Saturday, 12 December 2009

Graham Greene Brighton Rock: The Characterisation of Good and Evil

A useful, short, essay by Sarah Jones

Frankenstein Lecture Notes

These are just bare outline notes. Still, they provide a structure for possible research.

Mark Steel's Postmodern Approach to Mary Shelley

Mark's ironic, easy style disguises true academic rigour. This is well worth watching for A2 students studying "Frankenstein" who need to "gen up" on AO4 (the historical context of Mary's life, influences and times.) The third part deals with the text. See all four parts.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Narrator of" Brighton Rock" by G.A. Wilkes

Worth reading as you work your way into the novel. Wilkes makes intriguing points on the viewpoint of the narrator and changes in subsequent publications of this novel.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Saturday, 24 October 2009

"TOYS" by Coventry Patmore and a link to an interpretation of the poem

Written in the early 1860s after losing his wife, Coventry Patmore's poem discloses the oscillating feelings of severity and tenderness that were so prevalent in his personality. He went to visit William Barnes in Dorchester as each had recently lost their wives and were now widowers with a similar number of children. This poem reflects Old and New Testment ideas in its structure, and, Patmore's "Toys" were probably the trappings of this world, which would be no more than "toys" in the eyes of God.

After having a go at interpreting the poem yourselves, read this interpretation English Teacher Man.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Yeats and "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"

The early slides are full of information on Yeats's 1893 poem, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree". Focus on the poet's symbolism as you read it.

Here's an unusual term that features in this presentation explained in Wikipedia
Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia, plural synesthesiae or synaesthesiae)—from the Ancient Greek σύν (syn), "together," and αἴσθησις (aisthēsis), "sensation"—is a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes.

"Linnets" belong to a species of bird known as a finch. They are songbirds and symbolise home and family.

Friday, 9 October 2009

What's Driving The Market? A kind of madness

This is a great interview. The information is dispassionately delivered and the implications for the markets are made plain. Steve Myers, who is an investment broker for grains and metals, is well worth listening to.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The rise in the vix and the roller coaster US stock market

The is the closest analogy I can make to playing the US markets. It does not seem to matter whether you are long or short. Perhaps short is safest for the next fortnight. Scary? Of course!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Reading and note-taking for "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

Class 13A English A2 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Read chapters 7-11 (inclusive)
Annotate your texts and write a few paragraphs for each chapter on the following:

1. The theme of relationships and connected themes, i.e. various forms of love, education, fate, honour, madness, history, the past, position of women, waste, etc.

2. Structure form and language
(Is the chapter dramatic? For instance, is there a sequence of events leading to a powerful conclusion?
Does the chapter: set out a series of problems and seek to resolve them? Does it involve questions and answers? Involve Cause and effect? Have thesis, antithesis, and synthesis? Is the structure logical? Does it involve the contrast of time? Is it a summary?)

how and why the following are used:
· styles of narration and attitude and values of narrators
· Use of language/vocabulary
· parallel narratives; balance of dialogue/description
· the purpose of chapters in the overall narrative:
(for instance, the presentation of historical events, counterpoint, the
introduction or presentation of characters and their dilemmas;
· the presentation of characters through dialogue, description, imagery,

events and symbolism associated with them.

3. Points that could be made about the historical and literary contexts through the use of background events and incidents affecting the characters:
from the time in which events are set – the early 1940s to the early 1990s
from the time in which the novel was written.

(i.e. events in the Balkans in the early 1990s – the civil war in Bosnia and the West’s early reaction to it.)
( i.e. post modernism, polyphonic novel, magic realism, etc.)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Flation Debate - argument for Deflation

Part way through this video by Max Keiser Dr Keen discusses debt and deflation. Excellent stuff

Part 2

Friday, 18 September 2009

The 400 Biggest Banks and Their Troubled Loans

Whichever way one reads this list of banks and their 'troubled' loans - it is a real shocker. Things are getting worse and not better. How long before the lid comes off and the financial world simply blows up? Next year?

Postmodern Unpacked

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story - a trailer

Michael Moore's take comedic take on the financial crisis. Comes out soon.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Jim Sinclair Interview - gold is likely to be attached to a SDR basket of currencies

In an interview in South Africa on 13th of July 2009, Jim Sinclair thinks that gold will be attached to a basket of Special Drawing Rights currencies currently being worked on by the IMF. No doubt the purpose would be to give the currencies the type of solid backing they now lack. The rate at which gold will be attached is not known. The sound in the interview is mostly out of sync but still worth is listening to.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Mark Leibovit's of VR Goldletter thinks gold will rise strongly over the summer

Chief market strategist for the VR Gold, Mark Leibovit's interview is well worth watching. He has some very interesting charts! Mark is the number one intermediate market timer for the last ten years in the US. ( " Timer Digest Magazine")

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

"The Applicant" by Sylvia Plath

The poem was published in her famous collection of poems, "Ariel", a couple of years after her death in 1965.

