Lisa Walsh-Miller at Home


A Place Called Home, Twenty Writing Women Remember

This week reading “A Place Called Home, Twenty Writing Women Remember” one line kept popping into my head over and over: “A home is just a place I hold deep within my heart.” Following are writings about home, with this line being the central theme.




Home Sonnet #1

What is home if not what’s in your heart?

A tear, a song

a single rose

a summer’s day

the smell of winter

the gray of storm

An iron pot upon the stove.


And in your mind a torn and tattered

photograph black and white

or colorized


What is home if not what’s in your soul?

From birth to childhood to now

a fleeting moment, a lifetime

song of memory.



Home Sonnett #2

Relax you said it’s perfect

We’ll move the bedroom here, the living room there,

a larger kitchen,  add a door, fix the roof,

a garden here, a master bedroom

It will be big, it will be GRAND!


A “want-to-believe” dream:  a picture in my mind of

home and family fireplace dinners for 12 dogs cats kids

room to breath we’ll build UP!  We’ll build OUT!

The country! Fresh air! Room! Land! 


Me 22, story of life of 20 years of believing what you believed.

A dream of house but you worked two jobs me one 4 children no minutes

zero seconds for building anything but home within.

Remember a past is just a path I walked a greater road to knowledge.

A home is just a place I hold deep within my heart.



Prose Poem: Home

What is home if not what’s in your heart?   I live in a house.  My home lies within me. What is home to my children, I wonder? This is their house, their home perhaps.  Their place they come to after school, where they bring their friends, where they do their homework, where they talk on the phone and watch television, listen to music.  Where they sit at the table with me and complain, and tell stories, and laugh, and fight, and sing, and cry.   My home lies within.  My children within.  My sisters, my family, friends, childhood, within. This house is just a house to me, like the last we lived in, and the one before that. And the one before that.  Just timber and glass filled with stuff that’s ancient and broken or new and alive.  A house does not a home make.  Home is dancing in the living room, talking around the kitchen table, Christmas morning, school nights, snow days. A house is just a place, I learned when I was young, as I wandered from here to there, coast to coast, memories bundled up in a little sack, carried deep within. My home comes to me late at night, or in the morning, or when I travel, or smell a smell, or see a flash of color, or hear a song, or think a thought that has to do with who I love, or who I feel around me, or who I am.  My home is my mother, my father, dancing at their 50th Anniversary party.  My sister holding my hand walking me to school on a fresh light day.  My son in a blue snow suit, blonde curls peeking out of wooly hat.  My daughter’s playing dressup.  My girls and I on a Friday night.  My home is my self.  I walk alone, this world, this path, my home within, a hot coal in my heart on a frosty day.  An ember keeping me warm through cold, cold walks through city streets, through mountains and valleys, and dark nights, and cool, sweet summer mornings.





Skeltonic Verse: The name of a poetic form of short lines (averaging from three to six words) whose rhymes are continued as long as the poet feels it’s working well.  Also known as  “Tumbling Verse” because of the way the lines tumble out of the poets brain.   Named after it’s inventor the English Poet John Skelton (ca. 1460-1529).  Following is my attempt at a Skeltonic Verse.  The poem is titled “Home”, and has to do with home being inside of one’s self.  This poem, like me, is a work in progress.



Is this really your home

when you feel so alone

when you talk on the phone

In your heart you condone

your alive

That’s no jive

And when you arrive

You’ll stand there inside

To the man you’ll confide

I’m alive, I’m alive!

In your skin you can’t hide

You see nothing outside

but a carnival ride

a space station slide

a time to abide

by the rules of the game

But your free you’re the same

as the girl with no fame

with no movie star name

with no title “madam”

Are you going insane?

In your home does it matter

If the gravy it splatters

if your heart’s on a platter

if your feelings are fatter

If your words they don’t flatter

if it’s heaven or hell

or the sound of a bell

or you cry or you yell

or you buy or you sell

or you drift or you sit like a rock in a well

or you’re here or you’re there

or you’re really somewhere

or you lay down and cry

or you ask yourself why?

Because inside you fly

Like a bird in the sky

and it’s blue and it’s white

and it’s there and it’s right

and you’ll know when to bite

off the tip of the cone

though your glee will be lone

in your heart you will roam

and your life is your own

and your world you’ll call home.

Aristotle’s Poetics


"Again: to be beautiful, a living creature, and every whole made up of

parts, must not only present a certain order in its arrangement of

parts, but also be of a certain definite magnitude. Beauty is a matter

of size and order, and therefore impossible either (1.) in a very minute

creature, since our perception becomes indistinct as it approaches

instantaneity; or (2.) in a creature of vast size ­ one, say  1000 miles

long ­ as in that case, instead of the object being seen all at once,

the unity and wholeness of it is lost to the beholder.  Just in the same

way, then, as a beautiful whole made up of parts, or a beautiful living

creature, must be of some size, but a size to be taken in by the eye, so

a story or Plot must be of some length, but of a length to taken in by

the memory."  Aristotle, Poetics


I love this quote, it’s so eloquently put, and yet so sensible. To me that’s what Aristotle was all about. A list maker, a scientist, yet a philosopher who could see the beauty in art and its form.


Beauty is a matter of size and order and therefore impossible either

1. in a very minute creature

What is a very minute creature?  An organism that we cannot see with the eye.  So the story of life is only interesting when told using a microscope to magnify the field.  An insect is not very interesting if we don’t enlarge it to a size big enough for us to relate to it.   Even Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis was only interesting because we could relate to the man turning into a roach, as his ‘roachness’ was life size.  And the imagery was large enough for us to see it. 


2. in a creature of vast size.

The ocean is not an interesting story, because you cannot see the entire thing.  Maybe viewed from a satellite, the earth being a globe, where the colors of the ocean and the mountains are a painting, it is considered interesting. But in itself, it’s too big, we cannot see where it begins or ends, we cannot see what goes on it or under it.  The highest mountains cannot make a beautiful story, for the same reason.  We cannot grasp the story of the mountain unless we live on it, see it, feel it, hike it’s ranges and paths, master it’s stately beauty foot by foot.  The story is not in the size, but in the details & intricacies. 


“A size to be taken in by the eye, so a story or plot must be of some length, but of a length to be taken in by the memory.”

To be taken in by the eye.  For us to see it as a whole. Then it’s interesting.  Not too long, that it can’t be grasped, but not too short that we cannot see it.  Not too long that we forget what the beginning about, that we tire of it’s story.  We lose the sympathy for it. 


When you think of movies that are memorable, or plays that you love, they must fall into this realm.  It only makes sense that we have to be able to understand the image, we have to be able to fully grasp it in one sitting. And we have to be able to finish up so that we are satisfied, so that we can see the whole beauty.

Aristophanes Lysistrata


Although The Lysistrata did not inspire me as a work.  What inspired me was the form itself. The use of chorus, the fact that Aristophanes used his platform as a playwright to address social issues.  I was inspired by the Greek Comedy, and although my play doesn’t have the elements that would make it either a Greek Comedy, or a classic tragedy, I used my inspiration to experiment with a form I know very little about.


3 Scenes: Five women meet for coffee & fun on Friday nights.  The first scene is New Year’s Eve, 2000.  They eat Chinese take out food, their boyfriends and spouses are there, they play games, they dance, they listen to music, they make plans.  The second scene is Mid-Summer, they are discussing their plans to go on the road to a series of concerts, The “protagonists” are introduced on the phone.  Scene 3 is the last night together at the apartment, they’re all together, just the five of them, and it’s the last night they will be all together.

This three act play was inspired by a home theme of my own. A situation where my 4 friends and I, who are as close as sisters, had an incredible year together.  Two of us, though, were partners, and recently broke up due to events that occurred during our times together.  The home theme is the break up of the home. 


Tragically Speaking ­ A Three Act Play


Characters: 5 Women - Two of them (Elyn & Jan) are a couple, Two of them (Bridget & Danielle) are sisters, One of them is a friend (Leslie)


Scene 1 ­ Elyn’s Apartment ­ New Year’s Eve ­ There’s music in the background, and Elyn is putting a cd  on the cd player.  Bridget and Leslie are dancing to the music.  Danielle is moving around the apartment, dancing and talking, Jan is sitting on the couch.  In the background there is a table with a puzzle on it, three men are sitting around the table talking, drinking beer. There are Chinese food take out containers on the table.



Jay, pass me that cd cover, will you?



Sure, Mel.


Jan, sitting on the couch takes the cd cover off of the wooden coffee table and passes it over to Elyn.  Elyn puts on Bob Marley’s “Jammin” and they all begin to dance, all of them come together to the middle of the room, dancing and laughing.



Good Song, El.


Elyn sits down on the chair opposite Jan. She lights a pipe and passes it. The music is playing while the group is passing the pipe, smoking and dancing.


The three men at the table look over and continue to talk and work on the puzzle.



You know what we else need to do in the Millenium?



What Dee Dee?



We need to go away one weekend.  We need to go away, bring our bicycles, go for long rides, hang out.   Leslie, put that on the list.



You know what else we need to do in the Millenium?









Oh, we could do that if we go away for the weekend.   That would be lovely.



Let’s write it in the book.  “Mescalin.  One more time.”


Bridget goes over to the bookshelf and takes down a big black book and begins to write in it.


In the background Church bells toll, and Elyn and Jan get up and kiss each other.


Scene 2

Elyn’s Apartment

Summer, Night.  The windows are open.  Elyn, Jan, Leslie, Bridget & Danielle are sitting in the living room. There are fans whirling.  They’re passing the pipe, and smoking. Bridget’s writing in the big black book.   Music is playing in the background.



OK, what are we doing after that?  We need to keep a calendar of events.



Patti Smith in San Francisco, April 22



Patti Smith in Boston, June 4



Patti Smith in Rhode Island, June 5



Yes, Road Trip.  We are going to have quite a time, aren’t we?  2 more days, Cali.  I cannot believe we’re going.



I KNOW!  El, have you talked to Spike & Sluggo? Are we meeting them there?



