I wish I loved the Human Race;
I wish I loved its silly face;
I wish I liked the way it walks;
I wish I liked the way it talks;
And when I’m introduced to one,
I wish I thought “What Jolly Fun!”
Sir Walter Raleigh
Every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Welcome to our “Literary corner”. Here you can find a selection of poems and passages taken from famous novels. Enjoy!
Haiku, sonnet and poem…what is the difference? Can you find it?
In a Station of the Metro
THE apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
“the Sun rising” by John Donne
In this poem, John Donne imagines that he and his beloved wake up together, and someone walks in on them: the unwelcome intruder is the sun, which Donne treats as a person:
Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN by Robert Frost
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
CHARLES DICKENS’s NOVEL HARD TIMES: WHEN DO WE NEED TO TURN WORDS INTO ACTIONS?
Hard Times is a novel set in the age of the industrial revolution. It is one of Dicken’s most popular works. It was written in 1854. This novel is a denunciation of the evils of the industrial society. It shows the negative effects of industrialization.
The novel is set in an imaginary town called Coketown. Coketown is the typical model town of the industrial revolution. It is represented by different colors such as, the black and red of the bricks, the purple of its river and the black of its canals. Through the use of these colors the authors aims at emphasizing the atmosphere of pollution that dominates the town. The inhabitants of the town look sad and seem to have lost their personality. One of the major character of the novel is Mr. Gradgrind, a schoolmaster who believes in facts and has a very material view of life. Mr. Gradgrind thinks that imagination is a waste of time, as it represents a distraction from real life. Indeed, real life, in his opinion, is based on practical matters. For this reason he decides to ban fancy from his young pupils’ minds and educate them in a rational way. He stops their imagination, he rejects the value of human heart and he teaches his pupils only rational rules. Only at the end of the novel, he will admit that his theory on life and children education is completely wrong.
In HARD TIMES, Dickens also focuses on nineteen century class system, which can be divided into four groups: the fading aristocracy, the vulgar rising middle class, the struggling labor class, and the itinerant group, the circus people. This social group is represented by Cecilia, Sissy Jupe. She is one of Mr. Gradgrind’s pupils. She is the daughter of a circus worker, a place in contrast with Mr. Gradgrind’s theory of life.
Sissy is a loving person, able to bring warmth. By the end of the novel, she will get married, she will have children, and she will be the only one to reach happiness.
Read this short passage from the novel:
“NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”
The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, and the speaker’s square forefinger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s sleeve. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside. The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders, — nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was, — all helped the emphasis. “In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but Facts!”
The speaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim.
(Hard Times, Chapter I)
Below: the city of Chicago, E. Hemingway’s birthpalce.
HEMINGWAY AND PROUST AT MY TABLE
Eating practices define self-identity, social class, ethnic identity and reveal our inner self.
Eating is more than a habit, it may be a real ritual. Sharing a meal with the right companions is fundamental. Thanks to a good book and a good writer, eating may become a sensual experience. In the following passages, Ernest Hemingway and Marcel Proust, give food the power to convey and explore emotions, allowing the reader to taste and enjoy a special teatime and a unique dinner. Enjoy your meals.
THE TASTE OF THE SEA
Do you like oysters? Have you ever tried them? Read the following passage and see how Hemingway may help you appreciate and enjoy this type of food.
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
HEMINGWAY’S FAVOURITE HAMBURGER RECIPE. TRY IT!
18 BOOKS HEMINGWAY WISHED HE COULD READ AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME…
WHAT’S IN A CUP OF TEA?
It’s teatime, nothing better than sharing this moment with Proust, a very special tea accompanied by magic madeleines…let’s see what we can find in a cup of tea…
“She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called “petites madeleines,” which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend?…and I begin to ask myself what it could have been, this unremembered state which brought with it no logical proof, but the indisputable evidence, of its felicity, its reality, and in whose presence other states of consciousness melted and vanished. I decide to attempt to make it reappear…And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray … my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane… the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea.”
Marcel Proust “Swann’s way”