Love is dangerous—best to leave it to the experts.
Spend your Valentine’s Day living vicariously through these writers and their passionate love lives. Because let’s face it, you’d rather be draped in chocolate wrappers than a volatile amour, right? Just me?
The 6th Baron Byron was a Romantic with a capital ‘R,’ but that doesn’t mean he was particularly gentlemanly. His first partner in scandal, Lady Caroline Lamb, described him aptly when she professed he was “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” Indeed, she was just one of many public conquests that rocked British society, several of which produced children. Only one of these was legitimate, the Honorable Augusta Ada Byron, also known as the co-creator of the first computer, Ada Lovelace. Others, save for a daughter he had with Mary Shelley’s sister, were never proven or recognized by Byron. In essence, he was a cad with a weakness for women, or so we can assume from his poem “Don Juan.” I mean, not even his own half-sister was off-limits to him.
But still some come to his defense. Poet Katha Pollitt excused Byron’s bad boy behavior with an interesting take on his contribution to feminism: “Byron’s great insight, in an era where women were expected to be placid and insipid (not that they were!), was to see that women were much like men: They wanted sex and went after it eagerly, if secretly.”
Just for fun: we’re celebrating the lives of three poets that were changed this week in history, many years ago, and examining the curious ways one turn of events can change a legacy. Here are three world-altering events from three years in poetic history…
“The Raven” Is Born
On this day in 1845, Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” one of the best-known poems in the English language, was first published. But it was no easy feat getting it into print. Poe first submitted the poem his friend and owner of Graham’s Magazine George Rex Graham, who declined. He did, however, give Poe $15 out of what could best be described as pity. The poem was eventually bought by The American Review, for $9. Still, Poe was not yet to become the household name he would shortly be; the magazine printed it under the pseudonym “Quarles.”
It was in the Evening Mirror that the poem first appeared with Poe’s name beneath it. Thanks to this publication, Edgar Allen Poe and his “Raven” achieved Read the rest of this entry »
Here at eNotes, we would NEVER let Halloween pass without a few good scares from the masters of horror! Let’s all take a break from the tedious terror of government shutdowns and 404 Errors of the new healthcare law and enjoy some scares that are a lot more fun.
1. “The shortest horror story: The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.”
― Frederic Brown
2. “At bottom, you see, we are not Homo sapiens as all. Our core is madness. The prime directive is murder. What Darwin was too polite to say, my friends, is that we came to rule the earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest, most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle. And that is what the Pulse exposed five days ago.” – from Cell by Stephen King
Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney, “The most important Irish poet since Yeats,” passed away in Dublin early this morning. He was 74.
In the short time since his death, tributes have poured in from all over the globe. But all eyes are on the people of Ireland, whose loss of a national treasure is deeply felt. President Michael D. Higgins, himself a published poet, has spoken of Heaney, “the presence of Seamus was a warm one, full of humour, care and courtesy – a courtesy that enabled him to carry with such wry Northern Irish dignity so many well-deserved honours.” It is that Irish dignity that Higgins credits with boosting national confidence after the economic downturn the nation suffered in 2010.
He carried with him an Irish legacy, born of rural county Derry, that will live on in poems like “Digging” and “Field Work.” Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke for all of his country when he said the death of Heaney was a “great sorrow to Ireland… “For us, Seamus Heaney was the keeper of language, our codes, our essence as a people.”
Listen to Heaney’s 1995 Nobel lecture below:
Under my window, a clean rasping soundWhen the spade sinks into gravelly ground:My father, digging. I look down…Between my finger and my thumbThe squat pen rests.I’ll dig with it.
T.S. Eliot once observed that “genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” This is a sentiment that “guerrilla” poets embrace. Guerrilla tactics, whether in war or in art, often rely on hit-and-run assaults, leaving the subjects of their surprise attacks a bit dazed and hopefully more aware.
This week, the website Flavorpill (by way of booooooom.com) published a variety of guerrilla poetry projects that are sneaking poetry into the lives of the largely unsuspecting public. Here are ten of the best:
1. Scottish artist Robert Montgomery installs subversive poetry on billboards, stripping away the large-scale ads for his black-and-white text. Other poems are set on fire. The anonymous works about modern life offer a moment of reflection, away from the consumerist gaze.