Category Archives: Reminder

Your Favourite Poem(s) on June 22

Your Favourite Poem(s) on June 22A final reminder that this Thursday, June 22, we will once again share and discuss some of our favourite poems. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for this year’s list, with links to texts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reminder

Summer “Free-for-All” on June 22

Summer “Free-for-All”A mid-month reminder that on Thursday, June 22, we will continue with our customary summer “free-for-all” with everyone bringing a favourite poem(s) or excerpt to read and discuss. For this year only this session has been moved from July to June. Please bring your own choice of a poem or poems and, preferably, post them first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly.

Please see the SCHEDULE PAGE for a list of selections to-date, which are rather few. We need more.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reminder

Robert Frost on May 25th

Robert Frost on May 25thA final reminder that we’ll be reading and discussing the poetry of Robert Frost this coming Thursday, May 25th. Among the poems to be discussed will be “The Road Not Taken.” Please see two previous postings about this poem: The Road Not Taken: The Poem Everyone Loves and Everyone Gets Wrong and The Road Not Taken: A Misunderstood Chestnut. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for the complete list of featured poems.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reminder

A Miracle For Breakfast

A sestina by Elizabeth Bishop

A Miracle for BreakfastAt six o’clock we were waiting for coffee,

waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb

that was going to be served from a certain balcony

–like kings of old, or like a miracle.

It was still dark. One foot of the sun

steadied itself on a long ripple in the river.
.

The first ferry of the day had just crossed the river.

It was so cold we hoped that the coffee

would be very hot, seeing that the sun

was not going to warm us; and that the crumb

would be a loaf each, buttered, by a miracle.

At seven a man stepped out on the balcony.
.

He stood for a minute alone on the balcony

looking over our heads toward the river.

A servant handed him the makings of a miracle,

consisting of one lone cup of coffee

and one roll, which he proceeded to crumb,

his head, so to speak, in the clouds–along with the sun.
.

Was the man crazy? What under the sun

was he trying to do, up there on his balcony!

Each man received one rather hard crumb,

which some flicked scornfully into the river,

and, in a cup, one drop of the coffee.

Some of us stood around, waiting for the miracle.
.

I can tell what I saw next; it was not a miracle.

A beautiful villa stood in the sun

and from its doors came the smell of hot coffee.

In front, a baroque white plaster balcony

added by birds, who nest along the river,

–I saw it with one eye close to the crumb–
.

and galleries and marble chambers. My crumb

my mansion, made for me by a miracle,

through ages, by insects, birds, and the river

working the stone. Every day, in the sun,

at breakfast time I sit on my balcony

with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee.
.

We licked up the crumb and swallowed the coffee.

A window across the river caught the sun

as if the miracle were working, on the wrong balcony.
_______________________
.
An early reminder that we’ll be discussing the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop on September 28. Read also: The passions of Elizabeth Bishop

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Poem, Reminder

Extracting the Woodchuck

Robert Frost’s “doubleness,” revealed in his letters—and poems.

by ADAM KIRSCH

IT’S NOT OFTEN that a poet is famous enough to become the target of character assassination 50 years after his death. But in November 2013, a half-century after Robert Frost died, Harper’s Magazine published a withering attack on his legend, in the form of a short story by Joyce Carol Oates. The story, “Lovely, Dark, Deep”—its title drawn ironically from one of Frost’s most famous poems, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”—describes the attempt of a young woman, Evangeline Fife, to interview the aging Frost in 1951. But the Frost on display here is so odious that the interview soon turns into a confrontation, then an inquisition. After commenting nastily on the poet’s physical appearance—”his torso sagged against his shirt like a great udder”—Oates gives us a Frost who makes lecherous comments, and lies about his past, and trashes other poets, and fails as a father and husband, and displays an overall arrogance and meanness that make him entirely loathsome. The story ends with Frost collapsed on the ground, almost murdered by his interviewer’s contempt.
.
Oates’s story appears so entirely hostile to Frost that the reader starts to wonder about its real meaning. Does Oates, in fact, want us to share Fife’s anger at the old poet? Are all the accusations she hurls meant to be taken at face value? Or is this episode, perhaps, a dramatization of the cruel and inhumane ways that posterity treats great writers, especially when it comes time to write their biographies? After all, it was none other than Joyce Carol Oates who wrote critically, in 1988, about the rise of “pathography,” a variety of literary biography “whose motifs are dysfunction and disasters, illnesses and pratfalls, failed marriages and failed careers, alcoholism and breakdowns and outrageous conduct.” Such an approach to a writer’s life, Oates observed in The New York Times Book Review, can answer every question except the most important one: “How did so distinguished a body of work emerge from so undistinguished a life?”

