Wednesday, December 02, 2020

On the cusp of winter …

… Poem of the month. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A grand lady …

Dolly Parton's masterpiece. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

She sent her own money to help those who lost their homes to wildfire in her native Smoky Mountains. Parton has never been publicly political, but her Covid donation, like her previous efforts, is suggestive of a philosophy about poverty and opportunity that makes clear how she found her way to success—and to philanthropy.

That philosophy also rings out in her music. Think not of her feminist anthem, “9 to 5,” or “I Will Always Love You,” which Whitney Houston turned into an annuity for Parton that likely helps fund her generous giving. Rather, Parton’s true masterpiece is one of her first as a solo artist, after she bravely walked away from her role as the “girl singer” for country legend Porter Wagoner’s show. Her poignant, biblical, and literate “growing up” song, “Coat of Many Colors,” is also a musical map out of deep poverty.

Anniversary …

… “Disease” and John Brown’s death in 1859.

A great man at work …

… From Between Two Millstones, Book 2: Exile in America, 1978–1994. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… it turned out that I couldn’t manage “simply to read”: my hand was always reaching out to note down my judgment, my appraisal, either of a particular aspect or in general—of the author’s techniques, structure, characters, the views expressed. I noted specific quotes, too. But when you’ve made such a quantity of notes, you don’t want to leave them around gathering dust, either: you have to work up your notes and put them into some kind of harmonious form, into a coherent text. And in this way, based on a disparate selection of books, a collection formed—they weren’t literary reviews exactly, no, just my impressions. And now, as more are added, I’ve started calling this my “Literary Collection.” Perhaps more will accumulate in the coming years.


Dave also sends along this: Truth In Exile.

Solzhenitsyn drew the appropriate conclusion: the western media was now aping propaganda techniques of the KGB—i.e., condemning books that had not been read or even discussed and “sticking crude political labels onto complex works of literature.” When the English language version finally appeared, the critical appraisals of the book were largely positive and appreciative of the wisdom and humility in the book. But it was already too late. Call it Cold War cancel culture. The episode was also a foreshadowing of the control political correctness would exercise over public discourse in America in the post-Cold War period. 

For your listening pleasure …

 

 
 Harriet Cohen as born on this date in 1895.

And the winner is …

… Poem of the Decade: May 2010-Apr 2020 : IBPC. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to think on …

Moderation, the Golden Mean, the Aristonmetron, is the secret of wisdom and of happiness. But it does not mean embracing an unadventurous mediocrity; rather it is an elaborate balancing act, a feat of intellectual skill demanding constant vigilance. Its aim is a reconciliation of opposites.
— Robertson Davies, who died on this date in 1995

Word of the Day …

… Aglet | Word Genius.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Blogging note …

 I have to take Debbie to Penn Medicine for PT this afternoon and prior to that I have to do some shopping. So blogging will be minimal for a while.

An auspicious debut …

… Reviews and Reflections: A tangled skein becomes a study in scarlet.

Something to think on …

The trick is to love somebody.... If you love one person, you see everybody else differently.
— James Baldwin, who died on this date in 1987

Mischievous provocateur …

… JOHN BETJEMAN : ANGRY YOUNG MAN. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The young Betjeman, for all his go-ahead airs, is clearly nostalgic for the medieval Age of Faith when everything made sense. He dislikes the ‘pedantry’ of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period, finds things improving markedly under the Georgians, delights in Regency architecture, and dismisses much of what comes after, especially the more snobbish and ‘refeened’ elements of Victorian style. 

Word of the Day …

… Nurdle | Word Genius.

Monday, November 30, 2020

The writer and the man …

Wendell Berry's High Horse. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
…  rereading Berry, I realized that most of his essays aren’t really essays. They’re disquisitions, extended arguments. I don’t often get around to agreeing or disagreeing with their author, because I’m too busy arguing with his prose. Berry derives his strength as a writer from contact with the earth, the more immediate, the better. All his life, he’s been a vigilant man of conscience. He’s capable of moving and inspiring readers, capable too, at times, of getting to the heart of a cultural or social problem. But he can also make you feel like you’re warming yourself at a bonfire of straw men and women. All too often I’m disturbed, to the point of physical unease, by the involuted, strangely patristic way his writing and thinking move, the grandeur of his modesty.
 He seems, to borrow a phrase from George Bernard Shaw, “too full of the validity of his remoter generalizations.”

