Quotations in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

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Here are three quotations from The Tempest by William Shakespeare, one of his romances, formerly called the tragi-comedies, a genre he worked in toward the end of his incredible career. I have used this play often in my classes both at the Wescoe School for adult students at Muhlenberg College and at Lehigh University.

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“You do look, my son, in a moved sort,

 As if you were dismay’d; be cheerful, sir.

 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 towers, the gorgeous palaces,

 The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

 Ye, 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.”

(The Tempest Act 4. Scene 1. Lines 161-173.)

 

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(William Hamilton)

“But this rough magic

 I here abjure, and, when I have required

 Some heavenly music, which even now I do,

To work my end upon their senses that

 This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,

 Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,

 And deeper than did ever plummet sound

I’ll drown my book.”

(The Tempest Act 5. Scene 1. Lines 55-62)

 

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(John William Waterhouse)

“O, wonder!

 How many goodly creatures are there here!

 How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,

 That has such people in’t”

(The Tempest Act 5. Scene 1. Lines (203-206)

 

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Beautiful Writing: Part 7, Frank Delaney

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Frank Delaney was a brilliant writer, historian, and journalist who was born and lived in Ireland. As a novelist, he wrote, among other books, Ireland A Novel, Shannon, Tipperary, and The Last Storyteller. Delaney’s work is insightful, lyrical, and beautiful. I have used Ireland A Novel in my Irish Literature class at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and the adult students loved it. In this novel, Delaney weaves a double narration of the history of Ireland as told by the last seanchai–the Gaelic word for storyteller– with the family history of Ronan O’Mara, a boy of nine when the book begins.

For those interested in Irish history and culture and for those who love a magnificent family drama,  I give this extraordinary novel the highest recommendation!

I offer a few quotations from the novel:

“No, I’ve never separated history from myth,” said the great voice. “I don’t think you can in Ireland.” (151)

“Here in Ireland, we’ve received most of our inner riches from Mother Nature. In olden days, the monks in the abbeys made art from natural matters. They were inspired by the sights they saw every day–a rabbit leaving its burrow; a fox running across a hillside with its red bush of a tail streaming out behind it; a horse standing in a field, its back to the rain; a hawk making its point far up  in the sky. And even their painting materials also came from the nonhuman world–bird’s feathers and colors from the earth.

So: all our expression, all our means of saying what’s in our souls, came first from the universe that we see every day around us, out under the air.” (264)

“I cannot satisfactorily explain this widespread individualism, but when I try to grasp it, or discuss it with people who have been listening to my stories, I often feel I come close to a greater understanding of the whole island; this forty thousand square miles of Atlantic land has a vivid fame the world over. What caused it? Do we talk so long and so loud that everyone hears us? Or did it come about because we put the first dent in the might British Empire?

Perhaps our writers did it. I would like to think that they did, because they came from my tradition–poetic, journeyman storytellers who may have twisted and fractured the forms of language along the way but who have always tried to get the flavor across.

Liken it to a stew, a tapestry–anything that draws a final impression from mixed and visible ingredients. The individual counties when melded give me the whole island. We are illogical–the man from Carlow taught me that. And how violent we are; to kill a British soldier matters not a blink to men I have met, no thought of how his eyes closed, where his blood flowed, if he tried to breathe at the last minute and found he couldn’t and panicked.

. . . We are seers too–or so we say. Islands appearing in the oceans of the coast surprise no one; strange birds in farmyards portend death; ghosts stride hillsides.  what I mean is–we are infinitely permissive of possibility ; we rule out nothing.” (397-398)

Please do yourselves a favor, and give yourselves a gift, and read this book!

 

A New Semester

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Today is the beginning of a new semester at one of the two colleges where I am teaching; next week the other school begins, and I am very excited. I always feel like this at the beginning of a new session.  I certainly needed the winter break after last semester, which was very busy, but now I am filled with energy and ready to begin.

I will have a varied group of classes, but tonight I begin with Medieval Literature at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College.  Among the texts we will read are Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and Le Morte d’Arthur.  I love these works, and I hope that the class enjoys studying them.

