Monday, October 21, 2013

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

by Edgar Alan Poe (1809-1849)

The Raven, Lithograph by Édouard Manet

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door––
                                        Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; -- vainly I had tried to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow -- sorrow for the lost Lenore––
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore––
                                        Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me -- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
"'Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door––
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door; ––
                                        This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you " ––here I opened wide the door;––
                                        Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!" ––
                                        Merely this, and nothing more.

Then into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon I heard again a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore––
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; ––
                                        'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door––
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door––
                                        Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore––
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
                                       Quoth the raven "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning -- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no sublunary being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door––
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
                                       With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered -- not a feather then he fluttered––
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before––
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
                                       Quoth the raven "Nevermore."

Wondering at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster so when Hope he would adjure––
Stern Despair returned, instead of the sweet Hope he dared adjure––
                                       That sad answer, "Never––nevermore."

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore––
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
                                       Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
                                        She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Angels whose faint foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee -- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite -- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore;
Let me quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
                                        Quoth the raven "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! -- prophet still, if bird or devil!––
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted––
On this home by Horror haunted -- tell me truly, I implore––
Is there -- is there balm in Gilead? -- tell me -- tell me, I implore!"
                                        Quoth the raven "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil -- prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us -- by that God we both adore––
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore––
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
                                        Quoth the raven "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting––
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! -- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
                                       Quoth the raven "Nevermore."

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                                        Shall be lifted––nevermore


Edgar Allan Poe Biography

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

v     Poe was a writer, poet, editor, and harsh literary critic, once called the "tomahawk man".
v     His stories are among the most famous and important of the American Romantic movement, alternatively called Dark Romanticism and Gothic literature. His stories are full of mystery and the macabre (hrozný a strašidelný).
v     He was the first American to try to make a living just from writing. It was very difficult. There were no international copy-right laws, so publishers could simply take the best English writings and print them freely, rather than paying an American to write something. Often times they’d refuse to pay a writer, or do so much later than promised.
v     Poe became instantly famous all across America in 1845 with his poem The Raven. He was only paid $9 for its publication.

v     Poe was also the first American writer to be more popular in Europe than America. His stories were translated into French by Charles Baudelaire.
v     He invented the detective story genre with his detective character C. Auguste Dupin.
“Each [of Poe's detective stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed.... Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
v     Poe wrote some of the earliest science fiction. Jules Vern wrote a sequal to one of Poe’s stories – The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.
v     In 1848 Poe wrote an essay titled Eureka: A Prose Poem, discussing his theories regarding cosmology. Although it was filled with scientific errors, and Poe never considered it a scientific article, it predicted the Big Bang theory 80 years before it was accepted by science.

v A group called the Mystery Writers of America present an award each year called the Edgar Award, in his honor.
Poe's Personal Life
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a family of poor traveling actors. At a young age his father abandoned his family, and his mother died soon after from consumption (tuberculosis). Poe and his two siblings became orphans, and they were sent to different families.
Edgar’s older brother Henry was a poet and, for a time, a sailor, traveling around the world. He was an inspiration to Edgar. He died of tuberculosis and/or alcoholism in 1831. There’s some uncertainty as to whether Henry or Edgar wrote certain poems.
Edgar was taken in by John Allan of Richmond Virginia, a merchant and slave-trader. Edgar’s relation with this family was difficult, which led Edgar's rebellious nature. Poe sometimes lied about his name and age, calling himself at various times Henri Le Rennet, and Edgar A. Perry.
From 1815-1820 the Allans moved to England, and Edgar attended a number of boarding schools. Returning from England, Edgar argued with John Allan about money for university. Edgar said he needed it for tuition and books, but meanwhile he owed large gambling debts. After a year he decided to run away to Boston, finding any jobs he could. He wrote his first book of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems anonymously, “by a Bostonian.”
Unable to find a good job, Poe enlisted in the US Army at the age of 18, and served for two years. But, he complained to his superior that he wanted to end his service early, and apply to West Point, a military college. His commanding officer agreed so long as Poe reconciled with his foster father, John Allan.
Arriving home, he discovered his foster mother had died the day before. Embarrassed for not writing to Edgar, John Allan agreed to support him at West Point. But, John Allan soon remarried, and amid several affairs and illegitimate children that John had, Edgar and he argued so often that John soon disowned him.
After two years at West Point, Edgar decided to quit, refusing to attend formations, classes, or church, for which he was court-martialed. His next book of poems was financed in part from fellow students who raised $170 to publish it.
Edgar went from magazine to magazine throughout America, working as an editor, literary critic, and author. He never stayed very long in one place, and struggled with alcohol, like his brother. At age 26 he married his 13 year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm. Their marriage lasted twelve years, until she died of tuberculosis.
As a critic, Edgar particularly disliked transcendentalism as well as the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He felt Longfellow was a plagiarist, and the transcendentalist philosophy was “metaphor––run mad” and “mysticism for mysticism’s sake”. Ralph Waldo Emerson didn’t like Poe much, either. He referred to Poe as “the jingle man,” and said of The Raven “I see nothing in it.”
Poe died age 40, in Baltimore. On October 3, 1849, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance." He was taken to the Washington Medical College, where he died four days later. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he wound up in the street, and, wearing clothes that were not his own. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. Some sources say Poe's final words were "Lord help my poor soul." All medical records, including his death certificate, have been lost. Newspapers at the time reported Poe's death as "congestion of the brain" or "cerebral inflammation", common euphemisms for disreputable causes such as alcoholism. A recent film starring John Cusack even suggested a conspiracy, but the film was highly fictional.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson

v     Nature was an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, written in 1836. It’s about 22 pages long.

v     This essay explains transcendentalism – that you can find divinity (Godliness) in nature, all around you. Emerson called it a Universal Soul, or Reason. The idea is that, if everything on Earth was made by God, then each little thing tells you something about God.

“What is a farm but a mute gospel? The chaff and the wheat, weeds and plants, blight, rain, insects, sun, ––it is a sacred emblem from the first furrow of spring to the last stack which the snow of winter overtakes in the fields. But the sailor, the shepherd, the miner, the merchant, in their several resorts, have each an experience precisely parallel, and leading to the same conclusion: because all organizations are radically alike. Nor can it be doubted that this moral sentiment which thus scents the air, grows in the grain, and impregnates the waters of the world, is caught by man and sinks into his soul. The moral influence of nature upon every individual is that amount of truth which it illustrates to him. Who can estimate this? Who can guess how much firmness the sea-beaten rock has taught the fisherman?”

v     Emerson believed that nature united everything, from animals to the arts and sciences:

“Not only resemblances exist in things whose analogy is obvious, as when we detect the type of the human hand in the flipper of the fossil saurus, but also in objects wherein there is great superficial unlikeness. Thus architecture is called "frozen music," by De Stael and Goethe. Vitruvius thought an architect should be a musician. "A Gothic church," said Coleridge, "is a petrified religion." Michael Angelo maintained, that, to an architect, a knowledge of anatomy is essential.”

v     This essay is divided into eight sections, titled: Nature, Commodity, Beauty, Language, Discipline, Idealism, Spirit, and Prospects

v     In the essay, nature isn’t just the woods and rivers. It’s the physical world – everything around you, including art, science, and your physical body - everything but your soul.

v     In the section titled Nature, Emerson discusses how it serves human needs: as entertainment/delight, for communication, and for understanding our world.

v     Emerson argued that people do not fully accept nature’s beauty and all it has to offer. He said most people don’t see, or notice, nature the way a child does. That we lose something by growing up – a poetic or artistic way of seeing.

v     He suggested that people stay in solitude to better develop their relation with nature.

“In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child.”

v     Commodity has to do with all the gifts from the earth. the main idea is we shouldn’t gripe or complain about our world, but be thankful for everything it offers.

“this ocean of air above, this ocean of water beneath, this firmament of earth between? this zodiac of lights, this tent of dropping clouds, this striped coat of climates, this fourfold year? Beasts, fire, water, stones, and corn serve him. The field is at once his floor, his work-yard, his play-ground, his garden, and his bed.”

v     Emerson didn’t believe that human technology was against nature. His argument was that it imitated nature.

“The useful arts are reproductions or new combinations by the wit of man, of the same natural benefactors. He no longer waits for favoring gales, but by means of steam, he realizes the fable of Aeolus's bag, and carries the two and thirty winds in the boiler of his boat.”

v     Emerson felt that the natural world was a gift so beautiful, it made us all richer than kings:

“Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous. The dawn is my Assyria; the sun-set and moon-rise my Paphos, and unimaginable realms of faerie; broad noon shall be my England of the senses and the understanding; the night shall be my Germany of mystic philosophy and dreams.”

v     What makes the world so beautiful isn’t simply all the nice, scenery, but the fact that it’s there even when not expected, to remind us of our place, and to provide beauty when we’re struggling.

