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Farewell, My Fancy

Yesterday I completed publishing the entire Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.  It was a follow-up to my series publishing two different translations of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.  Back in November of last year I bogged down on blogging and temporarily abandoned daily updates of the blog.  I let the Daily Whitman series lapse, as well as the Friday music and the Sunday “Quote for the Week”.  Finally, a few weeks ago, I restarted everything.  I was closer to the end than I realized, and it seems like saying goodbye to an old friend to have Daily Whitman finally come to an end.

I will keep posting music on Fridays and quotes on Sundays.  I have a couple of possible contenders for daily poetry to post, but I haven’t made a decision yet.  I think it salutary to take a few days off and decide what I want to do, and then go from there.  In the meantime, I hope all of you who may be regular, semi-regular, or sporadic readers have enjoyed the Daily Whitman, and before it, the Rubá’í of the Day series.  Keep checking this space for poetry to come!

Back Into the Swing of Things


Regular readers may note that finally, after a considerable time off, I have restarted publishing Leaves of Grass in my “Daily Whitman” series.  I have also resumed posting music of various sorts on Fridays and a “Quote for the Week” on Sundays.  Hopefully this will keep me busy enough with the blog to inspire me to get back to more regular articles in some of the series, particularly “Legends of the Fall“.  In any case, enjoy!

Whither Hence?


I hate it when I run across an interesting blog and find it has not been updated in months, or even years.  I can’t speak for others as to whether my blog is interesting–though the traffic hasn’t been bad lately–but it has not been updated since November, with the exception of a brief note of its five-year anniversary in December.

Alas, life  has got in the way.  With no intention of whining, I have had many personal things, including health issues, that have had to take precedence.  These have caused me to slip out of regular posting; and slipping out of regular posting leads all too easily to no posting.  In any case, this post it to make it clear that I’m still around and do intend–when I don’t know–to resume at least some posting, within the parameters of some still-pressing concerns.

First, I will at some point resume the “Daily Whitman” series.  Instead of backdating it, I will probably just re-start it at whatever date it happens to be, and go from there.  The index has presented some thorny problems, and may have to be totally re-done; so I don’t expect I’ll have it updated for some time, even after I re-start posting the poems.

Second, I’m mostly satisfied with my series on universalism, but may post occasionally to it, as ideas occur or worthwhile exterior links crop up.

Third, I have a broad overview of what I want to do with my tent-pole “Legends of the Fall” series, which I still consider incomplete.  This will require several more posts–I don’t know how many–and I will try to get started back on them in the coming weeks, as I’m able to.  To me, this is the most important series on the blog, and the one I consider the linchpin; so if nothing else, I want to finish it.

Of the other series, I want to eventually resume the series on religion and role-playing, as I have some good ideas for it, and I want to finish the series on Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Beyond that, we’ll just see what happens.

Many thanks to all of you who follow, read, and (I hope) enjoy the blog, especially those who have kept coming during its hiatus.  That means a lot to me, and I appreciate it very much.  Keep coming–hopefully there will be new material soon!

Improved Indexing

1726A slight heads up to a small change I’m making that hopefully will make this blog a little more user-friendly.  I already have a page for the series indices (see above) and a bar with links to the indices to the lower right.  However, a visitor coming on a given post might not know what series (or sometimes what group of series, since some posts are in more than one series) that post belongs to.  Even worse, I will sometimes end a post by saying, “Next time we’ll discuss such-and-such.”  I mean, of course, the next time in that series.  However, many posts and weeks or months may intervene between the current post and the next in its series; and the casual reader would have no way of knowing where that next post is.  I know I’ve been frustrated by this on other blogs.

Therefore, I am beginning to go to each post that is part of a series, and linking to the series index at the bottom of the post.  At this point there will be, in italics, a sentence:  Part of the series X, where X is the name of the series and contains a hyperlink to the proper series index.  Thus, suppose a given post goes up in March and ends with a teaser of the next time, but the next in the series doesn’t go up until September.  Now all one will have to do is to click the link at the bottom to go to the series index; and from there, it will be easy enough to find the next installment in the series, if it’s been published yet.

Obviously, given the large numbers of series and posts I’ve got, this will take awhile.  Some posts, as I said, belong to multiple series and will thus need multiple links.  In this case, I’ll put the main series index link first, followed by any subsidiary or “nested” series.  I expect that it will take several weeks or months to get all posts indexed, so please be patient.  The final results, though, will be worth the efforts, and will make navigating around here substantially easier.  Meanwhile, enjoy the blog!

My 2020th Post, Legends of the Fall, and Blogging: What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

My 2000th blog post went up on 15 December.  Lots of things were going on, including taking care of a sick child, so I did nothing special for that occasion.  I have had in mind a post that I’ve wanted to do for some time, and since I didn’t do anything marking post 2000, I’ll make the post now as post 2020.  I used to like the old cartoon Sealab 2020 way back when, so that’s an interesting synch, anyway.  What the heck.

I had never thought to get into blogging.  Being of the tail end of the Baby Boom generation, I was well into my adulthood before the Internet started to become the phenomenon it is now.  I had had some experience with intranet BB’s and such in college, but not that much.  Even though I was a math major, at my university we still were doing things mostly the old fashioned way.  It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that I got an email address (long since defunct), and in the late 90’s that I started spending lots of time in cyberspace.

Read the rest of this entry

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.



Not to the new year–that  happened last night.  To my last “Rubá’í of the Day“.

It’s hard to imagine that the first one went up on 12 August 2012.  That makes this the beginning of the third year in which this series has been running.  I have published all the seventy-five rubá’iyát from the first edition of Edward Fitzgerald’s famous translation, and am in the process of publishing the five hundred translated by Edward Whinfield.  Today the 433rd of Whinfield’s rubá’iyát went up, leaving only 67 more to go.  That means the last one will be published on March the 9th.

