Saper la légitimité

Voici une image de Bashir al-Assad. Il a un long cou que l'on a accentué encore plus. Ainsi doté il devrait pouvoir voir plus loin devant lui, à condition qu'il ne souffre pas de myopie, ce qui pourrait jouer sur sa légitimité. Les grands nœuds de cravates semblent aussi lui plaire. On l'a mis plus en valeur également, car il pourrait indiquer que Assad voit grand.

On entend que le régime syrien est en train de 'saper sa légitimité'. Il a fallu beaucoup moins de temps pour que Kadhafi sape la sienne. Saper la légitimité doit donc dépendre de qui on est, de quel degré on est toujours utile pour les uns et les autres, d'où on est situé, et de quels amis on a. Comme Kadhafi était quasi dépourvu des amis, certainement des amis puissants, il a sapé sa légitimité en quelques jours. Il faut dire quand même que tirer sur son peuple avec des armes antiaériennes n'est pas la façon plus subtile de faire en sorte que la confiance et la sécurité règnent dans le pays.

Bashir al-Assad a précisé dans son dernier discours qu'il avait parlé avec des manifestants, et pour lui il y a une différence entre ces derniers et les 'saboteurs'. Mais ses tireurs d'élite ne différentient point entre les manifestants et les 'saboteurs'. Ils ne différentient même pas entre les adultes et les enfants.

La question donc à poser est combien de temps faut-il pour que le monde démocratique arrive à la conclusion que le régime syrien a enfin sapé pour de bon sa légitimité? Car si malgré tout on estime qu'il n'est pas encore là, cela ne devrait pas en principe nécessiter davantage d'assassinats des civils de tous les âges pour que sa légitimité soit bel et bien sapée.

Déjà les ambassadeurs syriens qui soutiennent leur régime auraient du être renvoyés chez eux. Les ambassadeurs européens et américains devraient aussi quitter leurs fonctions en Syrie, s'ils ne l'ont pas fait encore. Déjà les sanctions dures interdisant des visites en Europe et aux Etats Unis de tous les membres du régime syrien auraient du être appliquées. Déjà les comptes européens appartenant au régime auraient du être bloqués.

Si le monde démocratique tient à sa crédibilité, il devrait cesser de continuer à pratiquer ces double standards honteux et incohérents.
D'ailleurs de mettre une pression plus sérieuse, sinon d'aider le peuple syrien, serait aussi une manière d'aider indirectement le peuple iranien. La situation en Syrie pourrait déterminer celle en Iran et même celle en Liban, mais pas si on prétend bêtement et lâchement que le régime syrien n'a pas encore 'sapé sa légitimité'..

La répression qui a duré plus de trois mois a fait 1,332 morts côté civil entraînant plusieurs milliers d'arrestations. Plus de 12,000 réfugiés syriens ont été accueillis par Alep, bastion des autorités d'Ankara en Turquie (24:24 actu. fr)

Text and image © Mirino. June, 2011

The Silver Mirror

The Estrela do Oriente creaked and groaned and as she pitched into the deep, dark vales before the ocean forced her once more to climb to the crests of its mountainous waves. The cries of the boatswain were drowned by the roar of the wind and waves, and the helmsman's hands were numb as he gripped the wheel, his eyes stinging from the salty spray as he fought to keep the ship's bows windward.
Sky and sea were one, and as if possessed by a terrible force. The howling wind rent the last unfurled sails as the ocean pounded the vessel.
Only the captain with the staunchest of his crew fought on, yet they knew that all was lost.

Deep below reigned a dismal calm. The dolphins signalled amongst themselves the fate of the ship. They were following its final course as Delphia had bid them, and were to do what they could to help.

Delphia was a mermaid queen of part the southern seas. Mermaids and mermen were few even then. They were ordained by the Divinities, and their nobility and power were greatly respected by the larger creatures of the seas.
They never aged. Only Tangaroa could reveal their secret.
They knew of the mortals who breathe the air and sail in the wooden ships.

Of these magical beings Delphia was exquisite. She was a perfect queen adored by her loyal subjects. Her courtiers were dolphins, but there were other sea creatures including the largest whales that would heed her call without hesitation.

When the sea seemed in gay humour, the sun beaming down and the wind playing with the waves, Delphia would swim with the dolphins, leap through the surf and sing. Her voice was such that on hearing her all creatures were charmed.

But now the sea was angry. She had no power over such tempests, and no desire to sing.

After the storm, before the moon had risen, the dolphins returned. Delphia then learnt how the ship had broken up on the reef just before The Island of the Sun. The drowned mortals had been given seabed graves.
Delphia would go with the dolphins the following day to see for herself.

Mermaids and mermen never assert their influence beyond their own domains. Should they allow themselves to be seen by any human mortal, they cease to exist. As divine beings, they do not share the sentiments of human mortals, yet there are still untold things of great mystery, power and wonder.

When Delphia found the wreck of the Estrela' she saw the sea-bed graves of the perished mortals. As she looked further, a mysterious light where the sun reflected from the coral bed, attracted her attention. There she found a heavy chest that had broken open spilling its contents.
She had seen such mortal-made things before: various coloured stones, some almost transparent, prettily shaped and set in gold and silver metals, intricate gold coloured chains, and masses of little round pieces of the same metals with signs and images marked on them. But the only object that intrigued and troubled Delphia was a silver hand-mirror that she found half hidden, all by itself, amongst the coral.

When the currents were gentle she would often gaze into the silver mirror, and try to understand what she felt.

