[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

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[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] is probably the first E.E. Cummings poem I ever came across. I fell in love with it then. It’s so beautiful and effortless, simple and deep. I think it’s one of the most romantic of all poems and superlative in it’s embodiment and encapsulation of love’s transcendent power.

It’s always been one of my favorites. I had a hard time not including it in my Poetry Month Celebration blog post, last year, but I’d limited myself to only choosing one of my favorite poems from each of my favorite poets, so I went with [love is more thicker than forget]. I figured it was a lesser known poem.

Then, in May, I came across this video. It’s one of the best analyses of a poem, I’ve ever come across. It may seem a little long, but it’s well worth the time.


It starts off with a recording of Cummings, himself, reading the poem and then goes on to  analyse the poem and how it relates to Cummings and his poetry in a broader sense. It’s fascinating, especially the part where it shows how brilliantly Cummings used parentheses to overlap and add another level of depth to the poem and, also, where it touches on Cummings’ views on love and truth and how they can only be “known” by being experienced.

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“…Cummings believes that truth and poetry and love cannot be comprehended, only experienced. With his poetry and all it’s intense experimentation, he attempts to short circuit our impulse toward knowing so that we might experience language anew.”

I think Cummings certainly found a way to allow the reader to experience the beauty of “truth and poetry and love” through this poem.

This video definitely gave me a much deeper appreciation for this poem and for Cummings’ poetry, in general, and I’ve been wanting to blog about it for almost a year now. I figure, with yesterday being Valentine’s Day, today is a good day to. 🙂

There Are Two Kinds of People…

My sister sent me this cartoon the other day, she thought it was perfect for me. It was. 🙂 It resonates and makes me laugh, because it’s literally the exact way I’d put it, if I had to.

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I may or may not have been guilty of doing this to a few books as a child, but, until a few months ago, I hadn’t actually seen anyone do this to a book in years. I can’t remember exactly where I saw it, if it was in-person or on the internet. I just remember feeling a jolt and shudder of shock and horror, then disappointment in the owner and terribly sorry for the book! 🙂 Haha.

I understand why people might want to dog-ear a book, i.e., you have a few places you want to keep track of and you want to find them easily (I often end up using two or three bookmarks in one book). Still, once dog-eared, always dog-eared. Books that are well-read and loved naturally get well-worn and dog-eared, but there’s no need to deliberately speed up the process. 😦 If you want your book to have a long and happy and healthy life, it’s really in your best interest to find a slip of paper to use instead (I even use tissue and napkins when I have nothing else on hand), or buy or make a bookmark, or buy a pack of sticky-note-flags. Your books will thank you and will last longer too. 🙂

Books I Read in 2016 (What I’m Reading #9)

It’s been over six months since I posted anything here; mostly because, well, life. But I have been busy reading.

This is pretty much what my last year in books looked like. 🙂

dsc_8849rsAs a side note, taking this photo was, by far, the most frustrating experience I’ve had photographing books for my blog.

It took me three tries to get all the books in the stack right. Each time, it was only after I’d actually stacked the books, taken the picture, and nearly finished putting all the books away on my shelves, that I would suddenly realise I’d forgotten to include a book and back out all the books would have to come. 😦 In addition to that, there was always the matter of getting the balance right. See that wise old owl at the top of the stack? He’s only there so I could balance the darn thing. I can’t even count the amount of times the entire stack fell over. Fortunately, my stack was heavily cushioned and no books were damaged or hurt in the making of this photo. 🙂

Moving on…

In my last “official” What I’m Reading post, I mentioned I was going to be taking on the Goodreads’ Reading Challenge again. In 2015, I’d made it my goal to complete 36 books, but I found myself struggling at the end of the year. So I decided to be more realistic with my reading goals in 2016 and made it a goal to finish reading 30 books. I’m happy to say I reached my goal and even surpassed it! I read 33 books, which turns out to be the exactly same amount I read in 2015.

Here’s a complete list of the books I managed to complete, in the order they were read (generally speaking), with the latest reads appearing first.

