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Old 02-05-2014, 02:59 AM   #126
DiggertheDog
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Quote:
Originally Posted by kokiri View Post
My mother in law gave me The Unbearable Lightness of Being for Christmas two years running; I think I've read the first chapter once, but it didn't stick.

I read The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner a year of two ago, and really really liked it. Which supposed me since it's quite unlike the sort of poetry I would expect to. Also Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market(?) is a good longish narrative poem.
Christina Georgina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894)

Christina Rossetti was born at 38 Charlotte Street (now 105 Hallam Street), London to Gabriele Rossetti, a poet and a political exile from Vasto, Abruzzo, and Frances Polidori, the sister of Lord Byron's friend and physician, John William Polidori.[1] She had two brothers and a sister: Dante became an influential artist and poet, and William and Maria both became writers.[1] Christina, the youngest, was a lively child. She dictated her first story to her mother before she had learned to write.

Instead of Goblin Market I have chosen:

In an Artist's Studio

One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel -- every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

Christina Rossetti (1856)
Norton claims that the studio is of her older brother Dante's and the heads are those of Miss Sidal(within the poem - if that was not clear).



Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1860)


Of Christina Rossetti, the iconic feminist Virginia Woolf wrote:

Your poems are full of gold dust and “sweet geraniums’ and varied brightness” your eye noted incessantly how rushes are “velvet headed”, and lizards have a “strange metallic mail” – your eye, indeed, observed with a sensual pre-Raphaelite intensity that must have surprised Christina the Anglo-Catholic. But to her you owed perhaps the fixity and sadness of your muse.....No sooner have you feasted on beauty with your eyes than your mind tells you that beauty is vain and beauty passes. Death, oblivion, and rest lap round your songs with their dark wave. (Norton's Anthology of English Literature, Volume E; The Victorian Age, p1490)

*Apologies for not following a system with my annotations.

Which is a perfect bridge to my next book:

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

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Old 02-05-2014, 07:27 AM   #127
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

From the very little I knew of Virginia Woolf, having only read Orlando and having never critically studied her, I might not have as much prior knowledge to draw upon as Dickens. Having said that, I was aware that the big 'bogeyman' of Woolf was Milton and his conception of Eve although a great admirer of his poetry. So I was not wholly suprised when I came across this quote early in Chapter 1 with her narrator talking of Charles Lamb view of Milton poem:

It was Lycidas perhaps, and Lamb wrote how it shocked him to think it is possible that any word in Lycidas could have been different from what it is. (p9)

Lycidas
Yet once more, O ye Laurels, and once more
Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never-sear,
I com to pluck your Berries harsh and crude,
And with forc'd fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year. [ 5 ]
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due:
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:
Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew [ 10 ]
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not flote upon his watry bear
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of som melodious tear.

Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well, [ 15 ]
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring,
Begin, and somwhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse,
So may som gentle Muse
With lucky words favour my destin'd Urn, [ 20 ]
And as he passes turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shrowd.
For we were nurst upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill.

Together both, ere the high Lawns appear'd [ 25 ]
Under the opening eye-lids of the morn,
We drove a field, and both together heard
What time the Gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Batt'ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the Star that rose, at Ev'ning, bright [ 30 ]
Toward Heav'ns descent had slop'd his westering wheel.
Mean while the Rural ditties were not mute,
Temper'd to th' Oaten Flute,
Rough Satyrs danc'd, and Fauns with clov'n heel,
From the glad sound would not be absent long, [ 35 ]
And old Damœtas lov'd to hear our song.

But O the heavy change, now thou art gon,
Now thou art gon, and never must return!
Thee Shepherd, thee the Woods, and desert Caves,
With wilde Thyme and the gadding Vine o'regrown, [ 40 ]
And all their echoes mourn.
The Willows, and the Hazle Copses green,
Shall now no more be seen,
Fanning their joyous Leaves to thy soft layes.
As killing as the Canker to the Rose, [ 45 ]
Or Taint-worm to the weanling Herds that graze,
Or Frost to Flowers, that their gay wardrop wear,
When first the White thorn blows;
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to Shepherds ear.

Where were ye Nymphs when the remorseless deep [ 50 ]
Clos'd o're the head of your lov'd Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the steep,
Where your old Bards, the famous Druids ly,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wisard stream: [ 55 ]
Ay me, I fondly dream!
Had ye bin there — for what could that have don?
What could the Muse her self that Orpheus bore,
The Muse her self, for her inchanting son
Whom Universal nature did lament, [ 60 ]
When by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His goary visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore.

Alas! What boots it with uncessant care
To tend the homely slighted Shepherds trade, [ 65 ]
And strictly meditate the thankles Muse,
Were it not better don as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise [ 70 ]
(That last infirmity of Noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious dayes;
But the fair Guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with th' abhorred shears, [ 75 ]
And slits the thin spun life. But not the praise,
Phœbus repli'd, and touch'd my trembling ears;
Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to th' world, nor in broad rumour lies, [ 80 ]
But lives and spreds aloft by those pure eyes,
And perfet witnes of all judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in Heav'n expect thy meed.

O Fountain Arethuse, and thou honour'd flood, [ 85 ]
Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocall reeds,
That strain I heard was of a higher mood:
But now my Oate proceeds,
And listens to the Herald of the Sea
That came in Neptune's plea, [ 90 ]
He ask'd the Waves, and ask'd the Fellon winds,
What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain?
And question'd every gust of rugged wings
That blows from off each beaked Promontory,
They knew not of his story, [ 95 ]
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
That not a blast was from his dungeon stray'd,
The Ayr was calm, and on the level brine,
Sleek Panope with all her sisters play'd.
It was that fatall and perfidious Bark [ 100 ]
Built in th' eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,
That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.

