Saturday, September 11, 2010

How Does One Beck a Stein?

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. That was the happiest thing I've read this side of Notes From the Underground. Brilliantly written, almost a bit predictable after the introduction of the wife, but still it unfolds like a persian rug being unrolled on a hardwood floor: lovely and intricate.

This once again reinforces in my mind the absolute necessity for writers to have the entire story mapped out before they begin the writing of it. How else the conversation regarding who should have shot the dog; how else the introduction of the self-same luger? It is a small, tight-knit plot that is tragic and all-too believable. The chief flaw of course is the utter lack of redemption.

The title, by the way, is an afterthought: originally titled "Something that Happened," the current name is from one of--in my opinion, anyway--Burn's greater poems, and one that is quite simply delightful: To a Mouse.

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request:
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
An' weary Winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

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