Wednesday, June 15, 2016

In Praise of English Literature (Short Version)

In a petition to the English Department, Yale undergraduates declare that a required two-semester seminar on Major English Poets is a danger to their well-being.

Never mind that the offending poets — Shakespeare, Chaucer, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, et al. — are the foundational writers in the English language.

It is as if chemistry students objected to learning the periodic table of elements or math students rose up against the teaching of differential calculus.

The root of the plaint against the seminar is, of course, the usual PC bean-counting, where prodigious talents who have stood the test of time and explore the deepest questions about what it means to be human are found wanting because they wouldn’t be suitable models for a United Colors of Benetton ad.
Oh, dear....


O, lest the world should task you to recite
What merit lived in me, that you should love
After my death, -- dear love, forget me quite,
For you in me can nothing worthy prove;
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,
To do more for me than mine own desert,
And hang more praise upon deceased I
Than niggard truth would willingly impart:
O, lest your true love may seem false in this,
That you for love speak well of me untrue,
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
   For I am sham'd by that which I bring forth,
   And so should you, to love things nothing worth.

Wilt thou put that in thy pipe, vile whoreson, and smoke it?


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