- The Applicant

First, are you our sort of a person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something's missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit----

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they'll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that ?
Naked as paper to start

But in twenty-five years she'll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk , talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it's a poultice.
You have an eye, it's an image.
My boy, it's your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Resources for studying Sylvia Plath's "The Applicant"

One source which possibly moved Sylvia Plath to create her poem was Cliff Richard's 1959 release, "Living Doll". With hindsight and the benefit of time, even he is embarrassed by the "dodgy" lyrics of the song. He thinks that he needed "guts" to sing it. Who would produce such sexist lyrics today?

Another important source for the poem was a painting by the Belgian surrealist artistRené François Ghislain Magritte (21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967).

Here's an extract from an essay which discusses this painting and its relationship with Plath's poem.

"The Applicant"

"Plath also denounces the role of wife, especially in "The Applicant," in which a man goes into a shop to purchase a wife. A salesperson interrogates him about his needs, recommends a model with many skills, and then summons one for him, saying "Come here, sweetie, out of the closet" (Hughes 1981, 221). Plath's image is eerily similar to Rene Magritte's "Homage to Mack Sennet (1934, "Huldigung an Mack Sennet," Musee Communale, La Louviere, Belgien), which portrays an armoire with one door open to reveal a floor length, white, long-sleeved, semi-transparent silk gown hanging from a wooden coat hanger with the front of the gown facing the door opening. The ugly, styleless armoire seems shoddily made. The mirror on its closed door reflects nothing; it is a flat surface on which gray fades into black. Nearly everything in the painting is dull, ordinary, common, and shabby-in browns, beiges, grays, and blacks-except the bodice of the gown itself, whose shape appears to cover two nippled, very realistic woman's breasts. There is no indication of hands, feet, head, or body--just breasts, which change the shape of an otherwise two-dimensional nightgown. The rest of the gown hangs limply from its hanger, without humanity or sexuality. Here--as if for sale and certainly for the taking by whoever so desires--is a hollow nothingness. Magritte, like Hollywood and Madison Avenue, has reduced woman to a pair of perfect, emblematic breasts. Forever available, this is a sex symbol which will never disagree with, annoy, or betray any man.

Similarly passive and available, Plath's mannequin waits in a closet too. It is capable of performing all wifely and housewifely tasks; it will provide a hand when its husband's hand is empty: "It will bring teacups and roll away headaches / And do whatever you tell it." Her mannequin is a "living doll" (Hughes 1981, 221); "It can sew, it can cook / It can talk, talk, talk," and is guaranteed to have "nothing wrong with it" (222). Like Ira Levin's later creation, the Stepford wives, its only function is to satisfy a husband's needs--including sexual intercourse--but does so without interest, affect, or feeling. Like Magritte's breasted gown, Plath's mannequin lacks individuality and any will of its own. All hers can do is "talk, talk, talk," but it almost certainly does so without ever saying anything worth listening to. (11)

Plath takes a painting that does not have feminist content and transforms it into a poem that does. But, unlike a feminist who thinks of other women as her sisters, Plath, in each case, attacks the woman who has accepted her role and presents the woman as subhuman--as ape, as lollipop, and as robot. Plath herself wanted to have it all."

Websites: articles, essays, comments, etc.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

"Ecstasy" by Sharon Olds

From page 73 of "Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times", Sharon Old's poem shares themes and ideas that are present in several other poems in this anthology. The poem's depiction of sexual experience and its imagery and focus on how "language" can also separate us recalls Adrienne Rich's "Two Songs".

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Expressive readings of John Donne's "Death Be Not Proud" and George Herbert's "Love"

Donne's metaphysical poem belittles personified "Death" because of its temporary victory, after which it is paradoxically fated to "die" itself, with the Resurrection.  Herbert's dialogue is reveals a male soul's entry into heaven and God as "Love" assuring the  hesitant narrator's soul of its welcome to heaven. Its "Lord" is definitely a New Testament one! Both poems would be useful to write about for AO5ii, (The historical context)  AO1, (Use of  poetic technique) and AO3 (form, structure and language). There seems to be a progression between them. These AOs refer to Edexcel's legacy syllabus. 

Julian Glover's reading of this poem is spot on!

Herbert's poem was read by Poetry Animations

Friday, 22 May 2009

Why not try some Bach while you revise eighteenth-century poems?

J.S. Bach 1685-1750 was one of the greatest composers and musicians of his time. Why not listen to some of the music that poets from his time would have heard - and loved. This intricate piece of baroque is the musical equivalent of the fashions in poetry, painting, furniture and architecture of the period. Can A2 students of the old syllabus listen to better? Enjoy, as you read. Maybe I'll play this at the beginning of a class test to set the mood!

BWV - 1006 - Prelude from lute suite 4 - John Williams

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Can you recognise this AS poem on the theme of 'home'

To my classes.

This a poem that we studied this year. But can you identify it from this image? Again, why are some words seemingly more important and significant than others?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A2 Section 2 Poetry - Word Cloud Quiz

Identify the poems and consider why some words are enlarged!

AS Word Cloud Quiz

Guess the poems! And why do think some words are bigger?

How about revising with word clouds?

Click on the image to enlarge.

What about a whole new way to revise your AOs 1-3? Why not produce a few word clouds on poetic terms or for particular poems? You could do the same for the theme of home and links between the poems.

An analysis of Henry King's "The Exequy" and other poems

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

AS practice essay questions linked to the theme of home

Practice Essay Questions for AS Poetry on the Theme of Home.

Prepare an essay plan for one of the following essay questions. We will discuss it in class after 20 minutes.

“Poets often refer to home as a place of memory”

In the light of this claim compare and contrast the presentation of home in two poems that you studied.

‘Some poems in the ‘Anthology’ focus on home as a place of happiness or melancholy.’

In the light of this claim compare and contrast Hardy’s “The Self-Unseeing” with a poem of your choice.

‘Several poems deal with relationships between parents and children.’

Compare and contrast the presentation of relationships in “Toys” and a poem of your choice.

Tennyson's "Mariana": notes on recently discussed AO1 and AO2 Terms

It is a poem in which very little happens - but Mariana's rising emotional intensity.

The subject of this poem is drawn from a line in Shakespeare's play "Measure for Measure": "Mariana in the moated grange." This line describes a young woman waiting for her lover Angelo, who has abandoned her upon the loss of her dowry. Just as the epigraph from Shakespeare contains no verb, the poem, too, lacks all action or narrative movement. Instead, the entire poem serves as an extended visual depiction of melancholy isolation.

Some lexis

'athwart - archaic and sets a tone

'marrish-mosses' - marshy mosses - again an archaic usage, rather like 'cometh' earlier - helps create tone and atmostphere.

archaic – a word no longer in use – used long ago

'casement' – an archaic word for window

Remember that the choice of form and changes within it affects emotion in poetry (D. H. Lawrence )

Tetrameter - eight syllables a line

Trimeter - six syllables a line

A Refrain – repeated lines or stanzas

Melancholy often achieved through adjectives and imagery applied to the senses, e.g. sound.

Anaphora is a rhetorical device and it can be seen in the repetition in the way lines in one stanza begins with  “Old . . .”

“Old . . .”
“Old . . .” (Stanza Six, “Mariana” )
Epizeuxis -“aweary, aweary” ( “Mariana”) (Repeated words on the same line.)
Ekphrasis – detailed description that enables readers to picture what is described.

A spondee - the line’s rhythm is slowed down to emphasise how time has become elongated for Mariana in the final stanza of the poem with “Slow Clock”
The theme of home – isolation and abandonment in “Mariana”
“Mariana” was written when Alfred Tennyson was only 21, shortly after the death of his friend Arthur Hallem.

Is it a psychological poem? The study of psychology was only just beginning – Sleep-walking, the rising intensity of Mariana’s despair. In 1802, French physiologist Pierre Cabanis helped to pioneer   biological psychology with his essay Rapports du physique et du moral de l'homme (On the relations between the physical and moral aspects of man). Cabanis interpreted the mind in light of his previous studies of biology, arguing that sensibility and soul are properties of the nervous system

Is the poem influenced by then fashionable Gothic? Gothic novels were rising in popularity. “Frankenstein” and “The Castle of Otranto” have nightmare scenarios that are highly atmospheric.

Medieval - the Victorians thought up the idea that this period was  "the middles ages" and that they, of course, lived in the modern age
Form ( AO2 )
"Mariana" takes the form of seven twelve-line stanzas, each of which is divided into three four-line rhyme units according to the pattern ABAB CDDC EFEF. The lines ending in E and F remain essentially the same in every stanza and thus serve as a bewitching, chant-like refrain throughout the poem. All of the poem's lines fall into iambic tetrameter, with the exception of the trimeter of the tenth and twelfth lines. The form helps emphasise the frustrating tedium of Mariana’s nightmarish existence as she awaits a lover who appears to have abandoned her.

Third person with direct speech from Mariana.

Structurally, the poem’s time-frame is over an evening, night and morning.

One of the most important symbols in the poem is the poplar tree described in the fourth and fifth stanzas. On one level, the poplar can be interpreted as a kind of phallic symbol. It certainly adds to the poem's gothic atmosphere in the way the shadow of the tree falls across Mariana's bed.

Practice Essay Question

Several Poems in John Wain’s “Anthology” focus on home as a place of grief or loss.

Compare and contrast the poets’ presentation of grief or loss in two poems from the “Anthology”.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Max Keiser on The Chrysler Bankruptcy - Brilliant!

