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Salome

Salome – Titian

‘Salome’ Analysis

‘Salome’ is an angry poem. The constant repetition of the ‘ter’ sound at the end of most of the lines makes this energy relentless, creating uneasy half-rhymes that alert the poem’s audience to the speaker’s arguably deranged state of mind. These words that finish the lines often differ very slightly such as ‘better’ being followed by ‘butter’, and ‘blighter’ followed by ‘biter’. Not only is this possibly confusing for the reader, it increases the rhythm of the poem. The emotion is intense and unrelenting which this rhythm reflects and intensifies. These almost rhyming words give an impression of being disjointed, like how the speaker must people in relation to others and how the man’s head is now separated from his body. These sounds also build up to the unveiling of this brutal act. The effect of this is that the anger has a definite presence before the result of this anger is shown. This suspense is also created by the speaker mentioning subtle hints such as “colder than pewter” and “like a lamb to the slaughter”. The first is a fairly obvious hint but is overshadowed by the speaker’s forgetfulness concerning the man’s name. There is enjambment between the first, ‘Peter’ and the three others which shows that she really has no idea. Her single-worded statement, “Strange” may refer to the coldness, but also to the fact that he is a complete stranger to her. The man being a stranger further reflects the disjointedness of the speaker and the poem.

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Why

I read because I am hungry to know things. I want to understand the world better and I try to do this through books, poems, and plays. Literature is not always easy to explain and that is it is able to be so truthful to who we are. It is demanding and difficult, it requires you to think really hard about things you wouldn’t usually, but really should. I believe we are constantly changing and by reading literature, you give yourself more opportunity to choose the direction you are going. By reading, you become critical; you cannot agree with everything a writer says and this is an important skill in life. By being critical you do not have to become an old cynic, you become more aware of who you are and what you are doing. You become a fuller person rather than an automated outline.  

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Milton’s Lycidas

As I first ventured to read this poem by Milton I was somewhat apprehensive. With a little concentration, however, and the help of Google, I found myself enjoying reading it very much. I think that this is partly due to its similarity with Wordsworth’s poems, a poet I am very fond of.

This is due to the pastoral nature of Lycidas, the idealisation of country life which both poets do; “What hard mishap hath doom’d this gentle swain?”, swain meaning country youth or shepherd. This is similar to Wordsworth’s There was a boy in which he paints a picture of a boy perfectly in tune with nature and therefore completely at peace. Milton’s excessive use of imagery containing nature and plants furthers how pastoral this elegy is. He mentions the “rathe primrose” (rathe meaning ready to bloom), the “pale jasmine”, the “white pink”, and the “glowing violet”. I particularly like the last description, and the combination of all of these in one stanza creates a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. Despite the poem being an elegy, mourning a dead friend, this inclusion of spring and new life connects Lycidas’s death with life, and therefore places Lycidas within the whole cycle of nature and mother earth. In There was a boy, Wordsworth does the same thing when he describes the boy “while he hung listening”; the use of the word ‘hung’ gives of the impression that he was no leaving to go away from the vale, that he is part of the landscape. His death is also part of the landscape as the church yard in which he is buried also “hangs”.  Lycidas makes several references to Virgil’s Ecologues, which is considered the first poem in a classical style on a pastoral subject, such as the line “Who would not sing for Lycidas” which comes from “Who would not sing for Gallas” in the Ecologues. Furthermore, Lycidas is anachronistic (not chronological) which is like the original pastoral elegies.
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Hard Times

I started reading this novel because I was studying the time period in which Dickens was writing in History and therefore felt it would give me a deeper insight. It did, and Mr Bounderby is the epitome of the belief in the self-made man, despite what he really turns out to be. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and the different stories that come together make it interesting till the last page.

A theme running through Dickens’s Hard Times was pity. It is a pity towards the unreal or superficial. When feelings become less superficial and forced, this pity lessens; In Mr Gradgrind’s plea to Bitzer, he seems emotionally raw but this grief does not provoke pity in the reader. In fact, it causes the opposite; admiration and joy that he has changed his ways and is no longer governed purely by facts.

The role of the reader is also interesting in this novel. When Sparsit is spying on Louisa and Jem, the reader takes on the same role as a spy. This causes any romance that could be present in the affair to be diminished as it is cheapened and doesn’t mean anything. Jem’s words are full of cliche and for the reader to be swept away, we would have to be part of this conversation. As it is, the reader has no investment in this affair, and nor does Jem considering his willingness to give up and go home. This therefore reveals the scene to have only one purpose which is to ‘wake’ Louisa, and in turn her father, up. Jem has also been compared to Mephistopheles from Dr Faustus which reinforces this impression of him being only present to cause needed disturbance. Sissy is not able to take this role as she is too different from the family as she comes from a completely different social class and situation.

