Friday, December 31
I have a new bracket and a new chain and my orthodontist smelled like Ramen noodles, the chicken kind. The hygienist smelled like stale mouthwash and cologne. Weird, the things you notice lying for 45 minutes looking at bright lights with your mouth open while lots of sharp metal instruments poke around at your gums.
A nightmare, really.
So. I am all bummed about a few things; Rochester and Prof. Charlotte (what did I call her again?) are all being difficult. Gah. Harbin, I wish you could tell me what to do in your witty, easy way. I cannot seem to throw sequins in anybody's eyes and have no gold to show underneath for it anyway. Oh, weird. I can't even give a good analogy right now. Darnit. Leibniz, I need a Marchesque! I have been afraid to try and write something for him until now, but maybe I can come up with something soon. I have not had a creative spurt for months now and am feeling so dumb about it! But that is just me. Bweh. Sandy is going to smile at me:)
good new year. lots of books. woot.
Tuesday, December 28
I have a friend who lives with a man not her husband and has no commitment to him. I have a friend who is homosexual. I have friends who refuse to believe in anything but themselves. I have friends who know what is right and do the opposite. I have friends who condemn my way of life but stick with me in hopes that I'll change. I have friends that look at pornography. I have friends who just plain don't THINK.
They are all my friends and we believe different things. But we like the same ideas about society (though not the reasons why) and we share some of the same interests and hobbies; writing or languages or reading or traveling.
If what Lewis says is true, then I am sorely in need of a make-over where it considers my choice of friends. In fact, let's just say that I wouldn't have many friends at all if I went with him. The friends I would have left would be those closest to me, but they were not the only ones I love. Gah, it is hard.
I would like to seek the same truth, but I am content and will settle for having the same interests. Friends who see and quest for the same truth you do are rare and not to be taken lightly or touched gingerly. Perhaps the problem is with me? I don't know.
God, you are out there and you see how my mind is fooling around with ideas. Get me to realise the truth, no matter the cost to me if it fits in with what you want. I want to know the truth and to be able to act on it in a way that reflects who you are. If any of this is what I'm meant to feel and what you want me to learn, let it be clear to me. If you must rip out my heart to make it, do that. Break me. You are the only one who can put me back together, anyway. If it doesn't hurt others, if it is your plan, please let me know and understand and learn so that I can hope.
Because hope in you does not disappoint us.
I bought another journal while I was in Scotland, a little pocket size one that has days in it, too--I shall write down funny things I see everyday, or else (!). And when I am feeling particularly miserable I will read Robert Browning, make faces at myself in the bathroom mirror, and read this book.
A few more odds and ends to fill up my current journal (I had hoped to do that before the new year hits, but I really doubt it, now).
Got the best compliment from one of my professors, recently. Am still hyped and keep the window open on my compy when am feeling grumpy. Am going to take full advantage of his thinking well of me and ask him to tutor me in my studies. Maybe. If I feel really bold and courageous.
Humm. Everyone is waking up. Am glad Jackob is here too. Even though it is odd to have an octave-lower voice in the house during the daytime. Time to get up and do things, time to read, time to fight, time to fly, time to be totally ridiculous and not regret it for a minute.
Thursday, December 16
I know, it isn't as serious as it sounds, and I am making a fool of myself here. But you won't believe me if I don't.
Monday, December 6
"You are so in love with ideas of people, never what they are."
The day was windy, but warm enough still that they sat on the steps of the bridge in the park. Small flowers grew out of the cracks in the cement. She stared hard at them, trying to let him finish his monologue before asking whether he meant this sudden burst of emotion for her.
"You have your head in the clouds because it protects you from seeing reality and what pain some of us are in! You hold out your hands to some invisible beggar, some invisible lover, and you forget about your friends and the people around you. What about your books? You are in love with that guy, aren't you?"
He nodded towards the thick volume she had in her hand, a finger holding the place she'd been reading from. She looked up at him, puzzled.
"Yeah, him. You talk about him all the time, think about him. You write about him all the time. " She stood up slowly, dusted herself off. Now that he had gone into attacking fantasy, there was really no point in going on listening to him. The ludicrousness would hit him later. Suddenly something he said brought her attention from pity to anger.
"Do you masturbate and think of him?"
She tilted her head to one side, looked at him. His face was defiant, wordlessly saying, "I still mean that". Balling her fist, she sent it flying into his face. She had never actually punched somebody before, but her effort was enough to snap his head sideways. Before he could recover, she walked over the bridge and out of the park.
The streetlights flickered on as she waited for her turn to cross the street. Seeing a familiar profile and hooded sweatshirt emerge from the park, she ducked behind a mother carrying her child. They crossed the street together and parted at a coffee shop, where the mother met someone coming out of a building, and she walked on into a lighted shop front.
"Café breve', please," she said, counting out the suddenly unfamiliar coins. She breathed a shaky sigh and found a chair in a small alcove. She took a deep breath, still angry and upset with him.
He could be absolutely intolerable, but it had been so nice early that afternoon to walk with him.
Someone sat down opposite her, with a large purse and the smell of scented candles and shop smells, and offered her a tissue. She said thank-you, wiped her eyes, blew her nose, and forgot to look at her benefactor, who was still chatting on happily about the time of year.
"Are you in love?" asked the dyed shopper. "No, no, I'm not," she said, breathing out a sigh, more calm now.
Saturday, December 4
"Brief, broken, often painful as their actual meetings had been what with his absences and interruptions [...] the effect of them on his life was immeasurable. There was a mystery about it. You were given a sharp, acute, uncomfortable grain--the actual meeting; horribly painful as often as not; yet in his absence, in the most unlikely places, it would flower out, open, shed its scent, let you touch, taste, look about you, get the whole feel of it and understanding, after years of lying lost. Thus she had come to him; on board ship; in the Himalayas; suggested by the oddest things..."
--Virginia Woolf, in Mrs. Dalloway
Friday, December 3
Why am I putting off so many things? It is so very strange! The house is clean, people are fed, my friends have been written to. Why is it taking me so long to get this stupid thing done!? It shouldn't have taken me this long. Tomorrow. That does it. Tomorrow.
And then: think "Christmas", dahling.
Well, I also cannot wait until I get a certain Christmas present of a camera, which will be oodles of fun:) Next term is looking shaky, though, because I am having a weird Friday. It is all weird. Crazy people. Umm. Right. Enough running off at the mouth about nothing, pick a book or something to write about instead of blabbering!
Wednesday, December 1
You're Figwit! Who's Figwit? Figwit stands for
"Frodo Is Great Who Is That?". Who
is that? Who knows? He's an elf at the
Council of Elrond, sitting next to Aragorn.
