Friday, 25 May 2018

234 -- O'Connor/Hughes/Bacon

Short Story
Flannery O'Connor: Revelation
I could barely stand to read this story and more skimmed it than read it. It's all there: racism, sexism, bigotry, ignorance, cruelty to animals, mindless mysogyny. The language grated on me, and as I said, I could barely read it and couldn't wait to get to the end of it. This may have been the first story so far that I have really hated. Hopefully, this means we've come far enough for this to seem horrible instead of unremarkable.

Langston Hughes: Life is fine
Well, this is listed on the linked website as one of the 100 best poems, but sorry, I thought it was just rubbish. Then, of course, I don't understand poetry, and then again, sometimes I feel like I don't want to either.

Francis Bacon: Of Revenge
Short and sweet essay on revenge and its limited usefulness.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

233 -- Urbina/Prelutsky/Goodman

Short Story
José Leandro Urbina: Portrait of a Lady
This is an ultra-short short story, but a very powerful one.

Jack Prelutsky: Be glad your nose is on your face
A silly but likeable poem.

Ellen Goodman: Nine-year-olds, meet Monet
This is an interesting piece about socializing children, and contrasting that with Monet, who was very much an individualist.

Here, just for fun, is a Monet painting (Monet's garden at Vétheuil, 1880):

Claude Monet - Monet's garden at Vétheuil (1880)

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

232 -- Montgomery/Atwood/Atwood

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: The courting of Prissy Strong
An amusing story about helping a weak-willed neighbour get married after 20 years of being bullied and dominated by her equally unmarried sister.

Margaret Atwood: Morning in the burned house
I have no idea what this poem is about.

Margaret Atwood: The female body
I keep seeing references to this essay, so I thought it was time I read it. Very imaginative and entertaining, though I'm not sure how much it says really.

231 -- Montgomery/Tennyson/Dickens

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: Pa Sloane's Purchase
This is a silly but fun story about a man obsessed with auctions, who buys a baby.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Crossing the Bar
Apparently, this poem is a eulogy for himself.
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
Charles Dickens: The election for Beadle
I really wish I'd lived in Dickens' day and watched an election for Beadle. We need more Beadles!

Monday, 21 May 2018

230 -- Montgomery/Tennyson/Dickens

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: Quarantine at Alexander Abraham's
This is another enjoyable romance with a happy ending, despite an outbreak of smallpox. I love Montgomery's character names: Alexander Abraham, Peter MacPherson (a woman), Mr Riley (a dog), and William Adolphus (a cat with attitude). Lucy was a great story teller.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Break, break, break
I'm in the mood for Tennyson, so here goes. (There's also a nice analysis of this poem here.)

Break, break, break,
On thy cold grey stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O well for the fisherman’s boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

Charles Dickens: The Four Sisters
Another of Dickens' journalistic writings, this time about four women who lived in the same house and all seemed to marry the same man. Again, I'm reminded of Elizabeth Gaskell's writings. It's as if they knew the same people.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

229 -- Montgomery/Montgomery/Dickens

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: Aunt Olivia's Beau
Another story about romance and people getting hitched after a long period of estrangement -- in this case 20 years. "Old maidship" is seen as probably the worst fate possible for a woman. But Olivia escapes this terrible fate.

L.M. Montgomery: The Sea Spirit

I scowl in sullen guise­
The sea grows dark and dun,
The swift clouds hide the sun
But not the bale-light in my eyes,
And the frightened wind as it flies
Ruffles the billows with stormy wing,
And the sea is a terrible, treacherous thing!

When moonlight glimmers dim
I pass in the path of the mist,
Like a pale spirit by spirits kissed.
At dawn I chant my own weird hymn,
And I dabble my hair in the sunset's rim,
And I call to the dwellers along the shore
With a voice of gramarye evermore.

And if one for love of me
Gives to my call an ear,
I will woo him and hold him dear,
And teach him the way of the sea,
And my glamor shall ever over him be;
Though he wander afar in the cities of men
He will come at last to my arms again.

I'm no poetry expert, but I can see why our Maud is better known for her stories than her poems. (BTW. I looked up "gramarye" and it means the occult.)

Charles Dickens: The curate, the old lady, the half-pay captain
Another great character sketch of these three people in the parish. It reminded me of Elizabeth Gaskell (I'm reading her novels at the moment), I suppose because they're from the same period. It's interesting to look at this from our current secular times and see just how important the church was in society 200 years ago..

Saturday, 19 May 2018

228 -- Montgomery/Dickens/Dickens

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: Each in his own tongue
Another terrific story, this one about the importance of music and how music can reach people who are otherwise unreachable.

Charles Dickens: Little Nell's funeral.)
(Little Nell was a character in The Old Curiosity Shop

And now the bell, - the bell
She had so often heard by night and day
And listened to with solemn pleasure,
E'en as a living voice, -
Rung its remorseless toll for her,
So young, so beautiful, so good.

Decrepit age, and vigorous life,
And blooming youth, and helpless infancy,
Poured forth, - on crutches, in the pride of strength
And health, in the full blush
Of promise, the mere dawn of life, -
To gather round her tomb. Old men were there,
Whose eyes were dim
And senses failing, -
Grandames, who might have died ten years ago,
And still been old, - the deaf, the blind, the lame,
The palsied,
The living dead in many shapes and forms,
To see the closing of this early grave.
What was the death it would shut in,
To that which still could crawl and keep above it!

Along the crowded path they bore her now;
Pure as the new fallen snow
That covered it; whose day on earth
Had been as fleeting.
Under that porch, where she had sat when Heaven
In mercy brought her to that peaceful spot,
She passed again, and the old church
Received her in its quiet shade.

They carried her to one old nook,
Where she had many and many a time sat musing,
And laid their burden softly on the pavement.
The light streamed on it through
The coloured window, - a window where the boughs
Of trees were ever rustling
In the summer, and where the birds
Sang sweetly all day long.

Charles Dickens: Our Parish 1: The beadle, the parish engine, the schoolmaster
An interesting description of these stalwarts of a parish in 19th century England, and of course the poverty that Dickens knew so well.