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Tempestuousity (and Other Goodly Words)

April 27, 2012

Henry Fuseli, The Enchanted Island: Before the Cell of Prospero (1797)

Much more on account of my quirkiness than erudition I have long liked The Tempest, Shakespeare’s straightforward tale of Prospero, a bitter old wizard, and his grudge match against his brother and the clowns who betrayed him, stole his neglected dukedom, and stranded him with his young daughter on a romantic little hell of an island somewhere in the Mediterranean.

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Thou Rambling Ill-Formed Child—Please Call Your Parents (Parenthood)

February 3, 2012
anne bradstreet

Anne: a softer portrait

It’s expected for a writer to dislike some or all of their published work on account on perfectionism, insecurity, self-deprecation—or overdue enlightenment. In The Author to Her Book, Anne Bradstreet used a child as a vivid metaphor for a disfavored book of her verse that she may have felt was prematurely published, and to such a degree you’d think the poem was about a real child if you neglected to read the title. Taking to task the “ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain” as “one unfit for light,” Bradstreet speaks with the hair-wilting harshness of a disappointed parent running out of ideas. In the end she softens, empathizes, and offers a bit of counsel on the rigors of the world (“‘mongst vulgars may’st thou roam”). A good thing, because she evidently harbored enough venom to kill a Puritan village. Really, the affection seems to have been there all along, and part of her anger is with herself for … being angry.

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To Build a Ship

May 26, 2011

I’m thinking about my kids. Perhaps myself. The goad versus the goal, the push versus the pull.

Quand tu veux construire un bateau, ne commence pas par rassembler du bois, couper des planches et distribuer du travail, mais reveille au sein des hommes le desir de la mer grande et large.

If you want to build a ship, don’t begin by gathering wood, cutting the boards, and dividing the work; rather awaken in the men the desire for the vast and endless sea.

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (attrib.)

NB: I don’t think there is an authoritative translation of this, so I found one I liked and tweaked it ever so slightly. Nothing’s perfect (XKCD).