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Posts Tagged ‘Dublin’

The long June twilight faded into night. Dublin lay enveloped in darkness but for the dim light of the moon that shone through fleecy clouds, casting a pale light as of approaching dawn over the streets and the dark waters of the Liffey. Around the beleaguered Four Courts the heavy guns roared. Here and there through the city, machine guns and rifles broke the silence of the night, spasmodically, like dogs barking on lone farms. Republicans and Free Staters were waging civil war.

On a rooftop near O’Connell Bridge, a Republican sniper lay watching. Beside him lay his rifle and over his shoulders was slung a pair of field glasses. His face was the face of a student, thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic. They were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man who is used to looking at death.

He was eating a sandwich hungrily. He had eaten nothing since morning. He had been too excited to eat. He finished the sandwich, and, taking a flask of whiskey from his pocket, he took a short drought. Then he returned the flask to his pocket. He paused for a moment, considering whether he should risk a smoke. It was dangerous. The flash might be seen in the darkness, and there were enemies watching. He decided to take the risk.

Placing a cigarette between his lips, he struck a match, inhaled the smoke hurriedly and put out the light. Almost immediately, a bullet flattened itself against the parapet of the roof. The sniper took another whiff and put out the cigarette. Then he swore softly and crawled away to the left.

Cautiously he raised himself and peered over the parapet. There was a flash and a bullet whizzed over his head. He dropped immediately. He had seen the flash. It came from the opposite side of the street.

He rolled over the roof to a chimney stack in the rear, and slowly drew himself up behind it, until his eyes were level with the top of the parapet. There was nothing to be seen–just the dim outline of the opposite housetop against the blue sky. His enemy was under cover.

Just then an armored car came across the bridge and advanced slowly up the street. It stopped on the opposite side of the street, fifty yards ahead. The sniper could hear the dull panting of the motor. His heart beat faster. It was an enemy car. He wanted to fire, but he knew it was useless. His bullets would never pierce the steel that covered the gray monster.

Then round the corner of a side street came an old woman, her head covered by a tattered shawl. She began to talk to the man in the turret of the car. She was pointing to the roof where the sniper lay. An informer.

The turret opened. A man’s head and shoulders appeared, looking toward the sniper. The sniper raised his rifle and fired. The head fell heavily on the turret wall. The woman darted toward the side street. The sniper fired again. The woman whirled round and fell with a shriek into the gutter.

Suddenly from the opposite roof a shot rang out and the sniper dropped his rifle with a curse. The rifle clattered to the roof. The sniper thought the noise would wake the dead. He stooped to pick the rifle up. He couldn’t lift it. His forearm was dead. “I’m hit,” he muttered.

Dropping flat onto the roof, he crawled back to the parapet. With his left hand he felt the injured right forearm. The blood was oozing through the sleeve of his coat. There was no pain–just a deadened sensation, as if the arm had been cut off.

Quickly he drew his knife from his pocket, opened it on the breastwork of the parapet, and ripped open the sleeve. There was a small hole where the bullet had entered. On the other side there was no hole. The bullet had lodged in the bone. It must have fractured it. He bent the arm below the wound. the arm bent back easily. He ground his teeth to overcome the pain.

Then taking out his field dressing, he ripped open the packet with his knife. He broke the neck of the iodine bottle and let the bitter fluid drip into the wound. A paroxysm of pain swept through him. He placed the cotton wadding over the wound and wrapped the dressing over it. He tied the ends with his teeth.

Then he lay still against the parapet, and, closing his eyes, he made an effort of will to overcome the pain.

In the street beneath all was still. The armored car had retired speedily over the bridge, with the machine gunner’s head hanging lifeless over the turret. The woman’s corpse lay still in the gutter.

The sniper lay still for a long time nursing his wounded arm and planning escape. Morning must not find him wounded on the roof. The enemy on the opposite roof coverd his escape. He must kill that enemy and he could not use his rifle. He had only a revolver to do it. Then he thought of a plan.

Taking off his cap, he placed it over the muzzle of his rifle. Then he pushed the rifle slowly upward over the parapet, until the cap was visible from the opposite side of the street. Almost immediately there was a report, and a bullet pierced the center of the cap. The sniper slanted the rifle forward. The cap clipped down into the street. Then catching the rifle in the middle, the sniper dropped his left hand over the roof and let it hang, lifelessly. After a few moments he let the rifle drop to the street. Then he sank to the roof, dragging his hand with him.

