Category Archives: literature

stuff i wrote

Week Away

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Louise with the The Storyteller’s Abode. Thank you Louise!

So where do you think you lost it?

I don’t know, if I knew that, I would go back and get it.

Think someone nicked it?

I don’t see how, it’s been in my bag all day.

What are we gonna tell the kids?

Let’s not tell them. The room is paid for; we have got enough in your wallet for food, and the beach is free. Let just enjoy our week away and worry about it when we get home.

Do you have to tell the banks and card companies?

No, I left all the cards at home so we couldn’t overspend, except…

What?

Except the card which grandpa gave me to spend while we are away.

They both laughed. Poor grandpa had not been with it lately. He gave them his old blockbuster card by mistake.

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What is Love. Twelfth Night

“What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.”

The above is an excerpt from the song that Feste the sings to Sir Toby and Sit Andrew when they are drunk and making a raucous on the patio of Lady Olivia’s house.

All are in a fairly jovial mood and Toby asks for a song of Feste. Feste, being a fool, but being wise, knows that laughter and merriment will not last forever; and love does not last eternally.

Who knows what the future holds, he says. Have fun now, for fun and things and love will not last. Kiss while you can. The things of youth… Love and merriment will not continue.

I think we can be sure of the truth of these words. Love for someone changes over time. First it starts with infatuation. This is the type of love described in the opening speech of this play, when Orsino says “If music be the food of love, play on”.

“If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!”

And again when Antonio is speaking to Sebastian.

“If you will not murder me for my love, let me be
your servant.”

Orsino is madly, deeply in love with a woman who is in mourning and unatainable. I think that Orsino feels safe in expressing his love, as he knows that it will be rebuffed for the moment. But for him, he loves the idea of being in love, instead of being in love with Lady Olivia herself.

Antonio rescued Sebastian from the sea when the vessel he was aboard was sunk. Sebastian could not have been on board the ship for long, but in that time Antonio has fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with him. In the line mentioned above, he bravely expresses his love for fear it would be rejected “If you will not murder me for my love…” It was indeed not rejected but Sebastian has a greater mission, and leaved Antonio to grieve the love that was lost.

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After infatuation, when love is both accepted and welcomed, one can grow weary of love. We take the other person for granted. We get disappointed when the object of our desire does undesirable things (like leaving the toilet seat up, or clogging the drain with hair).

One must accept the ever changing nature of love. It cannot always be “on heat”. It slows down and becomes comfortable. sometimes people fall out of love with actions and think they have fallen out of love with the person.

I love to see old couples holding hands, kissing… a gentleman pulling a ladies chair out, or opening the door and helping her in or out of a car. My own Sam is very loving like that, treating me with the utmost gentleness and love. Sam is very considerate when we are together. We are both very busy people so don’t get to spend as much time together as other couples might. We value the time we have together. After four years together we are still truly, madly deeply in love. I think we always will be.

I feel that Feste may have had a bad experience with love, and so the love song he sings is more like a dirge or requiem. He is remembering how sweet love once was but remembering with regret that it had to end. Poor Feste, does he really know what love is?

Dave

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Petrarch and the Sonnets

Last week we had a wonderful lecture by Professor Barry Spurr on the Sonnets of Shakespeare. Professor Spurr mentioned this fellow named Petrarch. Since few of us knew who he was or his style of Sonnet, I thought I would give you a brief biography, and explain a little about Petrarch Sonnets.

Francesco Petrarca or Petrarch was born in 1304 in Tuscany. He devoted his life to the study of Classical Literature. It was his devotion to the church and becoming a cleric which allowed him to travel and study the ancient texts in Latin and Greek.

When Petrarch was a child, the family moved to Avignon in France. It was here he met the subject of his desire and his sonnets,  Laura, in 1327. He wrote many sonnets and poems and this girl was one of the main themes for them. It is rumoured that Laura died in the Black Death in 1348.

The doctrine Petrarch espoused was that humankind can again “reach the heights of past accomplishments”, which he read about in the sometimes forgotten ancient and classical texts. The Doctrine was called Humanism and bridged the Gap between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Petrarch’s writings were much loved in his day and his poems led him to be named Poet Laureate of Rome in 1341. He worked tirelessly until he death at age 69. The legacy he left behind was a collection of his writings called Rerum vulgarium fragmenta—also known as Rime Sparse (“Scattered Rhymes”) and as Petrarch’s canzoniere (“Petrarch’s songbook”). This included 366 poems in the common language of the people and a further 317 sonnets.

