Monthly Archives: June 2017

Green Knight’s Lessons for Doctors

An essay I received on “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” from a pre-med student has me thinking of the poem’s useful lessons for doctors. There are several.

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Women Who Refuse To Be Broken

There are certain poets who appear indomitable and, in their confident affirmations of life, inspire the rest of us. Lucille Clifton was one of these poets.

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Trapped in an Emergency Room

When a friend found herself suddenly trapped in a large metropolitan emergency room, Nabokov’s short story “Cloud, Castle, Lake” came to mind. It’s about a man who wants to leave travel tour and is prevented.

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Lincoln Transformed Depression thru Lit

Melancholy threatened to paralyze Abraham Lincoln in his early years. Literature helped him give voice to his depression and taught him how to turn it into an asset.

Posted in Byron (Lord Gordon), Poe (Edgar Allan), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Candide & the GOP’s Tax Obsession

The GOP’s obsession with tax cuts reminds me of the Baron’s obsession with his lineage in Voltaire’s “Candide.” No matter how much reality changes, he always insists on this one thing.

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Be Wide as the Air To Learn a Secret

In “Bismallah!” (“In the Name of God!”), Rumi speaks of the lightness of spirit that Ramadan makes possible.

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Lit Comforts an ALS Sufferer

This past March an ALS sufferer spoke eloquently, shortly before her death, about how she turned to Sophocles, Kafka, and Shakespeare for comfort.

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Great Pro-War Literature Doesn’t Exist

In which I argue that great pro-war literature doesn’t exist, including “The iliad” and “War and Peace.” (Both works are magnificent; I just don’t see them as pro-war.)

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Watching McConnell Destroy Healthcare

Wednesday It’s so strange watching Mitch McConnell crafting a healthcare bill under a cloud of secrecy at the same time that everybody pretty much knows about the consequent disasters, beginning with the 20+ million who will lose healthcare. I feel like I’m in the position of the God and Jesus in Paradise Lost as they […]

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A Dreamy Day and Tranquilly I Lie

Here’s a relaxing poem by “hoosier poet” James Whitcomb Riley to welcome in the summer.

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Lit Can Both Enslave and Liberate

In his 1961 revolutionary classic, Frantz Fanon saw literature as a powerful force with the potential to both enslave and liberate. Emerging nationalist movements needed literary expression to frame a sense of what was possible.

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On a Father’s Unspoken Love

Robert Hayden’s “Those Sunday Mornings” lends itself to a religious interpretation about a caring father who selflessly takes care of his child, expecting nothing in return.

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WaPo’s Petri Plays Shakespearean Fool

Washington Post humorist Alexandra Petri has been having a lot of fun with Trump supporters’ attack on “Julius Caesar.” Here are some of her funniest barbs.

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Only Wimps Complain about Shakespeare

Preeminent Shakespearean Stephen Greenblatt calls out people for whining about the Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of “Julius Caesar.” After all, Queen Elizabeth I once had a Shakespeare play used against her in an attempted overthrow and just shrugged it off.

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Sly Marc Antony Resembles McConnell

The Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of “Julius Caesar” has the Right up in arms about the image of Donald Trump being assassinated. The timeliest lesson of the play, however, is the way that Marc Antony slyly slides in to take power. Think of him as Mitch McConnell quietly preparing to repeal Obamacare and deprive millions of healthcare while the nation focuses on Senate hearings.

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Trump’s Cabinet as Goneril and Regan

Everyday, it seems, Trump proves to us that he’s King Lear. The latest example is when he subjected his Cabinet to a love test.

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A Birthday Poem by the Numbers

My wedding anniversary and birthday this year all work together as a numerical quirk, giving me a rationale to share one of Jonathan Swift’s “Stella birthday poems” in which the poet also plays around with numbers.

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Genesis: Story Truth, Not Happening Truth

The creation story in the Book of Genesis is magnificent poetry that resists the attempts of religious and scientific fundamentalists alike to reduce it to a scientific account.

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Will No One Rid Me of This Russia Probe?

When former FBI Director James Comey, in his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, quoted Henry II–“Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest”–he brought to mind both T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” and Shakespeare’s “Richard II.” He took the right lessons from history by not murdering the Russia investigation.

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Bob Dylan, Gifted Storyteller

Bob Dylan, in his Nobel Acceptance Speech, made it clear that literary influences are as big in his song writing as musical influences.

Posted in Dylan (Bob), Homer, Melville (Herman), Remarque (Erich Maria) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life Is Delight When June Is Come

Here’s a Robert Bridges poem poem to help you enjoy summer in all of its splendor. And bring along a book of verse while you’re at it.

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Be Afraid of Trump’s Fear of Being Mocked

Donald Trump is obsessed with the fear of being laughed at, as he revealed once again in vowing non-compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement. As Cormac McCarthy shows in “All the Pretty Horses,” such people are capable of unimaginable cruelty.

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Shakespeare for a Midsummer Wedding

A couple of years ago a former student opted for a “Midsummer Night’s Dream”-themed wedding. For many reasons, it was a perfect choice.

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Pulled into the Ring of the Dance

In her Pentecostal poem “Caedmon,” Denise Levertov describes the moment when the early British poet was filled with the Holy Spirit and learned the art of song.

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Trump, GOP Sacrifice Our Climate Future

Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out the the Paris Climate Accord, and the GOP’s willingness to go along, reveal an absolute contempt for the next generation. Such contempt is at the heart of Russell Hoban’s dystopian nightmare “Riddley Walker.”

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On Reading Pride & Prejudice 100 Times

Teaching a classic too regularly can lead to its losing its luster for the teacher. I share how I keep that from happening.

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