Tag Archives: Literature

National Grammar Day – Haiku Winners

Haikus can be wonderful. I’m not a purist, so if something doesn’t adhere to the classical rules of Haiku, I’m not going to complain, as long as it’s honest about its heritage.

Grammar Girl posted a short piece on the recent National Grammar Day Haiku Contest winners. I’ll share a bit of that with you, because I love Haiku and so should you.

This being Grammar Girl and Grammar Day, the contest focuses on haikus that centrally involve grammar.

This one, written by Arika Okrent in 2013, cleverly references we all know from experience.

I am an error

And I will reveal myself

After you press “send”

The first and third place winners from 2016 didn’t move me, so I won’t share them here, but you can find them here.

The second place winner, from Monica Sharman, is striking in its emotion and metaphorical truth.

“Edit” in Latin

means “He eats” or “She eats”—

We devour your words

The fourth place winner, from Larry Kunz, is brilliant in its use of grammar and mental imagery.

She said, I love you.

Her beau replied, I loved you.

Then the time passed, tense.

If you enjoyed these, there are many more a quick search away. I’ll close with a non grammar related mutt of a haiku that always cracks me up.

Take me down to Hai-

ku city where the grass is

green, and the dammit

No Man is an Island

No man is an island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee. 

 

This wasn’t written as a poem, but as part of Donne’s “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions”, a reflection on life while he was seriously ill. The words below are from Meditation XVII, and it’s well worth reading the whole of that meditation.

More on Donne’s Devotions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devotions_upon_Emergent_Occasions

The whole of Meditation XVII: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Meditation_XVII

Note: I just realized I posted on this topic in 2013. This is an expanded and somewhat different entry.

You do not have to be good.

Wow. This is the most beautiful poem I’ve read in a while. It’s worth thinking through what this is saying to you, and what your answer will be.


Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver 

You can watch the author reading her poem here:

Capital Oppresses Labor

capitalOppressesLabor

Tolstoy was exactly right.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. Welfare Capitalism, as practiced in most of the developed world, allows the creative destruction of capitalism to proceed while shielding individuals from its excesses.

Supporting capitalism does not require that we support a free for all in which the capitalists use people and natural resources as they will. Capitalism left to run its natural course results in the destruction of individual life, liberty, and ultimately the environment we need to survive. A serious capitalist will acknowledge the need for strong government regulation of capitalist practices, even as he fights against those regulations that limit his own profits.

Resentment, Elitism, and Literature

literature

I mostly agree with this article about resentment, elitism, and literature (in that order). The world, and the United States in particular, is full of people who are insecure of their intelligence and understanding, too lazy or otherwise unwilling to improve their state, and resentful of anyone who creates something that reminds them of their inadequacy.

I respect people, including my wife, who prefer simple pleasures that are easy to come by and require minimal effort to obtain, and are not self-conscious about their preferences or their relative educational status. These people, again including my wife, generally respect people who are different from them and prefer to live among the giants of human intellect. They tend to instinctively grok the idea of how different we can be in our drives and pleasures. I may not be able to talk about some of my greatest intellectual loves with such people, but they understand how to be human and how to share their humanity as well as anyone. For discussion of Goethe, Plato, and Lem, there is the Internet, connecting me to others with these interests.

It takes all kinds to make a world. I have trouble only with those who resent or actively hate those who are more or less erudite than themselves.

No Man Is An Island

No man is an Island, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

This famous text is from John Donne’s series of meditations and prayers on health, pain, and sickness (written while Donne was convalescing from a nearly fatal illness) that were published as a book in 1624 under the title Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. This text is from Meditation XVII.