Read the complete article
.
An early reminder that we’ll be reading and discussing the poetry of Robert Frost on May 25. Please bring your own choice of a poem by Frost, and if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. Please see the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections to-date.
Extracting the Woodchuck

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Reminder, Study

Shakespeare, Dickens, Wren, Austen, Hardy, Turner: in praise of … the English

Eileen Battersby marks St George’s Day with a kaleidoscopic celebration of our noisy neighbour’s contribution to world culture

Eileen Battersby

Shakespeare, Dickens, Wren, AustenToday is believed to be Shakespeare’s birthday, or so 18th-century biographers decided as his baptism took place on April 26th. April 23rd is most certainly the date upon which he died in 1616, aged 52, having produced a body of work which almost single-handedly defines literature.
.
Any nation, rampaging imperialism aside, which can claim William Shakespeare is entitled to feel rather self-satisfied. By dying on his birthday he confirmed an innate flair for exits as well as entrances. Shakespeare was the complete showman: he knew about stagecraft, made clever use of historical sources, knew the art of spinning a great yarn and how to entertain an audience and could challenge the emotional range of all actors (and continues to do). Shakespeare remains the test of any serious actor.
.
His feel for imagery is second to none. Shakespeare was a poet blessed with theatrical flair and a rare understanding of the social hierarchy and most particularly he was a psychologist, attuned to the vagaries of human nature. As if that was not enough to be celebrating, today is also St George’s Day. Ironically it is not a public holiday in England. In fact St George, depicted through the ages on horseback slaying a dragon, probably never even saw one. Many countries acknowledge a St George. Yet he is England’s national saint.

Read the complete article
.
A final reminder that on this Thursday, April 27 we will be reading and discussing poetry and other literature about, or inspired by, Shakespeare, his works and characters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reminder, Study

Two sonnets for Shakespeare 400

By Wendy Cope

Two sonnets for Shakespeare 400My Father’s Shakespeare

My father must have bought it second-hand,
Inscribed “To RS Elwyn” – who was he?
Published 1890, leather-bound,
In 1961 passed on to me.
November 6th. How old was I? Sixteen.
Doing A level in English Lit.,
In love with Keats and getting very keen
On 
William Shakespeare. I was thrilled with it,
This gift, glad then, as now, to think
I had been chosen as the keeper of
My father’s Shakespeare, where, in dark blue ink,
He wrote, “To Wendy Mary Cope. With love.”
Love on a page, surviving death and time.
He didn’t even have to make it rhyme.

On Sonnet 18

So long as men can breathe and eyes can see” –
You don’t assume we’ll be around for ever.
You couldn’t know that “this gives life to thee”
Only until the sun goes supernova.
That knowledge doesn’t prove your words untrue.
Neither time nor the advance of science
Has taken anything away from you,
Or faced down your magnificent defiance.
That couplet. Were you smiling as you wrote it?
Did you utter a triumphant “Yes”?
Walking round the garden, did you quote it,
Sotto voce, savouring your success?
And did you always know, or sometimes doubt
That passing centuries would bear you out?
.
Specially commissioned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
.
Listen to The Poetry Archive’s 400 Collection containing recordings of twenty sonnets read by ten major poets.  Each poet has chosen a favourite sonnet by Shakespeare and, inspired by that sonnet, has written a new sonnet of his or her own.
.
A reminder that on April 27 we will be reading and discussing poetry and other literature about, or inspired by, Shakespeare, his works and characters. Please bring your own selection of this genre for discussion and, if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections posted to-date.

