January 2009 Archives

The Road Not Taken (Robert Frost)

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"Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back."


Time does have that way about it.  Of the Frost poems assigned this is the one I am most familiar with, and it ceases to dull with each new read.  The poem retains a relevance to life; people are always choosing a path; sometimes the intent is to revisit the denied course in the future, but life steps in and intent is forgoten or lost in the present shuffle.

After Apple Picking (Robert Frost)

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"The woodchuck would say whether it's like his

Long sleep, as I describe its comng on,

Or just some human sleep."


Ok, my first thought was hibernation (don't laugh) but I was not aware that woodchucks hibernate. I think while I was reading woodchuck my mind was resolved on woodpecker. Thanks to google I now know that, yes, woodchucks, also known as groundhogs (the light bulb goes on), do in fact hibernate. And sadly, that was as far as my interprative skills were able to pry into the meaning of this poem.

No Time for Brevity

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"One of the old French philosophers and wits, Blaise Pascal, apologized for writing a long letter, saying, 'I had not time to write a short one.'" 
How to Read Literature Like a Professor--Thomas C. Foster (p. 27)

He could not have said it better (at least in my opinion).  Isn't it true that the simplest phase can often be the one holding the most meaning? And think of how troublesome it can be to edit down a rough draft.  Foster uses his reference to Pascal's statement to remind people not to underestime the content of something because of its brevity.  I think poetry--although I love a good poem--can be the most evading material to read.



A Smile Is Worth A Thousand Words

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"It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.  It faced--or seemed to face--the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.  It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey." The Great Gatsby p. 48


A splendid example of how lovely words can be.  I imagine that even Gatsby's actual smile would have lacked the luster of the text Fitzgerald used to describe it.  I have yet to come across such a smile in my own life, hopefully someday. To possess a smile capable of so much reassurance would be a talent worth mastering.  More to the point, I think the smile gave away the true nature of Gatsby's character; behind the rumors and the role he attempts to play emerges the "fundamental decencies" of human character mentioned previously on page 2. Decencies which are as the author reminds us "parcelled out unequally at birth."

Another thing, I was curious about perhaps a less obvious significance to those eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg (p. 23) considering the design on the front cover also features a pair of peering blue eyes?  

 Original Dust Jacket


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