All posts by Joshua Smith

Shields and Urns and Beauty and Misery: What Wonders Were the Greeks

stephen_fry I want to say it was Stephen Fry who argued that John Keats might have gone on to become the next William Shakespeare had he lived a bit longer, though it may have in fact have been Christopher Hitchens.  It’s odd not knowing the origin of that quote, because I get those two mixed up rarely—then again, the accent and a general contempt for belief in any sort of divine being are traits common to both these men, so I’ll cut myself some slack.  It is an interesting statement when taken from afar, because at first I’m willing to agree with it.  Upon reflection, however, I feel that this is in fact a real disservice to John Keats as a poet, for while Shakespeare is a standard that I think many writers should aspire to (or at least would appreciate as a lovely comparison), I think Keats as a writer managed in his own way to attain his own identity.730052102 Continue reading Shields and Urns and Beauty and Misery: What Wonders Were the Greeks

In Defense of Mr. Byron

DPS GirlsThe boys of the newly formed Dead Poets’ Society are holding one of their weekly meetings (except Knox Overstreet, who’s at a party trying to talk to the girl of his dreams) when there’s a sound—the likes of which strikes terror into the hearts of teenage boys: a girl’s laughter.  Charlie leads them in, offers them cigarettes, while the rest of the group stares on in silence, not sure what to say, what to think, or even whether or not they’re allowed to speak.  The boys eventually try to talk, though it’s Charlie who eventually succeeds in properly “wooing” the girls by of course reciting poetry: first a poem by Elizabeth Barret Browning, and then a second one by George Gordon, Lord Byron. Continue reading In Defense of Mr. Byron

Evil Tyger Max -#12

12813973_973669702686210_2245842652532621818_nIf you want to understand the Title you have to wait till the end.

This semester happens to be my last in grad school, and so I thought I would treat myself to only two classes; that way I would be able to spend more time writing.  My, what a foolish dream that was.  In my ignorance, or clueless bliss, I’m not sure which, I forgot that Graduate School, even if it’s just for a Master’s degree, is a Deathclaw from Fall Out 4: a monstrous soulless beast designed to rip, tear, bite, and devour the body before digesting the soul in its black pit of a stomach.  Despite that colorful description, I should note for the reader that I am actually enjoying school, despite the fact it’s slowly fallout4_deathclaw_3_by_jd1680a-d9guojlkilling me. Continue reading Evil Tyger Max -#12

Ozy Ozy Everywhere, & Not a Man to Marvel

 maxresdefault

Every chance I get, I read Ozymandias. I should clarify, though, because that makes it sound like all I do is read the same poem over and over again (in the shower, in lines at Burger King, or mowing the lawn)—that’s just not the case at all. Fall Out 4 recently came out, and my lovely-lady-scientist wife bought it for me as an birthday present. In between the soul-crushing bouts of non-stop homework, I play it endlessly. That is, of course when I’m not busy reading graphic novels for a book club I participate in every two weeks, and when I’m not playing with my puppy Huckleberry, or talking to esb70bikixyck77szfmyfriends over a weekly meeting I call “Coffee with Jammer” (I’m currently in talks with PBS about making it into a series) or when…you know, perhaps it’s better to be honest, and say whenever I stumble upon the poem, I take the time to read it. Continue reading Ozy Ozy Everywhere, & Not a Man to Marvel

A Bird’s Song, and Two Men Divided by Death, United by Age

England-winter1It’s nearing the end of the year, finals are over, papers are due, but we’re literature majors here, so of course the only thing that matters is the symbolism of winter. The year is dying and ready to sleep forevermore — bringing in its death a spark of new life, new possibilities, and the mass cultural/capitalistic orgy that is the Christmas season. Parting with the cynicism, however, I decided that rather than construct coherent argument, I would instead remember a moment from one of my Romanticism courses and muse on the experience. Continue reading A Bird’s Song, and Two Men Divided by Death, United by Age

Ozymandias

ozymandias

This is a sketch I did a number of years ago. It was published originally on my blog White Tower Musings, but I wanted to share it since it was inspired by one of the most, possibly overused but still brilliant poems, Ozymandias by Percy Shelley.

The poem has always been one of my favorites because of its ability to really convey the ephemeral nature of Mankind’s creations.  Men build egos and empires, and in the end it all fades.  Nature is the only force that lasts.

 

Here’s a link to the original post:

https://jsjammersmith.wordpress.com//?s=ozymandias&search=Go

Romantics as Rappers, Superheros, Real Estate Tycoons, and Immortal Allusions of Power

hqdefaultThere’s a scene in an episode of the animated series Samurai Jack where the Scotsman encounters an old man in the port who wishes him to tell him a tale. When the Scotsman asks what it is there’s a long pause before the old man cackles out, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner!”

The Scotsman then bellows, “Heard it!” and shoves him out of the way. Continue reading Romantics as Rappers, Superheros, Real Estate Tycoons, and Immortal Allusions of Power

Dear Mr. Southey, Jump in a Lake: Byron and Epic Humor

Byron's orientalist pose

There’s a recurring question that springs to mind whenever I sit in the Starbucks in the Barnes & Noble in my little East Texas town and stare up at the mural of authors who all seem to have transcended time and space to have coffee alongside the hipsters: who put Oscar Wilde next to George Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, and Trollope?  Seriously, is it any wonder that the man looks so bored?  Wilde shouldn’t be surrounded by those Victorian fogies, he should be sipping gin with Truman Capote, Christopher Hitchens, Walt Whitman, and the one man who would almost certainly guarantee a good time, and who also happens to be the focus of this Portrait_of_Lord_Byron_-_Google_Art_Projectessay, George Gordon, Lord Byron.  The reason for such inclusion is simple: Byron could be an absolutely trenchant satirist when he wanted to be.  Byron, like Wilde, Capote or Hitchens, could bring out his own breed of sharp wit whenever someone at a dinner party decided to be cleverer than him, only to  be left decimated in a single sentence by his superior rhetorical ability.  I know this is a platitude, but sometimes I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall whenever Byron let loose one of those glorious aphorisms that sealed his entrance into the hall of “Truly Spectacular One Liners,” if only to see and understand how it was that Rodney Dangerfield sealed his membership before the poet.  (Then again, when you’ve starred in Caddyshack, your “Immortality card” is pretty much secure, unless you’re that blond kid who was the protagonist, and does anybody have any clue what happened to that guy?) Continue reading Dear Mr. Southey, Jump in a Lake: Byron and Epic Humor

Of Images, Sublime, and the Necessity of Keeping Crossbows Off Ships

Two voices in the airIt’s probably not a good first impression upon my new reader to admit that I did not actually re-read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner before I began this first post.  I promise it was not out of apathy or laziness.  You see, I’ve read the Mariner’s Tale at least ten times in my life, at least four times for school, the other times because my Cursed me with his eye
teachers had instilled in me the beauty and power found within this strange and wonderful poem.  This confidence in the material, really my own working knowledge of the poem, allows me to focus instead upon a work of art that has played a significant role in my appreciation of the work. Continue reading Of Images, Sublime, and the Necessity of Keeping Crossbows Off Ships