Monthly Archives: December 2017

God’s Word, the Ultimate Poetry

Poet Jeanne Walker riffs off the opening passage of the Book of John to compare poetic creation to the coming of new truth.

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The Year in GOP Soul Selling

This blog’s “post of the year” compared the GOP’s embrace of Trump to Faustus selling his soul to the devil.

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Poems for Resisting Trump

New York columnist Roger Cohen suggests two poems for resisting Trumpism: “if” and “Harlem.”

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#MeToo: A New Day for Cassandra

The prophetess Cassandra wasn’t listened to, but the #MeToo movement is changing that.

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Does the GOP Love Big Brother?

Do Congressional Republicans flatter Trump Goneril-like out of convenience or do they “love Big Brother”? Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor may hold the key.

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Love Was with Me in the Night

May Sarton’s imagines love without weight in her poem “Christmas Light.”

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Love Came Down at Christmas

People ask for physical miracles so that they may believe. Christina Rossetti points out that Jesus gave us something far more miraculous: divine love.

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Fantasy: GOP Tax Plan in a People’s Court

“The Madwoman of Chaillot’s” caricature is only to apt of a political party that would pass such a regressive tax plan.

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The Novel that Upended the USSR

Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” so effectively aided Khrushchev’s destalinization project that it would be banned by Brezhnev.

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Graded Essays Are Like Chopped Wood

If you are a teacher swamped by end-of-term essays, Frost’s “Woodpile” has some good advice for you.

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Recovering from the Semester

After an exhausting semester, I feel like Tennyson’s Arthur after his final battle. I’m spending my winter break with my wife and my mother in Sewanee, Tennessee, my version of Avalon.

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Trump, Pale Ravener of Horrible Meat

Melville is famous for exploiting and then casting off advisors. Perhaps they resemble the pilot fish in Herman Melville’s “The Maldive Shark.”

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Walking Down the Saddest City Lane

In which I read Robert Frost’s “I Have Been Acquainted with the Night” as an Advent poem.

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Gawain, Trump and Shame

Trump and Sir Gawain respond in opposite ways to shame: Trump counterattacks by acting shamelessly while Gawain lets it tie him into knots.

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Trump & GOP as Shakespearean Drama

To see the decline of the GOP as a Shakespeare drama, one must draw on “Macbeth,” “Hamlet,,” “Henry IV,” and “King Lear.” And throw in Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus.”

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Atwood’s Novels in the News

Atwood’s unsettling predictions registered two hits this past week: a GOP Congressman pressuring assistants to be surrogate mothers and recent reports of pigs engineered to carry human organs.

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Left Behind Evangelicals and Jerusalem

Trump’s disastrous Jerusalem decision may well trace back to the “Left Behind” series, which is popular with his diehard Christian base.

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Robert Mueller as a Savior Ent?

The Russian trolls that interfered with the 2016 election resemble the Orcs attacking Helm’s Deep in “Lord of the Rings.” Do we have a version of the Ents in Robert Mueller to save us?

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Like the Crocus Budding through the Snow

Melville’s “Clarel” wrestles with faith and doubt and whether science can be reconciled with religion. In the end, the poet tells us to look to the heart, a good Advent message.

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Studying for Exams, Risks & Rewards

For all those cramming madly for exams, this “Tom Sawyer” episode is for you.

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Derealized or Appareled in Celestial Light?

Wordsworth arrived at the underlying idea of “Intimations of Immortality” from a childhood experience that sounds like what psychology now calls depersonalization-derealization disorder.

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Euripides’s Attack on Authoritarianism

It’s possible to read “The Bacchae” as a critique of the autocrats who hijacked Athenian democracy and were running Athens into the ground.

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Nature Lit Has Healed for Centuries

For years my Intro to Lit class has had a nature theme.

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GOP Tax Plan and the Invisible Man

If the GOP tax plan panders to the wealthiest Americans, maybe it’s because they are like H.G. Wells’s Invisible Man and believe they can act with impunity.

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Margaret Atwood’s Green Christians

Margaret Atwood imagines a cult of green Christians in “Year of the Flood.”

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Why Streetcar Didn’t Impress Women

When “Streetcar Named Desire” was first staged, male reviewers thrilled to the way Stanley dominated Blanche. Reviewer Mary McCarthy was less impressed.

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