Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Remember This?

So, is there a bear or not? Is he tame or dangerous? Bears are very clever. If they are being tracked, they will deliberately create false trails. They will double back on their hunters when least expected.

You should not fear the Bear, because you know him. Strange bears, though, the new bear in the woods, that's another matter entirely.

The Bear envisions a high level summit between St. Corbinian's Bear and St. Seraphim of Sarov's Bear.

SCB Russian Orthodox Style.
Candy bar for Eastern Bear; Heavy Baggage for Western Bear?

West and East. Everything settled once and for all like bears, by bears, for everyone. The Ukraine, everything. One game for the whole works.


You've never seen bears play Jenga? It's their favorite game! (Jacks are a close second.) Perhaps you imagine a very short game of Jenga with bears, no? You would be mistaken. Bears are far more patient and skillful than humans in everything, but especially Jenga.

The West has its champion. Your move Mr. Putin.

Heigh Ho, Misha, and Away!


  1. [Ahem, I thought I'd found a safe webpage showing images of Misha, the (deceptively?) cuddly mascot of the 1980 Moscow olympics...but it seems those desperate Russian would-be brides get everywhere.]

    Oh, how Misha has changed!

    Anyway, Christopher Smart -- so what if he happened to be in a madhouse at the time -- may never have ventured beyond the sceptered isle, but he knew bears:

    "Let David bless with the Bear -- The beginning of victory to the Lord -- to the Lord the perfection of excellence -- Hallelujah from the heart of God, and from the hand of the artist inimitable, and from the echo of the heavenly harp in sweetness magnifical and mighty."

    -- from Jubilate Agno, Fragment A

    For anyone interested in the full extant text of this remarkable work:

  2. I remember Misha! I wrote a newspaper column about the U.S. changing it's national animal into a bear at the time. That was long ago, and I was old. Winnie the Pooh was shilling for Sears at the time, I recall and I thought it was a good time for the country to sit back and pop a can of Hamm's.

    That is a indeed a remarkable work. I had never heard of it. It's worth a look. The poor fellow did seem to be a Lunatick, and one is frequently brought up short by innocent prayers that he might see his wife, or a blessing upon the postmaster general and all mail carriers. Graphomania is common to certain kinds of mental illness. (It's called "blogging now.") I hope he made it out okay. The Bear sees no impediment in insanity to religion, unless it is the insanity that possesses most normal people in our age.

    "For I am the Lord's News-Writer -- the scribe-evangelist -- Widow Mitchel, Gun and Grange bless the Lord Jesus."


    William Blake never wrote a poem about a Bear, as far as I know. When the cubs were homeschooled their peers were reading Maya Angelou, but they we memorizing different poems I let them pick.) One of them chose The Tyger:

    Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
    In the forests of the night;
    What immortal hand or eye,
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    In what distant deeps or skies.
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand, dare seize the fire?

    And what shoulder, & what art,
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand? & what dread feet?

    What the hammer? what the chain,
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? what dread grasp,
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

    When the stars threw down their spears
    And water'd heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

    Tyger Tyger burning bright,
    In the forests of the night:
    What immortal hand or eye,
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

    Another chose The Fly:

    Little fly,
    Thy summer’s play
    My thoughtless hand
    Has brushed away.

    Am not I
    A fly like thee?
    Or art not thou
    A man like me?

    For I dance
    And drink and sing,
    Till some blind hand
    Shall brush my wing.

    If thought is life
    And strength and breath,
    And the want
    Of thought is death,

    Then am I
    A happy fly,
    If I live,
    Or if I die.

  3. What a treat to read Blake’s “The Tyger” -- and how wonderful to familiarize children with it. The intensity of William Blake’s work – both verbal and visual -- has a fierceness to it, which Christopher Smart’s work, for all its peculiar intensity, does not. Their lives shared 14 years of the same century, but I suppose the two never met and perhaps would have recoiled from each other if they had – so similar, yet so different.

    The best-known portrait of Christopher Smart conveys a man of gentle demeanor. Portraits of William Blake convey gruffness and determination; his death mask frighteningly more so. Perhaps Smart was no match, temperamentally, for the life’s rigors, and could only sing a caged bird’s song. And perhaps Blake, though beset by similar mental storms, was a hard enough character to steer right into them and turn them back.


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