Romeo and Juliet (Play)

Two households in Verona:

Why doth thou fightest so?

Unrevealed was the tragedy

T’would strike, ay, thou did not know.

“O, teach me how I should forget to think,”

Said the venting Romeo to Benvolio.

If only not of Rosaline, but of the Capulets

He could have here spoken, what greater benefit.

But on the other hand, he n’er seemed enraged

As were all the others–Capulets and Montagues alike.

And Romeo and Juliet quickly got engaged

Then married by the friar, who loved them dear.

Friar Lawrence wanted the families

To come together and end the feud.

For great is reconciliation vast

In respect to two mere lovers’ hands.

The unfortunate fate of these two lovers

Ended the hate of Montagues and Capulets,

Who spoke to the former, “…give me thy hand.”

And the former replied, “But I can give thee more.”

The prince does well to end the play,

“A glooming peace this morning with it brings,

The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head…”

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Shakespeare’s As You Like It

In comparison to Othello,

Shakespeare turns this outcome around:

“As You Like It” is not death-filled,

In fact, it even has a clown.

The marriages within

Are verily a joy.

The audience get characters

Of lovers testing, coy.

Then Rosalind, quite cunning,

She makes her love, Orlando,

Giver his testimony of the reason

Why he showed up late

To their date, a whole hour after—

But was this all for laughter?

She, some would suggest, doesn’t really mind

And simply pleasures in state.

Although he, deeply, is in love

With her and her fair beauty,

The opportunities she sees

To bestow on him a tease

Are numerous in number,

‘Spite his heart’s bark upon the trees.

The good sir, Orlando,

May not have been raised

As a gentleman (thanks to brother),

Yet he wrestles as in blaze,

Blaze of fighting with a fire

To win by any means;

And look, his very victory

Made Rosalind so pleased.

Pleased she was, and so she loved

Orlando, for who he was:

Not he aristocratic-minded,

But he, Orlando, just because,

Yes, since Orlando truly was

Orlando.

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Shakespeare’s Othello

Unpredictable Drama Amongst Assumed Friends

The thing that strikes me most about the tragedy Othello, as does nearly every other tragedy, is how the friendships turn to rotten relationships.  Perhaps this observation seems simple, but its idea (at least when taken to the exaggerated degree of murder over spousal unfaithfulness) seems so foreign to me because I have only heard stories about this, and not experienced it firsthand.  Iago puts on the act of being on Othello’s side, by assuring him, “…but he prated, / And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms / Against your honor,” and flatteringly continues, “That with the little godliness I have / I did full hard forbear him.” (I.ii, v. 7).

What kind of “friend,” or at least acquaintance, is Iago to Othello?  Clearly not the former, yet he engages in conversataions with Othello that are more friend-appropriate than acquaintance-appropriate, such as marriage (“…But I pray you sir, / Are you fast married?” and Othello responding, “…for know, Iago, / But that I love the gentle Desdemona” (I.ii, v. 24).  Although there can be a strong tendency to share personal information as such with those who one does not feel comfortable around (in this case, Othello confessing his love for Desdemona to the nosey-about-his-marriage Iago), the better path to be followed is that of reserving personal news for close friends, and maybe the occasional dumb animal–though just not a clever fox and, obviously, not a parrot.

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John Donne’s Poetry

Expressed Admiration

What love John spake of for

Two unfortunate parents’ daughter.

Elizabeth was her name.

Great acknowledgement of what she did

Was present within his words

For death had not too taken her fame.

—————————————————————————-

“For since death will proceed to triumph still,

He can finde nothing, after her, to kill,

Except the world it selfe, so great as shee.”*

These words echo much, in my heart,

He made her sound divine,

Yet, he made her sound divine.

—————————————————————————-

“For future vertuous deeds are Legacies,

Which from the gift of her example rise;”

The poet continues later on,

“And ’tis in heav’n part of spirituall mirth,

To see how well the good play her, on earth.”

 Thus accomplishing his song.

—————————————————————————-

How could he hold her in the lofts

Of heavenly speech for who she was?

“What is’t to us, alas if there have beene

An Angell made a Throne, or Cherubin?”

What angle have you taken Donne,

To reason so our hearts be won

To the ways of thought that come from you?

Do you really believe this to be true?

Yet you bold spake, spake even more,

“As when a Temple’s built, Saints emulate

To which of them, it shall be consecrate.

But, as when heaven lookes on us with new eyes,

Those new starres every Artist exercise…

So the world studied whose this peece should be,

Till shee can be no bodies else, nor shee.”

Have my thoughts failed me,

Or hath John suggested she be a saint?

God knows, in truth, I am not irate but

Were thence his words cemented to be fate?

If yes, God bless, if no, God forgive,

If all my conclusions are amiss, O God forbid.

