Captain Obvious' Guide to: H.W. Longfellow

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Yeesh, talk about a lethargic Tuesday. On the bright side, I finally got to say "You're putting emPHAsis on the wrong syLLAble" in context, so hey, it's the little things.

You have learned well, grasshopper. movieactors

In lieu of the fashion post for today (coming this week) I will today venture into uncharted grounds and review a masterpiece by legendary Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In the course of these poetry reviews, I have managed to uncover the fact that while I appreciate poetry in general, I'm more inclined to remember and want to quote works of the 1800s, and a further subsection of poems that tell a story. So if nothing else, at least I learned that much about myself, which was a sub-agenda of this blog. Hence, yay me!

For Best Soundtrack while Navel-Gazing. I accept. mediogeek

Self-absorption aside, we will be looking at Longfellow's Fata Morgana., which unlike previous poems addressed is a poem I hadn't interacted with before yesterday. To start with, a Fata Morgana is defined as a mirage, with the Italian name for it being derived from witchtastic Morgan Le Faye from the time of King Arthur. Mirages were said to be as a result of Morgan's sorcery aimed at leading sailors to their death, kind of like a terrible siren call.

Proper siren call. ydvils7primo

With that in mind, shall we proceed?

O sweet illusions of Song,
  That tempt me everywhere,
In the lonely fields, and the throng
  Of the crowded thoroughfare! 

The opening is fairly clear and closed to over-analysis by well-meaning bloggers. The mirage in this case is auditory, referenced by the "illusions of song" bit, where the author hears the phantom song whether alone or in a crowd. 

 We have special jackets for that these days. monkeydungeon

Wait! That can be interpreted as the siren song of success as an author! Knew I'd find a way to make this about me. Ten points to Ravenclaw! The next three stanzas are essentially the same concept, with the exception that the hallucination is now visual:

I approach, and ye vanish away,
  I grasp you, and ye are gone;
But ever by night an day,
  The melody soundeth on.

As the weary traveller sees
  In desert or prairie vast,
Blue lakes, overhung with trees,
  That a pleasant shadow cast; 

Fair towns with turrets high,
  And shining roofs of gold,
That vanish as he draws nigh,
  Like mists together rolled,--

The second stanza begins with a description of the author's attempts to grasp what I'm assuming is the origin of the siren call, in which context the metaphor of success still holds water. We see the author try in vain to attain this goal, with a comparison drawn between him and a person lost in the desert, wishing for respite even as the mirage continues to torture him with the idea of salvation from misery. In the third stanza, the mirage is shown to be visual, perhaps the city of origin for he call he initially heard?

Like seeing this guy the day your candy stash runs out. cheezburger

Again, I have to draw the parallel between these verses and the quest for success in the field you have chosen. At this point, we see the author spot a city ahead of him and advance towards it, only to have it vanish again, yet he continues to trudge on towards it, as we see in the next paragraph.

So I wander and wander along,
  And forever before me gleams
The shining city of song,
  In the beautiful land of dreams. 

Beautiful island of dreams. etonline

A lot can be said of the author's relentless pursuit towards the city that he knows is a mirage: is it passion for his goal? Is it delusion? Is the town only a mirage because the author fears his own success? The next 

But when I would enter the gate
  Of that golden atmosphere,
It is gone, and I wonder and wait
  For the vision to reappear.

The author has finally reached his destination...only to have it vanish again before his very eyes, as predicted. At this juncture, he stops and waits for the mirage to reappear. Does he finally come to his senses, making it a happy ending? Not really. Sitting around and waiting for his idea of Nirvana to appear is hardly considered healthy. Has he given up on is vision? Again, not really. He IS still waiting for it to appear. 

 Not pictured: Healthy Behaviour. digitalbusstop

The ending summarizes the tone of the poem succinctly: bland. Lukewarm. Longfellow had been accused in his time of writing to draw the masses, sort of like doing posts for hits/views in this generation, so it is entirely possible that this poem was one of his fluff pieces. For my part, I felt no actual emotion from the poem, save for when superimposed over the theme of seeking success, in which case it is a terrible, terrible tale of a person that starts out clawing their way to the top then finally gives up after a few setbacks, deciding success would come to him if it were meant to be. 

Perhaps through the invention of a remote with legs. cheezburger

I choose to believe that  darling Longfellow was making commentary on the state of ambition: where too much or too little of it can lead to oblivion in one way or another, either from stagnation, or from trying too hard to get to something that is and will always be unattainable. Te message here is moderation: to attain the proper balance between the two extremes. Long story short? Kids, you canNOT do whatever your set your mind to, so maybe try and aim lower, for your own sake. Yea, that's probably it.

 You and your dreams. You're Cady. weheartit


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