Saturday, April 22, 2006

Friday (-ish) Poetry Blogging: 100th Post Edition

Woohoo! One hundred posts. And some of them even have to do with medieval topics. Yay, me! I'm still writing papers, and I seem to have a pinched nerve in my right thumb (I have no idea how) which will occasionally send shooting pain through my right hand if I move it incorrectly, rendering me helpless and weepy. Typing falls under the category of "incorrect movement." So, there will be very light blogging for the next few weeks.

Anyway, this poem is anonymous as far as I know. It is also tremendously helpful in getting across the idea that students should not rely too heavily on technology.

Ode to a Spellchecker

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Friday (-ish) Poetry Blogging: Dark Soul Edition

Easter 1916

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terribly beauty is born.

That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute to minute they live;
The stone's in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse --
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

W. B. Yeats

Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Holidays! & One Random Thought

However you celebrate springtime fertility rites, enjoy the meal.

Random Thought:
On another post, long ago, I stated that I lived on the wrong side of the tracks in a rather snooty town. In fact, I grew up on the wrong side of those tracks. The monetary divide between my family and those of my friends was great, but -- for the most part -- people were more interested in being loyal to fellow community members than to social class. And, frankly, we were not short of our characters, so being the poor kid was sort of my "hook." I did fight like the very devil to pretend that my family was just the same as everyone else's, but fooled only myself. My poor kid status made me one piece of the town tapestry, just like the depleted fifth generation spinsters, giving piano, dance, and art appreciation lessons in the oversized houses left to them by their parents. While there were a thousand little indignities involved in being at times rather alarmingly poor among the affluent, this town remains my idea of home.

This is a rather small town, in which I could (as a child) ride my bike to the local liquor store to purchase cooking sherry for my mother as long as I had a note. And I remember very distinctly being ratted out by the neighbors for "clearly having wanted to curse" in PUBLIC. Not at all lady-like, that. Keep in mind that the news of my public display of temper reached my home before I did.

One particularly odd part about this tiny place almost nobody remembers hearing of, although you've all heard of it at one time or another, is it's ability to attract famous or infamous people as residents. When I was a kid, a not-yet-elderly super-famous movie actor bought a house there. (We walked past his house quite often on the way home from school, but the man never went out to fetch his mail! I still think of him as a northern Boo Radley.) When I was a teenager, a woman famous for her troubles and legal issues bought a house there, and we all knew her children. This situation was a crash course in social skills, as we had to somehow not talk to them about anything that would bring to mind their mother's almost daily appearances on the news. There was an "Italian Businessman's family," who were great for contributing to church charities, and brought with them all the federal agents who walked and jogged and parked up and down the street in front of their house all day. A man who made his name faking lunacy built an extraordinarily large home we all considered horrifically gaudy, but nobody objected more than the girl whose parents owned the previous "biggest of the big houses." She was vindicated when he promptly went bankrupt, sold his house to some record producer and had to build his mini-empire back up again. Two old opera divas lived across the street from each other, and indulged in competitive gardening and entertaining now that their voices were altered by age. A lesser branch of one of the old "Captain of Industry" families held a home there for some time, and all the old men would tell you about them. The old men were great gossips masquerading as historians,in fact. When you introduced yourself at a town party, the old men present would get together to consult, then reconstruct your family tree for you, with colorful anecdotes. (Not good if your grandfather was a "bit of a roue," as a friend of mine learned. Nobody wants to know that.) A modern artist of some repute placed an enormous self-portrait statue on her front lawn. It was a nude, and after a brief scandal surrounding the statue, it was just another aspect of this odd place. The cable television actress who lived in the town was either loved or hated by those of her generation, depending on her relationship with those people in high school. The guy with the goat in his yard was fine by us, as long as the goat hadn't gotten free to chase us down the street in quite a while. Everything and everyone eventually became a normal, everyday feature of the town. I'm most proud of the fact that the town rallied around a local in his need during the last days of his life, and supported him in a nationally debated legal fight. (I still won't have anything to do with the company that contributed to his early death.) Despite generational wealth, and even generational clannishness (you only get to say you're *really* from that town if your family has lived there for more than two generations), the community was open and caring and surprisingly liberal. But now a republican agitator has moved in. There goes the neighborhood.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Note on the Productivity that Comes With Paper Writing

It's that time of semester again. Big honking papers coming due soon, and there's research to do, baby ideas to nurture into grown-up ideas. There are also job applications at local high schools to fill out for the next academic year. (There's been a rumor of giant cuts to the English department AGAIN, and I have no intention of spending the summer wondering if I'll be able to pay my bills when classes start. Especially since I know from experience that the department only gives out employment information after it's very late to look for another job.)

So, in the face of all this necessary work, I have been remarkably productive.
I have:
1) Gone shopping for six weeks' worth of food. (This is very easy to do for single people. Just shop for a family of six, then divide the food into single servings.) I've labeled that food, and placed it in the freezer in a healthy-rotation order so that it doesn't all come tumbling down when I dig through the chicken to get to the fish.
2) Scrubbed every tile in my bathroom.
3) Moved the appliances in the kitchen to mop underneath.
4) Rearranged bookshelves in the livingroom.
5) Straightened up my guest-room/office.
6) Planted bulbs.
7) Given myself a paraffin pedicure.

