Sherry at Semicolon posted this fun meme this morning. Here are my answers (today).
1. What propelled your love affair with books — any particular title or a moment?
I grew up in a book-saturated home: books in every room, books in front of every face; never a day without books. Books were not allowed at the dinner table, but most of us tried at one time to hold a compelling book in our lap, under the table, and keep reading. It was inconceivable to grew up a Harper and not love books.
2. Which fictional character would you like to be friends with and why?
Laura Ingalls Wilder was my first fixation and she remains with me, especially at this time of the year. Yesterday, I was making a year’s supply of fire starters (dryer lint stuffed into egg cartons with melted wax poured over it) and thought of Pa and Ma’s preparations for winter. (OK, I missed the word fictional…give me a pass, please?)
3. Do you write your name on your books or use bookplates?
All but the best books I read are on a rotation: in the house, read, out of the house. When I write my name I always write it in pencil. I’ve found that the book I love today and think I’ll keep forever might get the boot in ten years.
4. What was your favourite book read this year?
Carol Montparker’s memoir, A Pianist’s Landscape. Here’s a sample. I think an essential mark of an artist is how he or she recovers from a mishap.
5. If you could read in another language, which language would you choose?
Not just one. I’m starting to twitch from the demands of decisions. I’d love to read my father’s Greek New Testament with the cranberry cover. I’d love to read the Latin books on my shelf. I’d swoon if I could read a French book aloud with exquisite pronunciation. And why not Russian? Or Arabic? Or Portuguese?
6. Name a book that made you both laugh and cry.
Jan Karon’s return to Mitford produced loud guffaw-laughs, ugly cries, and everything in between.
7. Share with us your favourite poem.
That f word is making me crazy, even with the charming British spelling. Gerard Manley Hopkins Pied Beauty. Billy Collins The Lanyard . To snort with laughter at his Litany….And you are certainly not the pine-scented air. There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air. There is Wendell Berry’s Manifesto with those last two words: Practice resurrection.
But in this moment, my mind goes to Michelangelo’s LXXIII.
Well-nigh the voyage now is overpast,
And my frail bark, through troubled seas and rude,
Draws near that common haven where at last
Of every action, be it evil or good,
Must due account be rendered. Well I know
How vain will then appear that favoured art,
Sole Idol long and Monarch of my heart,
For all is vain that man desires below.
And now remorseful thoughts the past upbraid,
And fear of twofold death my soul alarms,
That which must come, and that beyond the grave:
Picture and Sculpture lose their feeble charms,
And to that Love Divine I turn for aid,
Who from the Cross extends his arms to save.
I love that old translation, but I have a newer one tucked into the page. Which one do you prefer?
Unburdened by the body’s fierce demands,
And now at last released from my frail boat,
Dear God, I put myself into your hands;
Smooth the rough waves on which my ship must float.
The thorns, the nails, the wounds in both your palms,
The gentleness, the pity on your face—
For great repentance, these have promised grace.
My soul will find salvation in your arms.
And let not justice only fill your eyes,
But mercy too. Oh temper your severe
Judgment with tenderness, relieve my burden.
Let your own blood remove my faults and clear
My guilt, and let your grace so strongly rise
That I am granted an entire pardon.
Please join me and link to your answers (or just write them there) in the comments. If your time is limited, take just one question.
I definitely prefer the older translation. Poetry is so tricky to translate. I wonder which one is closer to the original wording? The second one doesn’t specify the idol (art) or have the wonderful image at the end of Christ extending His arms from the cross to receive the sinner.
And Mitford and Father Tim and Cynthia and the rest all tug at my sentimental heart, too.
It is difficult to choose favorites, isn’t it? But it’s fun, too, in a perverse way. Another day, another favourite.
I prefer the old one, too. I worry that the syntax is too difficult for the modern mind. How many people, reading that alone, will understand that “bark” = “boat” = “his body”?
I don’t mind choosing favorites if I can change my choice with each new day!
Thanks for the fun yesterday, Sherry!
I love both versions of the poem, and it’s a new one to me. Thank you.
I wish I had as much restraint when it comes to keeping books. 🙂
So…my comment may be misleading. There are still hundreds of books in my house. I probably move two or three out a week (selling, swapping, giving) but then one or two come in. It’s a happy madness. 🙂
A delightful challenge, & a delight to read your list with reasons. My darling late father fostered bookishness in both his daughters. He read to us most of Charles Dickens novels from our infancy. As his favourite must’ve been A Tale of Two Cities, both my sister & me can quote decent chucks of it still, over half a century later. As my sister lives in Europe & I live in Tasmania Australia, we egg each other on with sharing ‘the latest book’, & our synopsis & critique.
Thanks for your comment, Cynthia. I love friendships (even with siblings) that include book recommendations.
I just borrowed Sherry’s bookish questions for a post, and saw from your comment there that you had, too, so I thought I would come check them out. That poem is a new one to me. I do love the wording of the old translation better, but the newer one might be easier to some to understand. Jan Karon’s newest Mitford book is an excellent choice for #6. Loved it.
Thanks, Barbara. I enjoyed your replies, too!