30 May 2012

[Insert reference here]

Maybe you could tell from my extended, overly formal explanation the other day that I was nervous about using a Philip Larkin title to refer to a post about turnback cuffs. Can't imagine why I would have been, of course. It's not like the words were taken out of context or anything.

But I couldn't resist! Maybe as an english specialist I can't go too long before I start making references of mild interest and questionable relevance -- either that or I just want to make this blog as much about the "lit major" as the "(sewing) business".

I'm not writing a whole post only to explain that I'll be slipping allusions into my other posts, of course. I do realize that everybody does it already. (Including my sister-blogger, who has the enviable talent of being able to reference anyone from Wallace Stevens to Red Hot Chili Peppers.) I'm just providing some back-story as to why, from now on, you might see a quote like this in a post that claims to be about sewing:

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.


The above is from W.H. Auden's poem "As I walked out one evening," which can be found here. (And yes, it's where the name of this blog comes from. Talk about using phrases out of context!)

Auden, living and writing in the mid-20th century, was known for the 'humanity' of his poetry. His poems are -- 'soft' isn't quite the right word, and 'sentimental' is so far off it's not even funny, but there's a ton of emotion in them; it's love and friendship and all the rest, and an overwhelming sympathy for both the petty and the great in people.

At the same time, even the straightforward-seeming pieces -- like the one above -- twist in sly and satirical ways. Like this couplet: "Time watches from the shadows / And coughs when you would kiss."

How could I not want to share these references? I think -- or hope, at least -- that references aren't the same as jokes, in that explaining them only increases their awesomeness. Right?

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