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Thread: What Are You Reading?

  1. #661
    (TwentyThree) Two Faced Egg (23)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FeedYourHead View Post
    Tangent:


    It’s actually not called For Whom The Be Tolls, it’s prose from the meditation I linked. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was written by Ernest Hemingway, inspired by Donne. And I dare say neither of those works possess the literary merit quite like this Jefferson Airplane song.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_majRjzpnW8
    Uh huh :)

    Yeah, I copy pasted it that way from a blog my where my friend was writing about my life ( The Silence Breakers / #metoo ) and had included this video
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wI4nRD-DRpk
    With the pun "Approaching the Toll Gate with Lonnie" , get it? Hehe my name is Lonnie, anyways that is why it written as whom the bell 'Tolls' ;)
    It was all a funny coincidence too, I had been reading with interest everyone's post about Mr.Donne and the next day it just turned out that way :D

    I am rereading - The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick

    The Grasshopper Lies Heavy

    Cheers
    23
    . . the fear takes hold

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  3. #662
    Enname's Avatar
    Join Date: 06.04.16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FeedYourHead View Post
    It couldn’t have been a bee or an ant because it had to be a vector which was well known for drawing and carrying around/mixing human blood.......
    Given the anatomical knowledge of the period around most insects, it could have been any number of vectors. Ah, alas this is what happens when I am replying on my phone and have no access to anything other than a few poems of his. Hard to cross compare with the less obvious love poems from his early period, also I presumed no one wanted an actual thesis. :D


    EDIT:E nname I’m curious what your opinion of Emily Dickinson is style-wise based on what you’ve expressed about Donne’s style.
    I am going to have to ask you for a bit more specificity there. The woman did write some 1800 poems with multiple styles, excluding prose and letters! I presume you are meaning the age old debate about whether she was a hermit prude, or a cloistered hedonistic lesbian/sexuality of choice?


    Quote Originally Posted by Suedehead View Post
    I'm fevourishly googling metaphysical erotica now. Thank you. Never thought a poem about a flea threeway could be so poignant.
    Well I think it is, but it appears I may be the stand out in this regard, lol.



    For good measure, I am also reading:

    Les Bienveillantes (The Kindly Ones) from Jonathan Littell.

    Given it is in French and a billion pages long, I'll get back to you in about four months as to what I think of it.
    Quid ignorantia sit multi ignorant.

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  5. #663
    Raspberry Syncope FeedYourHead's Avatar
    Join Date: 07.06.09
    Location: New York, NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enname View Post
    Given the anatomical knowledge of the period around most insects, it could have been any number of vectors. Ah, alas this is what happens when I am replying on my phone and have no access to anything other than a few poems of his. Hard to cross compare with the less obvious love poems from his early period, also I presumed no one wanted an actual thesis. :D


    I am going to have to ask you for a bit more specificity there. The woman did write some 1800 poems with multiple styles, excluding prose and letters! I presume you are meaning the age old debate about whether she was a hermit prude, or a cloistered hedonistic lesbian/sexuality of choice?
    I mean, 200 years after the plague kind of makes me think they probably had some vector transmission knowledge figured out by then but, perhaps not.

    I wanted your opinion of her poetry style and how you feel it compares to Donne’s.


  6. #664
    Enname's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FeedYourHead View Post
    I mean, 200 years after the plague kind of makes me think they probably had some vector transmission knowledge figured out by then but, perhaps not.

    I wanted your opinion of her poetry style and how you feel it compares to Donne’s.
    17-18th century was the peak of plague infections, and they didn't really figure out vector transmission properly until later in global exploration and colonialism. Nothing like killing off indigenous populations en masse to have a corpus of samples to study. So to speak.

    Ah, okay. I will get back to you on that :)
    Quid ignorantia sit multi ignorant.

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  8. #665
    Married to Shangri-LIE Suedehead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enname View Post
    Well I think it is, but it appears I may be the stand out in this regard, lol.
    I genuinely adored it, so you are by no means alone.

    This thread has inspired me to revisit Dylan Thomas, I've always been on the fence as to whether he is the best thing to come out of Wales since radar or the equals sign or a charlatan of dubious intellect whose poetry is inconsistent and exiguous in its message. I don't think I'll ever form a congruent opinion but I do kind of like this:

    Light breaks where no sun shines;
    Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
    Push in their tides;
    And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads,
    The things of light
    File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.

