Tuesday 1 April 2014

A... is for Archaism

As the immortal song goes "Let's start at the very beginning / A very good place to start"...
By a series of chance encounters, coincidences, and timing clashes, I'm studying towards a Masters in Literature. Finally, I say! It has been a long time coming, this chance meeting with Literature. But it is here now, and how!
My modules include largely British literature, it is where 'English' began, where it took form, and went through all of its many recognisable phases. I am reading a lot of archaic literature, as a result. Derived from the Ancient Greek: archaîos means 'from the beginning or ancient'. It is the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current.
Chaucer, for instance, I'm losing hope with. I don't think I will ever enjoy him. But Donne, I love. "Wuthering Heights' I'm reading for the first time, but 'Great Expectations' is like meeting an old friend who I know page by page. But my newest experience has been the study of the Structure of language itself. Asking the questions of 'What is language?', 'Why do we need it?', 'How to understand and construct criticism?' etc, have been proving to be wonderful exercises.
Archaism and its ideas which seem hardly relevant in today's modern world is an integral part of learning the language. It is imperative to understand where what we read today comes from. However outdated and illogical characters and plots seem, they provide a succinct glimpse of life and times of their inception.
I will leave you with this poem by Donne, considered very outrageous upon its publication, for what it suggests.

The Flea

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,
    Yet this enjoys before it woo,
    And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
    And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, nay more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our mariage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, w'are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
    Though use make you apt to kill me,
    Let not to that, self-murder added be,
    And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say'st that thou
Find’st not thy self, nor me the weaker now;
    ’Tis true; then learn how false, fears be:
    Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,
    Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.
This is the first post for the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge 2014.


Ghata said...

Masters in literature. ..wow! All the best.... c u around :-)

Bron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bron said...

I wish you luck too...I understand numbers better than words!

Deepa Iyer said...

Beautifully written. Look forward to the rest of the posts and good luck with the masters :)

Tony Laplume said...

You don't enjoy Chaucer? I loved him! Even though I had to read him in the original Middle English! Which was difficult! And required me to sue exclamation points at the end of all these sentences!

Keebles said...

I can already tell I'm gonna love your posts! If I ever manage to afford/find the time to go back to school, my two choices would be British Literature or British History. You are living my dream!

M Pax said...

Lit classes were my favorites in undergrad. Reading Beowulf in its original English was tough. Untethered Realms

Donna L Martin said...

Hi Udita!

I am also doing the A to Z Challenge and focusing on picture books because I am a children's picture book author. Good luck with the challenge!

Take care,

Donna L Martin