BUT, I have not:
1) Read most of the secondary research I've gathered.
2) Written my abstracts for professorial approval ( I do have verbal approval).
3) Checked my Latin so that I'm sure I'm arguing what I'm arguing.
4) Done my taxes.
5) Sent in those applications.

In short, my apartment has never been cleaner, or cheerier, and my toes have never been more supple. Impending papers apparently make me a suburban housewife. Sadly, they do not appear to make me a scholar, citizen, or employee.

The Really Dead Women Writers Meme

Introduced at an appallingly early hour this morning by Bardiac, in response to the lack of early authors in a female authors meme started by Mon at My so-called ABD life. The idea is that you take the five early authors Bardiac started with, look over the authors added by those in comments, then add five more(ideally) of your own. The authors should have written prior to 1800. At the time I caught up with this meme, the following people had contributed; Dr. Virago, Amanda at Household Opera, Medieval Woman of the fantastic cat icon you really must see, and La Lecturess.

Bardiac's Starter five:
Behn, Aphra - Oroonoko
Christine de Pisan (aka Pizan) - The Book of the City of Ladies
Julian of Norwich - Revelations of Divine Love
Locke, Anne (aka Ane Lok, etc) - A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner
Marie de France - The Lais of Marie de France

Dr. Virago adds:
The Paston Women - The Paston Letters
Margery Kempe - The Book of Margery Kempe
Anonymous - The Floure and the Leafe(Her reasoning for this is on her blog)
Lady Mary Wroth - Poems

La Lecturess adds:
Anne Askew - The Examinations of Anne Askew
Mary Sidney - Psalms
Anne Finch - Poems
Katherine Phillips - Poems
Teresa of Avila - Life

Amanda adds:
Bradstreet, Anne: collected poems
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Fama y obras póstumas
Lanyer, Aemilia: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum
Wroth, Lady Mary: Urania

Medieval Woman adds:
Trotula - The Diseases of Women
Female Troubador Poets:- La Comtessa de Dia - "A chantar m'er" & other Trobairitz poetry excerpted.
Hrostvitha of Gandersheim (c.930-c.1002) - Plays Gallicanus & Dulcitius (My note: She wrote a few more plays and poems listed on this post here.)

And I add:
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) Scivias and Liber Divinorum Operum (plus a whole bunch of other stuff I plan to address later in a MWIA post)
Rachel Speght (1597 - Some time after 1621) Mouzell for Melastomus and Mortalities Memorandum
Anna Comnena (1093-1153) The Alexiad
Frau Ava (1060-1127) First named German poetess. "Johannes," "Leben Jesu," "Antichrist," "Das Jüngste Gericht" (That's in MHG)
Dhuoda (9th century, inexact dates) Handbook for William: A Carolingian Woman's Counsel for Her Son (at Sunshine for Women) and a dual-language version from Cambridge UP

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging: Alma Mater Begging Letter Edition

So, the begging letter came. This time it had a barely veiled complaint about the lack of alumnae dedication to the old college fund. (Pseudo-feminist guilt-bombing, interesting.) I'm debating whether it's worth my time to send the letter back informing them that if fewer women left the university feeling like this, they just might get a few more alumnae donations.

Unlearning to not speak: Marge Piercy

Blizzards of paper
in slow motion
sift through her.
In nightmares she suddenly recalls
a class she signed up for
but forgot to attend.
Now it is too late.
Now it is time for finals:
losers will be shot.
Phrases of men who lectured her
drift and rustle in piles:
Why don't you speak up?
Why are you shouting?
You have the wrong answer,
wrong line, wrong face.
They tell her she is womb-man,
baby machine, mirror image, toy
earth mother and penis-poor,
a dish of synthetic strawberry icecream
rapidly melting
She grunts to a halt.
She must learn again to speak
starting with I
starting with We
starting as the infant does
with her own true hunger
and pleasure
and rage.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Celebration of April Fool's Day

I found this perfect graphic representation of, well, my entire life at a post Angry Black Bitch has up regarding teens lobbying for responsible sex education in Missouri's schools. (Go, Missouri youth!) ABB has contact information for those of you from Missouri who would like to ask your representatives why it is they won't meet with the very teenagers who will be most affected by any legislation regarding their education.

Now for the self-reflective bit. As long as I can remember, I have been very like the chihuahua in this photograph. I even have a picture of myself at two, arms akimbo, staring menacingly up at the camera (or the person holding the camera). My family thought it instructive to take pictures of children being "unreasonable" for the purposes of showing them evidence of just how silly and powerless they were in whatever situation. This tactic clearly didn't have the desired effect.

Being a recalcitrant big mouth is an extremely inconvenient way to interact with the world. It's easier and probably smarter from a personal success standpoint to be the "good girl." I tried that whole good girl thing for a minute, and it made me crazy. I had to let it go. I have taken quite a number of lumps for speaking, and been ridiculed for not "knowing my place" in various hierarchies, but the only regrets I have are the times I maintained fearful silence. (Well, I also regret a few bridges I merely burned when I know they should have been blown to smithereens.) To much of the world, that makes me a fool. Indeed, there is a literary tradition wherein the fool is the only character who can and will speak unpleasant truths. Call me "sirrah," I guess. In keeping with this assessment, I consider April fool's day something of a personal holiday. So, today I celibrate the fool in all of us who speak when it would be easier or smarter to remain silent. Good work, and continue on, folks. The world needs its fools.