“Pettifoggers, shysters, and all kinds of hagglers have humble antecedents and usually live up to their names.” ~ Anatoly Liberman, University of Minnesota Professor

In the Senate on Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts cited the 1905 impeachment trial of Judge Charles Swayne; this photo of Swayne appeared in a March 1905 issue of The Literary Digest.
“They  [pettifogging lawyers] often had limited concern for scruples or conscience and the term was deeply contemptuous.” ~ Michael Quinion, World Wide Words

Wednesday afternoon, sunny, 46 degrees.

So from the ongoing impeachment trial, this nugget arose: PETTIFOGGING. In an NPR article, Elizabeth Blair elucidates:

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “Pettifogging people give too much attention to small, unimportant details in a way that shows a limited mind.”

On that note, let’s dive in.

Petty + fogger = pettifogger

Petty means small or insignificant. A fogger is old slang for a “huckster, a cringing whining beggar.”

In his admonishment of public officials during President Trump’s impeachment proceedings, Chief Justice John Roberts cited the use of “pettifogging” in the 1905 Senate impeachment trial of Florida District Judge Charles Swayne, who was impeached “… for filing false travel vouchers, improper use of private railroad cars, unlawfully imprisoning two attorneys for contempt and living outside of his district.” (After nearly three months, the Senate voted to acquit.)

According to a transcript, the offending word in question was uttered by Swayne’s counsel, the Hon. John M. Thurston. He subsequently apologized.

“I don’t think we need to aspire to that high standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Justice Roberts said, as he urged civil discourse among House impeachment managers and President Trump’s lawyers.

What a wonderful word, and so fitting when talking about Mr. Giuliani et al. Who said politics was boring?

More later (if the laptop cooperates). Peace.


Music by the Patti Smith Group, “Broken Flag”

Lyrics:

Nodding tho the lamp’s lit low, nod for passers underground.
To and fro she’s darning, and the land is weeping red and pale.
Weeping yarn from Algiers. Weeping yarn from Algiers.

Weaving tho the eyes are pale, what will rend will also mend.
The sifting cloth is binding, and the dream she weaves will never end.
For we’re marching toward Algiers. For we’re marching toward Algiers.

Lullaby tho baby’s gone. Lullaby a broken song.
Oh, the cradle was our call. When it rocked we carried on.
And we marched on toward Algiers. For we’re marching toward Algiers
We’re still marching for Algiers. Marching, marching for Algiers.
Not to hail a barren sky. Sifting cloth is weeping red.
The mourning veil is waving high a field of stars and tears we’ve shed.
In the sky a broken flag, children wave and raise their arms.
We’ll be gone but they’ll go on and on and on and on and on.

“Moments: beware the poetry of moments. Many of those moments are literary, remember. They have a past, a dreary past.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “The Poet’s Business”

In the Japanese
tongue of the
mind’s eye one
two syllable word
tells of
the fringe of rain
clinging to the eaves
and of the grey-green
fronds of wild parsley. ~ Denise Levertov, “Grey Sparrow Addresses the Mind’s Ear”

Here are a few of Ohara Hale’s illustrations of Denise Levertov’s poems as part of a Brain Pickings collaboration with 92Y:

Listen to Denise Levertov read her poems:

Love Song

Your beauty, which I lost sight of once
for a long time, is long,
not symmetrical, and wears
the earth colors that make me see it.

A long beauty, what is that?
A song
that can be sung over and over,
long notes or long bones.

Love is a landscape the long mountains
define but don’t
shut off from the
unseeable distance.

In fall, in fall,
your trees stretch
their long arms in sleeves
of earth-red and

sky-yellow, a little
lop-sided. I take
long walks among them. The grapes
that need frost to ripen them

are amber and grow deep in the
hedge, half-concealed,
the way your beauty grows in long tendrils
half in darkness.

The ache of marriage:

The ache of marriage:

thigh and tongue, beloved,
are heavy with it,
it throbs in the teeth

We look for communion
and are turned away, beloved,
each and each

It is leviathan and we
in its belly
looking for joy, some joy
not to be known outside it

two by two in the ark of
the ache of it.

City Psalm

The killings continue, each second
pain and misfortune extend themselves
in the genetic chain, injustice is done knowingly, and the air
bears the dust of decayed hopes,
yet breathing those fumes, walking the thronged
pavements among crippled lives, jackhammers
raging, a parking lot painfully agleam
in the May sun, I have seen
not behind but within, within the
dull grief, blown grit, hideous
concrete facades, another grief, a gleam
as of dew, an abode of mercy,
have heard not behind but within noise
a humming that drifted into a quiet smile.
Nothing was changed, all was revealed otherwise;
not that horror was not, not that killings did not continue,
but that as if transparent all disclosed
an otherness that was blessed, that was bliss.
I saw Paradise in the dust of the street.

Open Secret

Perhaps one day I shall let myself
approach the mountain—
hear the streams which must flow down it,
lie in a flowering meadow, even
touch my hand to the snow.
Perhaps not. I have no longing to do so.
I have visited other mountain heights.
This one is not, I think, to be known
by close scrutiny, by touch of foot or hand
or entire outstretched body; not by any
familiarity of behavior, any acquaintance
with its geology or the scarring roads
humans have carved in its flanks.
This mountain’s power
lies in the open secret of its remote
apparition, silvery low-relief
coming and going moonlike at the horizon,
always loftier, lonelier, than I ever remember.

The Certainty

They have refined the means of destruction,
abstract science almost
visibly shining,
it is so highly polished. Immaterial weapons
no one could ever hold in their hands
streak across darkness, across great distances,
threading through mazes to arrive
at targets that are concepts—

But one ancient certainty
remains: war
means blood spilling from living bodies,
means severed limbs, blindness, terror,
means grief, agony, orphans, starvation,
prolonged misery, prolonged resentment and hatred and guilt,
means all of these multiplied, multiplied
means, death, death, death and death.

                   

Music by Hozier, “Take Me to Church”

Music by