Max says things here which are rarely heard on ANY mainstream television station. Here he is from a few days ago ( May 1st ) on France 24 talking about "savage capitalism", "Dracular" - like hedge funds and the weak American worker, whose blood the hedgefunds, banks and other sundry capitalists is sucking. Great stuff.

Is Capitalism in the USA and UK "feeding on itself" and in doing so eating the last crumbs of what was a productive economy? You judge.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Poetry Terminology Quiz by Famous Poems.Org

I took the Poetry Terminology Quiz at Famous
My results:

Ultimate Poetry Guru!

My Score
The average quiz taker scored 65%, while I scored a whopping 100%!
How's that for a poetry expert?
Think you can do better? Head to the Famous Poems Library and Take the Quiz!

"Amazing! We don't know how you did it, but there it is, right as rain. Only a handful of people has ever scored perfectly on our quiz. And hundreds, if not thousands, of future quiz takers will try to do what you've just done and fail miserably. You've got a gift, my friend!"

I did this for a laugh; however, it would have been an embarrassment to get less than 100% as I teach the study of poetry for a living! However, for some fun-time revision, see how well you can do!

Here's another brief quiz with some broader questions on poetry through the ages:

Saturday, 2 May 2009

"Sir Patrick Spens" read by Hannah Gordon

What a clear, expressive reading of this medieval ballad. It should help with understanding and revision.

Pity about the spelling above; it should read "ballad".

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Chinese Are Secretly Buying Gold

Sherlock Holmes was not required to work this one out. The Chinese are also building stocks of other important metals such as nickel and copper while they are still going cheap. As the biggest holder of US treasury bonds the Chinese do not want to see the Dollar collapse, just yet. But like the Bank De France in the early 1930s they may still still find themselves holding massive reserves in quickly depreciating currency over the next few months. Bank De France had its head handed to it when it tried to support Sterling by buying pounds in the early part of the 30s.  It was all for nothing as their holdings of Sterling and the Dollar crashed in value as Britain and Americas' currencies were devalued by 1934. The consequent losses led to the French state having to bail this "private" institution out.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

"The Lost Children of the Alleghenies"

Alison Krauss's moving ballad shows how the popular appeal of the ballad form still has resonance. As with older ballads the narrative is based on real events which resulted in a tragedy. The loss of the two young Cox brothers was felt by the wider community for many years. Fifty years after the tragedy a memorial was erected over the site in the Pennsylvania mountains where the bodies of the lost boys were found.
All the elements of ballads are here: tragedy, personal loss, the supernatural, striking images, leaping and lingering in the narrative, refrains, hardly any names,- and an abrupt start.

"Jacob's Dream", Lyrics by Alison Krauss

In the spring of 1856, with the snow still on the ground
Two little boys were lost in the mountains, above the town
The father went out hunting, the boys had stayed behind
While mother tended to her chores, they wandered from her side

The two had gone to follow him and lost their way instead
By dusk the boys had not been found and fear had turned to dread
Two-hundred men had gathered there to comb the mountain side
The fires were built on the highest peak in hopes they'd see the light

Oh, mommy and daddy why can't you hear our cries
The day is almost over, soon it will be night
We're so cold and hungry and our feet are tired and sore
We promise not to stray again from our cabin door

Now Jacob Dibert woke one night from a strange and eerie dream
He saw a path between two hills near a dark and swollen stream
He told his wife he saw the boys huddled close beside a log
For two more nights the dream returned this vision sent from God

Oh, mommy and daddy why can't you hear our cries
The day is almost over, soon it will be night
We're so cold and hungry and our feet are tired and sore
We promise not to stray again from our cabin door

A thousand men had searched in vain the west side of Bob's creek
But Jacob's wife knew of this place and said to travel east
With a guide to take him there, Jacob came upon the scene
And found the boys cold and still beneath the old birch tree

Oh, mommy and daddy, look past the tears you cry
We're both up in Heaven now, God is by our side
As you lay us down to rest, in the presence of the Lord
Know that we will meet you, here at Heaven's door

Oh, mommy and daddy, look past the tears you cry
We're both up in Heaven now, God is by our side
And as you lay us down to rest, in the presence of the Lord
Know that we will meet you, here at Heaven's door

Gold should be strong into June

Gold began its rise this week after the Martin Armstrong turn date of April 19th and began its rise this week which should take it higher into June.

Some pundits are saying that this is the beginning of Wave III, a wave that with its minor waves could go on for some time. We'll see, of course, but gold by the end of the year should have proved to have been an outstanding investment.

The really big rises in gold are expected in 2010 when inflation will be rampant all over the world.

I expect a major stock-market crash during the month of October with stock indexes gradually declining over most of the summer. October will mark the the 32nd month from the Dow's "top" in mid February 2007. It might be a good point to pick up a couple of tech stocks in November.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Essay Planning for AS English Literature Exam Essays ( Concept Map )

On the right you will find a generic plan for planning AS English Literature essays for comparing poems in the Edexcel Exam. Try it out by adding brief, phrase-like notes from each poem to see whether it helps you plan and write better essays. Aim to select poems that enable you to compare (what is similar) and contrast (what is different) in how each poet presents the theme of "home".

Of course, if this method of planning is not as effective as the one you use, ignore this post.

Click on the image to enlarge.

For a method that works even better, try the acronym S. T. R. I. D. E. and add Form and Structure to it. It might also be a good idea to add Voice, including First or Third person narrator

See this link for a fuller explanation of this effective method:

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Class and Prejudice - a tricky university interview

In this humorous, well-written piece the writer, Laurie Taylor, remembers his interview at Birmingham University with Professor Gregory. As Taylor is no longer a young man I'd say that the Professor's prejudices reflected how English Literature was then studied just as much a Taylor's then simple-minded arguments. Taylor recaptures the experience in very 'realistic' way. Taylor later went on to become an academic and professor himself, but not through Birmingham University.  It's a good read for university-minded aspiring 'Lit.' students.

Monday, 6 April 2009

PBS's Bill Moyes Talks to William K. Black about Banks

William K. Black wrote a book some time ago entitled, "The Best Way To Rob A Bank is to Own One". As a senior regulator of banks and he pursued fraud and corruption in the 80s. He is now Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri.  He talks to Bill Moyes about the Savings and Loans crisis from the 1980s and he also offers  solutions to the current problems. Black's worryingly argues that the people who got us into this mess are the same ones who are being given trillions of dollars to get us out of it. The mess will remain unless people with probity and integrity are appointed key financial positions. And even then it will take years.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

"On His Blindness" Sonnet XVI by John Milton ( notes )

Useful notes on Milton's great sonnet. Use the contents box from the page on this link to find out about the historical content of this poem.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Poetic Forms

Read the mini essays on several poetic forms from this link.
The more you know about form, the better you will be able to handle the AO2 criteria: Form, Structure and Language.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Poetic Form - The Structure of a Villanelle

AO2 examines language, form and structure. We have been studying a couple of villanelles for unseen tests. Emily Bishop's "One Art" and Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" are both well known examples of this form. AS students should read the article below as its points on how to comment on the structure of villanelles is exemplary.

"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

by Dylan Thomas

Saturday, 7 March 2009

"To Althea, From Prison" - the song version by Fairport Convention

That great old folk band, Fairport Convention's sung version of Richard Lovelace's famous poem is worth a listen for its phrasing and for how they managed to set this seventeenth century poem to music. In class we will be studying this poem with Lovelace's paradoxes on liberty  two weeks from now. Students should remember that AO1 and AO5ii are the most important assessment objectives. However, the others in between matter too, even if to a lesser degree.

"To Althea, From Prison" was written by Richard Lovelace, a royalist, Cavalier poet, 1618-1658. "When Parliament Puritans known as Roundheads (because of their short haircuts compared with the luxurious locks of the cavaliers) ousted Anglican bishops from Parliament, Lovelace presented a petition calling for their restoration. In response, Parliament imprisoned him in its Gate House." (From the Cummings Study Guide.)

Sunday, 1 March 2009

"Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift"

This is the full version with notes from Rutgers University.

Also, here's a discussion on one of Jonathan Swift's most biting satires, "A Modest Proposal". It is very helpful for understanding the historical context of this poet and writer, particularly the importance of pamphleteering during the early eighteenth century.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

"Are the Germans giving up on the Euro? Another Shocker from Ambrose

The Telegraph has never been a lover of the Euro, so it is not surprising to read that one of its foremost economic journalists suggesting as much. But this article suggests economic disintigration of the European Union in a most shocking fashion. The EU's most indebted states are being slowly strangled by a currency that is grossly overvalued. The consequences for countries like Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy staying in the Euro may now possibly prove too great - mass unemployment and deep retrenchment in public services, with the added burden of much higher taxes. These countries need to devalue by around 60% but are constrained by richer northern countries like Germany who have no intention of bailing them out. It's a real shocker!  Going forward, a gold-backed currency for everyone may be the only way out.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Can Paul Volcker Save The US and Capitalism Again?

In his fascinating speech given yesterday former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker, gives his analysis and reactions on how the US and the world's economies have weakened "at a shocking rate" over the last year. ( See below ) What is most interesting about his speech is how he explicitly avoids what he and the President's team will do about the crisis in the coming days. There are strong hints that the banking system is going to be organised and regulated in manner far different from before. He is probably working with most of the world's governments to put together international regulations on banks to take account of our global business world: something the previous US administration did not have the wit nor relationships to do. It is increasingly apparent that the manner in which the world's banks and financial institutions were regulated had more in common with the Victorian age than with our own. Volcker thinks that he can save "capitalism" by doing this. But by his own admission if he fails, so too, will the capitalist world as we know it.

