Sunday, October 18, 2009

fish, toys, revisions

Posted by PicasaOn ice.
Birthdays for two grandsons (7 and 9) come this month and next, and then there's Christmas. So I spend some time looking at a catalogue from a company called Bright Minds. The trouble is I want the toys for myself. How to choose between: a remote controlled hairy spider (to help me overcome my arachnophobia); a radio controlled flying saucer; a kit that turns an empty drinks can into a robot; propeller racer, which "blazes over smooth surfaces"; a kit to make a robot which walks "like a silly duck"; a projector, and casts a realistic image of the moon on to the walls and ceiling of your room and, apart from going through the moon's 12 phases, has a "soft, tranquil light"; a solar system kit which does the same for the planets; and any number of construction kits including Meccano (suddenly, how I miss Meccano!).
Quite recently I found myself quoting or, as I thought mis-quoting," Wordsworth's recollection from The Prelude. How "...The cottage windows blazed through twilight gloom" and "we hissed along the polished ice" and, later he " ...retired into a silent bay or sportively glanced sideways, leaving the tumultuous throng, to cut across the image of a star..." Wasn't it "the reflex of a star" a friend remarked? And he was right, and I was right. "The image of a star" comes in the original version of The Prelude completed in 1805, while "the reflex of a star" is in the revised version of 1814. There is no doubt in my mind that "reflex of a star" is a significant improvement. Just now, I am reminded of this alteration by a passage in Richard Holmes' The Age of Wonder, when the author refers to an earlier version of Keats' sonnet On First Looking into Chapman's Homer. Remember: "... when stout Cortez with eagle eyes stared at the Pacific" ? Originally, Holmes tells us Keats wrote "... when stout Cortez with wan'dring eyes stared at the Pacific". He thinks that the original is better and so, on this occasion, do I.
This time the original version is better.


The Crow said...

Great photo! So 'other-worldly,' surreal, yet so reminiscent of something from childhood. Looks like an illustration from one of the better children's books.

The composition is delightful; especially so the seaweed, thrust through the picture like some wavy-edged dagger of aged copper.

Very nice.


The Crow said...

Forgot - the RC hairy spider wouldn't last long with me. My atavistic fear would make me forget it was a toy and I would stomp it to pieces the first (last, only) time it skittered across the floor.

Sounds like a wonderful toys-for-all-ages catalog, though.


Lucas said...

The remote controlled hairy spider is decidedly scary ad illustrates the power of the human mind to trigger emotions that are based on perceptions of falshood. We once bought a clockwork mouse for our cats,who steadfastly ignored it, though. Maybe they would do the same with the "spider."

Rashmi said...

Wow! That fish is decidedly sinister!

Roderick Robinson said...

Having not read much poetry I can call little of it to mind. But to quote the author of Lives the word "reflex" - and that alone - is why The Prelude cut a "benign groove" in my remembering apparatus. Better than that are the widening ripples of memory that evoke the solitude and unearthly splendour of skating in the dark on a Lake District lake.

Keats had the bad luck to transform his line into an early sighting (surely not the first?) of a cliché. Of course, that is hindsight's judgement and he cannot be blamed. Or can he? Some clichés outlive becoming a cliché but I doubt that this is one of them. Rather pat.