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  1. What We Talk about When We Talk about God by Rob Bell
  2. Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #3) by Dan Simmons
  3. The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #2) by Dan Simmons
  4. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1) by Dan Simmons
  5. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. Prayer: Letters to Malcolm by C.S. Lewis
  7. Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense by Francis Spufford
  8. The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3) by Philip Pullman
  9. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) by Philip Pullman
  10. The Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman
  11. The Brothers Karamazov: A Norton Critical Edition / Edition 1 by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ralph E. Matlaw (Editor/Translator, Constance Garnett (Translator)
  12. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman by Angela Carter
  13. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Constance Garnett (Translator)
  14. Mistress Masham’s Repose by T.H. White
  15. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  16. God Will Make a Way: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do by Henry Cloud, John Townsend
  17. Dune (Dune #1) by Frank Herbert
  18. Growing up and Other Vices by Sara Midda
  19. Twelve Step Fandango by Chris Haslam
  20. The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts With Epilogue by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Richard Pevear (Translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translator)
  21. Eggs, Beans And Crumpets (Ukridge #1.3) by P.G. Wodehouse
  22. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  23. The Inner Life by Thomas à Kempis
  24. John for Everyone: Part One by N.T. Wright
  25. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  26. The Death Cure (The Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner
  27. The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner
  28. The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner
  29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  30. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  31. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  32. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  33. The Wise Woman and Other Stories by George MacDonald

Here are a few more statistics. 🙂2016-in-review-editedIt’s interesting to compare 2016’s with 2015’s. They’re both surprisingly similar.2015 in review

Again, these stats aren’t entirely accurate.

For example, I’m sure Notes from the Underground is far more popular than the statistics here show. I chose this edition because it was the closest I could find to a stand-alone Constance Garnett translation, which is the version I completed (I’m still in the middle of reading the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation). The least popular book I read is actually Sarah Midda’s Growing up and Other Vices followed closely by Chris Haslam’s Twelve Step Fandango (which I only read because my friend wanted to know my opinion of it and promised me he’d read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World if I read Twelve Step Fandango. I kept my end of the bargain, he didn’t. Heh.).

In addition, I didn’t completely read both translations of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I read the entire Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation and read about 1/5 of the Norton Critical edition (translated by Constance Garnett and revised by Ralph E. Matlaw). The Norton Critical edition, includes about 140 pages of background and sources and critical essays, all of which I read, so I felt it was fine to count it as an additional book. The only drawback to including it in the list is that it added an extra 600-700 pages to my final page count for the year.

I also read both versions of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, the 1890 Lippincott version and the 1891 revised and expanded version. So, technically, that would be two books, instead of one. But they were both included in the Norton Critical Edition and since I’d read a few other books that were terribly short, I figured I should just count it as one book to help even things out on the whole. 🙂

I’d say, overall, 2016 was a great year in reading. It included some of the best books I’ve ever read, as well as, some of the worst (*cough, James Dashner*); it also included the weirdest and most disturbing book I’ve ever read. Nearly every book was thought provoking in some way, which, to me, is the hallmark of a book worth reading.

I’d like to say, as I usually do, that I’ll be writing reviews for most or some of these books in the future, but, so far, that hasn’t seemed to have panned out. 😦 So I’ll refrain from saying anything this time, and que sera, sera. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

I’ve signed up again for the 2017 Goodreads’ Reading Challenge. My goal is, again, to complete 30 books. I’m hoping to read a lot of tomes and magnum opuses, several large and weighty books, this year, so I’m not sure I’ll complete my goal. But I still think 30 books is a good and realistic-enough goal to shoot for.

How about you? Do you have any reading goals for 2017? If so, I’d love to hear about them. 🙂

Poetry Month Celebration

Because it’s always lovely to get a good poem recommendation.

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A little while ago, I discovered (via The Golden Echo) that April is National Poetry Month and that there’s a tag (via The Edge of the Precipice) to help us celebrate. It looked like fun and I wanted to participate. So I sat down to write this post and then realised National Poetry Month might just be an American thing and I might need an I’m-not-American-so-I-don’t-officially-qualify-but-I’m-celebrating-anyway disclaimer. I decided to check with Google and discovered that, as of 1999, National Poetry Month is also celebrated in Canada every April, so I can officially celebrate. Thanks, Wikipedia. 🙂

–The Questions–

What are some poems you like?

I’ll keep this to one poem per poet, even though it’s difficult when it comes to E. E. Cummings, and especially difficult when it comes to  T. S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins. These are some favorites that immediately come to mind.

Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare
The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
“The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot
“Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath
[love is more thicker than forget] by E. E. Cummings

It’s funny, I just noticed several happy coincidences between these titles. There seems to be some sort of trend of three: three of these titles include the word “love”; three start with the word “the”; three have a version of the word “song” in the title.  🙂

What are some poems you dislike?

