Tag Archives: Literature

New Year’s Eve

31 Dec

The Death Of The Old Year
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take ’em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I’ve half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o’er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he’ll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
‘Tis nearly twelve o’clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we’ll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.

Mixed Signals

13 Dec

**Not sure where this came from – kind of how I’ve been feeling this week.  Been trying to organize my future and every time it seems like I’m on the right track, something else goes wrong. It’s like the world is sending me mixed signals on where I’m supposed to go from here.  A bunch of my friends are experiencing the same feeling. Still, it’s the little moments of hope that keep us moving on, trying again and again no matter how often life shuts us down.**DB

Highs and the lows
Ups and the downs.
Feels like fate’s spinning us round and around.

Back and then forth
Good mixed with bad.
Nothings the same, till it feels like we’re mad.

Kissing and fightin’
Kissing and fightin’
Hoping and Dying and Loving’ and Cryin’.

Forcing each win.
Demanding our share.
World dragging us down, we get up on a dare.

Not Looking Back
Not Giving Ground
Living the dream, eking every last pound.

Kissing and fightin’
Kissing and fightin’
Hoping and Dying and Lovin’ and Cryin’.

Make Voting Work – Vote, But Only Once

10 Oct

The ‘democracy gap’ in our politics and elections spells a deep sense of powerlessness by people who drop out, do not vote, or listlessly vote for the ‘least worst’ every four years and then wonder why after every cycle the ‘least worst’ gets worse.
**Ralph Nader

 

Ultimate “Romeo and Juliet” Quiz ~ 80 Questions

3 Jun

Any of my readers good old English majors or part of an English Literature class?  🙂 

I’m teaching “Shakespearean Acting” this semester to a group of students participating in an English speaking competition, and they are required to be familiar with several of William Shakespeare’s plays. Including the timeless classic Romeo and Juliet

Part of our class is a very detailed, in-depth quiz on each of the stories, and I thought I would share them here for High School or College Students. You can use this to quiz your knowledge before an exam! 😛 

Please note, I am not really asking about his writing style, quotes, or themes. This is just a quiz on the facts of what actually happens in the story.  Be aware that questions range in level of difficulty 🙂 If you have other questions to add, please put them in Comments below! 

