Friday, December 08, 2006

Auden's "Miss Gee"

Miss Gee
by W. H. Auden

When you read this poem, you feel sad for the woman who has been struggling to do her work and be a good woman in God's eyes. You see her walk alone through the streets while she fights her illness until finally she dies from cancer. As you see her life, you also see how no one notices her. And when her body is turned over to students for educational purposes, you see how little they too think of her as anything but a tool to further their education. But Auden's poem is not so much about th is poor woman's life, as it is about the lack of respect so many people have for other people. No one, except for the doctor, seems to care at all about Miss Gee, and most seem to feel contempt towards her, even blaming her for her own death from cancer. This poem is more of a statement about the human condition than it is about a little old woman who died from cancer.

Here are links to other interesting interpretations (points about) of this poem. These links are followed by the poem itself.

From the International Journal of Epidemiology:

From the British Medical Journal:

For your reading pleasure, "Miss Gee" by W. H. Auden

Let me tell you a little story
About Miss Edith Gee;
She lived in Clevedon Terrace
At number 83.

She'd a slight squint in her left eye,
Her lips they were thin and small,
She had narrow sloping shoulders
And she had no bust at all.

She'd a velvet hat with trimmings,
And a dark grey serge costume;
She lived in Clevedon Terrace
In a small bed-sitting room.

She'd a purple mac for wet days,
A green umbrella too to take,
She'd a bicycle with shopping basket
And a harsh back-pedal break.

The Church of Saint Aloysius
Was not so very far;
She did a lot of knitting,
Knitting for the Church Bazaar.

Miss Gee looked up at the starlight
And said, 'Does anyone care
That I live on Clevedon Terrace
On one hundred pounds a year?'

She dreamed a dream one evening
That she was the Queen of France
And the Vicar of Saint Aloysius
Asked Her Majesty to dance.

But a storm blew down the palace,
She was biking through a field of corn,
And a bull with the face of the Vicar
Was charging with lowered horn.

She could feel his hot breath behind her,
He was going to overtake;
And the bicycle went slower and slower
Because of that back-pedal break.

Summer made the trees a picture,
Winter made them a wreck;
She bicycled to the evening service
With her clothes buttoned up to her neck.

She passed by the loving couples,
She turned her head away;
She passed by the loving couples,
And they didn't ask her to stay.

Miss Gee sat in the side-aisle,
She heard the organ play;
And the choir sang so sweetly
At the ending of the day,

Miss Gee knelt down in the side-aisle,
She knelt down on her knees;
'Lead me not into temptation
But make me a good girl, please.'

The days and nights went by her
Like waves round a Cornish wreck;
She bicycled down to the doctor
With her clothes buttoned up to her neck.

She bicycled down to the doctor,
And rang the surgery bell;
'O, doctor, I've a pain inside me,
And I don't feel very well.'

Doctor Thomas looked her over,
And then he looked some more;
Walked over to his wash-basin,
Said,'Why didn't you come before?'

Doctor Thomas sat over his dinner,
Though his wife was waiting to ring,
Rolling his bread into pellets;
Said, 'Cancer's a funny thing.

'Nobody knows what the cause is,
Though some pretend they do;
It's like some hidden assassin
Waiting to strike at you.

'Childless women get it.
And men when they retire;
It's as if there had to be some outlet
For their foiled creative fire.'

His wife she rang for the servent,
Said, 'Dont be so morbid, dear';
He said: 'I saw Miss Gee this evening
And she's a goner, I fear.'

They took Miss Gee to the hospital,
She lay there a total wreck,
Lay in the ward for women
With her bedclothes right up to her neck.

They lay her on the table,
The students began to laugh;
And Mr. Rose the surgeon
He cut Miss Gee in half.

Mr. Rose he turned to his students,
Said, 'Gentlemen if you please,
We seldom see a sarcoma
As far advanced as this.'

They took her off the table,
They wheeled away Miss Gee
Down to another department
Where they study Anatomy.

They hung her from the ceiling
Yes, they hung up Miss Gee;
And a couple of Oxford Groupers
Carefully dissected her knee.

Photo of Auden from:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Yeats' "The Wheel"

The Wheel
by W. B. Yeats

Through winter-time we call on spring,
And through the spring on summer call,
And when abounding hedges ring
Declare that winter's best of all;
And after that there's nothing good
Because the spring-time has not come ---
Nor know that what disturbs our blood
Is but our longing for the tomb.

