One of my earliest and best blogging friends died Friday in the early afternoon. He once told me I was his blog daughter, a remark that made me ridiculously happy at the time. And which probably partly explains how sad I feel now. In fact it astonishes me that I and the others who regularly read and commented at Fresh Bilge
feel so bereft. Most of us never met Alan and become acquainted with him "only" virtually. But this wild new world is different from one where you only care about people you meet in person, and that's part of his legacy. He was insanely interested in many things - climate, weather, politics domestic and foreign, poetry, science fiction, films, sailing, photography, geography, language, and (particularly as his illness progressed) matters of the spirit. All this drew in readers who are, happily, widely read and interesting, too, if not as acerbic and pointed as he often could be. For evidence of the energy, intelligence, wit and passion that his blog contained, reflected and generated, just glance at the hundreds of comments at the last four or five posts.
I eventually will (maybe) write something adequate to memorialize Alan but in its stead and in the meantime here are some lines from Richard II (h/t, as they say, to one of Alan's commenters). This is apt partly just because it is. It is also fitting because of Alan's love of words and his remark that Shakespeare makes fools of all other poets. As a poet himself, he would have claimed he said so with more authority than most of us (and I very much look forward to the publication of his own poetry and book of psalms, for which Richard Wilbur will write the preface). As a final note, for now, let me say that I hope there truly is a place called heaven and someone/ thing called god, if only because Alan would so be enjoying himself as he explored and discovered and expounded.
- As he sails off into the sunset (heh, as he would say), a band of "rare readers" have set up a successor blog, "Sullivan's Travelers
." The name reflects Alan's literary proclivities (Jonathan Swift's Gulliver) along with his wit, sense of humor and political passion (Preston Sturges' Sully). The url is rarereaders.seablogger.com which adds another association. I must say that the family / friend / reader / follower phenomenon seems unusual and lovely and, dare I say, a tad eternal.
"For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?"