Sun-thaw

+++ FROST AT MIDNIGHT By Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Frost performs its secret ministry,Unhelped by any wind. The owlet’s cryCame loud—and hark, again! loud as before.The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,Have left me to that solitude, which suitsAbstruser musings: save that at my sideMy cradled infant slumbers peacefully.‘Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbsAnd vexes meditation with its strangeAnd extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,With all the numberless goings-on of life,Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flameLies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;Only that film, which fluttered on the…

In Othello’s Vise

OR OUR OTHELLO’S VICE Othello isn’t easy. As A.C. Bradley noted in 1913, “from the moment when the temptation of the hero begins, the reader’s heart and mind are held in a vise, experiencing the extremes of pity and fear, sympathy and repulsion, sickening hope and dreadful expectation.” I find this to be terribly true; in fact I have a hard time reading Othello or watching a production of Othello, and I think this is not only due to the fact that I ‘know what’s coming’ (as I do, or we all do, with most of Shakespeare’s classic plays) but…

My Shakespeare, my Shakespeare

+++ …why hast thou forsaken me? +++ “The story goes that, before or after he died, he found himself before God and he said: ‘I, who have been so many men in vain, want to be one man: myself.’ The voice of God replied from a whirlwind: ‘Neither am I one self; I dreamed the world as you dreamed your work, my Shakespeare, and among the shapes of my dream are you, who, like me, are many persons—and none.’ -BORGES, “Everything and Nothing”  +++ Sunday [21 Dec. 1817] Hampstead SundayMY DEAR BROTHERS,I must crave your pardon for not having written…

King Lear and the Very Bad Hair Day

OR King Leir and the Very Bad Heir Day The thing about King Lear for me is its bigness. Lear has big hair. Eighties big, teased out—And a crown of weeds, even! I feel little next to Lear. My hair cannot compete. It cannot. A.C. Bradley, probably the most influential 20th century critic of Shakespearian tragedy, agrees. He has written that to understand King Lear is to understand that we must “renounce the world, hate it, and lose it gladly. The only real thing in it is the soul, with its courage, patience, devotion. And nothing outward can touch that.”…

Velvet ears

+++ TO THE RIVER OTTER by Samuel Taylor Coleridge Dear native brook! wild streamlet of the West!How many various-fated years have passed,What happy and what mournful hours, since lastI skimmed the smooth thin stone along thy breast,Numbering its light leaps! Yet so deep impressedSink the sweet scenes of childhood, that mine eyesI never shut amid the sunny ray,But straight with all their tints thy waters rise,Thy crossing plank, thy marge with willows grey,And bedded sand that, veined with various dyes,Gleamed through thy bright transparence! On my way,Visions of childhood! oft have ye beguiledLone manhood’s cares, yet waking fondest sighs:Ah! that…