One reason I enjoy William Yeats' poetry is because some of it is quite short and to the point. Some poets are rather long-winded, and it's a struggle to figure out what they mean. Yeats, on the other hand, often says what he means, and does so quite briefly. Yet when you read his poetry, you often can put more than one interpretation to his simplest of poems. "The Wheel" is a good example.

In its words, you do not see anything about a wheel. Yet you can see that Yeats may be speaking about the wheel of life. Yet when you look deeper into the poem, the wheel reference could be about the simplicity of a wheel's function, to move forward, which also can be a reflection of how simple life's purpose is--also to move forward, but to the ultimate end.

Anyway, I like this poem because I can read it over and over, see different meanings in it, and really contemplate it because it's brief enough even to memorize.

Hope you enjoy it too!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Be Thankful More Than Once a Year

Each year the family round the table sits
To share the food and give thanks
For those blessings received even if not seen.
This year was saddened by a divorce among
The ones we love, but still we said grace
And gave our thanks for everything,
For much was good though some was sad.
And in the light of the following day,
Our thanks was seen in cheer and joy.
Today we love all we loved before,
And tomorrow we should say thanks again.
It shouldn't be only once a year.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Browning's Sonnet 32

Have you read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnet 32 - The first time that the sun rose on thine oath”? It's a poem about guilt and regret over love. Browning's poem talks about how passion can set the course for two people's lives, and commit them to something that, although it should be beautiful, is more likely doomed. While most of the poem seems to show Browning as feeling guilty over having wronged the man she loved because she agreed to marry him even though she knew she wasn't worthy of him, there's a sadness you can see she feels over the ultimate outcome she expects from that love--an outcome that will result from having chosen such an honorable man to love.

Here is Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem, "Sonnet 32 - The first time that the sun rose on thine oath," (poem from, photo from

Sonnet 32 - The first time that the sun rose on thine oath
The first time that the sun rose on thine oath
To love me, I looked forward to the moon
To slacken all those bonds which seemed too soon
And quickly tied to make a lasting troth.
Quick-loving hearts, I thought, may quickly loathe;
And, looking on myself, I seemed not one
For such man's love!—more like an out-of-tune
Worn viol, a good singer would be wroth
To spoil his song with, and which, snatched in haste,
Is laid down at the first ill-sounding note.
I did not wrong myself so, but I placed
A wrong on thee. For perfect strains may float
'Neath master-hands, from instruments defaced,—
And great souls, at one stroke, may do and doat.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Link to "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

When Charles Dickens was 12 years old, his father, John Dickens, was so in debt that he was sent to prison. Charles was removed from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory (see red arrow in map) in order to help support his family. (See This map is from that website.) That experience
helped define Dickens' life, and greatly influenced his societal beliefs and his writings.

"Great Expectations," was Dickens thirteenth novel.

Here is the URL to the Website I've been working on that contains "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. Both print and audio are available, although the Website is not yet complete.

And in case you are looking for a little fun, here's an online game related to Dickens. It's titled, "Survive Dickens' London," and is designed to let you see whether you can, "Dodge through Victorian London, avoiding the gangs and villains and trials and tribulations of Dickensian London in order to seek out Charles Dickens in his chalet hideaway in Rochester." Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Everyone knows Charles Dickens for the wonderful author that he was. "Great Expectations" is just one of the great books he wrote. Though a little hard to read because of the era in which it originated, Charles Dickens is always wonderful to read.
I've been putting together a Website from which you can read the book or listen to it. It's in progress and not quite ready yet, but I'm getting there. In the next blog, I'll provide the link you'll need.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Frankenstein (in Audio, Video, and Text)

As you know, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel by Mary Shelley. First published in London, England in 1818 (but more often read in the revised third edition of 1831), it is a novel infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. It was also a warning against the "over-reaching" of modern man and the Industrial Revolution. (The novel's subtitle, The Modern Prometheus, alludes to the over-reaching and punishment of the character from Greek mythology.) The story has had an influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films. Many distinguished authors, such as Brian Aldiss, claim that it is the very first science fiction novel. *

I have finished putting all of Mary Shelley's book, Frankenstein, onto my Website for you to read online if you choose to do so. The content of the book itself is in public domain, but the Website is copyrighted. You are welcome to link to it if you wish. Enjoy!

You also can enjoy an old black-and-white silent movie of Frankenstein by clicking the following link. (NOTE: The music is pretty cool.)

If you can't see the video, open a separate Web browser window and cut and paste this URL:

* From Wikipedia (
Graphic from: