Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Welcome to the Shepherd's Rest Publick House

Old careworn poets, out-to-pasture shepherds, wanderers from another time, bewildered spirits & ghosts of every sort, welcome all!  Pull up a chair, pick a well-worn spot on the bench, settle into an alcove, & order up a pint or three of bitter.  The sleet is rattling the windowpane, the candle-flame is guttering low, & there are long hours still, till the night departs.  There are no closing times in this publick house. (The Constable gets his due in coin, a surreptitious swallow of scotch, & he leaves us alone). There are logs aplenty for the fireplace, you can lean your crooks in the corner, & no one will cavil if you are a tad redolent of wet wool.  If you know an old ballad & can carry a tune, then don't hesitate to salley forth. Old Duncan over there will back you up on the concertina, if he hasn't nodded off over his pint.

But most of all this is a haven for Old Verse.  We favor the Elizabethan sonneteers, the Old Royalists & Cavaliers with their carpe diem entreaties & laments to lost loves, and we favor any manner of old ballad rich in tragedy & noble hearts.  We favor Old Wordsworth & his Cumberland tales, the Highland lays of Scott &  Burns, and the rakish misadventures of that dissolute Lord, George Gordon Byron.  And there are others, to be sure.  The melancholy nocturnes of young John Keats, Shelley's remote & ethereal strains, and all those others who followed as the century matured & waned.

In particular we favor those poets whose knowledge of field and pasture, of grazing flock and herd, is at first hand, from Robert Burns, John Clare & Stephen Duck to Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost & Vita Sackville West.

The Shepherd's Rest Publick House is a haven for discussion & disputation of all things poetic, with a particular emphasis on country matters & traditions of pastoral.  And as it is a pub for poets, shepherds & the like, you shepherds may sing your songs & poets declaim your verses, provided they are of a pastoral or bucolic nature. It is an honest refuge for honest dispute: a snug retreat where one may shut out the world and pass around flagons of ale,  topics & themes of poetry in general, & anecdotes from the lives of poets long dead & long since buried.

Discussions are ongoing.  In the sidebar you will find topics which have been introduced.  Clicking on them will take you to a page where you can read some opening thoughts, and you are invited to leave comments.  Topics and conversations will remain open, and can be added to at any time.

If you wish to open a new topic of your own, either with opening comments, or just a general question, then send it on to me in an email (to bjomanson@monongahelabooks.com), with the subject line "Shepherd's Rest discussion," and I will set up your topic as a separate page with its own area for comments.

The only rules are an adherence to civil language and common courtesy.  Disputations are not discouraged, provided they stop well short of fisticuffs.  Rough, ill-advised language or insults of a personal nature will get one pitched out into the night unceremoniously.

So have a seat at the table, Gentlemen & Gentlewomen, replenish your tankards, order up some shepherd's pie, settle back contentedly and, in the spirit of true conviviality, hold forthThe night is still young.