Comparing Rowena’s Rooms in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Edgar Allan Poe’s Ligeia

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I’ve been reading some Sir Walter Scott lately. Any serious reader of 19th century literature has to have at least cursory knowledge of Scott’s writing, as his influence on pop culture and his writers of the age like Goethe, Eliot, and Austen was immense. As I was reading through Ivanhoe, specifically the part where Rowena’s room is described I got the strangest feeling of deja vu.

Following a hunch, I dug out my copy of Poe’s Ligeia and found what I was looking for. Rowena’s room, which is a highly symbolic element of Ligeia and is the site of major plot events, was heavily borrowed from Rowena’s room in Ivanhoe. 

It’s no secret Poe took influence from Scott in the creation of his Rowena. He very much intends to make use of the “girl next door” vs. “femme fatale” trope that Scott uses masterfully with the mild-mannered Rowena and dangerous Other, Rebecca. But, the question I asked myself as I started comparing the passages is, what is Poe taking from Scott, and in what ways is he extending Scott’s imagery and ideas? Continue reading

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Avoiding Procrastination: Something that Works for Me

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With students returning to school soon, I thought it would be appropriate to write a little something on procrastination. Staving off procrastination is something that you will face your entire life (unless you’re some sort of work-ethic god, in which case I am envious and I hate you). How many of you have fallen victim to trying to accomplish a task, let’s say writing a paper, and instead find yourself baking lemon tarts or browsing r/starcats? This infuriating circumstance can leave you feeling guilty at your lack of being able to take care of business and more importantly, it keeps you from getting stuff done! Procrastination is like Tolkein’s Mirkwood: wander into its depths and you will run into trouble (if only you found elves like actual Mirkwood!). Whenever I feel tempted to walk away from the task at hand, this is a tip I use to keep myself from meandering into the dark forest of procrastination. I think this tactic might work whether you are in school or not, but it is a method I picked up while working on my Masters, so I apply it specifically to an educational context. Continue reading

Be selfish…forgive someone today

I’m going to tell you a story; you may have heard it before:

Two Buddhist monks are taking a nature walk, talking about things that are Buddhist and monk-like. Eventually they reach a river. By the river is a beautiful young woman looking distraught. One of the monks asks her what is the matter and she answers that she is worried about crossing the river without drowning. The current is strong and she is not a strong swimmer.

Without a second thought, the monk picks up the woman and helps her cross the river. Thanking him profusely, the woman continues on her way, happy and safe. The other monk wades across the river to join his colleague, frowning.

The two monks continue on their nature walk and the second monk, still frowning says, “Why did you carry that woman across the river? You know we are not supposed to touch women, it is against our way of life.”

The monk answered, “I left that woman at the river’s edge a long way back, why are you still carrying her?” Continue reading

Reflection and Sinister Cycles in Robert Frost’s “Spring Pools”

Robert Frost’s “Spring Pools” is a fabulous little poem that I’m studying right now, so I thought I would do a short piece about it on Salvage. First here is the poem itself, thanks to lapsed copyright and Internet magic:

These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
The total sky almost without defect,
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
And yet not out by any brook or river,
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.
The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
To darken nature and be summer woods—
Let them think twice before they use their powers
To blot out and drink up and sweep away
These flowery waters and these watery flowers
From snow that melted only yesterday.

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Salvage and the Creative Process

Hello, hi, how are you? This is the first entry for Salvage; it should be pretty dope. I don’t have a central theme for this blog. I can’t tell you what it’s “about”. Cleanth Brooks in “The Well-Wrought Urn” says it is a “heresy” to try to explain what a poem is “about” in an authoritative summary paragraph, a poem attempts to take many different ideas, sometimes contradictory, and reach some sort of resolution through its linguistic gymnastics[i]. The blog is like one large poem, pulling together different topics from the recesses of my mind until I am finished. But I’m not looking for regular readership, just to purge the demons from my head so I can finally rest. So read the stuff you like, ignore the stuff you’re not that into (but you already know this because you’re smrt).

I figure the best place to start is an explanation of the blog’s title. This will give you a decent insight into the way I think and some of the things I’m into, so you can decide for yourself whether this floats your boat. The name Salvage, apart from being an

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