Dinner Conversation

All done. No more. I quit.

The vacuous, barbarian, stoopid comments that drool out of my family’s mouths at the dinner table have to go. At the end of the day I lack the creativity to start and guide good conversation–or rather, I haven’t bothered to do it. But I repent, I repent! I am fighting back with poetry.

For a week or so I have pulled poems from A Sacrifice of Praise; An Anthology of Christian Poetry in English. This fat book wears a brown paper bookcover because, for some inexplicable reason, the publisher chose to feature a scantily clad woman on the cover, and my guy asked me to do something about it.

Here is one we read from it recently:

Work
 
Let me but do my work from day to day,
In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
In roaring market-place or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
“This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
“Of all who live, I am the one by whom
“This work can best be done in the right way.”
Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,
To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;
Then shall I cheerful greet the labouring hours,
And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall
At eventide, to play and love and rest,
Because I know for me my work is best.
 

I’ll only make on comment: the notion that the end of the day is for ‘play and love and rest’ is completely foreign to me.  I think I am doing something wrong…

Today I introduced John Hollander’s Rhyme’s Reason; A Guide to English Verse. In it he illustrates countless devices used in poetry by writing examples in the style he wishes to teach. Here is an acrostic poem:

Acrostic verse (“top of the line,” in Greek)
Conceals, in linguistic hide-and-seek,
Readable messages, gems sunk in fetters–
Only read down the lines’ initial letters.
Sometimes a loved name encoded lies:
This instance names itself (surprise, surprise!)
Indeed, these final lines, demure and winning,
Confirm the guess you’d made near the beginning.
 

We learned there are several kinds of sonnet. Here is one:

The kind of sonnet form that Shakespeare wrote
–A poem of love, or Time, in fourteen lines
Rhymed the way these are, clear, easy to quote–
Channels strong feelings into deep designs.
Three quatrains neatly fitting limb to joint,
Their lines cut with the sharpness of a prism,
Flash out in colors as they make their point
in what logicians call a syllogism–
(If A, and B, then C)–and so it goes,
Unless the final quatrain starts out “But”
Or “Nevertheless,” these groups of lines dispose
Themselves in reasoned sections, tightly shut.
The final couplet’s tight and terse and tends
To sum up neatly how the sonnet ends.
 

Abe caught the ACROSTIC, and after hearing the sonnet Sylvia suddenly recited:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Barnaby reached for the book and read a few aloud, later posting one that tickled him on Facebook.

So what of it?  Is this putting us on the path to know Truth, Beauty and Goodness? Why, I’d say it’ll do very nicely.

To bed I go behind this sentence,
Gladly bearing my repentance.

About lettersfromheartscontent

Mother of six, homeschool teacher, tutor with Classical Conversations, wife to a forester and educator. I tend a perennial garden with a riot of blossoms, ride my bicycle in and out of the watershed, play ocarina and a boom-chick accompaniment when my kids feel like playing contradance music. I love being home, but I love an open road and adventure, too. Classical Conversations' Writers Circle carries my article on some aspect of classical education once a month.
This entry was posted in Poetry, Stories of Home, Writing about writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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