Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Five: Books, books, books

Sally over at RevGals writes: I've just returned from a meeting in Cambridge so I'm posting this late here in the UK (it is 3:45pm).. because I took the opportunity of a free afternoon in Cambridge's wonderful book shops... I only bought a few- and they were on sale- very restrained for me!!!So with my head full of books I've seen and a long wish list in my mind, I bring you a Friday Five on books!!!

1. Fiction what kind, detective novels, historical stuff, thrillers, romance???? I like fiction. It can be any of the above. I like a good story about human struggle and redemption - I like to read about people growing and learning. I like humor and I like nature/adventure/reflection novels by authors such as Barbara Kingsolver, Terry Tempest Williams, etc.

2. When you get a really good book do you read it all in one chunk or savour it slowly? I read it in one chunk, although that is usually over the course of a day or two, I don't read that fast, but also I always have other things I have to do.

3. Is there a book you keep returning to and why? Other than the Bible, no. Once I've read a book I almost never go back and re-read it. Except poetry, that I re-read often.

4. Apart from the Bible which non-fiction book has influenced you the most? Too many to choose from. I read a lot. Maybe, Women and Desire, by Polly Eisendrath; the various books and writings of Carol Gilligan on the psychological development of girls and women; perhaps Diana Butler Bass's series on practicing congregations...oh my, I could go on and on

5. Describe a perfect place to read. ( could be anywhere!!!) I like to read in my family room with windows open, or on the deck. Lots of fresh air and good light.


Gannet Girl said...

I read poetry a lot, too.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

Oh with a sunny summer weekend on tap I hope you take time to play outside... all the good reads will wait for those rainy days & those cold winter ones right?

mompriest said...

Yes, actually I hope to spend ample time outside, then read in the evenings....really loving this weather!

Diane said...

oh, who are your favorite poets? (especially contemporary)? I like Billy Collins, and am just starting to appreciate Mary Oliver. I'm weird because I did my sr. english thesis on 17th century metaphysical poetry. It made my head hurt to say that. But it was cool. I REALLY like Robert Frost too. Everybody thinks they understand him, but there's always more.

Hedwyg said...

Mmmmm... fresh air seemed to be a theme in some of my favorite places to read, too. :-)

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

mompriest said...

Mary Oliver and Billy Collins are two of my favorite, a well!

Sally said...

poetry is very special- brings us to a new place I think- great play- love your reading venue!

mompriest said...

I had to google 17 century metaphysical poetry.

Turns out I read (and sing) at least one poet of that genre: George Herbet...

The term "metaphysical" is used to designate the work of 17th-century writers who were part of a school of poets using similar methods and who revolted against the romantic conventionalism of Elizabethan love poetry, in particular the Petrarchan conceit. It includes a certain anti-feminist tradition; see e.g. Donne's "Go and Catch a Falling Star" or "The Apparition."

John Donne was the acknowledged leader of the poets today identified as "metaphysical" (though they themselves would not have used the term, nor have considered themselves to constitute a "school" of poetry). No exact list of "metaphysical poets" can be drawn up. Crashaw and Cowley have been called the most "typically" metaphysical. Some were Protestant religious mystics, like Herbert, Vaughan and Traherne; some Catholic, like Crashaw; one was an American clergyman, Edward Taylor. While less easily assimilatable, Marvell shares certain affinities with the "metaphysical" poets. The "metaphysicals" are popular with modern readers because of their realism, their intellectualism, and their break with their immediate literary past.

Some characteristics of metaphysical poetry include:

