“The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare, English (1873-1956)
Imagine you are a weary traveler commissioned to deliver an urgent message to the inhabitants of a remote house, deep, deep in a forest. It is a cold, windy night. You have been riding your horse for several hours. You hear the groaning and snapping of branches above your head and the rustling of dead leaves on the forest floor. At last, you reach your destination. The moon peeps out from behind the clouds. You see the house–a tall, ghostly structure. You dismount your horse and climb the creaking wooden steps to the front door. You hesitate before knocking, for you do not see any lights through the cracks of the boarded windows. Then you speak (please press the PLAY button below).
Shakespeare Insult Generator by Barry Kraft, 2014
A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES!
A POX ON YOUR CHICKEN LIVERS!
THOU FAWNING FOUL-MOUTHED FUSTILARIAN!
There I was, on a sweltering summer afternoon, browsing in an air-conditioned bookstore, when I discovered a Shakespearean book by Barry Kraft. Was it an in-depth analysis of the Bard’s 38+ 16th-century plays? An instruction book for aspiring poets on creating sonnets with iambic pentameter? Or a collection of Shakespeare’s famous quotes for the serious Elizabethan scholar? Not even close! Imagine my surprise–and sheer joy–when on page eleven of this nifty little 6″ x 5″ book, I read the first of many Shakespearean insults: “APISH, BALD-PATED ABOMINATION” Continue reading
NOVEL: Persuasion by Jane Austen, English, (1775-1817)
I have been a fervent Jane Austen fan since I was thirteen years old. By eighteen, I had read all of Austen’s novels, her juvenilia, published letters, and even some biographies. Then came the decades of rereading Jane’s works with relish, exploring the many prequels, sequels, and variations by modern authors, and watching every movie adaptation of Austen’s novels.
Persuasion is one of my three favorite Austen novels. Although I consider Emma her masterpiece for its maturity and complex plot, and love Pride & Prejudice for its sparkling wit and intelligence, Persuasion is, for me, Jane Austen’s most authentically romantic novel. With its theme of renewal, it is a story of second chances – love lost, and love regained: Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth’s love story is one for the ages. Continue reading
“Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare, English (1564-1616)
Today’s balmy breezes and the “darling buds of May” bring to mind one of my favorite sonnets written by William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 18,” with its famous first line: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” During his lifetime, Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets. The word sonnet comes from the Italian word sonetto, meaning little song. A sonnet is a simple lyric poem with fourteen lines and a fixed rhyming pattern. Each line is written in iambic pentameter. An iamb is a word with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. The word compare from the first line of this sonnet is an example of an iamb. And pentameter? Penta means five, so there are five stressed syllables in each line. That’s it!
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Sarah M. Fredericks © 2015
Carpe Librum!📚Seize the Book…and let the page-turning begin!