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… says the elaborately decorated stained-glass window at the landing outside our bedroom in Cambridge.

UD thought: A nice thought for a house to which you retire each day after high-level government and academic battle. As did, I suppose, its last mucho-mucho-eminent owner.

(UD has visited the house a few times over the years, but had never been on the second floor, which is where the window is.)

The full couplet, from The Faerie Queen (Joseph Conrad put this version on his gravestone) goes like this:

Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas,
Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please.

Which gives it a less domestic, more cosmic, dusting…

Altogether, Maison des UDs (for a few days) seems to have functioned as Paul Fussell’s primary model for his chapter on houses of the upper classes. Fussell quotes Veblen on the main principle in play: “the veneration of the archaic.” The walls of most rooms retain the carefully preserved shells of some ancient servant-summoning technology; a circa 1950 refrigerator glimmers out of the darkness adjacent to an updated kitchen; the bones of those phones they use in old movies (Doc? You better get here on the double!) are strewn here and there.

I’m sure the views out of various windows are spectacular in the spring; but as usual UD is in Cambridge during its long dreary winter, so the setting is all about drab bushes and pale wasted lawns…

Margaret Soltan, December 24, 2014 8:40AM
Posted in: snapshots from home

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  1. dmf Says:

    The sun came up chased by dogs
    Across a field of snow.
    As they passed the pile of broken logs
    Frost fluttered in the air
    Between the birch trees
    Standing in that spot exactly
    Where the ridge becomes a hill.
    In another thousand years
    Sky and woods and land
    Will have come to be there, still.
    And still pursued all day, a winter fox
    Too smart for dogs,
    The sun goes in animal delight
    Over the farthest edge of earth
    Not far ahead of night
    And jumps into the dark pool
    With a last great splash of light.

    “Winter, Thirty Below with Sundogs” by Tom Hennen

  2. Greg Says:

    Stopped, on my umpeenth time gliding past this header, and remembered that Warre’s is a brand of very fine vintage port. Looks, however, like it was not named after FQ line. Warre’s web site says this:

    “William Warre, from the Oporto family of Port producers, fought with the Anglo-Portuguese army led by the Duke of Wellington, at nearly every major battle in the Peninsular war (1807-1814). These battles re-established Portugal’s independence. Warre’s Warrior Reserve Port is the first and oldest Port brand in the world, having been shipped continuously since 1750.”

    Perhaps the stained glass maker had a jones for encrypted humor and a taste for fortified wine.

  3. Mondo Says:

    Of course, the quote is a bit less pleasant when you recognize it as part of Despair’s pro-suicide spiel for the Red Crosse Knight. I guess context matters.

    Either way, may the break treat y’all well.


  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Mondo: Interesting! Didn’t know (remember? read a good deal of FQ in grad school…) that.

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