Monthly Archives: October 2016
A reading of a Shakespeare sonnet
‘For shame deny that thou bear’st love to any’: so begins Sonnet 10 in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. This sonnet represents a minor turning point in the sequence, since Shakespeare’s admiration of the Fair Youth and his beauty becomes personal, rather than merely being couched in terms of general praise. Here is Sonnet 10, and some notes towards an analysis of its meaning and language.
For shame deny that thou bear’st love to any,
Who for thy self art so unprovident.
Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,
But that thou none lov’st is most evident:
For thou art so possessed with murderous hate,
That ‘gainst thy self thou stick’st not to conspire,
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate
Which to repair should be thy chief desire. Read the rest of this entry
The curious life of Montague Rhodes James
Many people regard M. R. James (1862-1936) as the finest writer of ghost stories in the English language. How did he come to write such highly regarded tales? In this post we offer a very short biography of M. R. James, focusing on the most curious or eye-catching aspects of his life.
Montague Rhodes James was born in Kent, England in 1862, the son of a clergyman, though from the age of three he was raised in Suffolk. The family lived at the Rectory in Great Livermere, Suffolk, which, a century and a half earlier, been the childhood home of the Suffolk antiquary Thomas Martin (c. 1696–1771), nicknamed ‘Honest Tom Martin of Palgrave’. Whether the course of M. R. James’s life – namely, his lifelong interest in the past – was inspired on some level by Honest Tom’s ghost is not, alas, recorded. Read the rest of this entry
A charming poem by a curious poet
How many people have heard of James Henry? The name Henry James (1843-1916) is rather more familiar – he was the American-born author who moved to England and is best-known for his short stories and novels. But the Irish poet James Henry (1798-1876) is somewhat less familiar to most readers. This is hardly surprising: for over a hundred years after his death he was forgotten, but what makes James Henry unusual is that his poetry was pretty much completely ignored during his lifetime, too. Here is his poem about pigeons which begins with the delightful line ‘By what mistake were pigeons made so happy’. Why indeed?
By what mistake were pigeons made so happy,
So plump and fat and sleek and well content,
So little with the affairs of others meddling,
So little meddled with? say, a collared dog,
And hard worked ox, and horse still harder worked, Read the rest of this entry