Tuesday, March 16, 2010

`First Known When Lost'

Let’s welcome Stephen Pentz, proprietor of First Known When Lost, to the civilized regions of the blogscape. In his first week on the job Pentz has cited, among others, Czeslaw Milosz, Leopardi, William Cowper and Samuel Johnson. You’ll note that Milosz, born in 1911, is the junior partner in this firm. The name of Pentz’s blog is the title of a poem by Edward Thomas (born 1878, died 1917 in the Battle of Arras):

“I never had noticed it until
‘Twas gone,---the narrow copse
Where now the woodman lops
The last of the willows with his bill.

“It was not more than a hedge o'ergrown.
One meadow's breadth away
I passed it day by day.
Now the soil is bare as a bone,

“And black betwixt two meadows green,
Though fresh-cut faggot ends
Of hazel made some amends
With a gleam as if flowers they had been.

“Strange it could have hidden so near!
And now I see as I look
That the small winding brook,
A tributary's tributary rises there.”

I’m reminded of Samuel Johnson’s poem “In Rivum a Mola Stoana Lichfieldiae diffuentem,” translated by David Ferry as “The Lesson,” which I wrote about here. In Pentz I detect, as Michael Oakeshott phrases it, “a disposition appropriate to a man who is acutely aware of having something to lose which he has learned to care for; a man in some degree rich in opportunities for enjoyment, but not so rich that he can afford to be indifferent to loss.” In short, a grownup, the rarest commodity in the bloggish realm. Thanks to Mike Gilleland of Laudator Temporis Acti – another grownup -- for alerting me to Pentz’s arrival.

One quibble: In his second post Pentz writes, “Things are pretty simple-minded around here.” You are mistaken, Mr. Pentz. Simple is seldom simple-minded. Johnson lauded the “simplicity of grandeur which fills the imagination.”


Gary Baldridge said...

Thanks for making us aware of Pentz. I love this generosity of spirit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you for letting your readers know about Stephen Pentz's blog. I've been reading it ever since, much to my intense delight.