Waiting for the Typhoon

A middle-class district. The hammers tapping
All day, and all the radios talking of so many
Metres per second, and all the aerials flapping.
Cans and candles have vanished from the shops.
The price of timber, for boarding the windows,
Has gone up and up. The tapping never stops.

The worst since—when was it? Oh damn it all,
It is always the worst something since sometime—
The worst rainy season, the worst A-bomb, the
Worst H-bomb, the worst political scandal, the
Worst harvest, or the worst outbreak of sex-crime.

Listening to the hammers and the chattered warning,
Watching the tethered trees and the urgent clouds—
       tonight or tomorrow morning?
One thinks of those who are truly embarrassed,
Whose houses would faint at the sight of a hammer,
Whose homes, tomorrow, will have fallen down
       in the worst way since last time.

Even the cicadas begin to sound a little harassed.
       Turning a desperate somersault,
A small green insect shelters in the bowels of my
       quivering typewriter—
Good reason for me to call a halt.

D. J. Enright, from Bread Rather Than Blossoms, 1956. Available in Collected Poems: 1948-1998.

For Doug, on the way to Japan. Highly recommended. All of the Bread Rather Than Blossoms poems were written while Visiting Professor at Konan University in Kobe.

ESV with Apocrypha

New blogger Theophrastus at What I Learned From Aristotle (which looks like it’ll be a really great blog: his name and title rock, and among his first posts are some on lipograms and new editions of Dracula!) makes note of a new edition of the English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha. Oddly, it’s published by Oxford University Press, USA, rather than Crossway. The apocrypha in this Bible are apparently the RSV Apocrypha only very lightly reworked (Theophrastus was unable to find any differences in a quick spot-check of various passages). Unfortunately, it sounds as though the physical attributes of this edition are of unacceptably shoddy quality. Both Theophrastus and a blogger he links to mention negatively the extremely thin, non-opaque paper used in this edition. Bleed-through is the bane of all heavy readers. Also, the Apocrypha section is placed at the back of the book, after the NT. Granted, my Oxford Annotated Bible (first edition with the RSV) also has the Apocrypha at the back, but it’s just as odd there, too. So, I’m going to pass on this particular edition. If they release an edition of better quality, I’ll consider it, but it’s not at all compelling. I enjoy the Apocrypha in the NRSV more than those of the RSV, particularly the GII text of Tobit and the full text of Greek Esther. Overall, it sounds like a real non-plus, which is disappointing. These days, I’m much, much happier with another Oxford Bible: the New English Translation of the Septuagint. The work that the translators went to in order to represent in English the peculiar literalistic rendering of the Hebrew in the Greek is simply astounding. Also, having the so-called apocryphal books interspersed in their traditional localtions amongst the other books in the NETS is a real plus. The introductions are without compare, and necessary reading for anyone interesting in the Septuagint.

So, many thanks and welcome, Theophrastus!