Covid-19 tagged posts

Can the Centre Hold? W.B. Yeats’s “The Second Coming”

In what is surely an indication of just how powerful and provocative William Butler Yeats’s 1919 poem, “The Second Coming” is, a critic writing in “The Paris Review” five years ago suggested  it “may well be the most thoroughly pillaged piece of literature in English.” (Personally, I’m inclined to think it may be a dead-heat between it and Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled.”)

Images and phrases from the poem (“widening gyre,” “falcon/falconer,” “things fall apart,” “the center cannot hold,” “blood-dimmed tide,” “rough beast,” “passionate intensity,” “slouching toward…”) abound in popular culture, politics, literature and other arts (even comic books, heavy metal, and as a true mark of distinction, the music of Joni Mitchell).

That’s no minor accomplishment for a poem (a poem!) of a mere 22 lines, more than a century after its publication in the calamitous ...

Read More

The Longing for Normal

I have felt a longing these recent fine spring days for a wide variety of pre-virus pleasures, but perhaps none more so than Monut’s, a buzzy daytime eatery in Durham that makes distinctive New Agey donuts and sandwiches with perfectly balanced ratios of condiments to bread to fillings, along with a convivial, clattery atmosphere provided by young hipster servers, Duke students and professors, and friend pairs huddled intimately over tables trying to make themselves heard above the din.

Also: Ponysaurus, a local brewpub featuring my favorite crisp pilsner, where children and dogs romp across lawns dotted with picnic tables through the warm months, above which we climb metal stairs to a veranda, strategically parking ourselves to watch the sun set amidst the ever-changing cloudscape to the west.

These are among a host of local establishments whose “brands” have inculcated themselves into my life, reliable p...

Read More