Not long after the wreck of the Estrela', the most venerable of her entourage returned with news from The Island of the Sun where the old dolphin had been basking in the lagoon. He had seen a human mortal, alone on the beach.

The Island of the Sun was a narrow, crescent shaped islet. The bay of its crescent faced West. It measured half a league in length and not even a stone's throw wide in some places. It was uninhabited and isolated, many leagues from neighbouring islands and many more from inhabited lands.
Below a range of three hills grew coconut palms and bamboo. There was wild life and a source of fresh water. It was possible to survive there, but with little hope at that time, of ever being found.

Sebastos had sailed as cabin boy. They were eastward bound to lands where the Estrela' would have taken on valuable cargoes of spices and silk. Strange currents had dragged the ship off course and into the violent storm.
He had been sheltering in the foredeck, clinging to the shrouds when the foremast split. He tried to free a shipmate trapped under the fallen mast, but when the vessel struck the reef, he was flung overboard. The currents miraculously carried him into the lagoon, where, although exhausted, he managed to swim to the shore.
When the storm had passed he soon realised that he was the only survivor. During the following days he salvaged all he could from the wreck that might prove useful. Even a case of books had somehow remained undamaged.

When nothing was left of the Estrela' above the reef, Sebastos felt even more lonely. From then on he tried to organise himself as best as he could.
With cane, reeds and mud he made a simple cabin. On the highest hill he hoisted one of the ship's flags. He also kept a fire signal alight for some weeks before abandoning it. He was resourceful and had a healthy respect for life, but the love he had for his family made it difficult for him to accept that he might never see them again.

In time he grew to love his little island. The beautiful flowers and birds were there uniquely for him, it seemed. Yet he was often sad. In the evenings he would sit on the beach and watch the sun set. Bathed in the warm light he would half close his eyes and try to remember.

Delphia often sent her dolphins to the island's lagoon to see how the young man was. This unusual concern grew, as if she seemed aware that the boy was suffering from his loneliness.
On the dolphins' return she would learn from them of how he would sit on the white beach and gaze with such melancholy as the sun set. Delphia had never felt such concern for mortals, and the silver mirror wrought by them bewildered her as if it held some strange secret.
She was aware of the risk, but her disquiet and strange curiosity made her decide to go to see the young man herself. Her dolphins tried to dissuade her but she was determined and unattainable, almost as if she were in another world.

And so, one soft evening when the sky was deep blue, the early stars glittering as though they were within reach and the sun's glowing embers lit the horizon, Delphia swam silently into the lagoon. Carefully from behind a rock she looked towards the beach where she knew the boy would be.

Sebastos didn't see her.
A seagull cried as if insulted by the presence of his forlorn, dishevelled figure. His breeches were tattered, a worn grey coat covered his shoulders, and losely tied about his neck hung a white scarf that was once part of his blouse. The light breeze lifted his dark hair as he sadly gazed at the horizon.

When Delphia saw Sebastos the extraordinary feelings that had so troubled her before, became limpid clear, as still water in the sun. She felt aware and serene.

In her caves she arranged the most beautiful shells and anemones. In her hair she tied sea flowers and ribbons of bright coloured sea plants. She sung delightful songs as she looked, no longer with uncertainty, into the silver mirror.
Her dolphins were happy to see her so contented, yet the change they observed also troubled them. Delphia was so charming however, that they too were enchanted.

That same night, when the moon was full and clear, and its soft light blest her domain, Delphia sang a strange and lovely song. It was a moment of magic, and it seemed that all the creatures of the ocean paused to listen.

And time will bring alliance
Between the Earth and Sea,
As wind doth blow
And currents flow
This will surely be

To this we swear allegiance
As truth is plain to see,
And it will show
Its sweetest glow
For all eternity
From then onwards Delphia would often swim to the lagoon when she knew that Sebastos would be there, on the beach at sunset. She took great care not to be seen and her dolphins grew accustomed to her visits, if not less concerned for her safety. Sometimes she came when she knew Sebastos would not be there, and then she left gifts of beautiful shells and sea flowers.

One evening when Delphia expected to see Sebastos, she waited much longer than usual, but he never came. This vexed her and when she returned to her caves she summoned the dolphins to do what they could to try to find him. This they did, but each day they reported that Sebastos was nowhere to be seen.

Sebastos was not well. For some time he had been more listless than usual, eating with no appetite and going through his daily routines without conviction. Finally he had thrown himself onto his bed resolving to die.
In his delirium he had a dream.
He dreamt that a large, mysterious fish came as the sun sent its last rays across the sea. The fish called to him, promising to take him home.
It was this dream that stirred him from his bed. Weakly he raised himself up, and as if in a trance, he made his way slowly to the beach.

Sensing something was wrong, Delphia had done everything she could to try to help Sebastos. She sent her dolphins to find a ship and signal to the crew to follow them to the island. But when the dolphins eventually found a ship many leagues away, her crew only laughed at their strange antics.
She then ordered a great blue whale to find another vessel and to persuade the crew as gently as possible to steer their ship to the island. But when the whale finally succeeded in finding one, the captain ordered that the cannon be fired, and the whale had to sound.

Each evening during this period Delphia swam to the lagoon.
It was the end of the ninth day when Sebastos came to the beach.
When Delphia saw him her relief and joy were such that she leapt out of the water.
Sebastos hearing this, turned and was astonished by what he saw. Never had he seen anything so beautiful. He thought he was still dreaming, or that his delirium was causing him to have hallucinations. Yet strangely, despite his physical weakness, he felt as if he had been freed. He was fully conscious of his being, as though he was observing himself from far above.
Whatever this wonderful vision had been, it had made him feel whole.
He vowed to never again allow himself to even think of giving up the greatest gift which is life itself.

