Monday, July 26, 2010

Muse and Anti-Muse (Melencolia)

I know I'm a bit late wrapping up Shakespeare Week, but better late than never. The following is the sonnet I wrote for my Western Humanities I Final Project on the Renaissance. I had to display a Powerpoint on the Shakespearean sonnet, write and recite my own sonnet. 

My sonnet is inspired by the 1514 metal engraving "Melencolia 1" by German Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer. (see below)

In the happy course of composing plots, 
full of daring deeds and mortal affairs.
A sudden chaos, then my mind is fraught:
Calliope! She leaves me unawares!
Imagination now an empty room;
the door therein stands frightfully ajar.
Souls who pursue the arts know well this gloom;
with Mind and Melencolia at war.
Melencolia violates the space,
that dearest Calliope once did fill;
And stirs me not with her Stygian face.
All inspiration she’s designed to kill.
    O Anti-Muse! turn yourself ‘round again,
    Leave by that door, and let my Muse back in!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dreams—Shakespeare Week, Day 6

The Tempest—Act 4, Scene 1

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Existence—Shakespeare Week, Day 5

Hamlet—Act 3, Scene 1

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Death—Shakespeare Week, Day 4

Macbeth—Act 5, Scene 5

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What real love means—Shakespeare Week, Day 3

Sonnet #116 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vengeance—Shakespeare Week, Day 2

The Merchant of Venice—Act 3, Scene 1


If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Brevity—Shakespeare Week, Day 1

Hamlet, Act 2—Scene 2

My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad. . . .

One week to honor The Bard

I am going to deliver a presentation tomorrow night in front of my entire Western Humanities I class. My final Renaissance project is on the Shakespearean sonnet. My assignment for the project was to write a sonnet in the style of Shakespeare and recite it to the class. I have put together a Powerpoint (via Keynote, because I'm a Mac girl) detailing the history of the sonnet and highlighting some of the other famous sonnet poets.

My poem is called "Muse and Anti-Muse (Melencolia)" and was inspired both by Shakespeare's 38th sonnet (an ode to his "Tenth Muse") and a 1514 metal engraving by German Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer, titled 'Melencolia I.' (see below)

I think I've written a damn fine sonnet. I may try and get it published at a literary magazine.

To celebrate The Bard, and the end of the term, I am going to post a new Shakespeare quote here everyday. Or try to. It is finals week and I'm up to my eyeballs in studying.

Here's to the Bard. Master of the sonnet. Master of Classic Literature. Period.

Shakespeare is my Homeboy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blogger Random Question: What's the Best Time You've Ever Had Licking Stamps?

The best time I've ever had licking stamps was the set I bought with the tropical frogs on them. But afterwards, the faces of the frogs on the stamps began to frighten me, so I tore the envelopes up and burned them with some kerosene in a tin bucket out in my garage. I mean, they were staring at me, man! So...maybe that might NOT have been the best time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Only Silence Remains

This poem of mine was published last month on "Soft Whispers." 

I am here...right here...
just a step or two away
with only the distance
of the aisle to separate us.
You are looking at cans of tuna fish,
I am contemplating vegetable soup.
You turn and look in my direction and I smile
but your eyes are blank and unfocused;
seeing right through me,
not seeing me at all,
as if I have become Invisible.
Again and again I observe this 
tragic ritual 
in American marketplaces
and city streets, where a
smile and a “Hello” are rare commodities
and sometimes more precious than gold.
We are a nation of Invisible People:
frightened of any confrontation
beyond our computer and cell phone screens.
How will we re-learn the Art
of spoken Communication 
once it is forever lost?
Will our public voices continue
to dwindle into nothingness
...until only silence remains?
(dedicated to Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who envisioned this long before I did, and wrote about it in “The Sound of Silence.” Poetry can be prophesy.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Six Minutes

UPDATE: I have entered this story in a Birthday-themed writing contest at Deanna Schrayer's website. Here is the link: The Other Side of Deanna. I'd also like to thank my aunt, Leona Adkins, for providing me with the pictures for this post. 

I started to write this piece for #fridayflash for Mother's Day, but I was overcome with emotion in the middle of writing it and couldn't finish. I decided to start writing a new version to post for my birthday. 

There are sacred traditions that exist between mothers and daughters. Traditions which bind them together like thread on a loom.

I am my mother's first born, the first daughter of her womb, and we had such traditions. 

One of our rituals, repeated every year on July 3rd (by telephone, when we were living long distances from one another) was in the form of staged conversations that occurred during the years following my move to Florida. My mother left her home in Ohio when I was in my teens, escaping a marriage marred by perpetual violence. I left the Buckeye State and flew south to live with her when I was twenty. These dialogues began shortly after we were reunited. 


Mom said, "Do you know what I was doing on this night in 1965?"

Me, straight-faced: "I don't remember, actually." 

"Smart ass," she said. "I was trying to push a baby out of my belly. It hurt like hell!" She laughed then, a dry-sounding laugh that bordered on coughing. She was always very sickly. Doctors tested every year for TB. Her father died from the rare kind that attacks the bone, before she was old enough to say her first word. 

"I'm sorry," I said. 

"I'm not," she replied. On the occasions when we were together, this would prompt a warm hug. 

So that the situation would not turn too mushy, I broke away with a light jest. "11:54 p.m. Why couldn't you wait six more minutes so that I would've been a firecracker baby?" 

My mother exploded in a burst of mock anger. "ME! It was YOU that couldn't wait."

"That's right. I wanted to get out and start partying!"

This was our cue to collapse into laughter. 

"You're still a firecracker," my mother said. 

We would then proceed to get uproariously drunk and argue about whichever Stephen King book we happened to be reading at the moment. These arguments would follow with my mother admonishing me for not writing stories like I used to when I was younger. 

"I'll pick it up again, someday," I promised.

"You better or I'll kick your ass."

Every year, no matter where each of us happened to be, my mother would either visit me or call for my 'birthday' ritual, although the words would vary somewhat from year-to-year. This tradition carried on through a relocation to Texas (hers), a wedding (mine), a battle with kidney disease (hers), and the illness of a spouse (mine). 

Until 1999, when the ritual came to an end. Her veins shut down and she could no longer receive the dialysis treatments. The howling misery of it all was that I could not be with her as she departed from this life. She was in Texas; I was in Florida. My husband had just come home from his second hospital stay, and we were broke. 

I can't begin to describe the pain that exists in not being able to say a final goodbye to someone you love. Especially to your mother. There are no words that cut deep or raw enough for that kind of pain. That kind of void.

My mom was my best friend, confidante, drinking buddy, and number one resource for most of the dirty jokes of my adulthood. Plus, she was my mother. There is no way to fill such a void. Ever. 

I continue the ritual alone now.

On July 3rd, at 11:54 p.m., I lift my face to the heavens and say, "Why couldn't you wait six minutes?" 


This story is for my mother, Georgia (Georgie) Juanita Adkins. I love you and I miss you, mom. 

P.S. I'm writing again.