Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Cancer Patient Reads “The Bacchae”

One of my students, suffering from cancer, has an exciting interpretation of Euripides’ “The Bacchae.”

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Cherish the Angel at Your Door

William Blake’s “Holy Thursday” poems challenges those members of Congress voting to cut food stamps.

Posted in Blake (William) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Poems on Mayweather, Manziel, Rivera

“The Daily Sports Poem” blog has poems that perfectly capture a wide range of sporting events.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Little Texas Senator that Could

What should we make of Ted Cruz’s use, in his quasi filibuster, of “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Little Engine that Could”?

Posted in Cervantes (Miguel de), Dr. Seuss, Piper (Wally) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Father’s Love Song to Phoebe

For my mother’s birthday, I post a love poem written to her by my late father 67 years ago.

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Kid Fight in Congress

At times, Congress looks like two kids squabbling in “Tom Sawyer”–only in this case, the stakes are much higher and one side refuses to act like an adult.

Posted in Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

GOP vs. Women = Pentheus vs. Bacchae

Euripides helps understand the right wing’s attack on women’s reproductive rights.

Posted in Euripides | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Depressing News? Read Gulliver

If you ever feel that humans are nothing more than Yahoos, Swift urges us to remember that there are good Samaritans amongst us.

Posted in Swift (Jonathan) | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

God Dwells in Mercy, Pity, Peace, Love

Pope Francis ! might well embrace the vision of love found in Blake’s “Divine Image.”

Posted in Blake (William) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Running at Twilight

Here’s a poem for anyone who has experience the ecstasy of running at twilight.

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Life Is Bigger Than Flesh

Wendell Berry’s “Testament” can console those who have lost loved ones.

Posted in Berry (Wendell) | 1 Comment

The Killer Always Comes Back

This Scott Bates poem explores the dark side of those Americans that are drawn to guns and gun violence.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beagles, a Wellspring of Poetry

Two dogs we were keeping recently ran off, triggering a flood of anxiety and poetry.

Posted in Beckett (Samuel), Kipling (Rudyard), Shakespeare (William), Stein (Gertrude) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Swift and Food Stamp Cuts

What would Jonathan Swift say to GOP radicals who seek to cut food stamps.

Posted in Swift (Jonathan) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Lit’s Ten Most Sensitive Guys

To match my 10 strongest literary women characters, here are my 10 most sensitive male characters.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Baldwin (James), Dickens (Charles), Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Fielding (Henry), Fitzgerald (F. Scott), McCarthy (Cormac), Melville (Herman), Milton (John), Steinbeck (John) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

I Have Found My Sheep that Was Lost

Dickens draws on the parable of the lost sheep in shaping “David Copperfield.”

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Manziel: Whom the Gods Would Destroy…

Johnny Manziel has “Greek tragic hero” written all over him.

Posted in Marlowe (Christopher), Sophocles | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Praise of Irreverent Squirrels

This Scott Bates poem about autumn also captures his irreverence for authority.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Inundated by E-Mail? A Mixed Solution

Wendell Berry has a poem addressing a fantasy many of us have had: jettisoning all our mail (and now, e-mail).

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Moll Flanders, Quintessential Capitalist

Moll Flanders is the ultimate capitalist, putting a price on everything. And my class finds itself cheering for her.

Posted in Defoe (Daniel) | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Green Knight’s Lessons on Death & Dying

My next book will be on what “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” teaches us about death and dying.

Posted in Sir Gawain Poet | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Lit’s 10 Strongest Female Characters

Who are literature’s ten strongest female characters? Here’s my list.

Posted in Alcott (Louisa May), Austen (Jane), Bronte (Charlotte), Chaucer (Geoffrey), Defoe (Daniel), Hawthorne (Nathaniel), Ibsen (Henrik), James (Henry), Shakespeare (William), Sophocles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Ballad of a Nun, a Bordello, and Mary

Scott Bates’ “Ballad of Thoughtful Love” retells a medieval fable about a nun-turned-whore who is saved by the Virgin Mary.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Agony of a Federer Fan

Federer’s early tournament losses bring about an agony not unlike that of poet Richard Shelton mourning the death of his beloved Sonora Desert.

Posted in Shelton (Richard) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Speak Now for Peace

Obama, take note: Vachel Lindsay in 1915 counseled against going to war even after the sinking of the Lusitania.

Posted in Lindsay (Vachel), Tolstoy (Leo) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Know Much about History

Nixon Waterman’s 1902 comic poem about students’ ignorance of history is probably still true today.

Posted in Waterman (Nixon) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Heaney’s Great “Beowulf” Translation

One of the late Seamus Heaney’s great legacies is his translation of “Beowulf.”

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Heaney (Seamus) | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Carrying on a Poetic Quest after a Death

Now that my father has died, my mother will be taking on sole responsibility for the local newspaper’s poetry column.

Posted in McMurtry (Larry) | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dignity and Labor

Vachel Lindsay points out that, when workers are robbed of their dignity, vandalism can follow.

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High above Flood & Fire Ye Held the Scroll

Emma Lazarus writes a Statue of Liberty-type poem celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

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  • 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.

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