31 October 2014 @ 08:02 pm
Books round-up: October  

Heppermann, Christine: Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty
Feminist fairy tale poetry, a really enjoyable combination. The subjects often address issues of body image and self-worth as well as eating disorders, sometimes a little unsubtle, often times enjoyable through the lens of fairy tales. Some experiences are too US America specific to resonate with me, others seem truly universal.


Abedi, Isabel: Isola
Only read this book if its in your library, or don't, because you already know it and the cardboard characters never really come to life.Read more... )


Rothfuss, Patrick: The Slow Regard of Silent Things
More later, I have to reread this a couple of times to savour it. For now: The only thing that spoiled my reading experience of this beautiful volume was the author's constant need to apologise for this story which isn't run-off-the-mill and normal. This is incredible to me, and wrong - more of an apology would be needed for a story that is yet again the same as any other story.
This wasn't, and it was beautiful. I could have done without the frame story of Auri waiting for Kvothe, as I'd have loved to hear more about her time before the beginning of the plot of the Kingkiller Chronicle and her relationship with the masters. As it is, it remains a charming and saddening insight into her wonderous world in the belly of the university.


Snicket, Lemony: Shouldn't You be in School?
I really enjoy this new series, though not as much as I did the ASoUE.


Jung, Marius: Singen können die alle!: Handbuch für Negerfreunde
Sometimes cynical, sometimes funny account of racism in Germany by a black comedian. He talks about his youth growing up as the black child of white middle class parents, his experiences as an actor in a country that still doesn't really realise not all of its inhabitants are whitee and white wannabe saviours.
I don't agree with the fact that political correctness is a bad thing, though I agree that it should not be the only underlying reason for changing one's behaviour.


Harris, Joanne: Gospel of Loki
I like this modern version of the Lokabrenna, which works as a prequel to Runemarks, though some details are different. The contemporary phrases that crop up annoyed me vaguely to the and I didn't see their point. They didn't endear the characters to me, if that was the idea.
Loki is as entertaining and human and as a prequel he couldn't have been much different, though I'd really like to see a Loki that does not suffer from this civilising softening. It makes us understand the characters as humans, but in their original context they were different, revered as forces of nature and arbiters of life a and death. they were also human, of course, but they were still fundamentally different. The difference seems to have home lost and turns gods into powerful mortals, superheroes. In the words of the novel, named and tamed.


Strandberg, Mats; Bergmark Elfgren, Sara: Zirkel
This is the first book in a long, looong time that I found that is:
1.) centred more or less exclusively on female teenaged characters,
2.) whose main plot isn't a love plot,
3.) who don't get raped.
Read more... )


Elsberg, Marc: Zero
The book seems more hurried and breathless than
his last one and less convincing. It is still an entertainingly fast-paced thriller, but the plot has its holes. Especially the random underground chases in Vienna and New York were too much, and while the concerns it raises about tech and choice are valid, it doesn't always do that in a very subtle way. I am also not overly keen on the ableism and the way neuroatypical people are portrayed here.


Carey, Jaqueline: Kushiel's Dart
I really enjoyed this book, and the world, and the fact that there was not as much slut-shaming and whorephobia as might have been expected in a book in which the main protagonist is a prostitute. The world's religious system is believable and interesting and the characters lovable. I don't recall it passing the Bechdel test, but there are several strong female characters and some of them are queer.
I did not like that there are no romantic relationships between women, hardly any sadistic or dominant women, no sadistic/dominant women who aren't evil, no romantic relationships that aren't heterosexual. One toe outside the box and then straight back in


Boie, Kirsten: Ringel, Rangel, Rosen
Read more... )


Beagle, Peter S.; Gillis, Peter; De Liz, Renae; Dillon, Ray: The Last Unicorn
I have to admit that I've only read the book two or three times and have seen the movie version so often that I have no memory of how well the book version translates into the movie, which is one of my favourites. So I was not so much worried about the book as I was about my memories of the movie, but it translates, as I suppose this book does into all possible media. The short passages of text seem well-chosen, although as I mentioned I don't remember the text well-enough to judge, but my gut says they are.
The artwork is stunningly beautiful and I could stare at some of those panels for hours. The one thing that bugged me was that Schmendrick and Molly have undergone a serious makeover and the way the human unicorn looks is scary because she is so thin.


Brosgol, Vera: Anya's Ghost
I heard from this via Graphic Novels 4 Girls and really liked it. Anya and the difficulties she faces as a Russian immigrant ring true, although it is strange to me that she doesn't speak Russian at home, though I do understand that would be inconvenient for story purposes. I'd have liked seeing more interactions between Siobhan and Anya, but I can see that it wouldn't have fit into this very compact tale.
I was also positively surprised by this graphic novel as a graphic novel - it's good to see that there are diverse and positive role-models for younger girls at least, even though I find it hard to see the same applying to the "mature" end of this genre, which features gratuitous boob and gore panels more than truly mature topics.


