It’s been a little cooler outside this week. Enough, at least, that I don’t fell like I’m about to melt into a puddle the moment I step outside. And so the books are slowly coming home again. I unpacked another box last night, and was ridiculously excited about which box it was. I found my copy of Pride and Prejudice from the 1950s, Rilke’s Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus, Neruda’s Extravagaria, and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, among others. Putting them away, I realized how much poetry I read nowadays. I didn’t used to. Back in my 20s, I might read a Shakespearean sonnet or one of Emily Dickinson’s poems now and then, but that was about all.
I read a lot of poetry. Oddly, though, I don’t read a lot of English language poetry, and by that I mean work originally written in English. My shelves contain only a few English-language poets- Yeats, Whitman, and Shakespeare. The others are from decidedly more exotic locales: Hafiz, Rilke, and Neruda, to name a few. Perhaps it’s to do with the rhythm of the work, coming from a tradition that wasn’t so ruled by iambic pentameter, but there’s a different kind of music inherent to poetry in translation. It’s a little like listening to opera in another language. If you know the story but can’t understand the words, then the emotion is key to understanding what’s going on.
I stopped reading Madison and Jefferson, but not quite for the reasons I thought. Alison Weir’s The Children of Henry VIII automatically downloaded onto my e-reader, and since I’m a sucker for a good Tudor biography, I sent the other book back.
I’m not terribly far into Children of Henry VIII (which includes Lady Jane Grey, who was Henry VIII’s great-niece, not his daughter), but it’s enjoyable so far, and Weir is sure to state “…this is pure supposition, as there is no real evidence….” when talking about some bit of tawdry historical theory that people like to latch onto and put forth as true because they want it to to be, or because a known gossip or political enemy said it was true.