Next Camus, reverend Sire, went footing slow,
His Mantle hairy, and his Bonnet sedge,
Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge [ 105 ]
Like to that sanguine flower inscrib'd with woe.
Ah! Who hath reft (quoth he) my dearest pledge?
Last came, and last did go,
The Pilot of the Galilean lake,
Two massy Keyes he bore of metals twain, [ 110 ]
(The Golden opes, the Iron shuts amain)
He shook his Miter'd locks, and stern bespake,
How well could I have spar'd for thee young swain,
Anow of such as for their bellies sake,
Creep and intrude, and climb into the fold? [ 115 ]
Of other care they little reck'ning make,
Then how to scramble at the shearers feast,
And shove away the worthy bidden guest.
Blind mouthes! that scarce themselves know how to hold
A Sheep-hook, or have learn'd ought els the least [ 120 ]
That to the faithfull Herdmans art belongs!
What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
And when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel Pipes of wretched straw,
The hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed, [ 125 ]
But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread:
Besides what the grim Woolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing sed,
But that two-handed engine at the door, [ 130 ]
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.

Return Alpheus, the dread voice is past,
That shrunk thy streams; Return Sicilian Muse,
And call the Vales, and bid them hither cast
Their Bels, and Flourets of a thousand hues. [ 135 ]
Ye valleys low where the milde whispers use,
Of shades and wanton winds, and gushing brooks,
On whose fresh lap the swart Star sparely looks,
Throw hither all your quaint enameld eyes,
That on the green terf suck the honied showres, [ 140 ]
And purple all the ground with vernal flowres.
Bring the rathe Primrose that forsaken dies.
The tufted Crow-toe, and pale Jasmine,
The white Pink, and the Pansie freakt with jeat,
The glowing Violet. [ 145 ]
The Musk-rose, and the well attir'd Woodbine,
With Cowslips wan that hang the pensive hed,
And every flower that sad embroidery wears:
Bid Amaranthus all his beauty shed,
And Daffadillies fill their cups with tears, [ 150 ]
To strew the Laureat Herse where Lycid lies.
For so to interpose a little ease,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise.
Ay me! Whilst thee the shores and sounding Seas
Wash far away, where ere thy bones are hurld, [ 155 ]
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;
Or whether thou to our moist vows deny'd,
Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old, [ 160 ]
Where the great vision of the guarded Mount
Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold;
Look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth.
And, O ye Dolphins, waft the haples youth.

Weep no more, woful Shepherds weep no more, [ 165 ]
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watry floar,
So sinks the day-star in the Ocean bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled Ore, [ 170 ]
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of him that walk'd the waves;
Where other groves, and other streams along,
With Nectar pure his oozy Lock's he laves, [ 175 ]
And hears the unexpressive nuptiall Song,
In the blest Kingdoms meek of joy and love.
There entertain him all the Saints above,
In solemn troops, and sweet Societies
That sing, and singing in their glory move, [ 180 ]
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.
Now Lycidas the Shepherds weep no more;
Hence forth thou art the Genius of the shore,
In thy large recompense, and shalt be good
To all that wander in that perilous flood. [ 185 ]

Thus sang the uncouth Swain to th' Okes and rills,
While the still morn went out with Sandals gray,
He touch'd the tender stops of various Quills,
With eager thought warbling his Dorick lay:
And now the Sun had stretch'd out all the hills, [ 190 ]
And now was dropt into the Western bay;
At last he rose, and twitch'd his Mantle blew:
To morrow to fresh Woods, and Pastures new.


John Milton (1637-38)

History of the name Lycidas[edit]

Herodotus in his Book IX (written in the 5th century BCE) mentions an Athenian councilor in Salamis, "a man named Lycidas" (Λυκίδας), who proposed to his fellow citizens that they submit to a compromise offered by their enemy, Persian King Xerxes I, with whom they were at war. Suspected of collusion with the enemy for suggesting the compromise, Lycidas was stoned to death by "those in the council and those outside, [who] were so enraged.... [W]ith all the uproar in Salamis over Lycidas, the Athenian women soon found out what had happened; whereupon, without a word from the men, they got together, and, each one urging on her neighbor and taking her along with the crowd, flocked to Lycidas' house and stoned his wife and children."[2]

The name later occurs in Theocritus's Idylls, where Lycidas is most prominently a poet-goatherd encountered on the trip of "Idyll vii." The name appears several times in Virgil and is a typically Doric shepherd's name, appropriate for the pastoral mode.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycidas

If you are interested in an depth critical interpretation of this totemic poem.



Yale should be congratulated for their Open University Program - the direct link below to Prof. Rogers Yale program site.
http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-220/lecture-6



Illustration by Samuel Palmer (unknown) accompanying Lycidas

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Old 02-05-2014, 08:16 AM   #128
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Lycidas lifted

Phœbus repli'd, and touch'd my trembling ears;
Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to th' world, nor in broad rumour lies, [ 80 ]
But lives and spreds aloft by those pure eyes,
And perfet witnes of all judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in Heav'n expect thy meed.


Just listened to the interpretation by Rogers in the 7th Lecture on this passage....then read this passage aloud.
Phoebus Apollo - God of Poetry
Jove - poetic convention has it as representing the Christian God with Jove.

Lovely section of the desire of the poet for immortality and how it is achieved.
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Old 02-05-2014, 10:01 PM   #129
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

So - we are stepping into the world of an early 20th century feminist who is broadly considered to being firmly within the modernist wave. As I doing some preliminary backgrounding of her - I could not help but notice her central role in The Bloomsbury Group and her social status. I think it is fair to say that she is fully immersed in the literary high culture of her time and, like so many artists, is writing from the cultural centre so familiar to the Western Tradition, that of an Imperial capital, London. Whilst it is perhaps unfair on Woolf, but like so many influential artists, it comes from a priviledged position and her association with the Bloomsbury Group (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloomsbury_Group) whose purpose, if not explicit intent, was the proliferation and promotion of their own work. If we are to take seriously the idea of the social reproduction of privilege - Woolf perhaps unsuprisingly is a contentious writer in terms of both class and race within the post-colonial critical frameworks of the later 20th century. What cannot be denied is , that from her central and privileged position, the dissemination and proliferation of her critique of patriarchy has been pivotal to the many subsequent waves of feminist thought.

