to think - even with the great capacity of digital storage how many "great men or women" of our age will be remembered 2500 yrs for now and what will remain of them.

Instead of a poem today - a couple of Simonides sayings attributed to him:

Plutarch commended "the saying of Simonides, that he had often felt sorry after speaking but never after keeping silent"[49] and observed that "Simonides calls painting silent poetry and poetry painting that speaks"

Epitaph At Thermopylae

Four thousand of us fought three million.
When you visit Sparta, tell them:
Here, the soldiers kept their word.


Simonides

Cicero related how, when Heiron of Syracuse asked him to define god, Simonides continually postponed his reply, "because the longer I think about it, the fainter become my hopes of an answer."

There is perhaps only one poem of Simonides that is intact - I will leave it to yourselves if you are prompted to find it.

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Old 01-05-2014, 08:42 AM   #33
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Funnily enough Thomas Wyatt, the Tudor poet I quoted above, appears as a character in Wolf Hall. That was an unintended irony.
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Old 01-08-2014, 02:38 AM   #34
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Finished Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel.

It is a full 630 pages long, which is to say, with type setting and lay out: it takes a good deal to get through the 630 pages. This feeling was brought to my full attention, as I started upon my next book What Do You Care What Other People Think? Richard P. Feynman, which is essentially a two part collection of stories with a larger type face and narrow lay out. Consequently, this afternoon's reading has me three-quarters of the way through its slim pickings already.

I will do a review of both - when I finish the Feynman book, I expect sometime tonight after dinner.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:50 PM   #35
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Very ambitious. I look forward to following. I recently finished grad school in English, so I can't resist offering some reading suggestions. I'll lean towards shorter books:

poetry

John Donne (the canonization is good)
George Herbert (donne's lesser-known contemporary)
t.s. eliot, four quartets. i much prefer this one to "the waste land."


fiction

voltaire, candide.

samuel johnson, rasselas. both of these books are "novels of ideas" or philosophical novels, which may appeal to you given your goals. Candide is better imo but rasselas is very good too.

faulkner, as i lay dying. his stuff is difficult but well worth it. This novel is absurdly good.

dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov. If you don't have time to read this one--it's 800ish pages--read his short story "the dream of a ridiculous man."

Chekhov's short stories--especially "the lady with the dog" and "gooseberries."

nonfiction

I've recently been reading "creative nonfiction" or "narrative nonfiction," which applies the tools of novel-writing (scenes, dialogue, point-of-view, detailed characterization) to journalism. Here are a few good ones:

Gay Talese, "Frank Sinatra has a Cold." An incredible short piece.

David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster. Yes, Infinite Jest is the one book to read but it would take months. This nonfiction collection is excellent.

Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains. A biography of the wunderkind doctor Paul Farmer.

Al Alvarez, The Biggest Game in Town. I've been reading a bunch of poker fiction and nonfiction lately and, yes, most of it is weak compared to the books just mentioned. But Alvarez's book is excellent--he's an accomplished poet, essayist, and reviewer--and his account of the 1981 World Series is def worth your time. I'll be posting a review shortly in my goals thread: https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...r-u-s-1334833/

Enjoy all the reading! What an awesome goal.
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:39 PM   #36
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Thanks for the post.

I did a little critical reading of Donne in a poetry unit. If you like, I might post one of his work and do a quick interpretation of one of his poems. He comes from an interesting time, I like that wholespan of Shakespeare, to Donne and Milton [1580-1700] in the English canon.

I have read Brothers Karamazov - the 3 brothers, dark older brother, impulsive middle borther and the saintly young one. I caught an analysis of the famous Interrogation?(not exactly sure, need to check) chapter with a youtube by a literary giant - I will link it in when I get around to it.

Yes - I need to read some of Dr. Johnson. Whilst on the subject of literary critics - I was thinking of buying one or two of Harold Bloom's non-fiction works on Shakespeare as a part of this 100 books - Any thoughts?

I think I remember reading excerpts of the Biggest Game in town on ESPN years ago. As I mentioned I am not interested in reading about poker.....but if there is one of his books that is Maileresque( e.g. The Fight - on Ali and the rumble in the jungle) and not on poker - you might tempt me.

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Old 01-08-2014, 11:50 PM   #37
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I just checked my copy of Dostoyevsky, the chapter I was thinking of was 'The Grand Inquisitor.'

Also, if you are interested in Russian Literature and Philosophy - there is a great essay by liberal Isaiah Berlin called the 'The Fox and The HedgeHog' or 'The Hedgehog and The Fox' that divides the whole world into types of thinkers. Scramble around for that - as it has insight into the difference between Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky that is provocative.

