Roberta Writes – Divine Comedy, Inferno: Canto 13

I am late posting Canto 13. The reason for this is a mixture of work being a crazy madhouse for the past few months and my great attempt to get all my book reviews posted before I go on a blogging break at the end of this week. This will be the last Dante’s Inferno post for 2021 and I will continue with Canto 14 in 2022.

In Canto 13, Virgin and Dante enter the Second Ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell. Here they find a strange pathless forest filled with black and gnarled trees. Dante can hear cries of suffering but he cannot see the shades that are calling out. The Harpies nest here, feeding on the branches of the misshapen trees.

Picture caption:

Virgil explains to Dante that he will see things in this circle that will make him doubt his [Virgil’s] words. Dante becomes confused because he cannot see the shades and believes that Virgil knows his thoughts, that the spirits are hidden among the trees. Virgil tells him that he is mistaken and that he should break off a branch.

Dante does this and the tree asks Dante: “Why dost tough break and tear me?” The tree begins to bleed where Dante broke off the branch. Dante discovers that the souls in this ring, the suicides and the squanderers, have been transformed into trees.

The tree tells Dante that all the trees in he forest were once men and that he should have mercy upon them. As a way of making up for the wound Dante has inflicted on the tree, Virgil asks the shade to tell them his story so that Dante may repeat it when he is back on earth.

The tree tells them that his name is Pier della Vigna and that he was a moral and admirable man, an advisor to Emperor Frederick. He states that an envious group of scheming people at the court blackened his name with lies, causing Frederick to start distrusting him, and he committed suicide due to his intense shame.

Dante asks how the souls have come to be trees and Pier explains that when the suicides and squanderers are thrown into this ring, having committed suicide, they take root and grow as saplings. The Harpies peck and wound them by eating their leaves. Pier continues to say that when the Last Judgement arrives and the time comes for all souls to retrieve their bodies, the shades in this circle will not reunite fully with theirs because they willingly discarded them. Instead, the returned bodies will hang on the trees’ branches forcing each shade to see and feel constantly its rejected human form.

The poets hear a noise crashing through the forest and two spirits appear. The second spirit flings himself into a bush but he is caught and torn apart by pursuing hounds.

Picture caption:

Extract from Canto 13

“We enter’d on a forest, where no track
Of steps had worn a way.  Not verdant there
The foliage, but of dusky hue; not light
The boughs and tapering, but with knares deform’d
And matted thick: fruits there were none, but thorns
Instead, with venom fill’d. Less sharp than these,
Less intricate the brakes, wherein abide
Those animals, that hate the cultur’d fields,
Betwixt Corneto and Cecina’s stream.”

Guest Writer Spot – @RobertaEaton17

I am over at Esther Chilton’s blog with a post about the Doughnut Girls from World War 1 who feature in my latest WIP, The Soldier and the Radium Girl. Thank you to Esther for hosting me. Esther has a fabulous book for writers called Publication Guaranteed. You will find a link for it on her blog.


My guest this week is Robbie Eaton Cheadle. Many of you will be familiar with Robbie’s blog and also her books. Here she gives us an insight into her latest WIP.

Doughnut Girls


Robbie Eaton Cheadle

It always surprises me, when I write a novel, how many unexpected bits of historical trivia turn up during my research process.

I am not a ‘pantster’ writer, I must have some direction. I am also not a detailed planner, although I do have a spreadsheet for my planned and partially written Cli-fi trilogy. It is necessary for those books because there are a large number of characters I need to keep a handle on. My standard modus operandus, however, is to write backwards. I plan the ending of my books or stories and then I decide where I’m going to start on the timeline of my story. The timeline is…

View original post 600 more words

Roberta Writes – Thursday Doors : Christmas

This week, Dan has shared pictures of gingerbread houses for Thursday Doors:

Thank you, Dan, for the opportunity for me to showcase a few of my gingerbread and chocolate houses and their doors. I built this Christmas diorama last year because I am quite mad I thought it would be fun and totally underestimated how much work it would be.

