Monday, November 30, 2015


          The Kraken has slept since before the world’s first beginning and has managed to stay asleep on the ocean’s floor through every beginning since, even the extravagantly loud ones and the one made mostly of screeching colored lights which Coyote made to win a wager. So long has he slept that his dreams have put on substance and walk about as men, though their way in the world is seldom easy.
          If you look at Moxon’s edition of the Collected Poems (though you never bought a copy and were never given one, one has appeared on your shelves) there is a poem about the Kraken which Alfred Tennyson wrote when he was 18 or so, in which he summarizes the Kraken’s fate which is, at the end of the world to “rise roaring to the surface” and die. Tennyson, however, died well before the Kraken, and was waylaid on his way to the afterlife by the ghost of his friend Edward Fitzgerald.
          When they thought of Tennyson, his friends usually did not first think of his being a great poet. Cigars summed him up for some; others thought of his beard, his extravagant sorrow over Hallam’s death, his temper, or his grandly fluent profanity. For Fitzgerald, the essence of Tennyson had communicated itself to the hats he wore, which were no sooner clapped on his head than they underwent peculiar changes, as if their identity had become fluid. It is a rare if pointless gift to be able to effortlessly make a silk top hat fancy itself a sombrero.
          Fitzgerald had been a noticing man, and had become a noticing ghost. He had been shadowing Tennyson’s spirit for some while and was sure it had started out bare-headed. Somehow, it had acquired a hat of even more than ordinary disreputability. “Tennyson, that is an appalling hat!”
          “Fitz? How glad I am to see you! Strange; I never imagined those as the first words I’d hear after I died.”
          “I had something much more impressive prepared but that hat has driven them out of my head.”

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