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May

Psalms for David

 

He exists across an ocean of memory.  It is deep, almost frozen, and swimming with monsters.  Beowulf, on a dare, once swam across an icy sea in his suit of mail.  There were sea beasts–“fiend-corpses“–that tried to pull him down into the dark, where they would rend the drowned king limb from limb.  “On a whim,” he went.  He made it, soaked, frozen, and spent. If he’d known what was waiting for him, would he have taken that dare?  If he’d known what was waiting for him, would he have made it across, or would he have gone down?

(Michael Thomas, Man Gone Down)

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“I want so to see the Arno. The rooms the Signora promised us in her letter would have looked over the Arno. The Signora had no business to do it at all. Oh, it is a shame!”

“Any nook does for me,” Miss Bartlett continued; “but it does seem hard that you shouldn’t have a view.”

Lucy felt that she had been selfish. “Charlotte, you mustn’t spoil me: of course, you must look over the Arno, too. I meant that. The first vacant room in the front–” “You must have it,” said Miss Bartlett, part of whose travelling expenses were paid by Lucy’s mother–a piece of generosity to which she made many a tactful allusion.

“No, no. You must have it.”

“I insist on it. Your mother would never forgive me, Lucy.”

“She would never forgive me.”

The ladies’ voices grew animated, and–if the sad truth be owned—a little peevish. They were tired, and under the guise of unselfishness they wrangled. Some of their neighbours interchanged glances, and one of them–one of the ill-bred people whom one does meet abroad—leant forward over the table and actually intruded into their argument. He said:

“I have a view, I have a view.”

Miss Bartlett was startled. Generally at a pension people looked them over for a day or two before speaking, and often did not find out that they would “do” till they had gone. She knew that the intruder was ill-bred, even before she glanced at him. He was an old man, of heavy build, with a fair, shaven face and large eyes. There was something childish in those eyes, though it was not the childishness of senility. What exactly it was Miss Bartlett did not stop to consider, for her glance passed on to his clothes. These did not attract her. He was probably trying to become acquainted with them before they got into the swim. So she assumed a dazed expression when he spoke to her, and then said: “A view? Oh, a view! How delightful a view is!”

“This is my son,” said the old man; “his name’s George. He has a view too.”

(E. M. Forster, A Room with a View).

for nbmjdy

About Jessica Yood

I am an Associate Professor of English at Lehman College, The City University of New York (CUNY). Composition and Rhetoric is my primary field and research into the history and emerging role of writing in our contemporary culture continues to broaden my definition of this discipline. Work for my book project takes me into the history of literary criticism in America, complexity theories, the culture wars and the intellectual crises of the 1990s, and the enduring complexity of first-year writing and writers.
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