The thin veil between literary knowledge and non-fiction is highlighted by Woolf's narrative perspective in A Room of One's Own. Perhaps because of its more flexible genre conventions, Woolf adopts a fictive genre for her sweeping modernist critique of her society which licenses her to make assertions and observations without the more rigorous conventions of non-fictive genre standards. Which is not to diminish the weight we should put on them, in my view, because one of the drawbacks with the cult of 'scientific knowing' is the narrow set of textual devices available in the communication of experiential observation.



Roger Fry: leading art critic and bloomsbury member (portrait of Woolf c1917)


Image of upper-class women of 1920s London.


Whilst modern, realist literary critique may have been de riguer in London. The fracturing of the real in the devastation on the continent was beginning to gain steam. Two examples below:


Dutch neo plasticism (1917) Van Doesburg


German Dadaism (1921) Ernst
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Old 02-06-2014, 07:36 AM   #130
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

A paraphrase or quote of Harold Bloom, preeminent 20thC literary critic:

Emily Dickinson and William Blake seem to me the two poets in Anglo-American tradition who revive in themselves something of William Shakespeare's highly original cognitive power. Like Shakespeare, (they) thought everything through for themselves, as if there had been no philosophers before them.

Agapeagape, a fellow 2+2er, cited this quote in a Lounge thread clearly flush with excitement about Emily Dickinson and the sweeping claims of the holder of canonical standards,Bloom, about the aforementioned. Always intrigued by bold claims and an admirer of passion for any literature - I was of course enticed with this mix of audacity and enthusiasm to explore Dickinson myself. As such this blog, periodically and regularly, will dig slightly deeper into the poetry of this particular poet and attempt to make some observations about the culture that she was brought up with and some critical frameworks to try and gain some insight as to why Bloom made such a claim.

I will be coming with 'fresh eyes' having never read Dickinson nor I am aware of middle 19th century Anglo-American culture in depth. But, I will attempt to bring to bear some techniques in critical reading to deconstruct some elements of her poems. Hopefully, we can explore ideas of cognition, originality, poetic production and interpretation in a meaningful way. Perhaps without an intense academic rigour, as I do not propose to visit an academic library to book up but trawl upon the interwebs, nooks and crannies of my library and finally my prior knowledge, but hopefully in an interesting and readable way.

If you feel the need to or want to make an extended response or reading or contribution - feel free to preview it with me via PM and I will decide if it is appropriate to the purposes I envision for this blog and this segue.
If you have a particular Dickinson's poem - you think is relevant - title and date or link is sufficient, with a brief comment of elements that you think are particularly on topic or might be of interest to our investigation.

Put another way, I am open to contributions but want quite a strict editorial control over poems presented in full. Otherwise if it is polite and thoughtful comments particularly on any of my claims (even if they reject or contest any said claims) they are welcomed or encouraged.


Whilst I would tut-tut my History students for going straight to Wikipedia, we will assume a level of trust on sourcing.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family's house in Amherst. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence.

While Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime.[2] The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation.[3] Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.

Although most of her acquaintances were probably aware of Dickinson's writing, it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Dickinson's younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of Dickinson's work became apparent. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, both of whom heavily edited the content. A complete and mostly unaltered collection of her poetry became available for the first time in 1955 when The Poems of Emily Dickinson was published by scholar Thomas H. Johnson. Despite some unfavorable reviews and some skepticism during the late 19th and early 20th century as to Dickinson's literary prowess, she is now almost universally considered to be one of the most important American poets.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Dickinson

Important website
http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/


A restored photograph of a young Dickinson.

Nature Is What We See

"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

Sometimes it is presented as

"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—

Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—

Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

(I cannot find when it was written - an important point which I will briefly touch upon later.)

I will give you time to think upon this poem for a day and will think about what connections I would like to draw.

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Old 02-06-2014, 08:52 PM   #131
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Sometimes it is presented as

"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—

Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—

Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.


The Poetic Voice or Narrator:

There are two unnamed voices in the poem. Both are in declarative mode - they are making unequivocal statements:
The First voice: Nature is what we see... with the list of natural things that we see.
The Second voice: Nay Nature is Heaven-
We have principally two interpretations, in my view, either it is a self-reflective internal conversation between competing opinions of the author thrashing it out on the page. But I put little weight on this for a number of reasons. Whilst it is high likely that Dickinson was not writing towards publication or the poem is not written towards another person, say in correspondence, and as such we can say is she literally writing for herself yet I do not believe this is an internal dialogue. Why?
First of all she is writing on behalf of others: Nature is what we see. As it is not constructed in a context of towards someone, we can assume the "we" is in the royal sense - she is talking on behalf of all of us. The impact of this is, if true, that the ambition of the poetic voice is now universal. When this is combined with the absence of almost all particular markers of time (with the exception of the bobolink*) - the first Poetic voice is addressing a universal and timeless 'intended reader'.
Yet this first voice is countermanded by a Second voice: Nay - Nature is Heaven. When an exceptionally powerfully positioned poetic narrator is contradicted with such declarative finality - we should, perhaps, conclude that the second voice is 'divine': a muse, God or figure of supreme authority.
Which brings us to a nutty problem of which published version should we interpret as the "text". I do not have the inclination to argue for one or the other based upon whether either is more likely to be the one the author intended, as I do not have the time or access to make a judgement. But, nevertheless, I want to highlight one of the problems having two versions present and it relates to the third Stanza in the second version.
The second version makes sense in so far as the opening lines of each make sense to be positioned as separate yet unified by their relative structural position toward each other.
"Nature" is what we see—
Nature is what we hear—
Nature is what we know—

But the third stanza does not have a declarative response from the second voice. Which might mean, and its a good argument, that my interpretation is wrong and that there is not a second voice but this is an internal dialogue with the final stanza's absence of a "Nay..." meaning that she has come to an internal resolution with or by herself.
I think this is not true because of the ontological difference between the two voices and the type of evidence they use for each of 'their' arguments. By using a Platonic structure of Form/Substance dichotomy - the voices should be seen as separate.
Evidence: First Voice
"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nature is accessed via the sense of sight and is materially witnessed by hill, the passage of time, an animal and the rest of the universe, The Eclipse. These are material, witnessed, temporal ---> substantive.

