Session #14 September 30th: Poetry

UPDATE: Thanks to all of you for attending today. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of you there, even the person who said they don’t like poetry!

I would be interested to read your comments about today’s session.

Today we read Happiness and Buckingham Palace by A.A. Milne (author of “Winnie The Pooh“), with illustrations by Ernest Shephard, The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear, a limerick by Edward Lear, and some free verse by Edwin Morgan (“The Loch Ness Monster’s Song” (click on the link to hear a real Scotsman reading the poem aloud!), “Siesta of a Hungarian Snake”, “Spacepoem 3: Off Course (includes a link to an audio)”, and “Chinese Cat”).

Edward Lear was a contemporary of Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll. Carroll also wrote nonsense verse. The Jabberwocky is perhaps the most famous example (from Alice Through the Looking Glass). On YouTube I found these 2 videos of the poem being read aloud: this one is an animation of Lewis Carroll “reading” his poem (it’s not his voice, of course); this one is a collection of illustrations by different artists of the Jabberwock, while a woman reads the poem aloud.

The wonders of the Internet! Here is a video of someone who has put The Owl and the Pussycat to music and sings his song himself; here is a home-made animation of the poem; here is another version by janeczka (sounds like a Czech name); here is another version with an illustration by Lear himself. The poem itself was written in 1871! More than 130 years ago, and yet it is still so popular.

Some other “nonsense verse” by Lear: The Jumblies, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, The Akond of Swat; The Pobble who has no toes.


Today, we are going to read some English poetry, starting with some children’s and humorous verse. Then we will read some sonnets. Did you look up the words listed in the Poetry worksheet? You still have some time before the session!

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Ron Paul interview and other matters

In recent Reading sessions, we discussed a Senator from Texas named Ron Paul. Paul is a free-market supporter, he has read Ayn Rand’s novels, and he has proposed 2 new laws regarding the Federal Reserve:

  1. is to audit the Federal Reserve, because the Federal Reserve refuses to say what it has done with all the money it has received from Congress;
  2. is to close the Federal Reserve, to end it. Ron Paul wrote a book recently called End the Fed (if you find a Japanese translation, please let me know)

Here’s a short news interview with Ron Paul:

In Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged (in Japanese 肩をすくめるアトラス) , she describes a fictional United States sometime in the future. In the world of Atlas Shrugged, the government intrudes increasingly into private business and private affairs. Well, here is some news from New York. This is not fiction. Bloomberg is the mayor of New York City:

New York City is considering banning smoking in public parks and beaches as part of a multi-pronged plan to make New Yorkers healthier, the health commissioner announced today.

“We don’t think children, parents when they’re standing at soccer games should have to be breathing in smoke from the person next to them,” Commissioner Thomas Farley said after unveiling the city’s plan. “We don’t think our children should have to be watching someone smoke.” [Emphasis mine.]

Farley said since the indoor smoking ban instituted in 2003 has been successful, so the city wants to expand the effort through either legislation or a simple change in policy with the Parks Department.

The free-market blogger who wrote about this points out that New York City has already banned smoking inside many private business and restaurants.

My third bit of news refers to MIT. MIT has put all of its courses online. Now, they  have gone one step further, and put all their courses onto iTunes University.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has begun the most revolutionary experiment in the history of education, stretching all the way back to the pharaohs. It now gives away its curriculum to anyone smart enough to learn it. It has posted its curriculum on-line for free. These days, this means a staggering 1900 courses. This number will grow.

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A reply to comments コメントに応じます

Yamagata Aritomo
Image via Wikipedia


最近だけ気がづいたけど:-) 現代に起きてる現実を理解したいならば、新聞だけを読のだら無理です。経済の先生は経済についてこう書いた:


同じように、最近戦況が行った。私がよく読むブログにはこう書いてありました: “introducing political leadership into the budgeting process” and “budget is the key to regime change”. しかし、なぜ予算はそんなに大事かは分かりませんでした。当然大事だけど、政権交代と予算の関係はなにか、よくわかりません。そして昨日そのブログに次のを読みました:

For more on the possibilities of genuine administrative reform, I recommend this essay by Karel van Wolferen, who is aware of the obstacles facing the DPJ without dismissing the possibility that the DPJ will succeed. I particularly like this sentence: “But my impression is that the individuals of the inner core of the party are deadly serious about what must be done to turn their country into what one of them, the most senior and most experienced Ozawa Ichiro, has in his writing called a ‘normal country’.” Exactly so. The DPJ means what it said during the campaign, and is taking the first steps towards a new system of governance.

Karel van Wolferen って誰?えええ!知らないのか?知らない人はWikipedia 又はウイキペディアまで。90年代にかれが書いた本 The Enigma of Japanese Power 日本 権力構造の謎 が結構有名になりました。

Karel van Wolferen が書いたessay はどういう内容か?What Can the DPJ’s Overwhelming Victory Mean for Japan? 気になった部分は次です:

The significance of yesterday’s Japanese election results goes beyond a relatively new and untried political party ending half a century of rule by a competing party; if the new leaders turn out to be true leaders and are allowed to carry out their declared intentions, this will fundamentally change the Japanese power system… with few exceptions the elected officials …  have played a mostly marginal role, as powerbrokers at best. We can actually single out an architect who set it up this way just before the turn of the century before last: Yamagata Aritomo. … this remarkable man … created Japan’s modern bureaucracy along with its early 20th-century military establishment.

そして2001年にカレル・ヴァン・ウォルフレンが書いた論文は?Yamagata Aritomo  山縣有朋 についてです。

What better opportunity than the election of aspirant supervisors of Japanese bureaucratic power to bring to the attention of the world a neglected Japanese figure who established that power and ought to be remembered, along with Bismarck, Lenin, Mao, and the two Roosevelts, as one of the creators of twentieth century political reality.
His name, Yamagata Aritomo, may only register with those who have read Japanese history. Even in Japanese minds he may not be more than a shadow, dwarfed by Ito Hirobumi among the Meiji Period architects of Japanese modernization. But he deserves to be known as the creator of what in essence has remained Japan’s political system. In the end, what the world has been learning to think of as Japan’s lack of political will, should be blamed on Yamagata. His legacy endures in a more immediate sense today than, say, Bismarck’s legacy does in Germany.


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