Thursday, July 2, 2009

Four hundred years from now...

Photo used by permission of Virginia Jones of

National Public Radio is conducting a survey in honor of the 4ooth anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare's sonnets. What lines from a love poem ...or song...or lines from fiction ...or even a film... do you believe will endure for the next four hundred years? They call this their "Summer of Love Survey." You can go to to offer your choice.
I once read that James Joyce's wife said to him, "Why don't you write something that people can read?" I guess she was not too fond of his distinctive stream of consciousness style in Finnegan's Wake and Ulysses
I hope she did get around to reading the short stories in The Dubliners.
"The Dead" is a bittersweet reflection on first love juxtaposed with the current disillusionment of a marriage which leads to a great epihany for the main character, Gabriel. These last two pragraphs of the story represent one of the most beautiful examples of modern prose written in English.

from THE DUBLINERS by James Joyce

Generous tears filled Gabriel's eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a gray, impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
Let me know if what passage or poem or song, etc you might submit for the ages.


Alaine said...

Well, I don't profess to be 'well read' but have always promised myself to read Joyce and I think, what better time than now?! I must do something about it!

I love poetry and have been downloading Shakespeare's sonnets but the poem close to my heart is Dorothea Mackellar's 'My Country', about Australia. Here is the second verse of six.

I love a sunburnt country
a land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges
of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror,
the wide brown land for me.

Country Girl said...

I am not as well read as you are, my dear Firelight. However, I do have a favorite by Shakespeare.

My crown is in my heart, not on my head,
Nor decked with diamonds and Indian stones, Nor to be seen: My crown is called content:
A crown it is, that seldom kings enjoy.

I just love this.

Derrick said...

Hello FireLight,

Oh! This would be a tough job. I bought a copy of Ulysses more years ago than I care to think and it is still unread! Perhaps, like Alaine, I should put that right.

I'm not too good at remembering quotes, passages or verse and where they came from unless I write it down, which I rarely do! But I like your and Alain'es selections.

Dave King said...

Easier perhaps to guess at which authors will be read, rather than which works.

willow said...

Oh, I could never choose!

This Joyce piece is so lovely. Have you seen the film "Nora" with Ewan McGregor as James Joyce?

willow said...

This vintage typewriter is to die for.

FireLight said...

Hello, all. Let's clear something up. Yes, I am an English teacher, but bear in mind, while I may read some classics, I read them over and over, with precious little time for reading what I might WANT to read. Additionally, I am a slow, plodding reader who loves to wallow in the language rather than race through the pages. For example, I am allowing myself about five to ten pages a day of the delightful The Guernsey Liteary and Potato Peel Pie Society! I don't want it to end!
Alaine, I love those lines and must find the poet. I am certain they will be around for many hundreds of years in Australia.
Country Girl, you are my proof! These lines are exquisite, and I don't believe have I ever read this sonnet!!!
Derrick, we can make pact and read it together! Just come back and add anything when you think of it.
Dave King, so glad you stopped by! I think you are right!
Willow, next week Imay change my mind! I have seen the film of THE DEAD, but I have not seen to Netflix! I loved the photo so much I requested use of it the day she posted it! Check out her blog about Birmingham. She has just returned from four weeks of photgraphing Paris:

Virginia said...

I regret that I'm not as well read as all of you. All I have to offer are my photographs, and I am thrilled that you have chosen one of mine to illustrate the wonderful dialogue that goes on here.

About Me

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat