Daily Archives: June 8, 2012

June Week 1: Poetry

Generally speaking, I tend to stick to a couple of genre when picking out books to read.  This month is about picking out things that are outside of what I normally read.  Here is the schedule:

Week 1: Poetry
Week 2: Classic
Week 3: History
Week 4: Mystery
Week 5: Biography

Since the first “week” of June was only 2 days, I decided that some poetry might be the best way to start off the month.  While I was in college, I had to take British Literature and so had to buy a large anthology.  Since the class, the book has moved around with me but I didn’t even crack it open again.  So rather than searching for poems in other books or online, I decided to look in the book that I spent a ton of money on and moved four times.  Here are some of the poems I read:

Thomas Gray “Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat
Thomas Gray “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
William Cowper “The Castaway
Kathrine Philips “A Married State
Kathrine Philips “Upon the Double Murder of King Charles
Kathrine Philips “Friendship’s Mystery to my Dearest Lucasia
Kathrine Philips “To Mrs. M. A. at Parting
Kathrine Philips “On the Death of My First and Dearest Child, Hector Philips
John Donne “The Flea
John Donne “The Good-Morrow
John Donne “Song
John Donne “The Undertaking
John Donne “A Valediction: Of Weeping

My favorites were both of Thomas Gray’s and Kathrine Philips’ three poems on friendship (A Married State, Friendship’s Mystery to my Dearest Lucasia, and To Mrs. M. A. at Parting).  The poem that resonated with me the most was To Mrs. M. A. on Parting, as it reminded me of one of my friendships.  Here are a few lines that really spoke to me.

I have examined and do find,
Of all that favor me
There’s none I grieve to leave behind
But only only thee.
To part with thee I needs must die,
Could parting separate thee and I.

This is the most lovely way to describe a “best friend” (a phrase that I find oh, so school-age).  According to the anthology, Katherine Philips was a big believer in the Platonic view of friendship as the union of souls.

Our changed and mingled souls are grown
To such acquaintance now,
That if each would resume their own,
Alas! we known not how.
We have each other so engrossed
That each is in the union lost.

Like roots of trees growing close together, we graft onto one another and become one instead of remaining two.  When one is weaker, the other provides nourishment and we can stand strong against all elements.  No one talks about friendship like this anymore.

Thus our twin souls in one shall grow,
And teach the world new love,
Redeem the age and sex, and show
A flame fate dares not move:

And courting death to be our friend,
Our lives, together too, shall end.

A dew shall dwell upon our tomb
Of such a quality
That fighting armies, thither come,
Shall be reconciled be.
We’ll ask no epitaph, but say:

A very romantic notion, a friendship so strong that one cannot survive past the other.  Such thoughts are usually only reserved for lovers, but sometimes a relationship with a friend can be more intimate than that of with a husband or wife.


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