By Robert Pinsky
O herring-fed redheads crouched at your peatfires:
Ancestors of this English I think in, my measure.
Christianized man-killers, makers of poems—
Now, they say, words for a strange kin of fish:
Finned but no fish, and well worth attention,
The mighty Whale, called Phasti-Tokalon.
As he floats at his ease in ocean, seafarers
Mistake him for an island with dark beaches
Where they anchor their boats and climb ashore.
They encamp on the island, they light their fires,
Glad to be back on solid land, weary—then
Whale dives to the bottom, and all the men drown.
He pulls down the ships by their ropes to the bottom.
The Devil himself doles exactly like that,
Tricking those who think he has given them haven.
He murders them all, yes he pulls them all down
With his helm of deception and his grappling ropes.
When they think they are safe he hauls them to Hell.
There’s another trick the great Whale plays:
When he’s hungry he gapes the cave of his mouth,
And from it he issues a luscious perfume
That fools the poor fish that rush in to be eaten.
Like the wave-making Whale the Devil entices
Complicit souls with ambergris and comfort,
Then in his salt mouth spirits them away
From pleasant sunlight down to the dark, where
Hell’s gates close like the jaws of the Whale.
—O onetime children of Eastre or of Odin,
Priest-ridden ravagers, courageous fashioners
Of sewn pelts and syllables. Fearful the makers!
Pinsky's most recent book is Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud.
Cidercupcakes came over and suggested that we go to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. Originally she was craving their mini corn dogs and I was thinking I might get their Thai chicken pasta without the chicken, but she ended up getting steak and I ended up getting pear-gorgonzola pizza with arugula that was really exceptional; I'm not always a big fan of the Cheesecake Factory, a lot of the time I find their portions and prices inflated compared to the quality of the food, but this was really good, and ridiculously inexpensive since it came off the small plates menu. Then we came back home and (this will surprise no one) watched more Avatar: The Last Airbender! Namely the end of the second season, plus the Halloween episode from early third season with blood-bending, which opens up all sorts of kinky possibilities for the water-benders, really. Anyway, it was a lovely afternoon.
My other big accomplishment of the day was discovering that, while I can't seem to find a free Nero substitute that works with DVD Shrink and have created several coasters out of blank DVDs as a result, my ConvertXtoDVD works fine with Windows 7. I tested it burning Eastwick episodes, and went hunting a bit since I was missing the last episode aired in the U.S., and found not only that one but the two episodes that aired in Britain but were never shown by ABC! So I now have the entire series, and I have three to watch -- the twelfth episode, which was aired out of order here so it didn't make much sense, plus eleven and thirteen, which I've never seen. We had barley stew and soda bread for St. Patrick's Day, but since we don't have a drop of Irish blood that we know of among the four of us, my Superpoke Penguin had a more exciting celebration:
Cold Celtic Castle
Lucky Shamrock Room
Groovy Green Room
The Shamrock Shakes