Monday Musings, #27, 2016

As Augustine of Hippo once proclaimed, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”  Drawing on his advice, this morning’s post takes the form of a brief announcement to say there will be no posts this week as I am off on a brief northerly trip into the land of tartan and lochs.  Specifically, to the city Alexander McCall Smith described thus:

“This was a townscape raised in the teeth of cold winds from the east; a city of winding cobbled streets and haughty pillars; a city of dark nights and candlelight, and intellect.”

See you / write you this time next week!

[Words by N R Nolan]

7 Authors We Would Love To Have Partied With (But It’s Probably Good We Didn’t) []

It is the task of the writer to enthrall his or her readers, to evoke a sense of place or occasion so powerfully, so successfully, that readers visualize themselves as actually being there. So it is that over the years many have felt themselves part of the overflowing champagne scene of The Great Gatsby, or the booze-fueled, drug-crazed Beat crowd, or the well-lubricated nocturnal intellectual gatherings in Jazz Age Paris.

It is a feeling that stays with us and, at times, sadly affects the enjoyment of partying in real life. As we read – consuming eagerly a scene over-brimming with wine and conversation between equal minds, with a glass of our own at hand – a fantasy is born wherein our desire to be part of that written world […]

[First Published at  Continue reading at:]

Sunday Sustenance (Poetry For The Soul), #19, 2016

‘O! how I love, on a fair summer’s eve’

O! how I love, on a fair summer’s eve,

     When streams of light pour down the golden west,

     And on the balmy zephyrs tranquil rest

The silver clouds, far – far away to leave

All meaner thoughts, and take a sweet reprieve

     From little cares; to find, with easy quest,

     A fragrant wild, with Nature’s beauty dressed,

And there into delight my soul deceive.

There warm my breast with patriotic lore,

     Musing on Milton’s fate – on Sidney’s bier –

          Till their stern forms before my mind arise:

Perhaps on the wing of Poesy upsoar,

     Full often dropping a delicious tear,

          When some melodious sorrow spells mine eyes.

by John Keats


Written in 1816, two years after his first extant poem and five years before his death, Keats’ taste for the “patriotic lore” of the likes of Milton and Sidney (inspiration for the shaping of his craft in “Poesy”) reconfirms this piece of verse as some of his earlier work; an insinuation at his lack of confidence his beginning dabblings, if you will, outside of his work in medicine.

Indeed, in his letter To C. C. Clarke, 9 October 1816 wherein he encloses “a sheet or two of Verse which [he] composed some time ago”, Keats writes:

[…] the Muse is so frequently mentioned.  I here sinned in the face of Heaven even while remembering what, I think, Horace says, “never presume to make a God appear but for an Action worthy of a God.”

This reference to Horace alone indicating his knowledge of and predilection for the Classics, within the above poem itself the reader is guided to this same conclusion by mention of “zephyrs” (those Greek westerly winds) and a Pagan invocation of “Nature” (capitalized; though perhaps inspired also by Wordsworth et al).

All the above aside, what can be gleaned from this early piece is held within its last two lines, a “delicious tear” and “melodious sorrow” hinting at great things to come in vein of “Ode on Melancholy” and Keats’ famous declaration in his letter To The George Keatses, 14 February – 3 May 1819 :

Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul?

[Words by N R Nolan]

Saturday Sipping – On Wine, #18, 2016


Image from Pinterest

“This is wine,” Ghoolion said solemnly. “Wine is drinkable sunlight. It’s the most glorious summer’s day imaginable, captured in a bottle. Wine can be a melody in a cut-glass goblet, but it can also be a cacophony in a dirty tumbler, or a rainy autumn night, or a funeral march that scorches your tongue.”

― Walter Moers, Der Schrecksenmeister

How evocative are these words in John Brownjohn’s translation of Moers’ The Alchemaster’s Apprentice?  Let the imagery swirl round your mind for a minute…  Quite something, no?

Wines Tried

(1) Reserve des Tuguets, 2014 Madiran, Saint-Mont France, 13%.

2016-08-26 08.27.15

Image Author’s Own

An affordable wine, but elegant.  Although to the nose this seemed it might be acidic, on the tongue this Madiran had a fullness, not just in body, but a velvet quality.  There were definite spicy tones layered with liquorice and finished with an ever so slight metallic tinge.  Was particularly nice to have a proper cork instead of a screw-top for once, too.

A red that doesn’t necessarily require pairing with red meat or heavy foods (indeed, I had this with some white fish – I’m non-traditionalist when it comes to food & wine matching).  The poetry is also optional…

Purchased for £4.50.

There you have it – just the one this week!  Enjoy your oenophilic sipping this Bank Holiday weekend🙂

[Words by N R Nolan]

Friday Feast – On Food, #25, 2016

“Waffles are just awesome bread.”

