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View Diary: Books Go Boom!   'My Last Duchess' by Robert Browning (77 comments)

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  •  Thanks Brecht. I love this poem, as I do many (15+ / 0-)

    others by Browning. And this part especially gets me:

    and say, “Just this
    Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
    Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
    Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
    Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
    —E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
    Never to stoop.
    So a 15-16 year old won't let herself be schooled into proper deportment ("proper" as defined by her husband), but even pointing out the "flaws" is stooping. I think there is some slight sense of unease here, the Duke seems vaguely aware that his aversion to his last duchess's joy in life is not something that is admirable.

    I have had students insist that the poem is an indictment of the Duchess--a heart "too soon made glad" meant that she flirted indiscriminately and thus according to the mores prevalent at the time, deserved to be killed. Whatever I would suggest about the other clues and contexts would fall on deaf ears. Maybe I was too stridently feminist then, so evoked this resistance....  

    It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

    by poco on Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 07:04:02 PM PDT

    •  Maybe they just weren't that empathetic. (12+ / 0-)

      Don't blame your feminism!

      "I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards any one." (Edith Cavell)

      by Southcoast Luna on Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 07:24:19 PM PDT

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    •  Your students' reluctance to see straight is sad & (8+ / 0-)

      strange. But I say this mostly because I've seen it before when, for instance, a poll of teenage girls showed so many of them blaming Rihanna for Chris Brown beating her.

      I agree that the Duke half-suspects his own fault. He's protesting a bit too hard about his own blamelessness.

      "Maybe I was too stridently feminist then, so evoked this resistance...." interesting tangent. I've done this, and seen it, in other contexts. The audience feel that you want them to agree, and don't get why you care so, and recoil. Often, enlightenment comes like eating an elephant - one small bite at a time. Just as often, enlightenment never comes.

      Very happy to see you here. One of these years, you could write a diary of your own. Or Adalah could be resuscitated. In any case, you're most welcome.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 07:34:15 PM PDT

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      •  Glad to be here. And lol--never heard (8+ / 0-)

        of the elephant eating analogy--sounds pretty gross though. Though, I am probably subjecting my students to similar experiences, given the sort of stuff I teach.

        And have to quote sections of my favorite Browning poem here, even though it is totally OT:

        I would that you were all to me,
                 You that are just so much, no more.
        Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free!
                 Where does the fault lie? What the core
        O' the wound, since wound must be?

        I would I could adopt your will,
                 See with your eyes, and set my heart
        Beating by yours, and drink my fill
                 At your soul's springs,—your part my part
        In life, for good and ill.

        No. I yearn upward, touch you close,
                 Then stand away. I kiss your cheek,
        Catch your soul's warmth,—I pluck the rose
                 And love it more than tongue can speak—
        Then the good minute goes.

        Already how am I so far
                 Out of that minute? Must I go
        Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
                 Onward, whenever light winds blow,
        Fixed by no friendly star?

        Just when I seemed about to learn!
                 Where is the thread now? Off again!
        The old trick! Only I discern—
                 Infinite passion, and the pain
        Of finite hearts that yearn.

        "Two in the Campagna"

        http://www.poetryfoundation.org/...

        It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

        by poco on Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 08:06:26 PM PDT

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        •  How do you eat an elephant? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, poco, Emmet

          One bite at a time.

          So, when a problem overwhelms you, break it into subtasks, and do the one in front of your face. Who knows, maybe some parts of the elephant are delicious? The fear of eating the elephant tastes worse than actually eating it.

          How is it under our control
          To love or not to love?
          Thanks for the poem. He paints a scene so well.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 11:54:53 PM PDT

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