204. (John Donne)

An exemplary poem by Donne, “The Expiration”: So, so breake off this last lamenting kisse,      Which sucks two soules, and vapours Both away,  Turne thou ghost that way, and let mee turne this,      And let our selves benight our happiest day,  We ask’d none leave to love; nor will we owe      Any, so cheape a death, as saying, Goe;  Goe; and if … Continue reading 204. (John Donne)

201. (Sarah Kirsch)

The 2014 Ice Roses: Selected Poems of the German poet Sarah Kirsch, published a year after her death (Kirsch was born in 1935), and translated into superb English poems by Anne Stokes, opens with “By the white daisies”: . By the white daisies In the park I stand Underneath the willow as he instructed me Unkempt ld woman without leaves See she says he isn’t … Continue reading 201. (Sarah Kirsch)

195. (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

One story of Romanticism (mostly true, however simplified) goes: some poets from 1790s onwards find their freedom in their capacity to imagine the world. It reflects a distortion and exaggeration of idealist philosophy: freedom arrives as man imposes his understanding onto reality. The better, defensible, fruitful story about German idealism goes: in self-conscious actions and beliefs about the world, humanity finds its freedom. (That is … Continue reading 195. (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

192. (Mary Sidney)

Renaissance translations of the Psalms are maybe the closest English poetry comes to what we encounter in the religious paintings of Renaissance art: variations on standard subjects, which are exceptional in the opportunity they offer for imagining divine love, human suffering, and the alloying of the one onto the other. Keeping Renaissance religious paintings in mind when we read the Psalms might be helpful in … Continue reading 192. (Mary Sidney)

190. (Sebastian Rödl)

Close kin in to his near-simultaneous monograph Self-Consciousness, Sebastian Rödl’s Categories of the Temporal: An Inquiry into the Forms of the Finite Intellect (publ. in German, 2005; in English, translated by Sybille Salewski, 2012) is a book that, despite its daunting title, non-Philosophers would enjoy. The reach of its ambitions, its elegance and efficiency of argument, and the sense of style born of necessity and urgency rather than self-awareness or … Continue reading 190. (Sebastian Rödl)

189. (William Shakespeare)

The experiences of time, from its swelling (the remove from the court in As You Like It) and contracting time (Richard II; Macbeth), of time bandying the lives of characters (early comedies), of characters clearing space in the determined march of history (Falstaff), suggests that Shakespeare’s openness to a variety of individuals and passions can be conceived as an imaginative openness and sensitivity to time, not as … Continue reading 189. (William Shakespeare)