Monthly Archives: June 2013

What Liberty a Loosened Spirit Brings

Although she didn’t go to church, Emily Dickinson was spiritually uplifted by reading the Bible.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Fed’s Little Cat Feet, Rafa’s Bullish Force

The Federer and Nadal era may be over. Here they are described in Flaubert, James Patterson, and Carl Sandburg terms.

Posted in Flaubert (Gustave), Hodgson (Ralph), Patterson (James), Sandburg (Carl) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ain’t gonna let the SC turn me ’round

The Supreme Court’s assault on the Voting Rights Act means we may have to break out the old freedom songs again.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Being Right on Climate Is Not Enough

Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People” helps us sort through some of the politics of climate change.

Posted in Ibsen (Henrik) | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Obama: A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

Climate denialists who attack science have a lot in common with Pope’s dunces.

Posted in Crichton (Michael), Pope (Alexander), Vaughan (Henry) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

College Reunions: Feeling Understood

College reunions won’t necessarily bury you in regret. They can make you feel less alone.

Posted in Lawrence (D. H.), McGrath (Thomas) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Father’s House, Le Château Ivre

My father’s house, not Rimbaud’s drunken boat, seems to launch itself into realms of the imagination.d

Posted in Rimbaud (Arthur) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Nature Red in Tooth & Claw? Maybe Not

Carleton’s Ian Barbour turned to Tennyson in seeking to find connections between science and religion.

Posted in Tennyson (Alfred Lord) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Please, Writers–More Complex Narratives

Sports narratives that look only at winning and losing are simplistic and misleading.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Ah, Those Sensuous Summer Days

Emily Dickinson has written the most passionate summer poem I know.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Zen of an Old Growth Forest

Biologist David Haskell approaches forests in a way that is both scientific and poetic.

Posted in Blake (William), Emerson (Ralph Waldo), Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Thoreau (Henry David) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When Surveillance Is Incompetent

When, in a post last week, I found parallels between the National Security Agency’s extensive data mining attempts and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, I neglected to mention (as this New Yorker essay does) that one has to be careful with books that have themselves become symbols. When this happens, they become like clichés, losing their […]

Posted in Feiffer (Jules), Orwell (George) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reading to Learn Who We Are

Vivian Gornick reflects on why Colette and Mary McCarthy meant so much to her as a 20-something in the 1950s.

Posted in Colette, McCarthy (Mary) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Hiding behind the “I” in Lit Essays

Using “I” in literature essays doesn’t necessarily lead to more engagement with the work.

Posted in Exley (Frederick), Shelley (Percy) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Deep (Not Scientific) Truth of Genesis

The Book of Genesis, like poetry, captures truths inaccessible to science.

Posted in Bible, Robinson (Marilynne) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Spurs as Auden’s Unknown Citizen

The San Antonio Spurs as so perfect that they’re boring–like Auden’s “Unknown Citizen.”

Posted in Auden (W. H.) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

In Solitary Others We See Ourselves

When a Maine hermit is arrested after 27 years in solitude, we project our stories upon him.

Posted in Defoe (Daniel), Lee (Harper), Oliver (Mary) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

For My Father’s 90th Birthday

I celebrate my father’s 90th birthday today with R. S. Thomas’ rich poem about visiting a 90-year-old woman.

Posted in Thomas (R. S.) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Blow Out Your Candles, No Darkness

This Richard Wilbur poem has fun kidding the poet’s esoteric friend.

Posted in Wilbur (Richard) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Shakespeare for Psychologists

Comic relief: one-liners about what Shakespeare’s plays say about you.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged | Leave a comment

Big Brother Is Data Mining You

The government”s Prism data-mining program predictably brings Orwell’s “1984” to mind.

Posted in Orwell (George) | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Your One Wild and Precious Life

Mary Oliver’s celebration of summer is a prayer operates as a prayer of gratitude.

Posted in Oliver (Mary) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Spurs’ Ball Movement Like a Poem

A Robert Herrick poem describing a woman’s silks also describes the San Antonio Spurs’ ball movement.

Posted in Herrick (Robert) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching Lit as a Public Mission

Teaching at a public liberal arts colleges shapes has influenced how I approach literature.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Let the Season of Summer Reading Begin!

A 5th century poem by T’ao Ch’ien paints a moment of perfect happiness. It involves settling down with a good book.

Posted in T’ao Ch’ien | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Scandal? Nothing but a Pack of Cards

Like Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts, GOP investigation committees want verdict first, trial afterwards.

Posted in Carroll (Lewis) | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fanny Burney Bolsters Young People

Fanny Burney’s “Evelina” is still very relevant to the lives of young people.

Posted in Burney (Fanny) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Paying Poetic Homage to Life

Here’s a lovely poem which you probably don’t know about paying “homage to life.”

Posted in Supervielle (Jules) | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Poetry Needed to Understand Trinity

John Kennedy advocated poetry to avoid arrogance, which is good advice when it comes to understanding the Trinity.

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Lebron Explodes for Epic Performance

Lebron’s third quarter explosion against Indiana on Thursday night was Homeric.

Posted in Homer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

  • AVAILABLE NOW!

  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete