Readings: Weeks 8-10

WEEK 8

The Mighty & the Fallen.   "Saint Pablo" (Kanye West - LL) - "Ozymandias" (Smith) & "Ozymandias" (Percy Shelley) - "The Shield of Achilles" ("Shield," W.H. Auden - also see the worksheet Achilles) -  "Long Road Out of Eden" ("Eden," The Eagles - LL)

WEEK 9 

Rough Passages. See the Worksheet Rough Passages.  "Thousands Are Sailing" ("Thousands," The Pogues - LL) - "Caliban" (Edward Brathwaite"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (“Rivers”) & "Harlem" (Langston Hughes) - ♫ YT "Mississippi Goddam" (Nina Simone - LL) -  "Strange Fruit" (lyric Abel Meeropol, song Billie Holiday - LL

WEEK 10

Deep in the South. See the worksheets Hallelujah and Lemonade.  ♫ YT "Katrina/Hallelujah" ("Hurricane Katrina – you must watch this," The Ticket — the video uses Jeff Buckley's rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" - LL) - ♫ YT "Formation" (Beyoncé - LL) - “XXX.” (Lamar -LL)

WEEK 8

The photo above is of Ramses II, from the British Museum (Wikimedia Commons). The following is from "Ozymandias" (Wikipedia):

Younger Memnon statue of Ramesses II in the British Museum. Its imminent arrival in London may have inspired [Shelley's poem "Ozymandias"]. ... The banker and political writer Horace Smith spent the Christmas season of 1817–1818 with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley. At this time members of Shelley's literary circle would sometimes challenge each other to write competing sonnets on a common subject …  Shelley and Smith chose a passage from the Greek Historian Diodorus Siculus, which described a massive Egyptian statue and quoted its inscription: "King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work." In the poem Diodorus becomes "a traveller from an antique land" (Siculus, Diodorus, Bibliotheca Historica, 1.47.4). … In antiquity, Ozymandias (Ὀσυμανδύας) was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Shelley began writing his poem in 1817, soon after the announcement of the British Museum's acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Ramesses II from the thirteenth century BC, leading some scholars to believe that Shelley was inspired by this. The 7.25-ton fragment of the statue's head and torso had been removed in 1816 from the mortuary temple of Ramesses at Thebes by Italian adventurer Giovanni Battista Belzoni. It was expected to arrive in London in 1818, but did not arrive until 1821. ... Smith's poem was published in The Examiner a few weeks after Shelley's sonnet. Both poems explore the fate of history and the ravages of time: that all prominent figures and the empires that they build are impermanent and their legacies fated to decay into oblivion.

Ozymandias (Horace Smith)

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place

Ozymandias (Shelly)

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage* lies, whose frown   * face
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

shield no colour.jpeg
Dresden, Germany, before and after the Allied bombing of this city which had no military target and was an asylum for war refugees (from https://www.thevintagenews.com/2016/04/09/pictures-of-dresden-before-and-after-the-wwii-bombing-3/). The Allies bombed from Feb 13-15, 1945 -- more or less on Valentine's Day...

Dresden, Germany, before and after the Allied bombing of this city which had no military target and was an asylum for war refugees (from https://www.thevintagenews.com/2016/04/09/pictures-of-dresden-before-and-after-the-wwii-bombing-3/). The Allies bombed from Feb 13-15, 1945 -- more or less on Valentine's Day...

A still from  Amistad , Spielberg, 1997

A still from Amistad, Spielberg, 1997

WEEK 9

Caliban (from The Arrivants, 1973)

Ninety-five per cent of my people poor
ninety-five per cent of my people black
ninety-five per cent of my people dead
you have heard it all before O Leviticus O Jeremiah O Jean-Paul Sartre*

* Leviticus & Jeremiah: Old Testament books; Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet; Camus and Sartre (1905-1980) are the two most famous French existentialists.

and now I see that these modern palaces have grown
out of the soil, out of the bad habits of their crippled owners
the Chrysler stirs but does not produce cotton
the Jupiter purrs but does not produce bread

out of the living stone, out of the living bone
of coral, these dead
towers; out of the coney
islands of our mind- 

less architects, this death
of sons, of songs, of sunshine; 
out of this dearth of coo ru coos, home- 
less pigeons, this perturbation that does not signal health. 

In Havana that morning, as every morning, 
the police toured the gambling houses
wearing their dark glasses
and collected tribute; 

salute blackjack, salute backgammon, salute the one-armed bandit
Vieux Fort and Andros Island, the Isle of Pines; 
the morals squadron fleeced the whores
Mary and Mary Magdalene; 

newspapers spoke of Wall Street and the social set
who was with who, what medals did the Consulate’s
Assistant wear. The sky was cloudy, a strong breeze; 
maximum temperature eighty-two degrees. 

It was December second, nineteen fifty-six. 
It was the first of August eighteen thirty-eight. 
It was the twelfth October fourteen ninety-two. 

How many bangs how many revolutions? 

And
Ban
Ban
Cal- 
iban
like to play
pan
at the Car- 
nival; 
pran- 
cing up to the lim- 
bo silence
down
down
down
so the god won’t drown
him
down
down
down
to the is- 
land town
down
down
down
and the dark- 
ness fall- 
ing; eyes
shut tight
and the whip light
crawl- 
ing round the ship
where his free- 
dom drown
down
down
down
to the is- 
land town. 

Ban
Ban
Cal- 
iban
like to play
pan
at the Car- 
nival; 
dip- 
ping down
and the black
gods call- 
ing, back
he falls
through the water’s
cries
down
down
down
where the music hides
him
down
down
down
where the si- 
lence lies. 

And limbo stick is the silence in front of me
limbo
limbo
limbo like me
limbo
limbo like me
long dark night is the silence in front of me
limbo
limbo like me
stick hit sound
and the ship like it ready
stick hit sound
and the dark still steady
limbo
limbo like me
long dark deck and the water surrounding me
long dark deck and the silence is over me
limbo
limbo like me
stick is the whip
and the dark deck is slavery
stick is the whip
and the dark deck is slavery
limbo
limbo like me
drum stick knock
and the darkness is over me
knees spread wide
and the water is hiding me
limbo
limbo like me
knees spread wide
and the dark ground is under me
down

down
down
and the drummer is calling me
limbo
limbo like me
sun coming up
and the drummers are praising me
out of the dark
and the dumb gods are raising me
up
up
up
and the music is saving me
hot
slow
step
on the burning ground.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers (Langston Hughes, 1919)

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers. 

Harlem (Langston Hughes, 1951)

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun? 
Or fester like a sore-- 
And then run? 
Does it stink like rotten meat? 
Or crust and sugar over-- 
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

 

WEEK 10