Delphia was so happy, so blissfully oblivious to her spiritual state. In ecstasy she was elevated, transported through infinite worlds of non-existence, dimensions of time, vacuums of space.
Through rainbows of light and dark, through air and substance, fire and water Delphia was carried weightless and free.
She had made herself visible to a mortal, yet she was wrapped within the warmth, the soft, eternal aura of love.

From that magical evening onwards Sebastos worked with new enthusiasm. He loved to read the leather bound books salvaged from the wreck, so long ago it then seemed. He took more interest in his little island, minutely studying the plant and animal life. He was at peace, in harmony with his little island, and he was content.

In this way he lived his secluded but long and fulfilled life. He had companionship from many animals that no longer feared him. As he aged his hair and beard became white silver, and he carried a long staff wherever he went. He seemed able to talk to birds and charm all kinds of fish. Wisdom and goodness emanated from him.

And as the sun sets gently after a fine day, heralding the secret world of night, so can it sometimes be with life.
The evening when Sebastos wearily but thankfully lowered himself onto his old cane bed for the last time, he dreamt once more that strange dream of the beautiful, mysterious fish.
She called to him, promising to take him home.
He was a young man and he walked with light step to the beach.
The soft breeze played with his dark hair.

Delphia swam into the lagoon beneath the deep blue sky lit by many stars. She called softly to Sebastos who turned and smiled. Gently Delphia took his hand and together, in perfect harmony they left.

And far above shining like a silver mirror, a star was born within a lovely aureole that would last for ever.


The Silver Mirror, was another of those written quite a long time ago, just after the Rainbow series. 
It was also written for the author's amusement, as well as for children (which in certain ways we all still are, or perhaps should be). Like the others it was never published. It would probably have also been judged non-conform to the established children's book requirements.
Yet he once told the story to a little French girl of eight or nine years old. When he came to the end, he was moved to see that her eyes were full of tears.
Although the story might be judged a bit too 'sweet', and maybe long winded in parts, there is at least one little girl for whom it apparently meant something. So let's dedicate The Silver Mirror to her.

Text and illustrations © Mirino (PW) June, 2011

John Lyly

As a writer of his time, John Lyly (1554-1606) apparently knew what would please the educated public and wrote it. After obtaining his A.M. degree at Oxford, he left for London and almost immediately became famous after the publication of Euphues (1578).
The eminence of his grandfather, William Lily, the author of standard Latin grammar that was then used in most schools, would also have helped, but John Lyly's elaborate and artificial style was bound to be appreciated by the Elizabethan court whose members delighted in such so called wit and all the possible artifices of language.
That it didn't last, wasn't surprising, and was perhaps just as well.

Today there are still many admirers of John Lyly's euphuistic style, certainly regarding his Six Court Comedies, of which Endymion (the Man in the Moon) is particularly appreciated.

Lyly was patronised by Lord Burleigh, Elizabeth's lord treasurer. He wrote plays and acted at court, (the Children's companies) and served quite a few times as a member of Parliament.

The prose style is called 'Euphuism' (not to be confused with euphemism). It consists of elaborate sentence structure based on parallels from ancient citations and is decorated with proverbs, poetry, historical references and similes founded on pseudo-science from Pliny and taken from other sources including his own imagination.

The title Euphues, is Greek for 'graceful, witty'. The subtitle, Anatomy of Wit, might mean 'analysis of the mental faculties'. But it could hardly be either if 'anatomy' is the essential, underlying frame, and 'analysis', must explore in depth far beyond such superficial devices.

Shakespeare gives his Falstaff this pseudo wit, in 1 Henry IV . Falstaff parades euphuistically when he pretends to be the king disciplining his son, Prince Hal. (2.4.317-334).

After reading three pages of Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit, one has the vague impression of drowning, still clutching at the underlying theme, in Lyly's seemingly endless depth of affected, embellishment. Here's an example:

'(...). Here he wanted no companions which courted him continually with sundry kinds of devices, whereby they might either soak his purse to reap commodity, or sooth his person to win credit, for he had guests and companions of all sorts. There frequented to this lodging and mansion house as well the spider to suck  poison of his fine wit, as the bee to gather honey, as well the drone as the dove, the fox as the lamb, as well Damocles to betray him as Damon¹ to be true to him : Yet he behaved himself so warily, that he singled his game wisely. He could easily discern Apollo's music, from Pan his pipe, and Venus's beauty from Juno's bravery,² and the faith of Laelius,³ from the flattery of Aristippus, he welcomed all, but trusted none, he was merry but yet so wary, that neither the flatterer could take advantage to entrap him in his talk, nor the wisest any assurance of his friendship : who being demanded of one what countryman he was, he answered, "What countryman am I not? if I be in Crete, I can lie, if in Greece I can shift, if in Italy I can court it: if thou ask whose son I am also, I ask thee whose son I am not. I can carouse with Alexander, abstain with Romulus, eat with the Epicure, fast with the Stoic, sleep with Endymion, watch with Chrysippus,"¹ using these speeches and other like. An old gentleman in Naples seeing his pregnant wit, his eloquent tongue somewhat taunting, yet with delight, his mirth without measure, yet not without wit, his sayings vainglorious, yet pithy, began to bewail his nurture: and to muse at his nature, being incensed against the one as most pernicious, and enflamed with the other as most precious: for he well knew that so rare a wit would in time either breed an intolerable trouble, or bring an incomparable treasure to the common weal : at the one he greatly pitied, at the other he rejoiced.

