Monthly Archives: January 2013

This is not a love story: W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne

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W.B. Yeats is one of the greatest poets in the history of ever. I’ve only had the displeasure of meeting one person who doesn’t like Yeats and that guy is, in fact, an idiot. But what a lot of people don’t know is that some of Yeats’ greatest poems were inspired by a woman named Maud Gonne, and she… well. It seems she really didn’t return the sentiment.

Yeats and Gonne met when they were both in their early twenties and the romance (or lack thereof) lasted for almost the rest of their lives. She was an Irish revolutionary, and he was completely enamored with her, to the point of obsession. She was his Muse, really; references to her are rife within the poet’s embodied works. Yeats proposed to her four times throughout their lives… and each time she said no.

Depressing, right? Yeats is pretty much the poster child for unrequited love. By most accounts they were good friends and she was fond of him- she just didn’t want to marry him.

Things get a little weird after that. Yeats, in his fifties, decided that he really needed to get married and pass on the legacy of his poetic genes before he died. It was then that he decided to propose to Gonne’s daughter, who was in her twenties and who he had known all her life. Creepy, right? I guess he figured if he couldn’t get her mom he could get the next best thing (there’s a joke I can make about Twilight and werewolves and weird vampire babies here, but I will abstain). Luckily, she refused, and Yeats eventually married a nice woman named Georgie, with whom he shared a happy marriage with even though she was his dream girl.

My friend, who loves Yeats, told me once that he “is good with words, not women.” I think that sums it up quite nicely.

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Filed under Dating, Literature, love, Poems, Poetry, relationships

American Gods

“Hey,” said Shadow. “Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are.”
The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.
“Say ‘Nevermore,'” said Shadow.
“Fuck you,” said the raven.”

-American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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January 8, 2013 · 7:45 am

Literary Badass of the Day: Mary Shelley

Literary Badass of the Day: Mary Shelley

It has come to my attention that a lot of people have been complaining about how teenaged girls are ruining the horror genre. I guess this comes from the recent “evil bloodthirsty monster who actually has a sensitive soul and a heart of gold who just needs the power of TRUE LOVE to overcome his wicked, wicked ways” phenomena that has recently sprung up in YA literature. These horror enthusiasts cite Twilight (blegh) and in the more recent Warm Bodies (which, I will admit, I actually thought was a pretty decent book even though I’m terrified of zombies) as novels that are destroying the horror genre.

Okay, 1.) I think the horror genre is ruining itself just fine without the influence of teenaged girls (I haven’t seen a decent scary movie in a long, long time, though the show American Horror Story is sufficiently terrifying), and 2.) Did these individuals forget that one of the greatest influences in the horror genre was, in fact, a teenaged girl?

Mary Shelley was the writer of Frankenstein, which was also called The Modern Prometheus. It’s the story of a brilliant young man named Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein is not, contrary to popular belief, the name of the monster) who, because of SCIENCE, decides he wants to play God and imbue life into an inanimate object. So he stitches together this monstrosity of a man by using body parts he scavenges from graves, brings it to life, ends up being horrified by what he’s created, and then the monster kills everyone that he loves.

Yeah.

That’s all coming from the mind of a nineteen-year-old girl.

So thank you, Mary Shelley, for writing one of the scariest pieces of literature known to man. Horror enthusiasts and the literature lovers alike thank you.

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January 5, 2013 · 10:01 pm

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company

I spent a semester abroad in Europe last year, and it was the best experience of my life. Two of my friends and I went to Paris during our spring break, and while it was absolutely wonderful- I mean, it was PARIS!- we felt a little homesick. One day we were wandering around near Notre Dame trying to find our metro stop when, completely out of the blue, the name of this bookstore caught my eye. We were tired and grumpy and all of us were English majors, so we decided to walk in just to feel a little more at home. This was a habit, you see- there’s something horribly comforting about bookstores, even if the books aren’t in your language.

