Tag: love

the whole business, lovers to monks

Ad execs must have had a tough time working out how to sell Christmas in this year of virtual life. (At least, I hope they have.) The Christmas fantasies of merrily-laughing families or snugly-jumpered framilies aren’t going to cut it for 2020. I’d like to offer you this poem as a sort of reality check, or an advert for the only thing which really serves us in times as trying as these. Here’s Hayden Carruth’s ‘An Apology for Using the Word ‘Heart’ in Too Many Poems‘. (If you click the arrow above the poem’s title, Garrison Keillor will read it to you. The poem starts at 1:52 but the rest of Keillor’s gentle ramble around matters cultural is interesting, too.)

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just say it

I’m very partial to a sonnet and was delighted, when teaching a course on Renaissance literature some years ago, to have the chance to indulge in some of my favourites. Marking the end-of-course essays, though, I was more dismayed than I can tell you when confronted with the datum that “Orsino puts Olivia on a pedal stool”. In at the ears and out at the pen without having passed through the brain… Think about pedal stools, then, as you read today’s poem, Astrophil and Stella I or ‘Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show‘ by Philip Sidney.

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something to hold on to

Waking at 5.25 this morning I got straight out of bed and went to the wood behind my house where I walked slowly round, revelling in the full glory of the dawn chorus. I was still in my pyjamas so I’m glad I was there before the first dogwalkers and runners (in these days of lockdown they are infesting the times and places that—did they but know it—are actually MINE. I know; sorry.) But even though I didn’t get caught I was aware that this wasn’t exactly Normal Behaviour. I mean, sure, I walk pretty much every morning. But I usually get dressed first. It just didn’t seem worth it today.

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a prodigal thing

Given the state of the world at the moment, it’s perhaps not surprising that there’s a plethora of books about with titles like The Happiness Project, The Happy Life Formula and Happiness: a Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill. Hmmmm. Sounds like it might be a lot of work, even if you do buy into the idea that we can make ourselves feel any given way.

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what a difference an ‘a’ makes

I apologise for that appalling pun. Had to be done. If you’re still speaking to me, have a look at this poem, ‘A Bitterness’ (here), then think about what it would feel like with even only a slight change in the title—’Your bitternesss’, or just ‘Bitterness’, or even ‘The Bitterness’? Wouldn’t that make it a really different poem?

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what did I know, what did I know…?

It’s a time of year when, in the West at least, we’re surrounded by images of families: usually shiny-haired and smiling ones, deployed in warm-jumpered rows on bouncy new sofas (“delivered in time for Christmas”) and sharing some ecstatic experience of shopping, gaming or no ordinary food. But it’s a poem about the ordinary extraordinariness of love which has been very much in my mind, in the last week or so, and not just because it’s cold. Here it is: Robert Hayden’s ‘Those Winter Sundays‘. (You can hear the poet himself read it here.)

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