Friday, November 03, 2006

Commonplace Blog

I can't think of anything original to say. My brain is exhausted. I have too much work to do between now and Thanksgiving and the end of the semester.

Instead I've decided to make this into an online commonplace book until I can think of something more interesting to write about.

Last weekend I found myself leafing through a poetry anthology. It was fun.

Here are two old favorites, both of which do much with the traditional 14-line sonnet, not only formally but also in their use of light/dark imagery. Though different in subject, I still like to think they're talking to one another.

Milton, Sonnet IXX

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask; But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Millay, Sonnet VII, from Second April

When I too long have looked upon your face,
Wherein for me a brightness unobscured
Save by the mists of brightness has its place,
And terrible beauty not to be endured,
I turn away reluctant from your light,
And stand irresolute, a mind undone,
A silly, dazzled thing deprived of sight
From having looked too long upon the sun.
Then is my daily life a narrow room
In which a little while, uncertainly,
Surrounded by impenetrable gloom,
Among familiar things grown strange to me
Making my way, I pause; and feel, and hark,
Till I become accustomed to the dark.

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