    A candle in the thighs
    Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age;
    Where no seed stirs,
    The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars,
    Bright as a fig;
    Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.

    Dawn breaks behind the eyes;
    From poles of skull and toe the windy blood
    Slides like a sea;
    Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky
    Spout to the rod
    Divining in a smile the oil of tears.

    Night in the sockets rounds,
    Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes;
    Day lights the bone;
    Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin
    The winter's robes;
    The film of spring is hanging from the lids.


    Light breaks on secret lots,
    On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain;
    When logics dies,
    The secret of the soil grows through the eye,
    And blood jumps in the sun;
    Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.

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  10. #666
    Enname's Avatar
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    Sorry this has taken so long @FeedYourHead, but I've never really had to put my thoughts together about Emily Dickinson in any coherent way other than scattered notes as I read, and me being me, usually most things need to run through some sort of contextual filter. I find her difficult, not because of the usual reasons around her obtuseness, but instead I struggle to tolerate much of her work in one sitting. And to have anything to say, other than 'um', I had to go and re read some poems, which when combined with a sudden lack of WiFi connection rather hindered everything else. Of course, given she had an output of some eighteen hundred odd poems over her lifespan, everything I say can only be a generalisation and doesn't cover remotely the complexity of her style or thoughts, let alone her relationship to literary trends of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. So, I'll leave this as primarily a comparison to Donne, but am willing to expand out to other areas.

    There is something about her writing that gives me the same reaction I have to Elizabeth Wharton, which is that I enjoy and respect it immensely for its intelligence and beauty, but it feels alien in the extreme to how I think and so it takes me a long while to find an access point where I can relate to it on a personal level. I would suggest that this is perhaps in part because of her somewhat similar interest in the same topics as the latter part of Donne’s works, and all that entails for me, but I think this is an over simplification. Because unlike Donne where I am repulsed because of familiarity, with Dickinson it is akin to stripping myself away and letting her supplant me for awhile until I am thinking in her thought patterns. I do enjoy her correspondence, even if it makes me remarkably glad that I am not her and never will be. We are very different people. Having said that, she is probably one of the few American Romantics that I enjoy on a regular basis (apart from Melville), who is stripped back and almost modern in comparison to some of the more extreme examples of organic and naturalistic description.

    And much of the reason I do like that is because she is a metaphysical poet in a way that is similar to Donne, the same sort of poet-philosopher. She shares with other metaphysical poets the targeted use of every allusion, every word simile and poetic device to draw the deeper meanings into the ordinary, and in particular the crash and clash of near paradoxes, the juxtaposition of the incompatible, and the role of the human spirit in the universe, emotion and intellect. She tempers her faith with complex metaphor and allegory that bring great subtly to reading her poetry, that make it so terribly hard to pin down in terms of meaning and her own position on things - and that is something to respect. For example (randomly chosen):

    'The Daisy follows soft the Sun,
    And when his golden walk is done,
    Sits shyly at his feet.
    He, waking, finds the flower near.
    'Wherefore, marauder, art thou here?'
    'Because, sir, love is sweet!'

    We are the Flower, Thou the Sun!
    Forgive us, if as days decline,
    We nearer steal to Thee, -
    Enamored of the parting West,
    The peace, the flight, the amethyst,
    Night's possibility!'

    Allegorically it is using nature to illustrate humankind’s relationship to God, and the yearning for the after life. There is also a pagan element in here, with the rawness of the loss of sun, declining days and the fall to darkness. Yet of course, the twist here is that this God is somewhat annoyed by the arrival of the penitent, the maurauder. And in that respect she is very much like Donne, embodying both faith and skepticism, desire and renunciation, the paradox of how they exist together. If anything this is why I like her in this mode more than when Donne is, because she reminds me of his earlier material but without the

    Another example, perhaps one of the better known poems:

    'I read my sentence—steadily—
    Reviewed it with my eyes,
    To see that I made no mistake
    In its extremest clause—
    The Date, and manner, of the shame—
    And then the Pious Form
    That "God have mercy" on the Soul
    The Jury voted Him—
    I made my soul familiar—with her extremity—
    That at the last, it should not be a novel Agony—
    But she, and Death, acquainted—
    Meet tranquilly, as friends—
    Salute, and pass, without a Hint—
    And there, the Matter ends— '


    Of course here there is the obvious reading of this as a reflection on the writing editing process of a poet, especially if put with some of her other poems: "Surgeons must be Very Careful," "If I may have it when it's dead." There is also a material (the tropological if one will) reading of it about her position within her own society and the merit of her life and moral choices. Overlaid there is also an anagogical (metaphysical) where this is as much about predestination, election, and the fear of not being fitted to passes into the afterlife, of backsliding should she ever achieve the perfection. Here her poetic persona is in a is put on trial in a court of law, but equally it is that of a philosopher who deals with the existential fact of death. The duality is reflected in the structure of the structure of the poem, with its meter being taken from that of hymnal structure - 4-line stanzas with rhyming B/D lines and with alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter. Dickinson compresses the stanzas into one section, underlining the deposition-like quality. Also, her puns are absolutely epic in here and that is something I can get behind.

    See Donne writing in a similar vein for comparison:

    'Oh black my soul! Now thou art summoned
    By sicknesse, deaths herald, and champion;
    Thou art like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done
    Treason, and durst not turn to whence hee is fled,
    Or like a thief, which till deaths doome be read,
    Wisheth himself delivered from prison;
    But damn'd and hal'd to exectution,
    Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned;
    Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lacke;
    But who shall give thee that grace to beginne?
    Oh make thyself with holy mourning blacke,
    And red with blushing, as thou art with sinne;
    Or wash thee in Christs blood, which hath this might
    That being red, it dyes red soules to white. (Holy Sonnet IV)'

    Comparatively - and perhaps this is because it is the romanticism coming in, but I prefer on this particular topic around death, spirituality (and a shocking amount of predestination on the behalf of Donne!) Dickinson's paradoxes and approach to mortality. They are more fluid, subtle and less obvious than Donne's. No matter how much I love the last four stanzas of his poem and the use of black, white and red. You can read them and should read them as a type of pastoral preaching with Calvinist (it is a vigorous debate) overtones, but they also shift and move.

    Another pairing of poems that work well together, using the traditional 'bride' metaphor for spiritual and physical love (thank you Song of Songs) and one of the Holy Sonnet's of Donne that transfers that obsession with sex over directly into the spiritual.

    'Betray, kind husband, thy spouse to our sights,
    And let mine amorous soul court thy mild dove,
    Who is most true and pleasing to thee then
    When she is embraced and open to most men. (Holy Sonnet XVIII)'

    Using the courtly love trope that is pervasive from the eleventh century at the very latest (and of course much earlier in most Arab poetry), the knight and scholar, of faith and Church, of lover and beloved. Dickinson takes this a step further interlacing the Romantic vision of the knight, the tomb, and the death together with the imagery of Christ entombed after crucifixion to meditate on death, but also the dichotomy of reason and faith (truth and beauty), of passion and intellect and all the inherent paradoxes. While my inner self goes 'ARGH OMG I HATE THAT GROSS', the sheer artistry of its deployment and reworking of an old theme is rather breath taking.

    I died for beauty, but was scarce
    Adjusted in the tomb,
    When one who died for truth was lain
    In an adjoining room.

    He questioned softly why I failed?
    "For beauty," I replied.
    "And I for truth - the two are one;
    We brethren are," he said.

    And so, as kinsmen met a-night,
    We talked between the rooms,
    Until the moss had reached our lips,
    And covered up our names.

    Anyway, I am not sure where I am going with the rest of this except to point out that for Dickinson the form of her writing poetry when it comes to thinking about spirituality, death and the paradoxes inherent within is exquisite, and enough to ameliorate some of the automatic distaste I have for any of the topic. And that it works in a similar way to what I treasure in Donne's earlier poetic output, rather than the Sonnets of his later years. Or something like that. :P

    @Suedehead - I will give you a separate reply, because this has got long enough for whatever I was attempting to dribble. :)
    Quid ignorantia sit multi ignorant.

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