A worn wooden knob
Shiny here, pitted there
Rotates loosely on a steel pin
Set in a sinuous cast-iron arm
A horn flares skyward
It’s fed meat and gristle
The spiral augur chews and crushes
with gruesome moist sounds
Carrying meat to the grinder blade
Shredded charnel remnants vomit forth
from a perfectly circular mouth
Tumbling into an old glass bowl
Chipped on the edge but not abandoned
- Slow Time
A sweep second-hand betrays your modernity
A glint unrecognizable throughout eternity
Not all slow time dances out the same
Gooey time stretches to a break in the rain
Tom-toms string out in slow motion
Lost before the vastness of an ocean
- Go Time
The massacred were buried shallow
Their murderers never saw the gallows
Legends said that ghosts rose up
Dead partaking of a proffered cup
To magically roll back the killing time
But clocks refuse to yield for crime
- No Time
Running dumbly down the street
She bows to touch the guru’s feet
But the world is in chaos down
On the burned out side of town
Cashing checks for weekly wages
Stuck in time across the ages
“District and Circle” is a collection of 44 poems by the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney that was released in 2006.
One feels the essence of the 20th century across this collection. There are a couple of poems that refer to World War II, not from the perspective of crucial events and violent clashes, but as it was experienced in “the District” (e.g. “Anahorish 1944.”)
There are also a number of poems that make industrialization romantic or—at least, in some way–evocative. Heaney writes of mechanical devices and processes in a way that many great nature poems are composed (e.g. the first poem in the collection “The Turnip-Snedder.”) In fact, it’s almost like industrial haiku. It doesn’t share the brevity of Japanese form, but it removes the extraneous and deals in only what one can experience with the senses. In that way, one can feel the heft of these objects. They aren’t cheap, flimsy plastic, but wood and iron and brass. There are also some lovely nature poems.
Heaney’s use of language is resplendent. It’s not just the description, but the sound. I’ve even found myself thinking, “I don’t know what that word means, but—damn–it sounds gorgeous right there.”
The poems range from several words to a few pages in length, with most fitting on a single page. It’s about 80 pages of beautifully composed poetry.
I’d recommend this book for all poetry readers.
This is the second collection of short stories and the fourth book overall in the canon of Sherlock Holmes. It includes eleven adventures of the great detective as narrated by his partner, Dr. John Watson.
Below, I’ll describe the premise of each of the stories:
“Silver Blaze” A race horse goes missing and its trainer is found dead. The eponymous race horse is favored to win an upcoming race, so Holmes faces a race against time to see that the horse can compete.
“The Yellow Face” A man begins to suspect the wife that he’s never had cause to doubt before. Only he doesn’t know exactly what he suspects her of, but it seems to revolve around visits to a nearby cottage that has been recently occupied by an unknown and mysterious resident. Note: this is one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories both because it displays the humanity of the character in that his initial guess proves wrong, and in it shows how the author was ahead of his time in his worldview.
“The Stock-Broker’s Clerk” When an out-of-work clerk, recently hired by prestigious firm, is given an offer of much more money but finds himself doing only busy work, he gets suspicious and calls on Sherlock Holmes.
“The ‘Gloria Scott’” Holmes is visiting a college friend when the friend’s father is visited by a gruff ex-sailor. When the family patriarch uncharacteristically bends over backwards to make the sailor happy, it’s unclear why. When the old man dies upon reading a letter, the mystery becomes all the more intriguing.
“The Musgrave Ritual” A butler is fired for digging around in the family papers, despite the fact that the document he’s discovered with is nothing more than a series of cute questions constituting an old family ritual.
“The Reigate Puzzle” Burglaries in the countryside culminate in the murder of a coachman. The family that employed the coachman is neighbor to a close friend of Watson.
“The Crooked Man” A couple who’ve been married for thirty years without any known incidents of domestic unrest get in a raucous fight, and the man–a career military officer–ends up dead. The wife is the only suspect.
“The Resident Patient” A benefactor agrees to fully fund a new doctor’s practice provided that he is allowed to live on-site as a resident patient. The mystery begins when the resident patient begins to be inexplicably nervous.
“The Greek Interpreter” An interpreter is kidnapped and forced to translate a mysterious conversation between his kidnappers and a disheveled Greek man. Despite handsome compensation and threats of what will happen if he should tell anyone of the job, the interpreter feels obliged to get to the bottom of the imprisoned Greek man’s case by hiring Holmes.
“The Naval Treaty” A member of the Foreign Service has a crucial treaty stolen while he goes to check on the service of his tardy coffee. The loss of the treaty spells professional death for the young man unless Holmes can solve the case. The commissionaire and his wife are initially the sole suspects.
“The Final Problem” Perhaps the best known story of the collection, it was intended to be the end of Sherlock Holmes. The story involves an uncharacteristically shaken Holmes, his arch-nemesis, and a trip to Reichenbach Falls.
This collection includes some essential Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as some classic Holmsian cases and quotes. For 19th century literature, it’s highly readable. Definitely a must read for fans of Sherlock Holmes.