Friday, February 26, 2010

Come one, Come all.

Though it brings me great pain to tell it, I must announce that this blog is in its final days.

Now before you go into full mourning or rally the angry mob, listen to me my good people.

The blog, what was written here, will stay. But future literature posts will be added to the "Stories" tab of Alicia's Story Lady Blog.

It has been over a year since I've had anything "literary" to post. It just won't do to have that kind of blog. I just finished reading The Great Gatsby (much to my sister's delight) and need to gab about it. Find me on her new site.


Friday, January 9, 2009

A Christmas Tradition

I love the work of Dickens to start with. Open any of his books and the moment you begin reading, you find yourself enthralled in wit, humor, and real-life insights penned so masterfully that it's addictively intruiging.

That said, I now admit to you my Christmas tradition: Every year, I read A Chistmas Carol. The story has become an immortal classic, and has probably been overly cinematized to the extreme (I mean, we've seen Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy as the Kratchits ...). But I submit that you've never really experienced this tale until you feast on the words as Dickens laid them down. Even the first page was enough to grab and rivet me.

The first year I began this tradition, I started reading in the late evening, and continued on into the early morning until I had finished the entire story. Most every year since, I've taken time to enjoy it a chapter at a time throughout the Christmas Season.

I love this tradition. You won't fully know why unless you've read this story. Dickens was able to create an example of hope -hope wrought by repentance. Repentance is brought about through the love of Christ, whose birth we honor at Christmas. I always feel inspired to be a better person after having read A Christmas Carol. I'm reminded that Christ came into the world to save all who would come unto Him. No one is so awful that they can't change -there is hope as long as we're still alive. It may take a very frightening wake-up call to prompt the change, but nobody is so far off-course that Christ is powerless to bring them right again.

So add to all the wonderful joys of Christmas a hope for mankind to change. I do it every year, thanks to Mr. Dickens.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A little bit o' Frost

...and a lot of ignorance.
I was in a meeting last weekend. The subject of "life's paths" came up. Everyone was offering insights, endeavoring the profundity of sages.
I half-hoped that it wouldn't come up, the old "Robert Frost wrote a poem...."
But it did -brought up by the guy sitting next to me no less.
"Robert Frost wrote a poem, I think it's called The Road Less Travelled and he says in there that we should take the road that is less travelled in life."
The guy in charge queried, "And why should we?"
"Because it makes all the difference."
"That's right."
Are they serious?
And then I overheard from the row behind me, a guy saying, "That's a good point."
Wow. Am I the only one who's read the poem for what it is?
I know I probably rant a little much about this, but I suppose it's because it pops up so frequently. I wanted to protest and set them all straight, but I bit my tongue and saved the thought for another day, yet knowing how way leads on to way...
It's called "The Road Not Taken". Hello.
When one knows nothing of poetry, they shouldn't dabble in the realm. They're gonna look really dumb.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Odd's Fish M'dear!

I lied to you. All of you. I tried to read "Tom Sawyer", but I don't have my own copy, and I set out to reading it online. After three chapters and 29 headaches that left two permanent vertical indents between my eyebrows, I gave up. Quit. Threw ambition out the window and replaced it with chocolate cake. Okay, that's another lie. I didn't replace it with chocolate cake. I replaced it with something just as good: The Scarlet Pimpernel.

For my 23rd birthday, my gorgeous little sister gave me a copy of the book (and the DVD of the amazing 1982 masterpiece by the same name). I tore through the book in 3 days. I can't believe this book has been lounging around since the early 1900's and I'm barely getting to it! I feel like I've been locked in the back of an unknown cave for 23 years and I'm just now seeing the sunlight for the first time. It's like being born all over again. That demmed Pimpernel has me wrapped around his elusive lacy cravat.

