Dover Beach – A poem by Matthew Arnold

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; – on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold 1849

Why I Love Neal, part XX

For those who don’t know, Neal Boortz was until recently a talk radio host in the Atlanta area, and had been since the Seventies. He specialized in libertarianism and offending people, not always in that order. Now that he’s in retirement he’s taken more to Twitter. A sample:

Herman Cain is his current replacement in the old show. I wish Herman luck, but he is not The Talkmaster. There can only be one.

How baseball ended the world

From Belmont Club’s resident poet, Walt

It’s a little known fact of history, but environmentalists almost nipped the game of baseball in the bud.

I tell you, Abner, this won’t do
Your game will harm a thing or two
Our forests are denuded now
So wooden bats we can’t allow
Removing grass for infields will
Reduce the food for horses till
They become scarce and that’s a fact
So playing ball’s a harmful act
The ball you say is horsehide too
So you can see with horses few
That making balls with scarce resource
Will lead to taking hides by force
Your uniforms are made of wool
And as we know the threads all pull
Resulting in more sheep to shear
And that will lead to what I fear
Is ecologically, alas
A drain upon our dwindling grass
Our corn is finite too as well
So all the popcorn you will sell
And peanuts yes and crackerjack
Will mean that all these things we’ll lack
With people singing Take Me Out
To The Ballgame with a shout
The strain on trolleys will be great
And then we’re in a sorry state
A girl’s game, Rounders, that’s the truth
Your game will lead to boys named Ruth
And if your game becomes a hit
We’ll soon have Mantle, Mays and Schmidt
No Abner this will never do
For all our sakes we order you
To listen to your betters, us
Your players will all spit and cuss
And Goddess Gaia will be pleased
When strain upon her Earth is eased
The Earth is finite in its yields
So we forbid these baseball fields

And as we know, the environmentalists were right. The horses are gone, the corner lots are filled with the ping of aluminum bats, woolen uniforms are no more, and nobody sings Take Me Out To The Ballgame anymore, except Harry Carey in the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley. Everybody else is at home watching on television,drinking beer and wondering what the heck happened to the PhilliesBraves.


Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth

Allow me to introduce you to Captain Dave:

Captain… May I ask for a ride home, sir? 

Who dares talk to me like that? Twisting in my seat, I see a kid in a pilot’s uniform. A pretty little female, shiny brown eyes, about 15 years old. I began to tell her she has to ride in her assigned seat in the back… The pilot outfit is kind of weird, but in today’s society, nothing surprises me.

Sir, here is my stuff. 

She hands me her airline ID, and other pertinent paperwork. Date-of-birth is 1990. As my British friend Trevor is fond of saying, hang about… I have shoes older than that. I tell her to quit calling me sirand then ask her a few questions about her aircraft (Dash 8-Q400). She gives all the correct answers. Obviously a smart kid to be co-piloting, at her age, a large turbo-prop for a regional carrier. She is small and petite, the perfect size for the torture jumpseat. Plus, she will add some badly needed class to this flight-deck.

On the downside, the rest of us will need to behave and act like gentlemen, if that is possible.

Radar returns…

The digital multi-scan radar is in MAN mode, antenna tilted a quarter degree down as I look at slices of the storms. They bubbled up fast, changing from rising columns of moist air to planetary scale atmospheric water pumps, complete with their own power source… Fearsome creatures of the night. Their tops punched the tropopause with ease and are spreading out in the stratosphere.

Over at two o’clock and 100 miles, a sucker hole… About 30 miles across. But, there is a reason they are called sucker holes. When I was a young night-freight pilot, I found out the hard way. That’s a story for another post… Maybe.

Turning the end of the line…

The lightning flashes are intense and continuous as we five high-flying metal birds turn the end of the line. Bluish-white, spherical explosions of electric light illuminate the storm clouds and our flight-decks. The storm’s outer skins are covered with brilliant electric webs that undulate in the thin, high velocity winds of altitude. It is a sight that few see in their lifetimes. There are no words…

Words fail me- I grew up around the world of flight, and never missed a chance to squander my opportunities to join that fraternity. That is one of my great regrets.


High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God. 

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941


I can’t think of a better post to restart this blog-

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!


Boy-howdy, they certainly are