Last year’s Christmas diorama
Gingerbread mansion with a pergola and two rose fairies drinking stout [haha – my little joke]
Swiss chalet made from chocolate bars with jelly bean fairies on a seesaw
White chocolate house with a jelly bean fairy on a swing [that swing was a real challenge to make]
Chocolate house with fairies in the swimming pool
Chocolate house with an autumn baby fairy

This next cake is not a Christmas theme, but it is fun and it has a door. It was a modern version of the old woman who lived in a shoe during lockdown with her children home schooling. Notice that mom has a lot of washing to hang out.

A close up of the children home schooling – the blond boy who is asleep with his mouth open is Michael [but don’ tell him – giggle]

Roberta Writes – Short books and stories by Dave Astor, Charles F. French and Breakfield and Burkey

Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia

Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia by [Dave Astor]

I am a great lover of classic books and I also enjoy reading biographies of the authors who wrote the classic books I’ve enjoyed. This short book is a selection of sound bytes, providing interesting and often little know facts and insights into the lives, loves, and writing processes of a large number of authors. For me, it was a bit like a box of chocolates with each short chapter being a tantalizing taste of what I could uncover if I wanted to research the various people further. I liked the idea of giving small titbits of information to trigger searches for more detail at the readers discretion, it is very empowering.

The book covers a huge range of writers, many of whom I already knew like Hemingway, Faulkner, Gilman, Huxley, Laurence, Tolkien, and Wells, and others who are new to me. I was delighted to discover all these new classic books and famous authors whose works I will be delving into over the next several years. I will certainly be reverting back to this gem of a book when deciding on my next read.

I recommend this book to lovers of literature who are interested in finding new books and authors.

Amazon US

Dave Astor Amazon Author Page

The Phone Call by Charles F. French

The Phone Call by [Charles F.  French]

This short story tells the tale of a young man, Cathal, who is not coping with the stresses and strains of his job and his life and is using alcohol to give him endurance and help him relax. His behaviour has spiraled out of control and he has already had an accident due to driving under the influence. He is not performing at work and his job is under threat which is making him more stressed and anxious. One evening, on his way home he gets a phone call from a strange number and the voice message is from his father. The complexity is that Cathal’s father is dead.

This short story examines a few themes, despite its brevity, including the lack of concern for employees and their mental health and general well being exhibited by employers who focus only on making money and are ruthless in their behaviour, as well as the genetic predisposition of some people to become alcoholics and follow in the footsteps of alcoholic parents. These messages are packaged in an entertaining paranormal story of a father’s whose love for his son and determination to help him extends beyond the limitations of the grave.

Can Cathal get his life back on track or will a ghostly visitation from his father drive him deeper into the bottle? You’ll have to read this short story to find out.

Amazon US

Charles F. French Amazon Author Page

Hot Chocolate by Breakfield and Burkey

Hot Chocolate by [Charles Breakfield, Rox Burkey]

This is a sweet romantic story about a young couple with one small child who are looking forward to celebrating the Christmas holiday period. The couple are from different cultural backgrounds and appreciate their favourite aspects of their varying Christmas traditions as a family.

Petra and Jacob have developed their own tradition of trying to buy each other the best Christmas present imaginable. Petra is at a loss this year and has wracked her brain for weeks trying to think of something worthwhile to no avail. Life takes an unexpected twist and Petra comes up with the perfect present.

There are some lovely family moments and one or two tenser ones to add some context and spice to the storyline.

Amazon US

Rox Burkey Amazon Author Page

Roberta Writes – For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway buddy read with Book Club Mom

Barbara Vitelli and I decided to do a buddy read for this famous novel by Ernest Hemingway. If you aren’t familiar with Barbara’s lovely book blog, do hop over and take a look at it here:

Barbara also has a lovely YouTube channel where she chats about books and other bits and bobs. You can find it here: Barbara is also on Twitter here: Barbara Vitelli (@BookClubMom) / Twitter

Barbara has written a review of For Whom the Bell Tolls and an overview of the romantic relationship that develops between protagonist, Robert Jordan, and the beautiful Spanish woman, Maria. You can read Barbara’s post here:

My review

Ernest Hemingway - For Whom The Bell Tolls

This book starts with a quote from the prose writings of John Donne, as follows:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Donne’s view on human death was that every death affects all humans, because none of us stands alone in the world. Every funeral bell, therefore, “tolls for thee.”

The title of this novel is apt as it prepares the reader for the scenes of brutality and killing that follow. The linking of this title back to Donne’s quote also prepares the reader for the underlying themes of the importance of community and fellowship in the book.

The protagonist of the novel, Robert Jordan, a young professor of the Spanish language in the USA has travelled to Spain to take part in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Robert’s backstory reveals his romanticised ideas about the Republicans and how he has to readjust his beliefs for the reality of incompetence and corruption among the Republican leadership.

He is trained as a dynamiter and the story starts with Robert heading into the mountains, under the guidance of the elderly and reliable Anselmo, to join up with a band of Republican guerrilleros under the leadership of Pablo. Robert has been tasked with blowing up a Fascist-controlled bridge as part of a larger Republican strategic operation.

The entire story is told within a four-day period and focuses on the various relationships the develop between Robert, a foreigner, and the members of the Spanish band of guerrilleros and how these relationships impact on each person.

Pablo is a man who showed great, albeit brutal, leadership skills at the commencement of the war, but he has become worn down and disillusioned and does not want to disrupt the relatively peaceful existence of his band in the mountains by undertaking the bridge operation in his local vicinity. Such an action would have significant repercussions and his band would have to move elsewhere. Pablo drinks to much and has become more concerned with holding on to his newfound wealth in the form of a small herd of horses, than continuing with the war effort. Pablo is a complicated character who vacillates between rejection of the plan, and an action of great betrayal, to support of the plan and assistance with the operation. He is an unpredictable force throughout the novel.

Pablo’s wife, Pilar, is an earthy and warm character. Part-gypsy, with some interesting mystical beliefs, she is the ‘pillar of strength’ for the band. Pilar is unwaveringly committed to the Republican cause and is the driving force behind ensuring the Robert Jordan does his duty and blows the bridge regardless of the cost in human lives. She displays a great understanding of people and encourages the romance between Maria, a young woman rescued from the Fascists, and Robert, who has never known love. She innately knows that their love and the consummation of their love will be their saving grace. It will enable Maria to recover from her horrific experiences at the hands of the fascists and allow Robert to experience all the passion of love within the four-day period before the attack on the bridge.

Maria is the beautiful and young love interest of Robert Jordan. She is the mechanism for his personal growth in the novel from a cold and unfeeling thinker with no interest in women or romance, to  a man who recognises the greatness of human love and integrates his commitments to his work with his commitments to Maria. Outside of her role in the development of Robert’s character, Maria does not play a big role in the novel.

Robert Jordan is a fascinating character. He is typical of a young man who has a romantic notion of war and the nobility of his side’s beliefs and cause. His backstory highlights his religious-like belief in the cause and the brotherhood. At the commencement of the novel, he is already deeply disillusioned by the behaviour of the Republican leadership. Robert is a deeply conflicted character, and this is highlighted by is many interior monologues. He does not like killing others but sees this as a necessary part of his current circumstances and he attempts not to dwell on such things. Robert shows himself to be a great leader and a noble person.

Leadership as a theme

My research uncovered three themes for this novel. The loss of innocence in war, the value of human life, and romantic love as salvation. To these three, I would add a theme of leadership. For me, the role of leaders in conflict and other difficult situations was a big part of this novel and I think that the role of leaders is something that is enduring and of vital importance in our current world.

Leadership is vital to provide clarity of purpose, motivation, and guidance and now, more than ever before, this is of great consequence to humanity.

I believe that Robert Jordan was a good leader within the context of the band member’s general belief in, and support of, the Republican cause. He knew he had a job to do that was vital to the strategy of the Republicans. He also comes to realise that he has a responsibility to the members of Pablo’s band, the men, and women he is leading into conflict. He does his best to melt these two responsibilities with the best outcome for the individuals involved.

Robert must make some difficult calls and leadership decisions over the four-day period of the novel.

These are a few of the situations that I thought were most notable in this regard and a few supporting quotes from the book:

When Pablo first declares his lack of support for the blowing of the bridge and the altercation between him and Pilar takes place over who is the leader of the band. Robert has to decide whether or not to kill Pablo. He decides against it. Ultimately, this was the best decision for the band as Pablo’s support eventually sways the potential success of the operation in the guerrilleros favour.

“If it is true, as the gypsy says, that they expected me to kill Pablo then I should have done that. But it was never clear to me that they did expect that. For a stranger to kill where he must work with the people afterwards is bad. It may be done in action, and it may be done if backed y sufficient discipline, but in this case I think it would be very bad, although it was a temptation and seemed a short and simple way.”

When Robert had to decide whether to kill the four Fascist soldiers when the came into his range while looking for their missing compatriot.

“Then they came into sight trotting along the edge of the timer in columns of twos, twenty mounted men, armed and uniformed as he others had been, their sabers swinging, their carbines in their holsters; and then they went down into the timber as the others had.

Tue ves? Robert Jordan said to Agustíne. “Thou seest?”

“There were many,” Agustíne said.

“These would we have had to deal with if we had destroyed the others,” Robert Jordan said very softly.”

When Robert had to decide not to assist Sordo when his band was attacked by the Fascists.

“The firing was rolling in overlapping waves. Then they heard the noise of hand grenades heavy and sodden in the dry rolling of the automatic rifle fire.

“They are lost,” Robert Jordan said. “They were lost when the snow stopped. If we go there we are lost, too. It is impossible to divide what force we have.””

Day 4 of the WordCrafter “Lingering Spirit Whispers” Book Blog Tour: Interview with author Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Today, I am being interviewed by Undawned blog as part of the WordCrafter Lingering Spirit Whispers book blog tour. Thank you to Kaye Lynne Booth from Writing to be Read for organising the tour.

Writing to be Read

Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #4 of the WordCrafter Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour, where we’re celebrating the release of the Lingering Spirit Whispers paranormal anthology set. This unique paranormal set combines three paranormal anthologies into a single set for ghosties galore, and you can get your copy here.

Lingering Spirit Whispers

Today we’re over at Un dawnted, where D.L. Mullen interviews contributing author, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, the only author beside myself to contribute stories to all three anthologies.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is writer of young adult and adult fiction in the supernatural fantasy, historical horror, and historical supernatural genres.To date, Roberta has published two novels,Through the NethergateandA Ghost and His Gold, and several short stories in various anthologies includingWhispers of the PastandSpirits of the West, andWhere Spirits Lingeredited and compiled by Kaye…

View original post 142 more words

Roberta Writes – Book review: Regeneration by Pat Barker

My review

Regeneration is a novel about World War 1 based on the real experiences of select officers who served at the Western Front. The setting is Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland, a psychiatric hospital which dealt with officers who were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, then called shell shock.

For me, this was a fascinating approach to writing about this horrific war. A lot of details about life in the trenches: the on-going shelling and machine gun fire and inhumane and unhygienic living conditions, including the presence of corpses in and around the trenches, are disclosed through the discussions between the resident psychiatrist, Dr Rivers, and his various patients. The horror of life in the trenches is further exposed and explored through the nightmares and other disturbing behaviours demonstrated by the patients.

The focus of the novel is twofold:
1. To explore the devastating effect of prolonged exposure to death and destruction on a scale experienced by soldiers in the trenches, coupled with the guilt experienced by officers who had to carry out ill conceived orders such as going ‘over the top’ and sending hundreds of men out of the trenches and into no-mans land to be mowed down under enemy fire; and
2. To consider the attitudes of the period towards men and the ideology that men don’t cry and that men must grin and bear all situations regarded of the risk to their mental and physical wellbeing in order to be seen as being ‘real’ men and not cowards. The mixture of resentment towards their elders who criticize their behaviour from afar, and despair at having to conceal their emotions, experienced by the young officers makes for difficult reading.

I found the writing very compelling and some of the authors descriptions will stay with me forever, like the following example:

“He’d been thrown into the air by the explosion of a shell and had landed head-first, on a German corpse, whose gas-filled belly had ruptured on impact. Before Burns lost consciousness, he’d had time to realise that what filled his nose and mount was decomposing human flesh.”

For me, there were three main characters in the book, Dr Rivers is based on the real W.H.R. Rivers, who worked as a psychiatrist at Craiglockhart from 1916–1917 and served as a treating physician for Siegfried Sassoon, another of the main characters. Dr Rivers journey in this novel is of personal growth. As he progresses his treatment of Sassoon and delves into the man’s reasoning behind his anti-war declaration which resulted in his interment at the hospital, Dr Rivers starts to question his own role in the war. He treats men who have been psychologically ruined by their experiences and guilt with the goal of sending them back to the front to continue fighting. Dr Rivers own convictions about the ‘rightness’ of the war are gradually undermined and he questions his own motives and makes decisions about his future path.

The character of Siegfried Sassoon is also based on a real person, a decorated officer from a privileged background, who declares he no longer agrees with the way the war is being conducted and the resulting death of so many young men. Sassoon is a bit of a zealot with regards to his convictions and does not align himself with the pacifists who are anti war, as his reasons for the declaration are different. Sassoon is not anti-war but he is anti the mindless continuation of a war which is decimating an entire generation of young men due to strategic errors in military strategy resulting from the clash of old fashioned and pre-conceived methods of warfare and modern technology at the front. Sassoon intends to martyr himself on the altar of a court marshal, but is prevented from doing so by his friend, Robert Graves. Graves convinces the military leadership that Sassoon has suffered a mental breakdown and should be sent to the hospital for treatment under Dr Rivers. Sassoon is not aware of Graves’ actions on his behalf, but agrees to go to the hospital. Sassoon is an admirable character who is unwavering in his convictions. He decides to return to the front at the end of his treatment period due to a loyalty to his men and his belief that he can serve them better at the front than behind a desk.

Billy prior is the other main character. He is an interesting one as he is hostile and difficult at the start of his treatment. Billy suffers from intermittent loss of speech, loss of memory, and night horrors. He is also a chronic asthmatic, and this illness has been conveniently overlooked by the recruitment board and his training officers. Prior also undergoes personal growth over the course of the novel and learns to accept his limitations and asthmatic condition. The introduction of a romantic sub-plot between Prior and Sarah, a munitions worker in Edinburgh, is a welcome relief from the heavy details about the horrors at the front. Sarah’s work and the fact that her skin is yellow and her hair tinged red due to working with toxic chemicals is a reminder that the war impacted everyone, civilians as well as soldiers.

Themes in Regeneration

Set out below are the themes in Regeneration and a quote that demonstrated the theme to me:

Love between men identified as being a good thing for the army in the context of caring and comradeship for fellow soldiers, but within the bounds of what was acceptable to society at that time.

“Fear, tenderness – these emotions were so despised that they could be admitted into consciousness only at the cost of redefining what it meant to be a man.”

Parenthood in the context of officers have parent-like concern for their men and becoming father figures in their roles.

“Rivers had often been touched by the way in which young men, some of them not yet twenty, spoke about feeling like fathers to their men.”

Regeneration in the context of regrow, change and healing.

“The sky darkened, the air grew colder, but he didn’t mind. It didn’t occur to him to move. This was the right place. This was where he had wanted to be.”

Emasculation in the context of the powerlessness of soldiers in the context of war.

“Mobilization. The Great Adventure. They’d been mobilized into holes in the ground so constricted they could hardly move. And the Great Adventure – the real life equivalent of all the adventure stories they’d devoured as boys – consisted of crouching in a dugout, waiting to be killed.”

Mutism in the context of an outward symbol of helplessness and lack of control over their lives the soldiers feel.

