Monthly Archives: October 2013

Ancient Mariner as a Halloween Poem

“Rime of the Ancient Mariner” has passages appropriate for Halloween.

Posted in Coleridge (Samuel Taylor) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Dickens’ Children Expose Class Unfairness

Charles Dickens’ Sissy Jupe, in her innocence, could teach the GOP something about its insensitivity to the needs of the poor.

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Reactions to Rape Recall “The Lottery”

Maryville residents blaming the victims of a rape recall Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”

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Tea Party Racism and Flannery O’Connor

To understand Obama derangement and the government shutdown, Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Artificial Nigger” is a good place to start.

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We All Are Falling

A spiritual poem by Rilke about falling leaves.

Posted in Rilke (Rainer Maria) | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Mississippi Football and Homophobia

When Mississippi football players hurled insults as “The Laramie Project,” educators were presented with a teachable moment.

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What Anna Karenina Would Say to the GOP

Perfect advice from Tolstoy for the GOP.

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

What Dickens Would Say to Today’s GOP

Government support for me but not for thee–the Dickens of “Hard Times” would understand today’s GOP.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | 1 Comment

My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold Grandchildren

My heart leapt up Wordsworth style when playing with my grandchildren these past two weekends.

Posted in Wordsworth (William) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

E. W. Jackson, a Modern Day Bounderby

Virginia lieutenant governor candidate E. W. Jackson appears to be attempting a fraud worthy of Dickens’ Josiah Bounderby.

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My Father Moved through Dooms of Love

At my father’s memorial service, we read poems by e.e. cummings, Shakespeare, Jacques Prévert, and my father himself.

Posted in Bates (Scott), cummings (e.e.), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Farewell to the Boy with the Golden Crown

Yesterday at my father’s memorial service I read ones of his poems about the recurrent cycle of life.

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

For My Father’s Funeral, Go Out Singing

My father would have loved that his funeral service will conclude with this Jacques Prévert poem.

Posted in Prévert (Jacques) | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Science Speaks: Lit Makes You Smart

The science is in: great literature makes you emotionally smarter.

Posted in Erdrich (Louise), Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Reading as a Subversive Act

Richard Wright’s “Black Boy” testifies to the liberating power of literature.

Posted in Wright (Richard) | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Disaster Ahead, No More Fantasizing

Can the Tea Party move beyond fantasies and deal with the world as it really is? Shakespeare and Yeats weigh in.

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Shutdown and Debt Crisis Doggerel

A witty bit of doggerel captures the twists and turns of the debt ceiling and government shutdown conflict.

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Last of Mohicans–America’s Great Epic?

An argument that “Last of the Mohicans” is the great American epic that 19th-century authors were striving to write.

Posted in Cooper (James Fenimore), Milton (John) | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Gerard Manley Hopkins tells us how to access the god within ourselves.

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The Day Romo Flirted with the Sun

How Tony Romo is like Icarus.

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Haikus for Economic Crisis

Haikus on shutting the government and breaching the debt ceiling.

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A Plague on BOTH Houses? No, Only One

“A plague on both your houses” doesn’t work for Mercutio or for citizens today.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Government Shutdown? Call in the Bard

Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” offers a wish fulfillment that we can apply to the government shutdown.

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

When Hostage Taking Backfires

The GOP hostage takers resemble the Light Brigade, as well as the kidnappers in “Ransom of Red Chief,” “Fargo,” and “Ruthless People.”

Posted in O'Henry, Tennyson (Alfred Lord) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Worst Poem Ever Published?

The worst poem ever published may be William McGonagall’s “The Tay Bridge Disaster.”

Posted in McGonagall (William Topaz) | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Song of Night’s Sweet Bird

Shelley’s elegy to Keats, “Adonais,” gives us a rich vision of our relationship with death.

Posted in Keats (John), Shelley (Percy) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

OMG, a Yankee-less Postseason!

Something feels wrong about no Yankee team in the postseason. Time to reminisce with a Marianne Moore poem.

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The Shutdown, Clancy & Darkness at Noon

Tom Clancy helped create the narrative by which the Tea Party functions. Arthur Koestler may describe John Boehner’s inner state.

Posted in Clancy (Tom), Koestler (Arthur) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love Nature, Love Humans

Biologist-poet David Haskell taught my students to see the world with playful eyes.

Posted in Byron (Lord Gordon) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Needed in Congress: A Deus Ex Machina

If Boehner channeled the spirit of Athena in “The Odyssey,” he could reopen the government tomorrow.

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

The Wood Tick’s Holy Grail Quest

Only an imaginative biologist like David Haskell would compare wood ticks with Camelot knights..

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


  • 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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