Leave a comment

Filed under Audio, Poem, Reminder

Rowan Atkinson & Hugh Laurie – Shakespeare and Hamlet

Rowan Atkinson & Hugh Laurie - Shakespeare and HamletRowan Atkinson & Hugh Laurie – Shakespeare and Hamlet
.
A reminder that on April 27 we will be reading and discussing poetry and other literature about, or inspired by, Shakespeare, his works and characters. Please bring your own selection of this genre for discussion and, if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections posted to-date.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reminder, Video

Monty Python – Hamlet

Monty Python does Hamlet
.

Monty-Python-does-HamletA reminder that on April 27 we will be reading and discussing poetry and other literature about, or inspired by, Shakespeare, his works and characters. Please bring your own selection of this genre for discussion and, if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections posted to-date.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reminder, Video

William Shakespeare in Yeats’s Irish Revival

There is no great literature without nationality, no great nationality without literature. —W. B. Yeats, Letters to the New Island

William Shakespeare in Yeats_s Irish RevivalTo illustrate the confluence of culture and politics which had, over the course of the nineteenth century, implicated Shakespeare’s works within the framework of nationalist ideologies, two anecdotes should here suffice. Both concern 1916, a year of enormous significance in both Irish and English nationalism. On Easter Monday, 1916, Patrick Pearse and his followers led an armed insurrection in Dublin against British rule, seizing key buildings in the city center and proclaiming the existence of an independent Irish nation. Three months later, across the English Channel on the battlefields of northern France, July 1916 brought carnage on an industrial scale during the Somme Offensive. Both the battles of the First World War and the military engagement (and subsequent executions) of the Easter Rising have, of course, received much historical attention, and both are often regarded as watersheds in the political consciousness of England and Ireland, respectively. After 1916, no longer could British citizens disregard the human cost of modern war. In Ireland, 1916 ushered in a version of Irish nationalism hitherto championed by a minority, so that, as Richard English writes, the “most emphatic achievement of 1916 was to destroy a constitutional, parliamentary, conciliatory version of nationalism (a nationalism founded on the principles of compromise, trust, tolerance, and opposition to political violence or coercion).” As ever in the history of Irish nationalism, political violence proved divisive, in this case further separating Ireland’s “two political communities,” nationalist and Unionist.
.
This, however, is a book about literary nationalism, and accordingly, the events with which I am concerned are not military, but cultural. That being said, they are decidedly political. The year 1916 was also the tercentenary of the death of William Shakespeare. On Wednesday of Easter week, the pro-Union Irish Times greeted Dublin’s citizenry— at least those who read the Times— with the following headline: “How many citizens of Dublin have any real knowledge of the works of Shakespeare? Could any better occasion for reading them be afforded than the coincidence of enforced domesticity with the poet’s tercentenary?” Under military curfew, following the Rising, acquiescent Times readers might well have been asking themselves, which of Shakespeare’s plays does fit these tumultuous times? Julius Caesar, perhaps, with its dramatization of conspiracy, coup, and murderous, fickle crowds of the angry and confused; or might it have been Henry V, a play whose ironic chorus can only comment upon, and not halt, the imperialist vigor of an English monarch rampant?
.
The opening two paragraphs from Yeats, Shakespeare, and Irish Cultural Nationalism by Oliver Hennessey.
.
A reminder that on April 27 we will be reading and discussing poetry and other literature about, or inspired by, Shakespeare, his works and characters. Please bring your own selection of this genre for discussion and, if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections posted to-date.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reminder, Reviews