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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Saturday Rave: The Old Stoic by Emily Bronte

How much of a work reflects the writer?

Can we take a quotation from a writer's work and say that's what the writer believed?

Take Shakespeare, for instance. He wrote: "I love long life better than figs" (Antony and Cleopatra, Act I, Scene II) but then he also wrote, in Measure for Measure, Act III, Scene I, "I am so out of love with life, that I will sue to be rid of it"  

Now, Shakespeare might have meant both of them from the bottom of his heart at some point of his life, but we can't say that, as an overarching principle, this is Shakespeare's point of view for either of them.

Which leads me to The Old Stoic. The OS has some unexpected ideas which I think that Emily Bronte the vicar's daughter would have been reluctant to acknowledge. Mind you, this may be why she put them in a poem narrated by someone else. But we just don't know.

The Old Stoic

Riches I hold in light esteem,
And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of Fame was but a dream
That vanished with the morn -

And of I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is - 'Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty.'

Yes, as my swift days near their goal,
'Tis all that I implore - 
Through life and death, a chainless soul,
With courage to endure!

Word To Use Today: stoic. This word is, oddly, named after a porch - the porch in ancient Athens where Zeno taught. The Greek word was stōikos.


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