Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost: It's hard to argue, once you've a bit of context, that this book is not the most epic thing ever written. It presents such a modern view of the Bible; interesting considering Milton was a puritan. The depiction of Satan, as you will widely hear, is really fucking cool. He's described as more of some god-tier Marvel superhero than the horned red goat-man. It talks in depth about the rebellion of the angels, the harrowing of Hell from the lake of fire, and all that good stuff. His descriptions of the parade of demons are straight up badass:
First Moloch horrid King besmear'd with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents tears,
Though for the noyse of Drums and Timbrels loud
Their children's cries unheard that past through fire
To his grim Idol...

Next came one,
Maim'd his brute Image, head and hands lopt off
In his own Temple...

Dagon his Name, Sea Monster, upward Man
And downward Fish: yet had his Temple high
Rear'd in Azotus dreaded through the Coast
Of Palestine

In short, Biblical fanfiction that blows anything the Mormons have to offer out of the water. That illustration is one of a series by Gustave Dore, who I love. As Satan goes further along the path toward evil his wings become more and more bat-like.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Romeo and Juliet

So those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I've been in a production of Romeo and Juliet since September (It's an all-male cast for the sake of authenticity). I must confess I'd never read the play before; only seen the movies. My God, I didn't know it was missing. It's almost a shame that it's by far his most famous play, because we tend to think of it solely in those terms, and it stands for so much more. I still have difficulty thinking inside the ox, as it were, but when you get right down to the romance of the language, it can reduce one's inner 17-year-old into a quavering wreck. Fantastic stuff. I think in R&J, Shakespeare succeeds in what he failed at doing with the Merchant of Venice which he wrote eight years earlier. The two are done in entirely different veins, of course, but the idea of opposed love is strong in both. The thing I can't stand about the Merchant of Venice is that everybody is so goddamn nice. Yes, I'll lend you all that I own and more. Of course we are fated to be married, we're so nice. I'll lay my life down so my friend can get laid; why not? The only remotely likeable character in the whole work is the villain, Shylock. In the most recent movie, it was a mistake to get as good an actor as Robert Di Nero to play the most compelling character, because he blows all the other actors completely out of the water.
Many movies of Romeo and Juliet have been made; probably more than of any other of his plays. I don't think any have really succeeded because they subscribe to the popular view of the masterpiece. In this way, Shakespeare in Love which sort of skirts the plot of R&J does a better job of conveying its romantic tone. That is why Tom Stoppard is amazing. I hope to see more from him. That shows what an English degree can get you in life!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Dream of the Rood

We're studying this poem in English right now. It's really interesting that, while it's an entirely dead language phonetically and gramatically, you can almost understand it when it's read aloud. Completely bizarre story.

Friday, 29 October 2010

I would like to wish a vastly happy (belated) birthday to one of my favorite poets in the world, and one of the few whom I have had the pleasure of meeting. Happy birthday as of yesterday to Mr. Ian Hamilton Findlay!

It's unlikely you know who he is; I highly suggest you look for his work next time you find yourself in a library.

"You have to understand that I consider myself a very modest artist, or whatever, and not of importance really at all - it is quite embarrassing to me to be asked my opinion about things. I am only a wee Scottish poet on the outside of everything. "
He's a gardener and sculptor, too, aww yeh.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Miniature feathers the wind sends to flight,
Eddying currents of down purest white.
Pinions and plumes, softly downward they flow
O, to be flying with the feathery snow!

Red-breasted Robin dare not show his beak;
The Winter Wind howls in a great noisome shriek.
But the snow gently flutters down quite softly still,
Giving Earth a down blanket to keep her from chill.

Crocuses dormant in Earth's womb, they pine
To stretch out their tendrils in brilliant sunshine.
Yet even the lyre of Orpheus fair
Can budge not the grip of this frozen air.

Dark secrets are hidden in this forest deep;
Powerful forces have put them to sleep
In silence of winter.  The muffle of snow
For now hides a mystery no man should know.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

My latest poem

I thought I would kick off my new blog by composing a spontaneous poem for my first post. Here goes!

Glowing screens hum while flourescent lights thrum;
Coffee revives, though its drippings reside
On my desk in a puddle.
I'm sick of this muddle.

I long to see mountains, streams, lakes -- Aything!
To be less like an office slave, more a bird on the wing!
While these thoughts reach crescendo --
I'm content with my window.

The world I know is a glazed globe,
A curiosity within a kingdom of buildings.
Come to terms with your calling: phones and coffee rings.
My workplace is a multiverse, and nature, a strobe.

I'll start with the regular updates tomorrow!