Thursday, May 24, 2007

Celebratory Blake

I am finished!
My final final (exam, that is) was this morning: English Literature 1740-1830. The exam was held in a large room with rows of desks lined up military-style, each desk possessing an exam and an answer booklet with the student’s candidate number written on it. Of course, like all procedures at Sussex, this procedure was unnecessarily complicated and had not been explained to me ahead of time. Thus, unaware that I would need my candidate number, I had to rush off and find out what it was (although, as it turns out, it was written on my student ID card all along) in order that I could take the exam. This mini-crisis notwithstanding, I finished my three essays in a record time of 2½ hours and was the first student to walk out of the exam room. Hopefully that was a good sign, as I have never been the first to finish an exam in all of the time I have studied at Rochester.

In honor of finishing this course—and because I can now happily forget all of the names and dates I memorized “just in case” I needed them for an essay—I will include some of my favorite quotes from the coursework. I particularly liked William Blake’s poetry, because he used it to examine the morals and beliefs of the time period. In one particular poem, “Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” Blake suggests that Heaven may actually be a “hell of rationality and rules,” whereas Hell may actually be a “heaven of sensuality.” His poetry builds throughout the piece to argue that Heaven coincides with energy, and anything thwarting that energy is bad. The following excerpts are taken from a subset of this poem, The Proverbs of Hell, (from which I quoted once before, in an earlier post):

  • Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.
  • He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
  • The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
  • The pride of the peacock is the glory of God./The lust of the goat is the bounty of God./The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God./The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
  • To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
  • Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.

    Other Blake quotes that are worth pondering:

  • The vision of Christ that thou dost see/is my vision’s greatest enemy.
  • Every night and every morn/Some to misery are born;/Every morn and every night/Some are born to sweet delight./Some are born to sweet delight,/Some are born to endless night.
  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    congrats on the test! don't worry about finishing early-- it's apparentally a good thing in girls, because when they go back to ponder things, they usually over-second-guess themselves and screw up.

    as for the quotes, that sounds like perfect fodder for a get together and drink something pretentious and have an overly-intellecutal coversation, that will of course end up being hysterical and very quotable.