December 20, 2013

This week finds us on the cusp of Winter Solstice – and I suspect many are ready for the light to start growing again, in all respects. We’ve got some lovely poetry this week, from Amy Lowell to Emerson to Whitman, as well as a double-dose of Tom Jones. 

The Taxi, by Amy Lowell

Read by Xe Sands

Xe writes…

So why this piece…

I wish I had a few words to spare for this, but my mind seems too quiet in the ways that matter to find them. Maybe you only have a finite number of them available at a given time, and once depleted, you have to wait until there is a build-up of letters and meaning before trying to adequately express yourself. It took a lot of words to make it through last week. There aren’t many left rattling around in my head.

So this poem, well…

Leaving my family last weekend – after spending a week grieving together, after being forced to acknowledge the loss constantly – was…well it was a relief. By putting distance between us, I put distance between KNOWING and FEELING an impossible loss. And I was so very tired of feeling. Like we get to pick the duration of such a thing…

But with that distance, there was a price to pay. As each mile passed on our way to the airport, as my father’s house grew more distant, so too did his presence – as Lowell writes,

“Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,”

Indeed. And I don’t want to be disconnected from my father. And yet I cannot live in a constant state of loss. So therein lies the contradiction: distance is necessary, and yet distance is abhorrent.

 

The Snow-Storm, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Read by Diane Havens

Diane writes…

Some truly beautiful early winter snowfalls here brought this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson to mind. “The frolic architecture of the snow.”

 

Assurances, by Walt Whitman

Read by Paul Birchard

 


 

Tom Jones, Book VII, Chapter 2, by Henry Fielding

Read by Mark Turetsky

Mark  writes…

Book 7 Chapter 2 of Tom Jones.

This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones over the course of four years.

This is a fairly short chapter, in which Tom received a letter from Blifil, informing him that Allworthy wants nothing more to do with him, and that the best thing he could do would be to leave. Tom, realizing that, since all of his contacts in the world came through Allworthy, there’s nobody else who might help him out. Tom makes the decision to go to sea.

Tom Jones, Book VII, Chapter 1, by Henry Fielding

Read by Mark Turetsky

Mark  writes…

 

Book 7 Chapter 1 of Tom Jones.

This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones over the course of four years.

It’s the start of another book, meaning we get another discursive chapter from Fielding. This time, Fielding discusses comparisons of the stage to real life, and points out the use of stage metaphor has grown commonplace. He uses as an example the phrase “behind the curtain” being used more often outside of the theater than in. I’m sure we could come up with even more examples, and, if we were to subscribe to the modern idea that our language has a profound effect on our neurological processes, and also take into account the modern study of Performance Theory, we might say Fielding was somewhat ahead of his time.

He dismisses Shakespeare’s profound “poor player” from Macbeth as being hackneyed, and tries to revive a work called “The Deity” which had already been forgotten nine years after its publication, when Fielding was writing. The Deity was written by Samuel Boyse, who seems to be largely forgotten. Go ahead, Google a few lines of his poem, and see that the first page of hits goes directly to Tom Jones, rather than Boyse. Probably not a fair test, but there it is.

Anyway, Fielding echoes one of Shakespeare’s other famous stage metaphors, in saying that, well, one man, in his time, plays many parts. He cites as an example, David Garrick (pictured here in the role of Richard III), the most celebrated actor of his time. In addition to playing the great parts, he’s also played fools. So too might Black George, in stealing Tom Jones’ 500 pounds play the knave. But he may at some point play a more heroic role in this story, as nobody is ever wholly hero or wholly villain. We certainly see this dichotomy with this book’s hero.

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