Green, John: Looking for Alaska
The over-the-top love that my students have for this book shows me that I'm probably missing out. But I just don't understand it. I see very interchangeable, uninteresting characters involved in things that I, as a teenager, would have had no interest or part in in their situation because it seems designed to make things worse for them (no matter how bored or depressed, taking up drinking and smoking was never that attractive to me). Though the signs of characters' mental health issues are there in places, they don't ring true to me. The romance plot is superficial and only shows once more how mundanely boring "Pudge" is.


König, Tim: Ich bin ein Kunde, holt mich hier raus
I'm so embarrassed to have read that, even though I did get the audiobook at a very reduced price. It's really bad.
Read more... )


Pratchett, Terry: Dragons at Crumbling Castle.
Adorable short stories presented in a way that I can see children liking as much as adult fans.
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
Current Mood: happy
30 September 2014 @ 12:14 am
Books round-up: September  

Vernon, Ursula: Dragonbreath
I bought this because I like Ursula Vernon's drawing style and thought this might be fun to have in our class library for my ESL students. While the drewings did not disappoint I'm not sure that my ESL students will understand the language well enough for them to be reading this book, and the ones who do might find this a bit too juvenile. The ones old enough to have past the mortal coolness threshold would benefit from trickier stuff, so I am not sure what to do with this apart from giving it to my wife, who adores all dragons.


Lowry, Lois: The Giver.
The experience of reading about this dystopian future of a society which has embraced Sameness and assigned spouses, children and jobs and a very strictly regulated, safe life devoid of choices ages well.
I think it makes sense that I loved it when I was eleven, but I am not sure that my students would still enjoy it as much as I did. I'm also very apprehensive about the movie adaptation, because Jonas looks quite a bit older in that one, so I am rather sure that Gabe did not make the cut and they'll focus more on Jonas and his budding lust for Fiona.


Harris, Joanne: Runemarks.
Completely blew my mind in some parts and bored me in others. What a wild, unpredictable ride! The characters were fun, though I didn't really far for those not Maddy, Loki, Skadi or Hel. I didn't like Maddy's relationship with her believed biological faster, it seemed too distant to be entirely realistic to me. I'm also not too find about the axe someone seems to have tho grind with Christianity.


Kirkman, Robert and Moore, Tony: The Walking Dead Vol.1: Days Gone Bye.
You probably have to like comic books to get like this. In this one, zombies and people with breasts or with muscles do things that ordinary people with intact brains (living or dead) most likely wouldn't do.
The artists don't look at women the way they do at men. Men have various looks and have diverse features, women have large breasts and make-up in spite of the apocalypse (no, female eyes don't naturally look like that). They can't draw fat women worth a damn, too, but, er, points for trying. All in all you get 2D male characters and 1D female characters (with DD breasts, though). You also a really oddly placed gratuitous sex scenes out of nowhere with full-page female nude panels and female characters reflecting on the fact that she is only staying with her partner because he's so good at sex. Sure, sure.
So, all in all, you get the picture of
the target audience is and why I'm not it. If something contains enough sex and gore to make the target audience adults I expect the content to be more mature, too, and less concerned with "Yay, boobs!" or "Cor, all the brains are gooing out! Yeuch!".
All in all, I'm fairly surprised, butt his has nowhere near the depth or emotional impact of Telltale's rendition, something which I also missed in the TV series.


Gaiman, Neil and Vess, Charles: Instructions
I love this poem, and I really enjoy the illustrated version.


Pritchard, John: Going to church: a user's guide.
Interesting tidbits on the stages of faith, and the different kinds of vicars and churches.


Kerman, Piper: Orange is the new Black.
I like the non-dramatic nature of this account. What does bother me still is that it takes this white middle class woman to make people care about the prison system and prison life. I can't BELIEVE what they did to Piper's and Pennsatucky's relationship in the TV series, for example. It makes much  more sense in the book.
I also loved the chapter on Mother/Daughter surrogate constellations in prison because that sort of bonded hierarchy is very in keeping with what I've observed in (obviously far less restrictive) women-only groups."
I'm not surprised, but still confused why the TV series would eroticise and dramatize Piper Kerman's stay to this extent. Of course lesbian sex sells, but if it wasn't part of Kerman's day-to-day reality in prison the way it is in TV OITNB, why force it in?


Ngozi Adichie, Chimamanda: Americanah.
I had a long review written for this, but it disappeared. The short version: Culture, continents, integration, finding yourself and race in Africa vs. race in the USA, this book had everything. I didn't really like the ending, which I found a little too convenient, but overall, it is a great read.


Vermes, Timur: Er ist wieder da (and Christoph Maria Herbst as a narrator)
In this critical comedy Hitler is back in 2011 and finds fans on YouTube and on TV. This is a dangerous book, although I think that it does nail certain trends that do open people up to extreme movements and how prone people still are to fall for rhetorically clever extremism that is not too on the nose and can blend in.
It's also not unhelpful to see that people you find funny can be responsible for horrible, terrible crimes. I would like to believe that this helps people to realise that you have to have a differentiated, critical view and really listen instead of making but based blanket statements of "Vegetarians who like children can't do wrong", "I've known that guy all my life he would never" up to "well maybe it wasn't all bad".
However, in the current climate that glorifies villains and their sop stories to explain away their crimes and instead swerved to humanize the criminal and take away any focus on the victims, who often stay faceless.


