"She Walks in Beauty" by George Gordon, Lord Byron This poem has dazzled me since I first read it in high school. I spent my high school years hearing TV commercials tell me that "blondes have more fun," so a poem about someone like me---with dark hair and eyes---was definitely on my short list of favorite poems. Why has it stayed on my " best of the best" list?? Because it is not a good poem. It is a great poem. Of course it is great for its mastery of expression, its unity of form and function. But it also defines beauty the way I want beauty to be: that quality which shows on someone's face, but is rooted in his/her heart and mind. He says what I want to say, but never seem to succeed in saying. He makes me believe in what is best and true in all of you--and me too. I rate this poem: *****
I JUST FINISHED.... AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman
I loved this book. I read it so fast that I am planning a second read in about six months because I could feel all the detail and poetry I was missing as I sped through it. There was no possibility of slowing down,though, I had to know as fast as I could what the journey meant and how much like a hero journey, a la Campbell's monomyth, it was going to be. I read this with #1b1t and was unable to stick to the timeline, like many others.
Bst part of the book had to be the protagonist: Shadow's ignorance of his own identity, even his own name (isn't that how most of us travel through life?), and his steadfast love for Laura, his dogged pursuit of a good, pure future for himself, the everyman aspects of his character. I read an interview with Neil Gaiman once in which he mentioned that he was a pretty "facile writer," and that he did not want to rely on that in his writing. The style was smooth, for sure, but Mr. Gaiman can really tell a story.
The bewilderment of the English writer transplanted when confronted by the chaotic mess that is "American" mythology was great--next read, I will focus on the new American gods more intently. There were so few of them next to the original, immigrant gods, that I missed some, I know. I did think the plotting was uneven--maybe the mix of novel and epic was too much for one book. You've got to go for the archetypes, yet I want characterization as well. Shadow was drawn so carefully, but some of the gods were just sketches. I'd like to read the book with my World Lit class, but am not sure how to navigate through Bilquis (jeez, did those have to be the most specific accurate scenes I have ever read??) with 17 year olds. They think they know so much about sex. Ha!