He's v. silent.
Which little-known character in Middle-earth are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Tuesday, November 30
Am trying not to be mad, but am reminded of the hurt. Am told sometimes that I act like a martyr. Am trying to stop. However, every time I ask for help thinking differently, the people who are supposed to be helping me try to mold me into them . . . a hard fit that will have me broken in about four seconds flat. Am trying very hard not to give up on the relationship.
Have tried to do that before and must insist on my own person. It is difficult.
Yeah. It won't be long, now, though.
Of course, this is just from my point of view and sometimes I haven't a clue what is really going on when I experience a feeling. I try to know and learn . . . Dash it all. Today was so sweet.
Monday, November 29
I am so close to graduating I can almost taste it. I am SO happy. And depressed. I have to find a Uni with post grad studies somewhere or I will be Very Unhappy and probably die. Or at least end up working at McDonald's, which would happen AFTER I died. In hell.
But what am I to do? I feel like I just got out of high school.
Floor is clean, dishes washed, classes nearly up-to-date, hands not pruny any more but self is satisfied. Can breathe more easily and intent on having my cup of tea after dinner tonight with a nice poem or two.
I'm learning to like poetry, but I don't think I shall learn to like red wine. It will take me a while to learn to like that stuff, and I can't read it. You can get drunk on poetry, though. Trust me, I have. Get all tipsy dizzy feeling and can't seem to talk right but mind is happily not-quite-present. Feet stumble slightly because perspective on world is not quite as it was an hour ago. That isn't all poetry, though. For instance, it would be hard to do that with Shel Silverstein:) Yeats, Lewis, Tolkien, Beowulf, Gawain are some. Shelley and Byron are worse at it. Skip the drunk feeling, go straight on to the hangover part.
Looking up, it appeared that each letter of their names stood for one of the hours; subconsciously one was grateful to Rigby and Lowndes for giving one time ratified by Greenwich; and this gratitude (so Hugh Whitbread ruminated, dallying there in front of the shop window), naturally took the form of later buying off Rigby and Lowndes socks or shoes. So he ruminated. It was his habit. He did not go deeply. Be brushed surfaces; the dead languages, the living, life in Constantinople, Paris, Rome; riding, shooting, tennis, it had been once."
Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
Thank goodness this is a reaction paper and not a research one. Woot. More tea.
Sunday, November 28
I recently lost my study version and was feeling a little bit traitorous and not at all comfortable reading out of The Message (contemporary translation, not bad but definitely lacking) at night. Thankfully my more familiar copy was found in the trunk of the car (where I had left it once upon a Sunday).
Same goes for other books, though. I am very picky about copies of Tolkien and Lewis. Don't tell, though.
Oh, sleepy girl, go to bed!
Saturday, November 27
Stupid of me, I know, but one day we will get the hang of it, won't we, Benson?
Everyone lift your glasses: To me!
And I can snap and whirl pretty fast.
Why does Prof. Humphrey want this particular piece analysed when it is so easy and why did he not recognize the hard work of my other analyses when they were a good deal harder to come around? I don't understand. The ways of professors are infinitely beyond me.
Somebody is filling up the fireplace, somebody else is talking about moving the furniture about, and others are getting their bearings sleeping on the couch and trying to figure out the meaning behind the damask pattern of material on said couch. Yet another is downstairs on a chronic videogame split.
I would like a cup of tea, please, and a veto option on classes. Oh, Christmas break cannot come soon enough. I love them dearly, you know, but they tire me out. Like some people I know, heh. Let's not get too deep, shall we?
Right I am going away. Will blog on Mindsay, which means must think nice things. Ha ha. Wish new Harry Potter book would come out.
Friday, November 26
I am tiring now, in the evening, and my hands are getting weaker even though my appetite is fully present and happy to oblige a plate of leftovers and several cups of tea.
Good evening. Back to Septimus Warren-Smith and his dashed apathetic nonsense.
Am tired but clean and am feeling happy that I might see J.K. Rowling creeping around in cafes in the very near future. Oh, am so sleepy and tired and just talked for long time with bestest friend in the world, who is angel and one of the best people in the world. Ever.
Sweet dreams, and may the dream fish bless thy rest.
Tried to post this last night but it wouldn't go through for some reason. Odd. Anyway. There you have it.
Wednesday, November 24
I am naughty. I made myself a pot of espresso and I intend to procure not only one shot but the whole pot and bring it to the clandestine meeting place of My Room.
My sister just brought me tea. I love her.
People on Mindsay are so nice. If I hadn't established a reputation there I would rave on and on every few minutes there but I like the change, too, so this is ok. There is just no community over here. People over there are cool. Blogger people are just individuals. I'm sure some of them are perfectly alright. Just not as good as Mindsayers.
Now, to take a the shower and to do some of a the schoolwork with the the compy.
Tuesday, November 23
I know, my entries are short and miserable. I have another blog for the nice/creative stuff. There are nice people there too. I am just perpetually tired.
Monday, November 22
Time to go to sleep, but I'm afraid I will be cold. Wrote a blog entry for Mindsay today and got a quick rush of replies and well-wishings. I'm feeling very warm-fuzzied and glad to have friends online like them. I am beaming at my bulletin board.
Oh, and I added another group of paper-scraps to my room on the back of my door--my new year's resolutions. I never think of them on new year's eve so I'm thinking of them now and putting them up now. I take them a little seriously and do try to complete and conquer them. I completed one of last year's--"write more". Heh. Good night.
Sunday, November 21
Mrs. Dalloway is very sniffly and interesting in the same way that Joyce is interesting. I don't take kindly to people who portray homosexuality and/or suicidal tendencies in a way that is meant to be entertaining in a gentle sense. (Irony is different.) Perhaps I am taking life too seriously. I tend to do that, I know.
Lips are still chapped beyond ability to whistle and nose stuffiness has increased by 50%. Am now a mouth-breather, but resolve not to tuck sweaters into pants or hike pants up to bra line. Mouth-breathing, would like to emphasize, only temporary.
Want to write in paper and leather journal but cannot because hands are weakish and will not stay still or move the directions I want them to. Is stupid to be sick.
Saturday, November 20
How's that for double negatives! Ha! Let me continue on in that vein. While I sleep. We'll see if I get around to typing in my sleep. Maybe I should have taken limoncello (or however one spells that very sticky yellow sweet liquid alcohol) instead of a generic brand of stuff like Nyquil.
Good night, dusty, windy world. May your white sands be smooth and your forests be deep, your mountains be unconquerable and your seas inscrutable.
