06 June 2008

Lines from Anne's history

I had such fun writing about L.M. Montgomery's allusions to Browning and Lowell, I've decided to cross-post my most recent contribution to Blogging Anne of Green Gables here.

There are a wealth of literary references in Chapter 5, and it's interesting that they're concentrated in the chapter devoted to Anne's past.
"Well, that is another hope gone. 'My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.' That's a sentence I read in a book once, and I say it over to comfort myself whenever I'm disappointed in anything."
I wasn't able to find the source for this one. All searches lead back to Anne herself. Even The Annotated Anne of Green Gables says, "The source of Anne's allusion is unknown." I wonder if Irene Gammel found it?

Random aside: Do you have any lines that you say to comfort yourself in trying times? I sometimes murmur (or at least think to myself), "The only way out is through"--a version of Frost's line. My fiancé is prone to say, "¿Qué hacemos con este cementerio de sueños?"--which is basically Anne's line! Turns out he got it from a Ricardo Arjona song, "Me dejaste." (Which reminds me that I need to find a copy of Anne, la de tejados verdes soon--both he and his sister would enjoy reading it... Which leads me to another random question: Why oh why is the film not subtitled in Spanish? Back in '93 or so, my sisters and I watched it on tv while living in Medellín and it was called La infancia de Ana. Perhaps I should begin looking for it under that title?)

Now to rein in the rambling...
"I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage."
I'm sure everyone recognized Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. What's funny is that even though the story is of the tragic and romantic kind that Anne loves, she isn't completely swept away by it. There is still a practical side to her that takes issue with Juliet's words.
"I can read pretty well and I know ever so many pieces of poetry off by heart--'The Battle of Hohenlinden' and 'Edinburgh after Flodden,' and 'Bingen on the Rhine,' and most of the 'Lady of the Lake' and most of 'The Seasons' by James Thompson [sic]. Don't you just love poetry that gives you a crinkly feeling up and down your back? There is a piece in the Fifth Reader--'The Downfall of Poland'--that is just full of thrills. Of course, I wasn't in the Fifth Reader--I was only in the Fourth--but the big girls used to lend me theirs to read."
I couldn't find "The Downfall of Poland" online, but it was written by the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell (also the author of "The Battle of Hohenlinden"). I was very happy to find the complete text of Sir Walter Scott's "The Lady of the Lake"--but it's a PDF file, so it will take a bit to load. Anne has a deep affinity for Scotland, it seems (which only makes sense, given the history of that part of Canada).

In collecting these links, I found a site called Anne's Poetry Place, which points out that
Gilbert recites ["Bingen on the Rhine"] in the first concent [sic] that Anne attends. When he comes to the line "There's another, not a sister," he looks down upon Anne, as Diana later accounts. However, after teasing Anne about her red hair, Gilbert is unable to win her affection through even this most romantic gesture.
So a poem that was an old favorite of hers was later used against her! I wonder if Gilbert knew how she loved it?
The shore road was "woodsy and wild and lonesome."
Montgomery herself is quoting John Greenleaf Whittier's "Cobbler Keezar's Vision." I think I'll finish this post off with its last two stanzas:
The weary mill-girl lingers
Beside the charmed stream,
And the sky and the golden water
Shape and color her dream.

Air wave the sunset gardens,
The rosy signals fly;
Her homestead beckons from the cloud,
And love goes sailing by.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

My trying times refrain is, 'And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,' attributed to Julian of Norwich, but of course I first read it in a TS Eliot poem. But when I can't quite convince myself, it becomes a desperate, 'Oh God make speed to save us/Oh Lord make haste to help us' from the Book of Common Prayer.