° The flatterer of Dionysius, who arranged for him a great banquet, but had him seated with a sword hung by a single hair above his head, to stress the danger of eminence.
¹ The friend of Pythias, so true to him that he offered himself as his substitute to be executed.
² 'Bravery'- splendid aspect.
³ Faithful friend of Scipio Africanus the younger, from Cicero's treasury on friendship.
° The Cretians once had a reputation as liars. 'Shift' regarding the Greeks refers to what it was then believed to be their practice, to live by deceit. 'Court it' refers to the Italians courtly manner.
¹ Romulus was founder and first king of Rome. The legend has it that he was saved and suckled with his brother Remus, by a she-wolf. He became the symbol of abstinence. The Epicureans, followers of Epicurus, reputedly cared for nothing other than pleasure. The Stoics priority was duty. According to  the Greek legend, Endymion was renowned for his beauty and his eternal sleep on Mt. Latmus. There the moon goddess fell in love with him. Chrysippus was a famous Stoic philosopher, so intent on study that he hardly ever slept. 


Despite Lyly's affected style, (which many still regard, and perhaps rightly so, as genial) it might be interesting to compare him as an example of a 16th century Oxford graduate, also likely favoured because of his grand-father's reputation, who leaves university to become an instant success; with Shakespeare. Shakespeare was virtually an autodidact, but the difference between the two has little
to do with education.
Lyly was a well educated and favoured writer, certainly of his time. Shakespeare was a true genius, playwright, poet and artist of all time.
Text © Mirino. Source- The Norton Anthology English Literature, with thanks. June, 2011

Humour Chiraquien

On pourrait se demander comment Monsieur Chirac a pu remplir
deux tomes de ses mémoires, étant donné que son bilan a été autant dépourvu de vagues. Mais le non engagement entraîne toujours son propre engagement, donc si une partie de ses souvenirs raconte comment il a gagné à la belote contre Saddam Hussein, c'est déjà un fait historique relatif..

Dernièrement cependant, son allusion à Nicolas Sarkozy dans son deuxième tome de mémoires semble révéler aussi bien de tacites tendances politiques véritables, qu'un manque de fidélité envers son propre camp, et de respect pour le Président actuel. Ses déclarations récentes qu'il qualifie de 'humour corrézien', en guise de soutien pour
le candidat François Hollande, qu'elles soient d'abord sincères ou non, n'arrangent rien non plus.

En tout cas un ancien Président toujours doté d'un esprit sain sait pertinemment à quel point c'est incorrect, non éthique, et en somme une trahison nationale de critiquer un Président, et dans ce cas son successeur, toujours en fonction.

De telles bourdes venant d'un ancien Président ne peuvent pas être prises trop à la légère. Assumant qu'il a toujours des conseillers, et certainement un éditeur, sans parler de sa propre famille, il n'y a pas d'excuses.

On ne peut donc que conclure que vue l'apparent effet du passage des années, ou des conséquences liées à sa santé, l'ex Président a été encouragé, donc utilisé, à faire de telles observations à cette période critique à moins d'une année des présidentielles.
Comme déjà écrit, il y a toujours ceux qui pensent 'n'importe qui plutôt que de subir encore une fois Sarkozy'. Cette réflexion désinvolte est même devenue assez courante. Parmi ce monde il existe même des 'nostalgiques', ceux pour qui le 'ni ni', le 'juste milieu' politique, ou impolitique, pratiqué par Chirac et d'autres avant lui, appartient au 'bon vieux temps' français. Le temps où l'on n'a qu'à faire la grève pour obtenir ce que l'on veut. Alors de telles allusions venant de Chirac à l'égard de Nicolas Sarkozy pourraient quand même semer un peu de trouble au sein de la majorité.

Si Chirac, malgré l'effet d'âge, etc., se réjouissait au fond de pouvoir ajouter de telles observations inutiles, et inexactes à propos du Président, c'est aussi parce qu'il retient toujours des sentiments négatifs, et peut-être autant que Dominique de Villepin, à l'égard de Sarkozy.

Mais tous les deux ont toujours 'raisonné à tort' à propos de ce dernier. La volonté du Président n'a jamais été fondée sur le genre d'ambition personnelle qu'ils semblent imaginer. Si cela a été le cas Sarkozy aurait été plutôt populiste. Pour assurer sa ré-élection il aurait été prêt à faire davantage de compromis, aussi, bien entendu, avec les syndicats.
On l'avait déjà affirmé. Pour lui il n'y avait jamais eu question de gagner un concours de sondages.  Son ambition est limitée à ce qu'il est convaincu être de son devoir, et ce qui est juste et bien pour la France, et par extension pour le monde entier.
Il est motivé purement par ses convictions sincères, et il en assume totalement la responsabilité et les conséquences.

Malgré l'opinion de Monsieur Chirac, qui manifestement devrait être surveillé de plus près dorénavant, il n'y a personne actuellement sur la scène politique française qui a autant de convictions, avec autant de détermination et de courage pour les appliquer, que le Président actuel.

On n'entend que des mots, des phrases toutes faites et souvent vides, de l'opposition, mais évidemment les actes et les engagements parlent beaucoup plus fort.

Si on n'est pas d'accord avec cette opinion, alors que l'on présente son point de vue- pour que l'on puisse entamer un échange plus intéressant et constructif (espérons) que des observations irrespectueuses, inutiles et mal fondées.

