Thursday, January 28, 2010

Of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

The weather is remarkably bad today.  It's been raining all morning, accompanied by a raging cacophony of thunder and tapping on the glass, and just when Matt went out to get lunch did it start pouring down in sheets and hailing.   It figures, right?  The earth is now conspiring to make me worry!   Anakin is sitting on my lap, shaking like a leaf, out of fear because storms scare the living wit out of him -- typos are, therefore, not my fault.  If Matt were here, Ani would be cuddled up with him, but since he isn't, I apparently make an adequate stand-in to his preferred crisis situation appropriate parent.  When Matt came back in, a few minutes ago, he said the water was up to the doors and that Stephenville is flooded out, conjecturing on the likelihood that class would be canceled tonight.  I told him that if it wasn't, I had to go, no exceptions.

In light of the horrible weather (or perhaps in addition to it), I've had the pleasure of cuddling up on the sofa, under an blanket because it's freezing in here, to read The Complete Poems of Sappho translated by Willis Barnstone.  Let me first say, I absolutely loved this collection!  If you're interested in classical lyrical verse, or in the work of the first women poet known to western literature, you should get this book.  I read the entire thing in a few hours, the poems are mostly fragments, but they're also remarkably beautiful.

I did take one small exception to the book: to me, to say "The Complete Poems of Sappho" seems like a misnomer.  I feel like it should perhaps be called "The Collected Poems of Sappho" as Sappho's poems will never be complete.  Her work is largely lost, only fragments found in refuse heaps and used in the papier-mâché procedure in mummification in Egypt remain.  So, "complete" seems wrong, but it's a minor distinction, at best.  Otherwise, the book is very comprehensive, well organized, and includes an amazing introduction by Willis Barnstone that just drew me in and held me.  I simply couldn't stop reading it!

The introduction discusses Sappho, who's name is Psapfo in her native language of Aiolic, and what is and is not known about her.  There're so many bits of wrong information about Sappho and so many apologists covering up what is known, she's easily one of the most notoriously inaccurate personalities from antiquity.  All that being true, she's a remarkable poetess whose words are powerful and beautiful.  The fragments are filled with everything from complete poems, nearly complete works, one liners, and smart advice.  One of my favorite bits of that smart advice goes like this:

When anger is flooding through your chest/ best to quiet your reckless barking tongue [~Fury (158)]

Advice to live by, if you ask me.  So, needless to say, I'm looking very forward to tonight's class and so hope it's not canceled.  At a rate of one grad class a week, and one book a week for one of them, we really need every session.  I have a feeling that this will be one of my favorites and so want to hear what Dr. Chappell has to say about the work.  Fingers crossed that Tarleton doesn't float away before I can get to class tonight and that the turn out is good.

To that, I'd like to add that so far, being a graduate student is going just swimmingly (yes, I feel that's the appropriate word in celebration of the lake forming in my front yard!).  I've read Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Sappho this last week, which have both been amazing!  I had American Lit last night, where we talked at length about Gatsby.  Tonight, Comparative lit and the Sappho book!   I have a response paper for Gatsby due next Wednesday and had an annotation for Sappho due tonight, which I've already done.  Every week we have an annotation due (though we only have to do 10 of the possible 14), which I did this morning, and just got confirmation for.  I must have done it correctly, otherwise I'm sure Dr. Chappell would have told me.  I've never done an annotation before, which seems almost surreal to me now, so I did some snooping around the net about how it's done.  Up next week, more Gatsby and Euripides' Helen, which I'm also really looking forward to!

Sadly, I've not gotten much reading done on the first book on my Busy Bookworm Challenge List, Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey.  I've gotten about 200 of the 700 or so pages read, so far.  It's the type of book that deserves to be savored.  It's a great story and is beautifully written.  I loved the first two books in the series.  I just wish I had time to savor, rather than devour, right now.  So, it'll probably have to settle for devouring with my apologies for not giving it the attention it rightly deserves.  I think part of the problem, however, isn't my inability to offer it the time it deserves, but rather the fact that the next book, Kushiel's Scion, is told by a different narrator.  The first three books are told by Phadré (a female narrator), the second are three by Imriel (a male narrator) and I'm feeling very uncertain about it.  When I get attached to a narrator, I want to keep them, but I'm also willing to give Imriel a chance.  We'll see how that goes.

On one final note, I got all the books I ordered from Amazon earlier in the week!  I signed up for the free Amazon Prime 3-month trial, which gave me free 2-day shipping!  My books came in fits and spurts, but they've all come now.  I've got all the books for my class and the ones for my challenge list except for Wuthering Heights and The Lightening Theif, which I'll get when I need them.  Of all the books I've gotten over the last few days, the one I was looking most forward to is Bathory: Memoir of a Countess, which is about Elizabeth Bathory, of whom I have something of a fascinated obsession.  I'll probably make it second on my book list, since I never actually planned to read them in the order they're listed anyway.

So, I'm off to try and get some reading in before I have to get ready to hop in the canoe and float off to class.  Just one thing to think about before I go, last night, Dr. Shipman was groping for a word when he said that he'd heard once that if you can't think of a word, it's a sign that you have an excellent vocabulary!  I'm going with it, especially since I have an abundance of those moments, where I can't summon up a word I'm looking for!