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Archive for the ‘Tolkien’ Category

Readers of this blog know that I am a bit of a Tolkien buff–not saying I’m great with the trivia, but JRRT has definitely inspired and shaped the goals and arc of my life quite a bit since I was a wee lad. I read and loved the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings at an early age (fourth grade… I may have read the Hobbit in third, can’t remember), but it wasn’t too long before I moved on to the Silmarillion, and after that discovered Christopher Tolkien’s editions of his father’s earlier drafts of the Silmarillion and other unpublished work. While I’d already decided that I wanted to “be” Tolkien, I suppose it was these posthumous bits and all their accompanying learned notes that first gave me a taste for any sort of scholarly approach to texts.

I don’t remember how old I was when I read the two volumes of The Book of Lost Tales–I may have been in Jr Hi or High School when I finally got to volume two–but at some point early on (probably in one of the non-authorized biographies, now that I think about it) I learned that the start of JRRT’s mythos was a poem about Eärendel the half-elven mariner who… um, shoot, you should probably at least read the Silmarillion before I spoil that for you. Here’s a hint, he comes into the family line of both Elrond and Aragorn in a big way…

Eärendel is derived from Éarendel the “day star,” “brightest of angels” in the Old English poem Crist by Cynewulf (there is a prose translation here), but the name is attested elsewhere in the Germanic languages as well. I don’t have time to write much on this (as much as I would like to dig into this more for myself as well)–classes start Thursday–but in my own particular field (Old Norse mythology) we know him as Aurvandil, whose toe was turned into a star by Thor (and in Saxo’s version he is Hamlet’s/Amleth’s father–will the connections never cease). And of course the Old Norse scholar Peter Foote just had to name one of his collections of essays Aurvandilstá (A’s toe)…

The occasion for this post is the fact that, the day after it was relevant, I ran across this article on the centenary of Tolkien’s Eärendel poem, and so the centenary of Middle Earth. I won’t comment on it (again, lack of time), but it’s pretty interesting, not least with its notes re: a suggested bit of intertextuality with reference to one of Shelley’s poems (said interpretation makes Tolkien come off as a sort of belated English version of the Swedish Gothic Society, I think, in that they also consciously replaced the Classical fetish of earlier Romanticism and Neo-Classicism with a more “Germanic” National Romantic fetish).

And of course I’m posting on this rather late, but that’s because I felt like I just HAD to have some sort of illustration of my own for it, being a rabid Tolkienite and all. My pen brush sketch is pretty rough, but I hope to redo it in photoshop eventually (like I did with my pic of the Valkyrie Mist). More inspired-by than an illustration-of. The poem (or the final version) you can find in volume 2 of The Book of Lost Tales, but I will post the first stanza here (the original version of the first stanza you can find in the article I link to in the previous paragraph):

Éarendel arose where the shadow flows

At Ocean’s silent brim;

Through the mouth of night as a ray of light

Where the shores are sheer and dim

He launched his bark like a silver spark

From the last and lonely sand;

Then on sunlit breath of day’s fiery death

He sailed from Westerland.

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IMG_2833This is sort of a belated review, but John Lindow’s book Trolls: An Unnatural History is out now, and EVERYONE SHOULD BUY IT!!! OK OK, I’ll try to quit the salesperson schtick. This book is  a solid overview of the topic from a leading scholar in the field of Norse mythology and Scandinavian Folklore,  but is also super accessible (well, as much so as a book can be while still remaining academic in nature). John has always been very at home with both the super-erudite discourse of academic journals (OK, that’s a given for a professor in the field…) as well as with articulating the state of the field in a readable and understandable way for those not in the field–note, for example, his Norse Mythology Handbook. Take this and the two Eddas and you’re well on your way to being a super-duper Norse mythologist.

The book is a slim one, at 154 pp, so it is not like this is a comprehensive book of everything about trolls–but it is an excellent overview, and is the only text I can think of that follows the term/concept “troll” all the way from its earliest attestations through it dissemination and transformation in international culture. Chapter one covers the earliest Norse attestations, chapter two the slightly later Medieval attestations (well, this is a slightly problematic distinction, as the Viking age texts were themselves written down in the Middle Ages, but it still works), chapter three covers the trolls of folklore, chapter four the transformation of the troll in the early printings of popular collections of folklore (and the illustrations are great in this chapter for showing the progression towards the more sensational, big-nosed, distinct-species of troll that we are more familiar with now), chapter five covers “trolls in literature,” inclusive of one of my favorite movies, while chapter six gets into trolls in children’s lit and marketing–and then there is the epilogue, which gets into the slang use of the word “troll” in contemporary society, from patent-trolling to the trolls who haunt the internet.

A carved version of one of illustrator John Bauer's trolls, done by my late granduncle Dave Olson. The cover of John Lindow's book is also a Bauer illustration.

A carved version of one of illustrator John Bauer’s trolls, done by my late granduncle Dave Olson. The cover of John Lindow’s book is also a Bauer illustration.

Legend Trolls vs Fairy Tale Trolls

The first two chapters were mostly a review of trollology I’d learned (from John, of course) early in grad school, but I really appreciated the overview of the later reception of the idea of the troll the latter chapters, in particular in terms of the history of the visualization of the troll (seeing how I am slowly venturing into illustration myself, and have a few troll pics, or trollish-pics, which I’ve put below). I also appreciated the observation (which I believe I’d heard before, but had forgotten) that trolls, in the more general sense of supernatural beings, are more ambiguously colored in the legend tradition (i. e., tales that are ostensibly true and less about narrative entertainment), where, for example, it is open to debate whether these Others are subject to the same salvation that the Christian, human, insiders claim, while in the fairy tale tradition (more explicitly ludic, fictional, and escapist, and often told by the rural proletariat) trolls are more explicitly Bad, playing the role of Villain, and, according to Bengt Holbek’s interpretation (which John does not get into in this book, though he does have a very thorough review of in a 1989 or 1990 issue of Scandinavian Studies), the negative symbolic embodiment of authority figures like landowners, employers, or parents (in-law).

A trollish portrayal of Thor's mother Earth.

A trollish portrayal of Thor’s mother Earth.

Trolls, Fantasy, and Good and Evil

This got me thinking about the priority of the escapist function in Fairy Tales, especially since I’d just been reading Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Stories–while the rural proletariat may be more aware than most of the potential for moral ambiguity and abuse among those who are supposed to be “in the right” (as of course those in charge would think), or so my left-leaning sympathies had me thinking, the fact that it was primarily the poorest of the poor who tell fairy stories certainly highlights the importance of escape in their situation (a point Tolkien makes about all of us–it is the jailers who argue against escape–but let’s keep in mind the fact that some are more jailed than others), and we shouldn’t be surprised to find that one aspect of escapism is the isolation of Good and Evil, at least in certain places within a story. As horrible as it is when someone gets so bad that they are Just Bad, it is also a bit of a relief, isn’t it? To just say “THEY ARE BAD” and “THEY ARE GOOD.” But maybe a more nuanced take is possible as well–let’s keep in mind a key aspect of Tolkien’s celebration of the human ability to create coherent things which do not actually exist–green suns and the like. If I remember correctly, one of his points is that this linguistic ability to see green grass as both green and grass is at the root of the sort of work we do when we create fantasy worlds which are simultaneously coherent and yet impossible. Fantasy draws its power from the way in which it dances with the real world–if iron is ennobled by the forging of the sword Gram (as the Big T says), then our real world experiences of Good and Evil are legitimated, enhanced, sharpened, and affirmed by our fictional manipulations of these things (our reification of them, our treatment of them AS things) in a fantasy world. Green is greener by our ability to separate it from the grass that we perceive it on, and similar things could be said about Good and Evil. (gooder ? eviler ?  Hm, maybe I’ll work on this idea…) Of course, that is not to deny the great evil that has been done by the various fantasies of… well, of evil, that have been transferred into the real world and used to justify everything from rape to genocide–there needs to be a sufficient about of reflexivity if our fantasy is not going to just drive a two-dimensional ideology of us versus them.

Trolls trolls trolls

One last note–while John does not pursue a very developed thesis in this regard, he certainly does touch on the ambiguity of the world “Troll” itself (troll as magical, troll as extraordinary (if still maybe human), troll as generic supernatural creature, troll as giant, troll as a specific sort of monster, etc…). I’ve been meaning to write on this for a while, but just don’t have time at the moment–but well, now you can read his book! You can also read this article by Ármann Jakobsson on the topic (starts p 39, I think), which also reviews the academic literature a bit–but be warned, the article is written for those who are already “in” the academic conversation about trolls, so it won’t be quite the same sort of experience. I have to run now, but may revise/expand this review a bit… we’ll see.