Yeah, I was over there yesterday and I talked to Spike.   I have to go over tomorrow before I leave, though.  I’m helping her fix up her kitchen.  


Jan (talking to the girls)

Can you believe her, she’s over there all the time helping her fix things up.  I told her, El, Sluggo’s going to get jealous!  If I didn’t know any better I’d be jealous.



You have nothing to worry about Jay.


Leslie looks over her glasses at Elyn. Elyn doesn’t look back at her.   Elyn sits on one couch, Jan on the other.  The bells ring, they don’t kiss.  The phone rings, Elyn jumps up to answer it.  She takes the phone and goes into the other room.  The rest of them sit there, quietly, listening to the music.  Bridget passes the book to Leslie. She begins to write in it.


Scene 3

Elyn’s apartment. Night.  Elyn, Jan, Leslie, Danielle, Bridget.   There’s a cake on the table, and boxes around. The bookcase is half empty.  Everyone’s sitting around the table, passing the pipe.  There are wrapped presents on the phone next to the table. The mood is quiet.



Jan, are you ready to open your presents?



Yes Miss Bridget.


Bridget  (Handing Jan a large shopping bag)

This is from me


Jan, taking the shopping bag and pulls out a stainless steel colander.


This is beautiful Bridget. Thank you.



Well, I figure when you have us over for macaroni, you’re going to need this. 


Jan nods solemnly and puts the colander down on the table.



Here’s my gift Jan.


Danielle passes Jan a smaller bag. Jan pulls out beautiful cloth napkins, and then unwraps different colored bowls.  Then some candles.  Jan puts them back carefully and quietly back in the bag.  Everyone is quiet.



Thanks Dee Dee, they’re beautiful


Leslie (handing Jan her gift)

Here Janet.  


Janet opens up a small bag of candy, and two Patti Smith CD’s.



Thanks Les.



So, what’s the plan for tomorrow?


Well, the movers are going to be here at 10:00 am. Jan can get into her apartment any time. 



Jan, do you have much stuff?



No, not much.  I have a bunch of boxes, and my equipment.  But otherwise it’s pretty light.



Plus, whatever she doesn’t move she can leave here and come and get whenever.



Yeah, no big deal.





All five of them sit not saying anything, all looking off into space.  Leslie takes the book and begins to write in it.  Elyn gets up to change a CD.  She puts on some reggae music.  No one gets up to dance.  Bridget lights the pipe to pass it. 


Scene Ends.

Shakespeare’s King Lear


The following Screenplay was inspired by King Lear. Not by the story itself, although if I killed all of my characters, which I’m tempted to do, it would make for a nice tragedy.  In my continued experimentation of form, I am thinking of the elements that make a tragedy a tragedy.  The home theme again: The breakup of the home.  This real-life tragedy has been running through my brain since the beginning of the year.  It seems like I am working through this using creative writing as my outlet. 


The Tragic Deed


Scene 1

Elyn’s Apartment ­ Day .  Elyn and Jan are cleaning their apartment.  Sun is streaming in through their windows, plants occupy the windowsills, and there are six cats lying around. Against one wall is a red couch.  There are two brown chairs, and a coffee table.  One wall is covered with bookshelves.    Bob Marley is playing on the stereo.  Jan is wearing baggie blue jeans and a tee shirt. Elyn is similarly attired.  They are in separate parts of the room, Jan dusting, Elyn sitting in one of the chairs fixing something unidentifiable.  From outside bells begin to ring indicating 6pm.  Jan runs over to Elyn and they kiss.


Scene 2

Concert hall. Night.  A “pit” of people in front of the stage.  Elyn and Jan and many other fans are standing close together.  They are close to the stage, surrounded by people, everyone waiting for the concert to begin.  Electronic music is piped in.   To the left of Elyn is a couple, two girls.   They eye each other up and down, making small talk.


How you doing?





Girl 1 ­ Spike

Hey, how are you?


Girl 2 ­ Sluggo



Scene 3

San Francisco.  Day.  A city street.  You can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.  Elyn & Jan Standing in a line waiting for a concert to begin.  They’re with three other women, Bridget, Lisa, Danielle.  There are about 20 people ahead of them in line.  People behind them.  It’s a party atmosphere, people drinking beers, laughing having fun.  Spike & Sluggo come walking down the street and stop and talk to them.


Hey, yous want to come up front with us.  I don’t think we can get you all up here, but we could take two of you, and when it’s time to go in, you guys get the spaces up front, and the rest of yous find them when the doors open.



Yeah, we’re with a bunch of people and they’re really drunk, but we could get a couple of you up front with us so you can get up by the stage.


OK. Sounds great.  Bridge, me and Jan are going up, you guys hang here and we’ll meet you inside.



We’ll come and get you when we know it’s cool.






Scene 4

Day.  A city street.  Elyn, Jan, Lisa, Bridget, Danielle, Spike & Sluggo sitting in front of a sign that says “Lupos Lounge. Providence, Rhode Island”.  Other fans sitting on the ground behind them. They are right up front in the line.   They’re passing joints around.  Everyone is very stoned.    Elyn and Jan are holding hands.  Spike & Sluggo are holding on to one another.  Everybody’s laughing.


Scene 5

Day. Sun blazing. A sign reads “Welcome to Hoboken Arts Festival”  Elyn, Jan, Lisa, Bridget, Danielle, Spike & Sluggo standing in front of a stage at an outside music festival.  From the attire of the crowd, you can tell it’s an extremely hot day, everyone’s drinking beer.  There are hundreds of people there.

Elyn (to Sluggo, Jan, Lisa & Bridget)

Hey, me and Spike are going to smoke a joint.  We’ll be right back.





Scene 6

Elyn, Jan, Lisa, Bridget, Danielle, Spike in a kitchen. Spike is crying.  They’re sitting around her with cups of tea, and a bong in the middle of the table.


I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I love her but I can’t live this way. And now what, we just moved into this apartment.


We’ll help you.  I could fix your workspace up.  You could put shelves over here, your ovens here. It’ll be great.  I love a project.   She’s not for you.



Scene 7

Elyn’s apartment.  Elyn putting her coat on and getting ready to leave the house. She’s patting herself down checking her keys, etc. 


Jay?  I’m going.  I’m going to fix that table in Spike’s kitchen.


Jan (coming out of the kitchen.)

Do you want me to come?



No, I’m just going to be working.  I’ll see you later. We’ll have pizza.  6pm, ok?



OK Mel.


Oooh, you’re so cute.


Elyn and Jan kiss.


Scene 8

A messy kitchen, large containers are on the floor, pots and pans piled high.  Elyn hammering a table, that’s upside down.  Spike sitting on one of the containers watching her.



You’re amazing.


Elyn, looks at her, doesn’t say anything.



I’m really attracted to you.


Oh really.


Yes, I have been since I first saw you. Didn’t you know.


I know.


I mean, I know we shouldn’t do anything. You have Jan, she’s so great.  And then there’s Sluggee. I know.  I don’t know.  I think that just admitting it is a good thing, then we can move on past it.



I know. We can’t do anything about this.  I don’t want to mess up my life.  I have a really great life, I love Jan, but I’m totally attracted to you to.



I know.  Me too.

Spike reaches up and they kiss.


Scene 9

Telephone Conversation.  Lisa on phone with Spike. 


So, what did you do yesterday?


Oh, Elyn came over


She did? She didn’t tell me.


Oh. I don’t think I was supposed to tell you. 




Yeah, well, Elyn didn’t tell Jan and she didn’t want anyone to know.  So I think I wasn’t supposed to say anything.




Scene 10

Later on. Telephone Conversation.  Lisa calls Elyn.


So, why did you lie to me and not tell me that you went to Spike’s yesterday? 


Because I didn’t want Jan to know. 


Oh, Why?




Oh my god, did you guys sleep together?




Oh my god, geeeeez el.  Now what?


I don’t know.


Was it good?






I know.


Are you going to see her again.


Yeah, tomorrow, before work.


Oh boy.


Scene 10

Night. Outside of a rock club. Standing under a sign that says, “The Stone Pony. Tonight, Patti Smith.”, Elyn, Jan, holding hands, Spike & Sluggo holding hands.  Elyn and Spike exchange glances.  People milling around.  Lisa standing next to them.   Bridget and Danielle are talking to each other. Everyone is hanging around waiting for a concert to begin.


Scene 11

Inside a woman’s bathroom.  The lighting is low,  Jan, Elyn, and Danielle are standing around talking, leaning on the counter. Bridget is lying on the floor, her tee shirt is off and rolled under her head, she’s wearing a red camisole and jeans. Lisa is sitting on the floor next to her. 



Hey, Bridge, you ok?


Yeah, my back went out.  I took the blue pill.  Never take the blue pill at a concert.


Enter Spike


Yo, I heard a brother is down.


Yeah, look at her.

Spike & Elyn look at each other.


Can I do anything?


Nah, she’ll be ok.



Scene 12

Later that night. In front of a stage at a concert.  Jan and Lisa are standing to the right in front.  Spike is center.  Spike motions to Jan to join her.  Jan makes her way to the center in front of the stage and stands with Spike. Lisa watches.


Scene 13

Bar. Same night.  Lisa and Bridget sitting at a banquette by themselves. 


Where’s Elyn?


I don’t know.    I think she left with Spike.


What?  Where’s Jan?


I don’t know.  I lost her.


Elyn’s with Spike?  You mean together together?




Oh jeez.


Enter Jan



Where’s Elyn?


I don’t know. I think she’s on the coat check line.


Oh, I’ll go look for her.


I think maybe she went to get a drink.


Jan nods.  Walks off

Bridget & Lisa look at each other.



We’re gonna have to kick Elyn’s ass.


Scene 14

Next Day.  Elyn and Jan’s apartment. Day. 


El, it’s New Year’s Day. Are we going to the reading today?


Well, I’m gonna go help Spike dig her car out. 


Oh, what time.


In a little while.  I don’t know when I’ll be home.


Oh.  Do you want me to come?



Nah.  I shouldn’t be too long.