I wonder if that kind of love really ever eats you alive like it does in stories? Never having been in love with anything less than a dream, I wonder. Sometimes one comes across this idea of love, eros, that is so full of boundaries to be crossed that it seems an effort to ever find peace and they never do seem to find it, grow bitter, have lots of affairs with other people they don't love, end up artists who smoke cigarettes and have friends they don't relate to except in pain.
Or they throw themselves in front of trains or maybe out of windows. Either way, it is a pretty stupid way to go. People say love makes you do stupid things but sheesh if nothing makes you do anything. Choices. That is what I have to say about that.
Forty pages of Mrs. Dalloway to read, and figuring out what there is important about Peter. Can't believe I have written this far only loading pages. Wow. Now must concentrate fully. Quick! To the bat-compy!
Annoyances and peevish glances only relieved by excessive reading and mulling over The Nine Tailors. When I move out, I hope to have three cats. One of them at least will be named "Batty Thomas". Must get up motivation to do to other than sit in room and drink tea all day.
Must also write about last night's expedition to Teatro San Carlo, where we had our own box and where I tried not to sniff but failed miserably. Also wore make-up for first time since . . . a long time ago. Felt very nice to get home to fuzzy slippers and sweatshirts but was an irreplaceable memory. Wore high heels. Note to self: wear high heels only in great emergencies. Also go to Teatro San Carlo again and sit way way way up in the top balcony with a notebook for writing.
And find out which seats are the veriest cheapest. During matinees. Am in love with a theatre.
Doubly fascinating because have recently finished The Scarlet Pimpernel for the millionth time and T. San C. was around during the French Revolution.
Friday, November 19
Heh. Yes. Well, I am going to go take myself a shower and clean the kitchen and take cold medicine. And make tea. I really really need tea. I NEED tea. Tea is good for you, and also caffeinated. I want to go back to sleep. It is useless.
Somebody had better post on my little typing binge in the classroom or I . . . will . . . uhh . . . POST some MORE. So there. I'll do that Monday, or something. Concert tonight, party tomorrow, church the next, and then antitheses in Medieval and Renaissance literature. Shockingly busy social schedule.
Thursday, November 18
"Hitherto we have entreated of this good woman, now it remaineth that we touch somewhat as touching her end and martyrdom. She being born of such stock and kindred that she might have lived in great wealth and prosperity [...]"
The account of Lady Grey's death is more detailed with dialogue and elicits pity for innocence and the last "What shall I do? Where is it? Where is it?" had my eleven year old self crying softly looking at a painting of it in an art gallery in London.
"Eighthly, he asked me if I did not think that private masses did help souls departed. And [I] said it was great idolatry to believe more in them than in the death which Christ died for us."
There were plenty of antitheses, though; I found three in one paragraph.
" . . . He asked me wherefore I said that I had rather read five lines in the Bible than to hear five masses in the temple. [...] Not for the dispraise of either the Epistle or Gospel, but because the one did greatly edify me and the other nothing at all."
The narrative style is more like Margery Kempe in tone, but clever and slightly saucy--it definitely comes straight off of spoken English. She seems to give more straight facts in an almost concise detailed account of who came and went and exactly what the process was like except that she does not show fear in her narrative and therefore evoke pity for the poor woman in jail.
I'm using the Geneva Bible example for ease of analysis. There are a lot of repeating phrases: "have not love", "all things", and "in part" are the ones that appear the most.
English translations of the Bible--obviously trying to get them out to the general public.
The bold indicates alliterative words and the italics are an example of repeating sounds. Some antitheses:
"not rough, but placid"
"shallows on one side, [...] rocks on the other"
"uncouth inhabitants to such a high level of culture"
"first had laughed [...] were struck with wonder and terror"
And my personal favorite, "Men, not hens". As far as I recollect (maybe this is my youthful naivete in the Ways of the World as we know it) men do not lay eggs.
This is written in a very simple narrative style and yet "More wrote Utopia in Latin for an international audience of humanist intellectuals" (intro to More) so it wasn't exactly trying to get a manifesto out to the peasantry. Class notes (Ren. Poetry, Pt. 2) specify that More didn't believe that even the Bible should be open season reading for the general public.
All references shamelessly ripped from p. 511-512 of the NAEL vol. 1 except where noted.
Suddenly the fourteenth century heckfire and tarnation sermons look like the pieces of gothic art that they probably are if I would take a fifty-third look at them from the right angle.
Sometimes I light candles and send up prayers for people I know, and let them be lit while I study. It isn't a Catholic thing or a Pagan one, just a remembrance and a reminder. Plus, somehow flames are calming. Don't ask me why and no, I am not a pyromaniac. But two of the three I lit tonight just went out:(
Unobtrusively lighting the burner underneath the saucepan is vital to the operation. Soon, the small pieces of pork are warm and getting along well with the BBQ sauce and it is no time at all before the resourceful person whom I mentioned in the beginning of this entry has scooped them into the empty space between two pieces of bread and began to munch happily on their barbecue sandwich.
She had BETTER not commit suicide or I am going to have to speak to someone about counseling for all women above the age of 25 who are married to husband who can't read their minds.
On my online class having to do with the Modern Novel, we have conferences somewhat like a message board only with the instructor being a moderator and the students having obligatory replies. However, it is difficult not to repeat things as the system of organization for these forums is worse than a bravenet sci-fi fan forum and there are a good 100 posts per day to wade through as well as posting about five or six posts per week yourself.
I feel very much like slouching back to Medieval and Renaissance Lit. to comfort myself with a bunch of "therewiths" and "herebys" and maybe a "thither ye go". That atmosphere, though I have recently heard other students say very differently, is much more relaxing and easier to deal with. The teacher is stricter, but kinder, and the subject less ardently relative to the reader's interpretation.
I cannot wait to finish what I have for the day and read The Lord of the Rings until
Wednesday, November 17
Today we will be focusing on the beginning of Mrs. Dalloway, the very end of The Awakening, and an overview of medieval English prose. Hands and knees will smell like woodsmoke and the dirt from outside by the woodpile from trying desperately to keep fire in fireplace going at a rate that will keep the house warm. Bobby pins in hair will slowly and irresponsibly tumble down into absolute uselessness as day progresses.
Fingertips will remain cold until the afternoon when tea is taken very hot in large mug which fingertips will cling to. Well, it is either that or the fingertips get held to the fire while laughing maliciously at the thought of a post on the genealogy of Arthur and whether or not he had any sons.
Tuesday, November 16
I want you to know I mean each and every one of those exclamation marks. Oh yes I do. Time for a celebration. Um. Right. *grin*
Is that what makes blogging interesting? I dunno.
