The dynamic action of this painting is striking from the first glance. A woman raises a flag high in the air. A ragtag assortment of fighters follow her into battle. Bodies of the dead and the dying are strewn about on the ground. A boy carries a pistol in each hand, his right hand high above his head.
Eugène Delacroix masterfully depicts the French Revolution of 1830, a.k.a., the July Revolution, in this remarkable painting. The woman holding the flag is the personification of Liberty. The fighters are Parisians who took to the streets to overthrow King Charles X. The man in the top hat wielding a rifle is said to be Delacroix himself, who took part in the revolution.
Notice how diverse the group of fighters is. Often depictions of battles show a long phalanx of men who look nearly identical to one another. This is certainly not the case in “Liberty Leading the People.” Young and old, rich and poor, fair and dark – all are united in the battle for freedom.
Notice also the pyramidal composition of “Liberty.” Liberty’s right hand forms the apex of the pyramid. The corpses on the street form the pyramid’s base. Delacroix is one side of the pyramid and the boy with two pistols is the opposite side. In harmony with the pyramid is the tricolor flag, red-white-and-blue representing the revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. There is also a man crawling at the feet of Liberty wearing the symbolic colors red, white, and blue. This character is said to represent the French worker.
Though Delacroix belonged to the Romantic painters, he would become a significant influence on the Impressionist school. He uses a variety of brushstrokes, from long, sweeping ones to short, fine ones. His characters are neither static nor dull. Instead, they are physically moving and charged with emotion. Just as his Impressionist successors would, Delacroix captures the essence of a single moment. Still, it is truly a Romantic painting in the sense that it is more concerned with conveying emotion than it is in depicting a moment as realistically as possible.
Nadeem Alam, “Critical Analysis: Liberty Leading The People, A Painting By Delacroix”
The Kryptonian Defense
It’s 1 a.m. in the Justice League Space Station. Batman and Superman are alone together. Superman spies a ratty plastic chess set in a cardboard box.
S: Hey Bruce, how about a friendly game of chess?
B: I can’t I’ve got recon data to study.
S: You’ve had that data for 3 weeks and you haven’t read past the first line. C’mon. Superman vs. Batman.
B: I’m not a nice person when I compete.
S: Think I can handle you. After all these years, I know a little bit about you.
B: You don’t have some superpower that lets you calculate millions of moves, do you?
S: Nope. All I got between the ears came from Ma, Pa, and the Smallville Public School system.
As he confidently placed one of his bishops, Bruce said, “Y’know Smallville, there’s one thing I never got about you?”
“Why didn’t it break you? I mean, when you learned the truth about Krypton. When you learned that your planet, your civilization, your species, your parents – all were gone. Why didn’t that break you?”
“Huh? What is that supposed to mean?”
“I had Ma and Pa. I had Smallville. Learning the truth about Krypton didn’t take any of that away. All it meant was that I had everything I had in Smallville, plus something else. I had all that plus another set of parents that had cared about me. Why would that make me sad?”
Having lost his queen and seeing Clark’s in relative safety, Bruce felt a twinge of something alien to him. Poverty. His mind started wandering. He started to imagine an actual queen, a green-skinned monarch of some distant planet. He saw himself trying to embrace her and then saw her slipping through his hands like a ghost. Considering his own checkered past with women –Talia, Zatarra, Selina, how appropriate that he should lose that crucial feminine piece.
“Bruce, Earth to Bruce, Come in Bruce.”
“Sorry, I was thinking about something else.”
“I’ll say. Seems like something much more important than chess is on your mind.”
A few minutes later, it was the Man of Steel who seemed to have checked out.
“Clark. It’s your turn!”
“Sorry Bruce. Just thinking about something. Actually I wanted to ask you something.”
“Why don’t you just kill the Joker?”
Bruce was stunned. “You above all should know. We can’t kill.”
“Soo, you’ve never killed anyone?”
“That’s a negative.” Bruce was getting irritated.
“Have you ever sent a guy to the hospital with some broken ribs?”
“Sure, goes with the territory. Kal-El, you know all this already.”
“Hear me out. So do those rib guys always get better?”
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
“You’re okay with roughing up a two-bit crook to the point that he might die, but you won’t affirmatively kill a dangerous psychopath whose history shows him to be untreatable?”
“I’m not trying to be the Dalai Lama. I’m no saint. But I have to live with myself.” The Bat placed a rook almost reflexively and the Kryptonian gobbled it up with a bishop. He had never seen him practice such artful deception.
Endgame. Bruce thought this phase of the game would favor him. Anyone could get a decent opening by studying a book or two. Then in the midgame, Clark’s sense of fantasy could guide him to more inventive moves than he might see. But the endgame was all about cold calculation and going for the kill.
Clark knew the endgame would be a struggle, even though he had been playing well, especially considering the strength of his opponent. For one thing, he was enjoying the diversion and didn’t want it to end. For another point, he was down to just a bishop and a pawn. He felt much more comfortable when he had a large, diverse force at his command. He hated the kind of trench warfare where one had to strike quickly, then retreat to safety. Also, he knew that Batman was at his best when he was outnumbered.
EE-OO! EE-OO! EE-OO! That siren signaled a major threat to the safety of the galaxy. Superman and Batman had precisely 100 seconds to respond. As they dropped their pieces, Bruce spotted a series of three moves that would lead to a checkmate before Earth’s bravest Boy Scout would ever see it. But when Clark said, “I guess it’s a draw,” Bruce nodded. Winning in his head was enough.
I feel bad for Jodi Arias. She has been failed by the American justice system.
You may have seen coverage of the Arias trial on TV, if you haven’t, here’s a brief summary. Jodi Arias is a young photographer from Arizona. She was tried for the murder of her boyfriend Travis Alexander. Analysis of the body shows clearly that Travis was shot and stabbed. Arias claimed in court that she did kill Travis but only out of self-defense as he was abusing her. An Arizona jury convicted her of first-degree murder. The trial is now (as of May 21, 2013) in the sentencing phase. As Arizona has the death penalty, she is facing execution. (In American law, states can choose to permit or forbid the death penalty. 32 of the 50 U.S. states have the death penalty while 18 forbid punishment by death. In 2012, there were 43 inmates executed in the U.S.)
The trial has been strange in many ways. One way it is strange is that the jurors were never sequestered even though the case was widely discussed by the media, thus jeopardizing the partiality of the jury. Another way it is strange is that here the murderer has confessed to the murder but still seeks an acquittal. Also, even though several witnesses testified for Arias in the guilt phase, zero witnesses will testify in the sentencing phase for Arias. It is very strange for even the mother and father of a person on trial for murder to abstain from testifying.
The trial strikes me as a miscarriage of justice. What if Arias lived in California? California has shown much less willingness to execute its citizens than Arizona has. What if Arias were rich and famous? If Arias could afford a more effective attorney, she might have been able to avoid this sentence. What if Arias lived in Europe? With the exception of Belarus, all European countries have abolished capital punishment.
Should a woman die because of the state or country she lives in? Should she die because she is not rich? Even if you believe in the death penalty as a just punishment, do you not think that the state should give the accused person an effective defense?
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore –
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door –
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –
Only this and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is and nothing more.”
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you” – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!” –
Merely this and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”
But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never – nevermore.’”
But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by Horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting –
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!
The poem tells of a raven’s mysterious visit to a depressed lover, tracing the man’s slow fall into insanity. The lover, likely a student, is lamenting the loss of his departed love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Athena, the raven seems to exacerbate the lover’s distress with its constant repetition of the word “Nevermore.”
Gradesaver observes, “The Raven” is the most famous of Poe’s poems, notable for its melodic and dramatic qualities. The meter of the poem is mostly trochaic octameter, with eight stressed-unstressed two-syllable feet per lines. Combined with the predominating ABCBBB end rhyme scheme and the frequent use of internal rhyme, the trochaic octameter and the refrain of “nothing more” and “nevermore” give the poem a musical lilt when read aloud.” To understand what is meant by an ABCBBB end rhyme scheme, look closely at the final stanza. If we look at the last word of each line of this stanza, we have “sitting (A), door (B), dreaming (C), floor (B), floor (B), nevermore (B).”
Why a raven? The Poe Decoder argues that Poe used an animal instead of a human because he wanted to show that the lover is really torturing himself with questions that have no answer. Had he used a human, the human could have had a dialogue with the lover. But by using a bird that only repeats the lover’s own words, the theme of self-torture is realized. It could have been a parrot and the Poe Decoder claims that Poe actually considered using a parrot in the poem. He ultimately decided in favor of the raven because ravens are associated with death and darkness therefore they are more in keeping with the theme of loss. He may also have been thinking of Norse mythology, which considers ravens messengers (see below).
- “Lenore” variant of Eleanor, meaning “light” in Greek, a sharp contrast to the darkness of the poem
- “Seraphim,” perfumed by an unseen censer / Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled…” is used to illustrate the swift, invisible way a scent spreads in a room. A seraphim is one of the six-winged angels standing in the presence of God.
- “Nepenthe,”, is a potion, used by ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain or sorrow.
- “Balm in Gilead,”, is a soothing ointment made in Gilead, a mountainous region of Palestine east of the Jordan river, Jeremiah (8:22). The question, “Is there a balm in Gilead?” is a way of asking “Does my disease have a cure?”
- “Aidenn,” , is an Arabic word for Eden or paradise, it means roughly, “eternal”
- “Plutonian,” the god of the underworld in Roman mythology.
- “Pallas”, an alternate name for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom
- In Norse mythology, the chief god Odin possesses two ravens that act as his messengers. They are called Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory). They fly across the human world and report everything they see and hear to Odin. Some critics connect Poe’s raven to Odin’s ravens. It is unclear which of the two ravens is Poe’s raven.
- The man welcomes the raven, and fears that the raven will leave in the morning, “as [his] Hopes have flown before”; however, the raven answers, “Nevermore.” The man smiled, and pulled up a chair, interested in what the raven “meant in croaking, ‘Nevermore.’” The chair, where Lenore once sat, brought back painful memories. The man, who does not expect the raven to know anything, still cannot help but ask the raven questions. Since the narrator realizes that the raven only knows one word, he can anticipate the bird’s responses. “Is there balm in Gilead?” i.e., “Can my heartache be cured?”- “Nevermore.” Can Lenore be found in paradise? – “Nevermore.” “Take thy form from off my door!” – “Nevermore.” The question of Lenore’s presence in paradise may have a deeper significance. As the name Lenore means “light,” perhaps the lover is really asking, “Can humans place their hope in Paradise?,” yet the raven causes him to despair. Finally the man concedes, realizing that this dialogue is futile. And his “soul from out that shadow” that the raven throws on the floor, “Shall be lifted — Nevermore!” Much like Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart,” this poem also depicts a character whose mind slowly unravels, leading to an ending in which there is no hope.
- The American football team, the Baltimore Ravens take their name from this poem. The author, Edgar Allen Poe, lived and died in Baltimore.
- Christoffer Hallqvist, http://www.poedecoder.com/essays/raven/.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
["This has got to be among the best-known, most-often-misunderstood poems on the planet. Several generations of careless readers have turned it into a piece of Hallmark happy-graduation-son, seize-the-future puffery. Cursed with a perfect marriage of form and content, arresting phrase wrought from simple words, and resonant metaphor, it seems as if “The Road Not Taken” gets memorized without really being read. For this it has died the cliché’s un-death of trivial immortality.
But you yourself can resurrect it from zombie-hood by reading it—not with imagination, even, but simply with accuracy. Of the two roads the speaker says “the passing there / Had worn them really about the same.” In fact, both roads “that morning lay / In leaves no step had trodden black.” Meaning: Neither of the roads is less traveled by. These are the facts; we cannot justifiably ignore the reverberations they send through the easy aphorisms of the last two stanzas." - SparkNotes
"Those who interpret this poem as suggesting non-conformity take the word “difference” ("And that has made all the difference") to be a positive difference. But there is nothing in the poem that suggests that this difference signals a positive outcome. The speaker could not offer such information, because he has not lived the “difference” yet.
The other word that leads readers astray is the word “sigh.” By taking “difference” to mean a positive difference, they think that the sigh is one of nostalgic relief; however, a sigh can also mean regret. There is the “oh, dear” kind of sigh, but also the “what a relief” kind of sigh. Which one is it?
If it is the relief sigh, then the difference means the speaker is glad he took the road he did; if it is the regret sigh, then the difference would not be good, and the speaker would be sighing in regret. But the plain fact is that the poem does not identify the nature of that sigh.
The speaker of the poem does not even know the nature of that sigh, because that sigh and his evaluation of the difference his choice will make are still in the future. It is a truism that any choice an individual makes is going to make “all the difference” in how one's future turns out." - Suite 101]
A narration attributed to Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas(ra) reports:
“ The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Ibn al-Khattab, by Him in Whose hand is my soul, the shaytan never met you traveling on a road but that he would travel on a road other than your road.”
Abu al-Ashhab said, “Umar passed by a garbage dump and stopped there, and his companions were bothered by it [the smell]. He said, “This is this world of yours which you are so eager for and you weep over”.
Ali said: I don’t know of anyone who didn’t emigrate in secret except for `Umar ibn al-Khattab; because when he wanted to emigrate he strapped on his sword, put his bow over his shoulder, carried his arrows in his hand, and came to the Ka`bah where the nobles of Quraysh were in the courtyard. He performed seven circuits, and then prayed two raka’at at the Station of Ibrahim. Then he approached their circle one step at a time and said, “What ugly faces! Whoever wishes to bereave his mother, orphan his children and widow his wife then let him meet me behind this valley.” Not one of them followed him.