“Mute patients did arouse exasperation, particularly, as with Prior and Callan, when their satisfaction with their condition was hardly at all disguised.”

Trenches which are likened to graves in this novel.

“Sometimes, in the trenches, you get the sense of something, ancient. One trench we held, it had skulls in the side, embedded, like mushrooms. It was actually easier to believe they were men from Marlborough’s army, than to think they’d been alive a year ago. It was as if all the other wars had distilled themselves into this war, and that made it something you almost can’t challenge. It’s like a very deep voice, saying; ‘Run along, little man, be glad you’ve survived”

What Amazon says

A powerfully moving modern classic from one of Britain’s greatest living storytellers – the bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of The Silence of the Girls

Recommended by Richard Osman

Regeneration is a masterful and richly immersive portrait of extraordinary lives played out in the shadow of the First World War…

‘Unforgettable’ Sunday Telegraph

Craiglockhart War Hospital, Scotland, 1917, and army psychiatrist William Rivers is treating shell-shocked soldiers. Under his care are the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, as well as mute Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of pencil and paper. Rivers’s job is to make the men in his charge healthy enough to fight. Yet the closer he gets to mending his patients’ minds the harder becomes every decision to send them back to the horrors of the front. Pat Barker’s Regeneration is the classic exploration of how the traumas of war brutalised a generation of young men.
‘One of the strongest and most interesting novelists of her generation’ Guardian
Regeneration is the first novel in Pat Barker’s essential trilogy about the First World War. Discover the whole trilogy:

The Eye in the Door
The Ghost Road

Purchase Regeneration

Amazon US

Roberta Writes – Thursday Doors: York Castle Museum, dolls and doll houses

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

Those of you that follow my other blog, Robbie’s Inspiration, will know that I have a great fashion for dolls and have a big collection. My bigger than my rock and fossil collection [but smaller than my book collection – smile].

Everywhere I go, I look for dolls. I was lucky enough to visit York Castle Museum in August 2019 and found these wonderful dolls houses [all of which have doors] and some smashing dolls too.

This is a Victorian dolls house. Each section has its own door that opens and closes.

The second dolls house is called ‘Dulce Domum’ which means ‘Sweet Home’. It belonged to 8-year old Phyllis Dulce from Warwich who received it as a gift in 1895. The house had pets, servants, real electric lighting and a working door bell. The furniture came from Britain, Germany and Japan. Some of the bed linen is thought to have been made by Phyllis herself.

In honour of Punch and Judy, this is an extract from What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge:

“The first of Katy’s “London sights” came to her next morning before she was out of her bedroom. She heard a bell ring and a queer squeaking little voice utter a speech of which she could not make out a single word. Then came a laugh and a shout, as if several boys were amused at something or other; and altogether her curiosity was roused, so that she finished dressing as fast as she could, and ran to the drawing-room window which commanded a view of the street. Quite a little crowd was collected under the window, and in their midst was a queer box raised high on poles, with little red curtains tied back on either side to form a miniature stage, on which puppets were moving and vociferating. Katy knew in a moment that she was seeing her first Punch and Judy!

The box and the crowd began to move away. Katy in despair ran to Wilkins, the old waiter who was setting the breakfast-table.

“Oh, please stop that man!” she said. “I want to see him.”

“What man is it, Miss?” said Wilkins.

When he reached the window and realized what Katy meant, his sense of propriety seemed to receive a severe shock. He even ventured on remonstrance.

“H’I wouldn’t, Miss, h’if h’I was you. Them Punches are a low lot, Miss; they h’ought to be put down, really they h’ought. Gentlefolks, h’as a general thing, pays no h’attention to them.”

