Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fly To Some Lone Lovely Dell

Having read a great deal of the poetry of Harley Coleridge and Sara Coleridge, I have been eager to read some of the poetry of Derwent Coleridge, the third of the three children of STC who lived. (There was another, a brother, who died very young.)

A friend is looking for his poems on my behalf, hopefully saved somewhere sometime. Some few were published in newspapers, but they do not seem ever to have been collected. Likely there are many more that were never published. And were those newspapers saved? I don't yet know.

Here is the first that I have found. It is a youthful venture,

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Unwritable Words

In keeping with the idea of yesterday's post, here is a tidbit that strikes me as humorous.

English speakers have long used a sort of clicking sound that we make by putting the tip of our tongues to the roof of our mouths just behind our front teeth. Then we suck in our breath ever so slightly, making a longer version of a click.

In the singular (one click) it can express exasperation or dissappointment. In the double, it means dissaproval. In this sense (double) we often use it ironically, signalling mock dissaproval.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ain't You Learnt Them Letters?

Help me, help me, help me!

I am looking for a story that I used when I was teaching American Literature. I'm 98% sure that it was by Zora Neale Hurston. But I can't remember the name.

Unfortunately I read it to the class; I didn't assign them to read it. If I had assigned it, then I would have the record of the assignment in the handouts I prepared for each class. But no, I didn't assign it. I read it to them. No record. Bah!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Consanguinity: Just Call Them A Blessing

I have a linguistic question for anyone who can help.

Any decent language has special terms for all the members of one's family. In English we recognize only a very few of these. Mother, Father, Brother, Sister. So far so good.

Cousin (Is that a boy cousin or a girl cousin? Is it on the mother's side or the father's? Is it your father's sister's child, or your father's brother's child?)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why Can Children Understand?

"Why can children understand stories so much earlier than logic?" Jerome Bruner, quoted by John Deely .

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A History Of Your True Loves

Jim Carroll, a New York poet and rock singer, sang in one of his songs: "It must be a great thing to be a cashier in a bookstore and to be surrounded by a history of your true loves." I've always thought he was right, although a librarian friend confided that it is frustating too, to be surrounded by all those true loves and have no time to read them.

No one would have read this blog for long who did not love poetry. I seem to stick pretty close to poetry and poets, more so than I intended when I began blogging. I had intended to include more polemical theological discussion, of which there has been little.

Friday, June 19, 2009

If We But Knew What We Do

When I was small I lived in the far north country of Minnesota. A twenty minutes walk could bring me to a dozen lakes, or to two houses. Besides that it was all forest, glorious forest that had not been touched in thousands of years. That was my land, my playplace, my sanctuary, my kingdom. I roamed those forests from sun-up to sun-down, getting to know the trees, the shrubs, each lady-slipper and violet that grew in their shade.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The World Is Heartsick . . . Or Is It?

Ever notice how sometimes it seems that when you listen to one person, you agree; you listen to someone else arguing with them and agree with that person too?

It reminds me of the scene in Fiddler On The Roof when there is an argument between a young radical student and an old villager. The men of the village stand around enjoying the spectacle.

The boy makes a good point, to which Tevye heartily chimes in, "He is right."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Perfect And Absolute Blank

A dear old friend and I have been arguing for more than a decade now. I will give you first his side and his reasons.

He is the pastor of a small church. Intentionally he has created in the church a very non-churchy atmosphere, and he has succeeded in attracting a good group of the down and out of our society. As he desired, he is building a church almost entirely composed from people who did not grow up in church and have very little knowledge of the Bible.

Friday, June 12, 2009

She Is Breeding Again!

A couple of days ago Mary Rae posted a great poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge that he wrote to his eldest son, Hartley. Please take a look at it before you read the following.

Take a moment, having read that poem, to wish that your father had written something like it to you when you were but a diapered doll. If he did, please tell us about it! We would love to hear!


That poem shows Samuel Taylor Coleridge at his parental best! He is a loving father delighting in his child!

But six years later

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Playing The Part Of Poet

Garbage can be literature. The voice is all. That is the main concept that I always strove to leave with my literature students. The filth on bathroom walls might be literature, albeit a low form of it. And eloquence might fall short.

To qualify as literature, a group of words (usually but not always written) must leave us access to the real voice of the author or authors.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Young Lamb's Heart Among The Full-Grown Flocks

William Blake was fond of reminding anyone who would listen that in the Bible poets and prophets were but two ways of looking at the same role. Poets were prophets and prophets were poets. These days we tend to draw a firmer line between the two, but even now the lines will blur at times.

The Coleridge children had the unusual opportunity of growing up with many of the greatest poets of the time being their neighbors and friends. When Hartley Coleridge was six, William Wordsworth wrote the following poem for him,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We Grappled Like Two Wrestlers

Two brothers, intimate companions in their early years, had hardly seen each other for twenty years. One, Derwent Coleridge, had grown into a stalwart pastor, a teacher of the eternal truths of Scripture. The other, Hartley Coleridge, had become something of a recluse, though not at all an outcast, from society. He kept himself, of his own volition, apart from the crowd. Derwent, the prosaic teacher, and Hartley, the poetic mystic: polar opposites except that they shared a common ideological and biological heritage. When they met at last, Hartley "was at once excited and embarrassed." (Derwent's description) It was both a joyous reunion, and also an awkward one, for Hartley felt overwhelmingly that he had let their parents down in their hopes for him. This guilt had oppressed him for many years.

After the meeting Hartley composed the following verses, which he sent to Derwent.

We grappled like two wrestlers, long and hard,

Monday, June 8, 2009

Why Should I Move My Tongue?

I have been considering the curiosity of tonal languages lately. My mother's native tongue is Sango, which has three tones. Mandarine has four. Attic Greek had, I think, three.

Tonal languages are those in which the tone of the voice has as much to do with the meaning of a word or phrase as does the pronunciation of the vowels and consonants. Thus, in the Mandarin language, the word "ba," if pronounced in a steady normally pitched voice, means the number eight. However, if it is pronounced with a falling and then a rising in the tone it becomes the verb "to hold."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

We Are Called By His Name

Two by William Blake, a matched pair although they originally appeared in different books:


Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee;
Gave thee life and bid thee feed
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;

The Shadow Of Oblivion

"The shadow of oblivion follows close upon our steps, covering up our path as we proceed. If we do not keep an eye behind us, we soon lose sight of our past selves;

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Such A Vile Short Plumpness

From the very beginning Samuel Taylor Coleridge was obsessed with the sounds of words.

"From my earliest years I have had a feeling of Dislike and Disgust connected with my own Christian Names: such a vile short plumpness, such a dull abortive smartness in the first Syllable, and this so harshly contrasted by the obscurity and indefiniteness of the syllable Vowel, and the feebleness of the uncovered liquid, with which it ends--the wabble it makes, and staggering betweeen a di--and a tri-syllable--

Friday, June 5, 2009

Such Thought Possessed The Nameless Artist's Mind

Paul the appostle once looked at an altar dedicated TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. This unknown god, he told a group of philosophers and religious speculators, was not unknown to Paul. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everthing else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Barrage Of Calculated Effects

When Packer uses the word "should" in the following, he means it in the sense of "would."

"If we regarded it as our job, not simply to present Christ, but actually to produce converts--to evangelize, not only faithfully, but also successfully--our approach to evangelism would become pragmatic and calculating. We should conclude that our basic equipment, both for personal dealing and for public preaching, must be twofold.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Time To Dance Is Not To Woo

The feminism that I hear in Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poems seems to me to be both much more honest and infinitely more appealing than the brand of feminism that rules the world these days. It is in fact feminine, for it exalts the feminine; today's variety seems intent on destroying the whole concept of the feminine.


'Yes,' I answered you last night;
'No,' this morning, sir, I say:
Colors seen by candle-light
Will not look the same by day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Your Love Was Writ In Sand

One doesn't have to look very far to find massive amounts of literary criticism claiming Christina Rossetti as a forerunner of the feminist movement. I have even seen articles touting Goblin Market as Rossetti's lesbian manifesto.

I agree that she was a very strong woman, impressively so. Yes, I would call her a feminist. The trouble is that while she was a feminist, the movement that now bears that name is something entirely different than anything that Rossetti ever contemplated.

In Cousin Kate we hear

Monday, June 1, 2009

Decaying More And More

Although many, maybe even most, poets occasionally experiment with non-standard meters, a few have made such experimentation a major focus of their work. Among them, George Herbert stands at the top, both because he was one of the first to do extensive experimentation in English meter and because his experiments went further than most before or since.

Despite the appearance of some of his outlandishly styled poems,