Tag Archives: William Wordsworth

Reconnecting with My Dead Son

Thursday I had a shock of recognition while teaching Stephen King’s IT in my American Fantasy class yesterday. The approach to life that saves the day for the protagonist is the approach that got my eldest son killed 16 years ago. Yet I don’t think King is wrong. In fact, I was comforted once I saw the […]

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Childhood, Space of Terror & Enchantment

Norman Finkelstein’s wondrous poem “Children’s Realm” (in “The Ratio of Reason to Magic”) examines child’s play spaces and says that the poet also needs play spaces within.

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Welcome Class of 2020 (and Others)

A letter to incoming college students, with a tip of the hat to Montaigne, Williams Wordsworth, and Lucille Clifton.

Posted in Clifton (Lucille), Montaigne (Michel de), Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Novels with Waterfalls and Secret Caves

When I was growing up, the adventure books that I read influenced how I regarded and interacted with nature.

Posted in Perkins (Lucy Fitch), Tolkien (J.R.R.), Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Mental Benefits of Forest Walking

Recent brain research notes that walking amongst trees is a powerful antidote to depression. Wordsworth knew this long ago.

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Using Lit to Discover Purpose in Science

My Intro to Literature students, few of whom are English majors, are often startled to discover that literature understands them better than they understand themselves. Today’s post describes the encounters between two science majors and, respectively, Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality” and Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior.”

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Donne’s Lovers, Spooky at a Distance

Tuesday Adam Gopnik makes some nice literary allusions in a recent New Yorker essay-review of George Musser’s Spooky at a Distance, which is about the history of quantum entanglement theory. Entanglement, also known as non-locality and described by Einstein as “spooky at a distance,” claims that two particles of a single wave function can influence each other, even […]

Posted in Donne (John), Shakespeare (William), Trollope (Anthony), Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

King Looks to Children for Hope

Despite the horrors he describes, Stephen King’s vision is ultimately a hopeful one. The key, as he sees it, is plugging into childhood hopes and imagination.

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The Minstrels Played Their Christmas Tune

William Wordsworth celebrates Christmas was a poem about minstrels singing Christmas carols.

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The Peace of Wild Things

My Intro to Literature class explored how a disconnect from nature leads to existential anguish while opening themselves up to nature provides spiritual nourishment.

Posted in Berry (Wendell), Clifton (Lucille), Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Euripides, Kingsolver (Barbara), McCarthy (Cormac), Oliver (Mary), Shakespeare (William), Silko (Leslie Marmon), Sir Gawain Poet, Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Child’s Connection with the Dead

Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” captured my son’s sense of connection with his dead brother.

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Reconnecting with the Forest Spirits

Here’s a story of how Wordsworth allows a Myanmar student reconnect with the forest spirits of her childhood.

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Hope and Disillusion in Egypt

Wordsworth’s “Prelude” captures both the hopes and disillusion that many have felt about the Egyptian revolution.

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A Light Exists in Spring

Emily Dickinson captures magical light of spring–and its transience.

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My Heart Leapt Up

A rainbow sighting led to a discussion about how humans often turn to nature for guiding metaphors.

Posted in Bible, Blake (William), Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

All Which We Behold Is Full of Blessings

Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” provides us with passage that functions as a Thanksgiving poem.

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Such Singing in the Wild Branches

On a beautiful spring morning when she is startled by birdsong, Mary Oliver describes a merging with nature where she “began to understand what the bird was saying.”

Posted in Oliver (Mary) | Also tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Once We Memorized Poetry

Memorizing poetry used to be standard classroom practice and poetry was widely popular before the snobs came in.

Posted in Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Keats (John), Kilmer (Joyce), Kipling (Rudyard), Riley (James Whitcomb), Shelley (Percy), Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Moment Kindheartedness Walks In

Sometimes when I get depressed about the state of the world, I do two things. First, I remind myself that too often I allow myself to be stampeded into fear by media headlines, which use adrenaline to hook us. Second, I recollect the many generous and kind people in my life and in the world. […]

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With Aging, Abundant Recompense

  In a follow-up to yesterday’s post where I talked about my cancer-ridden friend Alan, I examine another passage from The Brothers Karamazov. This one is focused on aging generally, not just death. If you ever find yourself getting depressed about getting old, check it out.   And check out as well William Wordsworth’s Intimations […]

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Essay Grading and the Great Wall of China

At this time of year, I sometimes wonder why I signed up for this gig. Stacks of ungraded essays are strewn “far and wee” across my study, and only the knowledge that I have completed my student essays in the past assures me that I will make it through this batch. In my hour of […]

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A Spiritual Interpretation of Waterfalls

Spiritual Sunday I still haven’t gotten over the waterfalls at Yosemite—does one ever?—and so am sharing a spiritual interpretation of a waterfall by the 17th century mystical Anglican poet Henry Vaughan.  I’ve mentioned in a previous post  that I have mixed feelings about Vaughan (especially by how he sees the natural world cordoned off from […]

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Nature or Poetry? Choose Both

“The world is filled with the grandeur of God.” “The sounding cataract haunted me like a passion.” In my last two posts, I reported how poetry sprang to mind as I walked through some of California’s natural wonders, specifically Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Yosemite National Park.  Today I meditate on the relationship of […]

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The Cataract Haunted Me Like a Passion

Ansel Adams, Yosemite Falls          Julia, Toby (our youngest son) and I visited Yosemite National Park for the first time last week, and I am still vibrating from the stunning rock faces and gorgeous waterfalls.  It was remarkable to see what seemed, at a distance, to be thin, almost delicate, streams of water pouring from great […]

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How Lost Innocence Can Breed Monsters

Continuing the theme of lost innocence leads me to a discussion of Stephen King, America’s master of horror. Whether you like him or not, King is the bestselling author in the world because he taps effectively into our collective nightmares. One of these nightmares is over losing touch with our childhood innocence, and there is […]

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Coping with the Loss of Childhood

As I have been writing on dreams of lost innocence and the challenges of growing up, I thought I’d write on one of the great poems on the subject. In “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” Romantic poet William Wordsworth wrestles with his deep sense of loss. (You can read the entire poem […]

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