Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Plus ça change

Wordsworth, on Robert Southey's unfavourable review of Lyrical Ballads
"He knew that money was of importance to me. If he could not conscientiously have spoken differently of the volume, he ought to have declined the task of reviewing it."


The index of a vintage
is the season's history: how many
photons have fallen

through the skin. Equations
predict excellence. Unlike
the nose of connoisseurs,

the maths involved
are flawless, however
maculate the soil.

Deprive the vine of water,
it will eke its taproot deeper
down through solid strata

where it draws not only
succour for the turgor
of its foliage and fruit,

but hauls up half-formed
metaphors from minerals
lying latent in the clay,

imparts them to the grape
flesh where they mingle
and intensify as the sun-

washed clusters ripen.
These metaphors remain
embryonic until tongue

-cognized and -constituted
by a seasoned sommelier
who nearly knows them flawlessly.

The index of a vintage,
however reason may explain it,
retains intrinsic mystery—

the grape escapes its proof.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Rage of Extemporary Criticism

As it very seldom happens that the rage of extemporary criticism inflicts fatal or lasting wounds, I know not that the Laws of benevolence entitle this distress to much sympathy. The diversion of baiting an author has the sanction of all ages and nations, and is more lawful than the sport of teasing other animals, because for the most part he comes voluntarily to the stake, furnished, as he imagines, by the patron powers of literature with resistless weapons and impenetrable armour, with the mail of the boar of Erymanth, and the paws of the lion of Nemea.
                      -Samuel Johnson

Thursday, January 1, 2015

ZW on Patreon

Happy new year, everybody. Impressed by the concept and by the results people have achieved using the crowd-funding patronage site Patreon, I've decided to set up my own page. As I state on the page, I am not doing this because I need the funding, but so that people who enjoy/admire my writing can support it directly if they're willing and able. Any support is enormously appreciated, much of it will be paid forward to other artists, and I've built in considerable quid pro quo "rewards" for anyone who does chip in a few drachmas. This isn't something I'll be flogging on an ongoing basis; I just wanted to set it up and let people know about it this once. I have set a "milestone goal," but that's more day-dream than ambition; I shall by no means be disappointed if I never meet it.