Jane Austen, Tony Tanner

I have been slowly reading through Tanner’s impressive Jane Austen.  It is truly instructive:  even when I disagree, I often do so using the very terms of discussion that Tanner discerningly provides, so that my disagreements turn often on more fundamental agreements (“we agree in the language we use”).  I strongly recommend the book to any serious Austen fans out there.  The chapter on Mansfield Park is worth the price of the book by itself.

The Nativity


Alone, alone, about a dreadful wood Of conscious evil runs a lost mankind, Dreading to find its Father lest it find The Goodness it has dreaded is not good: Alone, alone, about our dreadful wood. Where is that Law for which we broke our own, Where now that Justice for which Flesh resigned Her hereditary right to passion, Mind His will to absolute power? Gone. Gone. Where is that Law for which we broke our own? The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss. Was it to meet such grinning evidence We left our richly odoured ignorance? Was the triumphant answer to be this? The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss. We who must die demand a miracle. How could the Eternal do a temporal act, The Infinite become a finite fact? Nothing can save us that is possible: We who must die demand a miracle. –Auden

‘Eat’, ‘Prey’, ‘Love’? (Poem)

‘Eat’, ‘Prey’, ‘Love’?

With words

Hived in paper
Droning on

Syrupping my mouth
Stickying my hands
Honeycombing my hair

Killer bees

Word sting

With words

Ankle high
Word pile

Kick the anthill
Words skitter scatter
Up pants leg
Tiny electroshocks

Fire ants

Word bite

With words

Words fight back
Mean me no good


Blowing smoke
But no control
They live
Hive- and hill-minded
One over many

Hear them talking
Amongst themselves
Barely audible hubbub

Me against babel

Queen bee
Queen ant:
Wannabe, can’t

No control
Orders ignored
Declining to decline
Buggy grammarian’s funeral
The words sing together

Die from the head down
Feet up

My corpse
Word food

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