Wiedmann, Anna and Daniel: Fuck you, Kita!: Eine unglaublich wahre Geschichte.
Teacher and person doing "something with media" have a child, search for a place in one of the kindergartens, find out what a hassle that is and how crazy kindergartens can be these days, and recont episodes of their daily lives as new parents.
Read more... )


Rowell, Rainbow: Fangirl
Shy young woman goes to colleague, is shy, finds friends delivered to her dorm room, meets young men, falls for young man, dates young man. Oh and also she's a twin and her father's mentally ill and her mother left her when she was eight. I really enjoyed those second bits about the main character befriending her much more interesting roomie, or the complex relationship she has with her absent mother, or her twin. I did not enjoy (read before) fanfic, which sadly showed up too much for my liking. Or the bits about her love life.
Read more... )


Benni-Mama: Große Ärsche auf Kleinen Stühlen
The mother of toddler talks about her attempts at trying to provide her son with one of the rare places in Berlin's kindergartens. She only succeeds in getting him into a Kinderladen, the kindergarten of a parents' initiative who funded their own. There, she encounters helicpoter parents, parents overly invested in their children's diet, as she puts it: "The only normal people in a kindergarten are the children." It's meant to be funny, and is, but the gender norms are really scary. If this book can be trusted, the default is still that the mums are the ones that bear the brunt of the work.


Bridges, Robert (ed.) Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Complete Poems
I have to admit that I skipped the platonic dialogue. This is a very readable edition of the poems which I had hoped would feature more annotations.
Read more... )


Wales: A Nation in Verse.
To start of with something positive: this collection of poems has the always pleasing Welsh dragon on its cover.
Read more... )
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
12 August 2013 @ 09:03 pm
Yet still the solitary humble-bee
Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there,
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty! and sometimes
'Tis well to be bereft of promis'd good,
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
With lively joy the joys we cannot share.

- from "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison" by STC.
24 November 2012 @ 08:45 pm
For the last two days, there has been thick fog in the north of Bremen that makes it hard to see further than fifty meters ahead, even with the lights on on cars and bicycles. 

Read more... )

Some on-topic verses by Herman Hesse. )
Current Mood: awake
18 November 2012 @ 08:07 pm
Weather Mope  
It's Sunday evening already? I don't want to go out tomorrow. Thanks to autumn the weather has become really depressing around here. Our car is in the shop, too, so I'm taking the bus, which means leaving the house at 6:45am, and due to various meetings and parents evenings and that type of nonsense I am usually only home after 6pm, which means that in the mornings I go out and at night I come home and the sky looks like this: 

It's always cold, dark, and wet. Thanks, Bremen! 

Mild the mist upon the hill Poem

by Emily Bronte

Mild the mist upon the hill
Telling not of storms tomorrow;
No, the day has wept its fill,
Spent its store of silent sorrow.

O, I'm gone back to the days of youth,
I am a child once more,
And 'neath my father's sheltering roof
And near the old hall door

I watch this cloudy evening fall
After a day of rain;
Blue mists, sweet mists of summer pall
The horizon's mountain chain.

The damp stands on the long green grass
As thick as morning's tears,
And dreamy scents of fragrance pass
That breathe of other years.
Current Mood: busy
29 September 2012 @ 12:48 pm
A Psalm of Life - What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist  
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
"Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Finds us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
Learn to labor and to wait.

~by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Current Music: Crocky playing "Vois sur ton chemin" on the piano
Current Mood: okay
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
27 August 2012 @ 03:25 pm
Vil wol gelopter got, wie selten ich dich prîse!
sît ich von dir beide wort hân und wîse –
wie getar ich sô gefreveln under dîme rîse:
ich entuon diu rehten werk, ich enhân die wâren minne
ze mînem ebenkristen, hêrre vater, noch ze dir!
sô holt entwart ich ir dekeinem nie sô mir.
frôn krist, vater und sun, dîn geist berihte mîne sinne:
wie solde ich den geminnen der mir übel tuot?
mir muoz der iemer lieber sîn, der mir ist guot.
vergib mir anders mîne schulde, ich wil noch haben den muot.

-Walther von der Vogelweide.
25 May 2012 @ 10:48 pm
Poem: Sonnet V  
If I should learn, in some quite casual way,
That you were gone, not to return again—
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,
Held by a neighbor in a subway train,
How at the corner of this avenue
And such a street (so are the papers filled)
A hurrying man—who happened to be you—
At noon to-day had happened to be killed,
I should not cry aloud—I could not cry
Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place—
I should but watch the station lights rush by
With a more careful interest on my face,
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair.

~Edna St. Vincent Millay. 
15 January 2012 @ 07:38 pm
from: The Seafarer  
« from: The Seafarer  »
Uton we hycgan hwær we ham agen,
ond þonne geþencan hu we þider cumen;
ond we þonne eac tilien þæt we to moten.
- Anonymous.

(Let us consider where our true home is;
and then let us think how to come thither;
and then also strive that we indeed come there.
[translation: J. Glenn])
Current Mood: anxious
02 January 2012 @ 07:14 pm
Before I post my resolutions (which I'll without a doubt break this year, too) I have to share what I spent most of my time procrastinating with today, the Old English poem Deor.

It's from the Exeter Book, and it's strangely encouraging to me. In it the singer describes the various misfortunes that have befallen various heroes and then, finally, himself, always closing, "þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg", which is usually translated as, "this may overcome, so may this be", though it's more ambiguous in the original (for annotations, see here, and a modern English translation as well).

Cut for length.

Triggers: mention of rape, too, which goes for the modern version, too.

Welund him be wurman wræces cunnade,
anhydig eorl earfoþa dreag,
hæfde him to gesiþþe sorge and longaþ,
wintercealde wræce, wean oft onfond
siþþan hine Niðhad on nede legde,
swoncre seonobende on syllan monn.

Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg.

Read more... )

Reading of the translation on YT )
Current Mood: cold
30 November 2011 @ 02:59 pm
Ode - Arthur O'Shaughnessy  
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

Read more... )
Current Mood: busy
20 September 2011 @ 09:42 pm

In Sleeping Beauty's castle
the clock strikes one hundred years
and the girl in the tower returns to the world.
So do the servants in the kitchen,
who don't even rub their eyes.
The cook's right hand, lifted
an exact century ago,
completes its downward arc
to the kitchen boy's left ear;
the boy's tensed vocal cords 
finally let go
the trapped, enduring whimper,
and the fly, arrested mid-plunge
above the strawberry pie,
fulfills its abiding mission
and dives into the sweet, red glaze.

As a child I had a book
with a picture of that scene.
I was too young to notice
how fear persists, and how
the anger that causes fear persists,
that its trajectory can't be changed
or broken, only interrupted.
My attention was on the fly;
that this slight body
with its transparent wings
and lifespan of one human day
still craved its particular share
of sweetness, a century later.

-Liesel Müller.
Current Mood: calm
18 September 2011 @ 10:49 pm
Putting to Sea

Who, in the dark, has cast the harbor-chain?
This is no journey to a land we know.
The autumn night receives us, hoarse with rain;
Storm flakes with roaring foam the way we go.

Sodden with summer, stupid with its loves,
The country which we leave, and now this bare
Circle of ocean which the heaven proves
Deep as its height, and barren with despair.

Now this whole silence, through which nothing breaks,
Now this whole sea, which we possess alone,
Flung out from shore with speed a missile takes
When some hard hand, in hatred, flings a stone.

The Way should mark our course within the night,
The streaming System, turned without a sound.
What choice is this — profundity and flight —
Great sea? Our lives through we have trod the ground.

Motion beneath us, fixity above.

"O, but you should rejoice! The course we steer
Points to a beach bright to the rocks with love,
Where, in hot calms, blades clatter on the ear;

And spiny fruits up through the earth are fed
With fire; the palm trees clatter; the wave leaps.
Fleeing a shore where heart-loathed love lies dead
We point lands where love fountains from its deeps.

Through every season the coarse fruits are set
In earth not fed by streams." Soft into time
Once broke the flower: pear and violet,
The cinquefoil. The tall elm tree and the lime

Once held out fruitless boughs, and fluid green
Once rained about us, pulse of earth indeed.
There, out of metal, and to light obscene,
The flamy blooms burn backwards to their seed.

With so much hated still so close behind
The sterile shores before us must be faced;
Again, against the body and the mind,
The hate that bruises, though the heart is braced.

Bend to the chart, in the extinguished night
Mariners! Make way slowly; stay from sleep;
That we may have short respite from such light.

And learn, with joy, the gulf, the vast, the deep.

— Louise Bogan
Current Mood: cheerful
10 September 2010 @ 12:18 am
Week of Love Poetry Day #7  

The last day of my poetry week, and since I haven't included any spoken poetry, here's a jam contribution by Gina Loring:

Text )
Current Mood: calm
09 September 2010 @ 08:58 pm
Week of Love Poetry Day #6  
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;
only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

ee cummings
Current Mood: awake
08 September 2010 @ 10:40 pm
Week of Love Poetry Day #5  
Ist Lieb ein Feur / und kan das Eisen schmiegen /
bin ich voll Feur / und voller Liebes Pein /
wohrvohn mag doch der Liebsten Hertze seyn?
wans eisern wär / so würd eß mir erliegen /

wans gülden wär / so würd ichs können biegen
durch meine Gluht; solls aber fleischern seyn /
so schließ ich fort: Eß ist ein fleischern Stein:
doch kan mich nicht ein Stein / wie sie / betriegen.

Ists dan wie Frost / wie kalter Schnee und Eiß /
wie presst sie dann auß mir den Liebesschweiß?

Mich deucht: Ihr Herz ist wie die Loorberblätter /
die nicht berührt ein starcker Donnerkeil /
sie / sie verlacht / Cupido / deine Pfeil;
und ist befreyt für deinem Donnerwetter.

