Dark Designs: Reading and Misreading Milton

In his 1820 essay The Defense of Poetry, Percy Shelley wrote, “Nothing can exceed the energy and magnificence of the character of Satan as expressed in Paradise Lost. It is a mistake to suppose that he could ever have been intended for the popular personification of evil.”1 This bold deconstruction of a staunchly Christian poet may haveContinue reading “Dark Designs: Reading and Misreading Milton”

The Sound of Their Mourning: Homer and the Value of Literature

Writers create meaning as much through the material they exclude as by the tale they explore. In the twenty-fourth book of The Iliad, the poet ends his story of the Trojan war not with broken walls or burning towers but with a scene of reconciliation and human recognition. Nothing could be more dramatic than this extraordinary momentContinue reading “The Sound of Their Mourning: Homer and the Value of Literature”

The Resurrection of Ahti: Reading The Kalevala

“Tell now, O Dreamer your dream, O stretched in the earth, your vision.” –The Kalevala The Irish poet William Butler Yeats once wrote of a dream he’d had in which his fellow writer Bernard Shaw visited him in the form of a smiling sewing machine.1 It strikes us as a peculiar image that aptly expressesContinue reading “The Resurrection of Ahti: Reading The Kalevala

The Centaur’s Beard: Realism and The Divine Comedy

“In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost.”1 These words open Dante’s epic poem, The Commedia. But even traveling the space of their few metrical feet, we find ourselves in an ambiguous realm. Since the journey is the metaphorical journeyContinue reading “The Centaur’s Beard: Realism and The Divine Comedy

Death and The Epic of Gilgamesh

I had intended to return to this blog with an article about Yuri Herrera’s brilliant novel of the American border, Signs Preceding the End of the World. I still hope to review that work in an upcoming post. But death, that so kindly stopped for Emily Dickinson, has visited me, and I find my thoughtsContinue reading “Death and The Epic of Gilgamesh