April 17th, 2007

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Jamie Bishop, R.I.P.

T.S. Eliot

The Waste Land.


April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Adonais: An Elegy On The Death Of John Keats

Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep,
He hath awaken'd from the dream of life;
'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep
With phantoms an unprofitable strife,
And in mad trance, strike with our spirit's knife
Invulnerable nothings. We decay
Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief
Convulse us and consume us day by day,
And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.

He has outsoar'd the shadow of our night;
Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not and torture not again;
From the contagion of the world's slow stain
He is secure, and now can never mourn
A heart grown cold, a head grown gray in vain;
Nor, when the spirit's self has ceas'd to burn,
With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn.
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Bishop on Bishop

From the essay "A Reverie for Mister Ray," included in the collection of the same name:

(Artwork by Jamie Bishop)

"Until two weeks ago, though, I had never read DANDELION WINE. My son Jamie is nine. After reading Kenneth Grahame's THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS aloud to him, I opted to make this episodic Bradbury novel--many of its chapters were originally published as separate short stories--our next bedtime venture, a first for both of us. For a few pages I feared that I had made a bad choice. Jamie fidgeted through the rhapsodic passages devoted to Doug Spaulding's first major discovery of Summer 1928, that he is alive, really alive, but once we reached the section in which Doug goes to work to earn a new pair of 'Cream-Sponge Para Litefoot Shoes,' Jamie made the crucial identification, and we were off and running. We pelted over dandelion-dotted lawns, glided like ghosts into the terrible gulf of Green Town's ravine, and dashed like track stars to outleg the shadows of our own mortality. The sharing of this book made for several exhilirating evenings, and I have almost convinced myself that I put off reading DANDELION WINE until this point in my life expressly to preserve it for a mid-April, 1981, communion with my son.

"(Why not? Makes sense to me.)

"Reading together in Jamie's second-story bedroom, the sun sliding down into the monstrous sighing oak trees on the street directly behind our house, we transformed Pine Mountain into Green Town and our neighbors into Bradbury's characters. I especially admired Jamie's outrage and indignation when three children in the first third of the novel tell seventy-two-year-old Helen Bentley that she was never young, never pretty, never blessed with a first name. Jamie could not comprehend these children's stupidity and rudeness...."