I have to go and put the finishing touches on today’s opening lecture.

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Photograph by my wife Liz French (2014)

A Conversation With Neil Gaiman

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I just returned from an event from the Living Writers series at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA called “A Conversation With Neil Gaiman.” Muhlenberg College is an excellent, small liberal arts college with a thriving English Department, and this event was featured in coordination with a class on Living Writers that is offered typically every 3 years.

I was delighted to find out about this event and to be able to attend it. I teach English Literature at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College, which is the adult degree program.

Mr. Gaiman, sat in conversation which the host, Professor Francesca Coppa, and he spoke at length about his career as a writer and about writing itself. This talk offered something for a wide variety of people, including scholars of literature, writers, and readers of Mr. Gaiman’s work. I include myself in all three categories.

I was especially interested in his view on not being branded as one kind of writer. He has written fantasy, horror, children’s novels, graphic novels, and short stories, among others. He deals with a wide variety of topics and ideas in his works, and that appeals to me greatly as a writer.

Mr. Gaiman discussed his treatment of mythology and his refusal to be put into one box in his writing. I think this is a huge problem for writers today, because we are encouraged to brand ourselves for marketing so that readers know what to expect. I certainly understand the need for marketing, but it can potentially damage writers to be viewed as writing just one kind of work or restricting themselves to one specific genre or type.

I am a writer of speculative fiction, which really can be applied to all fiction. I am a writer of  horror, YA fantasy, and will be writing a romance novel, several historical novels, and a thriller.  These ideas are in my head, and I will explore them all. I hope being a diverse writer will be my brand.

Mr. Gaiman is certainly a talented, skilled, and accomplished writer of a wide range of material.  If you have never read his work, you should. My favorite work of his is American Gods, which I have taught in several classes. Among his other work is–Coraline, the Sandman Series, and The Ocean at  the End of the Lane. Read his work!

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Freestyle Writing Challenge

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I was surprised and honored to have been nominated to perform a Freestyle Writing Challenge by Kayla Johnson https://thefirsttwentyrows.wordpress.com .  Ms. Johnson is a writer whose blog I follow and whom I respect enormously.

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I found this idea of doing a freestyle writing very engaging, because I use  a similar exercise with my students in my First Year Writing classes in college.  So, it is only fair that I, also, do this exercise.

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Here are the rules that I should follow (and also for those who accept my challenge):

1. Open a blank Document

2. Set a stop watch or mobile phone timer to 5 or 10 minutes

3. Your topic is at the foot of this post – DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!

4. Once you start writing do not stop until the alarm sounds!

5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write with correct spelling and grammar.)

6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals

7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” to give an idea of how much you can write within the time frame

8. Copy and paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy/paste these rules along with your nomination (at least 5 bloggers)

My topic to write about was to describe a home you’ve lived in.

My freewrite — I gave myself ten minutes:

I grew up in what seemed to me to be a very large home on the south side of town. It was a half-double (twin or duplex, depending on what you are used to hearing), but it was truly a very large and mysterious home to me, at least when I was a child.

The front of the house sat up off the street, with a set of old, concrete stairs that went straight up for about 15 steps then turned onto a landing of about 10 feet, then another 10 steps. The front of the house had a porch that ran the width of the house.

This porch was one of the best features of the house when I was a child. My friends and I, especially my cousin, played there in all kinds of weather. Many board games, battles with toy soldiers, including create handkerchief paratroopers, and other adventures were done there.

The yard was also a deeply important part of the house when I was a child. It ran the length of the house and then curved onto the back. The yard was flat for about half of the distance, then had about a 2 foot slope leading to a longer hill up to the top or the yard. In the winter, this was an extraordinary place for the kids to ride their sleds. Because there was a large hedge at the bottom of the yard, we had no danger of flying into the streets.

A retaining wall ran part of the length of the house, and it had a depression in it, creating a long runway, or at least that’s what we called it. As a kid, I believed it had to have been created for use to run our toys cars on.

