Sunday, August 26, 2007

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
"the heart and stomach of a man"

"My loving people,

We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.

I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.

I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you in the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

Following the speech, news came that the Armada had been driven from the Channel. The Queen left her bodyguard before the fort at Tilbury and went among her subjects with an escort of six men. Lord Ormonde walked ahead with the Sword of State; he was followed by a page leading the Queen's charger and another bearing her silver helmet on a cushion; then came the Queen herself, in white with a silver cuirass and mounted on a grey gelding. She was flanked on horseback by Lord Leicester on the right, and on the left by Lord Essex. Sir John Norreys brought up the rear."

The above quotes are from Wiki, but there's also a great essay on Elizabeth here.

I wonder if they'll have her give the full speech above or a trimmed version in the movie. Based on the trailer (which gives me tingles) and the super-interesting (that's an academic term, of course) events that I know took place during this part of Elizabeth's reign, I'm very excited about seeing it! And it comes out on my birthday so that's a good omen, right?

However, I do really hope the moviemakers will attempt to be more historically accurate than they were with the first movie.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Me + Blog = ?

Sometimes I wonder whether my blog reflects my true potential. I like to think I can "write" (write what?) but when it comes down to it, it takes an awful lot to get me started (well, if a school deadline can be considered 'an awful lot'). Often times I'll come up with blogging ideas that never come to fruition - they just stay in my head, partially formed, half-ideas really. Sometimes (read - lately) I'll avoid my blog altogether for days on end because I feel guilty for *not* writing in it. I like to tell myself that its because I'm too busy living Real Life to write in my "stupid blog" but the real reason might just be plain old laziness (it certainly wouldn't be the first instance).

And sometimes I realize the limits of this particular blog - sometimes I want to write things that are really personal, but I don't want to do it in a forum where people who know me will read it. Which makes me think I should have multiple blogs... but when I can barely keep this one going, is there any point? I used to "blog" (I would have called it journaling though) at least a few times a week about what was going on in my life. I still have five years worth of those posts. I rarely read them, but I like to know that they're still there, that they exist, that my memories are in a tangible format and I can go back and check the details of things I've started to forget.

But back to the idea of whether one's blog reflects one's true potential. Some of the people I know are prolific bloggers (does this reflect their innate genius, their better work-ethic, or their admirable supply of post ideas?) and others can barely post once a month. If a blog is a way of putting one's opinion out there for the world to see, I'm not really doing a great job of it. At the same time, I like to think that this blog is mostly for me - just a little pretty website for me to record my random thoughts (or rants, as it mostly happens). I'm not in competition with anyone and no one is grading this blog (judging maybe, but that's doubtful, and if so, do I really care?). Whether I write in it or not - will it matter in the grand scheme of things? And if the "scheme" of things is essentially just life - my life - then maybe if I want to write, I should be writing something more thought out, like an essay, or a journal with a specific theme, or a story, or even a book. In the long run, I might end up with more to show for it then just a blog full of scattered thoughts.

(And while I'm at it, have you ever noticed how many bloggers end up blogging about not blogging?)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

-- William Butler Yeats

Friday, August 10, 2007

Goodbye, Harry Potter

From the Salon review by Laura Miller (there are definitely spoilers in it, so consider yourself warned):

"But Rowling is most definitely a novelist; she writes about people and stuff, not about elemental forces and unconscious urges. Like all true novelists, she is the champion of the specific and the domestic, the often unsung pleasures and perils of a good lunch, a crush, a ball game with friends and a little gossip about machinations at the ministry -- which is why the doings at Hogwarts and in the Weasley household were always the best parts of the series. Her books, for all their spells and incantations and magical creatures, have never been the stuff that dreams are made of. Instead, they're the stuff that life is made of.

That's why Harry's great reward isn't something otherworldly, like Frodo Baggins sailing into immortality with the elves in the Uttermost West. He gets married, settles down with a good woman and has a few kids. His fate is to make many return visits to platform nine and three-quarters, even if he never again boards the Hogwarts Express. He gets to feel that twinge, that "little bereavement" that every parent feels on his child's first day of school; time passing, life going on. It's a very ordinary, unheroic sort of feeling, and that, more even than the assurance of the book's final sentence, tells us that all really is well. "

I also like her response to A.S. Byatt's criticism of HP. She doesn't dispute it, but she does justify why HP lacks the sublime quality that other (higher?) fantasy achieves:

"Some critics have objected to an Op-Ed the British novelist A.S. Byatt wrote for the New York Times in 2003, in which she complained that Rowling's books lack the "shiver of awe" she expects from superior fantasy. But you don't have to dismiss Harry Potter the way Byatt does to recognize that she has a point. The sublime is missing from Rowling's series, but then you won't find it in "Barchester Towers" or "A Confederacy of Dunces," either, which doesn't make them anything less than masterly novels. The sublime and the comic don't mix well, and to try to squeeze both into a children's book is the kind of experiment even a master potion-concocter like Severus Snape would wisely avoid."

And lastly - to this, of course, I would answer YES!

"Much as we may love Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid and Dumbledore, don't we all love Hogwarts just a little bit more?"

You can read the whole review here.