Scene 15

Later that night.  Elyn and Jan’s apartment.  Clock shows midnight.  Enter Elyn.  She walks into the apartment. Takes off her coat, then walks by Jan who’s sitting on the couch.  Elyn doesn’t see her and is startled.


El, where were you?


I told you, I was helping Spike.


All day on New Year’s Day?


I didn’t realize what time it was.


El, what’s going on with you and spike?


Nothing’s going on.


El, I know there’s something going on. When were you going to tell me?


There’s nothing going on.


You mean to tell me that you’re not sleeping together?


Elyn says nothing.

Jan (angry)

El, how long has this been going on? How could you not tell me?  I can’t believe this.


OK, it’s true.  I thought I could just do this thing, and it would be cool, and it would go away, and we would just go on with our lives. I thought no one had to find out.


You thought I wasn’t going to find out?  It was so obvious. YOU were so obvious.  How long has this been going on? Does everyone know? Oh my god, El, what’s going on? Were you unhappy?  If you were unhappy you should’ve told me.


I’m not unhappy. We have a great life.  I’m still in love with you, I just want this other thing too.  I love my life, I love you.


You can’t have both.  I can’t believe this.


I’m sorry Jay.


Scene 16

Apartment. Day.  Lisa, Jan, Danielle, Bridget.  There’s a couch and a table.  Boxes are strewn around the room.  On the table is a pizza box, glasses, etc. 


This is a really great apartment Jan.


Thanks Lis


Yeah Jan, this is a great place.


I like it.


It’s going to be fine Jan.


I know bridge.

Everyone cries.  From outside you can hear the bells chime, 6pm. 

Sheridan’s School for Scandal


The following creative writing assignment was inspired by Sheridan’s School for Scandal.  I was looking for a different form to use to write about the recent scandal’s in my own life.   For my first endeavor I used the form of an email communication.


After our in-class reading assignment, I was inspired to experiment writing a Heroic Couplet. Again, the topic is the breakup of the home situation I’ve been fixated on since the beginning of the semester.  I enjoyed writing it, although I must admit, I’m no Shakespeare. 



Subj:    The saga continues

Date:    2/24/01 10:26:04 AM Eastern Standard Time

From:   (Lisa Miller)



Dear Friend,


Thursday night I spent 7 hours in my car trying to get home from work.

There I was in the dark car, in the middle of a stopped

highway reading Sheridan's "School for Scandal".  It brought to mind the

scandals in my own world.   Not the scandal of politics, like Bill &

Hill and the pardons, but about the scandal's that have been rocking my

life as of late.  My in-box is filled with correspondence from friends

and family keeping me up to date on the bizarre and scandalous nature of

their lives these days.  Is it Mercury rising, a rebirth of the 70's --

or is it just the new millennium?  Or then again, is it just life?


The saga of the lesbian triage continues, as well as all of the other

dramas in my life.  First to happen (and this you know about) was Todd

and I splitting up after 20 years.  Then it was Jamie coming home and

telling Danielle that he was leaving her after 10 years married,

quitting his job on a hit TV series, & moving to California to find

himself.  Then it was Elyn cheating on Jan with Barbara.  (And Barbara

cheating on Karen with Elyn).  Then it was Karen accusing Barbara of

sleeping with Bridget. Then it was Elyn accusing Bridget of harboring

secret lesbian fantasies about Barbara.  Then it was my niece writing me

from her college year abroad telling me that besides the 3 men in her

life that are pursuing her,  she has been having a serious

relationship with a woman for the last three years. THEN it was

Maryellen, my friend from high school, married with three kids, who

began to have an affair with a woman, and everyone in her family,

including her husband and kids finding out.


It seems that most of the above mentioned truisms have gossip and lies

associated with them. Even in the best of circles with the best of

friends this seems to have happened.  When Todd and I agreed to split up

and began telling our friends and family, everyone assumed that I had a

boyfriend. When I pierced my nose the rumors began to fly !    When

Jamie came home and told Danielle that he wanted a divorce, etc., we all

couldn't believe that he didn't have a girlfriend. We spent hours

speculating about him. None of us could believe that there was no

underlying drama associated with his decision.  Even I, who went through

a very similar situation, felt immediately that there must be a young girlfriend. He

says it's not true...yet I still don't know if I believe him.  When Elyn began

cheating on Jan, I was the only one privy to that information. Everyone

assumed that Elyn and Jan had this beautiful above board kind of

relationship.  To throw everyone off, Elyn and Barbara made it look like

Barbara was infatuated with Bridget.  Since Bridget is a straight girl,

and Barbara a lesbian, no one really believed the rumor, but then could be true.  When Bridget found out about Elyn and

Barbara, she began to play along, using the rumor to throw both Jan and

Karen off (so they wouldn't find out and get hurt).   The farce became

so believable that just this week Elyn (her own cousin!) accused Bridget of harboring

secret fantasies about Barbara, her girlfriend.


So, rumors, lies, drama, sex...all of these tales have been filling my

hard drive as of late.  What causes this kind of drama in people's

lives?  Is it the lack of anything better to do, as in 17th century

England society?  Is it the mundane work lives that we lead, leaving us

wanting for something so much more than what we have? Is it the

proliferation of television into our lives, making the day to day

seem so boring that we look towards something more exciting, greater?

Is it a lack of "morals", as some might suggest?   Who's to say?


So, that's my little story this day.  I will continue to keep you up to

speed on all of the sagas.  As  I know your life as a rock star cannot possibly be as

interesting as my life of a suburban housewife.  I look forward to hearing from you soon,

and send you much



Yours, Lisa



Heroic Couplet


And first we live the story to behold

A hundred years or so the crime’s been told.

A woman scorned another in her bed

Ten thousand tears have not her sorrow bled.

It started on a summer’s night in June

Two lovers shared a glance across a room

Amidst a crowd of people wide and clear

Their hearts collided clamored to be near

And so their saga started to unfold

Their lives began a journey towards the bold

A secret look, a touch, a breathless sigh

When passing on the street or up on high

And as the summer turned to fall it called

Another show, a fleeting touch, love stalled

Desire filled their loins they longed to be

Together for the night’s eternity

And each one’s mate was tossed off in the night

Their lips abandoned for this love in flight.

And as the winter snow began to fall

Their love once secret became known to all

Their world became a smaller starry place

As lovers left and joined the human race

And all the friends and family they were sad

And sometimes all the angst it made them mad

But in their heart of hearts they know it’s right

That love forsaken tossed not in the night

Each lover went and took their love away

And hid it in a box for it to stay

The moral of this story it should be

Secrets should be hid for none to see

When love is real it should not hurt a friend

And passion is the fall around the bend.


Voltaire’s Candide


The following piece was written in response to my reading of Candide.  I was inspired not so much by the theme itself, which was Voltaire’s message  “cultivate your garden, do your own work”, but by his writing style and his sense of satire.  I wrote the following as if this was part of an adventure such as Candide, with Rebecca being the main character.  I wanted to incorporate some of the elements that Voltaire used when writing his piece, such as his fine use of descriptive language, his tendency for delving head first  into the action, the use of exact numbers as description, and the dream like quality in which he wrote.  Each one of the stories of Candide told an entire story, and represented one leg of a journey towards home: the home of his youth and getting back to his one true love,  Cunogonde.    The following is a chapter in a story about Rebecca, a housewife who is looking to return to her home, which is returning to her youth, in the form of a great love story. 


How Rebecca Lost her Husband and Found a Guitar Player.


Being up high on the 35th floor of the tallest building in Manhattan, the wind blows cold around you and the building sways causing you sometimes to lose your lunch, or to feel lightheaded and faint. Rebecca was standing in her office looking out the window, face pressed against the cold pain of glass, down at the circus across the street, the Ferris wheel blinking red and green and  blue lights, the elephants milling about, the monkeys dancing.  From up where she stood the street glittered, glass embedded like diamonds into the concrete sidewalk, smooth from millions of feet passing over it.  There were over 30 million people in that park today, and in a few minutes she would be one of them. She walked out of her office, entered the elevator and descended down to the lobby, out into the warm summer breeze, ripe with romance.    It was 4:20pm on a Friday in June and she was meeting her beloved William there.  They were going to have an anniversary meeting there, the first place that they met not 20 years ago this day, on that copper bench, right over there, next to the vermilion and gold tent where the fortune teller told her fortunes.   She checked her watch, waiting.  She began to fret at 4:50, wondering had he gotten the day wrong, or mused, maybe he had forgotten.  At 5:15 she began to walk around the park, past the zebras, the long slivers of grasses hiding the bird sanctuary’s, the tortoises with their large gray shells.    Children laughed and she could smell the hibiscus in the air, as the summer sun turned orange spreading pink streaks of color across the sky.   She circled the park, past the rides and the children eating cotton candy, pink and sticky;  past the ice cream, and the popcorn.  She touched the brown canvas of the circus tent as she entered it and took her seat amongst the other patrons of the arts on the long wooden benches circling the stage.  The smell of horses and large animals and sawdust filled her nostrils.  In front of her was a circus ring with a tiger and lion in it, and a lion tamer with a whip and red shorts, like in the movies, with a big handlebar mustache.  He cracked his whip and the tiger jumped through the hoop and back on its perch.  He did the same with the lion.   She sat on the seat wondering what she should do? Was William lost?  Could he possibly have forgotten the date, the importance of this event? Oh no, he couldn’t.  She wore that red dress that day, he wore a baseball cap.  They were going out to dinner later, reservations at Luigi’s.  She left the tent and walked to a secluded spot where she could make a phone call. She pulled her cell phone from out of her purse and dialed first home, the office, his mothers, leaving messages for him.  “William” she said, “This is Rebecca.  William, where are you? You’re late my love.  I’m worrying, I know you’re probably just fine, but it’s been 2 hours and I don’t know what to do.”  She began to feel weepy and she walked around the circus grounds again, stopping in front of a stage where a long legged guitar player was crooning love songs to an audience of young high school girls.   He stood at the stage, holding his slender guitar lovingly, golden hair flowing in the wind, black vest, white shirt, looking like a waiter in an Italian restaurant. He played his guitar, fingers strong stroking the strings, hands sinewy and muscular, and she watched him, transfixed in his music.   Each song was more and more loving than the last, and she stayed there for one hour, until he was done with his set and began packing up.  She didn’t move as he came up to her.  “What is your name?” he asked.  She stood for a minute not talking.  “Oh, I’m Rebecca.” She said.   At that moment, a powerful rainstorm  appeared in the sky, and within minutes the wind whipped up, large wet raindrops flopping down.  She began to cry.    The guitar player grabbed her arm and pulled her with him to a gazebo, where he tried to dry her off with his shirt.  She stood crying,  unable to move, until he noticed that she was weeping, and stopped.  “I do not know you, but I know that a lovely woman like yourself, so beautiful and young and full of life should not be crying.”  With that he held her so lovingly, in a way she had never been held before, not even by her husband of 20 years.    She stayed in his arms while he caressed her and sang in her ear sweet love songs, until she began to think she could never live without him.  The rain stopped, and her tears dried as well, salt drying on her face.  They began to walk, and she relayed the story of her husband, and how he was missing. In the darkened evening they walked to her apartment, and looked for him there.  His clothes were there, his shoes, his golf clubs.  No messages. She looked for a note, a sign. Nothing but a cigarette, edge warm, in the ashtray.  They left, leaving all the lights on in case he wandered home, and they walked to the police department.


 “What shall we do?” she lamented to the large police man behind the tall desk.  “My husband is missing.”  “Lady” said the cop, “husbands disappear every day.”  He shook his head and went to count  the 650,000  traffic tickets that NYC police wrote every day.  Her shoulders were heavy as she left the red brick police department, walking down it’s steps with the guitar player on her heels.  The sat on the bench in front of the station, and she began to cry, long tears welling in her eyes and spilling down her face.  The guitar player put his wine stained purple and deep crushed velvet cape around her, and she leaned into his chestnut hair, his skin smelling of sandalwood, face smooth.  She slept there for 20 minutes, until the sound of a siren woke her.  She looked up at him, his face strong and lined, kind.  “We must find him.” She said to him.  “Yes, he said, we will.”  Together they went to her apartment, and she made him a cup of tea.


Oscar Wilde ­ The Picture of Dorian Gray


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall


She flew into a rage every time he entered the room.  His arms hanging low like a tree heavy with fruit, his torso long and narrow.  The day she met him she was 16 and thought he was the most handsome man alive. She was tiny, with ivory skin, violet eyes, hair black purple.  He was 22, home on leave from the Air Force. He was going to be a pilot.  I could be a pilot’s wife, she imagined, and wrote his name in hearts on her notebooks, imagining what their life would be like when they wed.  She was the Homecoming Queen, and the day after graduation she married him and moved with him to Lompoc, California, close to the base.  She didn’t know where Lompoc was, coming from the Midwest where the skies were big and blue and the trees green. She didn’t know that it was nestled away in the mountains, green and lush and close to the sea, a sleepy rancher’s town, dusty and simple. Every night she combed her hair in the mirror, 100 strokes just like when she was a child, the warm scent of olives trees in the air, until her hair shone dark and sleek, like a black chestnut.   She’d sit at her vanity table looking at herself, examining her skin for signs of aging, admiring the structure of her cheeks and nose, applying oils and creams to her fine lines, all the newest age defying sensations.  In the morning she’d sit and comb her hair over and over again, reapplying the lotions and creams she’d remove during her daily cleaning regimen.  Two hours of exercise and then she would shower.  She’d arrive at her job at the “Hi!Let’s Eat” diner just in time for the lunch crowd.  Every afternoon she’d return home, removing her brown and white uniform and soaking it in violet water, she’d shower and get ready for her husband’s return.   Some weeks he’d be away on a mission, or some sort of maneuvers. On those nights she’d prepare herself a nice tri-colored salad with balsamic vinegar, no oil.   On the nights he was home he liked meat and potatoes, stews from his childhood, foods that filled the halls with smells of cabbage or broccoli.  She only pretended to eat when she was with him.  He was growing older, and tired, and wanted a baby.  Secretly she took birth control pills.  No child will spoil my figure she thought, and became colder and colder and less interested in him or sex.  The wives from the base were cordial at best, but they were involved with having children, or food shopping, or cutting  coupons. Believing that nobody was of her caliber, not the rancher’s wives, or the women she worked with, she had very little friendships, and those she had she distanced herself from.    Some nights she’d have martinis waiting for him, using the sterling shaker and crystal glasses she received for her wedding.  They’d be chilling when he walked in the door, and she would be refreshed and beautiful for him, his trophy.  Many nights he wanted to eat dinner and watch television and go straight to bed.  When she was 30 she had a baby.  This to satisfy some urging deep within that she did not understand.  Every month her stomach grew larger, and she rubbed oils and creams into the stretched skin to prevent permanent markings.  She rarely ate.  Occasionally she would grow hungry, and the baby would kick until she felt faint and forced herself to eat some crackers or soup.   The girl baby was born crying and red and as her mother held her in her arms she looked at her with curiosity, thinking how could something this ugly ever survive? She passed the baby on  to her husband, and busied herself with thoughts of her flat stomach and thin arms.   When her husband retired from the military they left Lompoc to move to a town that was more suburbs than sleepy.  A place where his daughter and wife could meet friends.  He got a job with an airline, she joined the club, put her child in school, and continued on with her beauty regimens, always rubbing the oils and creams into her skin smelling of lavender and coconut.  Soon she noticed that lines were appearing on her face, small lines that crisscrossed in the corner of her eyes, and on her neck.  Every day she blamed her husband for causing her aging.  She began to spend more and more time in front of the mirror, often applying the creams and oils for hours on end, blending up and away from the skin, not to cause stretching. Her daughter learned to let herself into the house quietly after school, not disturbing the regimen.    Occasionally her mother would surface from her room, bringing with her a product or testers for her daughter to smell or try on.  Her daughter liked those days, and they would sit on her bed and giggle like teenagers and she could imagine that she was loved by this woman, her mother who barely knew her.   On other days her mother would sit at her vanity all day, until dinner would come and go and the light outside would turn pale then dark.  Some days when her father wasn’t home there was no dinner. 


When she was 50 she found that if she taped her skin back it resembled the skin of her youth. She’d spend hours securing it to the back of her neck, her skin stretched and taught.   Her disdain for her husband deepened, and she dreaded his footsteps in the hall or his body next to her in bed.  She imagined that he was distorted, his legs and hands appearing to grow and change shape until she could no longer look at him or touch him.   One day she went to the drugstore and found the exact scientific formula for aging. Every day she’d apply it, waiting for it recreate her youthful appearance.  She began to ingest a teaspoon every day, although it clearly wasn’t for consumption. She would wash it down with violet water, and wait while the discomfort rose up into her throat.  She could feel it working it’s magic on her lines, on her wrinkles, on her stomach hard and flat, and as the pain increased she could see her youth and life sparkle in front of her eyes.  She imagined that she was getting younger, some days thinking that she was in high school, and on those days she would grab her daughter up from the kitchen table and dance until she fell to the floor exhausted.  By nightfall she’d be asleep, weary from her travels back in time.  One night she took two teaspoonfuls, then another, then the whole bottle.  For weeks she was consuming large quantities of age defying miracle cream, often ending up on the floor to her dressing room, racked with pain she found pleasurable.  She went to sleep, feeling young and vibrant, dreaming she was in a parade, a beauty queen, her ladies and waiting around her.  She looked very beautiful when she died. Her hair tied up in a pink ribbon, her skin glistening and soft, her hands and nails youthful and polished.    At her viewing everyone commented “She looks so young.”  Her daughter sat quietly, examining her face in her compact, reapplying her lipstick, the perfect shade

of pink.


Aritsophanes, Lysistrata - Oral Presentation

Lisa Walsh-Miller

Intro to Literature


Biography - Aristophanes

Of all the writers of the “Old Comedy” only the work of one remains.  Aristophanes was the greatest comic writer of his day.  Little is known about his life, most of the known facts derived from references in his own plays.  Aristophanes was an Athenian citizen, born around the middle of the 5th century ­ in 445 B.C., or slightly earlier, to Athenian parents. He was part of the clan named Pandionis.  His father was Phillupus and his son was Araros. 
A reference in his play The Acharnians alludes that he had some connection with the Island of Aegina, and was probably living there at the time of that writing (around 425 B.C.)  Six years earlier this island, which lay close to Athens, had been seized by the Athenians; its inhabitants had been expelled and their land settled by Athenian colonist.  It is possible that his father had been among those who obtained land on the island, and that the young poet, in his teens, had accompanied the family to their new home.   He  lived probably until the age of 76. 


In Plato’s Symposium there is an account of a drinking party at which Aristophanes was present and actually made a speech.  The Symposium was written in the eighties of the 4th century.  The occasion described was supposed to have taken place in 416 B.C., when Plato was 11 years old.  Aristophanes was portrayed as a well-liked and convivial person, who ‘divides his time’, as Socrates remarks, ‘between Aphrodite and Dionysus’.  He appears to be on good terms with his host and the other guests, including Socrates.  The play goes on and at the end Aristophanes and Socrates are still hard at it, a bowl of wine in front of them.


Aristophanes made social as well as political use of his wit, and was about 18 years old when he wrote his first comedy,  The Banqueters, which  was produced in 427, while he was a student. His last surviving play, Plutus, was staged in 388 B.C.  He is assumed to have died between 386 & 380 B.C.  It is believed that he wrote approximately 54 plays.  His three sons, Philippus, Araros, and Nicostratus, were all poets of the ‘Middle Comedy’.  .  He won seven awards, 3-first place for Acharnians, Knights, and Frogs, 3 second place awards for Peach, Wasps, and Birds, and one 3rd place award for Clouds.

He is believed to have been a good friend of Plato, and was a well known figure in the Athens of the nineties and early eighties. 

“The eleven surviving comedies of Aristophanes are the only complete text available to us of what is known of the ‘Old’ Attic comedy, as opposed the ‘New’ style of comedy which replace it some time in the 4th century.  “The last two plays of Aristophanes ­ the Ekklesiazousai, and the Ploutos ­ have often raised questions as their author’s intellectual and artistic abilities…they can hardly be considered as inferior.”











Women at the Thesmophoria


Women at the Ecclesia




Home and War and Politics


When Aristophanes began to write his comedies, democracy in Athens was on the decline.  The Peloponnesian War was taking a toll on the people, and their ruler Pericles had been replaced by the unscrupulous Cleon and Hyperbolus.    Aristophane’s first two plays have been lost, and his first surviving play, The Acharnians, was written in the 6th year of the war, and is the world’s first anti-war comedy.  It was inspired by the suffering of the rural population of Attica, the area surrounding Athens which was exposed to continual invasions.  In his next play Aristophanes wrote of Cleon, the demagogue who succeeded Pericles.  “However, the dictator’s power was so great that no actor dared impersonate him, and legend has it that the poet played the role himself, his face smeared with wine dregs in mockery of Cleon’s bloated and alcoholic countenance.”  He also used cultural figures to mimic, such as Socrates in The Clouds.  Another favorite theme is the deterioration of Athens.  The Wasps was a satire of an overzealous legal system.  Another favorite target is the tragic poet Euripides.  Satirized in The Achanians, he was to become the subject of two more plays: Thesmophoriazusae, and The Frogs.  In the Lysistrata Aristophanes would return to his political theme of pacifism.  Written 21 years into the Peloponnesian War, the play, although light-hearted, was written out of the poets grief over the thousands of Athenians who had recently lost their lives in the terrible war.  After Lysistrata, Aristotle gives up on politics.   It would be 19 years before he would again devote an entire play to a political issue, and by that time it was too dangerous to launch an attack on state policies.    Athens had been crushed by the Spartans, and it was during this time that Socrates was put to death.  Ecclesiazusa (Women in Parliament) and Plutus are far less direct than the poets earlier work.   However, three years after the production of Plutus, the comic poet passed away, leaving behind approximately 40 plays ­ 11 which have survived. 


Aristophane’s contemporaries thought highly of his plays and he was awarded many prizes.  His success was due to his “fresh and charming meters and lyrics”.  Although Aristophanes was intellectual and imaginative he often lacked humor and emotion.  He was a political conservative who often felt himself in opposition to the government.  He held a strong mistrust for social, religious, literary, and musical innovations.


“Then there is the war lampooned by Arsitophanes.  His thoughtful clowns are brothers in the flesh to the Achaean soldiers encamped below Troy and fighting against dew and vermin. But in comedy it becomes possible for the sufferers to change into scoffers. To turn back death with a flick of the wrist and laugh him off the scene.  Aristophanes achieves this by domesticating war, in the place of swords and helmets and breastplates, the paraphernalia of a heroic delusion, the comic heroes use cooking utensils to make battle.  Thus war becomes both manageable and funny.  Yet it’s horrors continues to be felt, for the domestication remains a device, open for all to see.”

To read Aristophanes is in some sort like reading an Athenian comic paper.  All the life of Athens is there: the politics of the day and the politicians, the war party and the anti-war party; pascifism, votes for women, free trade, fiscal reform, complaining taxpayers, educational theories, the current religious and literary talk ­ everything in short that interested the average citizen.” 



Old Comedy/ Dramatic Structure


The eleven surviving comedies of Aristophanes are the only complete specimens available to us of what is known as Old Attic Comedy, as opposed to the New style of comedy which replace it some time in the 4th century B.C.  The New Comedy, which emphasized plot and construction and stock situations and type-characters, that set the pattern for The Roman playwrights, Plautus and Terence and, through them for the modern European comedy of intrigue right down to fairly recent times.  To Aristotle, who had strong ideas of breeding and gentlemanly behavior, the Old Comedy seemed rough and vulgar.   By the time that Aristophanes began to write comedy it was already an established form.  Contests in comedy had become a staple at the Great Dionysian Festival at Athens for at least sixty years.  The genre seems to have derived over a long period of time, from the primitive komos, or ritual revel.  Due to the competitiveness of the form, it could have led to Aristophanes being more daring in his innovations than most of his contemporaries and predecessors.  Based on his later plays, some scholars believe that he was actually the originator of  New Comedy.  


The traditional elements of Old Comedy (or the core) consists of:
Parados ­ the entry of the Chorus. The Chorus presents itself in the character chosen for it by the poet and performs a series of songs and dances in which it retains its character.

Agon ­ contest. The agon by Aristotle usually takes the form of a debate of dispute, culminating in the defeat of one of the parites.

Parabasis ­ address by the Chorus to the audience ­ The Chorus wholly or partly abandons its assumed character and addresses the audience directly, speaking as the mouthpiece of the author. 


These particular scenes have certain recognizable characteristics, including the regular occurrences of passages in long metres interspersed with shorter lyrics, and a symmetrical structure in which the number of lines in one metrical passage is exactly reproduced in another.  


The historical origins of tragedy and comedy are often sought in Greek religious ritual.  There are several elements in Old Comedy that make a good case for the development of 5th Century Athenian Comedy out of Dyonysiac rites.  Komos is communal ritual carouse: an ancient equivalent of party-crashing and bar-hopping all rolled into one, but as part of a communal festival of Dionysus it recalls modern carnivals such as that or Mardi Gras (although the ancient rites were usually more carefully scripted and ordered) ­ a time when normal social rules and inhibitions are cast aside and people party in the streets, singing, dancing, and drinking.  The ancient komos often involved masks and costumes, but was marked by another practice foreign to most festivals in modern North America: aischrologia or the ritual abuse of individuals.  Another distinctive feature, found in many Dionysiac rites and no doubt in some komoi, was the phallus: an imitation penis, often too large for one person to lift with ease, carried on a pole or cart.  These rites tend to occur in spring, or mid to late winter, and although they may have served a number of psychological, social or political ends, their main function was to promote fertility by honoring the gods through a boisterous display of health, prosperity, and virility.  Many of these elements make up the essential core of Old Comedy.  The actors wore costumes, grotesque masks, and (in the case of male characters) a large leather phallus.  The latter could at times serve as a useful prop (as in Lysistrata)

While the size and appearance of the Phallus may have told the audience something about a particular character, its casual presence is best explained as a hold-over from an earlier form of comedy more directly tied to the komos. 


The Chorus of Comedy often appears dressed as animals, insects or in some other non-human guise.  Like Dionysiac ritual, Old Comedy is filled with vitality: it abounds in reference to food, drink, sex and frequently finishes with a “triumphant revel” ­ often celebrating marriage.  It generally celebrates the life of the countryside, and frequently incorporates the rites of Dionysus into the plot of the play. 

Comedy often seems to require 4 characters, not three as in the tragedies. The chorus is larger than in tragic plays (24 as compared to the 12-15 in tragedies) and they often dress elaborately.  The language and meter of comedy are less formal than those of tragedy and much closer to actual speech. 


Aristophane’s comedy went side by side with tragedy: 3 actors, a chorus divided the action by song and dance; halfway through the plot came close to an end, the chorus made a long address to the audience, and aired the authors opinions and often had nothing to do with the plays 



The dramatic performances at the Great Dionysian Festival took place in the Theatre of Dionysus, on the rocky southern slope of Acropolis….approachable to it from steps.”

As far as his audiences go, it’s not known whether women were allowed to attend the performances.  It seems that the bulk of the audience consisted of male Athenian citizens, drawn from all classes, but perhaps more towards middle and upper class. 


 “It is well known that fifth-century Attic comedy was a profoundly public art.  Like other expenses mandated by the city in its own interests, it was paid for through taxation (as were, for example, warships), while it was produced and acted by citizens as part of their civic responsibilities or privileges.  The resulting plays were staged in comic competitions that were but one part of much larger festivals; for our Clouds, this was the City (or Great) Dionysia, a celebration whose events and ceremonies were dedicated to expressing (and reinforcing) Athenian ideology, while at the same time displaying the democratic city’s power and prestige.  The participants in this festival and the audience for comedy were the Athenian Citizens.  Gathered in the theater in “civic assembly,” they were the same group, seated in similar order, as that which elsewhere voted the political and legal decision of the city.  Thus political (and judicial) rhetoric and theatrical discourse would have influenced each other reciprocally, the audience for each conditioned by its experience of the other. Likewise, the tasks of a comedian were, in on sense, those of any other speaker: he had to further his own (and the public) good by winning over his listeners, who, in judging his logos, or speech, to be best, would render him victorious over his rivals.

Thus the audience, context, and requirements of the comic contest paralleled other public, political institutions in which speech played a decisive role in the democracy, while the spectators reproduced their civic duties in performing their theatrical ones.  Comedy itself, moreover, could legitimately be expected to address subjects as topical, difficult, and profound as any raised in assembly, court, or even tragedy (yet another form of speech before the same audience), but in the comic mode. For its spectators brought to each individual comedy all that they had learned not only outside the theater but inside it as well.  They came to the comic competition prepared to enjoy further productions in a recognized and conventional genre.  The comic play was set apart by distinctive costumes, character types, staging, meters, and time or performance.  Generic norms shaped its form and established its creative tools: the use of farce and wit, stereotypical character and situations, slapstick, wild dancing, obscenity, insult, puns, and sophisticated allusions to mock a wide variety of political, social, and theatrical butts.”


Aristophanes plays have been frequently produced on the 20th century stage in many translations.  As far as plot construction his plays are loosely put together, full of strangely inconsequential episodes, and often degenerate at their end into a series of disconnected and boisterous episodes.  His strengths are in dialogue, his satire, and parody, in his ingenuity and inventiveness, and his comic scenes filled with fantasy. 


Lysistrata is one of the most widely produced Greek comedies ever performed.   The play reflects the disgust with war prevalent at Athens after she had suffered the loss of the whole fleet and just about the whole army which had been sent to Sicily (413 B.C.). In addition, many of the members of the Athenian Empire had begun to revolt.   It’s plot focuses on the themes of sex, and pacifism.  The plot centers around the women of Athens and their plan to withhold sex so that the men stop fighting.     This is a very basic story of the battle of the sexes, which is set forth by the use of two choruses, the male and female choruses.    Aristophanes uses sexual innuendos and coarse language, which was a traditional ingredient of Old Comedy.  The use of two choruses represent the male and female point of view, and work to keep the sexual tension flowing throughout the play.


