Friday, April 21, 2023

Things Fall Apart and Come Together

My Church History II professor requires us to read 2 shorter books during the term; he gave us a list of 3 books to choose from, and we chose 1 in each part of the course, and then we spend part of class time discussing the book.  The idea of which books should be on the list is the topic for a different blog post.  But this morning, I'm still thinking about poems and last night's books.

In class, we finished the in person part of the semester by discussing Achebe's Things Fall Apart.  One student talked about the hopeful parts of the book, about the hopeful part of the Biblical book of Revelation, and the poem that gave the book its title ("The Second Coming").  From what he said, I thought, hmm, I don't see that poem by Yeats the same way at all.

I raised my hand and asked how many of the editions had the full text of the Yeats poem because I never saw the poem a hopeful poem.  I was surprised to find out that one edition apparently didn't include the poem at all, while others just included a few lines.  After class, I went back to my computer to read the poem again, just to be sure that I still felt the same way about the poem.

It may or may not surprise you to find out that I still find the poem less than hopeful.  I was happily surprised to find that I could still remember a lot of it; long ago, I taught it so often that I almost had it memorized.  I am surprised that the Achebe book doesn't have all of it, but perhaps there are copyright issues.  Maybe modern editors don't see the allusion/epigraph as essential.  Perhaps Achebe only wanted those few lines included with his novel.

After I sat with Yeats for a few minutes, I turned off the computer and the lights and got ready for bed.  My bedtime reading has been from a different poet, Maggie Smith's You Could Make This Place Beautiful.  Yesterday I saw her post that the book is #3 on the NYT best seller list.  Hurrah!  It's a well deserved spot; I've been enjoying the book immensely.

I'm happy for her success; it's good to see a woman poet succeed this way.  I'm happy when I see anything that tells me that people are still buying books, and I'm even happier when people are buying the books of poets, even if it's not their volumes of poetry.  I'm happy when a woman outside of New York City is finding publishing success.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful is the book that I was hoping Keep Moving would be.  I liked the inspiration that Keep Moving gave me, those nuggets that first appeared on Twitter.  But I found myself wanting more about Smith's life as a poet, and You Could Make This Place Beautiful gives me that window into her life as a writer.  She's also very honest about the price that came with her success.

Today will not be quite as steeped in literature, but that's O.K.  I'm headed over to my sister's, where we'll catch up and have dinner and do carpool duties and relax.  I know how fortunate I am.

No comments: