If you are interested, you can check these two excellent videos Alberto uploaded about the origins of the Great War.
This is a reminder about tasks that should be completed for Tuesday’s lesson. What we can do there depends on your having finished them
- Don’t forget to print the two poems by Robert Graves and the two about the Great War and bring them to the lesson. You should have read them attentively before coming, specially Dulce et Decorum est, which is quite difficult
- You should have done the listening task about the video on motivation
- You should have studied the vocabulary about ways of walking and movement and gestures, as well as doing the exercises
- You should have done the reading test, following the instructions of time (1.30 hours)
So that they remain registered, here is a post with the historical riddles which we solved last Thursday. To tell you the truth, I like improvising as much as planning lessons. Those riddles came up spontaneously as an idea during Tuesday’s class. I always remember a great maxim by Jim Srivener, a well-known teacher trainer: “Prepare the lesson, but then teach the students, not the lesson.” That is: allow for the unexpected, the fresh occurrence, the response to the students’ mood and your own mood.
- Mansa Musa, Emperor of Ghana, goes on pilgrimage.
- A river of blood accross the ruins of Baghdad.
- The misterious map of Piri Reis
- Centaur gods arrive at the city of gold
- Playing the Great Game accross the lands of Asia
If you want to have a look at the movie, here it is complete, no subtitles.
Robert Graves, whom I mentioned in class, apart from writing on the War, was one of the greatest modern experts in Classical Antiquity and Mythology and, above all, an extraordinary poet of love.
He was very influencial in a point of my life. He claimed to write in what he described as a special state of consciousness, in which time stopped -or, rather, worked in another dimension. When I was 19 years old, I read him and I was convinced he was telling the truth. After being educated with the Jesuits along the most respectable scholastic and humanistic lines, I discovered that reality and the human being were far more wonderful than mere racionality.
Here are two poems I have long known by heart.
She Tells Her Love
She tells her love while half asleep,
In the dark hours,
With half-words whispered low:
As Earth stirs in her winter sleep
And put out grass and flowers
Despite the snow,
Despite the falling snow.
Diamond and dew-drop
The difference between you and her
(whom I to you did once prefer)
Is clear enough to settle:
She like a diamond shone, but you
Shine like an early drop of dew
Poised on a red rose petal.
The dew-drop carries in its eye
Mountain and forest, sea and sky,
With every change of weather;
Contrariwise, a diamond splits
The prospect into idle bits
That none can piece together
Following up what we did in class.
Do you agree?
What consequences does this have in education?
Here you have the two poems on the First World War. They are among the best-known English poetry of the 20th century. They offer opposite perspectives, but –that is the value of art- both of them work wonderfully as literature.
The first poem is a sonnet written by Rupert Brooke (1887-1915). The second was written by Wilfried Owen (1893-1918). As you can see, both died in the Great War.
Try to understand them well and practice reciting them aloud. How do they look at the phenomenon of war? The second piece is followed by explanatory notes.
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
DULCE ET DECORUM EST (1)
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots(4)
Of tired, outstripped(5) Five-Nines(6) that dropped behind.
Gas!(7) Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets(8) just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime(9) . . .
Dim, through the misty panes(10) and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,(11) choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud(12)
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest(13)
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.(15)
Notes on Dulce et Decorum Est
1. DULCE ET DECORUM EST – the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean “It is sweet and right.” The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country.
2. Flares – rockets which were sent up to burn with a brilliant glare to light up men and other targets in the area between the front lines (See illustration, page 118 of Out in the Dark.)
3. Distant rest – a camp away from the front line where exhausted soldiers might rest for a few days, or longer
4. Hoots – the noise made by the shells rushing through the air
5. Outstripped – outpaced, the soldiers have struggled beyond the reach of these shells which are now falling behind them as they struggle away from the scene of battle
6. Five-Nines – 5.9 calibre explosive shells
7. Gas! – poison gas. From the symptoms it would appear to be chlorine or phosgene gas. The filling of the lungs with fluid had the same effects as when a person drowned
8. Helmets – the early name for gas masks
9. Lime – a white chalky substance which can burn live tissue
10. Panes – the glass in the eyepieces of the gas masks
11. Guttering – Owen probably meant flickering out like a candle or gurgling like water draining down a gutter, referring to the sounds in the throat of the choking man, or it might be a sound partly like stuttering and partly like gurgling
12. Cud – normally the regurgitated grass that cows chew usually green and bubbling. Here a similar looking material was issuing from the soldier’s mouth
13. High zest – idealistic enthusiasm, keenly believing in the rightness of the idea
14. ardent – keen
15. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – see note 1 above.
After having the feeling that you were not very clear yourselves about the course to follow regarding this second term’s book, I have decided that we will keep to what was programmed, that is, to read To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. First of all, several of you have already bought the book; secondly, even if we run the risk that some should deem it a bit strange, it is one of the masterpieces of 2Oth novel and contains breathtakingly beautiful prose in English. Those of you who don’t have it, please get it as soon as possible. And start reading it. In a few weeks I will give you a set of activities and will make an introduction to the book.
The novel in actually available on PDF on the Net. Nothing like a paper book, however, to underline, annotate, touch, smell and beautify your library. I have an i-pad myself, but… reading is a “physical” experience for me, I’m afraid.
The following is a corrected page of the novel, proofread by Virginia Woolf
I must say I was impressed today at the way in which you had read Mandela’s Way and prepared the activities, as well as at the richness and detail of your discussion and the quality of the personal comments on the book that you have started posting on your blogs. Most of the work you are doing is at university level (believe me, I taught at Leeds university). Whatever the final results are at the end, I think you can be proud of your efforts and accomplishments.
How are you doing, guys?
Apparently some of you are having problems with the word number restriction in the summary of Chomsky’s text. So, we will expand that number to around 350 words. If it can be less, less.
Another issue was the schedule for next week classes. Hopefully, on Tuesday, we will discuss the questions about the movie Amistad, and the summary for Chomsky’s article, among other things.
On Thursday, we will start with Mandela’s Way. We’ll do part of it this day -among other activities- and do the rest the following Tuesday