Today’s a special day for the dead. It begins a time when monks shield their faces with their cowls on processions to cemeteries. A time when we surround ourselves with the memento mori of skulls and ghouls and graves. But why hold such a day when we are alive and part of a culture that … More Why Bury the Dead?
‘O Death, Death’ O Death, Death, He is come. O grounds of Hell make room. Who came from further than the stars Now comes as low beneath. Thy ribbèd ports, O Death Make wide; and Thou, O Lord of Sin, Lay open thine estates. Lift up your heads, O Gates; Be ye lift up, ye […]
Today is the anniversary of Thomas Hardy’s death in 1928. Perhaps you’ve read some of his wonderful novels, like The Mayor of Casterbridge (my own introduction to the Victorian master) or Tess of the d’Urbervilles, or my personal favorite Jude the Obscure (which I’ve posted about here and here). But did you know the novelist was also a … More Thomas Hardy and his Choirmaster
So – Croker, Macsikker, O’Shem – I ask you what are poems for? They are to console us with their own gift, which is like perfect pitch. Let us commit that to our dust. What ought a poem to be? Answer, a sad and angry consolation. What is the poem? What figures? Say, a sad … More “A Sad and Angry Consolation”: On the Loss of Geoffrey Hill
Be honest. You just read that in Giles’s smooth accent. But let’s transition to another accent for today. One a little less smooth, one that inexplicably transitioned to a rebellious Cockney. Yes, dear readers, let’s think of William the Bloody, but not just in any way, but as William, the Bloody Awful Poet. We know … More Last Time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer…
In the sonnet, “Felix Randal,” Gerard Manley Hopkins remembers a local Liverpool blacksmith that he had ministered to. Thanks to the work of Alfred Thomas, we even know who inspired this poem. One of Hopkins’s parishioners, A Liverpool farrier by the name of Felix Spence, died after suffering from an illness in 1880. Usually when … More “Felix Randal” as a Pattern for Remembering Hopkins
‘O Death, Death’ O Death, Death, He is come. O grounds of Hell make room. Who came from further than the stars Now comes as low beneath. Thy ribbèd ports, O Death Make wide; and Thou, O Lord of Sin, Lay open thine estates. Lift up your heads, O Gates; Be ye lift up, ye … More A Retreat with Hopkins: Holy Saturday
No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone…You cannot value him alone; you must set him…among the dead. – T S Eliot, Tradition and the Individual Talent