Help me understand poetry

Here is the well-known poem The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos Williams:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

That’s the whole thing. The line-breaks are as in the original.

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I’m going to see Paul McCartney!

The first record I ever owned was the single of Laurel and Hardy’s song The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. I’m not proud of that, but it’s the truth, so the record may as well show it. I seem to remember I was given it for Christmas 1975, but I can’t blame my parents — I’d definitely asked for it. This when Bohemian Rhapsody was at number one. Let us never speak of this again.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 3

Peter Pan and Wendy — J. M. Barrie

I highly recommend this to anyone. Written in 1911, it’s now comfortably in the public domain, and you can pick up a free copy at Project Gutenberg. Like Mary Poppins, its a profound and touching book, best known from a Disney adaptation that systematically boiled all the charm and distinctiveness out of it. (I watched the movie after finishing the book, and found it enjoyable in its bland way, but completely unexceptional.)

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What I’ve been listening to in 2014

Here is my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See previous entries for 20132012, 20112010 and 2009.)


I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the two computers where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or on the iPod.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

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I’m leaving on a jet plane

One of the songs I sang at the Forest Folk Club tonight was John Denver’s I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane. Even though I’d not had time to learn all the words, and had to read from a printout — something that I’ve found degrades performances — it went down very well, and had lots of people singing along in the chorus.

But why does it work so well? Surely by any objective standard, the chorus is bodged.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 2

As noted recently, I’m taking advantage of my Kindle’s reverse-chronological book list to keep track of what I’ve been reading, and blogging a few thoughts about the books. Here’s part 2.

Second Foundation — Isaac Asimov

Very much more of the same, following on from Foundation and Foundation and Empire, which I wrote about last time. It remains compelling reading, but it continues to astonish with its amazingly primitive technology: for example, apparently the libraries of 20,000 years into the future will still use microfiche. I quite like the sense that Asimov, as he was writing these stories, had no more sense of where they were headed than we have.
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Happy Days: mid-season-2 report

I’ve watched Happy Days through season 1, and half way through season 2 — as far as S02E12, Open House. For reasons that I will explain in a moment, this is a good time to stop and take stock.


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