It was Paul Volcker who saved the US economy and its dollar in the early 80s with high interest rates. The cost of this was the destruction of much of the US's industrial base. At 81 whether he and his economic team can salvage the capitalist economic system remains to be seen. Due to globalisation the economic problems this time are far greater and higher interest rates would damage the US and much of the world's economies. Masses of jobless, homeless, starving people would demand a revolution and a different economic system.

In an interview with Charlie Rose last September Volcker offered a vignette about FDR Roosevelt closing the banks for several days to sort out the good ones from the bad. Roosevelt gave a fire-side chat on the radio to reassure Americans that the new banks would be safe and when the banks opened after four days the US public believed him. They trusted the banks that reopened because of the President's crediblity. Volcker laughed at this because Roosevelt knew that there was no way that the banks could have been thoroughly checked out in that time. It was a piece of theatre intended to inspire public confidence, something that most bankers and politicians are unable to emulate today. Roosevelt inspired confidence and that made the difference. Of course, the US economy and others around the world continued to suffer the effects of the Depression because their economies were too badly led and damaged before Roosevelt's arrival in office. Banks are the backbone of capitalism and if Volcker and Obama's economic team can restore confidence in banks the rest will fall into place.

By the way, the other thing that FDR Roosevelt did that should have been done before he entered office was to devalue the dollar and increase the price of gold. His predecessor and his advisers did not understand the damage that a strong dollar would inflict on the US economy. Somehow I don't think Volcker and Obama will repeat this mistake.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The UK - a land where workers have fewer rights than ANYWHERE else in Europe

The sacking of the "agency" BMW workers where they only received "one hour's notice" is just one of the "fruits" of Tony Blair and P.M. Brown's proudly proclaimed "opt outs" from workers' rights, such as "the working time directive" and other rights which would have protected agency workers; workers who would never have been "agency workers" in the first place had they the luck to be citizens in other, less punitive, European Union states. 

The trades unions have also conspired against their members by drawing their own generous salaries, no doubt enhanced by commissions for selling home and car insurance, and the like, instead of striving to protect and improve the working rights and conditions of their members. Like the "watchdogs" who failed to monitor Britain's banks and other financial institutions Britain's trade unions have, with only rare exceptions, embraced consumer style capitalism and forgotten what they formed to do!

When British workers wake up to having been sold out "for years" by successive governments, their media and their unions there will be hell to pay in that increasingly impoverished country.

The "muddy trench" of Labour's "Third Way" has been the consumer strewn path to oblivion - for everyone.

The YouTube video shot by one of the workers shows the shameful collusion of the union, Unite, with its officials representing management telling the workers that they were sacked. The Union were in talks with BMW's management for three weeks but said nothing to the agency workers until an hour before they were sacked. The workers had PAID DUES to the union but union representation was an illusion. Notice how the union representatives look like middle-aged skinhead thugs whereas the workers are mostly immigrants. The union "representatives" show little sympathy and actually say that they support the reduction of shifts that led to the sacking of the agency workers. The collusion of unions with big business and in the public sector has led to the betrayal of workers' rights for 'geld' and position over the last thirty years. This just could not have happened in the 1970s.

The union officials in the video are the modern equivalent of the Jewish policemen in the Warsaw Ghetto. Too many unions have allowed themselves to become management's industrial police men and women. Their exposure as such will become even more evident as the banker induced 'Depression' hits home over the next few years.

Japan - The Worst Economic Crisis Since World War II

Comparisons with World War II are in full swing as Japan says its economy contracted by almost 13%!!!  Will this lead to hyperinflation? You bet your life it will!

I've heard of customer loyalty but . . .

The next business quarter around the world will be quite something to behold.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

'A Monetary Stalingrad" is on its way to Europe

With journalists like Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and at least two other colleagues at The Telegraph this newspaper sports the most knowledgeable financial journalists in print of any UK newspaper. Little, if anything can be learned from those in other broadsheets and the tabloids offer mere escapism. Nor is financial education much better on the radio or TV. The BBC'S Robert Peston is laughably overrated and followed by the ignorant in the media as well by the public. He is always behind the economic curve. Only Max Keiser's satirical programme "The Oracle" offers "a late night" realistic view of world economics on the BBC.

Europe's loans to Eastern Europe's states within and outside the EU are going to cause the next world economic storm - and that is still while the US and UKs' banks are bankrupt and their debts are bankrupting their countries. Latvia's economy along with most UK and US banks is "clinically dead" and the Bank Austria and its Italian owner is facing "a monetary Stalingrad". Depending which figures one wants to accept Germany's gross domestic product shrank between 8 to 9 per cent in the last quarter! Ireland and several other EU countries are effectively bankrupt! The storm could hit within days or weeks. Major political upheaval and change will ensue.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

"Snake" by D.H. Lawrence

This is the poem that we read as "an unseen" in class the other day. It's a modernist poem full of symbolism and the central tension between the "voice of education" or civilisation and "earth-bound" feelings. It's a good choice to try out the various analytical skills you need to understand poetry.

