Tag Archives: poetry

Antonin Artaud with a Grim Assessment of Writing and Writers

“All writing is garbage. People who come out of nowhere to try to put into words any part of what goes on in their minds are pigs.”

Antonin Artaud

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Elizabeth Hardwick on Reading

I recently found myself in receipt of The Uncollected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick, published by The New York Review of Books for its fine series of “Classics.” I couldn’t help but notice, and feel a need to transcribe for future use, this essay on reading, titled, simply, “Reading.” There is a great deal in these 2,158 words to provoke thought–especially for teachers.

But what do you think?

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Book of Answers: Paradise Lost

“What playwright wrote a play called Paradise Lost that was not based on Milton’s poem? Clifford Odets, in 1935. The play was about the fall of a middle-class family.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Kahlil Gibran on Accumulating and Applying Knowledge

“Life is indeed darkness save when there is urge/And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge/And all knowledge is vain save when there is work/And all work is empty save when here is love.”

Kahlil Gibran The Prophet (1923)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

Venus de Medici

Venus de Medici: A statue thought to date from the 4th century BC. It was dug up in the 17th century in the villa of Hadrian at Tivoli, near Rome, in eleven pieces. It was kept in the Medici Palace at Rome until its removal to Florence by Cosimo III de’Medici (1642-1723). Since 1860 it has been in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Byron described his reaction to the statue in Childe Harold:

‘We gaze and turn away, and know not where,

Dazzled and drunk with Beauty, till the heart

Reels with its fullness…’

Lord Byron: Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, IV (1818)

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: A long poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), published in Lyrical Ballads (1798), his joint collaboration with William Wordsworth. The poem opens with the Ancient Mariner buttonholing a guest at a wedding to tell him his tale. Having shot an albatross (traditionally bad luck at sea), the Ancient Mariner and his shipmates were subjected to fearful penalties. On repentance he was forgiven, and on reaching land told his story to a hermit. At times, however, distress of mind drives him from land to land, and wherever he stays he tells his story of woe, to warn against cruelty and to persuade men to love God’s creatures.

The story is partly based on a dream told by Coleridge’s friend George Cruikshank, and partly gathered from his reading. Wordsworth told him the story of the privateer George Shelvocke, who shot an albatross while rounding Cape Horn in 1720, and was dogged by bad weather thereafter. Other suggested sources are Thomas James’s Strange and Dangerous Voyage (1683) and the Letter of St Paulinus to Macarius, In Which He Relates Astounding Wonders Concerning the Shipwreck of an Old Man (1618). A full examination of the possible sources is to be found in The Road to Xanadu (1927) by J.L. Lowes.

‘The Ancient Mariner would not have taken so well if it had been called The Old Sailor.’

Samuel Butler, Notebooks (1912)”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Assonance

“Assonance (noun): Resemblance of sound in words, or closeness or correspondence of syllables with similar sounds and particularly vowel sounds; vowel recurrence. Adj. assonant, assonantal, assonantic; n. assonant; v. assonate.

‘Dinted, dimpled, wimpled—his mind wandered down echoing corridors of assonance and alliteration even further and further from the point. He was enamored with the beauty of words.’ Aldous Huxley, Chrome Yellow”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

Rhetorical Figure

“Rhetorical Figure: An artful arrangement of words to achieve a particular emphasis and effect, as in apostrophe, chiasmus, and zeugma. A rhetorical figure does not alter the meanings of words as a metaphor may do. The repetitions in these lines from Gerard Manley Hopkins’sSt Winefred’s Well” are rhetorical in their emphasis and echoing:

‘T. What is it, Gwen, my girl? Why do you hove and haund me?

W. You came by Caerwys, sir?

V.                                 I came by Caerwys

W.                                                   There

Some messenger there might have met/met you from my uncle.

T. Your uncle met the messenger-/met me; and this is the message:

Lord Bueno comes to night./

W.                                                To night, sir!'”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Book of Answers: The Abbey Theater

“When did the Abbey Theater open?  The Dublin theater dedicated to presenting Irish drama opened in 1904. Its directors included William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory. Destroyed by fire in 1951, the theater reopened in 1966.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Motif

“Motif: One of the dominant ideas in a work of literature; a part of the main theme. It may consist of a character, a recurrent image, or a verbal pattern.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.