Text and dessin © Mirino. June, 2011

Scottish myths 4

   The Soutar of Selkirk

There was a soutar, or cobblar, who lived in Selkirk (Borders, Selkirkshire). He was such a dedicated shoemaker that he always started work each day before dawn.

One grey and misty morning a cloaked and hooded man walked into his workshop. Without uttering a word he looked at the shoes displayed, selected one of the best pair and tried it on. It fitted perfectly so the mysterious stranger offered to pay for it in gold. Curiously he said he would return the following morning before the break of day to buy the other shoe.

There was something about the stranger that made the soutar feel very uneasy, but his gold coins were sound enough, even though the shoemaker was disgusted when he saw that there were also worms in the man's moldy, old purse.

True to his word however, the stranger return the next day and purchased the second shoe.
The soutar rubbed the gold coins on his apron, inspected them, then closely observed the man leave the workshop and fade into the morning mist. Intrigued, he decided to follow him.
The stranger went straight to the local graveyard, and there he suddenly seemed to disappear into an unmarked grave.

The soutar later told the tale to a group of neighbours, but they didn't believe him. Determined to prove it was true and that he wasn't suffering from hallucinations, he persuaded them to come with him to the graveyard to find the unmarked grave, and help him to dig down to the corpse, which they reluctantly did. There, incredibly, they found the cadaver wearing the brand new shoes.
Before replacing the earth, the soutar decided that a dead man has no need of new shoes, so he carefully removed them. On return to his workshop he cleaned and re-polished them.

Very early the next morning, before the cock crowed, the soutar's wife was awakened by a terrible scream that came from her husband's workshop. She ran down to find some of his tools scattered on the workshop floor, but there was no trace of her husband.

When the neighbours learnt of this, it made them wonder. Having already seen the proof of what they were previously certain was impossible, they decided to go to the graveyard and open the grave once more. This they did, and they discovered with horror that the corpse was not only wearing the new shoes again, he also had the soutar's night-cap in his hand.
But the soutar was never seen or heard of ever again.
Scottish myths 5
Scottish myths 3

Illustration and retelling © Mirino, The Soutar of Selkirk from various sources 
including Scotland, Myths and Legends (Beryl Beare) with thanks.


Born in Stratford-on-Avon in April, 1564, William Shakespeare was the son of a distinguished citizen who was to become an alderman and bailiff, although he later had to contend with financial difficulties.

It's presumed that Shakespeare attended Stratford Grammar School. He could have studied Latin there, but he never continued his studies as might be supposed, in Oxford or Cambridge.
As an autodidact, no doubt he knew that one's studies never end on being awarded diplomas, and on donning mitres and gowns.
Time's scythe has its physical effect, but no effect whatsoever otherwise in Shakespeare's case. He himself was generally confident that his work would always be beyond Time's reach.

The only established record of Shakespeare's early life since his christening, is of his marriage to Anne Hathoway in 1582. In 1583 a daughter was born, and in 1585 twins were born, a boy and a girl.

Again there are no known records of his life from then on until 1592 when he was acting in London, and by then already known as a playwright. Robert Greene alludes to him scornfully, which soon would have been much more to his own discredit than to Shakespeare's.*
He had a long and productive association with 'The Lord Chamberlain's Men', who later, under James, were to become 'The King's Men'. He was by then not only the leading playwright and shareholder, but also a contributing actor. 

Already by 1597 Shakespeare was prosperous enough to buy 'New Place', a fine house in Stratford. The previous year his father had been granted a coat of arms. Shakespeare was by then a gentlemen in all respects.

Of his work as a playwright, in Francis Mere's Palladis Tamia: Wit's Treasury (1598) he writes "As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy among the Latins, so Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage." He goes on by listing several examples of Shakespeare's tragedies and comedies.

Shakespeare apparently retired in 1610, to Stratford where he continued to write: The Tempest, and Henry VIII, the latter in collaboration with another playwright. This period also included the works of Cymbeline and The Winter's Tale.

When he died at the age of 52, six years later, there was still no collected edition of his plays available for publication. There were only some unedited 'quartos' from manuscripts or prompt books, or from pirated texts written from shorthand or from memory of plays.
John Heminges and Henry Condell, members of the Shakespeare company, finally brought together and published the complete collection of plays considered authentic in the 'First Folio'. They took great care that the best texts they had be printed and published.

In the 'First Folio' is also document written by Shakespeare's greatest rival and critic, Ben Jonson.

   Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show
To whom all scenes of Europe owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time!

Perhaps this was the first and finest tribute that Shakespeare could ever have wished for, but no doubt it has been sweetly echoed throughout the centuries by millions of people of all nationalities, who in homage to Shakespeare's genius and timeless opera magna, continue to laugh, smile, shed a tear, and dream.

*In 'A groatsworth of wit', Roberte Greene refers to Shakespears as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, being an absolute Johannes Factotum, (Jack of all trades, master of none) is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in the country."

The following sonnet N° 94 may not be as well known as others, but in today's world where tyranny still defiles humanity, it seems particularly appropriate.

They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show°        °seem to do
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmovèd, cold, and to temptation slow;
They rightly do inherit heaven's graces
And husband nature's riches from expense;°         °they don't waste nature's gifts
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weeds outbraves° his dignity :                °surpasses
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.°     °line from Edward III (2.1.451)

References to The Taming of the Shrew
                                                King Lear
                      Sonnet N° 18 and parody
Biography text © Mirino. Source- The Norton Anthology English Literature, with many thanks. The 'Chandos portrait', painted from life perhaps by John Taylor in 1610 (National Portrait Gallery, London). Image and signature from Wikipedia Commons. (Image modified by Mirino). With grateful thanks. June, 2011.