What else does the Baroness have to offer? What an imagination! Sink me, if I'm not a fan for life.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Brief Hiatus

Gone reading "Tom Sawyer". Be back shortly.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Next Undertaking

I've heard a bit about Shakespeare's Othello, and I'm intruiged. I've heard that it has so many different aspects to it that it can appeal to almost anyone (who can understand the language).
So we shall see. To read, or not to read?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two Roads

It's time that I answer Alicia's challenge:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken, penned by Robert Frost, has proved an inspiriation to the succeeding generations since the time it was first published.
Now, I'm no expert on poetry, but I do believe that anyone has the right to their own insights and can interpret the poem into whatever they think it is saying.
Many people take this particular poem and pull something vastly wise and inspirational. And for that, I cannot blame them. And yet, I have to ask, are they reading it with their eyes closed? Dr. Suess taught us long ago that reading with our eyes closed is not nearly as effective as when we read with them wide open. Let me explicate what my open eyes found:
I memorized this poem for an assignment in my English 102 class (thank you Mrs. Schruer), an easy task since we'd performed it set to music in Symphonic Choir a few semesters before that.
People have tagged a meaning onto it so firmly, a meaning so deeply profound, full of age old wisdom, that anyone who dare to chisel at its meaning with a questioning aim is dismissed as a heretic and a fun-wrecker. And yet, here I go with my chisel. The publicly praised meaning, "take the road less travelled by the world, and it will make all the difference."
Scores of stories can be fitted to this moral, and rightly so when we live in a world of swift moral decay, but just because it's true doesn't mean that Frost was saying it.
And now, my insights:
The more I examine this poem, the more I see of a regretful tone, and hesitancy to choose rather than the tone of triumph and confidence.
First, the color in this poem adds to the tone of it. The wood is desribed as being "yellow", an indication of fall, age, and decay. The narrator also mentions the roads covered "in leaves no step had trodden black". Black, darkness, evil, the traveler was looking for which might be the darker path to help in his decision.
Next, notice the tone created by the wording: "sorry I could not travel both" "I doubted if I should ever come back" "I shall be telling this with a sigh" (an ambiguous phrase- a sigh of relief, despair, or weariness of a tired traveler?).
Our wood-faring traveler is hesitant to choose. He stood a long time, longing for forsight as to what lay ahead on each road. He is daunted by the fact that his decision is not quite clear- shrouded in mystery, hidden in leaves, indiscernable. And yet with all his careful comparison and observation, he concludes that the two roads were "really about the same". This idea is repeated in the next line: "And both that morning equally lay".
The triviality of the long-pondered decision is shown in the traveler's admission that the roads were pretty much "about the same".
So why does he say in the final stanza that taking "the road less-traveled... has made all the difference"? The phrase, "made all the difference" carries a positive indication in our speech today. But taking it at face value, we could ask, "Made all the difference, for BETTER or for WORSE?" Is it possible that he is forseeing himself agonizing over his choice? This would follow his hesitant attitude toward the choice to start with. How could he, with his admitted lack of discernment or foresight, possibly be thinking that his choice would prove a triumph in making all the difference for the better in his life? There is nothing in the poem to suggest that; it was our society that made that suggestion. In view of the traveler's thought that the choice between one forest path and another would make "all the difference" later, it's easy to see how he has a tendency to turn the trivial into something paramount. Keep this in mind as you consider Frost's own commentary on the poem:
"One stanza of The Road Not Taken was written while I was sitting on a sofa in the middle of England, was found three or four years later, and I couldn't bear not to finish it. I wasn't thinking about myself there, but about a friend who'd gone off to war, a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn't go the other. He was hard on himself that way."
So what was written as a sort of jab at a friend was taken by the world and blown so completely out of proportion that the real meaning at the heart of the poem now lays shrouded in yellow leaves. I think Frost must've enjoyed seeing what people derived from his work.
There is one phrase in Frost's comment that I find particularly useful when undertaking a study of any of his works: "I wasn't thinking about myself". I think it's natural to approach the poem thinking that the narrator is the poet speaking. It was Frost writing it, and so it is natural to conclude that what the narrator says is what Frost thinks. There is more clarity in keeping an objective neutrality in view of the narrator while navigating through the text.
It makes sense that the poem is not titled, "The Road Less-Traveled". It is called, "The Road Not Taken". Yet another regretful look back at the choice, agonizing (with a sigh?) that he didn't go the other way.