`Umar said: I agreed with my Lord in three things; I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, if only we were to take the Station of Ibrahim as a place of prayer,’ and there was revealed, ‘… and take the Station of Ibrahim as a place of prayer.’ (Qur’an 2: 125). I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, both good and bad people come to visit your wives; if only you would order them to wear hijabs,’ and the ayah of the hijab was revealed. The wives of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, united in jealousy, and so I said, ‘Perhaps his Lord, if he divorces you, will give him in exchange wives better than you, …’ and it was revealed just like that (with exactly the same words, see Qur’an 66: 5).
One night Umar (R) explored Medina while wearing a disguise so he could observe the people without them knowing it was him. He went with a friend named Ibn Abbas, and they went to all parts of the city, and finally to a neighborhood where poor people lived.
When he was walking by a very small house, he heard a mother telling her daughter to put water in the milk to sell it so that they would get more money. The daughter told her mom that she did that before they were Muslims, but now that they are Muslim, they cannot add things to the milk. The mother told her to put water in the milk. The daughter said, “No. The Khalifa said that we should not add things to the milk.”
The mother said, “We are too poor. It is the only way we can get money for even some bread. The Khalifa has forgotten us, and he won’t know what we did.”
The daughter said, “But it is against the law. I won’t break the Khalifa’s rules and fool other Muslims.”
The daughter wouldn’t let her mother put water in the milk. The mother did not say anything so they both went to sleep.
The next day, Khalifa Umar sent a man to buy milk from the girl. The milk didn’t have water added to it. The girl did what she knew was right.
Khalifa Umar said to his friend, “The girl stayed strong even when her mother wanted her to do something wrong. She deserves a reward. What reward should I give her?’
“She should be paid some money,” said lbn Abbas.
Khalifa Umar said, “A girl like her would be a great mother. She doesn’t stop doing what is right even if she will get money for it. Because she is so good, she should be given the greatest gift in the nation, because everyone in the nation should learn how to be good like her.”
The Khalifa sent for the girl and her mother to come to his court. The mother shivered because she was afraid when she stood before the mighty ruler, but the girl stood without fear. She was beautiful, and she stood straight and tall.
Then, in front of everyone, Khalifa Umar told how he had overheard the mother and the daughter talking about adding water to the milk, and how the girl had done what was right, even though it meant disobeying her mother.
Someone said that the mother should be punished, but the Khalifa said that even though he should, he had forgiven her because her daughter was so good. Then he turned to the girl and said, “Islam needs daughters like you and as a Khalifa of Islam, it is my job to reward you, and I would like to reward you by having you as my daughter.”
Then the Khalifa called his sons and said to them, “Here is a wonderful girl who would make a great mother. I want one of you to take this girl as a wife. I don’t know a better bride than this girl who is so good.”
Abdullah and Abdur-Rahman, the oldest sons of the Khalifa were already married. Asim, the third son wasn’t married yet, and he offered to marry the girl. When the girl and her mother agreed, Asim married the girl and the milkmaid became the daughter-in-law of the Khalifa..
On the Beach at Night
by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
N the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.
Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.
From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.
Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.
Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?
Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter
Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.
[Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) paints a scene of a little girl and her father looking up at the stars on an autumn night, at a beach. Notice that Whitman approves of the father teaching his daughter astronomy. Whitman had very liberal ideas about education that were ahead of his time, the 19th century.
She sees clouds engulf the stars, blocking her view. The voice of the poet reassures her that one, the stars will return, and two, a force exists that is even more eternal than the stars.
Whitman really knows his stars. The astronomy in this poem is quite accurate. In autumn, in the Northern Hemisphere, Jupiter is visible for most of the night. Also, you would find it where Whitman tells you to look, in the East. http://www.ehow.com/how_6398171_jupiter-night-sky.html. He also alludes to the Pleiades, aka, the Seven Sisters, another autumn constellation.
The repetition of the word "weep" here is striking. First the child "silently weeps." Then Whitman says twice "weep not." His sensitivity to the weeping of a child shows compassion. There is a touch of realism here too since if one were really consoling a child, one would repeatedly tell the child not to cry. Whitman uses many "w" words throughout this poem like "whisper," "watch," "watching" and "while" among others. These sounds evoke a gentleness, a sense of soothing.
It is interesting how Whitman pulls out a profound realization out of a child's simple sadness. The child cries seeing clouds obscure Jupiter, thinking the planet has gone forever. Whitman doesn't mock her simplicity. Far from it, he sees within it a higher truth. He realizes that even though the clouds are a temporary threat to Jupiter, a day will come when the existence of Jupiter will end. In fact, the sun and the stars will all expire. But Whitman has faith that there is a being in the universe that will endure, long after all the stars have burned out.