The guns of August …

… August 1914 by Isaac Rosenberg | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Isaac Rosenberg, born on November 25, 1890, was killed in action on April 1, 1918.

Someone send this to Bill Gates …

 
 (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Destinations …

Two poems by Rachel Hadas. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But of course

… Horowitz: Hopkins analysis showing COVID-19 has 'relatively no effect on deaths' in US retracted from publication. Why? - TheBlaze.
Yes, the CDC's excess death data can be unreliable, and yes, we need more recent months of data to make a better assessment. But rather than engaging in censorship, why are we not debating the merits of both sides? Why does any shred of good news about the virus have to be stifled rather than rebutted or debated?

 

Appreciation …

… Adrift in Cosmic Quarantine: Randy Newman Turns 77 - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As he turns 77 on November 28, Newman’s career continues to toggle between over a dozen keenly wrought rock albums — from his eponymous 1968 debut up to 2017’s Dark Matter — and smooth Hollywood scores: Toy Story (1995), Marriage Story (2019). That he projects authority and comfort in such disparate musical zones speaks to both his range and his disquiet. He’s a musical intellectual who has managed to get by without the typical celebrity headaches. There didn’t seem to be much new to learn about Newman, starting with his early breakout numbers (“I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” from 1966), to the tribute album Nilsson Sings Newman (1970) that turned him into a brand, to the standout number from the soundtrack for the 1970 film Performance“Gone Dead Train,” that rang out completely unintimidated next to Mick Jagger.


RIP …

… Bob Miller, 2nd-to-last 1950 Phillies Whiz Kid, dies at 94. (Hat tip, Jon Caroulis,)

Not that Florida …

 … Reviews and Reflections: Sammy begins his journey in Florida.

Q&A …

… How To Tell If You're Being Canceled.

Kindly Inquisitors author Jonathan Rauch on the never-ending battle to defend free speech.

 Canceling comes from the universe of propaganda and not critical discourse. It's about organizing or manipulating a social environment or a media environment with a goal or predictable effect of isolating, deplatforming, or intimidating an ideological opponent. It's about shaping the battlefield. It's about making an idea or a person socially radioactive. It is not about criticism. It is not about ideas.

Something to think on …

Except among those whose education has been in the minimalist style, it is understood that hasty moral judgments about the past are a form of injustice.
— Jacques Barzun, born on this date in 1997

Word of the Day …

… Bathos | Word Genius.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Haiku …

 Clouds drift overhead.

Fretwork of leafless branches.

Cold air and bright sun.

Ah, yes …

… Potcake Poet’s Choice: ‘Squelch’ by Nina Parmenter. (Hat ti[, Dave Lull.)

Odd couple …

 Reviews and Reflections: Amos and his daughter reconsidered,

Mike Tyson, book lover …

“And this world’s a fickle measure…” (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… to hear Tyson cite a quip inaccurately attributed to Cicero, “a room without books is like a body without a soul,” is to wonder if he’s putting us on. Late in the interview, he jokes that if you quote books, you fool people into thinking you’re smart—but Tyson, for all his malapropisms and mispronunciations and odd mannerisms, is intelligent. He’s going round after round with big questions that many of the ostensibly educated attendees at his book-talk don’t bother to ask.

Something to think on …

There is someone that I love even though I don't approve of what he does. There is someone I accept though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is......me.
— C. S. Lewis, born on this date in 1898

In case you wondered …

… Why traditional masculine attributes still matter on the battlefield.

 … just 70 years ago this week, the First Marine Division fought its way into the pages of history with their gallant stand at the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. In temperatures as low as minus-30 degrees, the Marines held off some 100,000 Chinese attackers and fought their way in hellish conditions back to the allied lines.