Leader of the Chorus of Women: Let us set down our water-pots on the ground, to be out of the way, if they should dare to offer us violence.


Leader of the Chorus of Old Men: Let someone knock out two or three teeth for them, as they did to Bupalus; they won't talk so loud then.


Leader of the Chorus of Women: Come on then; I wait you with unflinching foot, and no other bitch will ever grab your balls.


Leader of the Chorus of Old Men: Silence! or my stick will cut short your days.


Leader of the Chorus of Women: Now, just you dare to touch Stratyllis with the tip of your finger!


Leader of the Chorus of Old Men: And if I batter you to pieces with my fists, what will you do?


Leader of the Chorus of Women: I will tear out your lungs and entrails with my teeth.




Aristophane’s uses the images of domestic life to set the tone of his characters and describe the traditional Athenian household.  These symbols reiterate the ridiculousness of the play, constantly emphasizing the fact that women were household servants in the era when this was written, but held great power through their sexuality.    “Lay aside your water-pots, we will guard them, we will help our friends and companions.”  “Nor will we see ‘em mixed up with saucepans and kitchen stuff, armed to the teeth, looking like wild Corybantes.”  Lysistrata uses an analogy about weaving to explain how she would bring all the factions together to end the war.  “when we are winding thread, and it is tangled, we pass the spool across and through the skein, now this way, not that way; even so, to finish off the war, we shall send embassies hither and thither and everywhere, to disentangle matters.”








Classical Period (500-336 BC) ­ The Classical period of ancient Greek history, is fixed between about 500 B. C., when the Greeks began to come into conflict with the kingdom of Persia to the east, and the death of the Macedonian king and conqueror Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. In this period Athens reached its greatest political and cultural heights: the full development of the democratic system of government under the Athenian statesman Pericles; the building of the Parthenon on the Acropolis; the creation of the tragedies of Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides; and the founding of the philosophical schools of Socrates and Plato.  A large part of Aristotle’s work is concerned with the social, literary and philosophical life of Athens itself and with themes provoked by the Peloponnesian War.  The war was a conflict between imperialist Athens and conservative Sparta and was the dominant issue in Athenian politics.  Aristophanes was an opponent of the statesmen who controlled the government of Athens throughout the better part of his maturity. 



When the early Greek invaders conquered their way into the peninsula, the area was heavily wooded and the soil was rich.  There was plenty of game in the area, and the “heroic” Greeks ate a great deal of meat.  By Platos’ time, meat was a scarce commodity. The Athenians did two things to destroy the physical environment around them. First they cut down most of the trees in order to build ships.  The second thing they did was plant the countryside in two cash crops, olives and grapes.  Greek economy was then based on the export of olive oil and wine and the import of grains, spices and other foods.  What the Athenians exported was worth more than what they imported, so they became very rich.  But when the war came they were in real trouble because the basis of their diet was wheat and barley, and they imported nearly all they used. 

The Greek diet was very plain, they ate a kind of grain-paste, olives, figs, and goat cheese, sometimes a fish filled out the meal.   They drank water, unless they were upper class.  The banquets probably didn’t consist of much.  They ate quickly and without much concern for details ­ often standing, always using their fingers to dip into a common bowl of grain-paste.  Once the eating was done they got down to drinking and talking.   The rise of commerce meant that Athens supported a growing commercial class, people who neither raised grain nor sailed ships not minded goats.  They were like modern bankers, middle men who, for profit, manipulated various kinds of currency. 


The climate of Greece is what meteorologists call "Mediterranean," meaning intermittent heavy rain during a few winter months and hot, dry summers. Snow falls on the upper ranges of the mountains in Greece, but most Greek communities received little snow. Winters could be cold and blustery, however. Since the amount of annual precipitation was highly variable, farming was a precarious business of boom and bust, with drought and flood both to be feared. Like the modern residents of southern California, however, whose climate is also "Mediterranean," the Greeks thought their climate the world's best despite its hazards. "The Greeks occupy a middle position [between hot and cold climates] and correspondingly enjoy both energy and intelligence," said Aristotle, who believed climate controlled a people's political destiny. "For this reason they retain their freedom and have the best of political institutions.”


“About the citizen population, we said before what is its proper limit of numbers. Let us now speak of what ought to be the citizens' natural character. Now this one might almost discern by looking at the famous cities of Greece and by observing how the whole inhabited world is divided up among the nations. The nations inhabiting the cold places and those of Europe are full of spirit but somewhat deficient in intelligence and skill, so that they continue comparatively free, but lacking in political organization and capacity to rule their neighbors. The peoples of Asia on the other hand are intelligent and skillful in temperament, but lack spirit, so that they are in continuous subjection and slavery. But the Greek race participates in both characters, just as it occupies the middle position geographically, for it is both spirited and intelligent; hence it continues to be free and to have very good political institutions, and to be capable of ruling all mankind if it attains constitutional unity. The same diversity also exists among the Greek races compared with one another: some have a one-sided nature, others are happily blended in regard to both these capacities. It is clear therefore that people that are to be easily guided to virtue by the lawgiver must be both intellectual and spirited in their nature. For as to what is said by certain persons about the character that should belong to their Guardians --they should be affectionate to their friends but fierce towards strangers--it is spirit that causes affectionateness, for spirit is the capacity of the soul whereby we love.” Aristotle, Volume 21




Works Cited

Aristophanes. 23 Jan. 2001 <http://imagi‑>.

Aristophanes. Ohio State. 23 Jan. 2001 <http://www.history.ohio‑>.

Aristophanes ‑‑ 23 Jan. 2001 <,5716,117656+2+109588,00.html>.

Aristophanes. Lysistrata. 1962. Trans. Jack Lindsay. The Complete Plays of Aristophanes. New York: Bantam Books, 1988. 287.

Aristophanes. Wasps, The Poet, and the Women. Wasps, The Poet, and the Women. Trans. David Barrett. London: Penguin Group, 1964. 11,14,15,22.

The Classic Text: Aristophanes. University of Wisconsin ‑‑ Milwaukee. 23 Jan. 2001 <>.

David, E. Introduction. Aristophanes and Ahtenian Society of the Early Fourth Century B.C. By David. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1984. 1,2,3,5.

Morley, Henry. Introduction. Aristophanes, A Metrical Version of The Arhanians, The Knights, and The Birds. By John Hookham Frere. 2nd ed. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1887. 5,6.

Porter, John. Aristophanes and Greek Old Tragedy. University of Saskatchewan. 23 Jan. 2001 <>.

Aristotle, Poetics - Oral Presentation 

Lisa Walsh-Miller

Intro to Literature



Aristotle (384-322 BC)

 “In Athens, nearly 2,500 years ago, one man set out to be the master of all reality. Aristotle surveyed what the men of his time had thought and questioned; he invented new instruments and modes of inquiry; and he devoted his life to codifying and rationalizing what was then the sum of human knowledge.”(The Pocket Aristotle, p. ix)



Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, logician and scientist.   Along with Plato he was the most influential philosopher of the western tradition.   He was an astronomer, biologist, physiologist, psychologist, historian.    “In his attempt to relate the individual to the state, and education to law, he became an ethical theorist of prime importance.  He was a literary and dramatic critic of rare insight and extraordinary influence.  And underlying all these achievements was this: he was a logician of subtlety and strength, and searcher after the knowledge that transcends and exists independent of all other knowledge.”(The Pocket Aristotle)


Aristotle was born in Stageira in Chalcidice in Northern Greece. His father, Nicomachus, was a doctor at the Macedonian court and whose patient was Amyntas, King of Macedonia.  His father died when Aristotle was young, and he was raised by his uncle Proxenus, who had strong connections with the Macedonia Court.    He was born into a rich and learned family, and probably received the sort of literary and gymnastic training which was normal for a well born Greek.   In 367, at the age of 17 went to Athens to study at Plato’s Academy.  Rhetoric interested Aristotle and he wrote a dialogue, the Gryllus, on the subject, in which he attacked the view of Isocrates, a leading orator of the day.  One of Isocrate’s students wrote a long counterattack of Aristotle, the first of many polemics to be directed against him.  The Poetics, sketched his famous account of the nature of tragedy. He stayed at the Academy for 20 years until Plato’s death and became Plato’s most famous student.  That year in 347 Philip of Macedon attacked Stagira.  Nearly 40, his teacher dead, and his homeland destroyed, Aristotle and a few friends sailed across the Aegean and settled at Atarneus, a town his family had ties in.  He then went to Asso at the invitation of Hermias, the ruler of Atarneus, a good friend of philosophy and the Academy, and of Macedonia.  They stayed there 2-3 years.    Aristotle married Hermias’ neice Pythias in 345 and had one child by her, Pythias.  He later had a a son Nicomachus,by another woman, Herpyllus, for whom he wrote the Nicomachean Ethics.   When Hermias was put to death in 341, Aristotle went to Mytilene on the Island of Lesbos.  There he met Theophrastus, who became his greatest associate and pupil.  Shortly after he returned to his native city of Stagira, where he remained until he answered Philip’s royal summons. Philip’ son, Alexander the Great was his most famous pupil.


In 335 Aristotle returned to Athens where he founded the Lyceum.  The Lyceum wasn’t a private college, but a sanctuary and a gymnasium, like a public leisure centre.   He was forced to flee Athens in 322 due to his Macedonian connections.   He was afraid that the Athenians were going to “commit a second crime against philosophy’ by executing him like they did Sophacles, so he moved to Chalcis.  Aristotle died at his mother’s family estate in Chalcis, on the island of Euboea at the age of 62



After Aristotle died, his friend and pupil Theophrastus took over, and the lyceum remained a focus of scientific and philosophical study.  In the thirds century BC other schools of thought, the Stoics, the Epicureans, the Sceptics, dominated the philosophical stage.  But from the 1st to the sixth century AD, a sequence of scholarly commentators preserved his writing and revived his thought. 