Anyway, time for a very late breakfast and starting in on those mundane chores that I hold so dear to my heart when writing stupid and LONG papers. Well, they are long when they take me that LONG to write them. I wonder if there is espresso left . . . ?
Four times. I updated four times.
Monday, November 15
Yeats also took subjects from Greek mythology and used them as a means to describe how he felt about issues in his life. His infatuation with Maud Gonne inspired him to write many poems, one of which stands out for our purpose because in it he compares Maud with Helen; "No Second Troy". As Yeats grew more and more involved with the occult, he mused on the symbolism of the historical gyre in relation to the omniscience a Greek god in "Leda and the Swan".
In all of these lyrical pieces Yeats is able to describe aspects of himself and the world as he perceived it, Yeats concentrates on himself as identfied with an immortal figure. One cannot help but wonder if it never crossed his mind how very close the story of his life is to that of the Flight of Icarus.
I've made it easier to read online and skipped running at the mouth about the bibliography but here is the final draft of the first paragraph. Am going to get more coffee and work on next bit about Yeats' da.
Suddenly I have a strong urge to watch the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring for the 45th time. Hah. Wonder if it has been 45 times? No clue. I'm bringing it along this winter to watch while traveling. Can't wait to travel.
I like this jacket, speaking of LOTR. Back to work. Tally-ho!
Sunday, November 14
Still feeling crummy and stupid and very boring as I cannot seem to get Icarus and Yeats quite reconciled in my head. They were fine this morning! Why on earth cannot I get them right now? Is it not yet late enough in the evening?
Have resolved to use Blogger for quick, boring updates like so. Mindsay is reserved for better and more optimistic works of ramble. *sigh*
Time to sing along with French pop songs. Did I mention I can't speak French?
Saturday, November 6
It puts me in mind, really, of an old play I saw back when my best friend and I used to be able to see plays together--it was called Mysterie and it was, suitably, a Mystery Play, like the ones of old--and the recurring theme was the trinity of a man, a woman, and a tree. It was complete with drunken shepherds stealing sheep from each other and though rather "sely" made their witnessing of Christ's infancy very funny. No, it isn't heretical; Christ had a sense of humor too, trust me.
Ok, anyway, back to work.
Wednesday, November 3
Even my daydreams are no consolation at all; they are somehow stale. My night dreams are unhappy and strange. I do not feel like writing letters to my friends though I have a good many to reply to at the moment. I keep picking at the skin around my thumbnail; it is bleeding now . . . I feel as if all of my distractions are to naught, but then what am I supposed to be thinking about if it is forever evasive of my conscious searching?
Perhaps I need to be cheered up or maybe have a glass of wine or a pot of coffee or a nap . . . I don't know . . .
Thursday, October 28
It is very very strange to be back on here again. The BLT--the Great Vespa--is . . . as he ever was, only he said things had been "swell" while I was gone. I hope it was only correlative and not causal. I would hate to think the world doesn't revolve around me. Enzo is as Enzo ever was but I wasn't here early enough to see the cornetti dragon and so my heart is broken as well as recovering from the adrenaline rush of an exam. Poor Enzo probably does not realise how precious he is to international bloggers. He must be the one constant in the world . . . Nobody has commented on my new sweatshirt yet and my conversation, my inner dialogue is becoming increasingly boring. I dislike it. I think I will check out a book from the Library.
Wednesday, October 27
I'm cooking tonight. And I have a stupid midterm tomorrow. I am feeling utterly pessimistic. Whine whine whine. Why do I write about whining? It is absolutely pointless except to mock myself. There are flies all around this room and they are bugging me to death. Oh, the pun. Can't wait till the first frost, really. Nasty little buggers all dead on the ground and then I will be free of the pestilence.
Things to do today:
2. Midterm Notes (must be done by 1830)
4. Dinner (start at 1830)
5. Reply to an Email (now you know . . . )
6. Order Textbooks
When put in a list, it doesn't look so bad, really. Some people don't think of it that way, but it works for a few of us. The dishes are easiest, then the laundry started. I can work on my midterm exam notes until it is time to make dinner, and then afterwards reward myself with the writing of an email to one of my friends. I think maybe some more coffee or some nice tea would totally get my head out of the plaster from the wall I've been banging it against and then I could turn on Dave Brubeck's Take Five and seriously get to work.
Weird, really--I do not have that hard a day at all, and it is nothing out of the norm. I just have to get up the motivation to do something about it, and that is what interrupts my actual work. I feel so childish when I get like this. How embarrassing.
It also might help if I stopped running at the fingertips here. Right. Off . . . of . . . blog . . . sign . . . off of . . . internet!
Tuesday, October 26
"Do you ever get drunk on words?" asked Harriet.
"I am seldom sober," said Peter, and then I can't remember how the scene went except that they hashed out the idea of Wilfred, a character in Harriet's novel who they decided would be a paranoid religious fanatic. That is why he hid the handkerchief. See Dorothy Sayers' novel Gaudy Night for more info and a marvelous read of introspection of characters I am very fond of.
That's not what I meant to write, though. I meant to say something about Joy, who was my roommate for the past week in Dublin. I can say nothing bad about her, except that sometimes she is inexplicably kind and it is embarrassing to the rest of us because we are not.
We were talking about a song that we were listening to from the speakers of this very laptop from which I presently peck, and we were putting things up and making last cups of tea before we turned out the lights. She said it sounded like water--rivers and waterfalls and the ocean all running underneath in a field of blue. Those weren't her exact words; I only remember the image they put into my head when I heard them.
"I can see where it sounds like water; it reminds me more of the ocean than a river, maybe because I've lived by the ocean most of my life. What it really reminds me of most often is driving."
I put a band on the end of my hair, which I'd just finished braiding.
"You know, when you just come up to see the horizon and you know it has been there, forever." I stopped for a moment, wrinkling my nose at the prospect of an eternal horizon and musing upon the fact that I was confiding rather private images of a song to someone I didn't really know at all. Ignoring my momentary reservations:
" . . . like seeing the horizon, only for a split second feeling that you will always be able to see the horizon."
I ended lamely and looked my reflection in the window with an expression of confusion and disgust. Joy turned out the lights on her side of the room and was crawling into her bed. I couldn't see her face; it was covered in a white duvet cover over the bed when she said, "I think you'll make a great writer, someday."
"Thanks," I said, surprised, "I want to be a writer. I'd love to be a writer someday. Ha--if only one could make a living off of it," I said in jest. The song ended, and I turned out the overhead light feeling not a little unsatisfied with myself.
Back to Chaucer, I suppose. I thought maybe if I wrote it out I would understand, but I don't. Crumple and aim with stunning accuracy at the wastebasket.
