Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jack London - The Apostate

"If you don't git up, Johnny, I won't give you a bite to eat!"
The threat had no effect on the boy. He clung stubbornly to sleep, fighting for its oblivion as the dreamer fights for his dream. The boy's hands loosely clenched themselves, and he made feeble, spasmodic blows at the air. These blows were intended for his mother, but she betrayed practised familiarity in avoiding them as she shook him roughly by the shoulder.
"Lemme 'lone!"
It was a cry that began, muffled, in the deeps of sleep, that swiftly rushed upward, like a wail, into passionate belligerence, and that died away and sank down into an inarticulate whine. It was a bestial cry, as of a soul in torment, filled with infinite protest and pain.
But she did not mind. She was a sad-eyed, tired-faced woman, and she had grown used to this task, which she repeated every day of her life. She got a grip on the bedclothes and tried to strip them down; but the boy, ceasing his punching, clung to them desperately. In a huddle, at the foot of the bed, he still remained covered. Then she tried dragging the bedding to the floor. The boy opposed her. She braced herself. Hers was the superior weight, and the boy and bedding gave, the former instinctively following the latter in order to shelter against the chill of the room that bit into his body.
As he toppled on the edge of the bed it seemed that he must fall head-first to the floor. But consciousness fluttered up in him. He righted himself and for a moment perilously balanced. Then he struck the floor on his feet. On the instant his mother seized him by the shoulders and shook him. Again his fists struck out, this time with more force and directness. At the same time his eyes opened. She released him. He was awake.

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Image taken from here
Buy Jack London books at Amazon The Call of the Wild, White Fang & To Build a Fire (Modern Library Classics)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Faith Thomas - The Piano

"Why do mom and dad always have to be away?" Dott asked in her whiney voice as she asks everyday now. "Do we really have to stay with grandmot…?" "Dott stop! I tell you this all the time, mom and dad are at work and they will be home in a few days." Eliza Rosalyne knew that she was lying to her sister; she knew where her parents were but didn’t find it necessary to tell her little sister. Eliza Rosalyne and Dotts’ mother and father were getting divorced and the children had to live with their grandmother until everything was final. Eliza Rosalyne wanted to protect her little sister from the pain and thoughts that her parents were no longer together. "Go to bed Dott, we have a very long day tomorrow." Tomorrow was Sunday and that was chore day in her grandmother’s house. Their grandmother’s house was more like a Victorian mansion; it was a huge, old dark house on a lake as if it were right out of a horror film.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

An introduction to the poetry of William Blake

The one thing everyone knows about William Blake is that he was a visual artist as well as a poet. It might be thought that since he took such trouble to illustrate his poetry, or to use his word, illuminate it, and because his designs are so brilliant and sometimes so powerful, the words can't be appreciated properly without the pictures.
I don't agree. If that were true, it would mean that there was little point in a publication like this. Some of his designs are majestic in their power and authority, exquisite in their detail, tender, awe-inspiring, profoundly original: all that is true.
Nevertheless, words and pictures are different things. We can memorise the words of The Tyger and reproduce them without loss every time we recite it, because words live in our mouths and our ears; we can't do the same with the picture that goes with it, because pictures live differently. The power of Blake's greatest poetry is independent of the designs that surround it. If the designs had been magnificent and the poetry banal, we would never remember a word of it.
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Buy the poetry and prose of William Blake at Amazon The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An introduction to the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The very name Samuel Taylor Coleridge seems to reverberate like some mysterious timpani. Those magical titles of his vibrate and echo over an infinite distance: Kubla Khan, The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Frost at Midnight … Or for that matter the notorious Person on Business from Porlock. Almost unnecessary, one might think, to turn back to the poems themselves at all (do they still do so in schools?). Those proverbial titles seem to hold all the poetry.
So it easy to forget how strange, how captivating, how haunted Coleridge's actual poems are. Why is it, for example, that so many of them are set at night? Why do their outer landscapes always dissolve into inner dream worlds? Why are they so full of guilt? And yet why are they also so often suffused with beautiful, healing, glimmering moonlight?

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Buy his poetry at Amazon The Complete Poems (Penguin Classics)