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Monday, 28 April 2008

Oxford

I've been accepted to Keble College at Oxford to study medieval literature for a year. Better yet, they're going to give me a studentship (scholarship + stipend). I've been there briefly during my highs school career - in a summer course. I stayed at St. Peter's, I think, and ate many times at a cafe called the Nosebag. I wonder if things will seem quite familiar.

Last night Topher and I were walking home along Minchuan West rd. (民權西路), and we had just passed a temple (行天宮) when a big billboard advertising a study abroad program appeared. There was a huge picture of the Bodleian Library. Toph said "Look, that's where you're going to be!"

I must say I'm looking forward to it.

But a part of me is afraid that I'll get there and realize that everyone is: A. 10 x more erudite and B. 100 x more intelligent. I think I mentioned this to Bruce once and he said not to worry because half the people there are worried about the same thing.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Petrarchan Love

Here's something I wrote in my first year at Edinburgh Uni. It still amuses me.

While I was revising for my Scottish Literature exam today a rather curious fact dawned upon me concerning the widespread influences of Petrarchan love. Petrarch was a 14th C Italian poet who popularized the sonnet form. He was famous for love poems devoted to Laura, his deceased beloved. These poems praised her as the personification of idealized womanhood and described his love for her as a means of reaching God: from temporal love to abstract love to arrive finally at divine love. Some poets who were heavily influenced by Petrarch include William Fowler, who wrote a love sequence titled “The Tarantula of Love”, and Drummond, who explored the tensions and similarities between erotic and divine love in his sonnet sequence devoted to Auristella (dawn star), a lady after his own heart.
In attempting to think of further examples of Petrarchan love I came to realize that its influences are as far reaching as the 20th C, if one pauses to consider lyrics of popular music as a form of poetry. For example, popular late 20th C musician/poet Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame demonstrates erotic love finely interwoven with religious devotional desires in “Closer”:
I want to fuck you like an animal
I want to feel you from the inside
You get me closer to God.
Although the versification of this transition from temporal to divine love does not take place within strict sonnet form, the influence of Petrarch’s poetry is nevertheless undeniable in its extreme language and combination of earthly and religious pleasure.