Sunday, October 24
A lady with a kerchief on her head was in front of me, then a young man with red hair and yellow and black paraphernalia of Machine Head scatted about his luggage and clothes (costume? uniform?), and then a foreign couple with dark olive skin and short hair. Caught in a daydream about carpeted floors and acrobats catching wine bottles, I didn't realise how fast the line was moving until I had automatically stepped up to the desk.
"I'm traveling alone, this is my only piece of baggage, I haven't got anything sharp and I haven't left my luggage anywhere and nobody has asked me to carry anything," said I, all in a rush. I relinquished my passport and a crumpled piece of paper with flight reservation numbers and pass-codes on it, lifted my luggage onto the belt, and looked up.
"Ah! Zank you. I feel like a par-rot by thees time mos' days," said the woman in the blue suit behind the desk with a decided accent.
Wednesday, October 13
First, calm down. Do not start a long term project or try to write something to cheer myself up or beat myself to a pulp. Sit silently and think, or do something productive. Do not use fiction as an escape. Think, recall, and replay. Where do I need to apologize? What should I have done? By the time the sitting and thinking part is over, I am usually ready to go and talk about it or somebody has come to my door wondering if I still exist.
I don't understand why I do the things I do or think the things I think sometimes, when others are very different from me. Especially the thinking. My assessments of people can be totally wrong or "very insightful" and there are times when I never know the difference. Unfortunately, there is something fascinating in the human method of going about the thinking process that involves a subjective and biased perspective as well as a good bit of guesswork. A lot off people don't like to admit that; doing so admits in turn that they might be wrong sometimes. How damaging to the human sense of pride above all . . .
I felt first very angry, then resentful, and now I only feel foolish.
Monday, October 11
As a child, I read this story, on a day quite sniffly
When at home, was safe from the stares of librarians,
And was poured tea, by my pillow a pile of books
Laid down while my Mother did sweep and mop
So besieged on the sofa I silently pored
Over hours and ages of honorable knightly deeds.
The strength of this story and its strong hero
As fine as had those faithful fives—how fair
That he could cleave to such a creed
And yet fall because he was fain to bid farewell
To the fervor of life, and so that fateful fabric
The now-garish green was girded about him forever
That in remembrance when asked he could rede
Other knights who in ignorance acted arrogantly
And better the knights so bold and yet brash.
Humble yet with honor held--
Appealed to my idealism true
Gawain the title "hero" truly held.
copyright rika m. 2004
Thursday, October 7
I have my final exam for my Arthurian Legend class and though it shouldn't be too hard, I still have a paper to write and a lot of stuff to do on top of it. I'm not feeling as overwhelmed as I am finding it just plain hard to wade through all of this stuff. My life over the next month is going to be full of people, and I keep butting heads with a couple people that don't want to understand that the ends are never justification for the means. Thank goodness some of them are online and not all face to face.
I need to find a way past this so I can concentrate on my classes and my work. I must find a way past it. This is so stupid.
Sunday, October 3
Unfortunately, I also happened to poke a friend at the wrong time and I got snapped at in a most disagreeable way. Stupid online communication messes up facial expressions. We are still friends and there will be better days.
Meanwhile, any messages may be forwarded to:
the smiling yet sleepy one
cloud 9, 7th heaven
Saturday, October 2
- laptop compy (headphones, adapter, screen-cleaner)
- favourite writing utensils (fountain pen, mechanical pencils, extra ink, .5 and .7 lead, nice fat eraser)
- personal journal
- travel/class notebook (moleskine)
- Bible (NIV)
- personal documents (tickets, I.D., etc.)
- disposable camera
- bottle of water
- lotion, chapstick, chewing gum
- fold-up-able umbrella
And the weather looks cold and rainy! Woohoo!
Thursday, September 30
Wednesday, September 29
I sat in a little restaurant drinking coffee tonight after walking down there all cold and shivery. Have I said yet that I like to be a bit cold? To feel the autumn! Yes . . . Anyhow, I was thinking how nice it would be to have walked down there all tired and foozly only to be met with warm food and a sweet aunt-like figure who always tells you how skinny you are and how you should eat more and an uncle-like person who always tells jokes and remembers things in a most eccentric fashion. Also, the sherry. I have found that on freezycold winter nights I like a small glass of sherry. It tastes warm and cozy.
Yes, I am weird. I like mead and sherry but not red wine and not beer (bar a little guinness). Weirdo. Why am I blogging about alcohol? I rarely ever drink the stuff, and I certainly didn't tonight unless they put something weird into my coffee that I didn't taste.
Oh, and I've gotten a few remarks saying that I seemed to be out of temper and I also said something about "giving up men" in my last blog entry, which led people to believe that I was lonely. Or something. They usually trail off before the conclusion. I am fine. The quote was from Bridget Jones, for pete's sake. I'm out of temper today because of some gross incompetence on my class boards. The two are very different.
And, the end of Bridget Jones was funny, but I think less of Mark Darcy for having sex with Bridget on their first date, which is rather a frightening concept after the whole point of the book comes out . . . but then Bridget isn't exactly the epitome of anything pure or . . . of average intelligence, even . . .
alas. I will stick to reading Lord Peter Wimsey novels from here on out. At least until I get a hold of the next Bridget Jones book.
Tuesday, September 28
I've also decided that I don't like making desserts.
Time to go sit in bed and read Bridget Jones' Diary and giggle helplessly into sleep.
"I've decided: I'm giving up men. And carbohydrates."
Monday, September 27
I previewed a movie for our local youth group, on homosexuality. It isn't blatantly, bible-thumpingly Christian, which is a real plus. I hate it when they do that. I almost wish I had been part of a healthy youth group when it was my turn to be in a youth group because then I might be able to figure out how other people think about it. I have a gay friend and I've had a friend who decided she was a lesbian, therefore I want to think hard because I care for these people. But then, to the liberal eye, everything I say here will be taken out of context and twisted into meaning that I am homophobic. Weirdos.
Bweh. I got absolutely nothing done today. Not a bit. Not a sniffle. But! I am wearing a fiendish t-shirt. I am now listening to "Goodnight, My Love (Pleasant Dreams)" by Harry Connick Jr. and humming along. I'm going to be a sap and burn rose oil tonight. I'm out of bergamot, now, which will shortly make me depressed, until I forget about it.
I want to wake up tomorrow and be able to see what I am. This is a problem right now. At least, for somebody like me, who wants to know myself, it is a big problem when I do things and can't figure out why I do them. Not a comfortable mystery, like those of the universe. Entirely practical and affecting my everyday activities, this mystery is unpleasant and distasteful.