But Katy didn’t care what “gentlefolks” did or did not do, and insisted upon having Punch called back. So Wilkins was forced to swallow his remonstrances and his dignity, and go in pursuit of the objectionable object. Amy came rushing out, with her hair flying and Mabel in her arms; and she and Katy had a real treat of Punch and Judy, with all the well-known scenes, and perhaps a few new ones thrown in for their especial behoof; for the showman seemed to be inspired by the rapturous enjoyment of his little audience of three at the first-floor windows. Punch beat Judy and stole the baby, and Judy banged Punch in return, and the constable came in and Punch outwitted him, and the hangman and the devil made their appearance duly; and it was all perfectly satisfactory, and “just exactly what she hoped it would be, and it quite made up for the muffins,” Katy declared.

Then, when Punch had gone away, the question arose as to what they should choose, out of the many delightful things in London, for their first morning.”

You can join in Thursday doors here:

Dark Origins – Old Mother Hubbard

I am over at Writing to be Read with the November Dark Origins post. This month the focus is Old Mother Hubbard. Wishing all my USA friends a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. Thanks for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.

Writing to be Read

Old Mother Hubbard is a popular nursery rhyme but the words are not very child friendly. It is rather long so I am only sharing the first three verses here:

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone:
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the baker’s
To buy him some bread;
When she came back
The dog was dead!

She went to the undertaker’s
To buy him a coffin;
When she came back
The dog was laughing.

As with most nursery rhymes, it is not possible to peg down its exact origins but I am going to share with you two quite different proposed origins, one being much darker than the other.

Old Mother Hubbard is purported to refer to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and his failure to obtain an annulment from the…

View original post 520 more words

Roberta Writes – Divine Comedy, Inferno: Canto 12

Virgil and Dante approach the first ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell through a ravine of broken rock. At the end, the poets are threatened by the Minataur, a half-bull, half-human creature of Greek mythology born from a union between a woman and a bull. Virgil taunts the Minataur into a rage and while it is thrashing around randomly, the pair slip past unharmed.

Minotaur, Greek Minotauros (“Minos’s Bull”), in Greek mythology, a fabulous monster of Crete that had the body of a man and the head of a bull. It was the offspring of Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, and a snow-white bull sent to Minos by the god Poseidon for sacrifice. Minos, instead of sacrificing it, kept it alive; Poseidon as a punishment made Pasiphae fall in love with it. Her child by the bull was shut up in the Labyrinth created for Minos by Daedalus.

Extracted from

Minotaur, half man - half bull
Picture credit:

Virgil explains to Dante that the ravine was caused by a massive earthquake caused when Jesus entered the first circle of hell to rescue certain souls.

Virgil points to the River Phlegethon where those shades who committed violence against others are submerged in boiling blood to the degree that matches up to the amount of violence the shade committed in life. This seems just in terms of the eye for an eye mentality of the Old Testament, but is out of alignment with the doctrine of Christ; what do you think?

All along the banks of the River Phlegethon, Dante sees centaurs (half-man, half-horse creatures, armed with bows and arrows.

A centaur called Nessus stops them, wanting to know their punishments in Hell. Virgil rebukes him and point two other centaurs, Chiron and Pholus to Dante. The centaurs guard the banks of the river to prevent any souls from escaping their punishment.

Chiron notices that Dante is alive as he moves things like rocks when he walks. Virgil explains the two poets Heaven ordained journey through hell and asks for Chiron’s assistance in getting Dante across the river. Chiron says that Dante may ride on Nessus’ back.

While Nessus walks along the riverbank with Dante on his back, Dante looks at some of the souls submerged in the river. Nessus identifies some of the shades including Alexander the Great and Dante Guy de Montfort, who murdered Prince Henry of England. Nessus explains that the river gets deeper and deeper and at its deepest point completely submerges tyrants like Attila the Hun.

The Inferno, Canto 12 - Gustave Dore
Picture caption:

Extract from Canto 12

But turn thine eyes down yonder now; for lo,

the stream of blood is drawing near to us,

wherein boils who by violence harms others.”

O blind cupidity, O foolish wrath,

that so dost in our short life goad us on,

and after, in the eternal, steep us thus!

I saw a wide moat curving in an arc,

and such that it embraces all the plain,

according as my Escort had informed me;

and in a file, between it and the bank,

Centaurs were running by, with arrows armed,

as in the world it was their wont to hunt.