Today, however, we live in a decidedly unheroic age, one in which the traditional masculine attributes of courage, physical strength, and moral fortitude have been disparaged by feminists and soy boys nearly into oblivion.

Word of the Day …

… Emulous | Word Genius.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Lovely …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Wedding (Marc Chagall), Sonnet #540.

I should have posted this earlier today, as I usually would, but it was a distracting day.

In th tradition of Walter Duranty …

… Fabricator and fraudster | Oz Katerji | The Critic Magazine.
The veneration of Fisk, in his obituaries and throughout his career, serve as an indictment of a British foreign press that continued to indulge a man who they knew was violating not just ethical boundaries, but also moral ones. In a way, the glowing obituaries, free from the constraints of the normal journalistic practice of fact-checking and evidence, were a fitting tribute to Fisk. Like him, they preferred to tell a story that was not true, because stories are often far more comforting than the reality.
 

Aniversary …

Reviews and Reflections: Celebrating the Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

A poet we need …

… John Senior: Poet of Reality - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

John Senior may have thought reality was endangered and receding, but I suspect he was only partly right. His poetic legacy, at least, suggests otherwise. “This collection is not private,” Senior tells us of his slender volume, “but perhaps it has no public.”

Still ahead …

… The Unheavenly City at Fifty - Claremont Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

While many people today may simply dismiss what Banfield said, it is impossible for me to dismiss it. As a personal note, I happen to have dropped out of high school at age 16, and took a full-time job as a messenger delivering telegrams for the Western Union telegraph company. But the law required me to also spend some time in what was called a “continuation school.”

It was a time-wasting farce. I informed the teacher that the law could force me to be there, but it could not force me to participate, and I had no intention of participating. I was indeed angry “at the stupidity and hypocrisy of a system” that used me like this. Fortunately, Western Union had its own continuation school for its messengers, and I transferred there, where I learned to type, a skill that would be of some value to me in later years—instead of being used to justify some teacher’s job in a public school.


Craftsman at work …

“Seventy Years Ago”: A Review of Red Stilts by Ted Kooser. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Kooser, like Williams, is integral to it. He is not a genius but a craftsman — think of Williams’ provocative statement that a poem is “a machine made out of words.” A Kooser poem is a dispatch from small-town America. Flyover country. For him, as it should be for us, a man standing at a bulletin board outside of the grocery store is worth documenting. 

Something to think on …

One never gets to know a person's character better than by watching his behavior during decisive moments.... It is always only danger which forces the most deeply hidden strengths and abilities of a human being to come forth.
— Stefan Zweig, born on this date in 1881

A closer look …

On That Censored Johns Hopkins All-Cause Death Analysis. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If it weren’t for the censorship, I wouldn’t have got the dozens and dozens of requests to look at it. Now everybody is sure Johns Hopkins is hiding something. Hilarious.

The reason it was censored it particularly stupid, too: “… it was brought to our attention that our coverage of Genevieve Briand’s presentation ‘COVID-19 Deaths: A Look at U.S. Data’ has been used to support dangerous inaccuracies that minimize the impact of the pandemic.”

Yeah, sure. Ninety percent of the population is racing in every direction like extras in a Toho Godzilla movie, only in masks. Johns Hopkins thinks this level of abject irrational terror is just about right. Besides, everybody knows science means only have one unchangeable opinion on every matter. 

Funniest thing: they forgot, at least of this writing, to censor the YouTube video where Briand gives a talk.

Idiots.

Anyway, to Briand’s work itself. I appreciate the spirit, but don’t think there’s as much to it as some are hoping.

Word of the day …

… Dulcify | Word Genius.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Welcome to Orwellville …

 … Trust the science.

Was it because it was wrong? Was there a scientific error that slipped past the reviewers? Nope. Johns Hopkins tweeted that it was because “the article was being used to support false and dangerous inaccuracies about the impact of the pandemic.”

