Monthly Archives: January 2018

Patmore’s “Angel,” a Dangerous Poem

Patmore’s “Angel in the House” is no longer read but it defined the domestic ideal for much of the 19th century.

Posted in Patmore (Coventry), Woolf (Virginia) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America, Racist and Revolutionary Both

In America, Jamaican immigrant Claude McKay reminds America what makes it great, even as he exposes its dark side.

Posted in McKay (Claude) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Have Heard You Calling in the Night

I share two poems, by Rita Hawkins and Catherine Ann Lombard, inspired by the passage where God awakens the infant Samuel.

Posted in Hawkins (Rita), Lombard (Catherine Ann) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Is Bannon a Thomas Cromwell?

Steve Bannon may see himself as the protagonist of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy, but there’s one lesson from Henry VIII’s advisor that he ignored.

Posted in Mantel (Hilary) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black vs. White Responses to “Raisin”

“Raisin in the Sun” was a hit with both white and black audiences when it appeared in 1959 but for very different reasons.

Posted in Hansberry (Lorraine) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murakami and Millennials’ Identity Quests

Murakami’s novels appeal to millennials because they are existential parables, and young people are grappling with life’s big questions, especially identity and purpose.

Posted in Murakami (Haruki) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pope Describes Triumph of Stupidity

Book IV of Pope’s “Dunciad” captures the triumph of Trumpism. In Pope’s poem, the goddess dullness (stupidity) has conquered the world.

Posted in Pope (Alexander) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A President Who Hates Books

No president has been so adverse to reading as Donald Trump, whose contempt for books conjures up images of “Fahrenheit 451.”

Posted in Bradbury (Ray) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Pause in Time and the Soul’s Awareness

John Thorkild Ellison has two Epiphany poems in which the spirit enters when the poet has all but given up hope.

Posted in Ellison (John Thorkild) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to Celebrate a Winter Storm

Here’s a January poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti that will cheer you up if you’re being currently battered.

Posted in Rossetti (Daniel Gabriel) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Herculean Task: Purging Old Files

I’ve spent the last couple of days going through my father’s files (and throwing most of them away). I feel like Heracles cleaning out the Augean stables, as described by Seamus Heaney.

Posted in Clifton (Lucille), Heaney (Seamus) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Austen: Standing Up to Harassers

Jane Austen has powerful lessons for those battling systemic sexism.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Women as Saviors? Clifton Objects

Some are sanctifying black women voters for saving America from itself after Democratic victories in Virginia and Alabama. Lucille Clifton points out that sanctification isn’t much better than demonization.

Posted in Clifton (Lucille) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Riding with Chaucer into the New Year

Base your New Year’s resolutions on your favorite characters. I look to the Wife of Bath.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey) | 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