- Sibylle Schwarz (1621-1638)
Current Mood: chipper
07 September 2010 @ 05:36 pm
Week of Love Poetry Day #4  
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Translation by Rainer Maria Rilke )
Current Mood: cheerful
06 September 2010 @ 10:48 pm
Week of Love Poetry Day #3  
In sô hôher swebender wunne

In sô hôher swebender wunne
sô gestuont mîn herze ane vröiden nie.
ich var, als ich vliegen kunne,
mit gedanken iemer umbe sie,
Sît daz mich ir trôst enpfie,
der mir durch die sêle mîn
mitten in daz herze gie.

Swaz ich wunneclîches schouwe,
daz spile gegen der wunne, die ich hân.
luft und erde, walt und ouwe
suln die zît der vröide mîn enpfân.
Mir ist komen ein hügender wân
und ein wunneclîcher trôst,
des mîn muot sol hôhe stân.

Wol dem wunneclîchen maere,
daz sô suoze durch mîn ôre erklanc,
und der sanfte tuonder swaere,
diu mit vröiden in mîn herze sanc,
Dâ von mir ein wunne entspranc,
diu vor liebe alsam ein tou
mir ûz von den ougen dranc.

Saelic sî diu süeze stunde,
saelic sî diu zît, der werde tac,
dô daz wort gie von ir munde,
daz dem herzen mîn sô nâhen lac,
Daz mîn lîp von vröide erschrac,
und enweiz von liebe joch,
waz ich von ir sprechen mac.

- Heinrich von Morungen

Modern German Adaption )
05 September 2010 @ 10:00 pm
Week of Love Poetry Day #2  
The Sun Rising

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think ?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."

She's all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

- John Donne

Translation )
Current Mood: awake
04 September 2010 @ 08:16 am
To mark the occasion...  

To mark the occasion of [ profile] angie_21_237 's wedding today, I want to have a week of love poems: 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

- William Shakespeare.

bersetzung )
Current Mood: giddy
22 August 2010 @ 11:55 am
Poem of the month  
My German students, who are from different schools spread all over Hannover, are all reading this poem this month. Students the same ages didn't last year, and they're all using different books, most of them the same they used last year. They're in different years and are doing different things. Still.

Schlechte Zeit für Lyrik

Ich weiß doch: nur der Glückliche
Ist beliebt. Seine Stimme
Hört man gern. Sein Gesicht ist schön.

Der verkrüppelte Baum im Hof
Zeigt auf den schlechten Boden, aber
Die Vorübergehenden schimpfen ihn einen Krüppel
Doch mit Recht.

Die grünen Boote und die lustigen Segel des Sundes
Sehe ich nicht. Von allem

Sehe ich nur der Fischer rissiges Garnnetz.
Warum rede ich nur davon
Daß die vierzigjährige Häuslerin gekrümmt geht?
Die Brüste der Mädchen
Sind warm wie ehedem.

In meinem Lied ein Reim
Käme mir fast vor wie Übermut.

In mir streiten sich
Die Begeisterung über den blühenden Apfelbaum
Und das Entsetzen über die Reden des Anstreichers.
Aber nur das zweite
Drängt mich zum Schreibtisch.
Current Mood: amused
02 May 2010 @ 05:35 pm
"Won't someone think of the children", lake poet style.  
So, what did the lake poets think of Gothic novels?

To be brief, they didn't like them much. They thought no worthy man could write such a thing, too fanciful, and a danger to children. They disliked the sensationalism and the bawdiness especially.

Wordsworth did not really read many of them and generally didn't seem to have bothered - even though he could appreciate horror stories - Coleridge especially is aghast (which I did not necessarily expect, especially because he is later asked to translate Faust because of his own reputation as a writer of the demonic) - he has to write a few reviews as a "hireling" for the Critical Review and seems to fall so in hate with them that he takes up reading Radcliffe's novels for fun. 

«Coleridge, in a letter to Miss Robinson»
"I have a wife, I have sons, I have an infant Daughter--what excuse could I offer to my own conscience if by suffering my name to be connected with those of Mr. Lewis, or Mr. Moore, I was occasion of their reading The Monk . . . . Should I not be an infamous Pander to the Devil in the seduction of my own offspring?--My head turns giddy, my heart sickens at the very thought of seeing such books in the hands of a child of mine."
STC, 18.12.1801.

«Review of The Monk»
"A more grievous fault remains, a fault for which no literary excellence can atone, a fault which all other excellence does but aggravate, as adding subtlety to a poison by the elegance of its preparation. Mildness of censure would here be criminally misplaced, and silence would make us accomplices. Not without reluctance then, but in full conviction that we are performing a duty, we declare it to be our opinion, that the Monk is a romance, which if a parent saw in the hands of a son or daughter, he might reasonably turn pale. The temptations of Ambrosio are described with a libidinous minuteness, which, we sincerely hope, will receive its best and only adequate censure from the offended conscience of the author himself. The shameless harlotry of Matilda, and the trembling innocence of Antonia, are seized with equal avidity, as vehicles of the most voluptuous images; and though the tale is indeed a tale of horror, yet the most painful impression which the work left on our minds was that of great acquirements and splendid genius employed to furnish a *mormo* for children, a poison for youth, and a provocative for the debauchee. Tales of enchantments and witchcraft can never be *useful*: our author has contrived to make them *pernicious*, by blending, with an irreverent negligence, all that is most awfully true in religion with all that is most ridiculously absurd in superstition. He takes frequent occasion, indeed, to manifest his sovereign contempt for the latter, both in his own person, and (most incongruously) in that of his principal characters; and that his respect for the *former* is not excessive, we are forced to conclude from the treatment which its inspired writings receive from him."
Coleridge, The Critical Review 2.19 (2/1797).