I don’t usually finish poems that don’t interest me. If I do, I tend to immediately forget them, so it’s a bit difficult to name names. However, (and this may make me seem like a philistine) there is one poem I’m not very keen on: Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken“.

My problem isn’t really with the poem itself, but more with it being ‘the [poem] not taken’ in context by so many people. As I’ve said in another post, it bothers me when things get taken out of context and given a meaning that is not even close to (or the opposite of) what the author was actually saying. The popularity of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” seems to lie in the fact that most people only, or mainly, remember the last three lines and forget the last two lines of the second stanza, as well as the first two lines of the last stanza.

Are there any poets whose work you especially enjoy?  If so, who are they?

T. S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins. E. E. Cummings interests me greatly, but I can’t really say I’ve read enough of his poetry to put him in that “special” category.

Do you write poetry?

Maybe.

Have you ever memorized a poem?

Yes. Most recently, T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Last year, in September, I started memorizing T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”, but got busy and forgot about it…this is a good reminder.

One of these days, I hope to memorize “The Waste Land” and all four poems in Four Quartets. (If I had enough time I’d probably memorize most of T. S. Eliot’s poetry 🙂 .) I would also like to, someday, have memorized all six poems I mentioned in reply to the first question. One down, five to go. 🙂

Do you prefer poetry that rhymes and had a strict meter, or free verse?  Or do you like both? Do you have any particular poetry movements you’re fond of?  (Beat poets, Romanticism, Fireside poets, etc?)

I don’t have a particular preference.  For me, it isn’t at all about form, it’s all about what the poet is saying. I think good poetry happens when the poet says something, not just because he can, but because he has to. There’s this great quote by Robert Frost that goes:

“A poem…begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.”
–Robert Frost, letter to Louis Untermeyer (1 January 1916)

A good poem is something that says ‘just what I mean’; it’s an expression of emotions and truth in a way that you never knew you’ve always wanted to say; it’s about using words to paint a magnificent scene (be it glorious or tragic) that everyone knows, but no one has quite seen before. A good poem happens when raw, honest, beautiful, terrible feelings and thoughts find the right words to embody them. As a result, a good poem makes you think. A good poem makes you feel something.

———

Well, that was fun. To be honest, when I started this post, aside from my great love for T. S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins, I didn’t think I was a poetry fan per se. Now that I’ve finished, I realise I’m more of a poetry fan than I thought. 🙂

Do you have any favorite poets or poems? Any poems or poets you especially dislike? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

Reading The Brothers Karamazov #1

Brothers Karamazov, Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky, Dostoevsky

About two months ago, a friend was going to have a month off. So he told me to give him a big reading project, which we could then discuss the next time we met. Fyodor Dostoevky’s The Brothers Karamazov had been sitting on my shelf and at the top of my priority reading list for years, but I’d been waiting till I could cut out a chunk of time to tackle it. This looked like the perfect opportunity. So I suggested The Brothers Karamazov (along with a disclaimer that, realistically, I probably wouldn’t be able to finish it in a month, but it was worth a start).

Two months later and, I haven’t finished, I’m about 2/5 into the book. But I’m not worried about taking my time. This isn’t a book I want to rush through.

One of the last books I read was Kurt Vonnegut’s SlaughterHouse-Five. In it, one of the characters says…

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“Rosewater said an interesting thing to Billy one time about a book that wasn’t science fiction. He said that everything there was to know about life was in The Brothers Karamazov, by Feodor Dostoevsky. ‘But that isn’t enough any more,’ said Rosewater.”
Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five

Is everything there is to know about life really in this book? Maybe. Is it really not enough any more? I don’t know. 🙂

What I do know is, Dostoevsky was a master at understanding, expressing and exploring human nature and the human experience. And this–his last book–is him at his finest. Every chapter is in some way an exploration of, or insight into, some form of psychology, philosophy, or theology. And many chapters are brimming with food for thought.

In light of that, and because The Brothers Karamazov is such a long book, I thought it would be interesting to try something different. So I’m going to try to blog about my reading experience, as I read, instead of waiting until I’ve finished reading all 800 pages. After all, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.” I’m hoping this will be a good way to note and journal my thoughts, so that I won’t forget them. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll go about it, but I have a few ideas. 🙂

Gerard Manley Hopkins–Easter

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Seek God’s house in happy throng;
Crowded let His table be;

–Gerard Manley Hopkins

I never thought I’d come across a poet I liked as much as T. S. Eliot, but I have. His name is Gerard Manley Hopkins and the more I read him, the more I’m struck by his brilliance. I’ve been meaning to blog about him for two years now, so I suppose this Easter is a good place to start.

