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Tony Grist

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Spring Flowers And Severed Heads [Mar. 10th, 2018|02:37 pm]
Tony Grist
I walked out the front door to a twitteration of starlings. I couldn't see them- except here and there as a silhouette among the bare branches- but they were making a joyful noise.

And the daffodils are out. My sister suggested picking some for Mothering Sunday and I said "No, no, no, no no...We'll go out and buy some." So we did. Ailz and I were going into Paddock Wood anyway to do some posting and I stepped into Waitrose and bought some narcissi in a pot and some irises in a pot- which we can plant out when they're done flowering.

Some of the flowers my sis wanted to plant are on the bank outside the living room window and while we were in the car, driving into town I came up with the perfect riposte- "But that's bank robbery"- which I duly unloaded on her when we got back....

I disapprove of cut flowers. They look so much better in nature. Picking them to stick in a vase is like killing animals so you can stick their heads on the wall.


While we're talking about severed heads, the Telegraph has reprinted an excellent essay about Thomas More by Hilary Mantell- and accompanied it with a reproduction of Hans Holbein's fabulous portrait of the man. "Vulpine" is the word she uses to describe his face- and she's right; I'd not looked at it closely before- but the features are sharp, the eyes beady and everything coming together to speak of hunger. It's become hard for us to see More straight- what with the sanctification and the Scofieldisation- but he wasn't altogether a nice man- a genius, certainly- and a person of principle- but people were burned and tortured and harassed on his orders. As she says, addressing him, "we have to lie about you a little in order to like you."

[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2018-03-11 02:29 am (UTC)
That portrait of Sir Thomas More is at the Frick Gallery in New York City. We went there to see Girl with a Pearl Earring when it was there some years ago, and then walked around some of the other galleries. I was startled, to say the least, to come face to face with that face all unawares.

Harvard professor the late Richard Marius wrote a gripping biography of More. Working on the Yale edition of More's work was his day job -- he also was a novelist and playwright, and it showed. It's worth a read.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-03-11 09:41 am (UTC)
What I know about More is mainly derived from fiction- A Man For All Seasons (of course) and Mantell's Cromwell books. I've never read Utopia; perhaps I should.

Holbein was one of the greatest portrait artists. His people are wonderfully present.
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