It did my heart good to read, however, his opinion on the Mysteries of Udolpho:

«Review of the Mysteries of Udolpho»
If, in consequence of the criticisms impartiality has obliged us to make upon this novel, the author should feel disposed to ask us, Who will write a better? we boldly answer her, *Yourself*; when no longer disposed to sacrifice excellence to quantity, and lengthen out a story for the sake of filling an additional volume.
Coleridge, The Critical Review, 8/1794.

Also, in a letter which describes what he thinks are repetitive features in Scottish poetry,
«Letter to Wordsworth»
"I amused myself a day or two ago on reading a Romance in Mrs. Radcliff's style with making out a scheme, which was to serve for all romances a priori--only varying the proportions . . . A Baron or Baroness ignorant of their birth, and in some dependent situation--Castle--on a Rock--a Sepulchre--at some distance from the Rock--Deserted Rooms--Underground Passages--Pictures--A ghost, so believed--or--a written record--blood on it! A wonderful Cut throat &c. &c. &c."
Coleridge, October 1810.

The manliness comes in in a review of a story by Walpole, in which he writes,
«Review of the "Mysterious Mother"»
The Mysterious Mother is the most disgusting, detestable, vile composition that ever came from the hand of a man. No one with one spark of true manliness, of which Horace Walpole had none, could have written it
Published posthumously in Table Talk.

Go get them, Col!
12 March 2010 @ 12:56 pm
Meme: If you read this, post a poem in your journal.  

Mary Somerville 1780-1872

The strain of abstract thought, her father feared,
might injure her tender female frame. It did not.
It was more the needlework, the pianoforte 
at Miss Primrose’s Boarding School for Girls 
in dreary Musselburgh which fettered her spirit.
When she left, she said she felt like 
a wild animal escaped out of a cage.
Read more... )

- Brian McCabe. 
Current Mood: awake
07 March 2010 @ 09:44 am
Poetry in the student's native language > every other kind  
One of my students hates poetry, she says.

She doesn't want to have anything to do with it, whenever they're faced with poems in class everything about her speaks her dislike. Her body language, her expression, her moans, how she approaches the topic, the way she deals with it. She just doesn't like poetry and frequently expresses intense dislike when confronted with poetry, she's easily confused and frustrated, and doesn't see the point of dealing with it.

At first I thought it was that specific poem, which was admittedly rather obscure and gave them a second one the next lesson. Again, the same reaction. Frustration, lack of understanding of both content or why rhythm is important at all.

And then I gave her a poem in Russian, her native language. I wish I'd had a camera to capture just how quickly she snatched that sheet ouf of my hands, and how hungrily she read those lines, and how eagerly she engaged with the poem, and the translation provided below. She immediately had a plethora of opinions on this poem, too, I've never seen her that engaged with a poem- any text - ever before.

It was clear that this student, homesick, rejecting all things German, would appreciate the inclusion of her native language in class, but I had just never pictured just how much. I hope I can manage to incorporate the student's native language in German classes in future somehow.
Current Mood: happy
28 February 2010 @ 12:50 am
Unscientific view on the Lake Poets  
I'm not prone to considerations such as these, and I love the poetry of all three (especially no. 1), but vapidly, superficially, optically?

Current Mood: silly
28 February 2010 @ 12:13 am
The Cataract of Lodore  
"How does the water
Come down at Lodore?"
My little boy asked me
Thus, once on a time;
And moreover he tasked me
To tell him in rhyme.
Anon, at the word,
There first came one daughter,
And then came another,
To second and third
The request of their brother,
And to hear how the water
Comes down at Lodore,
With its rush and its roar,
As many a time
They had seen it before.
So I told them in rhyme,
For of rhymes I had store;
And 'twas in my vocation
For their recreation
That so I should sing;
Because I was Laureate
To them and the King.
Read more... )

- Robert Southey.

During one of our holidays in Wales in the late nineties I found an abandoned poetry collection in the cottage we stayed in which had this poem in it. It was love at first sight.
Current Mood: thankful
26 February 2010 @ 12:41 am
Niuwan der himel was sîn dach.  
This is the passage my written exam focused on:
«Gregoris v.3101-36»
Der arme Grêgôrius,
nû beleip er alsus
ûf dem wilden steine
aller gnâden eine.
er enhete andern gemach,
niuwan der himel was sîn dach.
Read more... )
Hartmann von Aue.
Pretty manageable, no? Especially given the fact that my topic was "Places and spaces of salvation in Hartmanns Gregorius". This is the passage in which Gregorius has arrived on the rocky island he spends his seventeen-year self-appointed exile as a penance for the double incest he was a result and part of - before he is chosen as pope - it is the ultimate place of salvation in the poem and thus a glaringly obvious and kind choice. I'm expecting that others had similar "kind" choices - he's your examiner, as well, isn't he, [ profile] lordhellebore ? So, don't be worried.

