Thursday, 12 November 2009

A Little Bit of Poetry in My Life

I was an English Major in college, studying everything from Shakespeare, Austen and Faulkner, to Hemingway, Melville and Roth. I loved reading English and American authors back then. And I still do. My first class at my American university, and most detested class at that, was a mandatory requirement taught by this stringent witch-like old lady who made Yeats, Keats and Lord Byron sound like grumpy frumpy mathematicians- taking apart every verse and paragraph like a calculator.

Haha, seriously???
Now let me make this clear: I hate maths. Absolutely loathe maths. Never been good at them, and never will. So when the first course I took from my English curriculum made me make a double-take at my class schedule, I started to wonder why I'd ever taken up English as my major, especially when it was, back then, a huge handicap for me language-wise.

John Keats, 1795-1821

Then after a while, I understood why. These authors enabled me to escape from my American yet Euro-centric college experience. They made me fantasize about what it would have been like to live in these times. 19th Century England with Austen, 16th Century England with Shakes, 20th Century war-times in America, France and Spain with Hemingway...I could go on. They made me love the English language. After a while, I grew more and more curious of American literature and eventually, my love and admiration for English literature ensued.

Now, I am able to say with assurance that my move to London was in big part due to my curiosity for the English Albion and the romanticized and poetic England that I had come to grow so fond of through English literature studies. I was in need of a little poetry in my life I suppose. A little bit of Europeanness without reverting back to my European French roots.

John Keat's House, Hampstead, London

During a "trip" to Hampstead from my little nook in Notting Hill, I was thrilled to discover my favorite poet's house. An Ode to A Nightingale was by far my most cherished literary discovery back in my college years. By gazing at John Keat's house from a hidden street corner and leaning in gently through the tree branches, I was able to see the little garden gem he wrote this poem in. It is such a lovely sight. And not only is the garden a sight to see, but the adorable rooms inside the house also give you a glimpse of his romantic engagement to his lover and wife Fanny Brawne, as well as the tragic ending to his short life in a fight against tuberculosis. All in all, it is a splendid and memorable visit, one you will keep in your hearts, so long as your poetic side allows it.



  1. How very romantic. Although I have to admit, I discovered a love for maths when at uni. Once you get the knack of it, it's like solving cross-words.

    PS: Shakes? Heehee.

  2. Ah, you are a kindred spirit...I, too, was an English major in college. I loved all it had to offer. Math, I HATED. I struggled just to get through classes. Thank you for the entry about Keats - just lovely. Yeats is my favorite - we traveled to Ireland on our honeymoon and I made a point of visiting the Dublin Writers Museum. Yeats, Joyce, Wilde - all wonderful. Cheers!

  3. I also love Yeats! Joyce was always a bit of a downer but he was a wonderful writer. Plus I never got his Ulysses nonsense! :) But yay, so glad I found a fellow English major in the hood! xxx LZ