The Second Voice: Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is a concept. Although Dickinson would not think of it as merely a concept, it is presented as a single idea. It has no objective signifiers and our preconceived constructions of it are that it is eternal, spiritual and largely inaccessible. This echoes Plato's world of Forms.

Which begs the question? What happens in the 3rd stanza.

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Old 02-06-2014, 09:07 PM   #132
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Brief Interlude

The Bobolink


Male Bobolink.

*Bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorus (Family Blackbird or Orioles)
http://birds.audubon.org/birds/bobolink#

Notable found in New England in the summer months.

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Old 02-07-2014, 04:17 AM   #133
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Cognitive Originality and Dickinson's Poetic Voice in Nature is what we see

Not suprisingly for a 19th century American Protestant, Dickinson utilises a very traditional neo-platonic ontology within Nature is what we see. Conventional Christian onology divides the world into two between the flesh and the spirit, in other manifestations of Western culture this would be the mind/body or the material/spiritual ontological binary. If it is very traditional or conventional, in what respects is it cognitively original?

It is conventional or traditional for poets to call upon or rely upon divine authority to add to the authority of their poetic voice and their insights. This might be through the invocation of a divine or supernatural character within the poem, Dante's dead guide Virgil and his encounters with angels in his Inferno. Or through a Muse, e.g. the invocation of the Muse in Milton's Paradise Lost.
As I alluded to before (in my previous post), the poet's voice in declarative mode is very authoritative. But this voice is countermanded or contradicted by a second unidentified voice within the poem evidenced by the "Nay- Heaven is Harmony". I would argue that this second voice is in fact a representation of God's voice. As a result, I believe we should view this poem as a representation of a revelation from within, say, a contemplative prayer. Dickinson's narrator is assuming the authority of a prophet in the tradition of Abraham and Moses and thus as author, positioning herself, amongst the "J" writers of Bibilical texts. The ambition of the poet is equivalent to that of Milton's narrator who wants to describe the era of pre-time but in a "cognitively original" way.

The originality is to be found within the structure of the positioning of the two voices when combined with the content of the ontological implications of the text. Dickinson is having a prophetic encounter with God and the primary observation she is claiming to have insight to is to deny the accessibility of our senses and our wisdom to capturing and describing Nature = God. We neither see nor hear nor Reason god but only our way to access the divine - Heaven and Harmony and its accompanying Simplicity is only achieved in this priviledge space of contemplative prayer.

This is a radical departure from the poetic, religious and, indeed, the prophetic tradition. The prophetic vision is not Mosaic - there are no Laws or vision of the world as it should be, nor is it of the future of ourselves, the Fallen in a Fallen world, it is of the very nature of God and the universe itself. This is cognitively original in that it is a textual representation of the revelatory transaction ---> it is, as if, we are in the mind of Moses as an internal voice converses on the commandments. The voice is declarative but not imperative nor prescriptive - which is further evidence of the fact that it is internal, contemplative and privately revelatory as opposed to other prophetic iterations.

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Old 02-07-2014, 05:58 AM   #134
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Dickinson's Nature is what we see
Editing and its impact upon poetic interpretation

Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, both of whom heavily edited the content. (From the wiki)

A representation of how I think the poem should be seen in poetic voice should be read. I think it should be the first version:

"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—

Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—

Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.


I think the point of revelation is between Nature is Harmony and the next line...but it is not a revelation of knowledge or defined but as much about what how limited our access is to the grand concept of God. The impact of the editing Stanza's fits more into a traditional formation of the poem which is not reflected in other stylistic elements of the poem. These hard breaks place a too greater positive inflection upon what we can do - when the ending of the poem the revelatory part denies our access...

So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

This is disempowering our possibility of understanding whereas with Stanza in the editing....the First lines have prominence structural association and positively affirms perceptive power...

"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—

Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—

Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

Whereas there are no stylistic elements to affirm this evidence to believe that we should have structural similarities associated with placing stanzas in the poem because the style and the punctuation disrupt the reader to do the opposite. We see this in a number of ways..
1) The things we see have no adjectives to describe them - this not how we see the world. By limiting the description of these things the poet is disempowering the imagination of the reader and the senses of the first voice.
2) The ems or "-" disrupt the flow of the text in a very intrusive and non traditional way. This hints at the fact that the "intended reader" should not think of this as lyrical and melodic. It also isolates each observation and the only overflow of meaning is within the final revelatory lines...

So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

No em to disrupt the flow of the poem - once we have understood that which Nature is not.

3) The meterage is irregular - which reinforces the 'hint' that this poem is of an internal and not spoke poem. But also underlines that it is not to be read or understood in the traditional sense of poetry.
4) "Nature" the inverted commas signify that she is talking about a conventional/traditional understanding that "we" have and then she proceeds to undermine it. Which I think also pushes me to discard placing traditional stanza's into the editing of the poem.
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Old 02-07-2014, 06:39 AM   #135
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

So having dipped our toe into Nature is what we see, it quickly becomes apparent that I am a long way from establishing Bloom's assertion of "Cognitive originality" firmly.
I think it would require a Ph.D type thesis to adequately discuss this idea but I think we have established some of the elements that might make it cognitively original - but without a detailed engagement with the critical literature and comparisons with other poets - I will be unable to butress my construct of her cognitive ontology nor establish its bona fide's as "original".

I might return to that poem later.

Another poem agapeagape suggested, I will research if there are other constructions of this poem as the Stanza below immediately looks suspicious to me.

