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Jamaican National Pledge

Usually recited during a government official’s beginning and end of term, a shortened version is also used for Jamaican schools.

Before God and All mankind.
I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart
The wisdom and courage of my mind,
The strength and vigour of my body
in the service of my fellow citizens.

I promise to stand up for justice,
Brotherhood and Peace, to work diligently and creatively,
To think generously and honestly, so that,
Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship
and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare
of the whole human race.

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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Pledges

 

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Robert Browning

Robert Browning was one of the foremost Victorian poets.  He was born in Camberwell in South London, England on May 7, 1812 and died on December 12, 1889.  He was well known for his mastery of the dramatic verses and monologues.  He was raised in a household of significant literary resources, although he was educated at home because of his dislike for school life.  Unlike many poets of his time, Browning never fully finished attending a university, because he was bored with institutionalized education and set out towards his own ideology.  He won many awards, including the honorary fellowship award, the Edward J. Devitt Award for Distinguished Service to Justice, and the Jameson Award.

“Prospice”

FEAR death? — to feel the fog in my throat,
The mist in my face,
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
I am nearing the place,
The power of the night, the press of the storm,
The post of the foe;
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
Yet the strong man must go:
For the journey is done and the summit attained,
And the barriers fall,
Though a battle’s to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
The reward of it all.
I was ever a fighter, so — one fight more,
The best and the last!
I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,
And bade me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers
The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life’s arrears
Of pain, darkness and cold.
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,
The black minute’s at end,
And the elements’ rage, the fiend-voices that rave,
Shall dwindle, shall blend,
Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain,
Then a light, then thy breast,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
And with God be the rest!

Prospice mean to examine the past, present, and future, and for Browning, this means to look forward.  Shortly after his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s death, he wrote this poem as a testament to his views of death.  A great poem about death, this describes how after a loved one’s death, even death, who looks intimidating at first, becomes a “guerdon be gained,” a reward for dying.  Even when we know that we cannot win against death, we, “ever the fighter,” still foolishly try in our greatest endeavors to defeat it, using love as our greatest weapon.  In addition,  although mankind will always be defeated, after death one will meet his loved one again, such as how Browning “shall clasp [her] again,” his wife who had passed away.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Poets

 

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Theodore Roethke

Theodore Roethke was an American poet who was born on May 25, 1908 in Saginaw, Michigan and died on August 1, 1963.  Inspired by the greenhouse and family deaths during his childhood, Roethke incorporated these experiences into his poems, characterized by its rhythm and natural imagery.  He attended the University of Michigan and later Harvard, then taught at many universities including Michigan, Lafayette, Bennington, and Pennsylvania State.  He won many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his book, The Waking.

“The Waking”

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close behind me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lonely worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air;
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Using a combination of fate and free will, Roethke states that we “wake to sleep,” and live to die.  However, even when our fates are set, we should take our “waking slow”, living life to the fullest by “thinking with feeling.”  Using a mixture of paradoxes, Roethke was also able to express that we learn to make our own decisions by learning of “where we have to go,” the destination of our fate- death.  This poem was realistic in the ways human deal with life.  Even when learning that we will all die, we should still learn to “take the lively air” and “learn by going where to go.”  By learning to walk our own paths, we can impact our “waking” and those around us.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Poets

 

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Medieval Literature vs. Renaissance Literature

Medieval and Renaissance literature were influenced by two completely different eras in human history.  During the Middle Ages, (A.D. 1066- 1500) the toils of daily life affected the mindset of those at this time.  As a result, these ideas found its way into the making of Medieval literature.  However, after the great rediscovery of the classical civilizations during A.D. 1500- 1660, men began creating what is now looked upon as Renaissance literature.  Though they are both forms of writing, their history as a part of society greatly differed from contrasting philosophies of life, leading to two different personalities.

Medieval Literature

During the Middle Ages, a great emphasis was placed on the blend of fantasy and reality.  Though characters were given human characteristics, their personalities transcended  to those of fictitious figures (God, Saints, and revered leaders).  Additionally, these stories incorporated the codes of romance and honor, reliving the ideals of chivalry in writing.  Furthermore, there was a religious overtone hidden in these works.  Because only monks could hand- copy these manuscripts in monasteries, only a few were made available to the rich and noble.  As for the peasants, the only way to pass down these stories from generation to generation was by words of mouth.

