Sunday, August 30, 2009

Anne my love

As he said vanity, so vain say I,
Oh! vanity, O vain all under sky;
("The Vanity of All Worldly Things," Anne Bradstreet)
Oh I love that so much, how we get the poem's first line, and then it's as if the speaker is overwhelmed with passion and can do nothing but shout--while conforming to the meter, of course.

Here's an opportunity for a bit of research. "He" is obviously Jesus, but when did Jesus shout "vanity"? Is this when he was kicking the moneychangers out of the temple? Let me check...

Whoa, that's what happens when you don't know the Bible very well! The lines allude to Ecclesiastes 1:2, so "he" is that book's traditional author, King Solomon. I guess I'm not a very good reader of Bradstreet, but at least now I know.

Here's another passage I like, stanza 6 from Bradstreet's "Contemplations." Things I like about it include: the slight hiccup in the syntax of the first four lines (the initial list of nouns doesn't have an explicit grammatical connection with the main sentence); the amazing phrase "feeling knowledge"; the way the extra beat in the last line rounds off the stanza; I recite the last line to myself when I see someone particularly pretty at the bar:
Thy swift annual and diurnal course,
Thy daily straight and yearly oblique path,
Thy pleasing fervor and thy scorching force,
All mortals here the feeling knowledge hath.
Thy presence makes it day, thy absence night,
Quaternal seasons caus├Ęd by thy might:
Hail creature, full of sweetness, beauty, and delight.

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