“Go out of the house to see the moon, and ’t is mere tinsel; it will not please as when its light shines upon your necessary journey.”

v     In Language, Emerson explains how all our words and expressions come from nature.

“An enraged man is a lion, a cunning man is a fox, a firm man is a rock, a learned man is a torch. A lamb is innocence; a snake is subtle spite; flowers express to us the delicate affections. Light and darkness are our familiar expression for knowledge and ignorance; and heat for love. Visible distance behind and before us, is respectively our image of memory and hope.”

v     Emerson uses the word Discipline to mean a subject, like a school subject. Nature is itself a subject you can learn from. It’s a teacher, lesson book, and a classroom. Every science class you take, every literature and history class, even PE, they’re all different sides of the discipline of nature.

v     Through the discipline of nature, we learn common sense, and the nature of property, debt, and credit. Emerson compared property to snow:

“if it fall level to-day, it will be blown into drifts to-morrow”

v     Through the discipline of nature, we can learn morals – right and wrong:

“All things are moral; . . . every chemical change from the rudest crystal up to the laws of life; every change of vegetation from the first principle of growth in the eye of a leaf, to the tropical forest and antediluvian coal-mine; every animal function from the sponge up to Hercules, shall hint or thunder to man the laws of right and wrong, and echo the Ten Commandments. Therefore is nature ever the ally of Religion: lends all her pomp and riches to the religious sentiment.”

v     Everything we buy and consume can teach us morals. Think of common objects like pencils, cups, shoes, coats, eyeglasses, etc. Emerson saw them as servants:

“. . . the use of commodity, regarded by itself, is mean and squalid. But it is to the mind an education in the doctrine of Use, namely, that a thing is good only so far as it serves; . . .”

Parable of the Prodigal Son

New King James Bible, St. Luke 15: 11-32

There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.” And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”

            And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants; “Bring quickly the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to make merry.

            Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.” But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this one of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.”
Tyndale Version (1522-1536):
11 And he sayde: a certayne man had two sonnes 12 and the yonger of them sayde to his father: father geve me my parte of the goodes yt to me belongeth. And he devided vnto them his substaunce. 13 And not longe after ye yonger sonne gaddered all that he had to gedder and toke his iorney into a farre countre and theare he wasted his goodes with royetous lyvinge. 14 And when he had spent all that he had ther rose a greate derth thorow out all yt same londe and he began to lacke. 15 And he went and clave to a citesyn of yt same countre which sent him to his felde to kepe his swyne. 16 And he wold fayne have filled his bely with the coddes that ye swyne ate: and noo man gave him. 17 Then he came to him selfe and sayde: how many hyred servauntes at my fathers have breed ynough and I dye for honger. 18 I will aryse and goo to my father and will saye vnto him: father I have synned agaynst heven and before ye 19 and am no moare worthy to be called thy sonne make me as one of thy hyred servauntes.
            20 And he arose and went to his father. And when he was yet a greate waye of his father sawe him and had compassion and ran and fell on his necke and kyssed him. 21 And the sonne sayd vnto him: father I have synned agaynst heven and in thy sight and am no moare worthy to be called thy sonne. 22 But his father sayde to his servautes: bringe forth that best garment and put it on him and put a rynge on his honde and showes on his fete. 23 And bringe hidder that fatted caulfe and kyll him and let vs eate and be mery: 24 for this my sonne was deed and is alyve agayne he was loste and is now founde. And they began to be merye.
            25 The elder brother was in the felde and when he cam and drewe nye to ye housse he herde minstrelcy and daunsynge 26 and called one of his servauntes and axed what thoose thinges meate. 27 And he sayd vnto him: thy brother is come and thy father had kylled ye fatted caulfe because he hath receaved him safe and sounde. 28 And he was angry and wolde not goo in. Then came his father out and entreated him. 29 He answered and sayde to his father: Loo these many yeares have I done the service nether brake at eny tyme thy commaundment and yet gavest thou me never soo moche as a kyd to make mery wt my lovers: 30 but assone as this thy sonne was come which hath devoured thy goodes with harlootes thou haste for his pleasure kylled ye fatted caulfe. 31 And he sayd vnto him: Sonne thou wast ever with me and all that I have is thyne: 32 it was mete that we shuld make mery and be glad: for this thy brother was deed and is a lyve agayne: and was loste and is founde.
Wycliffe Version (1382-1395):

