Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013, Severin T. Nelson


It's kind of cool that all four season have six letters (if you say "autumn" instead of "fall"). Lots of thematic content in this one, and lots of French. Including, I might add, one clue that was exactly the same as one in the Saturday, April 6, 2013 puzzle, but this time, it had what I consider to be a more correct answer. 28D: Laugh, in Lille, was today answered by RIRE, the infinitive, instead of the inflected form, RIS. Bravo on that point, Monsieur Nelson. You lose points, however, for ENDUES (19A: Provides with a quality). While it does appear in my Random House, I do not approve of it appearing in a Tuesday puzzle. And before I stop complaining, let me add that we would have been done ten minutes faster if I had put in GRANTOR first, instead of "granter." Frannie finally noticed that "balleon" (31D: Suffix with ball) (OON) (weak) didn't mean anything. 

So it wasn't perfect, but I did enjoy the theme. I liked the symmetrical VIVALDI (48A: Antonio who composed "The Four Seasons") and POUSSIN (32A: Nicolas who painted "The Four Seasons"), and the symmetrical GATES (7D: Bill who co-owns the Four Seasons hotel company) (really?), and VALLI (57D: Frankie of the Four Seasons). Very nice touch, that, and I guess I have to allow a little more garbage on account of it. 

Favorite clue: 69A: Something you might trip on (LSD). 

I was a little confused by INERTIA (40A: Tendency to remain unchanged) appearing right in the middle of a grid all about constant change, but maybe Severin was thinking about the whole cycle of the seasons as being unchanging. And speaking of that, perhaps I should end with A. E. Housman's translation of what he himself called his favorite poem from Antiquity, Horace's ode 4.7, "Diffugere Nives."

The snows are fled away, leaves on the shaws
And grasses in the mead renew their birth,
The river to the river-bed withdraws,
And altered is the fashion of the earth.

The Nymphs and Graces three put off their fear
And unapparelled in the woodland play.
The swift hour and the brief prime of the year
Say to the soul, Thou wast not born for aye.

Thaw follows frost; hard on the heel of spring
Treads summer sure to die, for hard on hers
Comes autumn with his apples scattering;
Then back to wintertide, when nothing stirs.

But oh, whate'er the sky-led seasons mar,
Moon upon moon rebuilds it with her beams;
Come we where Tullus and where Ancus are
And good Aeneas, we are dust and dreams.

Torquatus, if the gods in heaven shall add
The morrow to the day, what tongue has told?
Feast then thy heart, for what thy heart has had
The fingers of no heir will ever hold.

When thou descendest once the shades among,
The stern assize and equal judgment o'er,
Not thy long lineage nor thy golden tongue,
No, nor thy righteousness, shall friend thee more.

Night holds Hippolytus the pure of stain,
Diana steads him nothing, he must stay;
And Theseus leaves Pirithous in the chain
The love of comrades cannot take away. 

- Horace


  1. 21:23
    That's quite a poem. Very nice...must be something to be able to come up with that sort of thing. I'd never read that before...maybe I should read more from that person.

    It took me a while to figure out the ending to "ball" also. I agree on ENDUES, but didn't mind INERTIA too much. All in all, I very much enjoyed the theme, especially the VIVALDI and POUSSIN connection (as well as the six-letter connection, which I can't say I'd ever realized before today's puzzle). I didn't know we were supposed to say JEW, though, or talk about LSD. I enjoyed 6D Insignificant, in a way (ONEHORSE), and I didn't notice the Four Seasons connection before you mentioned it. Maybe Bobby will comment in a few weeks.

  2. I'm not sure which person you mean. Horace is one of the greatest poets in history. Turns out he wasn't wrong when (in Ode 3.30) he said of his body of work, "Exegi monumentum aere perennius" (I have created a monument more lasting than bronze). Shakespeare himself, borrowed that idea in Sonnet 55 (and other poems).

    Housman, too, is a good poet in his own right. Overall very bleak in outlook, but a realist, I think.

  3. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, carpe diem, and follow your heart for tomorrow isn't promised to anyone. Finished the puzzle in 8:30. I liked the theme--at first I hated it because I thought it was just the four seasons. The one big answer I didn't know, POUSSIN, was easy from the downs. ENDUES is in fact something you're going to see in puzzles from time to time. Sometimes from a clue it could be either endues or imbues. You didn't mention my favorite aspect of the puzzle: I love how Nelson uses the alternate spelling of Kiev---Kyiv-- to clue the alternate spelling of Odessa (ODESA). That's really sharp! I wonder if Tony LaRussa likes Vivaldi. I wonder if he knows that he was paired with him in a NYTimes crossword.