“Of Aristotle’s character and personality little is known.  He came from a rich family. He was a bit of a dandy, wearing rings on his fingers and cutting his hair fashionably short. He suffered from poor digestion, and is said to have been spindle-shanked.  He was a good speaker, lucid in his lectures, persuasive in conversation; and he had a mordant wit. His enemies, who were numerous, made him out to be arrogant and overbearing.  His will, which has survived, is a generous and thoughtful document. His philosophical writings are largely impersonal; but they suggest that he prized both friendship and self-sufficiency, and that, while conscious of his place in an honorable tradition, he was properly proud of his own attainments.  As a man, he was, I suspect, admirable rather than amiable.”


Aristotle was a public figure, although never a politician.  He spent 13 years teaching regularly at the Lyceum.  He lectured to his chosen pupils in the mornings and to the public in the evenings. Many of his works are thought to be lecture notes from these sessions.  He combined research and lecture and he worked with various friends and colleagues on his scientific and philosophical enterprises.


War as Home

During Aristotle’s lifetime Macedonia (under the rule of Philip LL and then his son, Alexander the Great) expanded its power and came to dominate the Greek world, depriving the small city/states of their liberty and independence.  When Alexander died in June of 323, the Athenians rejoiced and anti-Macedonian feelings became strong and violent. 


Ancient Greek Timeline

Looking at the timeline, it’s easy to see that the Political climate during Aristotle’s time was very pervasive:


359 BC Philip II becomes the king of Macedon.

357-356 BC Social War- between Macedon and Athens.

356 BC Alexander the Great, son of Philip II, is born. The temple of Delphi is destroyed in the Sacred War.

338 BC King Philip II defeats Athenians and Thebans.

336 BC King Philip II is assassinated, and Alexander the Great takes throne.

332 BC Alexander the Great of Macedonia defeats Persians at Issus in 333 BC

and is given Egypt by the Persian Satrap. He builds a capital at Alexandria.





Aristotle’s years of travel, between 347 & 335 are where the major part of the work on which his scientific reputation rests.    His texts are very rough and complex, often coming from research and lecture notes.

A catalogue of Aristotle’s writings lists 150 items, divided into 550 books, approximately 6,000 pages.   Aristotle’s works were inherited by Theophrastus, and then Theophrastus’ nephew Nelues inherited them, but due to the political climate hid them away in a cave and were rediscovered two centuries later in very bad condition.  Approximately 30 writings survived and were edited by the roman peripatetic philosopher Andronicus.

Although his historical researches are impressive, they are nothing compared to his work in the natural sciences.  He made and collected observations in astronomy, meteorology, chemistry, physics, psychology; but his fame as a research scientist rest primarily on his work in zoology and biology. 

His works consist of mainly lecture notes written for either himself or members of his circle.  

Aristotle combined teaching and research, and he worked with various friends and colleagues in his scientific and philosophical research. 


Aristotle relied on tradition, or the use of past discoveries and was highly conscious of his own position at the end of a long line of thinkers.  He had a strong sense of intellectual history and of his own place in it.  “He insists on the value of  ‘reputable opinion’.  Something believed by all or most men ­ at any rate by all or most clever men ­ is reputable and must, he thinks, have something to be said for it.  …” p16 Aristotle Jonathan Barnes.

Secondly, Aristotle had a clear idea of the importance of tradition in the growth of knowledge.


Although Aristotle criticized Plato views, he had a profound love for Plato.  He was influenced greatly by Plato.  He shared in Plato’s vision of a unified theory of science. He was a logician like Plato, and invented the discipline of formal logic.  He rejected Plato’s theory of Ideas or Forms, the ultimate realities are abstract universals.   But spent much of his philosophical activity in developing an alternative ontology.  Aristotle inherited Plato’s thought of scientific knowledge as a search for the caused or explanations of things.  They both tie knowledge to explanation. 


Aristotle divided knowledge into three major classes: all thought is either practical or productive or theoretical.  The Rhetoric and the Poetics are his only surviving exercised in the area of productive knowledge.  The Ethics and the Politics are Aristotle’s chief contributions to the practical sciences.   He was a profoundly systematic thinker, and an industrious collector who collected a huge quantity of detailed information on a vast variety of topics.  He was also an abstract thinker, whose philosophical ideas ranged wide.    His scientific work and his philosophical investigations together formed a unified intellectual outlook.  

Aristotle felt that Society and the State are not artificial trappings imposed upon natural man: they are manifestations of human nature itself.  The Greek city-states whose histories formed the factual background to Aristotle’s political theory were of small proportions. They were frequently torn by faction, and their independence was ultimately destroyed by the advance of Macedonian power.  Aristotle was familiar with the evils of faction and he was intimate with the Macedonian court but he never lost his conviction that the small city-state was the right ­ the natural form of civil society. 



Aristotle developed his own terminology, invented grammatical forms, and a system of classification in the formulations of his own theories that were different than Plato’s.

He invented and created the classical logic.  A central theme in his philosophy is metaphysics.  In his practical philosophy ethics and philosophy of politics are the main themes. He also wrote about and was concerned with epistemology, physics, biology, meteorology, dynamics, mathematics, psychology, rhetoric, dialectic and aesthetics.



Aristotle’s Poetics

The Poetics is short, and it survives only in a curtailed form.  It contains an interesting essay on language and linguistics, which may be supplemented by the treatment of style in Book III of the Rhetoric.  Aristotle viewed the Poetics not as a literary theory, but as a contribution to ‘productive’ science, not how to judge a work of art but how to produce one.  He felt that art imitates or represents human life, and human actions.  Much of the poetics is devoted to tragedy.

“Aristotle analyzed tragedy. His definition of tragedy:  Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.”


Aristotle identified six basic elements of tragedy:

Plot, character, language, thought, spectacle, song ­ with plot being the most important.


 “his definition hardly fits the great tragedies of Shakespeare, not to mention the works of modern playwrights…He was telling his contemporaries, who worked within the conventions of the Greek state how to write a play.  His advice is based upon a mass of empirical research in to the history of Greek drama. 


The poetics is a brief, incomplete work., with the second book lost, and the one surviving dealing quite fully with tragedy but only slightly with the epic and hardly at all with comedy and other forms.  Yet is has a huge influence on dramatic theory and practice and on theories of the fine arts in general.  It’s ideas have been argued for centuries and have become basic tools of criticism. 


Aristotle’s concepts and opinions influenced drama in the Western World:

A.     Tragedies should not be episodic.  That is the episodes in the plot must have a clearly probably or inevitable connection with each other. This connection is best when it is believable but unexpected.

B.      Complex plots are better than simple plots.  They have recognitions and reversals.  A recognition is a change from ignorance to knowledge, especially when the new knowledge identifies some unknown relative or dear one whom the hero should cherish but was about to harm or has just harmed.  “recognition” is now commonly applied to any self-knowledge the hero gains as well as to insight to the whole nature or condition of mankind, provided that that knowledge is associated, as Aristotle said it should be, with the hero’s reversal of fortune.  A reversal is a change of a situation to its opposite. Consider Oedipus at the beginning and end of Oedipus the King. Also consider in that play how a man comes to free Oedipus of his fear about his mother, but actually does the opposite.  Recognitions are also supposed to be clearly connected with all the rest of the action of the plot.

C.      Suffering (some painful action) is also to be included in a tragic plot which, preferably, should end unhappily.

D.      The pity and fear which a tragedy evokes, should come from the events, the action, not from the mere sight of something on stage.

E.       Catharsis of pity and fear was apart of Aristotle’s definition of tragedy.




Works Cited

Aristotle on Tragedy ‑ Planet Papers. 28 Jan. 2001 <>.

Barnes, Jonathan. “The Arts.” Aristotle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986. 83‑85,89.

Barker, Ernest. Introduction. The Politics of Aristotle. By Barker. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962. 11‑12. Things to Know about Greece. 2 Feb. 2001 <>.

Greek Chronology. 2 Feb. 2001 <>.

Humanities Handbook/Aristotle on Tragedy. 28 Jan. 2001 <>.

Humanities Handbook/Greek Life: Some Details. 28 Jan. 2001 <>.

Kaplan, Justin D. “The Poetics.” The Pocket Aristotle. By Aristotle. Ed. W.D. Ross. Trans. Ingram Bywater. 2nd ed. New York: Washington Square Press, 1965. 16‑17, 340‑378.

A Slice of Philosophy: Aristotle (384‑322 BC). 28 Jan. 2001 <http://home1.stofane.../Aristotle.htm:The%20Complete%20Works%20o>.



 The Snows of Killamanjaro


The Snows of Kilimanjaro, a short story by Ernest Hemingway, is a brilliant study of a man’s final hours precluding death.  The story centers around Harry and his wife, waiting for a plane to come and take him to a doctor or hospital.  Thus begins a stream of passages that takes the reader along with Harry while he drifts in and out of consciousness, moving from one life to the next.  The obvious theme is death and dying, but the home theme is Harry’s return to his past, and his journey to the present. 


Hemingway uses animal imagery in the story to reflect the dying theme, and to show two distinct sides of Harry, and his passing from life to death .  The story opens with Harry discussing his dying leg and the smell that the infection or gangrene creates. He reflects on the three big birds (vultures) waiting in the horizon  “Look at them,” he said.  “now is it sight or is it scent that brings them like that?”  His use of adjectives to describe the birds and their waiting for him to die projects a feeling of death, and sets the tone for the story, using words such as “obscene” and “shadow”  and “sail” to correlate the emergence of the birds with the ascent of death.   “…as he looked out past the shade onto the glare of the plane there were three of the big birds squatted obscenely, while in the sky a dozen more sailed, making quick moving shadows as they passed.”  

His introduction of various animals that are typically associated with death and dying into the story at intervals replicate the passing phases of the death process.  “They’ve been there since the looked out past the shade onto the glare of the plane there were three of the big birds squatted obscenely, while in the sky a dozen more sailed, making quick moving shadows as they passed.”  