Blank Blank

From Blank to Blank—
A Threadless Way
I pushed Mechanic feet—
To stop—or perish—or advance—
Alike indifferent—

If end I gained
It ends beyond
Indefinite disclosed—
I shut my eyes—and groped as well
'Twas lighter—to be Blind—

Emily Dickinson
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Old 02-07-2014, 07:04 AM   #136
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Returning to Woolf's A Room of One's Own and her critique of patriarchy - I found an interesting passage. We follow Woolf's narrator in her reflections, often temporally contemparenous, as she wanders through different situations that underline the abject state of women in the Britain of her time. One such passage I thought and an interesting symbology, she is reflecting upon inherited male privilege and its morality...

"Walk through Admiralty Arch ( I had reached that monument), or any other avenue given up to trophies and cannon, and reflect upon the kind of glory celebrated there. Or watch in sunshine the stockbroker and the great barrister going indoors to make money when it is fact that five hundred pounds a year will keep one alive in the sunshine. They are bred of the conditions of life; of the lack of civilisation, I thought, looking at the statue of the Duke of Cambridge, and in particular at the feathers in a cocked hat, with a fixity that they have scarcely ever received before." P40



Statue of Field Marshal, Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, Whitehall London.

Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge, KG KT KP GCB GCH GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO VD PC (Ire) (George William Frederick Charles; 26 March 1819 – 17 March 1904) was a member of the British Royal Family, a male-line grandson of King George III, cousin of Queen Victoria, and maternal uncle of Queen Mary, consort of King George V. The Duke was an army officer by profession and served as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces (military head of the British Army) from 1856 to 1895. He became Duke of Cambridge in 1850 and Field Marshal in 1862.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_...e_of_Cambridge


The power of the critique, probably, could not have had as much power if it had not been in the shadow of World War I. The aftermath of that devastation opened up a chasm into which many established norms could be questioned. It is not that feminist demands would not have proceeded nevertheless, but that critiques that were as structurally powerful as Woolf's perhaps would not have been able to push at figures like the Duke of Cambridge and military glory as "lacking civilisation" in the way this passage does.


I hope to finish this essay off this weekend.

Not intending to induce any cognitive dissonance in the readers or undermine Woolf's worldview....a flavour of 1920s Britain, The Charleston.


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Old 02-07-2014, 10:32 AM   #137
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

* Disclosure I have only read two poems of Dickinson and this might be too early to make this judgement.

Her poems do not affect me. Yes, I was provoked to say something, quite alot for such a short period, but I think that was a mix of intellectual curiosity (with respect to Bloom) and a sense of challenge.

I was unable to sleep - thinking about that Blank Blank poem and also the Nature is what we see. It got a bit out of hand - the thoughts I had in that weird in-between state between shutting your eyes and sleep. This restlessness got me more and more irritated and I wondered if I am a philistine to dismiss a giant in two poems on aesthetic grounds. For who am I...anyway. By the end Woolf, my own writing and the frustration of rereading some missteps in sentences, unable to do anything about it - all were being cast adrift in a self reflective whirling dance in the darkness.

I thought what do I want to read, hear, see.
That Chopin piece is lovely and I have listened to that 15 times ( I am listening to it now) -mind you I have gone no further. I am pacing Chopin's one small work - up and down that carpet till it fades from wear.

But this time something different..




I wanted to see again some Degas

I tried to find a Bryon poem to read for sleep, but to no avail.
Emily Bronte will suffice.

Stars

Ah! why, because the dazzling sun
Restored our earth to joy
Have you departed, every one,
And left a desert sky?

All through the night, your glorious eyes
Were gazing down in mine,
And with a full heart's thankful sighs
I blessed that watch divine!

I was at peace, and drank your beams
As they were life to me
And revelled in my changeful dreams
Like petrel on the sea.

Thought followed thought, star followed star
Through boundless regions on,
While one sweet influence, near and far,
Thrilled through and proved us one.

Why did the morning dawn to break
So great, so pure a spell,
And scorch with fire the tranquil cheek
Where your cool radiance fell?

Blood-red he rose, and arrow-straight
His fierce beams struck my brow:
The soul of Nature sprang elate,
But mine sank sad and low!

My lids closed down, yet through their veil
I saw him blazing still;
And steep in gold the misty dale
And flash upon the hill.

I turned me to the pillow then
To call back Night, and see
Your worlds of solemn light, again
Throb with my heart and me!

It would not do the pillow glowed
And glowed both roof and floor,
And birds sang loudly in the wood,
And fresh winds shook the door.

The curtains waved, the wakened flies
Were murmuring round my room,
Imprisoned there, till I should rise
And give them leave to roam.

O Stars and Dreams and Gentle Night;
O Night and Stars return!
And hide me from the hostile light
That does not warm, but burn

That drains the blood of suffering men;
Drinks tears, instead of dew:
Let me sleep through his blinding reign,
And only wake with you!
--Emily Bronte


One can only hope to dream of one of Degas's woman's neckline accompanied by Chopin....I live in hope.

Speak to you soon.

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Old 02-08-2014, 02:15 AM   #138
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

There is a familiarity to the claims of Woolf. Some sentences when I read them evoke a sense of deja vu. This probably suggests the ubiquity of her thinking within the culture of my education. Not that I ever took 'Women's studies' but I think the feminist critical theory had, to various degrees, impressed itself in other disciplines such that when reading some of Woolf's carefully crafted fictive constructs it evokes an unfair sense of a lack of originality.
Which, I guess, is what often happens when you read a text that has been so culturally fertile.
Woolf makes a succession of observations about the breadth of the field of vision of totemic 19th century women's writers like Eliot, Austen, Bronte et. al..(?) Those observations prompted a thought in me, there will, if the tide continues to rise unabated in the cultural power of women, a tipping point where a great Flood of women's high-culture art and critique shall wash upon our shores. That is my fervent hope and wish for the next Renaissance.

A relatively contemporaneous painting of Woolf - although situated across 'the Pond'.


