angels literature quotations

Gutenberg 2

The first thing I ever downloaded from Gutenberg (see first paragraph of this earlier post for brief introduction) was, I believe, Letters of George Borrow to the British & Foreign Bible Society. Probably because I was reading a bit of Borrow at the time. I have read all of his books (not his translations) several times and they hold a certain fascination for me. Links to all of them on Gutenberg are at the end of this post. Personally I think Lavengro and Romany Rye should always be published together as they are basically one story. Wild Wales is a wonderful evocation of many of the outstanding bards of that land. My personal favourite is Dafyyd ap Gwilym, but then I hardly know any of the rest so what do I etc… The Bible in Spain though probably tells the tale of the most outlandish adventures where ever a guardian angel guarded a soldier of the cross. Some additions to this work can be found in The Zincali.

Anyway getting back to the letters – I still haven’t read them through in their entirety but this selection from an early letter relates to an incident that happened during a voyage at sea between England (presumably) and Portugal in the autumn of 1835. Here I quote,

On the morning of the tenth we found
ourselves about two leagues from the coast of Galicia, whose lofty
mountains gilded by the rising sun presented a magnificent appearance.
We soon passed Cape Finisterre, and standing farther out to sea speedily
lost sight of land. On the morning of the eleventh the sea was very
rough, and a most remarkable circumstance occurred. I was on the
forecastle, discoursing with two of the sailors, [and] one of them who
had just left his hammock told me that he had had a most disagreeable
dream, for, said he, pointing up to the mast, ‘I dreamt that I fell into
the sea from off the cross-trees.’ He was heard to say this by several
of the crew besides myself. A moment after, the captain of the vessel,
perceiving that the squall was increasing, ordered the topsails to be
taken in, whereupon this man with several others instantly ran up aloft.
The yard was presently loosened, and in the act of being hauled down,
when a violent gust of wind whirled it round with violence, and a man was
struck down from the cross-trees into the sea, which was raging and
tumbling below. In a few moments he emerged, and I saw his head
distinctly on the crest of a wave, and I recognised in the unfortunate
man the sailor who shortly before had been relating his dream. I shall
never forget the look of agony he cast us whilst the ship hurried past
him. The alarm was given, and in a moment everything was in confusion.
It was at least two minutes before the vessel was stopped, and the man
was left a considerable way behind, but I still kept my eye upon him, and
could perceive that he was struggling gallantly with the waves. A boat
was at length lowered, but the rudder unfortunately was not at hand, and
only two oars could be procured, with which the men who manned her could
make but little progress in the tremendous sea; however, they did their
best, and had arrived within ten yards of the man who had continued
struggling for his life, when I lost sight of him, and the men on their
return said that they saw him below the waters at glimpses, sinking
deeper and deeper, his arms stretched out and his body to all appearance
stiff, but they found it impossible to save him. Presently afterwards
the sea, as if satisfied with the prey it had received, became
comparatively calm, and the squall subsided. The poor fellow who was
drowned in this singular manner was a fine young man, twenty-seven years
of age, the only son of a widowed mother. He was the best sailor on
board, and beloved by every one who was acquainted with him. The event
occurred on the 11th of November 1835, the vessel was the ‘London
Merchant’ Steamship, commanded by Captain Whittingham. Wonderful indeed
are the ways of Providence.

If this story has anything to teach us surely it is that if you have a similar dream do not believe it is cowardice to refuse to go aloft when duty has called. It is a curious account and one that could prove to be a puzzle for a little while longer.

Maybe death is some sort of freedom, or an escaping from, an enlarged cavity…

The last book on the list is called Isopel Berners. I think though I have not delved exhaustingly that this is a selection from Lavengro and possibly from Romany Rye also. Whatever Isopel Berners is in my opinion the greatest female character of British Literature. Better than anything by Wells or Shaw. Ok the greatest female character of British Literature since some of Shakespeare’s heroines.

Incidentally I have given no link to any Borrow websites, not even Wikipedia, because I feel none are worthy to be linked to. Poor show.

