Friday 24 October 2008


So shipwracked passengers escape to land,
So look they, when on the bare beach they stand,
Dropping and cold, and their first fear scarce o'er,
Expecting famine on a desert shore.
From that hard climate we must wait for bread,
Whence even the natives, forced by hunger, fled.
Our stage does human chance present to view,
But ne'er before was seen so sadly true :
You are changed too, and your pretence to see
Is but a nobler name for charity.
John Dryden, after the 1671 fire destroyed Drury Lane

I am returned from the storming of my fury and from disappointed exile. That fury being self-directed, for the sea is not so large but I am a bigger fool by far, an oceanic idiot, for having thought myself immune (at my age, after all!) to flattery and honeyed phrases, that others call love - Plato's rem amaram, a bitter potion, an agony, a plague.

Eripite hanc pestem perniciemque mihi,
Quas mihi subrepens imos, ut torpor, in artus,
Expulit ex omni pectore lastitias.

   O take away this plague, this mischief from me,
   Which as a numbness over all my body,
   Expels my joys, and makes my soul so heavy.

Transported by such pernicious and dubious joys, I forgot myself and all I have learned, and so my suffering began, and I navigated as blind as a beetle, until I went down with all hands.

Enough. I do not care to flog my idiocy in the market. Preferable far to make amends to you whom I have slighted and missed for so long, and start wand'ring again in the smile of sober amity. I steer my humbled craft in your direction and look toward your gentle admonishments.