Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Life In Two Phases

I just finished reading Tennyson: an Illustrated Life. As I finished the book the fact that stayed with me is how neatly his life can be divided in two phases hinged on the year 1850. That year his life changed dramatically: he published his poem In Memoriam which had been written as a response to the death of his close friend Arthur Hallam; he was named Poet Laureate and most importantly, he got married. The author of the book (the name escapes me now) talks about how Emily, his bride, had brought stability to his life. This second phase of his life was not plagued by insecurities, fears, anxieties, hypochondria, depression. This year seem that have put a lot of these to rest and he went on to live a long productive life.
It made me think of the role of a wife in the life of her husband. I would like to know more about their relationship. How did she manage to help him? Was her influence really important or would success and age have accomplished the same results? What kind of woman was Emily Tennyson?

Thursday, February 8, 2007


I was thinking yesterday about my ordinary life. My so common life, my anonymous life. I am destined to be ordinary, common. Nothing rises me up above it. I am an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Nothing distinguishes me from the person next door.There are millions of people like me, not known, going about their business.

What does ordinary means? The dictionary defines it like this:
  1. Commonly encountered; usual.
  2. Occurring with regularity or periodically, normal.
  3. Average in rank or merit; of not exceptional degree or quality, commonplace.
I don't have a problem with normal, periodical, regular, usual. It is the third definition I fear.I don't want to be average or of not exceptional quality. I want to be the best I can be. I want to strive for excellence. I want to be known. I want to be good at something. I want to find my niche in life. I want to make a difference. I want to expand my territory, enlarge my tent.
How can I do that in the mist of the "ordinary" of my life? I think of the Ordinary Time of the Liturgical Year. It is the longest time of the year. We can't feast year round. We need time to recollect, to meditate, to incubate, to ferment, to be. But the Ordinary Time is not dull or boring. It seems to affirm what was learned and lived during the special seasons.
How do I reconcile the life I live, which is the life that I believe I am called to live at this time, with the desires of my heart? Is this restlessness God given or is it something to calm down at all costs, something to ignore,repress, hope it would go away?
Is ordinary something to rebel against or is it something to embrace?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Lord Alfred Tennyson

Not being an American or a Native English speaker there are many famous literary figures that I, either not know or only know superficially. One of them is Lord Alfred Tennyson.
My 13 yo daughter was reading some of his poems as part of the Ambleside Online poetry study. She had a strong reaction to the poems. She didn't like them. She complained that they didn't rhyme. I suspect she didn't understand them and couldn't relate to them. His poems seem to evoke strong feelings and I think those feelings are foreign to her.
I decided to take on the study she had started. My reaction was different. I liked the poems I read. But I need some context to place the poems in. So I have started a Tennyson study for myself.
Here are some websites with biographical information here and here. Our library has a book by Harold Bloom on Tennyson which I just requested. Hopefully I can write some of what I learn.