Issue 16 · 2012




Nothing by Nobody:

An Interrupted Reading of Burton’s Anatomy, 2011


by Alan Halsey





Feb 1



neminis nihil

                      imaginis imago

reading looking backwards

through the philter of cognitive theory

Hymenoptera Hypersensitivity

in an Imported Fire Ant Endemic Area

(sent to Anticyra they arrive by analogy

allergy or chance in Academe)


if as I have read

they were afternoon-men born of mushrooms

The Lord shall smite them with the botch of Egypt

(in a swarm of bees

President Obama backs President Mubarak)





Feb 2



fake hackers claiming

vigil coma & many hard words

philosophers explode

larvae, lawyers, lemures

tumults, combustions, uproars, Abaddon

ut in Ægypto

                      per iram et odium

The president’s plain-clothes devils let loose

a hyperpathic variety of February’s malady






Feb 4



disorder of time and place

sudden death and what not

frothy spectrums and the like


for ‘bangle’ read ‘bungle’

Balance it O Lord You have an incoming payment

(Mubarak turns his back on Obama

for not backing him enough,

if he did)

contra gentes

                      contra Manichæos

‘their president Mercury had no better fortune’

inertia entertainment shared by noble gases

but whatever the younger Pliny said


for all his wars

survives in no epos

but one stonker of a column

with St Peter on top





Feb 5



in the shop of humours:

fountains & furtherers

overmuch cockering

cases of conscience in

a case of leather

every word in its misconster

shoeing-horns of idleness

incondite voices

Middle East policies

spintriae aplenty

obsolete gestures

new coats for the moon





Feb 6



eyes in his throat and a library

printed in the roof of his mouth

Dear Sir I have 70kg of gold dust

I do not know much about


‘in his Anatomy of Melancholy Francis Bacon’

aka William Sheikh-Peer, The Ancient Sage

aka Elias Artifex,

Theophrastian master of the Rosie Cross

aka Kidhr, The Green One, patron of the Sufi orders


differing as an egg and a chestnut

a rash of stars like so many nails in a door


‘those two green children that fell from heaven’

or clambered up from St Martin’s Land

but I’d sooner believe William of Newburgh

than anything said

by our man in Cairo Mister Blair





Feb 7



when time was entertained by footnotes


1 Erycius Poteanus

in his Pietatis Thaumata (Antwerp: 1617)

published 1022 permutations in classical hexameter

of Bernard Bauhuis’ monostich

Tot tibi sunt dotes, Virgo, quot sidera cælo.

Why stop? We mustn’t suppose Poteanus

ran out of ideas and despaired.

There were 1022 visible stars in Ptolemy’s heaven

and the Virgin could have no more virtues than that.


2 To whom does Rainnerus of Luneburg

owe his immortality? Pace Burton

the Proteus Poeticus was the work of Gregor Kleppis

welcoming three noblemen to Dresden

in 1617. It contains 1617 permutations of

Dant tria jam Dresdæ, ceu sol dat, lumina lucem.

To whom the nobles owe

whatever remains of their sunlight

is an ordinary question. Rainnerus

has meanwhile been deprived of

2150 – 1617 = 533 permutations.





Feb 8



Dear Sir

Re yours of 6th inst.

I have digged out of that broody hill

a chaos of receipts

nonsense-confused compounds

indefensible much magnified enchantments

a gown of giants’ beards for austere times

tinfoiled happiness

(I quote, it was translated from the Latin)

as many tempests in tosspots as fatal engines

gripings expressed in most careful verse

& last but not least

several nonentities of potable gold


Do not be transposed

Dear Sir

Let experience determine










Alan Halsey is online at interview with Alan Halsey appears in E·ratio Issue 13