Meanwhile, here are some more troll pics! (FYI–these are just for fun pics. Like, let’s pretend we are making up new creatures for a video-game type fun. Not authentic at all. You’ve been warned.)

Troll Sketch 1 14_edited-1

Lava Troll_edited-1

Ice Troll Sketch_edited-1

 

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A quick sketch of Tolkien as a Warrior Dane. OK, I may not have the right warrior clothes for the migration era period that the poem describes, plus I got the scabbard on the wrong side, and the pin for his cloak is too centered, and the whole thing is messy... but I did this real quick in 5 or 10 minutes and need to get back to work, so gimme a break! Also, I think it looks a bit more like Magneto as a warrior dane...

A quick sketch of Tolkien as a Warrior Dane. OK, I may not have the right warrior clothes for the migration era period that the poem describes, plus I got the scabbard on the wrong side, and the pin for his cloak is too centered, and the whole thing is messy… but I did this real quick in 5 or 10 minutes and need to get back to work, so gimme a break! Also, I think it looks a bit more like Magneto as a warrior dane…

So a bunch of announcements went up today to the effect that Tolkien’s translation of the Old English heroic poem Beowulf, brought to light a while back, will be published this Spring. [Edit: An except can now be checked out here, side by side with Heaney’s translation] This makes it the latest of Tolkien’s posthumously published works, and the latest of his interpretations (including translations) of the heroic material he studied, which in more recent times includes his own compositions building on/emulating the Volsung material in Old Norse literature and the Arthurian tradition in Britain. When I studied Old and Middle English lit (not my major, just some fun classes) in undergrad, I wrote on the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and really appreciated Tolkien’s translation as very beautiful in its own right, and since I had a rudimentary competence in Middle English, I enjoyed being able to appreciate the ways his translation differed from others in its interpretation of the original. I did not use his edition of the poem at the time, but it is still available, co-edited with EV Gordon, the author of the introduction to Old Norse that so many of us in the field first studied with. Tolkien’s poetic treatments of some stories from his own mythos are clearly related to his translations and reworkings of the heroic material he studied–we might articulate it as different layers, each at a bit more of a remove from texts like Beowulf: 1) editions (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight), 2) translations, 3) interpretations/original contributions to the “old” material, 4) homages from his own original universe (which, as you will see if you read some of his son’s commentary in the posthumously published Middle Earth series, could also be understood contributions to the “universe” of the older sources, related, I would argue, to the euhemeristic reimaginings of pagan myth in the Middle Ages).

Tolkien was, of course, a respectable scholar of Beowulf, and most of his “serious” fans are familiar with his essay “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics,” which had a significant impact on the way we study the poem (though one might also argue that it was simply a sign of the times, as things shifted in academia–but I do think Tolkien’s sympathy with a fellow poet, even across a millennium, shows through here). He also wrote an essay introducing a translation of the poem, some of the points of which are summarized here (sorry, couldn’t find an online text at the moment). This particular translation (and, I assume, the notes that go with it) belong to Tolkien’s younger days, but I am still pretty interested in seeing this (maybe HarperCollins could send me a review copy…? Maybe?). In particular it will be interesting to see the choices he makes in contrast to Seamus Heaney’s translation–both are poets, but will Tolkien’s additional qualifications as a scholar of Old English affect his translation at all? (Incidentally, I discuss Heaney’s translation as well as some notes re: the context of the composition and content of the poem here).

Well, I need to get back to my own translation work, so I will have to save anything else I’d like to say for the release of the actual translation. Other links to the news here, here, and here.

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Happy Father’s Day! I didn’t get a chance to hang out with my dad this weekend (being on the other side of the country), but I did get to do some traveling and detectiving with my brother to try and figure out where in Northern MN my great-grandfather Hjalmar worked (nothing confirmed, but we learned a lot about the area at the time he was there). To pair with my Mother’s Day post (and because I have an awesome dad as well as an awesome mother, and know many awesome dads), here are a handful of interesting fathers from the Old Norse sources. As I’ve mentioned before, the medieval Norse sources are pretty patriarchally oriented, so we actually get a larger number of fathers showing up as significant characters than mothers (though let me note that it was really a shame that I mentioned Laxdæla saga in my Mother’s Day post without mentioning Melkorka, the Irish princess-in-secret whose son and grandson figure quite prominently there…).