a tendency to psychological analysis of emotion of love and religion
a penchant for imagery that is novel, "unpoetical" and sometimes shocking, drawn from the commonplace (actual life) or the remote (erudite sources), including the extended metaphor of the "metaphysical conceit"
simple diction (compared to Elizabethan poetry) which echoes the cadences of everyday speech
form: frequently an argument (with the poet's lover; with God; with oneself)
meter: often rugged, not "sweet" or smooth like Elizabethan verse. This ruggedness goes naturally with the Metaphysical poets' attitude and purpose: a belief in the perplexity of life, a spirit of revolt, and the putting of an argument in speech rather than song.
The best metaphysical poetry is honest, unconventional, and reveals the poet's sense of the complexities and contradictions of life. It is intellectual, analytical, psychological, and bold; frequently it is absorbed in thoughts of death, physical love, and religious devotion.
A "metaphysical conceit" is a far-fetched and ingenious extended comparison (or "conceit") used by metaphysical poets to explore all areas of knowledge. It finds telling and unusual analogies for the poet's ideas in the startlingly esoteric or the shockingly commonplace -- not the usual stuff of poetic metaphor.
It is often grotesque and extravagant, e.g. Crashaw's comparison of Mary Magdalene's tear-filled eyes as "Two walking baths; two weeping motions / Portable and compendious oceans." Donne's comparison of his union with his lover to the draftsman's compass in "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" is more successful because it gives us a perception of a real but previously unsuspected similarity that is therefore enlightening.

Typical metaphysical conceits come from a wide variety of areas of knowledge: coins (mintage); alchemy; medieval philosophy and angelology (see e.g. Donne's "Air and Angels," NA 1243 [not assigned for this class]); meteorology (sighs are blasts, tears are floods); mythology (the Phoenix's riddle, the river Styx); government ("she is the state, he is the Prince" from Donne's "The Sun Rising"); travelling (Donne's "Go and Catch a Falling Star"); astronomy; metallurgy ("gold to airy thinness beat"); geometry (the twin compasses); law; geography.

Diane said...

WOW! I haven't looked at that for YEARS (although I keep volume of Herbert at my bedside). My Sr. thesis was comparing Donne's "Good Friday: Riding Westward" and a Good Friday poem by Herbert, and how different forms of meditation influenced them. I read Ignatius for Donne and some Julian of Norwish and The Cloud of Unknowing for Herbert. I still love "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" which is a wonderful poem to Donne's wife. If you don't know it already, check out Herbert's wonderful poem, "Easter Wings." It has to be heard AND seen.

Great to find you!!!

mompriest said...

I love Herbert's Love III: Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back...

I am really not at all familiar with these in any technical way, just a closeted reader of poetry for the sake of reading poetry. But. I'd like to know more. I love the look of Easter Wings, and it language, just amazing.

I haven't tried to write a poem in many years. Although I preached a sermon a few months ago (in Lent) that came out in the preaching like a poem...didn't know it when I wrote it, it was in the preaching of it. That was cool.

So. If you like, let's talk poetry. I'd love it. Maybe in a casual way, if you find you like let me know and vice versa and then we can talk about why (or why not)...and what makes it a good poem...or other ideas you might have....I'm going to check out Donne....and pull out my Herbert...

Diane said...

Love III...I remember reading it in college and geting really excited about it. I recited it for a couple of my friends and they just looked at me like, "wha?" Ever since then, I've been shy of sharing.

The very best book for "getting" poetry is a textbook called "How does a poem mean?" by John Ciardi.

And now I'm going to pull out my Donne and Herbert too. Also ... Emily Dickinson is highly underrated. Try Robert Frost's "Mending Wall." And the last stanza in "Two Tramps in Mud Time..."

mompriest said...

Ok, great. I'm going to get Ciardi's book.

maybe gannetgirl would like to join us?

Diane said...

yes, I hope she does.

Diane said...

so let me know how you want to organize this...ok?

I know poetry, but I'm still learning "computer".

mompriest said...

That's a good question. I've been thinking about it. I thought I'd get Ciardi's book so we have a common playing field and language to begin. Or, while I wait for it, we could begin by discussing a particular poem and what it means and what we get from it.

For instance, I've been thinking about the phrase from George Herbert's poem "A True Hymn" which says: "Joy, my Life, my Crown!"...what does he mean by crown?

I mean in the USA the image of crown has lost much of its potency. So, how might we understand it now, in the context of this poem?

How's that for starting a conversation. We could walk through this one, and look more deeply at the characteristics of poetry from one genre or kind or whatever (see, I am really struggling 'cuz I don't know exactly)...what ideas do you have? I'd love to do this, just don't know where to begin!

Homily for the Festive Eucharist at the closing of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

The readings that we chose for the service tonight were all picked specifically for this service because they lift up the role of women ...