The Dead Writers Round-Up: 26th-30th December

  • Henry Miller was born on 12/26/1891. “Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur.” (Tropic of Cancer; Black Spring; Tropic of Capricorn)
  • Charles Lamb died on 12/27/1834. “Anything awful makes me laugh. I misbehaved once at a funeral.” (Tales from Shakespeare; Essays of Elia)
  • Theodore Dreiser died on 12/28/1945. “In order to have wisdom we must have ignorance.” (Sister Carrie; An American Tragedy)
  • Christina Rossetti died on 12/29/1894. “Hope is like a harebell trembling from its birth.” (Goblin Market; In the Bleak Midwinter) Continue reading

A Year in Books/Day 215: Ariel Poems by Sylvia Plath

English: Digital image of Sylvia Plath's signature

English: Digital image of Sylvia Plath’s signature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Title: Ariel Poems by Sylvia Plath
  • Author: Sylvia Plath
  • Year Published: 1965 (HarperPerennial)
  • Year Purchased: 1994
  • Source: A bookstore in Tennessee.
  • About: Sylvia was a born writer. She wrote like a lioness: fearless, protective, maternal, bold, ruthless, nurturing, unapologetic. Published a couple of years after her suicide, her estranged husband, Ted Hughes, changed the make-up of Ariel by switching out twelve poems for those of his choosing; it took 39 years for this to be righted. This is the altered edition. No matter, the poems are stunning. My favourites change with the seasons, my mood, my age. They are chameleons, different with each reading. They should, at that, be read aloud. Adding a voice tips the alchemical balance anew. If you haven’t read Plath’s poems in a while, try again. She isn’t just for moody teenage girls. I promise.
  • Motivation: I was young, very young. I bought this slim volume on a road trip to Tennessee. It was autumn, the leaves were falling. I wore a lot of plaid dresses and flat shoes, good for twirling around in the crisp mountain air. The season was a perfect accompaniment for her fierce lamentations and burning clarity, a like-minded companion for the turmoil of my heart.
  • Times Read: Multiple
  • Random Excerpt/Page 57: “I cannot run, I am rooted, and the gorse hurts me/With its yellow purses, its spiky armoury./I could not run without having to run forever./The white hive is snug as a virgin,/Selling off her brood cells, her honey, and quietly humming.”
  • Happiness Scale: 8


A Year in Books/Day 153: Tennyson’s Poems

  • Title: Tennyson’s Poems
  • Author: Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • Year Published: Unknown, but it is fairly old (Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.)
  • Year Purchased: 1990s
  • Source: Columbus Public Library sale
  • About: How many times have you had your metaphorical heart broken? One, three, five? How many times, in the quickening of your pain, has someone attempted to dress your ripening wound with the phrase  ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?  Although it has been degraded from over-use to the level of cheap platitude, it actually represents two lines from Tennyson’s IN MEMORIAM A.H.H. , which took the poet 17 years to write. A one-time Poet Laureate, his work remains popular. This book is a complete edition, and features a striking blue cover with an embossed Art Noveau design. The poet’s name on the spine is on a  deep gold background. It is one of the prettiest volumes in my library.
  • Motivation: The opportunity to get poetic kicks on the cheap, in the form of a lovely old volume, made this too good to pass up.
  • Times Read: Cover-to-cover: 1/Random poems: countless
  • Random Excerpt/Page 17: “Vex not thou the poet’s mind /With thy shallow wit:/Vex not thou the poet’s mind; For thou canst not fathom it.”
  • Happiness Scale: 8
    Carbon print of Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1869, pr...

    Carbon print of Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1869, printed 1875/79 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A Year in Books/Day 61: English Romantic Poetry

  • Title: English Romantic Poetry An Anthology
  • Editor: Stanley Appelbaum
  • Year Published: 1996 (Dover Thrift Editions)
  • Year Purchased: 1999/2000
  • Source: A gift from a friend.
  • About: When you hear the term “English Romantic Poets”, who initially comes to mind? If you say anyone other than William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley or John Keats….then you are lying. This anthology contains scores of poems by the aforementioned wordsmiths.
  • Motivation: My friend was cleaning out her shelves and I emerged precisely a dozen volumes richer. While this period of poetry is not my favourite, I do have a soft spot for Coleridge and find much to admire of everyone on the list.
  • Times Read: A few
  • Random Excerpt/Page x: “For many, Shelley remains the perfect Romantic: for his quest after truth and justice, for his unparalleled learning (Greco-Roman and otherwise) and breadth of scope (poems on love, politics, history and philosophy), for the dazzling variety and novelty of his meters and stanzas, for the exquisiteness of his diction and delicacy of his thought.”
  • Happiness Scale: 7

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1795, by Peter Vandyke

    Image via Wikipedia