May 5, 2020
In the May 1991 issue of The Atlantic, poet Dana Gioia wrote, “American poetry now belongs to a subculture. No longer part of the mainstream of artistic and intellectual life, it has become the specialized occupation of a relatively small and isolated group. Little of the frenetic activity it generates ever reaches outside that closed group. As a class poets are not without cultural status. Like priests in a town of agnostics, they still command a certain residual prestige. But as individual artists they are almost invisible.”
Not only do we Americans not know our contemporary poets, we don’t read the poets of the past either. Poems are, for many of us, opaque. We simply don’t understand nor do we take the time to learn to understand, to appreciate, to love poetry.
With that in mind, Wyoming Catholic College president, Dr. Glenn Arbery has been on a mission: the revival of poetry. And he's begun a daily vlog on which he reads and comments on one poem a day: www.wyomingcatholic.edu/blog. Dr. Arbery is our guest on this episode of The After Dinner Scholar.
April 21, 2020
St. Agnes' Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.
With those lines, the Romantic Era poet John Keats (1795-1821) began “The Eve of St. Agnes”(available here). A beadsman was someone whose duty it was to pray for his benefactor, the beads being the beads of the rosary.
While he prays in the chapel, in the adjacent castle, Keats tells us, Madeline dreams of her love for Porphyro, her family’s great enemy. Later that night Porphyro arrives at the castle and finds his way to Madeline’s bedroom. She wakes from a dream, the two declare their love for each other, and they run off together.
Dr. Glenn Arbery and Dr. Tiffany Schubert got together—online of course—to discuss the poem for the benefit of Wyoming Catholic College juniors listening at home.
March 10, 2020
“Quit your books” to enjoy the sunshine is not exactly what we want from our students, but they do study this poem, “The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth from which that line is taken.
Wordsworth (1770-1850) was one of the first of the English romantic poets and one of the major figures in the Romantic Movement. Romanticism emphasized individualism, emotions, and the glories of nature in contrast to an increasingly technological world.
Dr. Tiffany Schubert has been teaching Wordsworth this semester and is our guest on this week's After Dinner Scholar.
December 31, 2019
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
Those lines are the beginning of T. S. Eliot’s poem “Journey of the Magi,” an imagined first-person reflection by one of the Magi on the long trip to Bethlehem.
St. Matthew’s Gospel makes it clear that these were the first Gentiles, the first non-Jews to worship Christ. And they, their journey, and their gifts—gold for a king, frankincense for a God, and myrrh with its aroma of death—have attracted a good deal of interest and imagination over the centuries.
As we prepare for the Feast of Epiphany, Wyoming Catholic College president Dr. Glenn Arbery discusses Eliot’s poem (written in 1927) as well as one written by William Butler Yeats some years earlier (in 1916).
November 19, 2019
“Adiuro vos, filiae Ierusalem, per capreas cervasque camporum,
ne suscitetis neque evigilare faciatis dilectam, quoadusque ipsa velit.”
The quote is from the Latin text of the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the hinds of the field, that you stir not up nor awaken love until it please.” (Song 2:7)
That biblical book in Latin is the subject of one of four Latin reading groups here at Wyoming Catholic. Juniors and seniors hone the Latin skills they learned as freshmen and sophomores. The best way to retain and grow language skills is, of course, to use them.
The group working way through Canticum Canticorum ably led by Dr. Michael Bolin, our guest for this After Dinner Scholar.
October 8, 2019
The prioress in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is something less than a humble holy woman. She lives a comfortable even luxurious lifestyle. She values her lap dogs above most people. The rosary she carries is made with precious stones and she wears a golden brooch on which is engraved “Amor Vincit Omnia,” “Love conquers all.”
The romantic notion the “Love conquers all” is hardly a relic of the past. To judge by many modern movies,TV shows, popular songs, and books, we still dream of being overcome by the power of love and swept into a happily-ever-after.
And that idea has been around for at least 1,000 years beginning with the medieval romances.
Dr. Tiffany Schubert recently led a faculty symposium about Medieval romances here at Wyoming Catholic College. Dr. Schubert is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
September 17, 2019
Athens had been at war more or less continually since 431 BC and the people on all sides were sick of it. So it may be of no surprise that in 405 BC at the Lenaia, Athens’ annual theater festival, first prize went to a comedy: Aristophanes’ “The Frogs.”
“The Frogs” comes to the modern reader as something as a surprise. The ancient play seems to have strong notes of the Shakespearean comedies, of Oscar Wilde, and of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Which is to say, it has the feel of something that could have been written today in spite of being more than 2,400 years old.
Dr. Tiffany Schubert and Dr. Kent Lasnoski are team teaching our junior humanities course and joined me to talk about “The Frogs,” comedy, and satire beginning with the historical context in which Aristophanes wrote.
August 13, 2019
To judge by the piles of books, reels of movie film, games, prequels, and sequels, it’s safe to say that the stories of Camelot, the Round Table, and King Arthur hold a special place in our imaginations.
The stories surrounding Arthur have it all: love and romance; marriage and adultery; noble and good deeds, dishonorable and evil deeds; friendship and betrayal; lively feasts and deadly battles; magical swords and malicious witchcraft; heroes and villains; valiant, true, and brave knights and vile scoundrels. Camelot! It all started so well and ended so badly.
This summer, high school students attending Wyoming Catholic College’s two-week long PEAK program studied the Arthurian stories with this week's guest, Dr. Tiffany Schubert.
July 30, 2019
“I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;” lamented King David, “very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26)
Understanding the kind of friendship that existed between David and Jonathan is difficult in our culture. In large measure this is because we tend to believe that the height of love is romantic love. The notion that Jonathan’s love to David passed the love of women thus sounds at least suspect.
But the idea that romantic love is the greatest love was not part of the culture of ancient Israel. It was not part of the culture of ancient Greece—the world of Achilles and Patroklos. It was not part of the culture of Europe until… well, Dr. Tiffany Schubert can explain. At the 2019 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Dr. Schubert began her discussion of the poetry of friendship by describing how the exaltation of the romantic through the poetic tradition has become a detriment to us as we try to form deep, committed friendships.
June 25, 2019
When we came up with the theme for this year’s Wyoming School of Catholic Thought—“No Greater Gift: Friendship from The Iliad to Facebook”—we knew that we wanted Wyoming Catholic College president Dr. Glenn Arbery to discuss the friendship between Achilleus and Patrokolos in Homer’s epic.
What no one expected was that Dr. Arbery would pair the friendship between Achilleus and Patrokolos with the friendship Herman Melville described in Moby Dick, the strange friendship between Ishmael and Queequeg.
Here are Dr. Arbery’s comments.