Week two... "To Spring"

I have fallen in love with William Blake's poem, "To Spring". 
It is a love poem, I very much get the sense that Blake is in love with spring, and is pining for her  return. He personifies spring into a beautiful, heavenly maiden. The "western isle" of England, hails the approach of spring with a "full choir".  One can almost hear and see the grassy hills singing loud and clear with their wide open fields. 
In the 5th line, Blake grants the fields vocal power once again: "The hills tell each other..."

Blake conveys a sense of anticipation. Almost as if a goddess of inconcievable beauty and warmth is approaching the shores of England.  Blake does, in fact, ascribe a religious, or divine element to spring, "And let thy holy feet visit our clime."

The "languished head" of England after winter, yearns for the kiss of spring's "perfumed garments", and for the taste of spring's "morn and evening breath..." The evocative use of words makes me, in my state of Sydney winter, have that same desire for the sweet smell of flowers and freshly cut grass, the warm carress of the fading day. The golden days of spring are like an entree of kiwifruit, before the main meal of the mango is served. 
The "modest tresses" of England's languished head were bound up for spring... presumably a reference to the lack of foliage on deciduous trees?
Spring is the princess, daughter of the queen of summer, and I can't wait to see her golden crown glimmer again. 


I would now like to take this oppertunity to comment on David Norris' livejournal entry in which he questions why Blake thought so highly of children when they're not all they're cracked up to be. 
Of course children aren't always smiling little cherubs... more often than not they are being annoying. They do have a certain innocence which adults don't have, and will not ever (naturally)  experience again. David say that they have this innocence by default, which is true, yet it is something that adults should endevour to be like. For example, a baby smiles can smile at anyone, they don't have to judge whether that person is worthy of their smile or not. 

However, David, I like your parallel thinking in your entry. Always question everything.  

Twelfth Week wrote a beautiful poem about her teddy, Charlie. Here are my thoughts on what she wrote:

I know what its like! They're so real to you when your younger. And when you get older they are something to snuggle up to when you've broken up with your boyfriend or your parents are shouting at each other. They are always there for you no matter what. They don't change, they just sit there and wait for you to come to bed. I've recently re-discovered my puppy (not a real one), and have been curled up with him every night, and I found it hard to get comfortable without him under my arm when I went without him for one night.


I think you should keep Charlie and pass him on to your future children. They will love its history, and will be a lot more special to them when they're old enough to undertsand its 'antiquity'. There must be a lot of positive energy in teddies if they've been held close against a heart every night. The heart is what keeps us alive and where we feel our emotions. Long live teddies (and puppies)!!!

Week 11 - Volpone

Volpone: Good morning to the day, and next, my gold!
                 Open the shrine that I may see my saint.

And thus starts Ben Jonson's wonderful play. I found it fascinating that the guest lecturer, Andrew Marvell, noted that the audience has an immediate moral attitude toward Volpone from his opening lines. I can imagine that this remains true to the current day, for it is few and far between to meet people who openly agree with the concept of greed. 

I also found it interesting to note the difference in writing styles between Jonson and Shakespeare. Jonson is using the contemporary language of the modern, metropolitan lifestyle. This would have been quite a brave theatrical move to make, on Jonson's behalf, as it might have gone against what people thought theatre ought to be. 

Another interesting point Marvell made was that the theatre was like the mass media of today. The power of persuasion was in the playwright's hand (not unlike the media mogul situation we have today).

It was a facinating lecture presented by someone who has unbelievable knowledgeable of both plays.

The Tenth Week - King Lear

"Our class discussion on Lear seemed to come back to the key question of whether Lear's tragedy has any redeeming features or not? What do you think? Is Lear reconciled with Cordelia? Is Lear better off dead rather than alive? Why does a play like this continue to pull in the crowds 400 years after it was written?" -MG

King Lear starts off as a pompous king, full of self-righteousness. As the play progresses, he drastically changes and has a different experience of himself. I found Shakespeare put it well in the last two lines of Sonnet 94: 
For the sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.
What a witty observation! A very apt analogy when applied to this play. However, when I thought about these two lines more intently, I realised Shakespeare is making a distinction between the appearance of these two plants, the weed and the lilly. Yet I am sure he is not implying that simply because you are aesthetically beautiful it means you will be a worse person. I believe he is comparing lilies to people in positions of power who are corrupt.
I think King Lear has many redeeming features. Obviously it is a play in which there is no happy outcome, yet perhaps Shakespeare thought it  was the best way to teach the audience about the importance of being humble. It is a play that sticks in your mind precisely because it is a reflection of the hostility and brutality that is a reality of this world. Fairytale endings are contrived and fake. And I think this is why it still continues to attract audiences 400 years later. 


Embalmed head, anyone?

