With every selection of readings we receive each week, I try to find parallels or connections between the pieces, but this week presented a definite challenge. I suppose the three could be seen as works which the authors try to characterize or label aspects of the world around them, but that is a bit broad. The piece I read first was Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare: My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun, and it took me by surprise. From his incredibly honest description of this woman, she does not seem like the kind of person one would choose to be around for more than a few minutes, let alone for the hours and days which an intimate relationship requires. Some of the descriptions made me shudder with disgust, like the lines “And in some perfumes is there more delight / Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks,” (7-8). To most people, this description would be befitting of someone whom they find repulsive, but in his assessment of their relationship, Shakespeare is just as candid, saying, “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare,” (13-14). Although he is brutally honest about her seemingly endless array of physical and hygienic flaws, their relationship is just as honest and true, and he loves her in spite of such defects.
John Milton’s When I Consider How My Light is Spent was a fascinating perspective on blindness, and I felt as though I was able to get inside of his thought process even in this relatively short work. The speaker struggles trying to reconcile his blindness while wanting to serve God. This poem was relatable not so much to the former, but to the idea of Christian service of which we hear so much here at Loyola. I think in saying, “God doth not need / Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
/ Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best,” the speaker intimates that as long as one lives by God’s word, one is serving God. Such is an important message by which to live because it reminds us that no matter what stage of our lives we are in or our physical state, we can always continue to serve God.
As I am usually skeptical of any book on Oprah’s booklist, I wasn’t sure of Elizabeth Gilbert’s abilities as a writer, but this excerpt from her book Eat, Pray, Love entitled “One Word” was interesting. She details the account of her friend alleging that every city has one word which encompasses its being. Whether or not we admit it, most of us characterize and categorize places in this way, but I am not sure if the same principles can be applied to people. Gilbert’s friend encourages her to find “her word”, but uncovering even a single phrase which is applicable to one’s entire existence is an incredibly daunting task. I don’t know if it is possible to have one word or phrase which describes a person’s entire being without seeming as contrived as a tattoo of carpe diem on your wrist. Nevertheless, from the endless number of websites I found with this excerpt from Gilbert’s book, it seems she has achieved the goal of getting people to think about how this is applicable to their own lives and, if they can, to think of what their “word” would be.