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Showing posts from April, 2013

A Clear Midnight

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done, Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best, Night, sleep, death, and the stars.
- Walt Whitman

It's not quite time for my flight into the wordless (I have 50 more pages to turn in before Monday), but a professor friend posted this on Facebook tonight and it undid me. So beautiful, and quite apt.  Even in the midst of this finals anxiety, my heart breaks to leave this place.

I leave Yale, but the "themes thou lovest best" do not leave me.  And I do anticipate intense delight when I am able to contemplate them silently, gazingly, away from books (but only if I choose).  This poem hits home tonight because it describes the wonderful and meaningful transition I will make from the classroom, seminar table, and debate floor to the private, inner life.  Not sad at all.  And deeply meaningful. 

My Farewell to my Dante Class and a Sonnet

Emergency Risotto (Vegan, Whole Food)

Tonight I made a wonderful discovery - there are episodes of the Barefoot Contessa for free on Hulu!  I couldn't be happier.  I dove into the first episode, "Cooking with Wine," and developed an uncontrollable craving for the mushroom risotto she was making.

Of course it's the middle of term paper season so I have nothing respectable in my kitchen, so I had to do some improvising.  I also didn't have 45 minutes to add homemade chicken broth to arborio rice on ladlefull at a time.  I found all of these things in my kitchen, and the result was actually delicious.

Normal recipes call for arborio rice, parmesan cheese, mushrooms, white wine, chicken broth, heavy cream, and garlic.  I only had garlic.  These are my improvisations:

1 bag of precooked brown rice (from Trader Joe's)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
any quantity of frozen asparagus
1 vegan "chicken" bouillon cube
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons tapioca flour (I am sure cornstarch would work j…

The Holy Smile

Here's a little thought I'm recording here so I can find it in the future.  It's the conclusion to an article by my own Peter Hawkins, "All Smiles", published in the excellent book Dante's Commedia: Theology as Poetry, edited by Vittorio Montemaggi and Matthew Treherne.

It's about Dante's use of smiles.  In his day, theologians debated whether or not Jesus might have ever laughed during his time on Earth.  That might seem silly, but there isn't one account in Scripture of Jesus smiling or laughing.  There is an account of Jesus weeping, and this has (unfortunately) led many to the belief that seriousness and sorrow are more firmly rooted in the example of Jesus' life.  Dante disagrees, thank God.

"As this review of riso and sorriso should suggest, the smile is not only Dante's signature gesture but perhaps his most original and indeed useful contribution to medieval theology - an indeed to the Christian tradition itself, which has lo…

Figuring Forth Paradise

I'm sitting in an empty classroom on the 3rd floor of the Hall of Graduate Studies, gazing through the gothic arches of the small-paned leaded windows into the courtyard below with its impossible number of arboreal blossoms in pinks and whites.  I had a Victorian Poetry class last spring that had this same view, and I came here today to write my Dante paper about Canto 23 of Paradiso, a canto filled with floral imagery.  Blooming, flowers, changing seasons, etc. etc. etc.

In this canto, Dante gets to just hang out with Beatrice for a while and even gets little hints of the Virgin Mary!  He has been through a lot of hard learning in the past few heavens, and it's time to take a break. He is finally allowed to see Beatrice's smile because he has gained the strength to endure it, and everybody is just sitting here for a while being compared to blossoming flowers and (this is weird) reclining like contented infants in the arms of their mothers right after a great breastfeedin…

Rhetoric + Poetry

"Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric;  out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry." W. B. Yeats
I am rent in two as my Yale days wane and wane.  Plant life busts into bloom in varying degrees as the days pass.  School traditions march forward as the weather warms.  The other day we had our first real spring storm.  I was sitting in the Saybrook common room, reading Dante and listening to another brilliant student play piano, and all of the sudden a deafening crack of thunder silenced the room, rolling in the skies for an eternity.  Long flashes of lightning filled the sky purple, and students rushed into the common room soaked through - it seemed everyone had been caught unprepared.  We have had some lovely warm days, but this was the first sign that the icy drizzles of our long winter would not return until next year.  
I've ordered my cap and gown.  I've cleared my course requirements with the registrar.  I did not fill out a FAFSA for next year.…

The Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs

A few weeks ago I got to tour the inside of one of Yale's most famous landmarks, Harkness Tower.  The bells of the tower ring several times a day, and we all frequently recognize the songs they play.  The members of the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs teach new members how to play the Carillon, and we got a little glimpse of what goes on inside: 

We climbed a very narrow spiral staircase until we reached the top level, where an even narrower staircase leads to the roof:

The bells were beautiful and absolutely enormous!