British cartoonist Rowson and literary history

This video from Britain is called In the Picture – Cartoonist of the Year – Martin Rowson.

By James Eagle in Britain:

The Limerickiad Volume II: John Donne To Jane Austen

by Martin Rowson, Smokestack Books, £9.99

Monday 03 December 2012

The irrepressible skewerer of humbug and hypocrisy picks up where he left off a year ago with the second volume of his five-lines-at-a-time romp through the literary classics.

Having zoomed all the way from Gilgamesh to Shakespeare in the first book, this time Martin Rowson’s given himself just 200 years to play in.

But it’s a tumultuous two centuries taking in John Milton, the metaphysical poets, the Romantics, Tristram Shandy and Frenchmen both scatological and revolutionary, plus Gulliver’s Travels, which Rowson has already had one stab at this year in the shape of his illustrated modern retelling.

The pace never flags as Rowson delivers a tumbling torrent of twisted puns and tortured scansion in which “Midlothian” can’t help but rhyme with “Govean” or “Quixote” with “smacked botty”, and you’ll find yourself having to keep stopping because you’re laughing too hard to try to force the lines into the right meter.

Don’t let the groansome versifying fool you, though.

The man knows his stuff when it comes to the currents of literature and there’s plenty of insight and savage wit amid the mayhem.

Rowson’s at his best when he’s having the most fun and though sometimes those targets are obvious – the sex-obsessed Donne and de Sade and the misanthropic Dr Johnson, for starters – some are pleasingly unpredictable.

He spends a lot more time playing brilliantly with Jane Austen’s tedious romances than with drug-addled radicals like Coleridge and William Blake who might have seemed right up his street.

Paradise Lost gets the extended treatment as Rowson pulls off the rare feat of making Milton’s interminable mitherings not only readable but hilarious.

But those are just a handful of the highlights in another must-have for the bookish, the cynical and gourmets of deliberately dreadful verse.


William Blake anti-war poem

This video is called William Blake Documentary.

From Richard Rozoff’s blog, about late eighteenth century British poet William Blake:

William Blake: O go not forth in Martyrdoms & Wars

November 24, 2012

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts


William Blake: O for a voice like thunder, and a tongue to drown the throat of war!

William Blake: To peaceful arts shall envy bow


William Blake
From Milton

Rouze up O Young Men of the New Age! set your foreheads against the ignorant Hirelings! For we have Hirelings in the Camp, the Court, & the University: who would if they could for ever depress Mental & prolong Corporeal War.

And Milton said: I go to Eternal Death! The Nations still
Follow after the detestable Gods of Priam: in pomp
Of warlike selfhood contradicting and blaspheming.

Lo Orc arises on the Atlantic. Lo his blood and fire
Glow on Americas shore: Albion turns upon his Couch:
He listens to the sounds of War, astonished and confounded:
He weeps into the Atlantic deep…

This Wine-press is call’d War on Earth, it is the Printing-Press
Of Los; and here he lays his words in order above the mortal brain
As cogs are formd in a wheel to turn the cogs of the adverse wheel.

O when shall we tread our Wine-presses in heaven, and Reap
Our wheat with shoutings of joy, and leave the Earth in peace
Remember how Calvin and Luther in fury premature
Sow’d War and stern division between Papists & Protestants
Let it not be so now! O go not forth in Martyrdoms & Wars
We were plac’d here by the Universal Brotherhood & Mercy,
With powers fitted to circumscribe this dark Satanic death,
And that the Seven Eyes of God may have space for Redemption.

These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War
Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife…

Because we were combind in Freedom & holy Brotherhood:
While those combined by Satans Tyranny, first in the blood of War
And Sacrifice, & next, in Chains of imprisonment, are Shapeless Rocks
Retaining only Satans Mathematic Holiness, Length, Bredth & Highth.

Distinguish therefore States from Individuals in those States.
States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease.
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die.

In Tyre & Sidon I saw Baal & Ashtaroth. In Moab Chemosh
In Ammon Molech: loud his Furnaces rage among the Wheels
Of Og, & pealing loud the cries of the Victims of Fire:
And pale his Priestesses infolded in Veils of Pestilence, border’d
With War…