It is interesting how it is the circus people who are able to love naturally and have happy families, as we discover on Sissy’s return for help, whereas the Gradgrinds and others all suffer a lonely fate. This is perhaps to show the family taking on an “intellectual burden” as the lower classes were deemed too simple. This role may have been enforced by Dicken’s own life as he read to the illiterate.

I found the ending fairly depressing. We are, however, reminded that the characters are only fictional and instead of mourning their fate, we should learn from what their mistakes have shown us;

“It rests with you and me, whether, in our two fields of action, similar things shall be or not. We shall sit with lighter bosoms on the hearth, to see the ashes of our fires turn grey and cold”

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What is the point of art?

This is a question that almost everybody has an answer to. Some would accuse art as being merely a superficial distraction, designed to inflate the artist’s egos and all his admirer’s who ‘understand’ his work on a deeper level. This might be one side, but to dismiss art in this way is foolish. The marks left by inked fingers and the stories passed down through voice precede the sterile laboratories in which people expect the absolute truth to be extracted, dissected, and conquered. This extract is from Lehrer’s book, Proust was a neuroscientist; 


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Have a gander…

… at my new tumblr

http://madtoread.tumblr.com/

Leave a link to yours if you have one 🙂

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Get rid of old words – this is beauty

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How To Make Love to a Trans Person

by Gabe Moses

Forget the images you’ve learned to attach
To words like cock and clit,
Chest and breasts.
Break those words open
Like a paramedic cracking ribs
To pump blood through a failing heart.
Push your hands inside.
Get them messy.
Scratch new definitions on the bones.

Get rid of the old words altogether.
Make up new words.
Call it a click or a ditto.
Call it the sound he makes
When you brush your hand against it through his jeans,
When you can hear his heart knocking on the back of his teeth
And every cell in his body is breathing.
Make the arch of her back a language
Name the hollows of each of her vertebrae
When they catch pools of sweat
Like rainwater in a row of paper cups
Align your teeth with this alphabet of her spine
So every word is weighted with the salt of her.

When you peel layers of clothing from his skin
Do not act as though you are changing dressings on a trauma patient
Even though it’s highly likely that you are.
Do not ask if she’s “had the surgery.”
Do not tell him that the needlepoint bruises on his thighs look like they hurt
If you are being offered a body
That has already been laid upon an altar of surgical steel
A sacrifice to whatever gods govern bodies
That come with some assembly required
Whatever you do,
Do not say that the carefully sculpted landscape
Bordered by rocky ridges of scar tissue
Looks almost natural.

If she offers you breastbone
Aching to carve soft fruit from its branches
Though there may be more tissue in the lining of her bra
Than the flesh that rises to meet itLet her ripen in your hands.
Imagine if she’d lost those swells to cancer,
Diabetes,
A car accident instead of an accident of genetics
Would you think of her as less a woman then?
Then think of her as no less one now.

If he offers you a thumb-sized sprout of muscle
Reaching toward you when you kiss him
Like it wants to go deep enough inside you
To scratch his name on the bottom of your heart
Hold it as if it can-
In your hand, in your mouth
Inside the nest of your pelvic bones.
Though his skin may hardly do more than brush yours,
You will feel him deeper than you think.

Realize that bodies are only a fraction of who we are
They’re just oddly-shaped vessels for hearts
And honestly, they can barely contain us
We strain at their seams with every breath we take
We are all pulse and sweat,
Tissue and nerve ending
We are programmed to grope and fumble until we get it right.
Bodies have been learning each other forever.
It’s what bodies do.
They are grab bags of parts
And half the fun is figuring out
All the different ways we can fit them together;
All the different uses for hipbones and hands,
Tongues and teeth;
All the ways to car-crash our bodies beautiful.
But we could never forget how to use our hearts
Even if we tried.
That’s the important part.
They’ve got this.
Don’t worry about the bodies.
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As I am not currently at home, I do not have access to the books I intend to write about. I will, however, set out a list of five of my favourite books to give the reader an idea of what I will be writing about;

  1. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  2. The Perks of being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky (the film is coming out soon!)
  3. Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
  4. Anything by Ian McEwan
  5. EE Cummings’ Poetry

May have to amend this when my bookshelf is back in front of me….