Week 178: The Streets of Laredo, by Louis MacNeice

David Sutton

Louis MacNeice was in London during the Blitz and this poem captures the spirit of that time in masterly fashion as it shifts between the real and the semi-mythic, the defiant and the despairing, its cast of characters moving to the ballad tune in a brilliantly choreographed danse macabre.

Agag was a bibilical king referred in the book of Samuel as coming ‘delicately’ to his execution.

The Streets of Laredo

O early one morning I walked out like Agag,
Early one morning to walk through the fire
Dodging the pythons that leaked on the pavements
With tinkle of glasses and tangle of wire;

When grimed to the eyebrows I met an old fireman
Who looked at me wryly and thus did he say:
‘The streets of Laredo are closed to all traffic,
We won’t never master this joker to-day.

‘O hold the branch tightly and wield the axe brightly,

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Overground to Hampstead Heath


Its less noisy than the underground and gives you some idea of the layout of North London. Especially from South Tottenham to Hampstead. It also seems quite quick and one could easily imagine Betjeman getting lyrical and informative about it. Only the bookshops might prove expensive -I found a nice anthology by Grigson -“The Cherry Tree” and a biography of Byron by Frederick Raphael-quite a combination. Excellent Oxfam bookshop and Louis coffeehouse-now Polish instead of Hungarian.

Keats’s House
Louis in Hampstead


Shades of “The Hare with the Amber Eyes” and Proust bein sir!

Beauty Bellezza Beauté

Inside, a painting by Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) was found, a portrait of the apartment’s owner herself Madame de Florian. The painting was sold for 2.1 million euros and the rest of the items inside of the apartment would be worth thousands as well.

An intriguing story. Read more HERE.



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Degas’ Circle: Mary Cassatt, 3 Prints perfected

The Eclectic Light Company

In April 1880, Edgar Degas withdrew from a major project in which he, Mary Cassatt, Pissarro, and others were to publish a joint print journal. Cassatt was naturally upset by this, and for a while her relationship with Degas cooled. She continued to develop her print-making, but her paintings moved on from her previous motifs of women at the theatre.

During the mid-1880s, Cassatt moved away from Impressionism, and concentrated on simpler work with emphasis on line and form. In her print-making, she seems to have worked hardest on developing her drypoint technique, and combining it with subsequent methods for incorporating colour.

Drypoint involves cutting the image into a plate, traditionally of copper, later of zinc, using a tool with a fine point of metal or diamond. Because using that tool, or needle, is similar to drawing, artists already very experienced in drawing normally find this quicker to master than…

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