Lachrymose classics (was Re: Childhood favourites (Was Oh the horror!))

M Elizabeth Parks meparks at
Wed Feb 12 18:04:47 EST 2003


I don't think I could teach it, however manipulative/perverse, because I'm
just a sucker for books that make you cry, and it's not something I like
do in class. I had to give up teaching Ben Jonson's 'On my first son'
because I couldn't get through it without husking - and I've got a feeling
that, whatever the difference in literary quality, this would be the same.


Yes.  That poem makes me cry.  It's the line where he says to his dead
son: 'Rest in soft peace, and asked, say, "Here doth lie/Ben Jonson his
best piece of poetry."'  Every time I read that, it just humbles and stuns

One of my very first college English classes was spent reading poems
including this; I was the only person in the (fifteen or so person) class
who stuck up for it.  People said it was too formal, that there was no
real grief in it, and I was almost too afraid to say something.  But I
did, and the teacher (a scary old man who was my first college English
professor) and I just met eyes and sort of exchanged this look of mutual

The other poem that comes readily to mind as similar is an early one by
Seamus Heaney (sp?); I cannot recall the title, but the ending of it is
something like: his coffin measured four feet/a foot for every
year."  (I'm fairly positive about the last line, but the one before it is
wrong; v. sorry)

and my first impulse is to cite a John Donne poem as an obDWJ, simply
because of the Howl connection.  (St.Lucy's Day also makes me cry).

But "Love You Forever?"  No.  That doesn't make me cry.  That creeps me



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