FInally, for no particular reason, here is a song of mine which is called Wound. This is the as,hem,syrup version of the song.


Works by Borrow.

Wild Wales
Romany Rye
The Bible In Spain
The Zincali
Isopel Berners

nonsense prose

Fool’s Gold Part 2

What are you writing?

An insoluble dilemma? Not quite. You see you are looking at it from the layman’s point of view. Your vision is restricted if you don’t mind me saying so.

Calamity’s hardly the word.

He flavoured distractedly towards the flickering coppice, grimly clutching the vertebrae of a small animal he had recently done away with. The writing here pangs towards the unexpected. It is what J.P.Mincripust has termed the indolent charge of a blind mammoth and who are we to gainsay him?

Ask me, please. I’ve been waiting a long time for this chance.

Once you’re in the air it is imperative that you keep a close eye on the temperature gauge. The target will appear at approximately 63.20 hours bicuspid.

Hola well. A Murphy if ever. Trap now. Be clever. Sap me sideways, gusset. Inner cloting, muddy inner. Sack me soppet and crarber me uppy.

How depressing…

Sane juice?

Be more precise.


At Shrovetide. There had been floods, at least half a dozen, all the villagers were worn out. They had toiled long wet weeks in their wellies. Their tragic fate was inscribed on the minds of all who passed through on the railway – when there were trains running, that is.

I’ve shoveled up the ground. Now it’s your turn to look for the bones.

Easy, easy there. Don’t treat a horse like that sonny. You’ve got to be more, how shall I put it, baroque? Is that the word I want.

Look at your blisters? I don’t want to see your dirty smelly feet, you loathsome scab.

And then it was flowing out faster than I could swallow and before long I was completely drenched in blood. It was some leech that.

I know I look like a person, but actually I’m a penguin that’s been turned into a person – and most unpleasant I find it too. Most distasteful and really rather boring once the initial novelty’s worn off.

Syphoning’s my only joy now.

I let him have it straight. Told him about us. That we’d been, er, sort of seeing each other. And he started crying. I never thought he’d do that. It was so funny.

Deep in the darkest depths of the forest is a cavern wherein you will find a huge coal-black chest. I think you’ll find it’s in there.

Alligators came at us from all directions, Lily. Foster was the first one to see them – he let out a gurgling snort and started cowering and squawking in the gunwhal. But they didn’t harm us. Just seemed curious. One of them started speaking to us – couldn’t really make it out – in some sort of foreign language they’d picked up from the Indians.

Simply ludicrous.

Won’t he? Well don’t you think he should? Am I to look after him like this? Always?

These beetroots shouldn’t be in here. They’ve no right here. Besides, they’d be better off outside. Don’t you think so, Hollicky Pollicky?

See where his hands wrestle with each other, plunged in the cauldron of boiling ginger beer. What does it portend for us village-folk? For many years we have lived in daily fear of our lives – we have been treated like dirt. And now this perverse ritual. What good will it do us?


An awful lot of juice.

Strappado’s so old-fashioned these days. We’ll have to think of something else to get the party really going with a swing. (Pause) You do want it to go with a swing, don’t you, Jully?

Mace… Cinnamon – oh and some of those brown sponges that I like to wash up with.

If anyone’s going to do any cleaving it’s going to be you. On your own.

Squadron after squadron. I was reminded of those lines, I think it was Housman,

Rank upon rank with glassy stare
Marching down to the Vole’s lair

Quip me crimson, if it isn’t old Salcerdonker.

Alleviate me I beg of you. I am but a weak woman, unworthy of the tasks set before me, but with your aid, your watchful eye, I could surely span the gap betwixt the sea and the sky and colour the trees with rainbow shadows that might please even the plunging astronaut, your brother.

No mention of the débacle in the evening newspaper, dear.

Have you ever been to Lake Constance in April? It’s an invigorating experience.

Quite the little gentleman aren’t we? Ever so hoity-toity – you coy little whippersnapper.