The following acronym should help

Subject and theme(s)
Rhythm (and rhyme in poems where appropriate)

Form and Structure and other areas such as onomatopoeia, alliteration, enjambment, assonance, symbolism, etc. should also be noted for the meaning that it adds to this and other poems.

Remember that Lawrence thought that a poem's form was determined by the emotional patterns caused by the feelings of the narrator. The lingering, pauses and rhythm (pace) is essential for meaning. Of course, other literary texts, for instance,  Genesis, John Milton's "Paradise Lost"  and S.T. Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" are are also alluded to in 

Monday, 9 February 2009

Thomas Hardy on an earlier Dorset poet, William Barnes

William Barnes 1801–1886

In 1918 Thomas Humphry Ward published in several volumes, The English Poets. The works of the poets being introduced by another author. The works of William Barnes, the ‘Dorset Poet’ were introduced by that other Dorset poet and author, Thomas Hardy, and it is that introduction which follows.
The veil of a dialect, through which except in a few cases readers have to discern whatever of real poetry there may be in William Barnes, is disconcerting to many, and to some distasteful, chiefly, one thinks, for a superficial reason which has more to do with spelling than with the dialect itself. As long as the spelling of standard English is other than phonetic it is not obvious why that of the old Wessex language should be phonetic, except in a pronouncing dictionary. We have however to deal with Barnes’s verse as he chose to write it, merely premising that his aim in the exact literation of Dorset words is not necessarily to exhibit humour and grotesqueness.
It often seemed strange to lovers of Barnes that he, a man of insight and reading, should have persisted year after year to sing in a tongue which, though a regular growth and not a provincial corruption, is indubitably fast perishing. He said that he could nothelp it. But he may have seen the unwisdom of such self-limitation — at those times, let us suppose, when he appeared to be under an uncontrollable impulse to express his own feelings, and to convey an ampler interpretation of life than his rustic vehicle would carry unenlarged, which resulted in his putting into the mouths of husbandmen compound epithets that certainly no user of the dialect ever concocted out of his own brain, and subtle sentiments that would have astonished those husbandmen and their neighbours.
But though true dramatic artistry lies that way, the way of all who differentiate imaginative revelation from the blind transcripts of a reporter’s note-book, it was probably from some misgivings on the score of permanence that now and then he would turn a lyric in “common English,” and once or twice brought out a little volume so written as an experiment. As usual, the prepossessions of his cocksure critics would not allow them to tolerate what they had not been accustomed to, a new idea, and the specimens were coldly received; which seems to have discouraged him. Yet in the opinion of the present writer the ordinary language which, as a school-master, Barnes taught for nearly forty years, could soon have been moulded to verse as deftly as dialect by a man whose instinct it was to catch so readily the beat of hearts around him. I take as an example the lines (which I translate) on the husband who comes home from abroad to find his wife long dead : —
“The rose was dust that bound her brow,Moth-eaten was her Sunday cape,Her frock was out of fashion now,Her shoes were dried up out of shape —Those shoes that once had glittered blackAlong the upland’s beaten track;”
and his frequent phrases like that of the autumn sun “wandering wan,” the “wide-horned cows,” the “high-sunned” noons, the “hoarse cascade,” the “hedgerow-bramble’s swinging bow.”
Barnes, in fact, surprising as it may seem to those who know him, and that but a little, as a user of dialect only, was an academic poet, akin to the school of Gray and Collins, rather than a spontaneous singer of rural songs in folk-language like Burns, or an extemporizer like the old balladists. His apparently simple unfoldings are as studied as the so-called simple Bible-narratives are studied; his rhymes and alliterations often cunningly schematic. The speech of his ploughmen and milkmaids in his Eclogues — his own adopted name for these pieces — is as sound in its syntax as that of the Tityrus and Meliboeus of Virgil whom he had in mind, and his characters have often been likened to the shepherds and goatherds in the idylls of Theocritus.
Recognition came with the publication of the first series of Dorset poems in 1844, though some reviewers were puzzled whether to criticize them on artistic or philological grounds; later volumes however were felt to be the poetry of profound art by Coventry Patmore, F. T. Palgrave, H. M. Moule, and others. They saw that Barnes, behind his word-screen’, had a quality of the great poets, a clear perception or instinct that human emotion is the primary stuff of poetry.
Repose and content mark nearly all of Barnes’s verse; he shows little or none of the spirit of revolt which we find in Burns; nothing of the revolutionary politics of Beranger. He held himself artistically aloof from the ugly side of things — or perhaps shunned it unconsciously; and we escape in his pictures the sordid miseries that are laid bare in Crabbe, often to the destruction of charm. But though he does not probe life so deeply as the other parson-poet I have named, he conserves the poetic essence more carefully, and his reach in his highest moments, as exampled by such a poignant lyric as The Wife a-lost, or by the emotional music of Woak Hill, or The Wind at the Door, has been matched by few singers below the best.