And I probably shouldn't be blogging it because one day when I am rich and famous and entirely self-absorbed, somebody will remind me of it and I will fall, like Citizen Kane's second wife, and I will end up drunk, talking to reporters. At a night club. Oh, the adventurous life of a blogger. Thrilling. Really.
Sunday, September 26
Thank goodness the paper is in. The first one of the term, too! I'm surprised it took this much out of me, but I suppose I should have known the way I have been reading and humming along this summer. We'll see how it goes.
The wind is threshing dust and leaves outside my window, and my cat thinks I am an idiot for being up at midnight. She is right, as usual. Listening to Jars of Clay's "Worlds Apart", thinking about odd things people have said to me this past week, wishing for stupid, useless things, and remembering--oddly enough--an old Sunday school lesson taught to me by a hero of mine who doesn't know he's a hero.
And now, time to braid the hair and crawl into bed. If you ever get the chance and want to see a bit of how I wish my mind would work, please read Gaudy Night. It sounds weird but it really is very good, and very revealing of humanity, even if I don't really like Harriet all that much. Oh dash it all.
Saturday, September 25
Today is the "continuing writing the paper" day and I really can't figure out why it isn't just flying off my fingers and finished last night. Honestly, I expected it to be. I guess I haven't written an academic paper in a couple of months and so now it feels weird to be doing so. This paper isn't exactly intellectually stimulating, either. Stuffed full of generalizations and vague references. The few specific references are to bits of incoherent manuscript full of symbolism we hardly recognize.
Ok, enough griping, dear. Time to get to work seriously this time instead of writing a blog entry which won't really inspire you any more than the spearmint oil or the coffee, which, by the way, are tasting and smelling oddly because of each other.
Two bottles of water, a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, my trusty mechanical pencil, and Take Five. There are plenty of bits of paper lying around and I can also use my white board. Right-ho, Jeeves.
Friday, September 24
This is the introductory paragraph to a paper I am writing on the principle characteristics of Old English Poetry--one of those papers that the professor requires so he doesn't freak out the first time he gets a real paper from you.
Thursday, September 23
Also, one of my classmates made a hilarious bunch of "Freudian" slips (Freudian because we were talking about gender symbolism) and I couldn't stop laughing for Quite Some Time. I hope she meant it to be a play on words because if she didn't I am SO in trouble. Even now, I can't help from giggling.
Right, so I'm sleepy. Or maybe just tired. In any case, I'm going to put on comfy pjs and sleep, and try not to kick the cat off the end of my bed. Stupid thing thinks it OWNS the spot. Maybe it does.
Anyway, it was a bad day yesterday, and a bad morning this morning, and I have some things to think through before letting my mind wander while my mouth is open. Write that down.
I did book-cross something yesterday evening at the library with a post-it note on it that proclaimed its interest in social reform and liberation. However, I did not get that outline written. Drat it all. It is due next week. Or the end of this week. That means I have only a bit of time left. At the time, though, it seemed much more important for me to be running errands with a sister.
Glumly gloomy obfuscations. Anyway. I have a bit of Anglo-Norman literature to hum about and a poem to vivisect before lighting votive candles to the patron saint of outlines.
I did find an interesting article that might be interesting to Certain Persons who may or may not be reading this blog.
Tuesday, September 21
I am finishing up Peredur today, rereading a lot of Old English poetry in a hideous modern translation (excepting Pound, of course), and parading Sherlock Holmes' deductive reasoning around shamelessly with a lot of obvious conclusions about origin, feeling, theme, and other poetic devices. Also to do on the list is an outline for that paper--tomorrow I will sit at the library and type it up (I can also be sneaky and take something to book-cross).
I have a cafe latte on one side of my desk, a bottle of water on the other, and a packet of peanut M&Ms. I've shoved everything from my desk (well almost everything) into someplace where it won't bother me, and now I should be ready to yell a battle cry and plunge into the studying binge I've been hoping to accomplish since the last time it happened . . . Somehow, I feel strangely reluctant. Oh, well. Tally-ho.
Monday, September 20
--1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
--1/2 cup milk
--1 cup butter, softened but not melted
--2 and 1/2 cups sugar
--2 teaspoons vanilla extract
--3 and 1/2 cups flour
--2 teaspoons baking soda
--1/4 teaspoon salt
--2 and 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (brown and spotty and a little soft)
--2 cups chopped walnuts (not too small, but not half-walnuts)
--2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 and butter two loaf pans. If you don't do this, there are dire circumstances, like bread that won't come out of the pans.
Pour the lemon juice into the milk and stir until the milk is curdled. This smells bad, gets thicker, and clumps just a little. Set it aside, but not in an inaccessible place.
Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until it is creamy. Add the eggs and make sure it is all mixed thoroughly. I use a Kitchen Aide thingy of my mum's instead of the traditional pewter cauldron, so it isn't much of a chore to mix stuff. The more you mix the eggs, the tougher they get, so go easy on them.
Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and then add the butter-sugar-vanilla to it as well as the curdled milk. Then stir in the bananas and the walnuts. And the chocolate.
Pour the batter into the buttered pans and then bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until you can stick a toothpick or a knife in and it comes out clean.
Let it sit until it cools or you will get a crumbly mess of falling-apart-banana-mush. Put the loaves on a rack to cool them, and then when they are relatively cool, slice and snaffle.
Recipe helped along by a Green Thumb cookbook but certainly adapted from it.
Ha. I have vanquished the kitchen. Mwahahahaha.
Sunday, September 19
I have a sneaky suspicion that the people who “cleverly” inserted the Christian traditions and symbolism into the story of the Grail were taking a leaf out of Paul’s book (pun intended). By using the symbolism that was already established, the missionaries would be able to explain Christianity in terms that the people understood. After all, the symbols that were in use already did have some connection to Christianity.
update: I deleted the rest of the post. It is just too long. If you want to know more, I can send it to you, but . . . right. That was a lot of stuff to read through, and not the best written, either. Tada.
Saturday, September 18
"Another distinguished writer, again, in commenting on the cave drawings attributed to the neolithic men of the reindeer period, said that none of their pictures appeared to have any religious purpose; and he seemed almost to infer that they had no religion. I can hardly imagine a thinner thread of argument than this which reconstructs the very inmost moods of the pre-historic mind from the fact that somebody who has scrawled a few sketches on a rock, from what motive we do not know, for what purpose we do not know, acting under what customs or conventions we do not know, may possibly have found it easier to draw reindeer than to draw religion."
--G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
Thursday, September 16
Ok, I got fed-up saying that I was confused by Pagan symbolism.
