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Posts Tagged ‘Donne’

My Retirement Plan by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 Oct 2018

We download a crossword by Artix, one of the top Listener setters – last year’s runner-up to the Ascot Gold Cup winner Shackleton with his superb Westward Ho crossword and the creator of that brilliant One Shot at a Time where we followed a golf course to discover that the theme was the attempted assassination of Theodore Roosevelt. We are certainly faced with a challenge but it is likely to delight and entertain too.

Oh dear, the preamble tells me there are five jumbled words to be removed from clues before solving – I suppose I have to rejoice that there are only five of those. Five answers are overlong and must extend outside the grid! There are single letter misprints in the definition parts of five other clues – and these manoeuvres are all thematic. Then comes the good bit: the theme ‘consists of three lines from a poem’. We’ve had great literary Artix crosswords on Hamlet and L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz so this is promising.

What about his membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? I know that Artix is a connoisseur of wines so there can be little doubt about that but I scan the grid all the same and find ‘Book about Bordeaux’s wine passion (6)’ We put LOG around VIN and find LOVING. ‘With 8 this might make Italians drunk (4)’ 8 has given us NAIL and if I remove this (anagrammed) from ITALIANS* what do I get? That old chestnut ASTI. Well, with that French VIN and Italian ASTI, I suppose I can say ‘Cheers, Artix!’

Solving begins in earnest and we are soon smiling at some fine clues. ‘Watch game with leader getting three extra strokes (4)’ gives us I SPY with three extra strokes being added to that I producing ESPY. ‘1 – 0? Once Barcelona’s ready, developed into failure to make match (12)’ gives us I NADA + PTA + INTO* = INADAPTATION. What a clue!

We spot some redundant words in clues. REWORKS, DISCRETION, PROTEINS, SNIGGLE and PAWS and realize that those all anagram to versions of ‘hands’. WORKERS, DIRECTIONS, POINTERS, NIGGLES and PAWS. We spot five misprints too: hEar for hAar, Ounces for Dunces, NA for SA, fasteD for fasteN and sigN for sigH: those give us two sets of letters EONDN and ADSNH. The poet DONNE and HANDS?

Suddenly it all makes sense. Of course that is why we have Date, Onanism, esseN, rooN and devoteE ‘before, behind, above and below’ the grid and those tell-tale words in the preamble. I loved the poem studied at A Level many years ago  (how we sixteen-year olds enjoyed the early erotic poetry and marvelled that the same poet could create the more sober later religious poems) and happily this is Donne’s randy retirement plan and not Artix telling us he is going to abandon the setting thing!

Licence my roving hands, and let them go,/ Before, behind, between, above, below./O my America! my new-found-land …

That is why we had the ‘roving hands’ in the anagrammed extra words and the misprints. This crossword is almost a metaphysical conceit in itself with Donne roving before, behind, above and below his ‘Newfoundland’. Hands are LEFT and RIGHT, and we read that ALL occurrences of two thematic letters must be exchanged for their counterparts so we carefully switch all the Ls and Rs in the grid with, for example, SPLAYED becoming SPRAYED then we hunt for those ten letters revealing the poet’s discovery and there she is ‘O MY AMERICA’! Sheer delight from start to finish. Thank you Artix.

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Face Off by BeRo

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 Feb 2014

Face Off 002This week’s preamble sounded slightly ominous as two poets (initial and surname) were to appear ‘by turns’ and ‘affected by a theme word’ that we were going to find in the circled cells. I had a horrible premonition that that word was going to be JUMBLES. Well, it was, really, wasn’t it?

I did a speedy read through the clues to check whether BeRo could qualify for the Listener Tipplers’ Exclusive Club and sadly found that he didn’t despite “low spirits” and a “nip” in another clue. However, one intriguing feature of the clues did emerge. I remember when I first began to contribute to Listen With Others blogs, when Dave Hennings and Samuel were the main bloggers with Erwinch sometimes adding his insight, Samuel commented to me, “I never solve a crossword without first scanning the initial and ultimate letters of clues as a message is sometimes hidden there. A quick scan can save lots of head-scratching.” Oh what good advice!

The hidden message was somewhat obscure at this stage but there was something there: EIGHTY SUNS HELLCAT EON TOT AMEN IF SKI AMBIENCE LIT DUMB. Hmmm! Well, those were initially observable and we had to find, in there, a couplet that would have the theme word omitted and a second omitted word that was to be written below the grid. Nothing to do but solve – and solve we did at an unusually high speed, beginning with GDAY ‘Traditional Oz salutation upset Dorothy Gale initially, alas (4)’ and working systematically through the clues, finishing with the top left corner.

There has to be a numpty red herring and, of course, there was. Those circled letters very soon resolved themselves into ANAGRAM but that said GRANNAM to me. Years of ‘teaching’ poetry have left me with lots of arcane information including the fact that both Meredith and Coleridge have GRANNAM in their poems, one of them with her sitting with a little lambkin at her feet. That was enough to waste quite a lot of Internet time. Not content with that, I then decided that we must be looking at Shakespeare’s ‘My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun …” since TEETH, CHEEKS, EYES and HAIR were clearly the features evident in the grid.  But where was the poet hidden?

Flavia 002Of course, that was the route to the solution. I, who am criticised for over-using the leading diagonal for hiding a message, took rather too long to consider the other diagonal – and in the opposite direction. Of course, there they were, J DRYDEN and J DONNE, both anagrammed and with their letters appearing alternately. From that point it was a gentle ski down a blue piste to ANAGRAM  and THE ANAGRAM. This was so glaringly obvious that it should have led me straight to the ODQ at the start for there is ‘anagram’ and the link to Dryden.

What did I find in Dryden’s MacFlecknoe? “Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame/ in keen iambics, but mild anagram:” Sure enough, omitting “Anagram” from that couplet and working through EIGHTY SUNS HELLCAT EON TOT AMEN IF SKI AMBIENCE LIT DUMB in word pairs, it became immediately evident that PURCHASE had been omitted from those ‘initially observable’ letters.

Now to Donne. What does the Internet give me? OMG – a delightful description of Flavia!

“…  For, though her eyes be small, her mouth is great ;
Though they be ivory, yet her teeth be jet ;
Though they be dim, yet she is light enough ;
And though her harsh hair fall, her skin is tough ;
What though her cheeks be yellow, her hair’s red …”

Poor Flavia! However, it was a short step from the poem to how the four features had to be “identifiably entered according to the nearest adjective”. Here we have small eyes, jet teeth, yellow cheeks and red hair. Wow! All done and dusted and with great amusement. I still haven’t really understood the title ‘Face Off’ but did appreciate how much BeRo had fitted thematically into his (her?) grid. Many thanks for a most enjoyable solve!

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