“Quote The Raven Nevermore”
“But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore —
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking, Nevermore.” – Edgar Allen Poe, 1845
Why a picture of Queen Elizabeth’s raven near the Tower of London and the quote from Edgar Allen Poe? Well, we just had the warmest Halloween ever in the US and I was longing for the cold. But the truth is the picture was taken on June 1, 2016 in the coldest winter I ever spent last summer in London, to misquote Mark Twain. Honestly last June, the temperatures were in the 40s with gail winds most of the week we were in the Queen’s city. We had traveled from Atlanta to Denmark, and onto London.
Short non sequitur. While in London, Padraig Kirwan and I gave a public presentation at Goldsmiths University of London on The Trans-Atlantic Choctaw Irish-Exchange 1847-1995, a book of essays by Choctaw scholars and Irish scholars about the gift from the Choctaws (money) in 1847 to the Irish during the terrible potato famine in that country.
Here we are in London
Talking briefly before our lecture Goldsmiths University on June 1, 2016, Padraig Kirwan, (front right) we chatted with friends and colleagues. (Back left, western writer Emry McAlear and his wife, Brigitte McAlear now living in London came to the lecture.) Emry is an alum at Vermont College of Fine Arts. I was fortunate to work with him on his collection of essays, Townie Boy, at VCFA. His award-winning essays on life in Montana are both poignant and funny.
Back to the Tower of London.
I took the photo at the Tower of London complex where legend has it that six ravens must guard the Tower of London at all times or the monarchy will fall. (I’m quoting from the Tower’s PR.) We walked around and took a tour. Crimony, throughout history over 3,000 people have had their heads removed off at the Tower of London, including Anne Boleyn, former wife of Henry VIII. (And they called Indians savages.) They killed her in mid-prayer, so said the Beefeater giving us the tour. He said her mouth kept moving for 28 seconds after they lopped off her head. Who had the terrible job was counting the seconds?
View of the Thames River from the Tower site.
As we walked central London, near the Foundling Home and Charles Dickens House and museum site, we passed a school that raises goats. Kinda awesome when you think this is central London.
The goats Of London. Not far from the Halingford Hotel, a great place to stay when in London, is a schoolyard of goats. For milk I presume. But in all the hustle and rumble of central London this two-acre urban farm is a welcome respite.
A week before the June trip to London we’d traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to give papers at the 37th Annual American Indian Workshop held in Odense, Denmark. The theme was Indian humor. . . Aside: there was a dust up among European colleagues about how one knows Indians are funny. Little Big Horn massacre leaps to mind. . . We reconnected with friend and historian Susan Sleep Smith, Michigan State University, her paper on Indian and French humor was fantastic. She and I met at a 1995 NEH summer seminar at the University of Oklahoma. That summer is when I met historian Jacki Rand (Choctaw) and we’ve stayed in touch all these years later. She’s one of the scholars writing for a chapter for The Trans-Atlantic Choctaw Irish-Exchange 1847-1995 that Padraig and I are editing. In fact Jacki’s house in Ada, Oklahoma is right across the street from mine.
Moving at a snail’s pace on this summer 2017 travelogue, (ah hem) while in Odense, Denmark, we visited the Museum of Hans Christian Andersen. Below. His work has been translated into 125 different languages and the copies of the breadth of these translations are in the Odense museum. It was impressive to see all the texts translations.
Jim Wilson is standing far right from the entrance to Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense.
Before Denmark and before London, we’d traveled this summer to the Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAISA) conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. Jim Wilson and I gave papers (he did) and I chaired a panel at the conference. Pictured here with a dear friend Professor Noenoe Silva (Native Hawaiian) whose seminal work, Aloha Betrayed, I teach from. She has a new book coming out soon.
While at NAISA, I got to see, and at least hug one of my graduate students from the University of Illinois, Eman Ghanayem, and Dr. Theresa Rocha. Congrats Theresa on completing your PhD this past year. What a treat to see you both. Coming next: the future books I want to read. Aren’t you glad the US Presidential Election is almost over!