His poems helped to shape modern day Italian language. But it is the Sonnets which I wanted to concentrate on.

Petrachan Sonnets have 14 lines. They are arranged into 2 stanzas.  The first is 8 lines (Octave) and the second is 6 lines.The rhyme sequence is abba, abba, or cde,cde or cdcdcd. A Petrachian sonnet has 3 parts:

  1. Question or Problem. First 6 lines
  2. Turning or volta. This is the next 2 lines and prepares us for the counteragument or answer to the question posed.
  3. This is the counterargument or the answer to the question presented in the first 6 lines.

From Visions
Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374)
Being one day at my window all alone,
So manie strange things happened me to see,
As much as it grieveth me to thinke thereon.
At my right hand a hynde appear’d to mee,
So faire as mote the greatest god delite;
Two eager dogs did her pursue in chace.
Of which the one was blacke, the other white:
With deadly force so in their cruell race
They pincht the haunches of that gentle beast,
That at the last, and in short time, I spide,
Under a rocke, where she alas, opprest,
Fell to the ground, and there untimely dide.
Cruell death vanquishing so noble beautie
Oft makes me wayle so hard a desire.
(Trans. Edmund Spenser)

Shakespeare used a different form of Sonnet. It had 3 lots of 4 lines  followed by a rhyming couplet. Each second line rhymed, but the rhyming couplet was different, rhyming a single line with the next.

We studied Sonnet 130 in class.

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

The turn or volta doesn’t occur in the same place as an Italian sonnet. It continues talking unfavourably about His mistress until the rhyming couplet. Then he says… EVEN SO… “And Yet”… i still love her.

Both types of sonnet use the iambic pentameter, or 5 beats to the line as a rhythm.

I enjoyed looking at this unique form of poem. I hope you have enjoyed reading it.

Dave

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/sonnet-poetic-formhttp://www.biography.com/people/
petrarch-943889

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Shall I compare Thee

A sonnet after Shakespeare, for my lover Sam.

 

“Shall I compare thee to a summers day?”

 

That day is pale in comparison to you

The sun may warm our skin today

your love warms my whole life through.

Your smile is bright like the stars at night

Your eyes shine as bright as the moon

Your embrace makes everything right

I hate that you must leave so soon

 

The busyness of our days prevent

the time we can  spend together

our last time together came and went

I pray such times should end never .

A time when we can together dwell

Will cause me to shout, All is well!

IMG_2174

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Walter Ralegh said the world is a Liar.

 

Walter Ralegh was not a suitor of the Queen, however she fancied him.  He flirted and presented the Queen with gifts from his explorations, and trophies from his wins in battles. Walter and Elizabeth Throckmorton had found that they were with child and decided to marry. The Queen who was jealous for Ralegh and disappointed at her servant Bess, through them both in the tower for not asking her permission to marry. The first child, a son named Damerei, dies early in life. Subsequently there were  two other sons Walter and Carew. Walter died in a battle, but Carew led a full life before being killed and buried with his father in 1666.

Walter Ralegh served in Parliment as well. The Queen was somewhat moody. At one time, she knights him and asks for him to be Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard (the head honcho bodyguard). At other times he was out of favour with the Queen and was returned to the Tower of London, then a Royal prison.  He was released a number of times because of his skill in the military and he was needed to lead in battles against the Spaniards.

Sir Walter Ralegh is credited with having bought potatoes and tobacco to England, products which he found on his explorations of  South America. With hindsight, one can look back and ask if he did a favour to the ‘ civilised world’ by introducing Tobacco, but the potato became a staple in the British diet.

Ralegh was sent to the tower in 1603 by James I for an alleged plot against the Throne. He stayed there until he was pardoned in 1617 when he went again to South America. He attacked a Spanish outpost when out there. James I was friends with the Spanish. The Spanish ambassador was upset by the hostilities and asked James to have Ralegh beheaded. He complied with the request, to keep the peace.

What is the central complaint that underlines Ralegh’s poem “The Lie”?

