I am not qualified to appropriately criticize Emily Dickinson’s poetry. It is magnificent, and she has earned her place in the pantheon of great literI am not qualified to appropriately criticize Emily Dickinson’s poetry. It is magnificent, and she has earned her place in the pantheon of great literary figures. This definitive collection is worth repeated readings. Below are my favorites within the collection.
The personification of death in poem 26 is striking:
Dust is the only Secret – Death, the only One You cannot find out all about In his “native town.”
Nobody knew “his Father” – Never was a Boy – Hadn’t any playmates, Or “Early history” –
Industrious! Laconic! Punctual! Sedate! Bold as a Brigand! Stiller than a Fleet!
Builds, like a Bird, too! Christ robs the Nest – Robin after Robin Smuggled to Rest!
Poem 89 recaptures physical pain and readjusts to life. The language starts with pressure and transfers to sense imagery. She can not turn to God until she readjusts herself to keep her mind off her pain, and then only finds an impersonal God:
I got so I could take his name – Without – Tremendous gain – That Stop-sensation – on my Soul – And Thunder – in the Room –
I got so I could walk across That Angle in the floor, Where he turned so, and I turned – how – And all our Sinew tore –
I got so I could stir the Box – In which his letters grew Without that forcing, in my breath – As Staples – driven through –
Could dimly recollect a Grace – I think, they call it “God” – Renowned to ease Extremity – When Formula, had failed –
And shape my Hands – Petition’s way, Tho’ ignorant of a word That Ordination – utters –
My Business, with the Cloud, If any Power behind it, be, Not subject to Despair – It car, in soe remoter way, For so minute affair As Misery – Itself, too vast, for interrupting – more –
Dickinson is at her best in her most mystical, quotable moments, as in poem 202:
This World is not Conclusion. A Species stands beyond – Invisible, as Music – But positive, as Sound – It beckons, and it baffles – Philosophy – don’t know – And through a Riddle, at the last – Sagacity, must go – To guess it, puzzles scholars – To gain it, Men have borne Contempt of Generations And Crucifixion, shown – Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies – Blushes, if any see – Plucks at a twig of Evidence – And asks a Vane, the way – Much Gesture, from the Pulpit – Strong Hallelujahs roll – Narcotics cannot still the Tooth That nibbles at the soul –
Poem 265 is Dickinson’s great poem of renunciation, due to her inability to give her love wholly to God and another person:
I cannot live with You – It would be Life – And Life is over there – Behind the Shelf
The Sexton keeps the Key to – Putting up Our Life – His Porcelain – Like a Cup –
Discarded of the Housewife – Quaint – or Broke – A newer Sevres pleases – Old Ones crack –
I could not die – with You – For One must wait To shut the Other’s Gaze down – You – could not –
And I – Could I stand by And see You – freeze – Without my Right of Frost – Death’s privilege?
Nor could I rise – with You – Because Your Face Would put out Jesus’ – That New Grace
Glow plain – and foregin On my homesick Eye – Except that You than He Shone closer by –
They’d judge Us – How – For You – served Heaven – You know, Or sought to – I could not –
Because You saturated Sight – And I had no more Eyes For sordid excellence As Paradise
And were You lost, I would be – Though My Name Rang loudest On the Heavenly fame –
And were You – saved – And I – condemned to be Where You were not – That self – were Hell to Me –
So We must meet apart – You there – I – here – With just the Door ajar That Oceans are – and Prayer – And that White Sustenance – Despair –
Poem 290 again personifies death and begins with one of the greatest lines in all of poetry. Death is civil, and life proceeds unhurried. At some point Death passes us by and we become immobile and cold, married to Death:
Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me – The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality.
We slowly drove – He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess – in the Ring – We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – We passed the Setting Sun –
Or rather – He passed Us – The Dews drew quivering and chill – For only Gossamer, my Gown – My Tippet – only Tulle –
We paused before a House that seemed A swelling of the Ground – The Roof was scarcely visible – The Cornice – in the Ground –
Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses’ Heads Were toward Eternity –
There are moments of perfect spiritual clarity. Poem 405 puts the responsibility of encountering the divine on the individual:
The Soul should always stand ajar That if the Heaven inquire He will not be obliged to wait Or shy of troubling Her
Depart, before the Host have slid The Bolt unto the Door – To search for the accomplished Guest, Her Visitor, no more –
Poem 519 talks about the joy of individual, simple happiness:
How happy is the little Stone That rambles in the Road alone, And doesn’t care about Careers And Exigencies never fears – Whose Coat of elemental Brown A passing Universe put on, And independent as the Sun Associates or glows alone, Fulfilling absolute Decree In casual simplicity –
In this book, Simon Peter Iredale presents the wisdom of the desert fathers, along with his own prayers and questions for contemporary readers. OrganiIn this book, Simon Peter Iredale presents the wisdom of the desert fathers, along with his own prayers and questions for contemporary readers. Organized by groupings of statements into marks of spiritual wisdom (charity, temptation, self-control, stillness, prayer, simplicity, solitude, and endurance), the book is meant to be a study guide for group worship. Unfortunately, I was interested in a book directed more at the solitary reader. For this purpose, I would recommend Helen Waddell’s book over this one. Upon this reading, two quotes stood out to me:
Mark the Ascetic on Temptation: “Pray that temptation may not come upon you, but when it does come, accept it as something not alien but your own.” (23)
Abba Antony on Endurance: “A time is coming when people will go mad, and when they see those who are not mad, they will attack them saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’” (76)
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I fully respect and appreciate Iredale’s contribution, and would strongly urge anyone who has not been exposed to the wisdom of these ancient sages to read this, or any book, on the subject.
