Monday, January 15, 2007

Finally Back

Yes, after over a month's un-announced hiatus (oh the shame!), I am back to blogging. Also back from North Carolina and the ever lovely Wake Forest (would you seriously ever leave that library -- this is the best picture I ever took of it!), back from my triumph over the first part of the Mandelbaum collection (I finished the materials on The Metamorphoses -- 7 boxes, all by itself! This collection is going to be huge.), back from weddings and moving friends across the state and watching far too much television. But more importantly, the forward motion of a new year has officially begun -- I'm back to NYC, back to teaching, and back to reading for my orals. I'd imagine that here I'll be writing a bit more about what I'm reading this semester, since that's pretty much all I'll be doing. I'm also attending a class on gender in the Middle Ages and hoping to sit in on another translation seminar...but those are just for kicks).

Today's work was on Aelfric's Grammar -- of which, you might be interested to know, the only modern edition I could find was in German, and a reprint of Zupitza's 19th century edition. Luckily, I don't need the apparatus too terribly. Aside from some interesting editorial issues -- the use of circumflex accents for long mark macrons, which is bizarre though not unexpected, and these weird "j" characters that keep popping up all over the place where I don't expect them -- it was a pretty useful little book. Although I must say, I wouldn't want to learn Latin from Aelfric. I thought Sweet's incredibly dry Anglo-Saxon Primer was difficult -- Aelfric makes that look like a breeze.

And speaking of breezes, this particular sentence really jumped out at me when I read it. The onomatopoeia makes it pretty obvious what this sentence says, though another linguistic weirdness is the use of stemn as opposed to stefn, but note the emphasis here (repeated elsewhere in the grammar) that is given to, of all things, trees:

gemenged stemn is, ‏‏þe bið butan andgyt, swylc swa is hryðera gehlow and horsa hnægung, hunda gebeorc, treowa brastlung, et cetera...


In other news, tomorrow begins the teaching for this semester. I've got it mostly planned, which is definitely a relief, but I thought I'd share my "close reading" lesson plan here. We're not supposed to use poetry (oops!) -- but I found that last semester's class had a hard time learning how to close read with prose. So I thought I'd try an approach based on learning the technique of close reading with a poem, and then modifying it for prose. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, I decided that my first text for the course will be "Medusa" by Louise Bogan. I read it in a course at Wake on United States Women Poets -- and adored it. I like the way in which the grammar of the poetry traps the voice that speaks it -- the verbs interlace with each other in a strange fashion, made static linguistically, always potential but never actually kinetic (if I may borrow a term from science...). Anyway, we'll do part in class, and the rest will be written about as homework.


I had come to the house, in a cave of trees,
Facing a sheer sky.
Everything moved,—a bell hung ready to strike,
Sun and reflection wheeled by.

When the bare eyes were before me
And the hissing hair,
Held up at a window, seen through a door.
The stiff bald eyes, the serpents on the forehead
Formed in the air.

This is a dead scene forever now.
Nothing will ever stir.
The end will never brighten it more than this,
Nor the rain blur.

The water will always fall, and will not fall,
And the tipped bell make no sound.
The grass will always be growing for hay
Deep on the ground.

And I shall stand here like a shadow
Under the great balanced day,
My eyes on the yellow dust, that was lifting in the wind,
And does not drift away.



Tomorrow also begins the great blog-reading catch-up. I do hope that all winter breaks and holidays went well, and that MLA was wonderful for those in attendance (or at the very least, not scarring...)!