Thursday, June 08, 2006


Pink Conformity

Against the (yesterday’s) literary, Gilbert White’s Journals:
May 16. Wheat looks somewhat yellow. Men sow barley: but the ground is cold, & cloddy.

May 18. Field-crickets in their pupa-state lie-out before their holes. Magpies tear the missel-thrushes nest to pieces, & swallow the eggs.

May 19. Helleborus viridis sheds it’s seeds in my garden, & produces many young plants.

May 27. Large blue flag iris blows. Flesh-flies abound. Timothy the tortoise possesses a much greater share of discernment than I was aware of: & . . . “Is much too wise to go into a well;” for when he arrives at the haha, he distinguishes the fall of the ground, & retires with caution, or marches carefully along the edge: he delights in crawling up the flower-bank, & walking along it’s verge.

May 29. The tortoise shunned the heat, it was so intense.

May 30. Columbines, a fine variegated sort, blow.

May 31. Master Etty went on board the Vansittart India-man at Spithead. Thunderstorm in the night with a fine shower.

June 1. Distant clouds, sultry, thunder-clouds. Sulphurous smell in the air. Sweet even, small shower. Strawberries blow well. Medlar shows much bloom. Honey-suckles blow. Fern-owl chatter: chur-worm [mole cricket] jars. The tortoise shuns the intense heat by covering itself with dead grass; & does not eat ’til the afternoon. Terrible storms in Oxfordshire, & Wilts.

June 2. Finished papering my great parlor.

June 3. The phalaena called the swift night-hawk [humming-bird hawk-moth] appears.

June 5. Tortoise does not move. Tulips fade. Cinnamon-roses blow.

June 6. Red valerian blows. [Later note.] Terrible riots in London: & unpresidented burnings, & devastations by the mob.

June 8. The limes show their bracteal leaves, & rudiments of blossoms. Sweet Williams begin to blow.
The syntactical consistency reduces all event to its matter-of-factness, sheer unalloyed facticity. The clever tortoise Timothy (whose carapace now resides in the British Museum) is on equal footing with (the shipping out of) Sim Etty, the Selborne vicar’s son, whose activity is of no more note than the “blow” of the variegated columbine. The Gordon Riots of the penult entry: same old same old in spite of the declared “unpresidented”—more “No Popery” doings. There’s a fine ecological humility before the language: it serves to humble all, anti-hierarchical, sufficient, blunt. It lacks all smarm.

June 8. Thumbed through a slim book of prose. Saw the words “Wallace Stevens”—irretrievable on second peruse. Crisp green the morning. Biked.

Gilbert White