It has been a labor of love and has become a sort of flagship of this blog.  At least one rubá’í gets a like almost every day.  More prosaically, it is a way of keeping the blog active with new material going up every day even when I don’t have the time, energy, or inspiration to write an original essay. I will be sad to see it go–it will be like the parting of an old friend.

Life, of course, goes on, however, and I intend to continue publishing poetry day to day.  For anyone who’s interested, you can follow this link to a poll I have to see what poets readers might be interested in.  The main criterion is that the poems (original or translations) be in the public domain, so there are no copyright issues.  I am currently inclined towards Hafiz.  In the West, Omar Khayyam is the best-known Iranian poet because Fitzgerald’s translation of his Rubá’iyát.  In Iran itself, however, Hafiz is universally acclaimed as the greatest lyric poet.  He, too, wrote in the rubá’í format, as well as writing ghazals and many other types of verse.  Since he is less-known in the West, I’d like to start publishing some of his works next.

My second preference of the poets listed on the poll would be Kabir, and my third Edgar Lee Masters.  Both are well in the public domain, and less well-known than Rumi or Walt Whitman.  I am, however, open to suggestions; and if some poet not listed strikes anyone as appropriate, I’d be interested to know.  I’ll probably make a final decision by the end of the month so I’ll have time to start scheduling poems in the new series.

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the rubá’iyát!

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thanks to all my visitors and readers, and I hope you continue to enjoy the Chequer-board in the coming year!



If any of you liked the Robert Service poem I had up earlier today and wonder why it vanished, fear not–it will return.

Somehow I got confused and thought I’d failed to post a “Quote for the Week” this week, so I posted the poem as a belated quote.  When I found out I’d already done this week’s quote on Sunday, as I usually do, I decided to move the Service poem to the next Sunday that I don’t already have scheduled.  Thus, you will be able to read it again on 5 January–less than a month from now.

Sorry for the confusion!

Poll (Again)!


Czesław Miłosz was indeed a Pole, and a truly great one, winning the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature.  However, I’m talking about a poll, not a Pole!  😉

The ongoing series “Rubá’í of the Day”, in which each day I post one of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, has been one of this blog’s most popular series, averaging at least a few likes each day.  I have published the entirety of Edward FitzGerald’s famous translation, and am now about three fifths of the way through Edward Whinfield’s translation.  The latter is much longer–FitzGerald translated only seventy-five rubáiyát, but Whinfield translated five hundred.  In any case, I’ve enjoyed publishing them, but I think two translations and nearly six hundred verses are plenty enough, dearly as I love Omar.  The last rubá’í, therefore, will be published on 9 March 2014.

That’s still a ways off, but I’m trying to plan ahead.  I’d like to continue publishing a poem a day, subject to the all-important criterion that they be public domain.  I’m leaning towards one of the following:

Hafiz (Khāwaja Shamsu Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī), Iranian Sufi poet who lived in the 14th Century.  Omar Khayyám, patron of this blog, is far and away the best-known Persian (Iranian) poet in the English-speaking world, because of Fitzgerald’s famous translation; but in Iran, Hafiz is considered the greatest Persian lyric poet, writing poems dealing with love, society, and faith.  He is especially known for writing in the ghazal format.  Unlike Khayyám, who published little if any poetry publicly during his lifetime (probably out of concern for repercussions of his unorthodox views), Hafiz published large amounts, and was well-known and highly lauded throughout the Islamic world during his lifetime.  The two also differed in that whereas Khayyám always tended towards skepticism and cynicism, Hafez was more orthodox and of a mystic bent.

Rumi (Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī Rūmī), also an Iranian Sufi poet (though born in Turkey).  Like Hafez, Rumi was a Sufi.  In fact, he was the founder of the still-extant Mevlevi Sufi order.  Rumi is best known for his magnum opus, the Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, though he published many other works, as well.  ”Translators” such as Coleman Barks have made Rumi quite popular; but as with any other poetry I’ll ever post here, I will cleave strictly to actual translations, not “interpretations”.

Kabir, 5th Century mystic poet of Northern India.  Kabir was part of the Sant movement in which mystics, poets, and seekers worked to find a common spirituality transcending the various religious divisions of India at that time.  Kabir was born into a Muslim family but later renounced allegiance to any one faith.  He is revered by Muslims and Hindus both, and some of his verses found their way into the holy book of Sikhism, the Guru Grant Sahib.

Walt Whitman, one of the first proponents of what later came to be called free verse.  He’s not in the very top echelon of my personal favorite poets, but over the years he has grown on me.  Certainly I think his verse would be worthy of posting.

Edgar Lee Masters, another proponent of free verse.  He is best known for Spoon River Anthology.  This set of poems consists of the epitaphs of various residents of the fictional town of Spoon River.  The epitaphs are actually commentary framed as if spoken from the grave, giving each individual a chance to comment, grip, mourn, or discuss his or her life.  It’s one of my favorite pieces of poetry.  It would also be well-suited to the poem-a-day format, since there are 244 poems in the collection, and they are all relatively short.  Spoon River Anthology is actually a personal favorite of mine.

To that end, I posted a poll awhile back to see if my readers (small in number though they be) had any preferences, and have put up a reminder linking back to that poll.  This post is another reminder!  So far, Walt Whitman is winning, but there have been only a few votes thus far.  I invite anyone who is interested to click the link at the beginning of this paragraph, have a look, and vote for the next poem-a-day.  If you don’t like any of the suggestions, please feel free to contact me and give me your public domain suggestion.  I look forward to feedback!