This is a link for more information on Barnes and where you can listen to one of his poems

Sunday, 8 February 2009

A reading of Christopher Marlowe's "A Passionate Shepherd To His Love"

Marlowe's carpe diem lyric with its idyllic rural setting became very popular as a poem of seduction in its day ( the Elizabethan period of the late 1500s ). The speaker makes several naturalistic promises for the voiceless woman's chastity but he does not make an offer of marriage.

Here's a full set of notes on this poem.  When you get there examine the links on the right of the page  for further information on this interesting poem.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Henry Fielding and London in the 1750s

By the 1750s, when Thomas Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" was published (although it was probably begun in 1742) London was growing at an astonishing rate through trade and from an influx of people from the countryside. More than 575,000 souls existed in overcrowded streets in which crime, disease, gin-drinking, fake lotteries, afflicted everyone. 

As today, the differences between the rich and the poor was increasing year, by year. Great affluence existed alongside grinding poverty. It was still the age of  "The Peacock Man" which had begun after the Restoration 90 years before. It was an age of excessive behaviour in dress and immoral living; it was an age of exuberance and depression - an age of science and and an age of extremes.

For more information on London during this period try this link:

An Extract from La Follia by Arcangelo Corelli 1653-1713

To understand the context of a period, say the late 1600s to the early 1700s, it helps to listen to the music that was popular at the time. This extract from "La Follia' (the latter word is derived from "folly") is useful for understanding the ornate nature of the baroque, the style in music, art, architecture and furniture at the time.

Arcangelo Corelli died a rich man because of aid of his patrons and the quality art of his compositions. Captain Corelli in "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" from the A2 text of the same name derives his name and nationality from Arcangelo Corelli.

"Elegy in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray, a reading and notes

"Elegy In A Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray, published in 1751. Surely one of the greatest poems ever penned.

Michael J. Cummings Study Guide

More excellent notes from the University of Toronto

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Is the FED making progress on reflating the US economy?

Two articles from different sources weigh up the evidence that the US Federal Reserve is already making progress on reflating the US economy. The implications for gold and silver from the Fed monetizing treasury bonds and other financial assets are highly favourable - although you would never know it from the action in gold and related PM stocks today. The next two to three weeks may hold pleasant surprises for some gold and silver bugs.

Boris Sobolev is a known PM investor

Bloomberg represents "Main Street"

Monday, 2 February 2009

A Chart Explaining Elizabethan, Metaphysical, and Cavalier Poetry

This is a pretty clear explanation of the differences between each poetic style from the three periods. It's also very useful for understanding the literary, historical and cultural contexts ( AO5ii ).

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Max Keiser and the Oracle for 30th of January 2009

Get past the jaunty presentation and Max and his guests have serious things to say on the world economy and gold. Last week Max's Oracle predicted a currency crisis for the Pound in April this year. This is part one of the current program. If you want the other parts you can click on the program and search on Youtube.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Ronald Rosen thinks that gold blasts off in 2009-10

Ronald Rosen, a longtime proponent of Gann's method of analysing markets thinks that we have reached Stage 3 of the gold market. Given the increasing sense of crisis in the world's major economies I fully agree with him. The link is worth reading while playing the 1812 Overture. What a wonderful piece of celebratory music that is! (The link for this is within Rosen's interesting article)

John Milton's "On His Blindness"

This poem from Section 2 of the "Edxecel Anthology" will be one of the focus poems this coming week. This is richly expressive rendition of Milton's great sonnet - and one worth posting.

Friday, 30 January 2009

A radio interview on the life and art of D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence: The Middle Years. Internet Talk Radio provides a rebroadcast of the American public radio program, Dialogue, in which George Seay interviews Mark Kinkead-Weekes on the art of D.H. Lawrence.

One of the autobiographical poems on the Edxecel's syllabus for the theme of home is "End of Another Home Holiday". Lawrence's first person narrator reveals his tortured soul as the poem's central tension on his feelings of guilt for leaving his aging, possibly dying mother and returning to Croydon, probably to his new love Louie Burrows. 

The poem's form, free verse, expands and contracts as Lawrence's emotions and feelings of reproach are experienced. The rhythm of the poem also "lingers" over particularly painful "feelings" as Lawrence stays up all night exploring, sometimes in a creatively distracting manner, his conscience.

For students who would like to enhance their knowledge of D.H. Lawrence this interview on his life is well worth listening to.

About Me

I teach Film, Media and English Lit.