"No one who is conversant with the way in which men's minds operated in the Middle Ages ought to find any difficulty in thinking of the Grail as a Christianization of a heathen vessel of plenty." (Brown)
This fits in with the place where the grail first appeared (in Chretien's version, p. 420) because it was in a feast hall, carried by a young woman who was accompanied by two young men. Youth and plentiful food might suggest abundance and fertility. Also interesting is that Pagan religions, such as Wicca, often think of their deity, or the Earth, as a Goddess. Maybe it is and maybe it is not a coincidence that it was a girl who carried the grail?
Also, according to the websites listed below which are about modern Pagan religions, water is also a symbol of fertility. Perceval's path changed when he came to the river and met the Fisher King (418). A symbols of the element of water (also according to the aforementioned websites) are chalices, goblets, cauldrons, cups, pitchers, and very likely these include something that could be a grail.
Brown also makes a case that the mentioning of fish in relation to the grail (Chretien 460, also thematically) might actually suggest an accident in the translation due to the fact that the Irish/Gaelic word for "fish" is spelled very like the word for "host" in French. He says that instead of the Fisher King living off of a single host served from the grail perhaps he lives off of some kind of fish (footnote 1, p. 402).
Brown, Arthur C. L. "From Cauldron of Plenty to Grail" Modern Philology, Vol. 14, No. 7. (Nov., 1916), pp. 385-404.link from JSTOR if you are at an on-site location.
This is a JSTOR article that I'm having trouble getting a link from. If I take the link they ask me to then when I click on it they tell me I have to be on campus! The other one should work, but I'm not sure if you have to be logged in or not. Use the keywords of the title and author to find it if you can't get to it from a link. Brown is a bit opinionated and the article does assume that you have a working knowledge of French and Latin, which I don't. It is neat to see how Chretien rhymes, though.
Spring Wolf. "The Alchemy of Life" Spring Wolf's Spiritual Education Network: The Pagan's Path" 1997-2004. last visited: 09-16-04. link
"Element Water" Pagan at Osn. last visited: 09-16-04. link
"Correspondences: Element of Water" PaganNews.com last visited: 09-16.04. link
Devorah. "Magickal Symbolism: Elements and Directions" Music for the Goddess last visited: 09-16-04. link
n.b. regarding the websites: These were not hard to find through Google.com but I should have taken a lengthier search on one of our college's databases to come up with possibly more reliable information.
Tuesday, September 14
The down side of this study is that I have over two hundred pages to read and I'm supposed to have finished them already this week. In that light, I am rather disappointed with myself, but reading it all last week would not have made it any easier for the information to sink in. Last week wasn't the best time to be doing serious stuff like that, anyway.
Thank heavens we are nearly done with Tristan. A new conference has been posted and suddenly a light beamed down from heaven and somewhere a harp struck a fabulous chord of C. Now we are going back to the Cretin, who is surprisingly better than Gottfried von Whatsisname, not for obvious reasons (unless you've read my last post). I had been about to go to desperate measures with the Cretin but with an air of counter-irritant-cy in waltzes von Whozawhat and then suddenly the Cretin became a nice guy.
Looking through the information that the internet has to offer at first pair of keywords, there are plenty of interesting things to see. One site has a complete libretto and a horrible midi file that plays Wagner's Parsifal, and another one has Grail earrings. Who would've known? The Pagan and Christian symbolism should be fun to nitpick out of this study. Through the Camelot Project, I found some easy-read pieces about the Cretin as well, which I'll definitely look over after I finish reading the assigned stuff.
Of all the stuff we've plowed through or happened upon this semester, only the story with Owein and the gwyddbwyll game compares with this in humor potential.
Saturday, September 11
Even by accident, it causes the downfall of two people who do not deserve to fall by such witchcraft. They must be absolved of their guilt, of course, because the potion must dissolve the bonds of free will and therefore make them inhuman, demons. Can you imagine being the figure behind the mask in your own nightmare?
Their worship of Truth and Beauty and every good thing becomes a twisted freakish obeisance to every whim of lust.
The potion they drink tastes like wine, and it is something like the fruit of the vine used for holy communion with the Holy Spirit. Instead of bringing them closer to reality in truth and purity, which in their drugged stupor they mistake, it brings them closer to each other in physical embrace.
They made a pilgrimage to The Cave of Lovers after they were banished from her husband's kingdom. That cave is their temple, a Mecca for their love. The great marble bed stands like an altar in the center of the cave, where nothing is sacrificed to any higher cause than a couple's sex drive.
The real problem I have with this is not that they were actually given over to it, but that the author goes through the motion of writing about them as if they were in the right! It is enough to bring tears to the eyes that there was somebody with such stupidity given the gift of literacy.
I have decided to keep this blog for school purposes if nothing else. I am tending towards posting notes here, even if Mindsay is back and running . . . I've got to keep studying now and will probably update soon. Got a LOAD of work to do . . . *sigh*
Life is so awesome.
Friday, September 10
The fight scenes are riveting. Very cool. People try and make it sound boring by saying it is old, saying it is poetry, saying only dusty professors read it, but seriously this stuff is pretty cool:) I found a really neat site to go along with this too that I think I shall have to post on my class. Not only is it annoyingly formatted by it has good information.
The bit I especially like is the full translation with sound bites mixed in between. The sound clips are important because of meter and translation, which is difficult. The cool thing about the sound clips is that they are in a woman's voice! Ha!
Anyway, I can't find a good clip of my favorite part, talking about the sword that Beowulf used to kill Grendel's mother. It had been woven and carved with drawings of giants and how God drove them out with the flood. What it references is the Nephilim, who were supposedly Sons of God. This is a much-disputed bit of the Bible that is really fascinating. I intend to ask God about it one day when we are face to face. Or maybe there will be a book of Frequently Asked Questions.
The sword melts like an "icicle of gore" or something, and only the hilt is left because her blood boiled so hot that it melted his weapon . . . very cool stuff. I can't do justice to it here.
Right, time to sleep. Maybe Grendel's Mum was just PMS-y?
"So the wise man spoke in his heart, sat apart in private meditation. He is good who keeps his word; a man must never utter too quickly his breast's passion, unless he knows first how to achieve remedy, as a leader with his courage. It will be well with him who seeks favor, comfort from the Father in heaven, where for us all stability resides."
I also cannot figure out how to reply to comments here like I used to on Mindsay. So boo on Blogger. If you see your name in bold somewhere down the line it will be me responding to your comment.
Mindsay is coming along a little bit at a time, but I am having troubles with layout. I may decide simply update my blog once a week over there and keep this one. I don't know. I kind of like the change. *sigh* We shall see how things go.
