“The New Colossus” – A poem by Emma Lazarus

Context and themes

This poem was written by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) and is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. It was written in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. But it was soon forgotten and played no role at the opening of the statue in 1886.

The poem is constructed after the Petrarchan sonnet. Pay attention to the historical and mythological references throughout the poem.

The title of the poem and the first two lines refer to the Colossus of Rhodes, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, sometimes described as standing astride the harbor.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Sources

wikipedia.org

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The Faëry Chasm – A Poem by William Wordsworth

This is a poem by british poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and once again the themes are related to Nature and in this case mythological faeries and how they reveal themselves in Nature. Where can they be found? According to the Dictionary a Chasm is a very deep, narrow opening in a rock, ice, or the ground. In Wordsworth’s poem they appear dancing as they reveal their secrets. What are their secrets? The poem mentions a Babe, a stolen flower and weed left. Pay attention to what’s happening rather what is described.

Themes: Faeries, Elves, Nature and mythological mysticism.

The Faëry Chasm

No fiction was it of the antique age:

A sky-blue stone, within this sunless cleft,

Is of the very footmarks unbereft

Which tiny Elves impressed; – on that smooth stage

Dancing with all their brilliant equipage

In secret revels – haply after theft

Of some sweet Babe – Flower stolen, and coarse Weed left

For the distracted Mother to assuage

Her grief with, as she might! – But, where, oh! where

Is traceable a vestige of the notes

That ruled those dances wild in character? –

Deep underground? Or in the upper air,

On the shrill wind of midnight? or where floats

O’er twilight fields the autumnal gossamer?

Sources

wikipedia.org

“Fire and Ice” – A poem by Robert Frost

Today I present a short poem by Robert Frost (1874-1963). “Fire and Ice” is one of his most wellknown poems. It was first published in December 1923. It’s also included in the novel New Hampshire-A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes. Pay attention to his use of metaphors! Can you identify them? It also contains dualism, love and hate and classical symbols of these. There is also a biblical reference to the Apocalypse and the End of the world. Who is the Narrator? What is the message?

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

Sources

wikipedia.org

William Shakespeare – Sonett 26

Sonett 26 is a typical Shakespeare sonett and consists of three quattrains ending with a couplet. The sonett is adressed to Cupid and shows some influences from the roman poet Ovid. Love is the major theme. The rhyme scheme is as follows: abab cdcd efef gg.

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage (a)

Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit, (b)

To thee I send this written ambassage, (a)

To witness duty, not to show my wit: (b)

Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine (c)

May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it, (d)

But that I hope some good conceit of thine (c)

In thy soul’s thought, all naked, will bestow it;(d)

Till whatsoever star that guides my moving, (e)

Points on me graciously with fair aspect,(f)

And puts apparel on my tatter’d loving,(e)

To show me worthy of thy sweet respect:(f)

Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee; (g)

Till then not show my head where thou mayst prove me.(g)

“A Red, Red Rose” a poem by Robert Burns

Are you suffering in the winter, longing for summer and bonnie lasses? Let me recommend Robert Burns (1759-1796). Besides his “Auld lang syne”, a poem “A Red, Red Rose” is among his most wellknown reads. Burns’ use of thematic isn’t a complicated one in these lines. The major theme is Love and longing. His love, a lass is compared to a red rose and common sorroundings are Nature and the storyteller himself.

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.

Therese and Isabelle (1968) by Radley Metzger

In this post I discuss and link to the movie Therese and Isabelle (also known as Thérèse and Isabelle and Thérèse et Isabelle). It’s a 1968 French-American romantic drama film directed by Radley Metzger, and loosley based on the novel Thérèse et Isabelle by Violette Leduc. Two young girls meet and share affectionate intimacies in a European boarding school for girls. The movie is now available through archive.org.

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Violet Leduc (1907-1972) was French writer from a middle class family. She was born illegitimate and suffered from poor selfesteem as a young girl. Her relatives on the paternal side refused to recognize her. After the war, she went to a boarding school, the Collège de Douai, where she experienced a lesbian affair with her classmate “Isabelle”, which Leduc later adapted into the novel. I read an English translation of it which was a tideous experience. The novel was also censored for a long time.

Radley Metzger’s film adaptation of Thérèse et Isabelle have been generally favorable. IMDB.com presents the plot as following: “An older woman visits the boarding school of her youth after a 20 year absense. While strolling about the deserted grounds and classrooms she remembers her highly emotional experiences there, and well-executed flashbacks occur to her youth. At 17 she is abandoned by her loving mother because of remarriage and left at a European boarding school, disenchanted and lonely. Immediately she meets Isabell, an older, confident, rebellious girl. The two develop a friendship quickly without much conversation or bonding, but have the always temporary chemistry necessary for their friendship to progress into a sexual relationship. (…) Despite their undying love confessions to each other, Theresa wakes up one morning to find Isabelle has left the school, her room and desk replaced with another student. She never see’s Isabel again.” I can’t say I agree to everything in the quoted review. Even if I like the plot in the movie much more than the novel itself, the movie is sometimes too much with an unconvincing dialogue and Metzger’s intrepretation of lesbianism on the whole as a director becomes loathsome, or silly.

Therese and Isabelle (1968)

The movie available through archive.org

Sources

archive.org

imdb.com

wikipedia.org

Jane Eyre (1934) – The very first movie adaption

Jane Eyre is a 1934 American romantic drama film directed by Christy Cabanne, starring Virginia Bruce and Colin Clive. It is based on the 1847 novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and is the first adaptation to use sound.

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Production began 17 May 1934 at General Service Studios. Adele sings the “Bridal Chorus” from the opera Lohengrin, by Richard Wagner, she also sings “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” which may seem a bit odd. The critic Leonard Maltin gave the film 2 stars (out of four), describing it as a “[t]hin version of the oft-filmed Bronte novel, produced by Monogram, of all studios[…] Still, it’s not uninteresting as a curio.”Produced by Ben Verschleiser and written by Adele Comandini.

Sources

Archive.org

Wikipedia.org