Monday, October 29, 2007


Robinson Jeffers is depressing.

Sorry. Just had to get that out of the way.

"Name My Ferret" is now a group on Facebook. I know that, because I just made it. Someone told me that Facebook now comprises 1% of all web traffic. More now, I should think: the digital pipery is teeming with suggested names for a ferret I'm not even sure I want. Should one look a gift mustelid in the mouth?

I am still a bit weirded out from having my tent mugged by a mink—or "riverine mustelid" as the Professor called it — in Uzbekistan. That's like the "Arms Fair by Mistake" story. Which I'll have to get around to telling eventually.

On a quiet day in the bookshop, way back, I was leafing through a bizarre American book on ferrets. Not your average long-dogger, rabbit-netter ferret book. No, this one was very different. It consisted of pages and pages of ferrets dressed in fancy dress. Takes all sorts, I know, but what made me giggle was right at the end of the book, a little proviso:

Take care when introducing your ferret to your pet rabbits, because in the ancient past, the ancestors of ferrets were used to hunt them.

What precisely does "take care" mean, do you think?


Matt Mullenix said...


I’d sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk;
but the great redtail
Had nothing left but unable misery
From the bone too shattered for mending, the wing that trailed under his talons when he moved.

We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom,
He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death,
Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old
Implacable arrogance.

I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.
What fell was relaxed, Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what
Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.

--part two from "Hurt Hawks,"

A favorite of mine. I went through a bad Jeffers period during my first year of college, all alone up there in the mountains at military school. Shudder. I wrote a lot of bad immitation Jeffers and that somehow got me through.

pluvialis said...

Sheesh, Maaaatt! I had enough misery teaching "Purse-Seine" to my students today, and you hit me with the hurt hawk one! No more, I beg you!

"All alone up there in the mountains at military school" is an awesome sentence.

Reid Farmer said...

How about this heartstring grabber:

Robinson Jeffers - "The House Dog's Grave"

I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read--and I fear often grieving for me--
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope than when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dear, that's too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been.

And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

Reid Farmer said...

And by the way, I meant weeks ago when you mentioned you (an historian) were teaching a literature course to tell you that would never happen here in the US. English Department would never let an outsider to have money or resources to do it and English grad students would revolt if they did.

Just so you know

pluvialis said...

Reid: Nooooooo! Not more! Stop, stop it all of you!!!

Re your second point: I don't tell them I'm a historian! Same goes for the numerous things for which I wear my ornithologist hat. I'm a terrible, terrible fraud.

Reid Farmer said...

I will cease, I promise.

BTW once I did visit Jeffer's home up at Carmel, Torhouse:

Guess I should say "over" at Carmel now that we moved. Very beautiful but kind of spooky. Gorgeous setting in the cypresses on the shore there - but it's hard to not have a beautiful setting in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

But it's frequently very foggy there. It would be easy to sit in your stone tower emprisoned by fog and write depressing poems.

Chas S. Clifton said...

"What but the wolf's tooth..."

OK, I'll stop there. But that poem is on my office bulletin board to confront any student foolish enough to wander in.

Now as to ferrets: 'Ferret people' are very weird. I think that they all secretly (or not so secretly) wish to be vampires and to bite their prey. They cannot, so they own ferrets.

Steve Bodio said...

I won't quote Jeffers.

" the ancient past"?? Like, last week?

I saw one that claimed that it was cruel to put them down-- I think the quote was "dark, damp, holes".