2016年9月25日 星期日

'The Castle of Otranto'( 1764) By Horace Walpole

Born #onthisday in 1717: Horace Walpole who wrote what is widely regarded as the first Gothic novel.
'The Castle of Otranto', first published in 1764, blended elements of realist fiction with the supernatural and fantastical, laying down many of the plot devices and character-types that would become typical of the Gothic: secret passages, clanging trapdoors, hidden identities and vulnerable heroines fleeing from men with evil intent.
The novel was a success all over Europe, and the poet Thomas Gray commented in a letter to Walpole that it made ‘some of us cry a little, and all in general afraid to go to bed o’nights.’ http://bit.ly/2d5Ob8y

2016年9月23日 星期五

"The Wild Swans at Coole" by W.B. Yeats

"But now they drift on the still water, Mysterious, beautiful"

 The Wild Swans at Coole.

"The Wild Swans at Coole" by W.B. Yeats (read by Tom O'Bedlam)



'The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?[2]

2016年9月21日 星期三

"To My Friends" by Primo Levi

"To My Friends" by Primo Levi
Dear friends, and here I say friends
the broad sense of the word:
Wife, sister, associates, relatives,
Schoolmates of both sexes,
People seen only once
Or frequented all my life;
Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
A line has been stretched,
A well-defined bond.
I speak for you, companions of a crowded
Road, not without its difficulties,
And for you too, who have lost
Soul, courage, the desire to live;
Or no one, or someone, or perhaps only one person, or you
Who are reading me: remember the time
Before the wax hardened,
When everyone was like a seal.
Each of us bears the imprint
Of a friend met along the way;
In each the trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or in folly
Everyone stamped by everyone.
Now that the time crowds in
And the undertakings are finished,
To all of you the humble wish
That autumn will be long and mild.

2016年9月19日 星期一

The Deathbed Confessions of William Butler Yeats

The Deathbed Confessions of William Butler Yeats

When the poet died 75 years ago, three of his most brutal poems were in the current issue of The Atlantic.

The poet in October 1932, arriving in New York aboard the S.S. Europe (AP)
Seventy-five years ago today—on January 28, 1939—William Butler Yeats died at a boarding house on the French Riviera. He was 73 years old, at the height of his fame and glory. “Mr. Yeats frequently let his mind roam far afield in the realm of fancy,” gushed the New York Times obituary, “and it is for the gentle beauty of such works that he was hailed by many as the greatest poet of his time in the English language.”
But there was no gentle beauty in the three poems by Yeats that appeared in The Atlantic in January 1939, the month the poet died. All of them are brutal pieces of deathbed reckoning. In “Man and the Echo,” the poet stands in front of a blank cliff face, racked by guilt over his role in the 1916 Easter Rising:
I lie awake night after night
And never get the answers right.
Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot?
Did words of mine put too great strain
On that woman’s reeling brain?
Could my spoken words have checked
That whereby a house was wrecked?
And all seems evil until I
Sleepless would lay down and die.
The echo advises him, “Lay down and die.”
In “The Circus Animal’s Desertion,” the poet mocks his entire career as a writer. “My circus animals were all on show,” he writes, bitterly describing how he tried and failed to live up to his purest visions. By the end, he’s lying in a garbage pit filled with broken, hideous things: “Now that my ladder's gone, / I must lie down where all the ladders start / In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.”
And in “Politics,” Yeats presents himself as a pathetic old man, lusting in vain after a younger woman. This wasn’t far from the truth: Yeats spent his last decade carrying on with women half his age, and even had a vasectomy-like operation to improve his sexual “vigor.” (“When you are dead, people will talk about your love affairs,” wrote Yeats’s much-younger wife, George, in a letter to her husband, “but I shall say nothing, for I will remember how proud you were.”)
All these years later, the three poems are still deeply unsettling. After all, Yeats was a Nobel Prizewinner, an Irish senator, and a cofounder of his country’s national theater. If a man like that could look back on a lifetime of accomplishments and chalk them up to empty vanity, what hope is there for everyone else?
At the same time, there’s something mesmerizing about watching a great man ripping his own ego to shreds. Yeats was never fully at home in the material world. His poems are filled with references to hidden things: the fairies, the Druids, the “far-off, most secret, and inviolate Rose.” Just before he died, Yeats was especially taken with the Indian philosophy of Vedanta, which teaches that the whole universe is an illusion. In a 1935 essay, introducing a translation of the Mandukya Upanishad, Yeats explained the Vedantic vision of reality:
Whereas we are fragmentary, forgetting, remembering, sleeping, waking, spread out into past, present, future, permitting to our leg, to our finger, to our intestines, partly or completely separate consciousnesses, it is the “unbroken consciousness of the Self,” the Self that never sleeps, that is never divided, but even when our thought transforms it, it is still the same.
At the end of his life, Yeats seemed to be loosening his grip on that small, fragmentary self. The three Atlantic poems show him shedding the very last vestiges of his pride and dignity—his literary greatness, his sexual magnetism—everything that made him William Butler Yeats. As W.H. Auden put it, after his friend and mentor was buried in the ground: “Let the Irish vessel lie / Emptied of its poetry.”

2016年9月18日 星期日

"Wild Nights—Wild Nights!" (249)Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson
"Wild Nights—Wild Nights!" (249)
Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!
Futile – the winds –
To a heart in port –
Done with the compass –
Done with the chart!
Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!
Might I moor – Tonight –
In thee!

2016年9月12日 星期一

LEAVES OF GRASS /"I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

"I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe
and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the
deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing
as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the
morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at
work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young
fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
Poems: Whitman contains forty-two of the American master's poems, including "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "Song of Myself," "I Hear America Singing," "Halcyon Days," and an index of first lines. READ more here:http://knopfdoubleday.com/book/190054/whitman-poems/

The first edition of LEAVES OF GRASS by Walt Whitman was published on this day in 1855.
"There was a child went forth every day" by Walt Whitman
There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he looked upon and received with wonder or pity or love or dread, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day . . . . or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morningglories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phœbe-bird,
And the March-born lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf, and the noisy brood of the barn-yard or by the mire of the pond-side . . and the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there . . . and the beautiful curious liquid . . and the water-plants with their graceful flat heads . . all became part of him.
And the field-sprouts of April and May became part of him . . . . wintergrain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and of the esculent roots of the garden,
And the appletrees covered with blossoms, and the fruit afterward . . . . and woodberries . . and the commonest weeds by the road;
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the schoolmistress that passed on her way to the school . . and the friendly boys that passed . . and the quarrelsome boys . . and the tidy and fresh-cheeked girls . . and the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.
His own parents . . he that had propelled the fatherstuff at night, and fathered him . . and she that conceived him in her womb and birthed him . . . . they gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day . . . . they and of them became part of him.
The mother at home quietly placing the dishes on the suppertable,
The mother with mild words . . . . clean her cap and gown . . . . a wholesome odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by:
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, angered, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture . . . . the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsayed . . . . The sense of what is real . . . . the thought if after all it should prove unreal,
The doubts of daytime and the doubts of nighttime . . . . the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so . . . . Or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets . . if they are not flashes and specks what are they?
The streets themselves, and the façades of houses. . . . the goods in the windows,
Vehicles . . teams . . the tiered wharves, and the huge crossing at the ferries;
The village on the highland seen from afar at sunset . . . . the river between,
Shadows . . aureola and mist . . light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near by sleepily dropping down the tide . . the little boat slacktowed astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves and quickbroken crests and slapping;
The strata of colored clouds . . . . the long bar of maroontint away solitary by itself . . . . the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon’s edge, the flying seacrow, the fragrance of saltmarsh and shoremud;
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes and will always go forth every day,
And these become of him or her that peruses them now.
In his poetry Walt Whitman set out to encompass all of America and in so doing heal its deepening divisions. This magisterial biography demonstrates the epic scale of his achievement, as well as the dreams and anxieties that impelled it, for it places the poet securely within the political and cultural context of his age. Combing through the full range of Whitman's writing, David Reynolds shows how Whitman gathered inspiration from every stratum of nineteenth-century American life: the convulsions of slavery and depression; the raffish dandyism of the Bowery "b'hoys"; the exuberant rhetoric of actors, orators, and divines. We see how Whitman reconciled his own sexuality with contemporary social mores and how his energetic courtship of the public presaged the vogues of advertising and celebrity. Brilliantly researched, captivatingly told, Walt Whitman's America is a triumphant work of scholarship that breathes new life into the biographical genre.

2016年9月4日 星期日

How Hip-Hop Can Bring Shakespeare to Life

Shakespeare was viewed by Elizabethans the way hip-hop is viewed today by middle-class Americans or British: “It was considered a little bit risky, a little bit naughty and dangerous,” says MOBO Award-winning U.K. rapper and founder of The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, Akala.

Performing Shakespeare through the lens of hip hop and youth culture is helping the bard's words and messages find relevance among students.

Hip-Hop & Shakespeare? Akala at TEDxAldeburgh