Blue and Green Music by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1921. (early work)

Georgia Totto O'Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) was an American artist.

Born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, O'Keeffe first came to the attention of the New York art community in 1916. She made large-format paintings of enlarged blossoms, presenting them close up as if seen through a magnifying lens, and New York buildings, most of which date from the same decade. Beginning in 1929, when she began working part of the year in Northern New Mexico—which she made her permanent home in 1949—O’Keeffe depicted subjects specific to that area. O'Keeffe has been recognized as the Mother of American Modernism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_O%27keeffe

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Old 02-08-2014, 05:31 AM   #139
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. Review

At its heart, this fictive essay, is a call for women to write. She wants them to cast off the constraints of their own minds and the shackles of patriarchy - and write something, anything but preferably a fiction. There are so many observations within the 100 odd page 'essay', 'novella' spoken by her narrative voice Mary Breton. I think if ever you came across a precocious girl, or you have a young daughter, do her a favour and gift her this essay. Woolf really finishes this text with a flourish, some of her best writing is in the final chapter...permit me to quote a passage.

Woolf on "I" (p98, penguin classic, paperback)
But after reading a chapter or two a shadow seemed to lie across the page. It was a straight bar, a shadow shaped something like the letter 'I'. One began dodging this way and that to catch a glimpse of the landscape behind it. Whether that was indeed a tree or a woman walking I was not quite sure. Back one was always hailed to the letter 'I'. One began to be tired of 'I'. Not but what this 'I' was a most respectable 'I'; honest and logical; as hard as a nut, and polished for centuries by good teaching and good feeding. I respect and admire that 'I' from the bottom of my heart. But - here I turned a page or two, looking for something or other - the worst of it is that in the shadow of the letter 'I' all is shapeless as mist. Is that a tree? No, it is a woman.

Bravo
9/10
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:50 AM   #140
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Another 'novella' will be my next read, The Pearl by John Steinbeck. This will be my second encounter with Steinbeck, I have not read East of Eden or Grapes of Wrath and they will have to wait for another day, Of Mice and Men being the other. I thought that was an affective text and so I hold high hopes for this modest meal of 80 odd pages.



John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a labourer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938).

Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled ‘Something That Happened’. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck’s compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a “great work” and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952)East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include: Sweet Thursday (1954)The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966) and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969),Viva Zapata! (1975,The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.

http://www.penguinclassics.co.uk/nf/...031310,00.html
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:51 AM   #141
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I am neither well heeled nor as well travelled as some of my friends on 2+2. But I travelled up the coast for a weekend to visit my mother's sister awhile ago. It is a pleasant slightly inland coastal town of a few thousand - in a well-off part of east coast Australia. My aunt, is my only real contact with my mother's side of the family and so visiting her is as close to having my mother alive again, despite the two of them being nothing alike.
Anyway, the last time I was up there I went to a weekly market garden/fair - with all sorts of local produce and knick/knack stalls. And I had no real interest but I strolled around by myself as my Aunt caught up with her friends and I came across a poor orphan. A fourth Edition 1950, Concise Oxford Dictionary in pretty darn good condition. Ticket price $1. Delighted, sure. Offended on behalf of Dr Johnson, you bet. My better angels restrained from admonishing the elderly man (this urge pragmatically appeared after purchase) and Ms Kennedy the penned previous owner(in absentia) for offending the heritage of this fine work - by offering it for half the price of a can of coke.
Nothing like a bargain book...better than a gift in some respects although it has nothing to do with skill just that to have some small measure of luck go my way for once, I s'pose.
It is the small pleasures that makes life worth living. Do you agree?

Which brings me to the second reason for this post: A full Concise Oxford Dictionary citation, in all its glorious magnificence.
Blank (1), a. Not written or printed on (of paper); (of document) with spaces left for signature or details (in~, drawn in ~, so prepared; cheque, with amount left for the payee to fill in, hence = CARTE BLANCHE); empty, not filled, (~space etc.; ~ cartridge, without ball); void of interest, incident, result, or expression; look~, nonplussed; unrelieved, sheer; unrhymed (~verse, esp, the five foot imabic), Hence~'NESS n. [f. F blanc white, com.-Rom. cf. It. bianco f. OHG blanch f. OTeut. blankoz shining cf. BLINK]
Blank (2) n. Lottery ticket that gains no prize; space left to be filled up in document, empty surface (one's mind, memory, etc., is a ~, has no sensations etc.); words printed in italics in Parl. bills; time without incident, thing without meaning; coin-desk before stamping; = ~ cartridge (20 rounds of~); dash written instead of word or letter, whence~,~y,~ed, as substitutes for abusive nouns and adjj. [uses of prec.]


All for one word, consider the interpretative possibilities from one word in use within this short Dickinson poem. I love dictionaries - and this is a relatively new found romance.

Blank Blank

From Blank to Blank—
A Threadless Way
I pushed Mechanic feet—
To stop—or perish—or advance—
Alike indifferent—

If end I gained
It ends beyond
Indefinite disclosed—
I shut my eyes—and groped as well
'Twas lighter—to be Blind—

Emily Dickinson




Johnson's Dictionary
Published on 15 April 1755 and written by Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, sometimes published as Johnson's Dictionary, is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language.


By Joshua Reynolds ? accuracy? 1756
Original was unfinished and stands in the National Portrait Gallery, London click through to view.
http://www.npg.org.uk/index.php?id=4120

Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 [O.S. 7 September] – 13 December 1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history".[1] He is also the subject of "the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature": James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson.


As you can see, I have been working upon Blank Blank but it is requiring abit more thought. I do not think it is as accessible as the first one.


Music of Dr. Johnson's era although I doubt he had heard Bach live.



Spoiler:


Details...details.