Imagine our complete shock and joy when we realized that it was an English bookstore. An English bookstore in Paris- it must have been divine intervention because it was exactly what we needed.

We were only in Paris for three days, but we returned to Shakespeare and Company as often as we could. I can’t even begin to describe the magic of the place. People left notes on every surface available; it was amazing to read the stories of other travelers who had been there before us.

If you’re ever in Paris and feeling a little lonely, hopefully you’ll accidentally stumble upon this store like my friends and I did. It really helps you realize that you are not alone.

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January 3, 2013 · 11:32 pm

Dating for English Majors

I’ll admit it. I’m not exactly an expert on human interaction. I manage to get by fairly well because I’m nice to everyone and cute enough that my lack of social grace comes off as being more charming than embarrassing. But despite being “absolutely freaking adorable” as so many of my peers claim, I’m a bit of a failure in the romantic sphere.

I blame my love of books for this.

You see, it’s not so much that I grew up reading about Mr. Darcy and holding out for his real-life counterpart (I can safely say that I’ve never pined away after a fictional character, though I must admit that liking Mr. Darcy is worlds better than liking a sparkly vampire). It’s more that I’ve been waiting to meet someone who loved reading and writing as much as me. Someone who doesn’t mind my perpetually inky fingers and who appreciates the smell of old books, with their yellowed pages and cracked leather spines. Someone who knows that Frankenstein isn’t the name of the monster but the man who created him, who is aware that the Divine Comedy is loads more than just the Inferno, and will argue with me over the literary merit of the Harry Potter series.

I was thoroughly convinced that nobody like this existed, but I’ve met a lot of boys at my college who at least appreciate literature, if not live it and breath it like I do. But still, even these boys will give me strange looks when I begin to jabber on about how fantastic of a character Raskolnikov is or start quoting Shakespeare in casual conversation.

I suppose I’m just going to have to resign myself to being a spinster for the rest of my life. Only instead of having a dozen cats I’ll have a house bursting at the seams with books.

(Note- I posted this on an old wordpress blog that I’ve since abandoned due to completely forgetting my username and password, so if it looks familiar, don’t worry! I’m not plagiarizing!)

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Filed under Dating, Literature, love, relationships, Uncategorized

Poem of the Day: “in Just-” by E.E. Cummings

Alright, I’ll admit it- I completely adore E.E. Cummings’ poetry. It seems like a lot of young adults who don’t know much about poetry do, because he’s “edgy” and “different” and writes very frankly about sex, which seems like the coolest thing when you’re a high school freshman and you have no idea what the hell that Frost guy is trying to say. (Sorry Robert, baby, I love you!)

A lot of those kids don’t know that Cummings has written over 2,900 poems, ranging from classical sonnets to almost unreadable free verse poems. The extent of their knowledge generally ends after they memorize a line or two from “i carry your heart with me,” which they recite soulfully to the girl they’re trying to date in order to sound romantic and sensitive (I have not done this because I am a girl and reciting lines of poetry to boys is NOT, as it turns out, a good way to get them to like you). You see, I just spent a semester working on a thesis project on E.E. Cummings, and after spending the last five months or so of my life up to my eyeballs in his poetry and criticism about his poetry, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on his work.

I’m not, of course. Not by a longshot. But I did pick up a thing or two.

“-in Just” is ostensibly a lighthearted poem written about the innocence of children playing during the springtime- however, the inclusion of the balloonman in the poem, who is old and, most worryingly, “goat-footed,” suggests that there is a darker threat constantly looming above this idyllic world. I mean, come on. What does the qualifier “goat-footed” remind you of? Pan the sex-addicted satyr? The devil? Yeah, not exactly the figures you’d want hanging around young kids, huh?

This isn’t one of his most popular or relatable poems, but it is one that I think exemplifies a lot of the themes that he included in his embodied works. Hopefully you all enjoy it as much as I do!

You can view the poem here: in Just-

 

 

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Filed under Literature, Poem of the Day, Poems, Poetry