Not sure what good that choice has done me, though, because as always, my exam is a huge, big blank in my memory.
Current Mood: tired
25 February 2010 @ 05:12 pm
A Russian dilemma  
I have a student I tutor who is difficult, mostly because she is homesick and really demotivated.

Homesick because she's from Siberia and she gets tearful whenever she talks about her home. Last time she was rendered incapable of participating in class for twenty minutes because she saw a map of Europe and the East lying about before class and spent five minutes looking at her former home, then sat there, brooding, sullen. She was so bubbly when she came in, and this is not the first time she said she'd remembered something from home and went quiet.

Demotivated because they're analysing poetry, and she can't be bothered because she doesn't see the point both of poetry, what the particular pieces I bring in are about (they're supposed to work with Romantic poetry, and the Golden Age poets are a good match for obvious reasons), and why analysis is a good idea.

Now I'm thinking about bringing in a few poems in Russian which deal with similar subject matter as the German poems we're doing in class. I'm not sure it's such a good idea because I don't want her to feel bad, obviously. Still, it'd be an excuse to pick a native speaker's brain on Pushkin in the original, and possibly even Achmatova, because she's obsessed with Stalin's Russia, although if anything is likely to depress her, this'd probably be most likely to.
Current Mood: curious
01 February 2010 @ 06:26 pm
The set text for my exam were an excerpt from Room with a View, something I didn't even glance because the author was US American and I'm an anglist (turns out it was a quite interesting short story by a gay POC author on freedom), and The Solitary Reaper by Wordsworth.

William Wordsworth. Huh.

Obviously, given his popularity, I prepared pretty much everything BUT him.

Also, my professor is a big fan of texts being "very much concise and to the point", and I think that my 17-page, rambling, at times essayistic text quite cuts that. Gnaagh.

The Solitary Reaper
William Wordsworth

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?--
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;--
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
Current Mood: groggy
08 December 2009 @ 12:29 pm
Sehr geehrter Leser  
Dear Reader

Baudelaire considers you his brother,
and Fielding calls out to you every few paragraphs
as if to make sure you have not closed the book,
and now I am summoning you up again,
attentive ghost, dark silent figure standing
in the doorway of these words.

Pope welcomes you into the glow of his study,
takes down a leather-bound Ovid to show you.
Tennyson lifts the latch to a moated garden,
and with Yeats you lean against a broken pear tree,
the day hooded by low clouds.

But now you are here with me,
composed in the open field of this page,
no room or manicured garden to enclose us,
no Zeitgeist marching in the background,
no heavy ethos thrown over us like a cloak.

Instead, our meeting is so brief and accidental,
unnoticed by the monocled eye of History,
you could be the man I held the door for
this morning at the bank or post office
or the one who wrapped my speckled fish.
You could be someone I passed on the street
or the face behind the wheel of an oncoming car.

The sunlight flashes off your windshield,
and when I look up into the small, posted mirror,
I watch you diminish—my echo, my twin—
and vanish around a curve in this whip
of a road we can't help traveling together.

~ Billy Collins.

Anyway, back to reading up on the fate of poetry in the foreign language classroom, its uses and methods for teaching it to the unsuspecting student.
Current Mood: cynical
17 June 2009 @ 06:35 pm
Traurigkeit, die jeder kennt

Man weiß von vorneherein, wie es verläuft.
Vor morgen früh wird man bestimmt nicht munter.
Und wenn man sich auch noch so sehr besäuft,
die Bitterkeit, die spült man nicht hinunter.

Die Trauer kommt und geht ganz ohne Grund.
Und man ist angefüllt mit nichts als Leere.
Man ist nicht krank. Und ist auch nicht gesund.
Es ist, als ob die Seele unwohl wäre.

Man will allein sein. Und auch wieder nicht.
Man hebt die Hand und möchte sich verprügeln.
Vorm Spiegel denkt man: "Das ist dein Gesicht?"
Ach, solche Falten kann kein Schneider bügeln!

Vielleicht hat man sich das Gemüt verrenkt?
Die Sterne ähneln plötzlich Sommersprossen.
Man ist nicht krank. Man fühlt sich nur gekränkt.
Und hält, was es auch sei, für ausgeschlossen.

Man möchte fort und findet kein Versteck.
Es wäre denn, man ließe sich begraben.
Wohin man blickt entsteht ein dunkler Fleck.
Man möchte tot sein. Oder Urlaub haben.

Man weiß, die Trauer ist sehr bald behoben.
Sie schwand noch jedesmal, so oft sie kam.
Mal ist man unten, und mal ist man oben.
Die Seelen werden immer wieder zahm.

Der eine nickt und sagt: "So ist das Leben."
Der andre schüttelt seinen Kopf und weint.
Die Welt ist rund, und wir sind schlank daneben.
Ist das ein Trost? So war es nicht gemeint.