How sad that Johns Hopkins has decided to give a pass on the evidence. Like it or not, it will get out. It already is getting out. 

Just so you know …

… Evelyn Waugh’s favourite heroine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Re-discovering Helena’s humour was the perfect bridge to renewed engagement with the text, and I found myself listening for it, struck by its effectiveness. When her pilgrimage to Jerusalem begins, Helena has concerns about the commodification of any material remains that she might discover. But, in keeping with a level-headed assessment of her faithful task, she does not mock or judge Constantine when he superstitiously forges relics from her horde into a bridle for his horse. She giggles, rather, and quietly so, bringing her audience directly alongside in her understanding of what she has found and what it means. 


You may know some …

'Smart People" Review: Prisoners of Their Politics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


What makes “Smart People” more than just a brilliant hatchet job is that Ms. Diamond clearly feels for her characters, who are imprisoned by the stereotypes they embody. They are—so to speak—human beings beneath the skin, and none of them are happy with their privileged lives, least of all Ginny, whose ambition to get ahead is so powerful that it has cut her off from the ordinary pleasures of human existence: “I don’t do girlfriend well. I’ve never actually done girlfriend.”

Anniversary …

… Reviews and Reflections: Whom do you trust?

Very interesting …

… Study: Absolutely NO excess deaths from COVID-19.

When Briand looked at the 2020 data during that seasonal period, COVID-19-related deaths exceeded deaths from heart diseases. This was highly unusual since heart disease has always prevailed as the leading cause of deaths. However, when taking a closer look at the death numbers, she noted something strange. As Briand compared the number of deaths per cause during that period in 2020 to 2018, she noticed that instead of the expected drastic increase across all causes, there was a significant decrease in deaths due to heart disease. Even more surprising, as seen in the graph below, this sudden decline in deaths is observed for all other causes. 

This trend is completely contrary to the pattern observed in all previous years. Interestingly, … the total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19. 

Of course, I don’t want to undermine anyone’s faith in COVID-19. 

Word of the Day …

… Sapid | Word Genius.

Something to think on…

Truth lies within a little and certain compass, but error is immense.
— James Agee, born on this date in 1909

The art of Thanksgiving...

 ...Context and meaning

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Roundup …

… Cartes de visite by William Logan | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Once can only hope …

… Vietnam Must Drop Charges Against Poet Tran Duc Thach - PEN America. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Many of them not terribly interesting …

… Oxford Dictionaries: 2020 has too many Words of the Year to name just one | Reference and languages books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden)

An exquisite pirtrait …

… Reviews and Reflections: On the road again with the Abbess of Andalusia.

To one and all …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Thanksgiving Message From President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The future of journalism …

… Why high-quality analysis is no longer the preserve of print journalism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Physical newspapers are in decline; soon the grand old mastheads will be seen only on screens. But this may not be their salvation. Their problem is … that a lot of people have got there first. In particular, there are now many online-only journals producing high-quality opinion and analysis, once almost the sole preserve of the broadsheet newspapers. But are they good enough to compete with the highly paid opinionators and analysers of the newspapers? The answer, I fear, is that in some cases they are and, in a few cases, they are better.


Just so you know …

2020’s Best-kept Literary Secret. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This eighth novel from Marly Youmans breaks a lot of twenty-first-century rules and is hard to categorize—two more possible reasons that it never made the New York Review of Books. It’s a beautifully crafted adventure set in the America of 330 years ago. The novel is both Christian and about Christians but doesn’t comfortably fit into the “Christian fiction” category. The protagonist is a teenage girl, but readers of all ages will love this book (it will especially appeal to women and older teen girls). Who doesn’t love a rip-roaring story about a dangerous foreign land and a smart, thoughtful, God-fearing heroine?


See also: “Axe-grinding and message spoil what you make”: An interview with Marly Youmans.