This play, long considered dubious in its authorship, bears the marks of both Shakespeare and Fletcher. It is likely that in some form of collaboratioThis play, long considered dubious in its authorship, bears the marks of both Shakespeare and Fletcher. It is likely that in some form of collaboration Shakespeare provided some parts of the play, and Fletcher others. As is typical of Oxford editions, there is a remarkably well written introduction to the play, and in this introduction, full care is paid to the authorship of various passages. The dialogue of Palamon and Arcite in prison in Act 2, Scene 2 is a fantastic example of Fletcher’s language.
The play overall is a problem play. It is at once a tragedy and a love story, and also a story of friendship. In the end, these themes do not in my opinion come together in ways that Shakespeare’s other masterworks do.
The play starts on a wonderfully tragic note in Scene 1: FIRST QUEEN (to the other Queens): Dowagers, take hands; Let us be widows to our woes; delay Commends us to a famishing hope. (89) Soon thereafter themes of love and friendship between Theseus and Pirithous, the rejection of love by Emilia, and Arcite and Palamon who throw off bonds of friendship and love in their competition for Emilia. In fact, Emilia is the voice of reason, I think, in the play, at time surprised by her own faulty logic and trying to navigate a middle path that might prevent their ultimate tragic end. Upon hearing that Arcite has vanquished Palamon, Emilia states: “Our reasons are not prophets When oft our fancies are.” (205) To me, this is the most memorable line of the play as well.
The Spyglass Tree is the second novel in a Murray’s semi-autobiographical story of living in the Jim Crow south. Michiko Kakutani describes the work aThe Spyglass Tree is the second novel in a Murray’s semi-autobiographical story of living in the Jim Crow south. Michiko Kakutani describes the work as “A jazz improvisation on Goethe’s ‘Wilhelm Meister’ and Joyce’s ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” I cannot think of a more apt description.
Murray’s language through is wonderful. Set in perfect voice, the novel follows Scooter as he makes his way to the university. He is constantly reminded of his past, either through the many characters he meets who represent various stereotypes, or by the setting itself (notably the university bell, which happened to be the plantation bell in prior years). He is a smart, hard-working young man who is both inescapably a part of his heritage, and yet also respected as an intellectual and good boy.
Wallace Stegner’s book about John Wesley Powell is part bioagraphy of an underappreciated American pioneer and his exploits, and part biography of theWallace Stegner’s book about John Wesley Powell is part bioagraphy of an underappreciated American pioneer and his exploits, and part biography of the self-educated naturalist and author of a classic American thought, Powell’s Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaires.
John Wesley Powell is responsible for much of the development of the American west. He led the first geographical survey of a huge area, stretching from Utah down the Colorado River into Arizona. His reports document with fantastic realism the lands and the peoples he encountered. He navigated successfully through sometimes hostile tribes, and treated them honestly. His assessment of the arable lands, are lackthereof, flew in the face of the fancy of American opinion and influenced greatly government policy. He successfully navigated federal politics to continue funding for his work, and his name is accordingly planted on lakes and historical markers throughout the southwest.
Stegner starts this story by describing what he terms the “dynamics of a homemade education.” Like Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, John Wesly Powell did not have a standard education. Recognized for his abilities, he was educated more or less through the notable contributions of an intelligent neighbor. In this way he became acquainted with science and naturalism, and fell in love with them. Stegner attaches freat importance to Powell’s frontier education, and implies that his intellectual honesty, knowledge and fascination with the reality in which he found himself, and the rigor with which he pursued new trains of thought are all partly caused by his early education. An interesting anecdote is the degree to which early Methodist circuit riders were responsible for the majority of reading material on the frontier.
Stegner demonstrates beautiful prose at numerous points. When describing the history of the plateau province, he writes, “Knowledge extends in promontories and bays; or to put it vertically rather than horizontally, the strata from remote to recent never lie so unbroken that we cannot find some line of unconformity where the imagination must make a leap. There are so many horizons, geological and human, where the evidence is missing or incomplete.” (120) It is into this world that Powell plunged, intent on filling in some missing data. Of other particular note, Stegner explores the differences to be found in early Powell writings, and later ones. At times he had a literary intent, focused on getting the largest possible audience. He sometimes writes anachronisms into the prose and insodoing did not adhere to strict rigorous reporting. Stegner’s eye in catching these incidents is quite observant.
