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Showing posts from June, 2010

Neighbours

Since I moved to Poland I have lived in three different flats, which means that I have lived in three different neighbourhoods and that I have been sharing the same public building space with different people. However, I have never had a one-minute conversation with any of my neighbours. I would even say that I do not know their faces. Somehow, we just run into each other while walking down the stairs or while waiting for the lift and then, the only words we exchange are "hello" or"goodbye". I do not know my neighbours, not even my next-door neighbour and that is the reason why I have never had any problems with them. There seems to be a symbolic wall that separates us and makes us "good" neighbours.
Mending Wall
by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

[...]I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are …

Mass media and poetry

Everyday I read several online Spanish newspapers. A quick look at them gives me a general idea of what is going on in my country and it keeps me up to date with the terrible financial situation that Spain is experiencing nowadays. There is plenty of unemployment, many people cannot pay their mortgages anymore and thousands of people are getting depressed because the situation does not seem to come to an end. However, what surprises me is that when I look at the statistics of the most read /discussed daily news, people tend to read articles such as “ X has gone shopping”, “Y has changed her boyfriend” or the like. The whole situation is humorous, just like the poem below. Frank O’Hara depicted very well the role of mass media and how the so-called “gatekeepers” seem to keep people’s minds busy in senseless topics that lead to nowhere.

"Lana Turner has collapsed"
by Frank O'Hara (1926-1966)

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and sno…

A picture is worth a thousand words

Image
A picture can certainly help a reader understand what the writer meant, especially if the paragraph, the chapter or the book was rather complicated or written in a very convoluted way.
Pictures can make books more appealing and can even play an important role in the way readers understand the content of a book. This is true in the case of Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) because the way we understand the poem has very much to do with the way the poem has been illustrated throughout the centuries. The first edition of Milton´s masterpiece was published without any pictures in 1667 and sold very few issues. However, in 1688 things changed for better when Jacob Tonson bought the rights of the poem and incorporated pictures and engravings in the fourth edition of Paradise Lost. Since then, more and more painters, engravers and writers have illustrated Paradise Lost in many different ways. I wonder whether Milton’s Paradise Lost would have been as well-known as it is today had it not contained…