Wow, I just found out something quite weird from the website, namely that Ralegh's head was embalmed and kept by his wife until she died, and then his son 'took care' of it until he died. How very peculiar and freaky!
Imagine looking at your dead partner's head for the rest of your life. It sounds like something out of a horror movie. Was this kind of thing done frequently?
  • Current Mood
    kinda freaked out!

Week Nine - Ralegh and Death

Having read Sir Walter Ralegh's Conclusion: On Death, I cannot help but be reminded of the philosopher Lucretius' statement; "Death is nothing to us." I wrote an essay for Philosophy on this very statement, and it seems to me that Ralegh has penned On Death so eloquently and succinctly, that it makes Lucretius' statement seem ludicrous. Death reduces everyone to the same rotting corpse. Whether you were rich or poor, loved or hated, beautiful or ugly, we all end up the same. I particularly loved the line, "He (death) takes the account of the rich and makes him a beggar, a naked beggar, which hath interest in nothing but the gravel that fills his mouth." This line almost demeans human life, yet it made me realise that all our life experience and wealth mean nothing to us the moment we die. And that is exactly why death means something to us.

Week the Eighth- Not So Sunny Sonnet...

Krystina has presented a very interesting analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 65... Firstly, let me say what a beautiful poem it is! Every time I analyse Shakespeare I come to appreciate his writings more and more. He was a philosopher as much as a writer. Krystina has interpreted it very well (in my opinion), as I would have written something very similar. Basically I think he is saying that the pen is mightier than the sword, and that hopefully it is the positive things (love/truth/beauty) that will prevail. Addressing Krystina's questions from my humble perspective: 
What is beauty? - There are two kinds: aesthetic and metaphysical. I believe in this poem Shakespeare was referring to the metaphysical beauty, yet using an aesthetic beauty (the flower) as an analogy. Very clever Mr Shakespeare!
Is beauty truth? No, because they are two seperate things. The definition of 'true' in the Websters Dictionary is "in accordance with fact; that agrees with reality. I guess beauty can be fact, however, everyone's perception of reality is different. And not just everyONE, but everyTHING has a different perception on reality. And 'truth' can be also be negative. (gee my head's in a knot now, I guess this question leads to the biggest questions: what is life / why are we here / why does the universe exist?) Truth can be ugly or beautiful, but they are only judgments based on our little minds, which are of minimal consequence.

Krystina's next two questions are kinda answered by the muddled answers I just gave. If only I could have the opportunity to talk to Shakespeare himself, what a trip that would be!


Week the Seventh- Foolisms

"Businessmen are not only the most foolish of fools but the most sordid, since they spend their whole life grubbing for money and resort to the meanest tricks to get it: they lie, they perjure themselves, they steal, derfraud, and mislead the public; and then, as proof of what sterling fellows they are, they flaunt fat fingers covered with gold rings."
Desiderius Erasmus, 'In Praise of Folly.' Page 50 in the Norton Critical Edition.


The most foolish of fools
Flaunt fat fingers
Grubbing, bugging, fugging for money.
The meanest of tricks
These men will employ
To swindle you out of your cash.
Look at this lovely thing over here,
(smiling), the world could be yours!
Just lend me your ears
(his eyes all asparkle)
The devil will bow to his knees!
Come follow me down
To the depths of my lair
The treasure you can behold!
My soul, you'll find is sterling
And fine, not unlike the silver I wear.
You see, my friend, I am a grand fellow
So very apart from the fool
For there is not one I have e'er seen
With diamonds, silk shirt and mohair.


In response to Daniel Gleeson's 29/3 post

Entitled: "Instead of ciggies, I smoked a few colours" ( ) I was initially struck by a computer character I had not thought about in ages, and one which I very much enjoyed playing during my primary school years. However, it was a comment by David Norris that got me thinking about the values in this game, and others similar to it, such as Mario World. The object of these games is to complete all the levels, and collect as much money as you can as you go along. Without wanting to sound like an over-protective, politically correct, anal parent, I have come to ponder the question David posed in his comment: might this induce consumerism in children? Indeed, not just consumerism, but materialism and greed also. It is well documented that children are highly influencial, and pick new things up quickly. What are the subtle, psychological effects on children that play these types of games for a few hours a day? Which brings us to a more disturbing question; what are the effects of violence in video games on young children? See, That the way to reslove a conflict is to fight? That the way to get ahead in life, is to aquire as much money as possible?

I'm sure the designers of the games did not have these thoughts in mind as they contructed the framework for the games, (or did they?) yet I think they are important questions, as the majority of children in Australia either own, or have access to such games on a daily basis.

Why not design games where you have to give out as many hugs as possible? Or save rainforests from destruction? Heh, heh... sounds kinda funny... and they probably wouldn't sell, but hey, I'd buy them for my future kids!