Whitman hints at the existence of a deity here, but the characteristics of that deity are uncertain. It certainly possesses immortality ("Something there is more immortal even than the stars,") but beyond that there is little we can say about it. Yet for Whitman, this immortality itself is an incredible thing. He marvels at a being that can exist while Jupiter, the moon, the sun, and the other stars pass away. To the extent that he was anything, Whitman was probably a Unitarian. His work shows considerable influence from Thoreau and Emerson, both Unitarians. He likely believed in a God who expressed Himself through the creation of nature.
Even if one comes to this poem as an atheist, one can still take away something, perhaps a sense of wonder. What is it like for a star to die? Is there something older than the stars? Is there something that will exist when the stars are gone? Whitman doesn't give us dogmatic answers to these questions. He is content to simply raise the questions.]
During the Khilafat of Umar (R) Madina was troubled by great drought and hunger. A certain man presented himself at the grave of Rasulullah (S) saying: “O Rasulullah your ummah is suffering destruction. Beseech Allah that rain descend from the heavens.”
Thereupon he saw Rasulullah (S) in a dream in which Rasulullah (S) said to him: “Convey my salaam to Umar and tell him rain will come. Tell him also that he holds on to intelligence and reason.” The man conveyed the message to Umar (R). When he heard the message Umar (R) wept bitterly and exclaimed: “O Allah as much as is in my power I try not to be unmindful.” (Wafa-ul-Wafa)
Allamah Ahmad bin Qastalaani (RA) (rahmatullah alaihi) the famous scholar of hadith writes in his book Mawaahib Ladunni: “Once I became so severely ill that doctors despaired for my health. For many years I remained thus. Then one day on the 28th of Jumaadal Ulaa 893 A.H. (May 10, 1488) while in Mecca I prayed to Allah through the waseelah of Rasulullah (S) that Allah heal me of my affliction. While I was asleep I saw a vision in which I saw a man with a piece of paper in his hand on which was written: ‘Rasulullah (S) has commanded that this medicine be give to Ahmad bin Qastalaani.’ When I awoke I discovered that no sign of my illness remained.”
Shaikh Anul Khair al Aqta (RA) said: “Once on a visit to Madina I suffered such hunger because for five days I had absolutely nothing to eat. I could not even find something to taste. I went to the grave of Rasulullah (S) and having greeted the Master and his two companions (likely Abu Bakr (R) and Umar (R), the two men buried at his side) I said to Rasulullah (S): ‘O Rasulullah tonight is my desire to be your guest.’ Having said that I proceeded towards the mimbar and went to sleep behind it. In my sleep I saw a vision of Rasulullah (S) sitting with Abu Bakr (R) on his right and Umar (R) on his left and Ali (R) in front of him. Ali (R) called me and said: “Look, Rasulullah (S) has arrived’. I rose and Rasulullah (S) gave me a piece of bread in my hand. I ate half of it. When I awoke from that sleep I discovered that I still had the other half of that bread in my hand.” (Rowdh and Wafa)
Kandhelwi, Muhammad Zakariya. Virtues of Haj. Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 1946.
<http://www.sunnah.org/publication/khulafa_rashideen/caliph2.htm>, 22 Mar. 2013.
I can’t recommend this video highly enough. I have already posted it to Twitter and Facebook. Dan Pallotta, founder of the Breast Cancer Three-Day Walk, makes an impassioned plea for rethinking charity in America. He argues that charities need better incentives, better talent, bolder visions, and more money. He rejects the idea that charities need to focus on keeping overhead low. Instead, he persuasively claims that charities need to focus on growth and innovation. I know this video is over 18 minutes long, but please watch it. It’s not going anywhere so maybe you need to watch it tomorrow or the next day, but make an appointment to watch it. Also, spread the word.
On how human memory systems actually change our images of the past:
“Like many radical university professors, our retrieval system are powerful enough to alter our conceptions of the past while offering nothing substantial to replace them” (127).
On the negative effects of family conflict on children’s education:
“As social activist Barbara Whitehead put it, writing for the Atlantic Monthly: “Teacher find many children emotionally distracted, so upset and preoccupied by the explosive drama of their own family lives that they are unable to concentrate on such mundane matters as multiplication tables” (185).
Both taken from: Medina, John J. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Seattle, WA: Pear, 2008. Print.
(Thanks to Tyler Cowen, www.marginalrevolution.com, for the format)