Hawthorne on Theological Books

No poetry from me this week due to a ton of overtime work. But here’s a nice quote from Hawthorne’s “The Old Manse”:

So long as an unlettered soul can attain to saving grace, there would seem to be no deadly error in holding theological libraries to be accumulations of, for the most part, stupendous impertinence.

I agree. Even though I own a pretty sizable theological library.

Erasure Poem: Faded Lustre

Anna Montgomery, illustrious host of tonight’s Meeting the Bar at dVerse, prompts us to try our hand at an erasure poem, a type of found poem using an existing text. This is a very fun exercise—why don’t you join in?

The artist did not immediately reply, being startled by the apparition of a young child of strength that was tumbling about on the carpet,–a little personage who had come mysteriously out of the infinite, but with something so sturdy and real in his composition that he seemed moulded out of the densest substance which earth could supply. This hopeful infant crawled towards the new-comer, and setting himself on end, as Robert Danforth expressed the posture, stared at Owen with a look of such sagacious observation that the mother could not help exchanging a proud glance with her husband. But the artist was disturbed by the child’s look, as imagining a resemblance between it and Peter Hovenden’s habitual expression. He could have fancied that the old watchmaker was compressed into this baby shape, and looking out of those baby eyes, and repeating, as he now did, the malicious question: “The beautiful, Owen! How comes on the beautiful? Have you succeeded in creating the beautiful?”
“I have succeeded,” replied the artist, with a momentary light of triumph in his eyes and a smile of sunshine, yet steeped in such depth of thought that it was almostsadness. “Yes, my friends, it is the truth. I have succeeded.”
“Indeed!” cried Annie, a look of maiden mirthfulness peeping out of her face again. “And is it lawful, now, to inquire what the secret is?”
“Surely; it is to disclose it that I have come,” answered Owen Warland. “You shall know, and see, and touch, and possess the secret! For, Annie,–if by that name I may still address the friend of my boyish years,–Annie, it is for your bridal gift that I have wrought this spiritualized mechanism, this harmony of motion, this mystery of beauty. It comes late, indeed; but it is as we go onward in life, when objects begin to lose their freshness of hue and our souls their delicacy of perception, that the spirit of beauty is most needed. If,–forgive me, Annie,–if you know how–to value this gift, it can never come too late.”
He produced, as he spoke, what seemed a jewel box. It was carved richly out of ebony by his own hand, and inlaid with a fanciful tracery of pearl, representing a boy in pursuit of a butterfly, which, elsewhere, had become a winged spirit, and was flying heavenward; while the boy, or youth, had found such efficacy in his strong desire that he ascended from earth to cloud, and from cloud to celestial atmosphere, to win the beautiful. This case of ebony the artist opened, and bade Annie place her fingers on its edge. She did so, but almost screamed as a butterfly fluttered forth, and, alighting on her finger’s tip, sat waving the ample magnificence of its purple and gold-speckled wings, as if in prelude to a flight. It is impossible to express by words the glory, the splendor, the delicate gorgeousness which were softened into the beauty of this object. Nature’s ideal butterfly was here realized in all its perfection; not in the pattern of such faded insects as flit among earthly flowers, but of those which hover across the meads of paradise for child-angels and the spirits of departed infants to disport themselves with. The rich down was visible upon its wings; the lustre of its eyes seemed instinct with spirit.

Faded Lustre
The artist 
startled
with something so real
moulded this hopeful
momentary light 
yet steeped
in such depth of sadness
produced by his own hand
as if
to express by words
the pattern of faded
lustre
—————————————
This is from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “The Artist of the Beautiful.” I just read this yesterday so it was fresh in my mind—not particularly creative with the design here, but such as it is. I pretty much left it as I found it, without punctuation. The only change—I de-capitalized the “T” in “this” (line 3). I thought hard about replacing “lustre” with the word “paradise,” and still think it might be better. I stuck with lustre for now since I used the word “light” in line 4. Seems to be more consistent, but either word feels right.

Now here’s something interesting


I wrote a paper for a literature class this session on Hawthorne’s short story “The Minister’s Black Veil.” That turned out OK, but my professor gave us the additional assignment of putting together a PowerPoint presentation to go along with our paper. I was having a problem finding a picture of a minister with a black veil–yeah, I know, you’d think with all the crap on the Internet someone would have a picture like this, but nothing doing. So, with the help of my son (the photographer), my black leather hat, a black overcoat, and a couple of well-placed tissues–The Reverend Mr. Hooper comes to life!