Something to think on …

If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward and fear nothing.
— Katherine Drexel, born on this date in 1858

Word of the Day …

… Craic | Word Genius.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Hmm …

The Eternal Silence Of Infinite Space - NOEMA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The cosmos is 93 billion light-years across, with perhaps 2 trillion galaxies each containing hundreds of billions of stars and, as we can now be pretty sure, hundreds of billions of planets. And yet still we see and hear nothing. There seems to be only what the French mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal called “the eternal silence of these infinite spaces.” Extraterrestrial life, if it exists, is either very well hidden or just too far away in time and space.

Suppose God just wanted to give us an idea of infinity and the rareness and preciousness of life. Perhaps Earth and its inhabitants together serve as a perspective figure.

A real journalist …

… PHILLY’S WRECK-IT RALPH.

I was just chatting with Ralph in the Italian Market.

RIP …

… John O’Brien (1945-2020). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The dumbest generation …

… Campus Reform | Indiana University students enraged after Hong Kong protestor is invited to speak.

I'm so old I remember when college students supported people like this.

At home with the whales …

… Jem Cresswell's Book "Giants" Features Underwater Portraits of Whales. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Birthday anniversary …

 Reviews and Reflections: Wealthy son of a Scottish weaver and political radical.

Something to think on …

To have passed through life and never experienced solitude is to have never known oneself. To have never known oneself is to have never known anyone.
— Joseph Wood Krutch, born on this date in 1893

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Sounds plausible …

… Facebook Announces It Will Now Add Warnings To Any Posts Expressing Hope During The Pandemic | The Babylon Bee.

Haiku …

 Windless at nightfall.

Stillness on the patio.

Stillness in his heart.

Remembering …

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Conservative Author, Newspaper Columnist, TV Host And Magazine Editor William F. Buckley Was Born.

And the nominees are …

… The Petrona Award: The Petrona Award 2020 - Shortlist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

Study: Asymptomatic and secondary infected individuals do not infect others.

Unfortunately, I fully expect an effort by many readers to reject these results, digging desperately for any tidbit that might be used to discredit it wholly. Being skeptical is of course absolutely proper, but today too many people aren’t skeptical, they are downright hostile to the arrival of good news. They are in love with their fear of COVID-19, and will oppose and reject any data that might mean their fear is mistaken.


Creative scribbling …

… You’ve Got to Draw the Line Somewhere: Doodling for Writers.

Fish Ewan offers up a wonderful chart detailing the links between perspective in drawing and literary Point of View. She has excellent points and pointers as to how exploring our characters in ink can help us learn more about the folks we write about in our memoirs. The prompts throughout the book are brilliant!


Not your usual art work …

 Reviews and Reflections: On being defenseless until the artist finishes.

Getting to know her …

… Crime Thriller Review: The Riveting Case of Aileen Wournos - The Jewish Voice. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Increasingly, Lee drives Chesler up a wall. Yet Chesler can’t help feeling sympathy for “this volatile, trigger-tempered, foul-mouthed child-woman” who, dealt a childhood of abuse and neglect, appears never to have had a chance at a normal life. One of Chesler’s accomplishments in this stunning memoir is that even a reader who doesn’t share an ounce of her sympathy for Wuornos will be forced by the book’s end to acknowledge that, at the very least, Wuornos’s trial was a betrayal of the cause of equal justice.

Something to think on …

The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.
— William F. Buckley, Jr., born on this date in 1925

Teach like an Elizabethan …

… Innovation Through Constraint | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Twelve-hour days were devoted to a curriculum based on the classical trivium and featuring heavy doses of Latin translation. Corporal punishment was a given. The enterprise was educationally incorrect from every modern point of view. Indeed, it amounts to a horror show for the up-to-date pedagogue trained in our universities’ progressive schools of education. And yet, Newstok points out, “Thinkers trained in this unyielding system went on to generate world-shifting insights, found forms of knowledge—indeed, the scientific method itself—that continue to shape our lives.”