- Erich Kästner.
07 June 2009 @ 12:26 pm
From the man who wrote "The Sun Rising"  

As the sweet sweat of roses in a still,
As that which from chafed musk cat's pores doth trill,
As the almighty balm of th' early east,
Such are the sweat drops of my mistress' breast ;
And on her neck her skin such lustre sets,
They seem no sweat drops, but pearl carcanets.
Rank sweaty froth thy mistress' brow defiles,
Like spermatic issue of ripe menstruous boils,
Or like the scum, which, by need's lawless law
Enforced, Sanserra's starvèd men did draw
From parboil'd shoes and boots, and all the rest
Which were with any sovereign fatness blest ;
Read more... )
22 May 2009 @ 06:51 am
O, my America, my Newfoundland, My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd  
To His Mistress Going to Bed

Come, madam, come, all rest my powers defy ;
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe ofttimes, having the foe in sight,
Is tired with standing, though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glittering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear,
That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopp'd there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you that now it is bed-time.
Read more... )
Current Mood: calm
20 May 2009 @ 04:07 pm
"At ligne Døden fra Lübeck"  
To dussem dantse rope ik al gemene
Pawes keiser unde alle creaturen
Arm ryke groet unde kleine
Tredet vort went iu en helpet nen truren
Men dencket wol in aller tyd
Dat gy gude werke myt iu bringen
Unde juwer sunden werden quyd
Went gy moten na myner pypen springen.*

Last Saturday, my Middle High German course, [info]niaseath, other guests, and I went on an excursion to look at the Totentanzkapelle in Lübeck as well as an exhibition of modern-day hommages to the danse macabre from Lübeck in the St. Annen-Museum. We had a really lovely day enthusing about late medieval art, modern art, the church service and the beautiful church with other course members and our Professor.

While searching for the text of the Totentanz online I found this wonderful Danish site (click that link, you know you want to! Though be warned, it means goodbye to the rest of your day), which, in its introduction, mentions that the idiom "like death warmed over" is "at ligne Døden fra Lübeck" in Danish, which means, "like death from Lübeck".

"Death from Lübeck" used to look like this before the mural was destroyed in WWII:

...although that is the 1701 version, the original is believed to have looked something like this (Tallinn-fragment):

*To this dance I call everybody, / pope, emperor, and all creatures / poor, rich, great and small./ Step forward, because grieiving does not help you,/ but remember, at all times,/ to bring good works and deeds with you / and all your sins will be good again / because you must all dance to my pipe.
Current Mood: content
12 April 2009 @ 12:20 pm
Pied Beauty  
Glory be to God for dappled things,
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow,
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced, fold, fallow and plough,
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange,
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim.
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
Praise him.

- Gerald Manley Hopkins
Current Mood: cheerful
03 March 2009 @ 08:49 pm
Donne icons  
Seeing as I am going to write my final paper on the man's poetry I thought I'd waste time today creating some motivating Donne icons.


12 )

x-posted to [community profile] book_icons, sorry about your flists, my fellow members!
Current Mood: cheerful
23 January 2009 @ 10:07 pm
Erec/Mabonagrin = OTP  
Hartmann writes slash, too: 

"hie huop sich herzeminne
nâch starkem gewinne.
si minneten sunder bette:
diu minne stuont ze wette,
sweder nider gelæge,
dem wart der tôt wæge.
mit scheften si sich kusten
durch schilte zuo den brusten
mit solher minnekrefte
daz die eschînen schefte
kleine unz an die hant zekluben
und daz die spiltern ûfe stuben.
" (Erec, 9106-9117)
Translation )

Now, I know, male bonding, minne was a general term for love at the time this was written, the modes of feeling displayed in medieval texts are sometimes strange to our sensibilities, and Erec is all about different kinds of minne. I know that. But still.

Passionate kisses? With lances? Really?

I probably need to get from the medieval texts and get some coffee, or some fresh air.
Current Mood: silly
21 January 2009 @ 10:25 pm
Among School Children, by W. B. Yeats  
Among School Children )


Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
Current Mood: awake
03 August 2008 @ 05:14 pm
Oh, here you are!  
Eyes that last I saw in tears
Through division
Here in death's dream kingdom
The golden vision reappears
I see the eyes but not the tears
This is my affliction

This is my affliction
Eyes I shall not see again
Eyes of decision
Eyes I shall not see unless
At the door of death's other kingdom
Where, as in this,
The eyes outlast a little while
A little while outlast the tears
And hold us in derision.

~ T. S. Eliot

I must say that when I saw the Indiana Jones movie with my brother in German the translated quotes did not really ring a bell. I am rather happy that I found the poem in the end. I wonder why this is listed as a "minor poem". It makes me wonder whether some editor decided that it was one, because it reads as though it was an unused former part of a version of The Hollow Men, maybe.

I wish this collection had proper - or any - annotations, and I wish there were seminars on Eliot in my university.

Ah, well, better walk Crocky home from the bus station.
20 June 2008 @ 05:09 pm
I come bearing poetry  
I realised today that I have a lot of catching up to do with my friends page, I will do that at the weekend.

T.S. Eliot reading 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (Ignore the commercial at the beginning)

I was quite exited to find this recording again. His own rendition of the poem is very different from what I would read if I were reading it out. loud, which might be possible to my n00btastic skills as a voice actress. I'll try to get Crocky to read this out loud, she's much better at these things.
Current Mood: excited