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Old 02-08-2014, 08:41 AM   #142
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I am finding some publications of the Dickinson poem as From Blank to Blank, others Blank to Blank. My Blank Blank is probably wrong.
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Old 02-08-2014, 10:34 PM   #143
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I have reflected upon the possibility that this blog and my books are very high brow. And Virginia Woolf has this magnificient quote that I wanted to show my 2+2 friend MonkeyBanana, he is much more serious than his tag suggests, about privilege, Literature and the social status of engines of language and cultural reproduction. Long before post WWII French literary criticism and its allies in other disciplines Woolf and Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch were interested in the possibility for high-culture literature from working men in their own society. Without a survery of contemporary Western literature - I would posit it might still be true today:

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch from The Art of Writing quoted by Virginia Woolf p105-6 of A room of One's Own:

What are the great poetical names of the last hundred years or so? Coleridge, Woodsworth, Byron, Shelley, Landor, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Morris, Rossetti, Swinburne - we may stop there. Of these, all but Keats, Browning, Rosetti were University men; and of these three, Keats, who died young, cut off in his prime, was the only one not fairly well-to-do. It may seem a brutal thing to say, and it is a sad thing to say: but, as a matter of hard fact, the theory that poetical genius bloweth where it listeth, and equally in poor and rich, holds little truth. As a matter of hard fact, nine out of those twelve were University men: which means that somehow or other they procured the means to get the best education England can give. As a matter of fact, of the remaining three you know that Browning was well-to-do, and I challenge you that, if he had not been well-to-do, he would no more have attained to write Saul or The Ring and the Book than Rushkin would have attained to writing Modern Painters if his father had not dealt prosperously in business. Rossetti had a small private income; and, moreover, he painted. There remains but Keats; whom Atropos slew young, as she slew John Claire in a mad-house, and James Thomson by the laudanium he took to drug disappointment. These are dreadful facts, but let us face them. It is - however dishonouring to us as a nation - certain, by some fault in our commonwealth, the poor poet has not in these days, nor has had for two hundred years, a dog's chance. Believe me - and I have spent a great part of ten years in watching some three hundred and twnety elementary schools - we may prate of democracy, but actually, a poor child in England has little more hope than had the son of an Athenian slave to be emanicipated into that intellectual freedom of which great writings are born.



Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch by not cited


Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (/ˌkwɪlərˈkuːtʃ/; 21 November 1863 – 12 May 1944) was a British writer who published under the pen name of Q. He is primarily remembered for the monumental Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900 (later extended to 1918), and for his literary criticism. He guided the taste of many who never met him, including American writer Helene Hanff, author of 84, Charing Cross Road and its sequel, Q's Legacy;[1] and the fictional Horace Rumpole, via John Mortimer, his literary amanuensis.
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Old 02-08-2014, 11:55 PM   #144
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

From Blank to Blank

From Blank to Blank—
A Threadless Way
I pushed Mechanic feet—
To stop—or perish—or advance—
Alike indifferent—

If end I gained
It ends beyond
Indefinite disclosed—
I shut my eyes—and groped as well
'Twas lighter—to be Blind—

Emily Dickinson

Amongst the myraid of possibile interpretations of this poem - there are two views I would like to discuss.
1. The poem as a meditation on the writing of poetry and the burden of being a poet.
2. A psychological poem - this poem as an expression of depression and angst.


1. From Blank to Blank - Meditation upon poetic process and the burden of poetry.

From Blank to Blank—
A Threadless Way

From, to and Way all signify to the reader that this is a journey or process or some thing is transformed. The lines are connected by the em, the second Blank does not fall over into being Blank a Threadless Way : where it we are starting at an undefined Blank towards a Blank destination of threadless ways - nor is it a hard end line meaning of From Blank to Blank a self-contained description of a definite journey from beginning to end. Rather it is from that moment of predefined 'Blankness' toward a Blankness which is subordinately known as A Threadless Way.
Apologies for over reliance on paraphrasing but I think it is describing the moment of a blank page and a poet to that process of writing where the page is needing to be filled but there is no proverbial thread of Theseus to lead her out of the Maze of the Minotaur.
It is in the middle of a process -

I pushed Mechanic feet-
To Stop - or perish - or advance-
Alike Indifferent

'I', the poet is pushing Mechanic feet, the mechanism of poetry and no matter what she does stop, perish, advance - all are of the same manner Indifferent. It will not be by mechanical knowledge nor knowing to stop, destroy or continue with her poem because they are not of the kind that draws us beyond to 'meaning' to fill the Blank.

If End I gained
It ends beyond

It is beyond the Mechanics of feet - that which takes us to the end of the poem. It is that moment of encounter with

Indefinite disclosed-

Which is not within the poet's control - the power of this relationship is revelatory. Either Inspiration will disclose itself to us or not but its not expertise, continuing the process nor...

I shut my eyes—and groped as well

Not having control when that transcendant disclosure will happen in that preternatural moment somewhere between blank page to a blankness needing to be filled on a ThreadLess Way...is the existential burden of the poet. It is no small burden and it is never solved nor relieved as this indefinite final line explores

'Twas lighter—to be Blind—

That was my initial take on the poem and does not involve historical references or intertextual linkages. I will have a think on the other reading I wanted to explore.

Click through the link to view the actually document - I found this yesterday afternoon.
The left hand page is From Blank to Blank.
http://www.edickinson.org/editions/1...s/69166?page=8
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:58 AM   #145
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

The Pearl By John Steinbeck

Is a self-identified parable. It is a beautifully constructed cautionary tale with an emotionally complex climax. Though dimunitive in size, it has wonderfully lithe plot developments with well placed pauses for breath where we get to witness Steinbeck's poetic eye for creating a beautiful mythic setting. Despite its poignant yet hopeful ending, a thoroughly pleasant way of spending one's afternoon. If you are fortunate to purchase the penguin classic edition, you will be provided with a detailed framework for interpretation by Linda Wagner-Martin and a further reading suggestion list.

A Bitesized Delight

Intertextual references from The Pearl that may be of interest.