This isn’t, by far, my favorite Hopkins poem, but it’s probably my favorite Easter poem. I think it perfectly sums up the joy, hope, happiness and celebration of Easter. Hopkins is especially good at evoking emotions, be they jubilant or despondent. In this case, you can feel the jubilation in every stanza and the imagery is splendid.

Easter

Break the box and shed the nard;
Stop not now to count the cost;
Hither bring pearl, opal, sard;
Reck not what the poor have lost;
Upon Christ throw all away:
Know ye, this is Easter Day.

Build His church and deck His shrine,
Empty though it be on earth;
Ye have kept your choicest wine—
Let it flow for heavenly mirth;
Pluck the harp and breathe the horn:
Know ye not ’tis Easter morn?

Gather gladness from the skies;
Take a lesson from the ground;
Flowers do ope their heavenward eyes
And a Spring-time joy have found;
Earth throws Winter’s robes away,
Decks herself for Easter Day.

Beauty now for ashes wear,
Perfumes for the garb of woe,
Chaplets for dishevelled hair,
Dances for sad footsteps slow;
Open wide your hearts that they
Let in joy this Easter Day.

Seek God’s house in happy throng;
Crowded let His table be;
Mingle praises, prayer, and song,
Singing to the Trinity.
Henceforth let your souls always
Make each morn an Easter Day.

–Gerard Manley Hopkins

Happy Easter! 🙂

Books I Read in 2015 (What I’m Reading #8)

Last year, I decided to take on the Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge. My goal was to complete thirty-six books (three books a month). Here are the books I managed to complete.

2015 books read

  1. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  2. The Bad Beginning (An Unfortunate Series of Events, #1) by Lemony Snicket
  3. Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees by Yoshida Kenkō
  4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  5. Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot
  6. A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
  7. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
  8. Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill
  9. The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius
  10. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
  11. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  12. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  13. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  14. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  15. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  16. Mocking Jay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins
  17. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) by Suzanne Collins
  18. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) by Suzanne Collins
  19. Calamity (Reckoners, #3) by Brandon Sanderson
  20. Firefight (Reckoners, #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  21. Mitosis (Reckoners, #1.5) by Brandon Sanderson
  22. Steelheart (Reckoners, #1) by Brandon Sanderson
  23. The Hope of Elantris (Elantris, #1.5) by Brandon Sanderson
  24. Elantris (Elantris, #1) by Brandon Sanderson
  25. The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, #4) by Brandon Sanderson
  26. The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3) by Brandon Sanderson
  27. The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  28. The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) by Brandon Sanderson
  29. Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2)by Brandon Sanderson
  30. The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)by Brandon Sanderson
  31. Wool by Hugh Howey
  32. On Love by Alain de Botton
  33. Animal Farm by George Orwell

I’m hoping to get around to reviewing many of the books listed here and as I do I will add hyperlinks to each review.  In the meantime, here are a few more statistics. 🙂

2015 in review

As you can see, there are thirty-three books listed, but I wouldn’t really count Brandon Sanderson’s The Hope of Elantris (Elantris, #1.5) or Mitosis (Reckoners, #1.5) as a book each, because they’re both just short stories. I could probably get away with counting them both as one book. So I’ll do that and say I completed thirty-two books last year.

While I’m on the subject of these two short stories, as a very brief review, I would not really recommend either of them to anyone, even a Brandon Sanderson fan.  Actually, if you’re an obsessive fan, and like the Reckoners series, I’d say go ahead and read Mitosis, just don’t expect anything. But take my word for it and don’t read The Hope of Elantris. Just don’t. There are very few things that I actually wish I could unread and this short story is one of them. 😦 More on it later perhaps.

Going back to the Reading Challenge, towards the end of 2015, I found myself torn between reading the books I wanted or needed to read (i.e. denser or longer books) and trying to reach my goal of thirty-six books. In the end, I decided that reaching my goal of reading thirty-six books wasn’t as important as reading books that I needed or wanted to read, but coming to that conclusion was difficult. So this year, I’ve decided to make things a bit easier for myself and make it my goal to read thirty books (2.5 books a month) instead. Hopefully, this will allow for a happy balance between both the amount and quality of books I read this year.

What are your reading goals for 2016?  If you have any, I’d love to hear about it. 🙂