14 April 2010


A school paper from last semester...

Frost and Snow Fall, Mingled with Hail

Ubi sunt? Where are they now? Winter becomes a personification of Death; falling snow as an emblem of loneliness. A snow covered, wind-battered wall as a picture of man’s infinite sorrow. And yet, in the distance, the light of hope in heaven is pinpointed on the horizon, and the wise man sits “apart in private meditation” (Greenblatt 113). These are some of the stronger themes and motifs in The Wanderer, a poem of lament from pre-tenth century England, enriched, as is characteristic of poetry of the time, with beautiful and creative kennings, a formula of descriptive words used to stand in for a noun. The elegiac poems of Old English literature shared much in common while still displaying a certain individuality, laying the groundwork and using many of the same themes and ideas as later writers such as “Donne, Arnold, Tennyson, and Milton” (Greenfield 2). In turn, Greenfield conjectures that the De Consolatione Philosophiae, written by an imprisoned Christian awaiting his execution might have influenced the authors of Beowulf and The Wanderer (34). The Wanderer and another elegiac poem The Seafarer “were, in earlier criticism, disintegrated into pagan and Christian strata” but now are both “viewed as unified structures and the product of the cloisters” (Greenfield 217).

The theme of Ubi sunt pervades such poems as The Wanderer; mournful cries of “‘where has the horse gone? Where the young warrior?’” echoing throughout (Greenblatt 113). Traces of the lament can even be found in Beowulf, which has sometimes been described as an epic, although in his essay The Monsters and the Critics Tolkien declares that “no terms borrowed from Greek or other literatures exactly fit” and rather describes it as “an heroic-elegiac poem; and in a sense all its first 3, 136 lines are the prelude to a dirge … one of the most moving ever written” (31). With such a powerful emotional pull being even stronger in The Wanderer, it is hard to believe any other ideas could have room to breath, and yet the entire poem is full of vivid imagery that stand in good harmony with each other and with Ubi sunt. The first part of the poem shows the unnamed protagonist as a broken, weary soul who longs for close companionship and family to unburden his sorrows on, mourning, “often before day dawned I have had to speak of my cares, alone: there is now none among the living to whom I dare clearly express the thought of my heart” (Greenblatt 112). The haunting sea that the protagonist seems doomed to roam forever, empty and restless, is a symbol of the wanderer’s exile.

After this, the poem changes directions in two ways; namely that the character of the wanderer seems to have undergone a change to be more thoughtful in a philosophic way and less self absorbed, and the language of the poem itself varies slightly in that it only once more references the sea; all other notations as to allegorical surroundings site things to do with dry land such as horses, walls, and “snow, the herald of winter” coming to bind the earth (Greenblatt 113). And all this leads up to the poem’s end; an exhortation to look to God and the next world to provide the stability that this world lacks.

Greenfield claims that the syntax of the verse’s opening lines suggest that Christian values are already being hinted at through delaying the “conventional association of ‘wretchedness’ and ‘lone-dwelling’” and replacing it at first with “often the lone-dweller experiences mercy” (76). But just as easily, the reading could be interpreted as avoiding reference to Christianity, and slowly revealing the wisdom the wanderer finds through his long years of suffering and his final philosophical conclusion, almost as if the listeners – or, today, readers – were experiencing both the pain and the somber joy for themselves.

While Beowulf is a mixture of the heroic and elegiac, Greenfield again points out that The Wanderer is “in the tradition of the Classical and Christian literary genre of the consolatio” (218). However, it is interesting to note the distinction made by another author, Hill, who compares Beowulf to two other poems of a slightly later period; The Battle of Brunanburh and The Battle of Maldon. He states that while these latter two were “composed carefully by makers who understand complexly the situations and persons involved” they are “simply much more polemical when compared to Beowulf and its inset stories. They are shaped more as arguments than as presented worlds, arguments regarding entirely justified violence” (Hill par 9). According to Hill, these other stories have a political undercurrent where “traditional loyalties are appropriated to model new ideas of loyalty to a state” (par 5).

Regardless of how one interprets The Wanderer, its inherent beauty of imagery remains unchanged, and the human sorrow of the nameless exile calls out to the reader; the poignant image of emptiness and loss captured in the wanderer’s dream of home when “he wakes again, the man with no lord, sees the yellow waves before him, the sea birds bathe, spread their feathers, frost and snow fall, mingled with hail” (Greenblatt 112).

Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. Print.

Greenfield, Stanley. A Critical History of Old English Literature. New York: New York University Press, 1965. Print.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984. Print.

Hill, John. "Shaping Anglo-Saxon Lordship in the Heroic Literature." Heroic Age 3 (2000): n. pag. Web. 30 Nov 2009. .

13 April 2010

Baba Yaga

I can't seem to figure out how to load my final project for my World Literature class onto Blogger, so I'm linking to my youtube account, which is how I plan to play it for my professor.  This is a professor I've had for several other classes, and she's very easy-going, so I felt free to get a little silly with the captions.  I hope you enjoy!

12 April 2010

A Review of Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

Wow. There’s a lot to discuss here. I placed Midnight Hour on hold from the North Carolina Digital Library about a month ago, because a) I thought I was getting an audio book and not an e-book, and b) because I thought it sounded mildly interesting, and if it wasn’t, my mind could just wander and I could let the pulp just wash past me.

Not so. Set in a world described to be the real one, its inhabitants are largely unaware of the supernatural creatures cohabiting this ‘real world’ and instead of working largely to continue the deception and concealment, the plot works toward a revelation – dragging most of the characters with it. This is especially interesting to me, because in my current WIP, I’m doing something similar; I’m almost positive that by the end of my book, the ‘real world’ inhabitants will become painfully aware of my magic-users from an alternate reality.

Vaughn has an interesting and detailed take on werewolves, in some aspects similar to Terry Pratchett in his Night Watch story arcs, most of which feature Sgt. Angua, a female werewolf. In Vaughn’s mythology, her interpretation leads to some rather disturbing sexual elements in the beginning of the story, but as the MC progresses through the story, she also shakes off the exploitation she has been suffering at the hands of her pack’s alpha male. Whereas Pratchett develops an idea of “Good dog/Bad dog” (as in the desire to be a Good Dog and the fear of becoming a Bad Dog), Vaughn explores the idea of needing companionship, needing an alpha, needing the approval of the alpha. In this vain, I was favorably impressed that Kitty separates herself from Carl, the pack leader, and does not enter into a different sexual relationship. Vaughn therefore shows the need for Kitty’s reliance on herself rather than simply on a different and better man than Carl.

Also, throughout the book, the author explores the different balances the individual members of the pack maintain between their “wolf” and “human” selves. Carl is portrayed as almost completely wolf-like, while his “mate” Meg, who schemes throughout the book, is portrayed as more human, therefore having the ability to scheme. Kitty lets her Wolf influence her actions throughout the novel, but in different ways at different plot points. In the beginning, as mentioned earlier, she lets Carl take advantage of her because of her Wolf’s need to please the alpha. Later, however, she completely surrenders to the Wolf’s more aggressive side, attacking and killing a rogue werewolf created by one of Meg’s plots to get rid of Kitty and dethrone Carl.

While I did find the book to be compelling, I have to wonder if the books in the rest of the series will be as good. It's hard to maintain depth of character when there are a lot of books with the same character in them. Once you work out the issues, they're worked out; anything after that seems shallow. The second book is on hold for me, but I have my doubts.

As a note on style, I have to say, Vaughn is excellent when it comes to dialog. She knows just when to have markers and when not.

And we haven’t even discussed the vampires yet! But maybe that’s for another day…

11 April 2010

Memorial Gardens


10 April 2010


To make posting easier (finding topics), I've changed the title of the blog to reflect some of my other main interests aside from art and writing. Whether I'll be any more assiduous in posting on a regular basis... well, that remains to be seen. I do have a short essay brewing in my head (plus a book review), but with two college papers due by the 28th, we'll have to see. How on earth am I going to survive once I transfer to UNCC? *Sigh* I'll just have to dye my hair blue.

04 April 2010

The Stationmasters' Guide Book: An History and Compendium

In Deorsa, during the early part of the Gray Pantheon Cycle (approximated to be equal to the early part of the twenty-first century of Earth), there were three types of magic being practiced. There was the most civilized, organized, efficient and most dangerous form, known as extractionism (notably, it was the only movement to identify the three magical branches with ‘ism’s) which was practiced by both sexes; then there was the mostly feminine magic practiced by Mystics (most famously, the Ice River Mystics), and then their was the mostly masculine branch of practitioners known as the Eldritch, or simply, Eldritch. Both of the latter forms of magic were considerably more difficult to master, and purely impractical on a large scale. Which is precisely why the people who practiced them chose to do so, and why they disliked and mistrusted the extractionists. In fact, due to the combined, if disjointed, efforts of the Mystics and the Eldritch, the extractionist movement, on the most part, had, largely, as a whole, died out. Nearly completely in fact. Nearly.
The Stationmasters' Guide Book: An History and Compendium, vol. 146(-9 [or possibly {-12}]), chapter 542, (usually located on) page 7,234,567,314

03 April 2010

The Stationmasters' Guide Book: An History and Compendium

In the multiverse, there are always two definitive versions of one particular universe. (Of course, there are all the parallel verses and their associated branchings-off, but they are shadow worlds, unreal and without body, unless there is a serious train-wreck in the workings of… things… and one of the shadow worlds, in an extreme emergency, is shunted onto the track the previous verse was derailed from. All this is managed by The Stationmasters.) In these two definitive versions of a smaller verse within the larger multiverse, one of these worlds will have magic, and one will not. Traffic between them is generally discouraged by The Stationmasters. Sometimes, though, it is possible, by dint of dogged perseverance and cat-like patience, to obtain an inter-dimensional passport. One of the most extraordinary instances of such a document being issued involves the sister verses of Deorsa and Earth.
The Stationmasters' Guide Book: An History and Compendium, page 1 (sometimes), paragraph 1 (nearly always)

02 April 2010

2010 Garden Notebook (thus far...)

March 20:
Prepared garden bed
March 21:
Planted (vegetables)seeds of Mustard**, Arugula**, Spinach***, Radishes**, Cress**, Chamomile, Parsley. (Flowers) Scarlet flax, Money plant, Bunny tail grass, & Lobelia
*Sprouted by the 28th & 29th
**Doing well by April 2nd
***NOT doing well by April 2nd
April 2*:
Transplanted garden center bought: Tomatoes, Rosemary, Yarrow, Rue, Peppermint, Feverfew, Camellia, Periwinkle, Foxgloves.
Planted seeds:Lupine, Astor, Sweet Marjoram, Chamomile, Borage, Basil, Swiss Chard
*Started active watering
Hopefully the 2nd round of Mustard and Arugula + 1st round of Lettuce will be started tomorrow.