OK, just a few favorites here which highlight the father-child (usually father-son) relationship:

File:Egil Skallagrimsson 17c manuscript.jpgKveldulfr, Skallagrímr, and Egill in Egils saga Skallagrímssonar (The Saga of Egil the son of Baldy-Grim–free version here, current [and better] translation here). Like-father, like-son features prominently here, as the Berserkr + Werewolf (“Kveldulfr” = “Evening Wolf,” and he marries the daughter of a berserkr) characteristics of the first generation manifest in decreasingly supernatural ways in the next two generations (well, that is how I read the saga, anyway). While Kveldulfr is said to become a wolf in the evenings, his son Skallagrímr gets stronger, angrier, and completely unreasonable (ie, berserk-like) the later in the evening it gets (which, incidentally, leads to him nearly killing his son, and results in a little father-son mini-feud in true saga style). Egill is just plain ornery, but is certainly compared to a troll at least once, and in my own work (a conference paper and a field paper–need to polish it up one day so that it’s publishable and up-to-date) I have argued that Egill’s self-identification as a Viking (esp. taken with his close relationship w/ Óðinn and his magical skillz) associate him with the pagan past in a way similar to the more explicitly monstrous werewolf/berserkr angle, even if it’s a bit more watered down (he comes at a point deeper in the more historically/realistically portrayed Saga Age, after all). Well, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve worked on that, so I’ll put together a more thorough post w/ some notes on the relevant secondary lit some other time. Both Skallagrímr and Egill get particularly troublesome for their children in their old age, hiding gold rather than passing it on, threatening to cause a scene at the Alþingi, stuff like that– although the scene with his daughter Þorgerðr (who connects this narrative to Laxdæla and is also another significant mother in the sagas) after the death of his son (leading to the poem Sonatorrek) is quite touching (and funny). There is also a good amount of father-son advice, tragedy,revenge, and other touching moments during the first half of the saga, as the feud between Kveldulf’s sons and grandsons and the Norwegian royal family starts out, deepens, climaxes, and lingers.  Anyway, one of my favorite sagas, in case you haven’t noticed, so check it out!

Speaking of werewolves, let’s not forget the coming-of-age romp in the forest in chapter 8 of Völsunga saga. Start several chapters earlier with the death of Völsung for the full incestuous revenge narrative, but look, you should really just read the whole thing. I’ve linked to Finch’s combined edition/translation, so every other page will be in English. There is also a translation out there by Jesse Byock and one (that I believe is out of print and very expensive) by Kaaren Grimstad (oh, and one by GK Anderson–haven’t seen that one or the Grimstad one). I actually like the Finch one (which is part of the same series as the Tolkien edition/translation I mention below), so it’s nice that it’s available online now!

File:Hervør henter sværdet Tyrfing hos Angartyr.jpgAnd lest you think that only sons get any love from their heroic fathers, check out Christopher Tolkien’s (yes, THAT Christopher Tolkien) edition/translation of Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks,  in which warrior maiden Hervör rather forcibly convinces the ghost of her berserkr father Angantyr (killed, incidentally, by my great grandfather Hjalmar’s name-sake) to give her his sword Tyrfing. Later in the saga you also can find a nice antecedent to the riddling scene in a certain children’s book by Christopher’s father. See also the Eddic poem Hervararkviða (haven’t checked the translation–posting this pretty quickly as it is quite late now!).

Well, those are the fatherly moments that came to my mind. I’m posting this pretty late on Father’s Day, I’m afraid, but hey, I spent most of the day driving from Northern to Southern Minnesota. OK, will drive faster next time…

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Happy Birthday JRRT!

Tolkien's first Christmas.

Tolkien’s first Christmas. From wikipedia.

Just a quick “Happy Birthday” for JRR Tolkien!  When I was in 3rd grade I decided I wanted to be a novelist.  Then I read JRR Tolkien, and decided I wanted to be him.  Then I found out that Tolkien studied Old English and Old Norse for a living, and I thought, well, that must be just as fun!  And so here I am.  But OK, I’d really like to find some more time for novelisting (novelizing?), I have to admit.  In the meantime there is this blog, plus my published poems, which you can find listed under the “Who I am” section.

Actually, when I first read The Hobbit in 3rd or 4th grade (can’t remember exactly–but I’d read LOTR by 4th grade, I’m sure), I put it aside after the first chapter or two.  I don’t think it was that I didn’t like it–I just get myself distracted by way too many other books that I was working through, and often the new, more challenging (yet more rewarding) books would be left till later.  This has actually been the case for some of my favorite books over the years–The HobbitStone and FluteWinter’s Tale, and The Anvil of Ice, among others.  But I eventually came back to Hobbit more “ready” for it, and it has been a favorite ever since.  

My Tolkien pic on hearing that he had been considered for the Nobel Prize 50 years ago.

My Tolkien pic on hearing that he had been considered for the Nobel Prize 50 years ago.

Well, OK, we can still complain about a few things in Tolkien.  I know there are a lot of apologists out there, but let’s face it, non-Western cultures don’t come off so well in his books (which are all about the exaltation of The West–but then again, let’s keep in mind this snarky reply to Nazi Germany), and women are either undervalued/invisible (it is telling that a champion world-builder ends up playing pretty much only with the masculine side of the “world”–but SOMEONE has to make the baby men, dwarves or otherwise!) or are exalted and put on a pedestal.  Well, OK, let’s not pooh-pooh the latter too much.  There are some quality heroines in his work, though they get shuffled to the side a bit in his novels.  Silmarillion is a bit better in featuring heroic women, even if they aren’t necessarily valkyrie types (but at the moment I’m with those who see the “warrior woman” as more of a myth of Nordic antiquity from the Middle Ages, and valkyries as more cult figures than reality).  We should also think of the woman-on-pedestal phenomenon in Tolkien’s work in the context of the early death of his mother (he thought of it as her martyrdom, if I remember correctly), his veneration of Mary (he was Catholic, and a bit disappointed when CS Lewis’ conversion led him to the Anglican church, not the Roman), and his very early infatuation with his wife-to-be (he was forbidden to see her until he grew up, and then swooped in and wooed her back after she’d been engaged to someone else–and of course, on their grave stones it says “Beren and Luthien”).  Not that we should get too caught up imposing biography onto our reading of a novel (or complex of stories), but I think digging into this helps us approach Tolkien’s work both sympathetically and critically–an important skill, and one I try to teach in my courses.  OK, off the soap box…

Anyway, Happy Birthday Tollers!  I have to admit, I liked it better when I first discovered you and thought that I was the only one who knew about your genius… now I’ve got to share you with the world.  Can’t even say I liked you before you were popular (darn those hippies and their out-hiptsering me!).  Oh well.  Glad you were here, and glad you left some neat stuff behind.  Hope you’ve made some progress on your many-leafed tree and are enjoying the view of the mountains.

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Tollers comforts himself with the fact that the Icelandic mythographer and poet Snorri Sturluson never got a Nobel Prize either (of course, Snorri lived in the 13th century…)

As a Tolkien fan and a Scandinavianist, I’ve had a bit of a mixed reaction to the recent newsTolkien considered for a Nobel Prize back in 1961!  Wow, how exciting!  A Swedish literary prize for an author and academic who worked in Medieval Scandinavian (OK, and English) literature (there’s hope for me yet…)  That said, the dismissal (he didn’t actually get the prize, after all) is pretty harsh.  Anders Österling, the secretary of the Swedish Academy at the time, insisted that the writing was not in any way of the highest class.  More on that below.

The news has come up as the relevant documents have just become unclassified.  Others who missed out in 1961: Graham Greene, Karen Blixen (another Scandinavian!), Robert Frost, E.M. Forester, John Steinbeck (who got it the next year), and Giula Scappino Murena.  The winner was Yugoslavian author Ivo Andrić.

