Sunday, March 21, 2010


My dear Puffin,

You may have noticed The Poetess a couple of weeks back published her ripening metrically-faithful interpretation of Horace's Soracte ode. The particular meter used here is known as "Alcaic", whereon wikipedia absurdly declares
"The Alcaic stanza is a Greek lyrical meter, an Aeolic verse form traditionally believed to have been invented by Alcaeus, a lyric poet from Mytilene ... ".
That may all be well and good from a literary-historical point of view, but it doesn't come anywhere close to the True Meaning of Alcaic!

My own research has shown that the latinized "Alcaeus" was in fact a nick-name (much as Plato was so-called for his broad, flattened face), sprung from the multiple inspirations of his fondness for an adopted and very lost Thick-Billed Murre --- no doubt blown off-course during a late Etruscan-Era hurricane --- and his own odd waddling gait, which so resembled that of his bird, and which was mirrored in some of his more-forgotten verses. (compare the suggestion that Beethoven's rhythmic experimentation was partly driven by the sound of his own irregular heart-beat, due to his undiagnosed lead poisoning).

The name his fellows gave this bird and the poet was initially "alkon", which resounds in our present day "awkward" (fr. O.E. "aukgard"), while murres and relatives are nowadays known collectively as alcidae. Anyways, it's a charming meter, and none the worse for its feathery origins. After all, all of creation declares the greatness of the Lord!

the unapologetic fabulist

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Some notes

Dear Bat,

I've been thinking.

Our beloved Mother Church, last Sunday, in the words of Paul, reminded us that coveting is a kind of idolatry. Of course, coveting can be incited by another's gloating, boasting, or immodesty.

I have usually tended to think that immodesty was the visible counterpart of pride. After all, a proud person may well tend to gloat and boast, and such; but since I started considering modesty of dress, I've tried to put together how modesty and modesty might be akin. And while there is certainly a great deal of immodest dress out there, and more than in relatively recent history, it's not clear to me that there's so much more pride w.r.t. our individual forms except in rather narrow circles.*

Today, I'm inclined to describe immodesty seemingly by its effects, instead of its motivations: specifically, I'd like to say that the virtue of modesty is the habit of encouraging proper reverence in others by discouraging their distraction. That is, the defect of immodesty is its invitation to remove another's (or one's own) due reverence for God, by drawing that attention to oneself, whether by boasting, or ostentatious costume, or over-gladly receiving undue praise.

This doesn't mean it is necessary to conceal one's talents or natural beauty, but rather it leaves them in their proper place, and uses them to glorify God; which is only fitting as they are His works.

I'm curious what thoughts you might have, or any of those you will share this with.

the philosophophile

* PS: of course, I may well be wrong about any of these anecdotal generalities.