Word of the Day …

… Retroject | Word Genius.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Adjusting

 (3) Owen Grey on Twitter: ""November" by Rhina P. Espaillat https://t.co/WjpqMrRY0y" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Working class lady …

… More than a Step on the Boss Man’s Ladder. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Smarsh begins She Come By It Naturalby acknowledging Dolly Parton’s role in society today and her ability to unify disparate groups, but this book focuses on Dolly Parton as representative of working-class women. Parton was born in rural Tennessee to hard-working but poor parents who paid the doctor who delivered her with a sack of grain.


More than a Step on the 
Boss Man’s Ladder
More than a Step on the Boss Man’s Ladder
More than a Step on the Boss Man’s Ladder

Creative opposition …

 Reviews and Reflections: The rivalry that forged a nation.

Something to think on …

Art is the attention we pay to the wholeness of the world.
— Guy Davenport, born on this date in 1927

Word of the Day …

… Multivocal | Word Genius.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Haiku …

 Sitting at twilight 

He ponders his own twilight.

The gray clouds drift by.


Anniversary …

… CS Lewis: A Sonnet | Malcolm Guite. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His obituary, along with Aldous Huxley’s, was buried in the newspapers because Kennedy’s assassination the same day.
Here is something interesting, though: C. S. Lewis on the Coronavirus.

And the winners are …

… National Book Awards 2020 - National Book Foundation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Facades …

… zmkc: OH & S.

When one considers that we now understand that the new virus that we are all being constrained because of only presents extreme danger to some people and that doctors have now worked out quite a few ways to make many of them better, it is hard not to feel faintly suspicious, given how genuinely damaging the measures we are being forced to accept are in so many ways. 

Many seem to feel quite comfortable being ordered about. 

Everyone around then remembers …

… JFK’s legacy reconsidered on this grim anniversary.

Is England...

 ...The new Hollywood?

Something to think on …

We may go to the moon, but that' s not very far. The greatest distance we have to cover still lies within us.
— Charles de Gaulle, born on this date in 1890

Word of the Day …

… Personage | Word Genius.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Haiku

 In memory of Richard Burgin

His dear friend has died.

His own being has grown less.

When next will we talk?



The trees cast shadows 

On the old school’s brick walls

Time present. Time past.

Birthday anniversary …

 … Voltaire’s literary and personal evolution in exile.

Mark thy calendar times 2 …

… Nathaniel Popkin and Gail Straub: TO REACH THE SPRING | The Walden Woods Project.



(Hat tip, Doug Gordon.)

Something to think on …

Whenever I'm in trouble, I pray. And because I'm in trouble all of the time, I pray almost constantly.
— Isaac Bashevis Singer, born on this date in 1902

Grand gesture …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Casting (Winslow Homer), Sonnet #539.

Word of the Day …

… Ratiocinate | Word Genius.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Beneath the charm …

Cary Grant struggled with a turbulent past for decades, but found peace after quitting Hollywood: book | Fox News. (Hat tip, Jon Caroulis.)

To my readers …

 I am really bummed out by the news that my friend Richard Burgin has died. I may not have much impulse to blog in the coming days. Please bear with me.

RIP …

 Jan Morris obituary | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Very sad news … …

 … Richard Burgin, writer, founder of prestigious journal, dies at 73.

Richard was a friend and one of the greatest short story writers ever. Here  is my review of what may well have been his last book. I feel chilly and grown old.

Have a look …

 … Amazing Winners of 2020 Spotlight Photography Awards.

Appreciation …

… Cole, Cole Heart - Terry Teachout, Commentary Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
While Porter never hinted other than obliquely in his work at any gnawing dissatisfaction with the glamorous life he led, his best ballads are self-evidently the work of a man consumed by the need for physical passion (“Night and day under the hide of me / There’s an, oh, such a hungry yearning burning inside of me”) and haunted by the dream of romantic longing (“You’d be so nice, you’d be paradise / To come home to and love”). Stephen Sondheim was surely on to something when he observed that “Porter’s characters were all aspects of Cole Porter, or at least his public image: the worldly cosmopolitan with an aching heart.” Broadway has never had a wittier songwriter or one capable of deeper feeling, and the songs he left behind stand as a permanent monument to his inspired craftsmanship.