R  A  L  P H
  The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities

Number 165

Mid-Fall 2007

Your Own, Sylvia
"How do we
(or Hemphill
for that matter),
know that Plath was,
in the throes of death,
happy as a rose?
And, come to think of it,
how happy is a rose?"

The Last of the Mohicans
"The reading is a dilly:
measured, well-paced, even regal.
The book was published in 1826,
in the days before printed matter
was commonly available,
and it was meant to be
read aloud."

Samuel Johnson: Defining the World
"One man,
without benefit of
computers, typewriters,
university support,
government committees,
arts councils grants ---
assisted only by six or seven
poorly-paid helpers ---
came up with the first true
dictionary of the English Language."

The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada
Coville's Groundsmoke
Common Horsetail
the Equisetum arvense which may be
'the oldest plant genus on earth.'
Here are fossils from
300,000,000 years past."

Unknown Friends
"Poet Dennis is writing
the stuff of our lives:
wars with neighbors,
the wars we create,
people who appear in our lives,
people who disappear from our lives,
people who lie, and
the gods we create."

Measuring the World
"It's spirited, short,
funny, wildly eccentric.
You not only get Humboldt but
shy Gauss, ancient Kant,
mad Leibniz, anxious young Weber;
all seeded generously with
aperçus on old age and physics:
space was folded, bent,
and extremely strange."

Exit Ghost
"The once rigid instrument of
procreation was not like the end of a pipe
you see sticking out of a field somewhere,
a meaningless piece of pipe that
spurts and gushes intermittently,
spitting forth water
to no end."

Medieval and Renaissance Treasures
"The Robespierres
of the French Revolution were
not all that different than
China's Gang of Four:
anti-intellectual slobs who
destroyed a gorgeous heritage,
stomped on their grandparents artifacts,
thought they were doing
their heirs a favor."

Great Reviews of the Past
Vintage Amis
"This anthology
makes one understand why
some of us have read
so few of Amis' works.
It is because he is,
for the most part,
a noisy, bratty

The Secret River
When Illness Goes Public
Soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution

Ram Dass'
Still Here

Unforseen Consequences of
Cataract Operations

The Poetry of
Edgar Allen Poe

D. H. Lawrence

Muni Court (and the Ants)
Part I
"After a day of
treading water in
the jury pool,
I was called up for
the court of Judge Kondo,
an impassive Chinese lady
reminiscent of Wu Chao,
the Buddhist Empress of
the T'ang Dynasty."

Part II
"Closer inspection revealed
a veritable neighborhood festival
among the ant community,
complete with little marching bands,
tiny souvenir stands, and
microscopic parade monitors
along the line of march."

Carl Friedrich Gauss Meets Immanuel Kant
"He saw an ill-fitting window,
a table, an armchair, and in it
a motionless little dwarf wrapped in blankets:
puffy lips, protruding forehead, thin, sharp nose.
The eyes were half-open
but didn't look at him. The air was so thick that
it was almost impossible to breathe.
Hoarsely he inquired if
this might be the professor."

The Making of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary
"The neighborhood was
densely populated with booksellers,
along with a motley assortment
of other tradesmen --- wig-makers,
watchmakers, mercers and chandlers.
The street names are suggestive:
Shoe Lane, Wine Office Court,
Printer Street, Gunpowder Alley."

Learning English

"Now my children go to American high schools.
They speak English. At night they sit around
the kitchen table, laugh with one another.
I stand by the stove and feel dumb, alone.
I bought a book to learn English
My husband frowned, drank more beer."

"A planet all for himself at first, though later,
After his schedule at work became so crowded
That he rarely managed to get away,
He thought of adding fauna to keep the blades
From growing so thick they choked themselves.
Hence the drilling and nibbling insects,
Hence the chomping and browsing quadrupeds."

"I guess I have to begin by admitting
I'm thankful today I don't live in a country
My country has chosen to liberate,
That Bridgeport's my home, not Baghdad.
Thankful my chances are good, when I leave
For the Stop & Shop, that I'll be returning.
And I'm thankful my TV set is still broken.
No point in wasting energy feeling shame
For the havoc inflicted on others in my name."


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