Crawling quickly to his feet, he peered up at the corner of the roof. His ruse had succeeded. The other sniper, seeing the cap and rifle fall, thought that he had killed his man. He was now standing before a row of chimney pots, looking across, with his head clearly silhouetted against the western sky.

The Republican sniper smiled and lifted his revolver above the edge of the parapet. The distance was about fifty yards–a hard shot in the dim light, and his right arm was paining him like a thousand devils. He took a steady aim. His hand trembled with eagerness. Pressing his lips together, he took a deep breath through his nostrils and fired. He was almost deafened with the report and his arm shook with the recoil.

Then when the smoke cleared, he peered across and uttered a cry of joy. His enemy had been hit. He was reeling over the parapet in his death agony. He struggled to keep his feet, but he was slowly falling forward as if in a dream. The rifle fell from his grasp, hit the parapet, fell over, bounded off the pole of a barber’s shop beneath and then clattered on the pavement.

Then the dying man on the roof crumpled up and fell forward. The body turned over and over in space and hit the ground with a dull thud. Then it lay still.

The sniper looked at his enemy falling and he shuddered. The lust of battle died in him. He became bitten by remorse. The sweat stood out in beads on his forehead. Weakened by his wound and the long summer day of fasting and watching on the roof, he revolted from the sight of the shattered mass of his dead enemy. His teeth chattered, he began to gibber to himself, cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody.

He looked at the smoking revolver in his hand, and with an oath he hurled it to the roof at his feet. The revolver went off with a concussion and the bullet whizzed past the sniper’s head. He was frightened back to his senses by the shock. His nerves steadied. The cloud of fear scattered from his mind and he laughed.

Taking the whiskey flask from his pocket, he emptied it a drought. He felt reckless under the influence of the spirit. He decided to leave the roof now and look for his company commander, to report. Everywhere around was quiet. There was not much danger in going through the streets. He picked up his revolver and put it in his pocket. Then he crawled down through the skylight to the house underneath.

When the sniper reached the laneway on the street level, he felt a sudden curiosity as to the identity of the enemy sniper whom he had killed. He decided that he was a good shot, whoever he was. He wondered did he know him. Perhaps he had been in his own company before the split in the army. He decided to risk going over to have a look at him. He peered around the corner into O’Connell Street. In the upper part of the street there was heavy firing, but around here all was quiet.

The sniper darted across the street. A machine gun tore up the ground around him with a hail of bullets, but he escaped. He threw himself face downward beside the corpse. The machine gun stopped.

Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face.

(ack: classicshorts.com)

The End

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Books are made up of words and each word has its own history, but that does not come to surface while we read, for the idea of reading presupposes a space in which an authors intention could be set up. James Joyce’s Ulysses is his account of one day in the life of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. Joyce wanted to give a sense of realism by incorporating real people and places into them… At the same time that Ulysses presents itself as a realistic novel, it also works on a mythic level, by way of a series of parallels with Homer’s Odyssey. Stephen, Bloom, and Molly correspond respectively to Telemachus, Ulysses, and Penelope, and each of the eighteen episodes of the novel corresponds to an adventure from the Odyssey.’(sparknotes-Ulysses/context) The date June 16, 1904 in which the events take place is also very crucial to the author, but it s irrelevant to the reader. Nevertheless it throws light into the author’s emotional energy that suffuses the proceedings of various personages in the book.

There are three elements that we need in order to get the most out of any book:

Realism of the work: In Ulysses Joyce created situations and personages that derive their naturalness within the basic premise of  reliving a personal event: his first date with Nora Barnacle.

Literary Space which is created by words and it has its own coloring, structure according to the literary devices employed the author.

Mirroring process: This is a subjective element whereby sensibilities of the reader can relate to the events emotionally as well as rationally.

Having used Ulysses as an example let me show the same elements in the Scriptures.

Realism of Ulysses as mentioned above is based on Joyce’s first date with his future wife. It is true. Similarly Truth gives verisimilitude to the scriptures, be it the Bible or Koran or any other. Truth of the godhead gives them their validity. Prophet’s visionary experience gives Koran its impact as the Bible.

In the matter of literary space the Bible creates multiple worlds that run into one another. Kingdom of God and divine Will permeates from the first book to the last Apocalyptic book. Secondly kingdom of Heaven is exemplified by Jesus during his earthly ministry. Thirdly is a earthly kingdom when the Prince of Peace of Messiah sets up his earthly kingdom as fulfillment of prophetic writings. The Book of Daniel for example.

The mirroring process is one area where many tend to go wrong. The reader must exercise his understanding and judgment to get the most out of the Scriptures. The time frame of the reader in the last century is different from the present. Timelessness of Truth is to be mirrored in the reader’s ‘time-space frame’. The Scriptures  are meant to guide us into all righteousness and godliness.  If we cannot live according to the moral guideposts shown in by the author what avails the reader? Truth as impacted into the literary space is the work of Holy Spirit that overrules as well as instructs the reader. It also serves a caution. The Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip: ‘How can I except some man should guide me?(Ac.8:31) There are passages that may defy simple explanations since the author’s language and experience cannot be mirrored directly but from roundabout way. Thus the prophesies of Isaiah cannot be made sense unless one know of the subject he is predicting. No wonder when some fellows stone or hack others for blasphemy they are interpreting the scriptures wrongly.

benny

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At Dublin’s Abbey Theater, poet-playwright Yeats was searching for a particular effect for a glorious sunset. He wanted realism and he coaxed the electricians to try harder with the colors and equipments at their disposal to come up with the effect he could approve. The technicians did all that they could and their experiments at one point elicited a cry of approval. ‘That’s it! Yeats cried stepping forward,’ Hold it, Hold it!’
‘We can’t hold it, sir’ came the stagehand’s apologetic voice,’ The theater is on fire.’
(Sir. Cedric Hardwicke-A Victorian in orbit/Methuen, London)
( posted in wordpress under Theatrical Types)

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2.
Yeats as an old man returned to Dublin after wintering in Spain for his health. He brought with him a letter to Oliver St. John Gogarty, his doctor. He glanced it and the line ‘We have here an antique cardio-sclerotic of advanced age,’and he knew it was the death sentence. So Dr. Gogarty silently shoved into his pocket. The old poet rolled the words ‘cardio-sclerotic’ over and over his tongue. ‘Do you know Gogarty,’said he solemnly, ‘I’d rather be called cardio-sclerotic than Lord of Lower Egypt.’
Here we have the poet’s ear for words, the pure delight in the sound of words, which enabled him to take the sting out of death itself.
3.
In his manner to strangers he was courteous, stately and formal. At times he seemed remote behind a mask of exaggerated dignity. With people whom he liked and felt he understood he would unbend and become by turns eloquent and laughing. All that he did or said had an air of ceremony. He loved to quote Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s proud taunt,’As for living our servants will do that for us,’ and he seemed to carry it into his daily life as though as an article of faith.
Rather than disturb a cat that had settled comfortably on his fur coat left in the green room of Abbey Theater he asked for a pair of scissors. The wardrobe mistress duly brought one and he cut away half of his new fur coat. After claiming the abbreviated coat the poet observed that cat was ,‘I believe in his magical sleep. It’d have been dangerous to wake him.’
On another occasion when attending to some business that demanded his name on several cheques he signed them all, ‘Yours Sincerely, W.B Yeats.’
benny

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Charles Townsend Copeland, a Harvard professor once invited some of his favorite pupils to his chambers. A sophomore asked, “How does one go about learning the fine art of conversation?” The professor lifted an admonishing finger and said:” Listen, my boy.” After a moment’s silence the student said, “Well I’m listening”
Copley said, “That’s all there is to it.”

John Howard Van Amringe of Columbia University was a sworn enemy of coeducation. “It is impossible,” he asserted, “ to teach a boy mathematics if there is a girl in the class.”
“Oh, come professor,” some one protested, ”surely there must be an exception to that.”
“There might be,” snapped Amringe, “but he wouldn’t be worth teaching.”

Sir. Herbert Warren of Magdalen College, Oxford was noted for snobbery. Once an oriental prince, who had entered Magdalen, confided apologetically that in his own language his name meant, ’son of god.’
Sir Herbert after a pause said, “You’d find sons of lots of distinguished men at the College.”

Professor Robert Tyrrell, of Trinity College in Dublin ( who taught Oscar Wilde while he was there,) while holding forth one day, was interrupted by a rude fellow who in the midst of a sentence, asked: “Where is the lavatory?” To which Tyrrell replied, ”First door on the right marked GENTLEMEN, but don’t let that deter you.

Ä. E Houseman the poet and a professor once gave an after dinner speech at Trinity, Cambridge thus: “This great College, of this ancient university has seen some chance sights. It has seen Wordsworth drunk, and Porson sober. And here am I a better poet than Porson, and a better scholar than Wordsworth somewhere betwixt and between.
compiler:benny

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