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Fact Questions

  1. Where is Romeo and Juliet set? (city and country)
  2. In the introduction, the chorus tells us that there are two families fighting in the city. What are their names?
  3. Which Family does Juliet belong to?
  4. Which Family does Romeo belong to?
  5. The two families have been fighting for years and years. Why are they fighting?
  6. What does “star-crossed” mean?
  7. When the story opens, the Prince of Verona, Prince Escalus, is extremely angry with the two families. They have been fighting for years, so why is he particularly angry at them now?
  8. What event sparks the big battle between the two families in the beginning scenes?
  9. Who are Gregory and Sampson?
  10. Benvolio initially tries to stop the fight between the two families. But eventually he joins in. Why does he change and start fighting?
  11. The Prince arrives and gives a harsh warning about the punishment if the two families continue fighting. What is his warning?
  12. Romeo did not come to the fight at the beginning. Where was he?
  13. His parents are worried about Romeo. What is he doing that has them concerned? Be specific
  14. His parents ask someone to go find Romeo and interrogate him as to the reasons for his melancholy. Who is this friend and what is their relationship to Romeo?
  15. Romeo tells us why he is so melancholy at the beginning. What reason does he give and who is the cause?
  16. What is Benvolio’s response to Romeo’s feelings for Rosalind? Does he support the match?
  17. We move scenes now to Juliet’s home, where someone is asked her father for Juliet’s hand in marriage. Who wants to marry Juliet?
  18. Her father does not want to approve the marriage. What is his problem? How old is Juliet?
  19. Her  father finally gives permission, but it comes with two conditions. What are they?
  20. Lady Capulet and the Nurse go to tell Juliet about her engagement. How does Juliet respond? 
  21. The Nurse here tells an old story about Juliet as a little girl. What is that story?
  22. The Capulet’s are hosting an engagement party via a masquerade ball. How do Romeo, Benvolio, and Mercutio learn about the party?
  23. Who is Mercutio. Is he related to Romeo?
  24. That night, the three men are sneaking their way into the party. Why is Mercutio going? Why is Benvolio going? Why is Romeo going?
  25. Mercutio is the cynic of the story. What is his opinion about Romeo’s “true love” for Rosalind? What is his opinion of love and women in general?
  26. Who is Tybalt? How is he kin to Juliet?
  27. When they sneak into the party, Tybalt recognizes Romeo despite his mask. Tybalt wants to throw Romeo out, but someone stops him. Who and what 2 reasons do they give?
  28. How does Tybalt respond?
  29. Why is this moment in the story important?
  30. How do Romeo and Juliet actually meet?
  31. What is so surprising about their first meeting with one another?
  32. While watching her, Romeo says he wished he were something Juliet is wearing. What is it?
  33. Does Romeo  talk to Rosalind at the party?
  34. After the party, Romeo sneaks away from his friends and hides in Juliet’s home because he is “too in love to leave.” Where does he go?
  35. Romeo sees Juliet and hides while listening to her talk to herself about how she wishes things would go. What is Juliet wanting?
  36. Romeo comes out of hiding to confess his love to Juliet. Why?
  37. Romeo and Juliet makes some exciting plans for the next day. What do they plan to do?
  38. The Friar is not initially excited about Romeo’s feelings for Juliet. Why does not not believe their love is real?
  39. Romeo asks the Friar to marry them. Why does the Friar agree?
  40. Romeo meets up with Juliet’s Nurse to tell her what he needs Juliet to do. The Nurse flatters him by comparing the what flower that Juliet speaks of so often?
  41. Juliet creates a fake excuse for going to the church and then secretly marries Romeo. What is her excuse?
  42. Who knows about the wedding besides Romeo and Juliet?
  43. We move to Mercutio and Benvolio out walking. Mercutio is laughing at Benvolio, who he says is a walking contradiction. What does he say is so funny about Benvolio?
  44. Why are Mercutio and Benvolio annoyed at Romeo?
  45. Benvolio brings bad news about Tybalt that he shares with Mercutio. What has Tybalt done?
  46. Romeo comes but refuses to fight with Tybalt. Why?
  47. Mercutio is furious at Romeo’s sudden “friendliness” to Tybalt. It’s more than just a feeling of betrayed friends. What is the problem? To understand this answer, you need to have some background into the cultural history. 
  48. Be specific. Exactly what happens when Mercutio dies?
  49. How does Romeo respond when Mercutio dies? What does he do?
  50. The Prince arrives, and learns about this new fight. Earlier he named the punishment for anyone fighting in his town. But now, for Romeo, he changes his mind. Why does the Prince change his punishment?
  51. What exactly is Romeo’s Punishment
  52. How does Romeo respond to his Punishment?
  53. How does Juliet respond initially when she hears the news about Tybalt?
  54. An important moment in the story, Juliet and her Nurse have a fight here. What is the fight about?
  55. Friar Laurence has a plan to help Romeo out of trouble after Tybalt and Mercutio die. What does he tell Romeo to do?
  56. The night after they are married, Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s room to see her before he leaves town. How does he get in to her room?
  57. Juliet’s parents and her fiancee decide to move the wedding closer. How much time is there until the wedding now?
  58. Are Juliet’s mother and nurse excited or sad about the wedding?
  59. How does Juliet respond? 
  60. After Romeo is banished and her marriage is moved up, Juliet sneaks out to seek Friar Laurence’s advice. What excuse does she give her parents for why she goes to the church?
  61. When Juliet goes to meet Friar Laurence for advice, she runs into someone else in the church. Who does she meet and what do they say to one another?
  62. What is Friar Laurence’s Plan? What exactly is supposed to happen?
  63. Who finds Juliet’s body the next morning?
  64. The day Juliet dies was a special day for her. What big event was supposed to happen?
  65. After she meets Friar Laurence and gets the sleeping potion, Juliet goes home. What does she tell her parents she would do now?
  66. Why do her parents think Juliet died and who do they blame?
  67. In Act 5, Romeo is banished but we learn he has been having a bad dream recently. He is concerned. What happens in his dream?
  68. Why did Friar John fail in delivering the letter to Romeo telling him Juliet was still alive?
  69. Friar John was supposed to tell Romeo that Juliet was alive, but he fails. Instead someone else comes to Romeo and tells him Juliet is dead. Who tells Romeo that Juliet is dead?
  70. Romeo buys some illegal poison. Where did he get it and why did they sell it to him?
  71. When Romeo goes to visit the tomb, someone else is already there. Who was it?
  72. This visit thinks Romeo has come to the tomb for dastardly reasons. What does he/she think Romeo plans to do at Juliet’s tomb?
  73. In the end, what happens to Count Paris? 
  74. How does Romeo die?
  75.  Who is alive and present when Juliet wakes up from her sleep of the dead?
  76. How exactly does Juliet die?
  77. In the end, who is left to tell the prince about what happened?
  78. When he arrives, Lord Montague says something terrible has happened to Romeo’s mother. What is it?
  79. How are the parents going to honor their children’s deaths?
  80. At the end, the Prince says everyone has been punished. How was He Punished?