Hubrarb in disorder

A strange disorder of the mind
 Kippers with cloves are hard to find :
A lawn about to be well mown
In neat lanes of divisiòn :
  Herring and plaice swim there, and here
The former red, like Irish beer :
A playful cuff, which begs reply
 That rivers flow, one can't deny :
 And tidal waves (whilst one writes notes)
 To tempests that chastise the boats :
                    A careless stranger whose bow-tie                    
               I see is like a dragonfly :              
Do inspire madness more than art
 And wanton thoughts of hurbarb tart. 
 With apologies to Robert Herrick (Delight in Disorder)
The neglected lover
Parody and image © Mirino. June, 2011



Bachar el-Assad doit être bien naïf s'il pensait que le peuple syrien allait gober son 'amnistie'. Et ceci peu de temps après que le corps tuméfié du jeune Hamza al-Khatib de 13 ans a été rendu à sa famille, après un mois de détention et de torture affreuse.

Naturellement Hamza devient l'icône de la révolution. "Nous sommes tous des Hamza al-Khatib".  (FB en anglais).

Il a été arrêté le 29 avril à Deraa par les services de sécurité syriens. Son crime- d'avoir chanté avec d'autres manifestants quelques paroles contre le régime.
Le 27 mai, un mois plus tard, on contacte sa mère pour lui demander de venir chercher le corps.

L'état du corps montre clairement le traitement abominable que le jeune garçon a subi. Une vidéo sur Youtube montre la violence: visage tuméfié, violacé, son corps marqué partout par des brûlures de cigarettes et des traces de balles tirées à bout portant. Il avait aussi le coup cassé. Avant de le tuer ils ont même coupé son sexe.

Bachar el-Assad fait semblant d'ouvrir une enquête, mais la télévision pro-régime Al Dunia a montré une entrevue avec le Dr. Akram al-Shaar, de l'hôpital militaire Tishreen, à Damas. Le Docteur déclare avoir supervisé l'autopsie de Hamza et qu'il n'y avait 'aucune trace' de torture. Selon lui l'état du cadavre serait causé par la longue période d'attente entre le décès et le tournage de la vidéo, faite juste avant que le corps ne soit restitué à la famille.
Mais la question évidente à lui poser aurait été alors- si c'était le cas pourquoi avoir tant attendu avant de rendre disponible le corps du jeune garçon à sa famille?

Si Assad veut montrer ce qui reste de sa 'bonne foi', il pourrait commencer par arrêter ce Docteur Akram al-Shaar qui- soit doit être totalement incompétent, soit doit avoir un problème sérieux de vue.

Manifestement Assad vit totalement dans le passé. Il ne se rend pas compte de la puissance de la communication. Il imagine qu'il peut continuer à faire semblant, ou comme il veut, et que le monde l'acceptera sans poser des questions. Mais le monde est bien informé, aussi par le peuple syrien même. Internet, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc., sont les armes bien plus efficaces que les armes lourdes de l'armée et les carabines des tireurs d'élites syriens.

Pour essayer de contrer la communication d'information anti-régime, on recourt aux tactiques diaboliques. Feraient-elles donc partie de 'l'enquête d'Assad'?
Le père d'Hamza a été arrêté par la police secrète. Selon son épouse il doit accuser publiquement les salafistes pour avoir torturé et tué son fils. Assad, qui a constamment besoin de boucs émissaires afin d'essayer de se cacher derrière les mensonges, avait toujours accusé ces derniers pour l'incitation les soulèvements syriens.
(Et le silence de l'ONU à l'égard du comportement du régime syrien est assourdissant).

Text by Mirino. Source- Le Figaro, with thanks. Images from Facebook. June 3rd, 2011

Scottish myths 3


Robert Burns (1759-1796) the Bard of Ayshire, national poet of Scotland and Internationally celebrated, was born in Alloway, South Ayrshire. He was the eldest of seven children. The cottage where he was born was built by his father, a self educated farmer. The cottage is now the 'Burns Cottage Museum'.
His father, William, sold the cottage and rented a 70 acre farm where 'Rabbie' grew up. The family was poor and the work was hard. The ploughing and manual labour physically effected Robert who stooped at an early age and suffered from a weak constitution.
He was partly educated by his father, partly by a John Murdoch who taught Latin, French and mathematics up until 1768 when Murdoch left Alloway. Burns resumed his education at home before being sent to Dalrymple Parish School for the summer of 1772. Then he had to return for the harvest as a full time farm labourer until 1773, after which he studied with Murdoch for only three weeks of grammar, French and Latin.

In 1774, he was only 15 years old, yet he was still labouring the Mount Oliphant farm. At about this time he started writing his first poetry and songs. In 1775 he completed his education care of a tutor at Kirkoswald.

His life was turbulent and he was not a fortunate farmer, but he had many love affairs, which also caused him many problems.
He accepted a job as a slave trade accountant in Jamaica, which inspired him some years later to write The Slave's Lament. But he never obtained the necessary funds to actually go to Jamaica, which, considering his personal views, was perhaps just as well.

Ironically when his professional situation improved and his writing began to be more widely appreciated, his health started to fail. His views favouring the French revolution, also lost him friends. He was only 37 years old when he finally died in Dumfries.