Matthew 13:45-46

New King James Version (NKJV)


The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_(poem)
Linda Wagner-Martin quotes the poem p.xix of Introduction to The Pearl

Upon this hill this destiny grasped,
Prostrate in sorrow for my pearl.
And afterwards to God I gave it up.


Picture with reference to this poem:
Pearl, miniature from Cotton Nero A.x. The Dreamer stands on the other side of the stream from the Pearl-maiden.



My next reading will be from my native home Australia, again a short novella, In The Winter Night by Tim Winton.
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:06 AM   #146
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Medieval Poem: The Pearl cited directly above would not have (perhaps) been available to us, if not for Robert Cotton. Who collected Medieval manuscripts of poetry amongst other historical documents. A small gesture of thanks and memory in this blog to such foresight...




Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet (22 January 1570/1 – 6 May 1631) was an English antiquarian, member of parliament and founder of the cotton library.

Of Huntingdonshire parents, Cotton was educated at Westminster School, and at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1585.[1] He began to amass a library in which the documents rivalled, then surpassed, the royal Public Record Office collections.

Cotton entered the Parliament of England as MP for Newtown, Isle of Wight in 1601 and as knight of the shire for Huntingdonshire in 1604. He helped devise the institution of the title baronet as a means for King James I to raise funds: like a peerage, a baronetcy could be inherited but, like a knighthood, it gave the holder no seat in the House of Lords. Despite an early period of goodwill with King James, during which Cotton was himself made a baronet, his approach to public life, based on his immersion in old documents, was essentially based on that "sacred obligation of the king to put his trust in parliaments" which in 1628 was expressed in his monograph The Dangers wherein the Kingdom now standeth, and the Remedye. From the Court party's point-of-view this was anti-royalist in nature and the king's ministers began to fear the uses being made of Cotton's library to support parliamentarian arguments: it was confiscated in 1630 and returned only after his death to his heirs.

He was subsequently elected to Parliament as member for Old Sarum (1624), Thetford (1625) and Castle Rising (1628).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bruce_Cotton
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:31 AM   #147
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Presaging my other interpretation of From Blank to Blank, I reflected upon the fact that by osmosis I might have inadventadly transferred insights of other poems upon it. Each thought has a parent somewhere else in Literature and it was not so much the possibility of theft, but more the 'fit of the dress'. And as thoughts of intertextuality spilled into my imagination, it occurred to me how different the spiritual landscape I saw in these two poems alone and Milton Lycidas. Both, I think it is fair to say, Protestant, although of different eras, both ambitious poetic voices - yet where Milton wants to (as Rogers posits) "corporealise", Dickinson wants to shed the material. Compare either of the two Dickinson poems with this passage of Milton:

Weep no more, woful Shepherds weep no more, [ 165 ]
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watry floar,
So sinks the day-star in the Ocean bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled Ore, [ 170 ]
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of him that walk'd the waves;
Where other groves, and other streams along,
With Nectar pure his oozy Lock's he laves, [ 175 ]
And hears the unexpressive nuptiall Song,
In the blest Kingdoms meek of joy and love.
There entertain him all the Saints above,
In solemn troops, and sweet Societies
That sing, and singing in their glory move, [ 180 ]
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.
Now Lycidas the Shepherds weep no more;
Hence forth thou art the Genius of the shore,
In thy large recompense, and shalt be good
To all that wander in that perilous flood. [ 185 ]


Obviously a completely different form, obviously a very different world - yet both are ambitious poets with eyes toward the sacred and both Protestants. But the overflow of the Late Renaissance upon Milton is clearly different from the transacendant claims of the 19th century poets.
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Old 02-09-2014, 06:13 AM   #148
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Quote:
Originally Posted by kokiri View Post
Many of the best books I've read in the last few years violate your 500 page rule: Life and Fate (Grossman), Anathem (Stephenson) and Infinite Jest (Wallace) are all great but loooong.

Some shorter books I really liked recently.... Hmmm. The Quiet American, by Graham Greene, Lavinia, by Ursula Le Guin I rated very highly but it's not what you'd call the canon, Frankenstein and Dracula are a good contrast, Les Liaisons Dangereuse(esese?) is pretty good, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is great if you want something out of left field, If This Is A Man by Primo Levi is probably the single most powerful thing I've ever read,

So much right in this post, yet I failed hard to finish Anathem. I just couldn't stand any more after about 100 pages or so.

The Quiet American is superb and the only problem with Greene is you read one you very likely have to read them all. If I remember rightly, the Captain and Enemy was short and I loved it so much I genuinely felt bereft when he died a couple of years after writing it because he had reached perfection and it was ended.

If This Is a Man is a superb choice too. Profoundly moving and a journey deep into the soul that I think once you've read, you can't ever forget.
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Old 02-09-2014, 06:18 AM   #149
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I implore you to read the Captain and the Enemy. But only if you promise not to mention that you did if you do not love it. It's a master who after a career that is second to none perfects his inquiry into the human heart. It is different in tone from everything else he ever wrote but that is why it is superb. It as though as he neared the end of his life, he finally was able to sing. It is not a joyous chorus. It is a lone voice as the sun goes down.
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Old 02-09-2014, 06:27 AM   #150
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey Banana View Post
So much right in this post, yet I failed hard to finish Anathem. I just couldn't stand any more after about 100 pages or so.

The Quiet American is superb and the only problem with Greene is you read one you very likely have to read them all. If I remember rightly, the Captain and Enemy was short and I loved it so much I genuinely felt bereft when he died a couple of years after writing it because he had reached perfection and it was ended.

If This Is a Man is a superb choice too. Profoundly moving and a journey deep into the soul that I think once you've read, you can't ever forget.
Anathem isn't flawless by any means - I think I got pissed off that all the jeejaw nonsense at the start, and there are at least two actiony sections that add literally nothing to the book other than about 150 pages, but on the whole it's a book about ideas grounded in an enjoyable fantasy world.

I find Grahame Greene to be a paradigm case of what I would describe as my preference for books, rather than authors. I love some of his books, and find others much less compelling.
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