So Tolkien lost because of bad prose?  I’ve heard a variety of opinions about Tolkien’s prosefrom writers I know, though I don’t think I’ve had anyone totally pan him.  I remember at least one who was frustrated with all the long winded descriptions throughout the book, while others consider Tolkien a master of his art.  Ursula LeGuin has written at least one essay on Tolkien’s skill in rhythmic patterning (a copy of the essay is in The Wave in the Mind, which I also recommend for the essay on oral communication), and I’ve always enjoyed his prose myself (but I suppose he stands out all the more in contrast to the best selling Tolkien-hacks that have followed him– just the memory of some of the prose I’ve read makes me shudder…)  But in the spirit of Reception theory, let’s keep in mind that the appeal of an author’s prose can vary pretty widely from person to person, as well as between discourse communities.  Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale was recommended to me because of the “beautiful prose”, but I’ve run across at least one very intelligent and well-read reviewer who just could not stand Helprin’s overwrought and flowery writing.  I liked it, myself.  Hemingway is also good, but I don’t want everything I read to be so spare.  I’ve had a pretty visceral experience with shifting prose-expectations myself, which I believe I have already mentioned a few times regarding Kathy Tyer’s book Shivering World.  I first read this back in the late 90s or early 2000s and really enjoyed it.  So did others apparently–it was nominated for a Nebula Award in the early 90s.  In the mid 2000s it was rewritten and published in the Christian market.  Curious, I picked it up and started rereading it.  Within the first paragraph I was struck with… well, a really uncomfortable feeling.  Maybe a bit of Freud’s “uncanny“.  I took the original version and compared the two side by side, and sure enough, the phrasing had been changed around.  I can’t remember how drastically this was done (and I’ve misplaced my original version), but the first version felt like science fiction, and the other didn’t.  All that to say, I think “genre fiction” has its own rules for the authors of the science fiction and fantasy ghetto to deal with (whether they break them or follow them).  Tolkien predates this “ghetto” to a degree (he is arguably one of the creators, though it certainly comes out of Golden Age sci-fi as well), but I wonder if there was a similar problem of expectations involved.

A young Österling.

That said, I will admit that I find much of Tolkien’s poetry throughout the LOTR to be not particularly satisfying.  I have read poems by him which I have liked very much, but as far as LOTR goes, I can see how a high caliber poet like Österling would be especially put off by Tolkien’s own versifying.  Österling himself is described as “the last of the previous century’s [=1800s] great poets” in Göran Hägg‘s Den svenska litteraturhistorien (=”The History of Swedish Literature”), although he only debuted in 1904 (at 20 years old, however–better than I did).  I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on his work yet, but from what I understand much of Österling’s own poetry is relatively romantic in nature, dwelling on bits of folklore (bäckahästen, the water sprite), rural and wild landscapes, and the remnants of ancient times (Hägg’s book includes a beautiful final stanza from a poem on Ales stenar, though it is perhaps more beautiful to me as I remember being there myself, on the headlands in southern Skåne).  One might expect two such romantics to get along fine, but I can imagine a more “traditional” literary type like Österling finding Tolkien’s headlong (and apparently unironic) dive into a world of gods and heroes to be… well, a little silly.  No matter.  I still like it.  And I think I could probably enjoy Österling’s work too.

Tranströmer.

This reminds me of another Swedish poet, this one much more recently involved with the Nobel Prize: Tomas Tranströmer.  When I heard the news I picked up my collected poems and started reading through them with an eye toward blogging about this–alas, I forgot, and you are only getting this belated notice tacked on to a post about Tolkien.  Typical.  In any case, there are a few of Tranströmer’s poems translated into English an available online.  Poets.org has a couple After a Death even has a bit of the fantastic to it, with the samurai in his armor of black dragon scales.  While it seems to have been out of print for about a decade, Samizdat has a few translations in their 3rd issue.  This Latin American literary magazine also offers a few selections.  Here is a portion from Further In from that site:

I am transparent
and writing becomes visible
inside me
words in invisible ink
which appear
when the paper is held to the fire!

Makes me want to write.  Well, write something more than a blog (I did sketch out a new poem today–we’ll see if it ever becomes anything).

To close this discussion off, let’s note that Tolkien was nominated for the Nobel Prize by his friend C.S. Lewis.  Inklings freaks rejoice.  Lewis and Tolkien were united in their distaste for modern literature, so Österling’s dismissal is no more surprising than Lewis’ endorsement, but I find it interesting that Tolkien was considered in 1961–long after Tolkien and Lewis had “fallen out”, or perhaps we should say “drifted apart”, as I don’t believe there was ever a really fight or anything like that.  I think it’s touching that Lewis did this.  Sure, friends nominating friends maybe diminishes some of the “Yeah, Tolkien almost got a Nobel!” effect, but neither of them were really playing by the same rules as the literary status quo at the time.  And while I do value literary excellence, I value friendship in spite of differences all the more. Um, not cronyism though.  But hey, if you’d like to nominate me for the Nobel Prize, go ahead.

Haha, I’m such a sap.  Ah well.

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