For example, Geoffrey Chaucer (1343- 1400), the famous author of The Canterbury Tales, practiced these forms of writing in his narration of the social classes at this time.  He was later known as one of the best medieval writer of all time.

 

Renaissance Literature
In contrast to the religion- driven aspects of literature found during Medieval times, Renaissance thinkers reverted back to the idealism of classical civilizations during A.D. 1500- 1660.  Instead of focusing on the dreams of the future, Renaissance men and women were concerned with the “here and now”.  During this period, feelings and emotions were key to illustrating humanism, with the story more oriented on the character rather than the adventure.  In addition, Renaissance literature revolved more around having a real humanistic protagonist with a real story to tell.  These basic ideals evolved from a humble place in life to a materialistic dream steeped in luxury.  Moreover, with the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johann Gutenberg, manuscripts were no longer needed to be meticulously hand- copied, and were able to be printed and delivered to the mass public inexpensively and swiftly.  With more men and women educated due to the indirect results of the printing press, literature became widespread throughout Europe.
For example, John Milton (A.D. 1608- 1674), in his notorious epic poem Paradise Lost, illustrated a more humanistic and prideful Lucifer who craves power in Heaven.  This represents the change in ideas from the religious Medieval literature into the secular themes of Renaissance literature.
“John Milton (1608-1674).” Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature. 26 Dec. 2006. Web. 25 Oct. 2010. <http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/milton/&gt;.
“Medieval Literature.” Medieval Life and Times. Web. 25 Oct. 2010. <http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-life/medieval-literature.htm&gt;.
“Introduction to the Renaissance.” 29 Mar. 2009. Web. 25 Oct. 2010. <http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/ren.html&gt;.
“Medieval Literature.” Medieval Life. Web. 25 Oct. 2010. <http://medieval-life.net/literature_main.htm&gt;.

 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Thomas More's Utopia

 

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Dante’s influence on Botticelli’s Chart of Hell

Sandro Botticelli (1445- 1510) was an Italian painter of the Florentine school.  He lived during the early Renaissance, yet his paintings were influenced by the two- dimensional Gothic art style.  At a young age Botticelli picked up a unique style with his fusion of the Medieval linear and Renaissance three- dimensional style that led to some of his famous artworks such as Adoration of the Magi and The Birth of Venus. However, the Renaissance rejected these styles of Gothic art and this technique died with Botticelli until it was revived during the second half of the 19th century.

Compared to the other artist during the Renaissance, he was well educated, but was also interested in the Middle Ages, especially Dante’s Divine Comedy.  He was so interested in this work of literature that he wrote a commentary over portions of Dante and illustrated Dante’s Inferno in his paintings.  He spent so much of his time studying the Divine Comedy that he suffered from disorders during his lifetime from lack of work and deteriorated over the obsessions of Dante.  His masterpiece from Dante’ Inferno, known as the Chart of Hell, with its peculiar painting method, stands as one of the most fascinating representation of Hell ever seen.

Chart of Hell

Painted during c. 1480- 1495, the Chart of Hell visualized Botticelli’s imagination of Dante’s Inferno. In this painting, the descriptions of Hell was illustrated through the nine circles where souls are tortured for eternity.  However, Botticelli incorporated more details based on the literal texts of Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Here, the ring system was preemminent, but seemed to spiral down in comparison to a tornado whirling towards the center of wickedness.  The circles symbolized the cyclical aspects of existence where these condemned souls are trapped and tortured for eternity imprisoned between all time and place forbidden from paradise, where they must and always will suffer the second death.  The center where all the sins cascaded down differentiated from the rest, with the ring of Treachery where Lake Cocytus trapped Satan as the centerpiece instead of being fix in the background.  This seemed to indicate Botticelli’s parody of Lucifer as the supreme being of the netherworld, as opposed to the Supreme Trinity reigning in Heaven prevalent in Medieval art.  In addition, Botticelli included Dante’s sense of the descent to the blind world by showing staircases that were only reserved for the wanderer who lost his clear path during the journey of life to help him avoid damnation and find salvation by the witness of other’s dead ends.  This journey of Dante in Botticelli’s opinion symbolized the paradox that one must see the future in order to fix the past.

Sandro Botticelli.  Wikipedia Foundation, Inc.  2010. Oct. 17, 2010.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandro_Botticelli

The World of Dante.  Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities, University of Virginia.  2008.  Oct. 17, 2010.http://www.worldofdante.org/botticelli_detail.html

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2010 in Dante

 

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