Some of Powell’s observations were truly revolutionary. He observed, for example, that the rivers seemed to “pay no attention to the terrain through which they ran.”(153) His conclusion from this simple observation was that the rivers must be older than the mountains, which birthed more complex ideas on the changing nature of topographical features.
Later in his career, his report on the arable land was imprinted into government policy, with sometimes surprising effects. The Homestead Act looked to establish workable tracts of land in the arid plains, but not large commercial parcels. Unfortunately, the law made no provision on the default of loans to banks, and so the inevitable failure of many of these tracts meant that the act stimulated banks throwing repossessed land onto the open market, through which much land was monopolized by speculators and large companies. Stegner saw the Arid Region for what it was, and he sought responsible usage through his continual survey.
In the end, Powell was largely correct. Anyone interested in the history of western American settlement would be wise to study his proclamations. Here is a story about an incredibly influential man, and Stegner’s book is one that more people should read.
Sarno's evidence is overwhelming, and the descriptions and testimonials are quite strong. My only criticism of the book is it is a little short on theSarno's evidence is overwhelming, and the descriptions and testimonials are quite strong. My only criticism of the book is it is a little short on the "how." Many people, I believe, will be convinced by the material. Beyond the advice to fully accept TMS as a diagnosis and confront the root cause emotional issue in their subconscious, many people will need some advice as to go about doing that to get relief.
This is an interesting book. It is a novel, but it attempts rigorous historical accuracy. Bishop essentially gets the message correct, and even spacesThis is an interesting book. It is a novel, but it attempts rigorous historical accuracy. Bishop essentially gets the message correct, and even spaces lines that are sometimes beautiful. “To understand one’s smallness was, in itself, insufficient. One had to practice humility, preferably publicly, as he had done.” (40) Additionally, Bishop adds what is a reasonable reflection of Jesus’s feelings at times throughout the book.“Jesus stood silent. It must have seemed ironic, even to him, to see that the Jews who actively plotted against his life numbered so few, and those Jews who believed that he was the Messiah numbered so many, yet the first group could not seem to prove a case against him wile the second lifted not a finger to save him.” (221)
The book is a fairly slow read, and essentially retells a story that is already in the Gospels. I’m not sure that Bishop added anything specific to the understanding of these events by writing this novel.
To start, Orhan Pamuk is a modern master of fiction. His Nobel Prize is well deserved, and he continues to publish masterworks. This story is a greatTo start, Orhan Pamuk is a modern master of fiction. His Nobel Prize is well deserved, and he continues to publish masterworks. This story is a great work, on the lines of an extended romantic tragedy that shares some of the same spirit as Ethan Frome.
The story is at once instantly sad. Told from the perspective of a man, Kemal, who has experienced tragedy, he describes the museum he has created to innocence, or more specifically, his life in love. It is clear from the start that this is a man clinging to his memories. A well-respected, upper class man in Istanbul, he was engaged to a woman, who by all social standards, should have made him happy. In fact, it seems like she would have made him happy. Unfortunately for him, he falls in love with a younger woman who is not his equal in society, and begins to carry on an affair with her. He believes that he can have both, and that this is an aspect of the perfect life. “If I didn’t believe with all my heart that absolute happiness in this world can only happen while living in the present and in the arms of another, I would have chosen this instant as ‘the happiest moment of my life.’” (118)
Violating principles of virginity, he ends up damaging both relationships, and retreats from society and his friends. Well before these events happen, his fall is foreshadowed (also impressively working Orhan Pamuk into the story as an actually character!): “While Orhan Bey was dancing the dance that he would describe to me with utter frankness many years after the fact, Mehmet decided he had had enough of Nurcihan’s giggles and our double entendres about love, marriage, matchmakers, and ‘modern life’ and left the table. At once our spirits dropped.” (124)
He is not considered honorable, and the love of his life is married off to another man. The man then embarks on a long relationship, working his way into the good graces of her family, just to be close to her. Ultimately, the end up together, but only shortly. In the end, Kemal is left to gather up the remaining artifacts of their life together. “I want to spend the rest of my life under the same roof with this car,’ I said with a smile, but Cetin Efendi understood at once that I was earnest, and unlike the others, he did not say, ‘Oh, please, Kemal Bey, life must go on—you can’t die with the dead.’ Had he done so, I would have explained that the Museum of Innocence was to be a place where one could live with the dead. Though I had prepared this answer in advance, the words now stuck in my throat: Prompted by pride, I said something altogether different.” (503) He cannot be with his love, but he can be with symbolic artifacts of it. With this novel, Pamuk leaves the readers with a definition of a broken heart.