Robert Burns was an accomplished poet and lyricist in English as well as Scottish. One of his best  poems was Tam o'Shanter in which there are some magnificent lines. No doubt the poem was based on a Scottish legend.

As a resumé, one stormy night Tam o' Shanter has the misfortune of interrupting a witches' dancing spree in the Church graveyard of Alloway. They were waking the dead with their dancing to the eerie strains of horn and bagpipes. When Tam, bewitched himself, foolishly bellows out his appraisal, they scream and fly after him. Although terrified, Tam manages to remount his old grey mare Maggie, and ride for his life.
There was one witch he called 'Cutty Sark' (short shirt). She being the most rapid of them all, manages to catch up with Tam just as he is about to reach the river Doon bridge. She catches the mare's tail but the water of the Doon prevents her from continuing, and the old mare Maggie, although then tailless, manages to carry her master across the bridge to safety.
Here's the entire poem in its Scottish dialect. 
For the translation click here.

The Brig' o' Doon (by Brian McDonnel)

Tam o'Shanter

When chapmen billies° leave the street,        °peddlars
And drouthy neibors, neibors meet,

As market days are wearing late,

An' folk begin to tak the gate; 

While we sit bousing at the nappy,°                °drinking-ale

And getting fou and unco happy,

We think na on the lang Scots miles,

The mosses, waters, slaps,° and styles,           °gaps
That lie between us and our hame,

Where sits our sulky sullen dame.

Gathering her brows like gathering storm,

Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

This truth fand honest Tam o' Shanter, 
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter, 

(Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses 
For honest men and bonie lasses.)

O Tam! had'st thou but been sae wise, 

As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice! 

She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,°         °rogue
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;°     °babbler
That frae November till October, 

Ae market-day thou was nae sober; 

That ilka melder,° wi' the miller,                      °corn-grinder
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;°                 °silver (money)
That every naig was ca'd a shoe on,°                °every horse was shod
The smith and thee gat roaring fou on; 

That at the Lord's house, even on Sunday, 

Thou drank wi' Kirkton Jean till Monday. 

She prophesied that late or soon, 

Thou would be found deep drown'd in Doon; 
Or catch'd wi' warlocks° in the mirk,               °male witches
By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.

Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,°                °makes me weep
To think how mony counsels sweet, 

How mony lengthen'd, sage advices, 

The husband frae the wife despises!

But to our tale:- Ae market-night, 

Tam had got planted unco right; 

Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,°                    °a blazing hearth
Wi' reaming swats,° that drank divinely         °foaming tankards
And at his elbow, Souter Johnny, 

His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony; 

Tam lo'ed him like a vera brither;°                   °brother
They had been fou for weeks thegither! 

The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter 
And ay the ale was growing better: 

The landlady and Tam grew gracious,

Wi' favours secret, sweet and precious

The Souter tauld his queerest stories; 

The landlord's laugh was ready chorus: 

The storm without might rair and rustle, 

Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.

Care, mad to see a man sae happy, 

E'en drown'd himsel' amang the nappy! 

As bees flee hame wi' lades° o' treasure,            °loads
The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure: 
Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious. 

O'er a' the ills o' life victorious!

But pleasures are like poppies spread, 

You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed; 

Or like the snow falls in the river, 
A moment white- then melts for ever; 

Or like the borealis race, 

That flit ere you can point their place; 
Or like the rainbow's lovely form 

Evanishing amid the storm. 
Nae man can tether time or tide; 

The hour approaches Tam maun ride; 

That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane, 

That dreary hour he mounts his beast in; 

And sic a night he taks the road in 

As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.

The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last; 

The rattling showers rose on the blast; 
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd 

Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd: 

That night, a child might understand, 

The Deil° had business on his hand.                °devil

Weel mounted on his gray mare, 
A better never lifted leg- 

Tam skelpit° on thro' dub° and mire;               °splashed  °puddle
Despisin' wind and rain and fire. 

Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet; 

Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet; 

Whiles glowring round wi' prudent cares, 

Lest bogles° catch him unawares;                    °goblins
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Whare ghaists and houlets° nightly cry.          °ghosts and owls

By this time he was cross the ford, 

Whare, in the snaw, the chapman smoor'd;°   °smothered
And past the birks and meikle stane,°               °the large stone
Whare drunken Chairlie brak 's neck-bane; 
And thro' the whins, and by the cairn,°       °through the brush by the stone pile
Whare hunters fand the murder'd bairn; 

And near the thorn, aboon the well, 

Whare Mungo's mither hang'd hersel'.- 

Before him Doon pours all his floods; 

The doubling storm roars thro' the woods; 

The lightnings flash from pole to pole; 

Near and more near the thunders roll: 

When, glimmering thro' the groaning trees, 
Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze; 

Thro' ilka bore° the beams were glancing;     °every chink
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! 

What dangers thou canst make us scorn! 

Wi' tippeny,° we fear nae evil;                         °twopenny ale
Wi' usquabae,° we'll face the devil!                 °whisky
The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle, 

Fair play, he car'd na deils a boddle.°             °cared not a copper
But Maggie stood, right sair astonish'd, 

Till, by the heel and hand admonish'd, 

She ventured forward on the light; 

And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight
Warlocks and witches in a dance; 
Nae cotillion brent-new frae France, 

But hornpipes, jigs strathspeys, and reels, 

Put life and mettle in their heels. 