Today, many people would see an old, run-down house in a depressed area of that town, but for me, it was a wondrous building.

The inside of the home was also mysterious and full of wonder. The basement, which ran the length of the house, ended with stairs that led to nowhere. I was convinced they had to be magical, although I know now an addition covered the outside entrance they had led to.

Time!!! Ten minutes just elapsed, so I have to stop.

The word count is 371.

This was a very interesting experience, and I enjoyed thinking and writing about this home.  Once again, thank you to Kayla Johnson!

Here are my nominees, and a big drum roll please!

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Purpleanais  http://arwenaragornstar.com

Kait King  https://kaitking.wordpress.com

Miss Andi https://journeyofawriterworldtraveler.wordpress.com

Marlene https://insearchofitall.wordpress.com

Russell J. Fellows http://russelljfellows.com

Tricia  https://threehandsoneheart.wordpress.com

Herminia Chow https://aspiringwriter22.wordpress.com

In My Cluttered Attic https://inmyclutteredattic.wordpress.com

Sarah Higbee https://sjhigbee.wordpress.com

Karen Pearce https://fillyourownglass.wordpress.com

Rebecca McLaughlin https://makawalli.wordpress.com/

Kat Kent 2014 https://writersback.wordpress.com/

Mae http://onetrackmuse.com

Please do not scroll down until you have decided to accept and begin the challenge!

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If you could travel to any place in the world at another historical era, where would it be?

What Book Would You Choose To Be?

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One of the central themes in the Young Adult novel I am writing is the issue of who controls knowledge and of book banning. I was thinking about it this morning, and I remembered an assignment I used in several classes that reflects this question. I have taught Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the most recently in a class on Banned Books.

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Montag, the fireman book burner turned book lover, finds a group of people living on the outskirts of society, who are dedicated to the preservation of books by becoming living copies of the books. They choose a book, commit it completely to memory, and then find another young person to pass this knowledge to until the time comes when the books can be once again printed and read.To have my students understand this idea personally, I assign them to choose a book they love and to memorize a small passage of 1-2 paragraphs, which they then give to the class at the end of the semester. I, too, perform this exercise.

So, as I was thinking about this today, I was wondering what books other people would choose to be, if we lived in such a terrible world. What book would you choose to become? If you can’t decide on one, then suggest a list of 1-5 books.

My choices, in no particular order, are: Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Don Quixote, by Cervantes, A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin, and The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien.  Yes, I know these are huge texts!  Please offer your choices.

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Teaching Shakespeare!

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I usually write about writing in some way, but in this post, I want to talk about teaching Shakespeare. The spring semester is over, but as an adjunct professor, I teach the entire year. I am not complaining about this situation, because I love my work, just explaining the schedule.

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I have loved Shakespeare most of my life—the reading of the plays, the viewing of productions, acting in them, directing one production, writing about the plays, and teaching the plays. I studied Shakespeare as one of my areas of specialization in graduate school, so I am always excited when I have the opportunity to teach Will.  Shakespeare has been a lifelong companion.

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This college class is being held at The Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College.  Because this is an adult evening college, which also administers the summer session, all of the students in my class are adults.  They are working towards their undergraduate degrees as are the traditional age students, but they bring the added responsibility and attentiveness to the class that comes with maturity and experience.  I love teaching both traditional and non-traditional students, but both bring different needs and different expectations.

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The class has just begun, because the first summer session has already started. I have held the first class, which was an introductory lecture on Shakespeare’s theater and England at the time. Tomorrow we will begin examining the plays. We will cover some of the comedies in the first half of the session and some of the tragedies in the second half. By the end of 12 classes during the span of 6 weeks, we will read and explored 9-10 plays. The first play of the course will be one of my favorites: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.   I feel like I have a special relationship with this comedy, because I have studied it, taught it, written about it, acted in it, and directed it.  It was also the play of the first live Shakespeare production that I saw when I was in 10th grade.

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I am looking forward to teaching Shakespeare!

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