You must do it for Fluff. All the advances you’d have liked to have made – plus the crenellations on all the walled cities you’d ever visited. And then there was Fluff – a worm in a cask of rum.

First traverse this mountain, he says, then this one, as if it was as easy as saying. He’s never had to do what the likes of us has to.

My cousin isn’t a man who would wear a coat like that. You must have made some mistake. Wait – I’ll call him on the telephone. You can speak to him yourself.

Five, aye that’s right, five it was. And here’s me standing here in all my dang-blasted iggorance, thinking it was six! Six? Never. It’s five I say. Give me five.

The complete eunuch strode away from the tent.

Into the ears of the ever-wistful.

I’ve got warts on my bladder
And chilblains up my nose
My state of health grows sadder
I’ve even lost my toes

If the rope swings to the right then you must slacken it off on the left.

Dreary, as usual.

Have you ever heard a light-bulb crying?

Sanguine by all accounts.

I must. Please understand. I don’t hate you. But I owe something to my people – they’re my family. It’s for them that I exist. So just drink up and die.

Sing something – one of the old songs, if you can remember any of them.

A train whose engine is made of solid silver. It cost millions and is only used once a year when the king goes to his summer retreat.

Where are you staying?

I’ve reached a watershed in my life. A chance to look back and also to lie on my roundnesses and gaze up at the future. But in the last few days I’ve become aware of someone else watching with me, though I can’t find which boulder the eyes hide behind.


I’m amazed at your incorrigibility. Simply amazed.

Dungheap horrors flew at me in the dark.

Switch both horses. Give them something to think about.

I’ve drained the vase, gathered the hyacinths and now I’m here ready for your next instructions.


Each time I looked out of the window a new bird had rested on the window-arches, opposite my room. There was a ribbon tied round alternate legs – yellow or red. If yellow is taken to be dot and red dash then the birds spell out in Morse code the message Pass the salt.

Hoovering all afternoon and probably well into the evening. I’ll stop about 8 and we can go to the observatory then.

Like a greenish wart – gassed and sunken.

Have I found you out, Mr Persimmon, do you fall pathetically on the 1st steps of the ideal pyramid?

He has a dromedary fixation.

Like a bloated accordion.

Green lips suited him I would have said.

beyond the grave

Still manciples bequested a troth so steeped in mandrills as to be verily pertinacious. Incumbent postures so rapidly beset one might. Depraved or deprived – who cares!

I saw her in a pear-tree. She looked so omniflorous and underestimatedly serene. Another couple would have her disdained. But we… so coolly… dismissed… I’m a horror… what am I saying?…Aaagh!

Don’t ask me.

Criticisms I’ve heard before. But let me tell you this. It’s only… a statement of how I see things. I’m not saying it’s right – can’t you see, I could be wrong. I COULD BE WRONG!! But if I am right what then. Do you agree? Then hold my foot.

Intrepid as she may seem, I must warn you, Trapezier. Speak no word of the pastry-like oboist and you will be eventually rewarded – I swear it.

Sunday morning and nothing better than an execution.

My tooth I pledge to thee, O great one…

Where’s the porridge! By what paltry commotion do you waken me – pea-people? Is this a revolt or simply another scabby unworthiness? Where’s the porridge!

What I’m interested in is how people react in front of a canopy. Perhaps you can help me here.

From far-flung polnts on the glittering globe – salamanders have gathered to be counted. Pledging their lives for the good of the cause. By the way, what is the cause this time? Last century it was water-drainage. Very tedious.

It’s more and more difficult. I thought it would be easy.

This derringer, please. And a packet of cuckoo-spit.

Swabs…periscopes…not mute this time…only…farinaceous…oblong…

They were worn out by the time I reached them. They’d been all over the moors in the snow looking for her.


Scrubbing the floor all morning then washing clothes in the afternoon.

It was bad management from the start. He’d burnt himself out in the first few days.

Tropass – you’re divine – such a tricky one – and a snooper, too, they say.