Poem of the Week

Sonnet 29

By William Shakespeare
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Sanditon

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PBS/BBC’s Masterpiece drama Sanditon just hasn’t grabbed me. Based on an unfinished Jane Austen novel, it actually seems like a phlegmatic version of one of Austen’s masterpieces. The cast features Charlotte, a bright heroine who to me seems like a cross between Lizzy Bennett and her drab sister Mary with a mix of her friend Lydia. There’s an arrogant hero, who I expect will change after learning from the heroine. There’s a strict, rich widow and a fop or two. The only new character is a woman from Antigua who’s Black. There’s a possible injection of orignality, but like the others this character doesn’t do much for me.

The story starts with a couple getting stranded by Charlotte’s house and when this real estate developer invites Charlotte to his seaside development for an unknown period of time, her parents agree even though Charlotte’s father is wary of the wild ways of seaside villages. I couldn’t believe that even if it was the norm to let your young daughter go off with strangers, that this father wouldn’t have. Of course, money’s a big issue and the developer’s out of cash and his business is in peril.

The woman from Antigua, though an heiress, is treated with prejudice by all the social set she encounters. Her family has died and she’s under the supervision on her guardian, but she has a fierce desire to return home.

All in all, I think the story is predictable and I miss Austen’s perfect wit. To me the show doesn’t measure up to Poldark, Victoria, Mr. Selfridge, or The Paradise. I wish they’d add a season to either of those shows than mess around with an unfinished Austen novel.

Arcadia

Clever, but sterile, Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia didn’t grab me. I could appreciate the weaving together of characters from the 19th and 20th century, but the play never grabbed me or carried me away. One part of the play focuses on a precocious young lady who exasperates both her lascivious tutor and her mother; the other looks at a small group of annoyed and annoying modern intellectuals who bicker about Lord Byron and their professions. While the play won awards, I wouldn’t run to a theater to see it. In fact I’ve never seen it advertised so I assume it’s not going to be a classic.

Henry V

For my Great Books Book Club, I read and watched Shakespeare’s Henry V. I saw the 1989 film directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also adapted the play and starred in it.

Filled with intrigue, camaraderie, betrayal, battles and even wooing, Henry V is compelling. The best speech is this “We few, we happy few” band of brothers speech. It’s right at the climax of the film as the Brits are about to battle the French who far outnumber them. Like many speeches in Shakespeare it’s stirring and wise.

I did fast-forward through much of the battle scenes because they were authentically brutal, but at the same time true to life. While the film doesn’t contain every line from the play, it’s a faithful version and still packs a wallop and ends with a cute flirtation between Henry and the French princess. The end does have a very different tone than the main part of the film. Is that an error?

If so, I’ll forgive it because it gave another facet of Hennry’s personality.

Poldark, Final Season, Ep. 7

This episode was so adrenaline spiking that if there was one more iota of excitement, I’d have to go to the hospital with a heart attack. yet there were some coincidences that were a bit much.

Ross manages to single-handedly get himself out of the mine he was thrown intoRosina, the  and to find the ore that Tess and her henchman have hid, i.e. stole. So Demelza is soon relieved.

Meanwhile Tess is flirting with Demelza’s preacher brother, Sam. Rosina, another village girl was sweet on Sam. She had her heartbroken last season so she’s due for some love. However, Sam thinks Tess really wants to find God. It’d be nice if she did, but it’s doubtful.

Since Ned was executed, Kitty’s staying with Caroline and Dwight, who invites her to stay as long as she likes. I’m pretty sure these estates were built for big families and lots of guests. Caroline is jealous, needlessly. Her jealousy increases when Dwight proposes that Kitty come with him to London, where she can convince people to stop the torture done in prison. Caroline goes to London herself and helps Kitty hand out flyers advocating against torture.

At dinner at Nampara, Morwenna and Drake announce that Morwenna’s expecting. I figured this would happen. So they’re sure to have a happy ending. I do expect all or most of the characters we like will end on a high note, unlike the 1970s series which ended with Elizabeth’s death.

When Dwight finds out that Caroline is in London and her horse threw her, he’s angry. They argue about his attention to Kitty and she overhears them.

The plot continued to ramp up as Ross comes across some Frenchmen who’re up to no good and are led by the Frenchman who wanted to kill him a season back. That seemed rather coincidental. Ross offers to betray his country to save his skin. After all, his government just hanged his good friend Ned.

Kitty decides to return to Honduras. It makes sense as that’s where she’s lived and has I assume friends and family. Everyone’s so sad, but she probably has more connections and there’s plenty to stand up for in Honduras.

Geoffrey Charles and Cecily are about to run off to America to elope, but Ross doesn’t turn up to help them as planned. Of course, this won’t work. It’s the penultimate episode so we’ve got to have lots of problems. Cecily’s father turns up just as Demelza’s helping the couple and Geoffrey Charles is assaulted and near death. The evil father bargains with Cecily. He threatens to let Geoffrey Charles die, unless Cecily promises to never see him again. So she capitulates and tells GC that she doesn’t love him.

By the end of the episode everything’s gone wrong and the French ships on the horizon and will soon attack. it’s almost too much action. The finale is going to be action-packed.

Poem of the Week

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Among the Rocks

By Robert Browning

Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth,
This autumn morning! How he sets his bones
To bask i’ the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet
For the ripple to run over in its mirth;
Listening the while, where on the heap of stones
The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet.

That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true;
Such is life’s trial, as old earth smiles and knows.
If you loved only what were worth your love,
Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you:
Make the low nature better by your throes!
Give earth yourself, go up for gain above!

Poem of the Week

Sonnet 73

By William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’ d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Poem of the Week

Summer Images

By John Clare

Now swarthy Summer, by rude health embrowned,
Precedence takes of rosy fingered Spring;
And laughing Joy, with wild flowers prank’d, and crown’d,
A wild and giddy thing,
And Health robust, from every care unbound,
Come on the zephyr’s wing,
And cheer the toiling clown.

Happy as holiday-enjoying face,
Loud tongued, and “merry as a marriage bell,”
Thy lightsome step sheds joy in every place;
And where the troubled dwell,
Thy witching charms wean them of half their cares;
And from thy sunny spell,
They greet joy unawares.

Then with thy sultry locks all loose and rude,
And mantle laced with gems of garish light,
Come as of wont; for I would fain intrude,
And in the world’s despite,
Share the rude wealth that thy own heart beguiles;
If haply so I might
Win pleasure from thy smiles.

Me not the noise of brawling pleasure cheers,
In nightly revels or in city streets;
But joys which soothe, and not distract the ears,
That one at leisure meets
In the green woods, and meadows summer-shorn,
Or fields, where bee-fly greets
The ear with mellow horn.

The green-swathed grasshopper, on treble pipe,
Sings there, and dances, in mad-hearted pranks;
There bees go courting every flower that’s ripe,
On baulks and sunny banks;
And droning dragon-fly, on rude bassoon,
Attempts to give God thanks
In no discordant tune.

The speckled thrush, by self-delight embued,
There sings unto himself for joy’s amends,
And drinks the honey dew of solitude.
There Happiness attends
With inbred Joy until the heart o’erflow,
Of which the world’s rude friends,
Nought heeding, nothing know.

There the gay river, laughing as it goes,
Plashes with easy wave its flaggy sides,
And to the calm of heart, in calmness shows
What pleasure there abides,
To trace its sedgy banks, from trouble free:
Spots Solitude provides
To muse, and happy be.

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Poem of the Week

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The More Loving One

by W. H. Auden

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.