Thursday, January 7, 2010

Essay: "The Lantern-Bearers." Robert Louis Stevenson.

One-minute review: Life as a young man in a seaside fishing village with its joys and tragedies (some of which are vividly described), leading to a meditation on being a writer. The title refers to a game played by the young men as time for beginning school neared—they put lighted lanterns under their coats, probably in memory of the fishermen and other professions in the town who used lanterns as part of their jobs. Some excellent description of the sights, sounds and smells of the village.


“It is said that a poet has died young in the breast of the most stolid.” [i.e., every young man has the spirit of a poet that dies as he grows older. RayS.]

“There is one fable that touches very near the quick of life: the fable of the monk who passed into the woods, heard a bird break into song, hearkened for a trill or two, and found himself on his return a stranger at his convent gates; for he had been absent fifty years, and of all his comrades there survived but one to recognize him.”

“It was Whitman who…showed very nobly, that the average man was full of joys and full of poetry of his own.”

“To draw a life without delights is to prove I have not realized it.”

“…the possibilities of existence.”

“For to miss the joy is to miss all.”

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc. 1960.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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