Isaiah Berlin Russian Thinkers: Is a reference to follow if you want a collection of his essays on the history of Russian thought, must be an old reading from my B.A.

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Old 01-08-2014, 11:57 PM   #38
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Finished the Feynman book about an hour ago down at the coffee shop. Will do my writeups on both it and Wolf Hall- aww schucks - when I get around to putting some thoughts together on them.
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:30 AM   #39
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

sure, Bloom's ok. You could also check out Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World.

As for Alvarez, his book The Savage God is about suicide in the Western world. If you like Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, it might be worth picking up--Alvarez was probably the last person to see her alive. His style is less flashy than Mailer's, though.
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Old 01-09-2014, 01:21 PM   #40
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

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Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post

Yes - I need to read some of Dr. Johnson. Whilst on the subject of literary critics - I was thinking of buying one or two of Harold Bloom's non-fiction works on Shakespeare as a part of this 100 books - Any thoughts?

Hi, I followed this link from the books thread in the lounge. I haven't really read much Bloom, but he certainly knows his Shakespeare. If you're interested in Blake, a great book of Litcrit is Northrop Frye's seminal Fearful Symmetry. Blake had worked out an extremely complex and esoteric system of thought on his own, and it took about 130 years for the depth of his insights to really be appreciated.
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Old 01-11-2014, 12:02 PM   #41
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

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Originally Posted by johnnycarson View Post
Hi, I followed this link from the books thread in the lounge. I haven't really read much Bloom, but he certainly knows his Shakespeare. If you're interested in Blake, a great book of Litcrit is Northrop Frye's seminal Fearful Symmetry. Blake had worked out an extremely complex and esoteric system of thought on his own, and it took about 130 years for the depth of his insights to really be appreciated.
Frye also has terrific essays on Shakespeare. Mark Van Doren's wonderful, if now 85-years-old, collection of essays on the plays has recently been reprinted in a New York Review of Books Classics edition.

Bloom is a fascinating idea generator and all-round pontificator. Some of his prose I find unreadable or worse, but his best stuff is full of stimulating insights.
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:01 PM   #42
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I have been negligent to this blog.
Given the comments on literary criticism:

Here is a youtube link to entertain yourself for 45 mins.

Harold Bloom on Shakespeare and Hamlet:



An Update: I have only read about 10 pages of Swift and have just suffered literary culture shock stepping from late 20th century writing and its shadow editing with that of early 18 century writing and sentences. Faced with comparatively extraordinary sentences I have, consequently, been shocked into procrastination and lethargy with my reading.
Hopefully I will get back on track soon.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:33 AM   #43
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

The Skip

I took my life and threw it on the skip,
Reckoning the next-door neighbours wouldn’t mind
If my life hitched a lift to the council tip
With their dry rot and rubble. What you find

With skips is – the whole community joins in
Old mattresses appear, doors kind of drift
Along with all that won’t fit in the bin
And what the bin-men can’t be fished to shift

I threw away my life, and there it lay
And grew quite sodden. ‘What a dreadful shame, ‘
Clucked some old bag and sucked her teeth. ‘The way
The young these days…. no values……. me, I blame….. ‘

But I blamed no-one. Quality control
Had loused it up, and that was that. ‘Nough said
I couldn’t stick at home, I took a stroll
And passed the skip, and left my life for dead.

Without my life, the beer was just as foul,
The landlord still as filthy as his wife,
The chicken in the basket was an owl,
And no one said: ‘Ee, Jim-lad, whur’s thee life? ‘

Well, I got back that night the worse for wear,
But still just capable of single vision;
Looked in the skip, my life- it wasn’t there!
Some bugger’d nicked it – WITHOUT my permission.

Okay, so I got angry and began
To shout, and woke the street. Okay, OKAY,
AND I was sick all down the neighbour’s van
AND I disgraced myself on the par-kay

And then…. you know how if you’ve had a few
You’ll wake at dawn, all healthy, like sea breezes,
Raring to go, and thinking: ‘Clever you!
You’ve got away with it’ and then, Oh Jesus,

It hits you. Well, that morning, just at six
I woke, got up and looked down at the skip.
There lay my life, still sodden, on the bricks,
There lay my poor old life, arse over tip.

Or was it mine? Still dressed, I went downstairs
And took a long cool look. The truth was dawning.
Someone had just exchanged my life for theirs.
Poor fool, I thought – I should have left a warning.

Some bastard saw my life and thought it nicer
Than what he had. Yet what he’d had seemed fine.
He’d never caught his fingers in the slicer
The way I’d managed in that life of mine.

His life lay glistening in the rain, neglected,
Yet still a decent, an authentic life.
Some people I can think of, I reflected
Would take that thing as soon as you’d say Knife.

