Canto IV is finished

So Don Quixote reached 1,024 lines tonight! Not bad. The fourth canto is done. I’m at 6.25% of the size of Don Juan in 11% of the time it took him… a slower pace than expected, but then he didn’t have to finish a dissertation (then again, I suppose, I didn’t have to liberate an Eastern European country…though see also my blog post on Nick Slaughter below).

Here’s a teaser from Canto IV:

In truth, Quixote was hardly so duplicitous;
For this, he truly earned the maids’ respect.
We men, so keen to have them blow a kiss at us,
So terrified of ridicule, neglect,
Or worse, the fear that women who thus hiss at us
Reveal to all the truth of our defect,
Will weave a lie not just for women’s benefit,
But to convince ourselves and other men of it.

All that he said—well, yes, he was a liar;
I may have lied—say only I embellish
Small details, polish them, bring out the fire
That flashes in them. Heavenly and hellish
The details of romance appear, more dire,
more fierce, plunging, but soaring too. With relish
You’ve listened; you’re about to listen more
(For Canto Five will better Canto Four),

And why? What pleasure in this thankless meter,
Its rhythms cloying, its end-rhymes exemptible
From standards of good taste, its themes which teeter
Between just “crass” and “openly contemptible,”
Can you have found, poor masochistic reader?
What renders doggerel like this un-pre-emptible
By laundry, or those errands, or the sleep
You’re losing, and have small desire to keep?

The truth is that these lies some greater truth
Conceal, reveal, and kindle in the mind
That was forgotten, far back in your youth
(And mine, as well). An oubliette unkind
Our childhood is, once we, long in the tooth,
Have chained up there, and solemnly consigned
All hope and wonder. Desperate to be free,
Our banished dreams will grasp at any key.


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