N’ertheless may God’s will be done,

Through the prayers of Mary and her Son,

And the Spirit Sacred present in all things,

Who guides all of us to saintliness.

Verily, saints are present all around,

If God chose Miss Drury, well, one more found!

—————————————————————————-

*Citations taken from “A Funerall Elegie”

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Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil

“Bless the Lord, O My Soul”

Hearing Rachmaninoff’s version of this song opened yet another door to my sense of musical pleasure.  The first time I heard this song’s melody (a 19th century chant–possibly earlier, according to Vlad) was in Kedrov’s arrangement, that has Protestant-sounding chords.  My ears, mind, and heart welcomed in this song at the Antiochian Village Summer Camp in Pennsylvania.  By definition, the word nostalgia implies a previous memory, yet the very first time I heard this song, I felt quite nostalgic towards it, as though it was a prodigal song, once lost, now found.  From the time I heard “Bless the Lord” this past summer, all the way up until last week, I had solely known Kedrov’s version.  Upon recently hearing Rachmaninoff’s arrangement that, in contrast, sounds Russian and has a “beautiful-sorrow” about it, his version revealed a new color of the same chant-melody–almost how a tree, green in the summertime, acquires different colors of beauty in the fall, yet remains the same tree.  What embellished this melody even more, to my ears, was the additional arrangement that Dr. Morosan played, written by Tchaikovsky (previous to Rachmaninoff).  Dr. Morosan remarked that Rachmaninoff led a more complex path for the human voice in his version; furthermore, Kedrov’s Protestant-sounding version seems the least complex of the three takes I have mentioned.  Does one of the three appeal to my musical senses more than the rest?  Honestly, they are all “perfect.”  Yes, Kedrov’s gives me the most goosebumps because it brewed earlier and cumulatively more than the other two songs.  However, each are perfect, in my opinion; for they each bring me to love God, “and that is the most ‘perfect’ thing we can do,” so my mother once taught me.

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The Philokalia – I and II Centuries on Love

The Intellect

What a loaded word, “intellect.”  Seldom had I heard this particular word, though its root, intell, is all too common in the English language.  St. Maximos conveys the significance of the intellect within his teachings on love by repeating it constantly, yet I stubbornly let it slide by, not making it synonymous with words I could more fully grasp.

Definition #3 that dictionary.com gives this noun is “a particular mind or intelligence, especially of a high order.”  The “high order” part wins me over, compared to the several other descriptions listed, due to its correlation to the latter part of Maximos’s explanation, “When the intellect associates with evil and sordid thoughts it loses its intimate communion with God.”  That sentence shouts “high order” to me!  Bring home the bacon and the Holy Spirit, because we’re talking about lofty matters!…

…besides the “evil and sordid” part.

What a wonder that St. Maximos is able to communicate his deep intelligence through the difficulty of organizing the abstract concept of the intellect!  This concept, having to do with knowledge, must be prized and heavily guarded, according to the saint, “Otherwise you will lose your capacity for pure prayer and fall victim to the demon of listlessness”.  The paradox of guarding the intellect (which is of the mind) to preserve the capacity for pure prayer (of the heart) baffled me at first.  However, it also reminded me that, though the actual brain and heart are physically separate, the intellect and the soul are ever-intertwined.

———————————————————————————citations: chapters 49 and 50 in First Century on Love

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Augustine X – XIII

Time for a Poem

When reading Augustine I was,

I was not writing notes.

“Recall I will my favorite spot

On which to blog and post.”

I said these word too trusting

Of my memory so frail;

Augustine therefore, was not bluffing

When he spoke that memory may fail.

For upon finishing reading, I had forgotten

Where my most prized spot resided,

But at last ’twas found within this book.

This topic is a mystery, here’s how it looks:

“See how full of old errors are those who say:

‘What was God doing before He made…earth?'”

Augustine responds, “I boldly declare: Before God made

Heaven and earth, he was not making anything.

[For] if he was making anything,

It could only be something created.

…With an assurance…I know that

No created being was made

Before any creature came into being.”

What a bold declaration, indeed,

To state as fact that God created nothing prior to earth!

This my reaction to the read

Was rash and solely for the satisfaction

That I was right and not Augustine’s write

For I thought, “How can he know for sure?!”

Though the Bible, trusty companion of my heart,

Simply spake to me, the old Genesiac memory:

There was nihilo before the ever-existing One

Created the heavens and the earth.

Augustine verily had Scripture in mind;

I had wearily recalled noth’ but pride.

“There was therefore no time when You

Had not made something, because you made time itself.”

After Augustine’s quote of profundity above,

His following paragraph begins with words of love

And passion, in Dr. Hartenburg’s heart, but frankly, not mine,

Those words are as follows: “What is time?”

Citations: 229, 230

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