Saturday, July 9, 2016

Book rec: adventure and gothic

The famous female writer Ann Radcliffe's [1764-1823] seminal book The Mysteries of Udolpho is an incredible, very long piece that is great to try. You get sucked in easily by her descriptive writing and the soft touches of the macabre and eerie. Of course, it was written in 1794, so you need to expect over-dramatization, over the top emotional, and antiquated gender roles. As a famous early gothic novel, there is a damsel in distress and quite a sense of fear, confusion and worry.

It's as fun as Balzac, and much more exciting. It's also very poetic, so be prepared. People have reported it can give you a chill even in the hot sun of Capri. Begin fast by starting at a random early page to just dive in quick. If you love it, you can go back and read those pages.

Here are a few quotes:

“Towards evening, they wound down precipices, black with forest of cypress, pine and cedar, into a glen so savage and secluded, that, if Solicitude ever had local habitation, this might have been "her place of dearest residence” 

“Groves of orange and lemon perfumed the air, their ripe fruit glowing among the foliage; while, sloping to the plains, extensive vineyards spread their treasures. Beyond these, woods and pastures, and mingled towns and hamlets stretched towards the sea, on whose bright surface gleamed many a distant sail; while, over the whole scene was diffused the purple glow of evening.” 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is a breakout poet recently -- most infamously featured in Beyonce's Lemonade film.

One great section of her piece "Intuition" is this:

I tried to make a home out of you, but doors lead to trap doors, a stairway leads to nothing. Unknown women wander the hallways at night.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Milton and Stevenson

Milton's "Sonnet 7" 

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, 
       Stol'n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year! 
       My hasting days fly on with full career, 
       But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th. 
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth 
       That I to manhood am arriv'd so near; 
       And inward ripeness doth much less appear, 
       That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th. 
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow, 
       It shall be still in strictest measure ev'n 
       To that same lot, however mean or high, 
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav'n: 
       All is, if I have grace to use it so 
       As ever in my great Task-Master's eye.

"Spring Carol" by Robert Louis Stevenson

WHEN loud by landside streamlets gush,
And clear in the greenwood quires the thrush,
With sun on the meadows
And songs in the shadows
Comes again to me
The gift of the tongues of the lea,
The gift of the tongues of meadows.

Straightway my olden heart returns
And dances with the dancing burns;
It sings with the sparrows;
To the rain and the (grimy) barrows
Sings my heart aloud -
To the silver-bellied cloud,
To the silver rainy arrows.

It bears the song of the skylark down,
And it hears the singing of the town;
And youth on the highways
And lovers in byways
Follows and sees:
And hearkens the song of the leas
And sings the songs of the highways.

So when the earth is alive with gods,
And the lusty ploughman breaks the sod,
And the grass sings in the meadows,
And the flowers smile in the shadows,
Sits my heart at ease,
Hearing the song of the leas,
Singing the songs of the meadows.