A while ago I read a biography of the fourteenth century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer but until recently I’d somehow never read his “Canterbury Tales”. Considering what a compulsive bookworm I’ve always been, that’s quite a major shock. Recently I was looking through the book case downstairs in the den and I noticed that there was a copy of his famous classic narrative poem in standard English so I’ve begun reading it. So far I’m up to the Reeve’s Tale. Often, while reading for a long time, I become unavoidably distracted and my mind wanders. While reading the poem, I somehow spontaneously started thinking back to an incident involving my old friend Jimmy, when we were kids in our early teens. One day Jimmy and I had nothing better to do so in order to avoid boredom he started cracking corn. He never asked me to help him but, conveniently, I didn’t care. Often, if I let my guard down while reading, I start humming an old song or two. Last night I couldn’t help humming the Beatles’ classic, “Do You Want to Know A Secret?” My impatience gets me crazy like that but at least I always keep on trying to apply myself as conscientiously as possible to any task. Once I’ve set my mind to something I’m quite the determined character.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been quite a compulsive bookworm. There’s never been a time when I’ve gone for a significant period without reading something of at least some significance. I have quite an interest in classic western literature. Currently I’m reading both Jane Austen’s novel “Sense and Sensibility” and Longfellow’s epic poem “Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie”. Unfortunately I’ve been a bit lazy about them. Having gone on quite a streak with both for a long while, I somehow stopped reading them a few weeks ago. I have no idea why. It’s most certainly not because I haven’t been bothering to read anything. Over the course of that time I’ve been reading periodicals and all sorts of little things. Perhaps it’s because both those literary works subject my eyes to such an ominous chore but I simply haven’t yet gone back to either of them. I’m now reading both online and they’re so long and difficult. Unfortunately when this happens I sometimes don’t even bother to end up finishing what I’ve been reading. Impatience has always been quite an exceptionally bad problem for me. I intend to continue with them though. I’ve already read “Sense and Sensibility” a few times anyway. Throughout my lifetime I shall always read constantly. As with everything else I do, though, there will be rough spots.
I’d say that I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction about the same, though for different reasons. Right now I’m reading Longfellow’s poem, “Evangeline” and Jane Austen’s novel, “Sense and Sensibility”. I’m also reading “The Story Of A Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux. I’ve always been interested in novels and poems because they allow me to travel to other places and time frames. I can permit my imagination to get entirely out of control. A well written novel or poem also can teach interesting lessons about human nature. Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” and Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited” are exceptionally good examples of this. One problem with Dostoyevsky, though, is that he tends to be exceptionally didactic. Reading something of his always makes me feel as if it’s written in the form of a thinly disguised theology and philosophy lecture.I’ve always enjoyed seeing how many different symbols I can see in various works of literature. Two of the most famous examples of symbolism in classic western literature are a bookworm character, who reads a story within the story, a convention begun by Cervantes in “Don Quijote”, and travel, begun by St. Augustine of Hippo in his “Confessions”. Among works of non-fiction, I especially enjoy biographies, and classic works of theology and philosophy. By now I’ve read very many biographies of a wide variety of famous people, including writers, politicians, musicians and saints. Although I only have thirteen credits in philosophy, and no college credits in theology, I’ve always had quite a voracious interest in those fields. As a lay Carmelite I’ve read all the Carmelite classics I’ve been able to find. Since I really like to get involved in a good debate about the culture war, reading these kinds of things keeps me well informed.
It’s a bright morning, seven a.m. April 16, 1862, in Amherst, Massachusetts. Emily Dickinson and her older brother Austin are to spend the day at his house celebrating his thirty third birthday with their family. For a while she is left alone. She contemplates her poem number 449. Death for beauty meets death for truth. Engrossed in a mystical vision of their confrontation, the consummate poetess loses all track of time. At about noon, Austin and their sister Lavinia arrive at the house and are stunned. Why had she entirely ignored the candle?