― John Green

Yes, they are, but they’re also so much more than that.  Seeing my daughter and her friend indulge yesterday morning with honey (personally, I would have added cinnamon too) on one and whipped cream and strawberries on the other (not a morning thing for this grown-up), it came to me how scents from breakfast tables in our childhood (and most everyone recognises this) create a feeling of contentment when our olfactory system notes them in adulthood.  Just smelling the toasting waffles yesterday morning, my mind went something like this:

“Mmm.  What a gorgeous smell.  Ah!  Sunlight!  What a beautiful morning.  Ooh, I think I’ll make some coffee – that will suit the waffle smell so wonderfully!  Who cares about the early hour?  Waffles are being heated.  Children are indulging.  ‘Twill be a brilliant day!”

Perhaps my resistance to insinuation was lowered due to the clock, but I have to say if you’ve got yummy food “cooking” in the kitchen most mornings, that pretty much sets you up for the day.

There, you have my wisdom for the day😉

[Words by N R Nolan]

Back To School: 11 Habits Of Booklovers At The Start Of The New Term (

You knew it was coming.  You had your summer reading list: the personal one, with its amazing contemporary titles you’ve absolutely devoured this holiday, but still have dozens left to go through; and the academic one, with the dry prose and difficult language, and intimidating page counts you’ve struggled to put a dent in, let alone complete.  And now it’s happening: school/college is about to recommence, and you’re not sure whether Anna Karenina can be read in 48 hours without lifting your eyes from the page and, you know, eating or drinking (note: it can’t).

However, whether you’re returning to middle school, high school, or college there is that other side of the coin which brings a warm and cosy feeling to the serious booklover.  It’s the autumn term: season of mists, and sweaters and scarves, and the whole attractive romance of academia.  This is what booklovers live for.  If you’re no longer confident you fit into this category, given your unwillingness to pre-read the entirety of Paradise Lost this summer, check to see whether any of these seem familiar[…]

[First Published at  Continue reading at:]

A Thursday Quote For Thought, #29, 2016

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

― Aldous Huxley, Music at Night and Other Essays

There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not working with words in some capacity, so it’s a breath of fresh air to lay down my pen or step away from the keyboard and create non-verbally.  And though I’m taking somewhat of a diversion here from Huxley’s point, there really is nothing to compare with music when it comes to expression (and anyone who knows me knows I love my words!).  The stress-relief from it is nearly incomparable.

Musical notes leap far above the capacity of words in transferring feeling aurally.  Whether it be at piano or seated with cello, I find there is a detachment from surroundings and an elevation of awareness to a wholly different plane when playing.  I think my daughter senses this too, now.  Time is lost when she practises; the session elongates as she moves on from established works to her own compositions and, further, to her own improvisations in the moment.  It really is wonderful to listen to.  It is in some way her “Dear Diary” equivalent, if you will.

But to return to Huxley’s point and try to package it in (perhaps banal) brevity – how many of us in youth exchanged songs with friends and those we cared about / were attracted to?  Weren’t we trying to surpass our inadequate words and shout our meaning with mix tapes and suggested listening for our intended audience?

I leave it with you.

[Words by N R Nolan]

Wednesday Wisdom – Thinking Words, #26, 2016

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”

― Susan Polis Schutz

Definitely a sentiment that sits well with me today, the temperature rising to at least 30C and the rays beckoning, whispering of tempting steps into the open air, barefooted and free from the shackles of this desk.  Add a few wildflowers and you’ve an idyllic scenario indeed… Don’t forget a touch of cooling breeze though, or else the dream doesn’t vanish, but rather melts into a puddle of unfulfillment…

[Words by N R Nolan]

7 Books For Reluctant And Dyslexic Readers That Make The Struggle Worthwhile (

The school years are tough, no more so than if you’re diagnosed with dyslexia. The problem is many people assume reading is a natural trait for humans. In fact, talking or oral communication is our brain’s natural predisposition – reading is quite another thing and has no genetic basis. As The Yale Center For Dyslexia & Creativity website explains:

“When you read, your brain has to do a lot of things at once [:…] connect letters with sounds and put those sounds together in the right order […]  Then it has to help you put letters, words, and paragraphs together in ways that let you read them quickly and understand what they mean. It also has to connect words and sentences with other kinds of knowledge.” […]

[First Published at  Continue reading at:]

Tuesday Tunes – Poetry Through Music, #29, 2016

[Inspired by Dirk Maassen’s “Endless”:]


this feeling, held within

precious as gems

while fingers fly

over keys – output

of words

of music

of sensations wholly


by speech

haunting her

haunting him

in absence diurnal.



the promise between them

eye to eye

hand in hand

skin to skin

against a world foreign

to their desires

basic need

for each other

like this

just like this



[Copyright © N R Nolan 2016]