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

Alex alex.mb at
Sat Feb 22 13:23:01 EST 2003

Lurking only at the moment as started a full time teaching job in Jan but
had to respond to this. I am a great weeper at books and poetry (including
Homeward Bounders) and the other day I started crying as I read a class the
section where George shoots Lennie in 'Of Mice and Men'. This was very
embarassing - more so because I knew I was gong to do it! They were quite
sweet about it really, despite their being 16. What astonished them most
though was that I fond the book sadder than the film (and that reaction is
probably sad in itself).

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-dwj at [mailto:owner-dwj at]On Behalf Of M
> Elizabeth Parks
> Sent: 12 February 2003 23:05
> To: dwj at
> Subject: Re: Lachrymose classics (was Re: Childhood favourites (Was Oh
> thehorror!))
> Charlie:
> 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
> to
> 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.
> me:
> 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
> me.
> 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
> recognition.
> 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)
> *g*
> 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
> out.
> lizzie
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