11 And he seide, A man hadde twei sones; 12 and the yonger of hem seide to the fadir, Fadir, yyue me the porcioun of catel, that fallith to me. And he departide to hem the catel. 13 And not aftir many daies, whanne alle thingis weren gederid togider, the yonger sone wente forth in pilgrymage in to a fer cuntre; and there he wastide hise goodis in lyuynge lecherously. 14 And aftir that he hadde endid alle thingis, a strong hungre was maad in that cuntre, and he bigan to haue nede. 15 And he wente, and drouy hym to oon of the citeseyns of that cuntre. And he sente hym in to his toun, to fede swyn. 16 And he coueitide to fille his wombe of the coddis that the hoggis eeten, and no man yaf hym. 17 And he turnede ayen to hym silf, and seide, Hou many hirid men in my fadir hous han plente of looues; and Y perische here thorouy hungir. 18 Y schal rise vp, and go to my fadir, and Y schal seie to hym, Fadir, Y haue synned in to heuene, and bifor thee; 19 and now Y am not worthi to be clepid thi sone, make me as oon of thin hirid men.

            20 And he roos vp, and cam to his fadir. And whanne he was yit afer, his fadir saiy hym, and was stirrid bi mercy. And he ran, and fel on his necke, and kisside hym. 21 And the sone seide to hym, Fadir, Y haue synned in to heuene, and bifor thee; and now Y am not worthi to be clepid thi sone. 22 And the fadir seide to hise seruauntis, Swithe brynge ye forth the firste stoole, and clothe ye hym, and yyue ye a ryng in his hoond, 23 and schoon on hise feet; and brynge ye a fat calf, and sle ye, and ete we, and make we feeste. 24 For this my sone was deed, and hath lyued ayen; he perischid, and is foundun. And alle men bigunnen to ete.

            25 But his eldere sone was in the feeld; and whanne he cam, and neiyede to the hous, he herde a symfonye and a croude. 26 And he clepide oon of the seruauntis, and axide, what these thingis weren. 27 And he seide to hym, Thi brother is comun, and thi fadir slewe a fat calf, for he resseyuede hym saaf. 28 And he was wrooth, and wolde not come in. Therfor his fadir wente out, and bigan to preye hym. 29 And he answerde to his fadir, and seide, Lo! so many yeeris Y serue thee, and Y neuer brak thi comaundement; and thou neuer yaf to me a kidde, that Y with my freendis schulde haue ete. 30 But aftir that this thi sone, that hath deuourid his substaunce with horis, cam, thou hast slayn to hym a fat calf. 31 And he seide to hym, Sone, thou art euer more with me, and alle my thingis ben thine. 32 But it bihofte for to make feeste, and to haue ioye; for this thi brother was deed, and lyuede ayen; he perischide, and is foundun.

The English Bible

The interesting thing about the Bible is the number of translations, and how the stories have changed over the years - and also the people who translated them. There are several important English Bibles:

The Wycliffe Bible

Hand written between 1382-1395 by John Wycliffe, a priest and Oxford professor, with the possible help of his friends. It was the first Bible in the English language. Although it followed the Latin version of the Catholic Church, it was illegal because the church didn't want common people knowing the Bible. They only wanted priests who speak Latin to be able to read it.

Wycliffe's work was very controversial. He lost his position at Oxford, and was sent to the village of Lutterworth, where he died of a stroke in the middle of giving mass (omša). 30 years later, a council decided to call him a heretic. They dug up his body, burned it, and threw his ashes into the River Swift. They also hunted and killed his many followers.

The Tyndale Bible

Written between 1522-1536 by the English scholar, William Tyndale. It was the first printed Bible in English, and also the first translated directly from Greek and Hebrew, ignoring the Latin version authorized by the Catholic Church. He changed several important words, for example, from 'church' to 'congregation', 'priest' to 'elder', 'do penance' to 'repent', and 'charity' to 'love'.

Tyndale's work was illegal, and he was considered a heretic. He had to hide in different countries in Northern Europe, constantly on the run, while he worked. Tyndale was caught and killed in 1536. He was publically strangled and burned at the stake. His last words were, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes!"

The Great Bible

First written in 1538, was the first English version authorized by the king - no one was killed for writing it. It borrowed greatly from the Tyndale Bible, changing the little differences to match the Latin version of the Catholic Church. Basically, this was needed when King Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church, starting the Anglican Church, so he could divorce his wife.

The Geneva Bible

Printed in 1557. When Henry VIII died, queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) took his place, and ended the Anglican church, rejoining England with the Catholics. All the leaders of the Anglican church that survived ran away to Geneva where they wrote another bible, similar to the Great Bible. It became very popular. This is the version Shakespeare used in his plays.

Mary I, by Antonis Mor, painted in 1554

The Bishop's Bible

with Queen Elizabeth on the cover

Written in 1568, after Queen Elizabeth took the throne, bringing back all the Anglican prostitants from Geneva, etc. This version took out all the parts from the Catholic Latin translation, using instead the Greek versions that Tyndale had translated forty years earlier - basically completing his work. It also supported the idea of an Episcopal clergy. But, this version was too big and expensive, so most people preferred the Geneva Bible.

The Old King James Bible

Written between 1604-1611. It was basically a cheaper version of the Bishop's Bible, meant to be popular and supporting the English church. It worked. The King James Bible is the version most people look for and use today.

The Standard, Authorized King James Bible

Printed in 1769, this version simply updated the spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. It's the version commonly thought of as the King James Bible today.

The New King James Bible

First printed in 1950, is another update of the vocabulary and grammar. Some traditionalists don't like it.

Parable - The Good Samaritan

New King James Version, ST. LUKE 10:30-36:

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
1. Why didn't the priest or Levite help the wounded victim?
Well, it seems they were afraid he was already dead, and it was taboo to touch a dead person. People thought it would make you dirty, both physically and spiritually.
2. Why did Jesus choose a Samaritan as the hero of this story?
In Jesus' time, Samaritans were enemies of the Jews. Samaritans were a tribe of Israelites that were considered traitors because, when Greece invaded, they worshiped the Greek governor, Antiochus, as a god, and dedicated their temple to Zeus. In Jesus' time, the Samaritans had recently desecrated (znesvätili) a Jewish temple with human bones. Jesus took a risk in making the hero a Samaritan, because he wanted to show that even your enemies can be good people - that you should judge someone by his character, not his country, ethnicity, religion, or skin colour.
Standard King James Version, ST. LUKE 10:30-36:

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his raiment and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
            And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
            And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
            But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him; and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
            And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
            Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?
Tyndale Bible (1522-1536):
30 Iesus answered and sayde: A certayne ma descended fro Hierusalem into Hierico and fell in to the hondes of theves which robbed him of his raymet and wounded him and departed levynge him halfe deed. 31 And by chaunce ther came a certayne preste that same waye and when he sawe him he passed by. 32 And lykewyse a Levite when he was come nye to the place wet and loked on him and passed by. 33 Then a certayne Samaritane as he iornyed came nye vnto him and when he sawe him had compassion on him 34 and went to and bounde vp his woundes and poured in oyle and wyne and put him on his awne beaste and brought him to a comen ynne and made provision for him. 35 And on the morowe when he departed he toke out two pece and gave them to the host and sayde vnto him. Take cure of him and whatsoever thou spedest moare when I come agayne I will recompence the. 36 Which now of these thre thynkest thou was neighbour vnto him yt fell into ye theves hondes?

Wycliffe Bible (1382-1395):

30 And Jhesu biheld, and seide, A man cam doun fro Jerusalem in to Jerico, and fel among theues, and thei robbiden hym, and woundiden hym, and wente awei, and leften the man half alyue. 31 And it bifel, that a prest cam doun the same weie, and passide forth, whanne he hadde seyn hym. 32 Also a dekene, whanne he was bisidis the place, and saiy him, passide forth. 33 But a Samaritan, goynge the weie, cam bisidis hym; and he siy hym, and hadde reuthe on hym; 34 and cam to hym, and boond togidir hise woundis, and helde in oyle and wynne; and leide hym on his beest, and ledde in to an ostrie, and dide the cure of hym. 35 And another dai he brouyte forth twey pans, and yaf to the ostiler, and seide, Haue the cure of hym; and what euer thou schalt yyue ouer, Y schal yelde to thee, whanne Y come ayen. 36 Who of these thre, semeth to thee, was neiybore to hym, that fel among theues?


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ralph Waldo Emerson Biography

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

v    Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he was a teacher, pastor, essayist, lecturer, and poet. Some call him the father of American literature, but it’s debatable.

v    He created the Transcendental movement in America, a philosophy that describes people as good, but corrupted by society, especially by traditions, politics, and organized religion. Emerson believed that everyone could be important, and that people could reach their full potential by appreciating nature, and using nature as an example.

v    To Emerson, nature wasn’t simply trees, animals, and rivers. It was the world of science, and that people are a part and product of nature. He also believed in pantheism, the idea that all natural things together created a Universal Soul or God.

v    Transcendentalism rejected the Puritan belief in predestination – the idea that God chooses who will go to heaven and who won’t, before a person is even born.

v    Emerson is famous for his essay, Nature, where he first presented Transcendentalism.

v    Emerson’s work inspired people to build two utopian communities. The first was called Brook Farm, and was started in 1841. It was a socialist experiment where everyone shared the work and the profits. It had a school, and raised money from farming, teaching, and craft making. It lasted till 1847, when a fire destroyed the main building.

v    The second was called Fruitlands, starting in 1842. The farm used no animals. People did all the work, and they were all vegetarian, and they bathed in ice-cold water. Emerson was skeptical of it, and it only lasted seven months.

Personal Life:

Emerson’s life was filled with tragedy. His father, a minister, died when he was eight. He was one of eight children, five of whom had died by the time he finished Harvard University, where he studied to be a minister (kazateľ). He married young, and his first wife died of tuberculosis, after only two years together. He loved her dearly, and even opened her crypt in the cemetery to hold her hand.

Upon her death, Emerson took a trip to Europe, where he was impressed with the beauty of nature in Paris’s Jardin des Plantes. He also met the two great romantic poets, Wordsworth and Coleridge, and was surprised by how ordinary they appeared. He wondered, if great, important people can be ordinary, why can’t ordinary people also be great?

Returning to America, Emerson returned to his church, but he didn’t like being a minister. “I have sometimes thought that, in order to be a good minister, it was necessary to leave the ministry.” He resigned, at age 29, and began a career as a lecturer, discussing his philosophy of nature in schools around New England. He also remarried and had children.

Emerson was a bit of a rebel. Gaining a good reputation as a speaker, he was asked to give a speech to the Harvard Divinity School. He said there that Jesus was a great man, but not a god, making the faculty angry. They called him an atheist, and wouldn’t let him back for thirty years.


“History is an impertinence and an injury; our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us.”

“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.”

“I unsettle all things. No facts are, to me, sacred—all are profane (svetský). I simply experiment, an endless seeker with no past at my back.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

Auotobiography - Project of Arriving at Moral Perfection (an excerpt)
by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

It was about this time I conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wish’d to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. While my care was employ’d in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore contrived the following method.

            In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name. Temperance, for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking, while by others it was extended to mean the moderating of every other pleasure, appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our avarice and ambition. I propos’d to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex’d to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurr’d to me as necessary or desirable, and annex’d to each a short precept, which fully expresse’d the extent I gave to its meaning.

            These names of virtues, with their precepts were:

1. Temperance
Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation.

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order
Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution
Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality
Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. Industry
Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity
Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice
Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation
Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11. Tranquility
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. Humility
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judg’d it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro’ the thirteen; and, as the previous acquisition of certain others, I arrang’d them with that view, as they stand above. Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits, and the force of perpetual temptations. This being acquir’d and establish’d, Silence would be more easy; and my desire being to gain knowledge at the same time that I improv’d in virtue, and considering that in conversation it was obtain’d rather by the use of the ears than of the tongue, and therefore wishing to break a habit I was getting into of prattling, punning, and joking, which only made me acceptable to trifling company, I gave Silence the second place. This and the next, Order, I expected would allow me more time for attending to my project and my studies. Resolution, once become habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavors to obtain all the subsequent virtues; Frugality and Industry freeing me from my remaining debt, and producing affluence and independence, would make more easy the practice of Sincerity and Justice, etc., etc.