Monday, January 26, 2015

Memorizing Poetry

I was in a class recently where the professor spent a long time defending the part of her syllabus that required us to memorize (quite a few lines of) poetry. 

This was a totally unnecessary argument to make to me.  I think it is quite obvious that memorizing beautiful poetry is good for your soul, and that it would be a very good thing if more people were reviving this educational practice that has somewhat died out in recent years. 

I may also have been gifted at birth with a pretty decent ability to memorize poetry, and so don't mind doing it. 

She did say something neat in the process, though:  She said that the poetry you memorize is like the paintings hung on the walls inside your mind.  It's what's always there. 

So, here are a few things that hang on the walls of my mind.  Some are in progress.  Some are new to me.  Some are old. 

"Aspecta Medusa" by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
Andromeda, by Perseus sav'd and wed,
Hanker'd each day to see the Gorgon's head,
'Til o'er a fount he held it, bade her lean,
And mirror'd in the wave was safely seen
That death she lived by. 
                                         Let not thine eyes know
Any forbidden thing itself, although
It once should save as well as kill, but be
Its shadow upon life enough for thee. 
(The beginning of) Petrarch Sonnet 150
"Che fai, alma?  Che pensi?  Avrem mai pace?
Avrem mai tregua?  Od avrem guerra eterna?" 
The first stanza of Dante's Commedia
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
Che la diritta era smaritta. 
one of William Shakespeare's songs
O mistress mine, where are you going?
Stay and hear, your true love's coming
That can sing both high and low. 
Trip no further, pretty sweeting. 
Journeys end in lovers' meeting,
Every wise man's son doth know. 
What is love?  'Tis not hereafter. 
Present mirth hath present laughter. 
What's to come is still unsure. 
In delay there lies no plenty. 
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty. 
Youth's not such as shall endure. 
Sonnet 116, also by William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.  Love is not love
That alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove. 
Oh, no, it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken. 
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Who's 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, e'en to the edge of doom. 
If this be error and upon me proved,
Then I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

And just writing down these has made me think of a bunch more that I wish I had!

What does the inside of your mind look like?  Bare walls?  Hang something.  Make it beautiful.  Make it true.  Pick things you want to keep forever. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ghost Pictures

I can hardly believe that this is the Feather and the Rose's last semester in college. Susan and I are wrapping up our various majors and minors so that we can graduate in May like we're supposed to. I am both unbelievably excited and seriously terrified. This may get worse as the Day Itself draws near.

To finish out my Graphic Design minor which I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm taking a Digital Photography class. Because of this, I have recently acquired a fancy camera that captures more pixels than I ever knew I wanted.

To be honest, I was sort of nonplussed about having to buy such an expensive piece of equipment for ONE class. Especially when the professor warned us that the pictures we take on our phones will probably look better than the ones we take on our new cameras for at least a few weeks if not a month or more. How encouraging.

I was fairly wary of it and rather timid in my picture-taking the first few days, but now I've had it for almost a week and I think you might have to pry it out of my cold, dead fingers if you want to get it away from me.

I've had rather a lot of fun playing with different shutter speeds and aperture openings to get different cool effects. Turns out, if you make the aperture small enough, leave the shutter open long enough, and either have a timer or are pretty light on your feet, you can take ghost pictures.


I got up about a half hour before sun rise and had fun moving our living room furniture all around as quietly as possible so I wouldn't wake up my sleeping suite-mates. I think all three of these were taken with my camera balanced precariously on top of the Oxford Latin Dictionary and a stack of magazines consisting mostly of old issues of RealSimple, Cosmo, and Esquire.

I think I need a tripod.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Shenanigans with the Original "Hamlet"

So, I really need to be working on my senior thesis right now.  I'm writing a commentary of the original "Hamlet" story, which was written down in Latin in the middle ages by a funny man named Saxo Grammaticus.

Yes, you heard that right.  Things written in Latin can be funny. 

So, in an effort both to entertain and to warm myself up for an evening of work on this thing, I present to you:

What Shakespeare Didn't Tell You:  The Original "Hamlet" and His Original Shenanigans

1. In which Hamlet keeps people from detecting his sanity and also inspires an Old Spice commercial:  "Having been ordered to mount his horse, he arranged himself with cunning, so that his own back was turned to the horse's neck, and so that he was facing its tail.  He then proceeded to encircle the tail with the reins, as if he were going to check the speed of the rushing horse with that part. In this exceedingly clever way he evaded his uncle's tricks." 

2.  In which the Horatio-character harnesses the full potential of stinging insects:  "(In an attempt to warn Hamlet that he is being spied upon) he found a piece of straw on the ground and carefully tied it to the tail of a wasp that was flying past.  Then he herded that particular wasp into the place where he knew Hamlet was.  And by this feat he did the prince a great favor.... When Hamlet saw the wasp and the piece of straw it carried on its tail, having watched it with curiosity, he understood that it was a silent warning to beware of some trickery." 

3.  In which Hamlet is kind enough to cook Polonius before feeding him to the pigs:  "After cutting the body up into little parts, he cooked it in boiling water, and tossed them through the mouth of the sewer for the pigs to eat." 

4. In which we learn about a mysterious Danish mourning ritual:  "When he was leaving, he secretly ordered his mother to decorate the court with woven knots, and to carry out funerary rites for him for a year."  (What????) 

5.  In which Hamlet is an enterprising little trickster:  "Not content to escape execution himself and transfer the death sentence onto others, he added to the letter a request that the king of England marry his daughter to the exceedingly sensible youth who was being sent to him." 

6.  Did I mention that Hamlet's daddy was a pirate?  No word yet on whether this is as interesting as it sounds or if it's simply the case that everybody who was anybody in Scandanavia at this time was into piracy.


7.  In which Hamlet fills some sticks with gold for No Discernible Reason.   

8.  In which Hamlet gets half the nobles of Denmark to fall into a drunken stupor, ties up the other half in a blanket, locks them all inside the castle, and burns them alive.

And many more, but now it's time for me to go try my hand at elucidating this crazy tale.  Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mostly Chickens

Sorry I missed yesterday, but the last two weeks have actually been spent having terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE* computer trouble. In fact, this blog post was written on my mom's computer which I am borrowing until she gets home from work. Needless to say, not much novel has been done since the file is on a little portable hard drive which I am keeping in a deep box of packing peanuts behind bullet-proof glass.

I have been reading a lot though and have had a glorious time writing journal entries in the beautiful empty books I received for Christmas.**

I do have a little belated Christmas present for you all today, though. My uncle showed this to me when we were at my mother's family for Christmas festivities and I laughed so hard my abs were sore the next day. It's a Monty Python Skit which explores the idea of novel writing as a spectator sport. Oh, my goodness, am I glad this isn't how it really works. Enjoy!


* So terrible, I gave up and returned it. If you're looking out for a new computer, I would encourage you not to get an HP. Both Susan and I have had a wretched time recently with new HP computers not working properly and then, to top it off, their customer service is quite awful.

** If this was a homesteading blog instead of a writing blog, this would have been an extra long blog post. A raccoon got into our chicken coop a couple of times over the last week and ate four of our laying hens. This terrified the remaining six so badly that they started refusing to go back in the coop at night and instead were hiding in bizarre places.

I had to go out and find each of them and carry them individually back to their coop. I didn't let them out for several days hoping to solve the problem, and they seem to be back to normal as far as coming back. However, they have decided they want to sleep in their nesting boxes not on their roost, which means that I've been going out to personally remove them from their nesting boxes and set them on their roost.^

This is Speckled Chicken #2 trying to roost
in our orange tree.

Red Chicken decided the only place to be was in the rafters of the shed.
My brother had to stand on a garbage can to get her down.

^This is actually harder than it sounds because chickens are some of the most oddly political animals we have ever kept. It's called a "pecking order" for a reason. The first night I put them on what I would later learn was the Wrong Roost, facing the Wrong Direction, in the Wrong Order.

There was fighting. Someone lost a couple of tail feathers. Someone else got shoved off the end of the roost and ended up in an inelegant heap on the coop floor.

After a few nights, though, I figured it out and last night everyone was quiet as could be and settled down right away.

Would you like to know the Perfect Chicken Order since I now have it memorized? Never mind, I'm telling you anyway. It goes like this: Red Chicken, Blond Chicken, Wimpy Chicken, Speckled Chicken #1, Speckled Chicken #2, and Mrs. Bennet on the end.