Open Mind is one Thing, and Empty Mind is Another

10 Feb

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”

**Terry Pratchett

“Every Woman . . . “

9 Feb

“Every Woman”
by Pamela Redmond Satran

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
Enough money within her control to move out
And rent a place of her own
even if she never wants to or needs to
Something perfect to wear if the employer
or date of her dreams wants to See Her in an hour

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
A youth she’s content to leave behind
A past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to
retelling it in her Old Age

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
A set of screwdrivers,
a cordless drill, and a black lace bra
One friend who always makes her laugh
And one Who lets her cry

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
A good piece of furniture not previously owned
by anyone else in her Family
Eight matching plates,
wine glasses with stems,
And a recipe for a meal that will make
her guests feel Honored
A feeling of control over her destiny

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
How to fall in love without losing herself
HOW TO QUIT A JOB,
BREAK UP WITH A LOVER,
AND CONFRONT A FRIEND WITHOUT
RUINING THE FRIENDSHIP
When to try harder
And WHEN TO WALK AWAY

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
That she can’t change the length of her calves,
The width of her hips,
or the nature of her parents
That her childhood may not have been perfect
But it’s over

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
What she would and wouldn’t do for love or more
How to live alone
Even if she doesn’t like it

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
Whom she can trust,
Whom she can’t,
And why she shouldn’t take it personally

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
Where to go
Be it to her best friend’s kitchen table
Or a charming inn in the woods
When her soul needs soothing

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW
What she can and can’t accomplish in a day
A month
And a year.

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

22 Dec

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

The Blossoms of Luoyang

25 Apr

DSC08851

The Blossoms of Luoyang

My lover is like the tree peony of Luoyang,

I, unworthy, like the common willows of Wu Chang.

Both places love the spring wind.

When shall we hold each others hands again?

Incessant the buzzing of insects beyond the orchard curtain

The moom flings slanting shadows from the pepper tree across the courtyard.

Pity the girl of the flowery house, who is not equal to the blossoms of Luoyang.

— Ting Liunang (Tang Dynasty)

Book Recommendation: “Child 44”

30 Mar

Child 44:
by Tom Rob Smith

““—Isn’t this how it starts? You have a cause you believe in, a cause worth dying for. Soon, it’s a cause worth killing for. Soon, it’s a cause worth killing innocent people for.”  Continue reading

” O’ Winter! Ruler of th’ Inverted Year”

6 Feb

“A Winter Scene” by Renaboo

William Cowper 

from his work: “The Task

   Oh Winter! ruler of th’ inverted year,
Thy scatter’d hair with sleet like ashes fill’d,
Thy breath congeal’d upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fring’d with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age; thy forehead wrapt in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urg’d by storms along its slipp’ry way;
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem’st,
And dreaded as thou art!  Thou hold’st the sun
A pris’ner in the yet undawning East,
Short’ning his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy West; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gathering at short notice, in one group,
The family dispers’d, and fixing thought,
Not less dispers’d by day-light and its cares.
I crown thee King of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb’d retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening, know.
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