Walter Ralegh had an epiphany in the tower, as he awaited his head to be separated from his body. He figured that there is no real pleasure, no good in the world. If there are moments of pleasure or good, they, or the ones who administer it,  have hidden agendas. Every smile is painted over a smirk, every tickle has darker intentions.

Walter wrote many poems in the Tower. The Lie being one of them.

The Lie tells of discoveries that Walter made that are perhaps not documented elsewhere. It explores and discovers the truth about the world and those in it. To Walter, the affections and admiration of those close to him, save perhaps his sons and wife, were all false. The favours people were showing him were conditional. Conditional on his allegiance and devotion to a religion, a monarch or a cause.

To the court and the church, the poem is saying that while you look good, underneath, your foundations are rotting. The foundation of the court was the history on which it stood, but the reports of historians were all lies, biased in favour of the monarch who was ruling at the time. The church itself was not so much a place of relief and solace, but one in which political decisions were made. The church at the time espoused a virtuous existence where in fact they were a puppet of the politicians.

The poem continues in the third verse, to tell the Kings and Queens not to be fooled when some says they love you. They love you only so far as it can fair them well. It is not a love or a loyalty that can be relied upon. It is merely a fair weather love. The Monarchs say they are serving their people, they want nothing for themselves. Ralegh says that is a lie. This was shown when Ralegh was castigated for attacking a Spanish ship, but was forgiven it when it showed to be a bounty for the monarch.

The poem continues in its revelations. Everything is a lie. With this discovery, he finds he has no reason to fight any longer. He has resigned himself that he is going to die.

The final verse tells the world to kill him then. The body may die but you cannot kill the soul.

The Lie

Go, Soul, the body’s guest,
Upon a thankless errand;
Fear not to touch the best;
The truth shall be thy warrant:
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie.

Say to the court, it glows
And shines like rotten wood;
Say to the church, it shows
What’s good, and doth no good:
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lie.

Tell potentates, they live
Acting by others’ action;
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by a faction.
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.

Tell men of high condition,
That manage the estate,
Their purpose is ambition,
Their practice only hate:
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell them that brave it most,
They beg for more by spending,
Who, in their greatest cost,
Seek nothing but commending.
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell zeal it wants devotion;
Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it metes but motion;
Tell flesh it is but dust:
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.

Tell age it daily wasteth;
Tell honour how it alters;
Tell beauty how she blasteth;
Tell favour how it falters:
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie.

Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness;
Tell wisdom she entangles
Herself in overwiseness:
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie.

Tell physic of her boldness;
Tell skill it is prevention;
Tell charity of coldness;
Tell law it is contention:
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.

Tell fortune of her blindness;
Tell nature of decay;
Tell friendship of unkindness;
Tell justice of delay:
And if they will reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming:
If arts and schools reply,
Give arts and schools the lie.

Tell faith it’s fled the city;
Tell how the country erreth;
Tell manhood shakes off pity
And virtue least preferreth:
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie.

So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing–
Although to give the lie
Deserves no less than stabbing–
Stab at thee he that will,
No stab the soul can kill.

 

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Marry me?

The following is a poem I wrote when I traveled back in time to meet Queen Elizabeth I whom I am madly and deeply in love with.

Good Queen

You say to England you are wed,

But can England comfort thee in thy bed?

If the laws permitted bigamy,

I would beseech thee, to marry me

Alas with England I cannot compete

For Thine affections oh so sweet

Your marriage to her wouldst be long

Under your guidance, she liveth strong.

And so instead

Take me as a mistress to your bed

That I might comfort you at night

And stand by you in daylight

To England leave a legacy

A child, if you wouldst marry me.

(This is written as part of my Shakespeare unit at Uni. Dear followers, worry not, my love for my partner Sam remains and always shall me so.)

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Would it be: A poem for Richard

Would it be that I be loved by she

Who gave me life and breathe

Would it be that I be treated kindly

By he who is called my brother

Then would I be contented

 

Would it be that the power giver

Had given enough for those who have it

None would seek to step on the neck

Of those whose loftiness hinder

Then would I be contented

 

Would it be that my form was perfect

Free from spot or deformity

Dogs would not bark with tails curled under

And small children would not flee

Then would I be contented

 

Would it be that words harmed not

The heart where sword doth not pierce

Then would I stand straight and strong

And face the battle e’er so fierce

Then would I die contented.

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