Thursday, August 21, 2008

More on the subject of self-sacrifice--a Methodist song quoted in Robertson Davies's Murther and Walking Spirits:

There's an excellent rule
I have learned in life's school,
And I'm ready to set it before you.
When you're heavy at heart
And your world falls apart,
Do not pity yourself, I implore you.
No, up with your chin,
Meet bad luck with a grin,
And try this infallible trick:
It never will fail you,
Whatever may ail you--

Do something for somebody quick,
It will banish your cares in a tick
Don't fret about you
There's a Good Deed to do--

Not the most poetic of sentiments, perhaps, but solid advice nonetheless. My own grumbles disappear much more quickly when buried in a good housecleaning or read-aloud session or meal preparation or other such deed that benefits someone else more than it does me. (And before anyone dismisses me as too priggish to live, I'll just say that it's not often that I remember to do something for somebody quick!)

I've made another rediscovery, this time with Robertson Davies. After dashing my way through a library booksale, I found myself the possessor of three of his novels; they turned out to be the Salterton trilogy, but not knowing this at first, I read them in reverse order. Fortunately they stood the test, and I enjoyed them immensely: Tempest-Tost, Leaven of Malice, and A Mixture of Frailties. Then I found the one mentioned above at the library, which turned out to be one of the strangest books I've ever read. It began (I really don't think this counts as a spoiler, since it was the first sentence) with the protagonist being murdered; his ghost then went on to view a series of films starring his ancestors. I'm still not exactly sure what to make of it, but I did read the whole thing. Now I'm revisiting The Rebel Angels, which is as delightful and odd as I remember it.