I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Poetry (Garter) blogging

I don't know where the convention of Friday poetry blogging originated, but it's one I'm going to try and honour for a while. But with a twist, of course. I'm going to blog poems that are about the Order of the Garter. No, really, bear with me: it'll be fun! Some are hilarious; and all are intriguing; and I'll try and show you why.

First is a poem I think my mother first showed me (or I associate it with her because the poet's initials are the first and third letters (of three) of my mother's name) — and how weird is that? that I should end up writing on the Order of the Garter, including a look at Book One of the Faerie Queene where Una is heroine....

Anyhoo, the poem normally goes with this picture:

I have been looking closely at this picture lately, for the wonderful way it condenses two moments of the George story from Voragine's Golden Legend. [Note: St George is the patron saint of the Order.] First George spears the dragon; and then the maiden ties her girdle around its neck and leads it (like a little dog, it says) back to the town, whereupon George dispatches it with civic witnesses. I'm increasingly thinking the idea of this girdle sits somewhere behind Edward III's choice of the Garter for an emblem.

Not my Best Side

U. A. Fanthorpe


Not my best side, I'm afraid.
The artist didn't give me a chance to
Pose properly, and as you can see,
Poor chap, he had this obsession with
Triangles, so he left off two of my
Feet. I didn't comment at the time
(What, after all, are two feet
To a monster?) but afterwards
I was sorry for the bad publicity.
Why, I said to myself, should my conqueror
Be so ostentatiously beardless, and ride
A horse with a deformed neck and square hoofs?
Why should my victim be so
Unattractive as to be inedible,
And why should she have me literally
On a string? I don't mind dying
Ritually, since I always rise again,
But I should have liked a little more blood
To show they were taking me seriously.


It's hard for a girl to be sure if
She wants to be rescued. I mean, I quite
Took to the dragon. It's nice to be
Liked, if you know what I mean. He was
So nicely physical, with his claws
And lovely green skin, and that sexy tail,
And the way he looked at me,
He made me feel he was all ready to
Eat me. And any girl enjoys that.
So when this boy turned up, wearing machinery,
On a really dangerous horse, to be honest
I didn't much fancy him. I mean,
What was he like underneath the hardware?
He might have acne, blackheads or even
Bad breath for all I could tell, but the dragon--
Well, you could see all his equipment
At a glance. Still, what could I do?
The dragon got himself beaten by the boy,
And a girl's got to think of her future.


I have diplomas in Dragon
Management and Virgin Reclamation.
My horse is the latest model, with
Automatic transmission and built-in
Obsolescence. My spear is custom-built,
And my prototype armour
Still on the secret list. You can't
Do better than me at the moment.
I'm qualified and equipped to the
Eyebrow. So why be difficult?
Don't you want to be killed and/or rescued
In the most contemporary way? Don't
You want to carry out the roles
That sociology and myth have designed for you?
Don't you realize that, by being choosy,
You are endangering job prospects
In the spear- and horse-building industries?
What, in any case, does it matter what
You want? You're in my way.

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