Thursday, September 9
Tonight, at this house, there have been very strong winds that do not whip around or buffet stones but instead whistle through the cracks in the windows and doors. It sometimes feels as if there was an ocean lapping at the doorstep, making our haven treacherous to find and dangerous to navigate to. The winds come in September, a shadow of what they will be at full height and frenzy in November. Right now they are just crazymaking.
I'm sitting at the kitchen table this late at night with a cup of Earl Grey tea and knowing beyond doubt that the soles of my feet are clean and pink. This thought is comforting.
Wind whines and whines the shingle,
The crazy pierstakes groan;
A senile sea numbers each single
--james joyce, On the Beach at Fontana
Wednesday, September 8
I did finally get a tentative topic for my paper. I'm still unsure about it, though, so I emailed my professor and in his nearly infinite wisdom concerning these matters, I should expect a good response. I already expected one tonight, but I suppose he didn't check his email . . . drat!
Having decided that I would hide on my chat program to see who else was on while I listened to my newest favorite song (Other Hours by Harry Connick Jr.), a friend from thousands of miles away popped up and said hi. So five more minutes, I think, and then I shall act Endymion for at least seven hours.
Anyway . . . back to research . . . and doodling . . .
"You actually want to see THAT MUCH of MY writing??" and then the instructor nods woodenly and looks down in horrified realization at their Term Papers of Doom.
Whoop! Espresso is ready and I must away.
Tuesday, September 7
Oddly enough it occurred to me that all of the plums scattered across the orchard under the plum trees, a squashy path of them marking our footsteps thither, were irresponsibly creating a myriad of diarrhea cases merely by default.
Plum jam shall haunt me, plum pies, plum cakes, plum everything! Woe! Woe is me!
Ahem. I have done no "preliminary research" that I was going to do for my term paper. Drat.
Originally uploaded by anstruther.
I just posted huge entries into my Medieval and Renaissance Lit. class and I'm feeling very good about myself. Yay, me! I also posted a highly intelligent remark about Tristan and the little psychedelic lapdog that ran around the story. He was psychedelic, trust me. I'm not quoting it here, though, so you can forget about it. My penchant for research does not extend as far as Tristan's dog.
I am going to try posting a picture of my glorious self so that you can ogle at my gorgeous beauty. If all goes well it should be a picture of me in black and white at a German coffee shop with my arm hiding my face . . . not the best picture, but it is a good one. Thanks to my older sister for taking it:)
I still must do some preliminary research for my term paper. That shouldn't be too hard, though, with University subscriptions and beautiful things like that . . .
That post was for my Medieval and Renaissance Lit. class; we are studying the first hundred pages of the Norton Anthology of English Lit. (vol. 1) and most of it is Beowulf. Seamus Heaney does a very nice modern translation, a little akin to Fagle's translation of The Odyssey that I studied a bit last term. The modernity bothers me a little, though. I still need to post a substantial main topic on this class.
My other class, on Arthurian Legend, is due for a post on Tristan, which I find truly abhorrent. One cannot say this easily in class because of the ban on subjectivity which is enforced by a well-written, grumpy, concise comment by our Professor who in all other respects is an excellent instructor; possibly one of my favorites. (I can say that here because I posted the address to my Mindsay blog in our introductory discussion of "who's who" in the online classroom, where several other people posted theirs.) In any case, Tristan needs some attention. If all goes well I can lambast him and Gottfried von Strassburg properly if my wit is in top form. ha ha. ha.
I'm having trouble writing here. Usually I can come up with something creative for my blog entries, but this just seems to be all administration information that sounds like it should have "--MGMT" at the end of it. I've put on a good CD of Beethoven's sonatas and there is fresh espresso in front of me. Perhaps what is daunting me is the term paper due for the Arthurian class; 10-15 pages which have no business being difficult as I enjoy most of the subject very much.
*sigh* Maybe later I can get in a bit of reading for my field studies class--presently for that class I've got a good bit of James Joyce to mull over.
Monday, September 6
Synecdoche and metonymy are common figures of speech as when keel is used for "ship" or iron, for "sword." A particularly striking effect is achieved by the kenning, a compound of two words in place of another as when sea becomes "whale-road" or body is called "life-house."
In the second sentence of Caedmon's Hymn, for example, God is referred to five times appositively as "he," "holy Creator," "mankind's guardian," "eternal Lord," and "Master Almighty." This use of parallel and appositive expressions, known as variation, gives the verse a highly structured and musical quality. (Norton)
There is a contemporary writer, Calvin Miller, whose poetry reflects these literary figures in extreme. In his epic poem "The Singer", he retells Christian history with allegory. Snippet alert:
The River Singer finished and
they walked into the trees.
"Are you the Troubador, who
knows the Ancient Star-Song?"
the tradesman softly asked.
In the Bible, this passage is originally the beginning of the book of Mark. The River Singer is John the Baptist, the Troubador is the Christ, and the Ancient Star-Song is the Truth.
The overall effect of the language is to formalize and elevate speech. Instead of being straightforward, it moves at a slow and stately pace with steady indirection. A favorite mode of this indirection is irony. A grim irony pervades heroic poetry even at the level of diction where fighting is called "battle-play." A favorite device, known by the rhetorical term litotes, is ironic understatement. (Norton)
I'm having a bit more trouble discerning ironic understatement from the technique of foreshadowing; I'm supposing it comes from looking through too many books whose plot-twists I am familiar with . . . Actually quite funny:)
More than a figure of speech, irony is also a mode of perception in Old English poetry. In a famous passage, the Wanderer articulates the theme of Ubi sunt (where are they now): "Where had the horse gone? Where the young warrior? Where the giver of treasure? . . . " (Norton)
This one is interesting in relation to modern poets because nearly everybody has recently seen an example of this in a movie, which based on a book that was written by a man who also translated Beowulf. Allow me to present Tolkien with his absurd triad of initials and his remarkable story about a Ring. In one scene in the movie--more people will remember this than the book, I think--King Theoden of Rohan is being armed for battle and he recites an old poem exactly in this style and very similar to the one quoted:
"Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
[full text located at the end of this page]
So alike, in fact, that somebody else noticed it too, which happily validates the point a little more.
?. "Old English Poetry." Norton Anthology of English Literature. Eds. M.H. Abrams et al. 4th ed. vol. 1. New York: Norton, 1999. p 5-6.
Miller, Calvin. "The Singer". Inter Varsity Press: 1975. p 17.
Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Two Towers". Lord of the Rings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992. p 530. Published online by seatofkings.com at an unknown date; last visited 09.07.04.