Weekend Poem To Consider: ‘Haunted Houses’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Happy Saturday Everyone!

The “Weekend Poem To Consider” this weekend is ‘Haunted Houses’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Haunted Houses

All houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,

Along the passages they come and go,

Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall

Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;

He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;

Owners and occupants of earlier dates

From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,

And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere

Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense

A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise

By opposite attractions and desires;

The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,

And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar

Of earthly wants and aspirations high,

Come from the influence of an unseen star

An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud

Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,

Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd

Into the realm of mystery and night,—

So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this,

O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

This is a captivating poem about the connection between the spirit world of ghosts and the present world of the living. I have read this poem several times now, it draws me in with its imagery, and just when I think I understand the meaning, I re-read it and realize that I don’t. One thing is for certain though, this poem makes me think.

Initially, I thought the narrator was a ghost, but now I’m not so sure. I was also approaching this poem with a logical mind that says ‘ghosts aren’t real’ so there must be a deeper meaning, but what exactly is that deeper meaning? What is Longfellow trying to say? I thought the idea he was trying to convey was that those ‘ghosts’ who linger symbolize the lives of those who lived and their spirits remain with us for some reason, maybe as reminders of the past. However, this is a poem about ghosts or ‘spirits’ and the “bridge of light” that descends in order to connect our worlds.  So, just where does this “bridge of light” descend from and what is the purpose? Could it simply be that we are to be aware of a world beyond this one? Could it be an inducement to remember the past and those who lived before? I’m not sure, but this poem keeps me thinking.

What do you think? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this poem.  What is the meaning of this poem to you?  Tell me in the comments below.

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Weekend Poem to Consider: ‘The Best Thing in the World’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Happy Sunday Everyone!

I am thinking about starting a “Weekend Poem to Consider” category which I will post each weekend. I won’t analyze the poem; instead I will keep it simple and note why I like it and want to share it.

The Best Thing in the World

I like this poem because the tone is happy and the author is expressing what she considers to be a few of ‘the best things in the world’ to her. There are many and they vary, from the things she sees and experiences to happy memories and love returned. It is about being in this world and enjoying life and I think this resonates with all of us.

Have you read this Poem?

What did you think of it?

Are you a fan of Elizabeth Barrett Browning yourself?

What would you consider ‘The Best Thing in the World’?

 

Reviewing ‘Go set A Watchman’

I just finished ‘Go Set A Watchman’ by Harper Lee and although I can’t compare it to ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ just yet, I ended this book wishing for something…well, more or maybe different.

Summary:

26 year old Jean Louise Finch returns to Alabama to visit her father. Once there, she is immediately at odds with everybody: her boyfriend, Henry, her Aunt Alexandra and her Father, Atticus.  During the course of her visit she discovers a pamphlet in her Father’s books titled “The Black Plague”.  She is confused and bewildered that this kind of material would be in his things because this is something her father would fight, not support, so she goes to the courthouse to hear what they are talking about.  When she arrives, she hears some pretty ugly and hateful comments from those in attendance and the worst part is that those who showed up, her father and boyfriend included, were gathering in the name of “the preservation of segregation”.

There are flashbacks to her childhood and adolescence throughout the story and an eventual confrontation with her Father.  The book ends with a disturbing and confusing interaction between Jean Louise and her Uncle Jack where he explains things to help her realize she needs to be her own person with her own conscience and to see her Father as a man and not a hero.

I didn’t think the book was all that great. There were moments, especially the courthouse scene, where it was disturbing and difficult to read and if there were some lesson to be learned from this it may have served a point.  We are told that Atticus Finch was a man who “lived by New Testament ethics” and she goes on to say that she didn’t realize she worshipped him until he betrayed her “publically” and “shamelessly”.  Everything he stood for and taught her was good and this sudden change of opinion is a betrayal.  After she confronts her Father, her Uncle Jack comes to talk to her and she realizes that she has worshipped Atticus for far too long and now she must see and accept him as a real man, a human being.  It’s not that coming to realize and accept that our heroes are flawed, ordinary people isn’t without value, but it’s the way the author chose to do so, by making Atticus into a bigot and a racist that is so difficult.  She painted a picture of a hypocrite.  Interestingly enough, when she is yelling at Henry about being a hypocrite, Atticus suddenly shows up behind her leading to the confrontation scene.

Although this book was recently released as a novel of its own, this manuscript/version was never intended for publication. This is a first draft, a starting place.  I think she wanted to write something that exposed the racism that she saw in the south and that also dealt with father/daughter relationships.  Is there something to learn from this book after all? I think there is something we can learn about the importance of becoming our own person and to accept that our heroes are flawed without accepting or conforming to attitudes we know are wrong.  Also, if your uncle slaps you around to bring you to your senses, push through the shock and confusion and quickly drive away.

What do you think? Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

 

Introductory Post to Reading ‘Go Set a Watchman’ by Harper Lee

I just started reading Go Set A Watchman and after that I will begin To Kill A Mockingbird, which I’m sad to say I haven’t read yet.  As for the latter, I’m not exactly sure how I’ve gone this far without reading this classic of American Literature. I would have thought To Kill A Mockingbird would have been required reading for all freshman English classes, but I digress.

I’m getting ready to settle into these two books and discover a little more about Harper Lee and to hear what she has to say. And since I’m about to spend a good deal of time with her, through her books, I thought a brief intro about Harper Lee and her novel Go Set A Watchman was in order.

Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, and grew up in Monroeville, Alabama. She is mainly known as the author of To Kill A Mockingbird and for her friendship with Truman Capote. Although she briefly studied law in college, she quickly realized that writing was her true passion, and moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. There, she made some friends through Capote who supported her financially for a year, allowing her to work on her writing. The first draft of her novel was Go Set A Watchman which was rewritten at the suggestion of an editor, becoming the classic we know today as To Kill A Mockingbird.  The book was published in 1960 and later won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.

It is interesting to note that Go Set A Watchman, which has now been released as a novel of it’s own, was her first draft which an editor had previously told her to rewrite from a young Scout’s point of view. She made some significant changes in the revision process and once I have read both books I should be able to get a better glimpse of her creative processes at work. For now, I’m starting at the beginning with her first book, which should reveal where she wanted to go with her novel, and then I’ll see how the story takes shape.

What do you think? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments below.

Reviewing ‘My Organic Life’ by Nora Pouillon

Welcome to My Book-a-Logue.

This will be a travelogue if you will of the books I’m reading, what I have liked or disliked, what I have learned and any other “bookish” experiences that I think would be interesting enough to share.

I’m starting this blog out with a review of Nora Pouillon’s My Organic Life, a book I recently finished, but also one that reflects what I would like to become personally. I definitely want to live as organic a life as possible. Because my husband and I are making strides towards this in our own life, I found Nora’s story both motivating and inspiring. Continue reading