A winnock-bunker° in the east,                    °window-seat
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast; 

A towzie tyke,° black, grim, and large,         °shaggy cur
To gie them music was his charge: 

He scre'd the pipes and gart them skirl,°     °made the bagpipes squeal
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl.°-                     °rattle
Coffins stood round, like open presses, 

That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses; 

And by some devilish cantrip° slight,            °magic
Each in its cauld hand held a light.- 

By which heroic Tam was able 

To note upon the haly table, 

A murders's banes in gibbet-airns;°              °gallows-irons
Twa span-lang, wee, unchristen'd bairns; 

A thief, new-cutted frae a rape,°                     °rope
Wi' his last gasp his gab° did gape;                °mouth
Five tomahawks, wi blude red-rusted; 

Five scymitars, wi' murder crusted; 
A garter, which a babe had strangled; 

A knife, a father's throat had mangled, 

Whom his ain son o' life bereft, 

The gray hairs yet stack to the heft;

Wi' mair o' horrible and awfu', 

Which even to name was be unlawfu'. 

Three lawyers' tongues, turn'd inside out, 

Wi' lies seam'd like a beggar's clout; 

Three priests' hearts, rotten, black as muck, 

Lay stinking, vile in every neuk.
As Tammie glowr'd, amaz'd, and curious, 

The mirth and fun grew fast and furious; 

The piper loud and louder blew; 

The dancers quick and quicker flew; 

They reel'd, they set, they cross'd, they cleekit,°     °joined hands
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,°                        °till every hag sweated and reeked
And coost her duddies to the wark,°                 °cast off her clothes frantically
And linket at it in her sark!°                               °danced in her shirt

Now Tam, O Tam! had thae been queans, 

A' plump and strapping in their teens, 

Their sarks, instead o' creeshie flannen, 

Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linnen! 

Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair, 

That ance were plush, o' gude blue hair, 

I wad hae gi'en them off my hurdies, 
For ae blink o' the bonie burdies!
But wither'd beldams, auld and droll, 

Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal,

Louping and flinging on a crummock,
I wonder did na turn thy stomach!
But Tam kend what was what fu' brawlie:°          °fine
There was ae winsome wench and waulie,°         °jolly
That night enlisted in the core,°                             °company
Lang after ken'd on Carrick shore; 

(For mony a beast to dead she shot, 

And perish'd mony a bonie boat, 
And shook baith meikle corn and bear, 

And kept the country-side in fear.) 
Her cutty-sark, o' Paisley harn°                           °short shirt of linen
That while a lassie she had worn, 

In longitude tho' sorely scanty, 

It was her best, and she was vauntie,°                °vain, proud of it
Ah! little ken'd thy reverend grannie, 

That sark she coft° for her wee Nannie,             °bought
Wi' twa pund Scots, ('twas a' her riches), 

Wad ever grac'd a dance of witches!

But here my Muse her wing maun cour; 

Sic flights are far beyond her pow'r; 

To sing how Nannie lap and flang, 

(A souple jade she was, and strang), 

And how Tam stood, like ane bewitch'd, 

And thought his very een enrich'd; 

Even Satan glowr'd, and fidg'd fu' fain,°            °fidgeted eagerly
And hotch'd° and blew wi' might and main;     °squirmed
Till first ae caper, syne anither, 

Tam tint° his reason a' thegither,                        °lost
And roars out, "Weel done, Cutty-sark!" 

And in an instant all was dark: 

And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, 

When out the hellish legion sallied.

As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke,°                        °fuss
When plundering herds assail their byke;°      °hive
As open pussie's° mortal foes,                            °the hare's
When, pop! she starts before their nose; 

As eager runs the market-crowd, 

When "Catch the thief!" resounds aloud; 

So Maggie runs, the witches follow, 

Wi' mony an eldritch° skriech and hollo.         °unearthly

Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou'll get thy fairin'!°       °reward
In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin'! 

In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin'! 

Kate soon will be a woefu' woman! 

Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg, 

And win the key-stane o' the brig;°                   °bridge
There at them thou thy tail may toss, 

A running stream they dare na cross. 

But ere the key-stane she could make, 

The fient a tail she had to shake! 
For Nannie, far before the rest, 

Hard upon noble Maggie prest, 

And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle;°                    °intent
But little wist she Maggie's mettle- 

Ae spring brought off her master hale, 

But left behind her ain gray tail; 

The carlin claught her by the rump, 
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother's son take heed; 

Whene'er to drink you are inclin'd, 

Or cutty-sarks run in your mind, 

Think! ye may buy joys o'er dear- 

Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare.

                                                        Scottish myths 4                                                        
Scottish myths 2
Intro text © Mirino. Photo of The Brig' O' Doon by Brian McDonnell, with thanks. Other images by unknown artists. Sources- Collins Albatross book of verse, Wikipedia, with thanks. June, 2011

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
 A noble horse-guard, one of the king's men,
Urgently contacted old Mother Hen.

Humpty's mother was quite surprised,
She clucked- 'my son had been advised,
But as eggs go he had always been queer
     And wont to wear the most outrageous gear'.   

The Rooster said, 'he wouldn't hatch,
He was the odd one of the batch'.
Despite all the cock's paternal power,
Humpty preferred to be a wall-flower.

Thus Humpty sat on Humpty's wall
                      Which sadly led to Humpty's fall.                      
 A less futile fate he could well have met,
  Either, fried, or poached, or as an omelette.

The earliest version of the nursery rhyme of Humpty Dumpty was published in 1803, a manuscript addition to 'Mother Goose's Melody. There are other theories and references regarding his origin here.

For the Rainbow alphabet doggerel, please go here
  Image and parody © Mirino, June, 2011