It seemed a shame to miss a chance like that
I brought the life in, dried it by the stove.
It looked so fetching, stretched out on the mat
I tried it on. It fitted, like a glove.

And now, when some local bat drops off the twig
And new folk take the house, and pull up floors
And knock down walls and hire some kind of big
Container (say, a skip) for their old doors.

I’ll watch it like a hawk, and every day
I’ll make at least – oh – half a dozen trips.
I’ve furnished an existence in this way.
You’d not believe the things you’d find on skips.


James Fenton
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Old 01-15-2014, 12:30 AM   #44
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Review of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall

This book is one of the better iterations of its genre: historical fiction. Mantel has clearly researched thoroughly the court of Henry VIII of England and if, as a reader, you enjoy the intracacies of court intrigue and high politics, then there is plenty of 'meat on the bone'. The language, plot devices and structure of the novel will be very familiar to lovers of the genre - relatively plain-language in simple, clear sentences with easy-to-see bridging devices between scenes allow for a comfortable following of the story. Perhaps it does not try to, but I do not think that Mantel delves deeply into the interior of any of her characters including her narrator. Furthermore, there is nothing particularly insightful about the human condition offered by Mantel despite the sharp, descriptive account of the Tudor court and its society.
A solid 7/10.
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Old 01-15-2014, 12:36 AM   #45
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Review of Richard Feynman's What do you care what other people think?

This collection of short stories is effectively divided into two parts; short, personal anecdotes that have some poignant events, then a detailed account of the investigation into the Shuttle disaster of the 1980s. If you are not interested in either Washington politics or NASA - I think that you will lose no sleep in fretting about having not reading this book. That said, I am not really a fan of biographies or its ilk, take that qualification in mind when viewing my rating.
4/10
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Old 01-15-2014, 12:53 AM   #46
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Not liking Feynman is some kind of capital crime, although his stories about Los Alamos are probably the most interesting. Maybe those aren't in that book
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Old 01-15-2014, 01:02 AM   #47
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I did not say I did not like him. All I wanted to say is that it is a forgettable book. Having said that, if I was a family member of an astronaut - I would have been thankful that a man of his caliber was on the disaster review committee.
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Old 01-15-2014, 01:05 PM   #48
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I'll allow it
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:35 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
Review of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall

This book is one of the better iterations of its genre: historical fiction. Mantel has clearly researched thoroughly the court of Henry VIII of England and if, as a reader, you enjoy the intracacies of court intrigue and high politics, then there is plenty of 'meat on the bone'. The language, plot devices and structure of the novel will be very familiar to lovers of the genre - relatively plain-language in simple, clear sentences with easy-to-see bridging devices between scenes allow for a comfortable following of the story. Perhaps it does not try to, but I do not think that Mantel delves deeply into the interior of any of her characters including her narrator. Furthermore, there is nothing particularly insightful about the human condition offered by Mantel despite the sharp, descriptive account of the Tudor court and its society.
A solid 7/10.
Fwiw, and it's probably not much, I listened to a review of the stage play the other day in which they naturally enough talked about the book, too, in which one of the commentators described cromwell's interior as a depiction of a pre-Freudian hero, hence a lack of introspection, or something. Personally, I agree with what I think you're saying - the real core of what I wanted from this and Bring Up The Bodies was to see what is driving him in such extraordinary situations, but really what you get is that this is what circumstances require of him, so this is what he does.

The Feynman book was a definite outlier on your January list.
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Old 01-16-2014, 07:33 PM   #50
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Almost done with Swift and you should expect a review in the next couple of days.
I am thinking I might substitute one of my longer selections with a shorter book to give me a chance of making 8 this month. In the interim, here is a ditty from Swift, who was also a poet as well as a writer of narrative prose.

A Description of the Morning



Now hardly here and there a hackney-coach
Appearing, show'd the ruddy morn's approach.
Now Betty from her master's bed had flown,
And softly stole to discompose her own.
The slip-shod 'prentice from his master's door
Had par'd the dirt, and sprinkled round the floor.
Now Moll had whirl'd her mop with dext'rous airs,
Prepar'd to scrub the entry and the stairs.
The youth with broomy stumps began to trace
The kennel-edge, where wheels had worn the place.
The small-coal man was heard with cadence deep;
Till drown'd in shriller notes of "chimney-sweep."
Duns at his lordship's gate began to meet;
And brickdust Moll had scream'd through half a street.
The turnkey now his flock returning sees,
Duly let out a-nights to steal for fees.
The watchful bailiffs take their silent stands;
And schoolboys lag with satchels in their hands.


Jonathan Swift

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