Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thou Shalt Not Aspire To Something Higher

Just out of curiosity, I decided to read through one of the books of poetry by Katharine Lee Bates,  choosing the first one listed in a bibliography, The Beautiful College and Other Poems


Pageant of fretted roofs that cluster

On hill and knoll in the branches green,

Ye are but shadow, and not the lustre,
Garment ye of a grace unseen.


All our life is confused with fable,
Ever the fact as the phantasy seems :

Yet the world of spirit lies sure and stable,
Under the shows of the world of dreams.


Not an idle and false derision

The rocks that crumble, the stars that fail ;
Meaning masketh within the vision,

Shaping the folds of the woven veil.

Can you imagine anyone saying that about their college education today?

The language is archaic,  we might find the sentiments embarrassing, naive and foolish - though I think that's more from the studied and fashionable cynicism we were raised in than any fault with the soundness of it as an aspiration.   After looking at Burroughs' preposterous crap that is praised by the academics today, if I've got to live in a confused fable, I'd buy hers over his, anyday.

Update:  Just noticed that I put the adjective in the wrong place, her book is called "The College Beautiful",  something that is so unnatural for us today that I didn't even realize I was doing that.   I'll leave it as it is to make the point.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm still enjoying the fact Ms. Bates was a polyglot. Life seldom hands us such delicious ironies.