Spring. Flowering nature is magnificent. Red bud trees are blooming in profusion. Dogwoods are now blooming white and pink. The white dogwood flowers have a yellow cast this year. Most fruit trees have finished blooming. Forsythia and daffodils continue to bring yellow delight to yards. My favorite tree is on the side corner of a lot in town. It is a small, bedraggled dogwood tree, and its pink blossoms transform the tree and otherwise nondescript yard into beauty.
Conversation Overheard at Supper. There are three speakers. The first and third are women. The second is a man.
“I ain’t gonna’ be a-messin’ with no cabbage this year.”
“Me neither. And I ain’t gonna’ be messin’ with no squash.”
“Well, I ain’t gonna be a-messin’ with no garden at all. Not at my age. It just ain’t worth it.”
Think what these gardeners will be missin’ because they ain’t gonna’ be a-messin.’
La Boheme, Live Broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera. Saturday, April 5. Puccini’s opera has been termed a crowd pleaser, a perfect opera for beginners, and for good reasons. The plot is well-constructed, the characters are well-drawn, sympathetic, and memorable. The settings are realistic and contrasting: the poverty-ridden garret, the bright café, the busy street of Paris, the snowy courtyard of the inn. Passions of young love, suspicion, friendship, love of life are brought to life by equally passionate, soaring, lyrical music. Grand opera, yes.
Reading. Poetry. The Elegy. For some reason this is the season in which choral groups are performing requiems. I turn to the elegy. Sometime in my high school years, I learned that there are five great elegies in the English language: John Milton’s Lycidas; Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard; Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Adonais; Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam; and Walt Whitman’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d. This week I re-read the elegies by Milton and Gray.
Lycidas (1637) is marked by beautiful pastoral imagery and allusions to classical literature. One can take a quick course in the classics by looking up the allusions. Readers who admire Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel, will realize where the title is taken.
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751) is perhaps my favorite elegy of the five. Its dignified movement in iambic pentameter and rural setting and peaceful tone work well for me.
Reading. Paul Mariani, Gerard Manly Hopkins: A Life. Reading completed.
Here is Mariani’s assessment of Hopkins’s contribution to poetics: “. . . his brilliance in prosodic matters, creating a revolution not only in his own poetry but in the poetry of generations to come. We are still unpacking the lessons Hopkins give us a hundred and twenty-five years ago, for he initiated a music whose rhythmic echoes continue to challenge our own sense of what can be done with the poetic line.”
My favorite quotation from Hopkins: “I may as well say what I should not otherwise have said, that I always knew in my heart Walt Whitman’s mind to be more like my own than any man’s living. As he is a very great scoundrel this is not a pleasant confession. And this also makes me the more desirous to read him and the more determined that I will not.”
Mariani’s portray of the character of Hopkins in hard-hitting, sympathetic. His discussion of the poetry is convincing and original. I love the section where he describes Hopkins realizing the beginning of his poem about weddings while he is monitoring exams. He goes into the mind of Hopkins as a creative person and contrasts the brilliance of his mind with the mundane reality of his life.
I will continue to use the book as reference as I continue to read and to study the brilliant, ecstatic poems which reveal the reality of God in nature, in people, even in tragic violence.
Thank you for reading. I hope your week will be good.