Saturday, 3 January 2004


I stole the title of this blog and the Montaigne quotation from a book published in 1944, written by Field-Marshall Viscount Wavell, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, CMG, MC, when he was serving as commander-in-chief successively in the Middle East, North Africa and East Asia, and later as Viceroy of India.

It's an anthology of all the poems he had ever learned by heart, interspersed with some witty and erudite comments; it includes some slabs of rather turgid poetry but is mostly a delight, containing as it does much of the memorable verse that one vaguely knew and which is enjoyable to re-discover and declaim.

Among the many that I liked are an assault by J K Stephen on two popular literary giants of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which ends:

..When mankind shall be delivered
From the clash of magazines,
And the inkstand shall be shivered
Into countless smithereens:
When there stands a muzzled stripling,
Mute, beside a muzzled bore:
When the Rudyards cease from kipling
And the Haggards ride no more.


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