His introduction of various animals that are typically associated with death and dying into the story at intervals replicate the passing phases of the death process.  “They’ve been there since the day the truck broke down. Today’s the first time any have lit on the ground.”   He then changes direction, as he accepts the dying phases, when he describes the zebra, “white against the green of bush. The was a pleasant camp under big trees against a hill, with good water, and close by, a nearly dry water hole where sand grouse flighted in the mornings.”   In this passage he has become the other side of Harry, the side that is reflecting his passing life.  When his wife goes off to kill a piece of meat for dinner, it causes him to think about their life together, a looking back at this present/past that he is just now living.  His life with her was a contradiction between lying and love, as are his dying thoughts, and you can see his struggle.  “Now if this was how it ended, and he knew it was, he must not turn like some snake biting itself because its back was broken.  It wasn’t this woman’s fault.  If it had not been she it would have been another. If he lived by a lie he should try to die by it.”   Again to describe the creeping of death the hyena enters: “While it grew dark they drank and just before it was dark and there was no longer enough light to shoot, a hyena crossed the open on his way around the hill.”


Hemingway has a lyrical and musical voice.   His shifting from one phase of life to another is represented in the change of meter and style.   In the passages where Harry is awake, the writing style is simple and concise.  His musings are matter of fact, and concrete, always looking at the past, and bringing it to the present.  He talks about this woman, and that woman, but always returning to this woman, his present wife  “So, he said to himself, we did well to stop the quarrelling.  He had never quarreled much with this woman, , while with the woman that he loved he had quarreled so much they had finally, always, with the corrosion of the quarrelling, killed what they had together.  He had loved too much, demanded too much, and he wore it all out.”  When Harry drifts out of consciousness the style changes. It becomes more melodious and romantic.  His use of language becomes more poetic and less direct, bringing forth an inner voice, that mitigates his spirituality or his manifestation into the next realm.  “He thought about alone in Constantinople that time, having quarreled in Paris before he had gone out..  He had whored the whole time and then, when that was over, and he had failed to kill his loneliness, but only made it worse, he had written her, the first one, the one who left him, a letter telling her how he had never been able to kill it…How when he thought he saw her outside the Regence one time it made him go all faint and sick inside..”  During his semi conscious state Hemingway writes with a descriptive style, using detail to set the tone of a dream like state,  and to bring the reader into Harry’s past, Harry remembering minute details in his last moments: There was log house, chinked white with mortar, on a hill above the lake.  There was a bell on a pole by the door to call the people in to meals. Behind the house were fields and behind the fields was the timber.  A line of Lombardy poplars ran from the house to the dock.”   Hemingway changes pace towards the end of the story, when Harry’s lucid moments and dream state merge.  Here death is imminent, and it begins to take a human form.  The use of alliteration is strong in this portion of the story, and is used to create a shift from one stage of death to the next.   “Because, just then, death had come and rested its head on the foot of the cot and he could smell its breath.”

His use of symbols such as light and dark helps to depict his passing from one life to the next showing the beauty that Harry experienced at death, as well as the transition from life to death: “..and looking down he saw a pink sifting cloud, moving over the ground, and in the air, like the first snow in a blizzard, that comes from nowhere. Then they began to climb and they were going to the East it seemed, and then it darkened and they were in a storm, the rain so thick it seemed like flying through a waterfall, and then they were out..” 


The Snows of Kilimanjaro is a powerful story, beautifully written, chronicling one mans journey from life to death.  It’s a step by step process, with each step brilliantly depicted in a small passing of time.  “It moved up closer to him still and now he could not speak to it, and when it saw he could not speak it came a little closer, and now he tried to send it away without speaking, but it moved in on him so its weight was all upon his chest, and while it crouched there he could not move, or speak..”  At the end of the story the animal emerges again, this time serving as the call to Harry’s death.  “Just then the hyena stopped whimpering in the night and started to make a strange, human, almost crying sound. The woman heard it and stirred uneasily.”  


T.S. Elliott ­ The Family Reunion


T.S. Elliott’s “The Family Reunion” is a play about the return to home, and the looking back at ghosts of the past.   The play starts with Harry returning to his boyhood home for his mother’s birthday.  The plot centers around Harry’s return, the mystery surrounding his wife’s death, and his family’s desire to have Harry take over the role as head of the household.  It’s an anticipated return, one that they all have been waiting for.  There are concurrent plots threading through the work, such as the mystery involving his own father’s death and disappearance, Harry’s schizophrenia and Mary’s return to the family as well as her inability to leave.   


In Scene II of “The Family Reunion”, Mary and Harry meet in the drawing room, waiting for the family dinner (reunion) to begin.  Mary & Harry are second cousins, both growing up in Wishwood.  Harry has returned after an absence of eight years, and mysterious death of his wife at sea.  There’s a recurring thread of “waiting” that runs through the play: waiting for Harry’s return, waiting for dinner to begin, waiting for Harry’s brothers to appear, waiting for the other guests.  In waiting for Harry’s return to Wishwood, everything in the house has been kept the way it was when he left.  “I had only just noticed that this room is quite unchanged: The same hangings…the same pictures…even the table, the chairs, the sofa…all in the same positions.  I was looking to see if anything was changed, but if it is so, I can’t find it.”  The unchanged room symbolizes the Harry of his youth, and the person that Harry is hoping to find when he returns. It also symbolizes his family’s inability to accept the fact that Harry has moved on. Their longing to keep life the same.   In this scene Mary and Agatha have been waiting for Harry to appear for dinner.  Agatha exits and Mary alone says, “Waiting, waiting, always waiting, I think this house means to keep us waiting.”


Harry, returning from Wishwood after eight years discusses his longing to return back to his childhood home.  (The home theme this semester.)  His return to Wishwood is actually his need to make peace with his past, his loss of his father and the confines of his childhood.   By returning to Wishwood he also is looking to escape his recent past, and his inability to live in the present.  “But I thought I might escape from one life to another, and it may be all one life, with no escape.”   He speaks about returning home for the school holidays as a young man and escaping the family gatherings to go down to the river, their only place of freedom.  “I made my escape as soon as I could, and slipped down to the river to find the old hiding place.”


T.S.Elliott has a poetic and descriptive voice.  He uses the metaphors of nature and the senses to describe Harry & Mary’s constricted and contrived upbringing at Wishwood.   They describe the hollow tree in the wilderness as their place of escape.  “It’s absurd that one’s only memory of freedom should be a hollow tree in a wood by the river.”   In a speech between Mary and Harry, he describes his lost hope  “Where the dead stone is seen to batrachian, the aphyllous branch of ophidian.”  Mary tells Harry that  “You bring your own landscape, no more real than the other. And in a way you contradict yourself.”  “You deceive yourself like the man who believes that he is blind while he still sees the sunlight.”  Harry rebukes her by saying “You have staid in England, yet you seem like someone who comes from a very long distance, or the distant waterfall in the forest, inaccessible, half-heard.  And I hear your voice as in silence between two storms, one hears the moderate usual noises in the grass and leaves, of life persisting, which ordinary pass unnoticed.  Perhaps you are right, though I do not know how you should know it.  Is the cold spring is the spring not an evil time, that excites us with lyric voices?  “That apprehension deeper than all sense, deeper than the sense of smell, but like a smell in that it is indescribably, a sweet and bitter smell from another world.”



Things Fall Apart/Ceremony

After reading  Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, and Silko’s “Ceremony”, I was interested in writing a piece of poetry that told a story.  This poem “Maria & The Guitar Player” is a love story, using elements of nature to express the symbolism of man and woman --  I found that to be prevalent in both the African and American Indian traditions.  It’s a story, in a traditional sense, in a poetic format. 



Maria & The Guitar Player

She saw him through glass, a ribbon

A glimmer of sun, a wrinkle in time, a prism, life

Multi sided he appeared in her periphery.

Tall, long legged, upon a stage

The tortoise slow hard shell soft underbelly

His head down, his fingers flying over chords

He swayed, his muscles contracting

In his hands, his arms, fingers flying

Music escaping floating note by note into the air

Streaming curling above and around the room

Hair swaying, up and down, a butterfly, elusive.

She knew him.

He looked up, out of the corner of his eye

She felt him before he entered the room

She saw him looking

For many months, many days, many moments

Past the crowds, past the pretty maidens and powerful

People in noisy assemblage the hum the din of the crowd

He looked for her, not knowing who

She was or when she would appear.

He saw her through glass, a ribbon

A smoky image in the back of the room

She called to him no words, no actions,

Just instinct

No sound

An internal heat an ember a love

So great so powerful so heady

He stood near her, arm against arm,

The whooshing of their blood as one

The beating of their hearts

They breathed the same air, looked up at the same

Moon captured the same spirit

And at one precise moment, in one flicker

Of a layer of life, they collided,

Colors of pink and purple

And lavender cascading

Into the universe



Don Dellilo’s White Noise inspired me to write something about the current state of technology, and the terminology it has created.  I work for an internet company, which is a completely separate culture.



I work in a tech space

I surf the internet

I work with computers

I sit in a technion chair
I live in a cyberworld

I am aerodynamic
I sleep with technology
it pays my bills

Fills my dreams

Taps into my Psyche

Responds to my streams

I have anti-static cling

a mouse pad

a wrist guard

a glare shield

I have CDROM

I play MP3’s

I work with Systems Engineers

I work on projects
I am a project engineer

I work with CE’s, PE’s, SE’s

I’m on a team

I’m a team member

I write code

I source code

I snort code

I shoot code

I talk in code

I am cold

I am bold

I am told

That I’m old

I am hot I am sexy

I am young I have a cel-phone

I carry a pager

a rim pager

I have a web site

I am hooked up




I am technologies foremother

I am on the forefront

I am on the cutting edge

the cutting room floor

cutting their meat

I am cutting my teeth on

their techno-beef

I am biding my time

keeping time

I am out of time

I am time-centric

I have no time on my hands

I am time-aphobic

I am pre-ipo

I am slitting my wrists

I am splitting my hairs

I am splitting from here

I work for a dotcom

I sit in my cubicle

Work at my workstation

Speak in Java

Drink java

I am a decaf-part-skim-latte

Tall to go.