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An English lesson on "Dead Poets Society", the meaning of "Poetry" and the struggle for Identity.

  • What is poetry and why do we read it?

  • Do we need to "understand" or to "feel" poetry? Explain

  • What makes a poem a great poem?

TOPIC 1: WHAT’S GOOD IN THIS LIFE?


O Me! O Life! - Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)


Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.


TOPIC 2: WHAT WILL YOUR VERSE BE IN THIS LIFE?

Ahimè! Oh vita!

Ahimè! Oh vita! di queste domande che ricorrono, degli infiniti cortei di senza fede, di città piene di sciocchi, di me stesso che sempre mi rimprovero, (perché chi più sciocco di me, e chi più senza fede?) di occhi che invano bramano la luce, di meschini scopi, della battaglia sempre rinnovata, dei poveri risultati di tutto, della folla che vedo sordida camminare a fatica attorno a me, dei vuoti ed inutili anni degli altri, io con gli altri legato in tanti nodi, la domanda, ahimè, la domanda così triste che ricorre – Che cosa c’è di buono in tutto questo, ahimè, ah vita?

Risposta

Che tu sei qui – che esiste la vita e l’individuo, che il potente spettacolo continua, e tu puoi contribuirvi con un tuo verso.

The Road Not Taken - by Robert Frost (1874 -1963)


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


La strada che non ho preso


Due strade a un bivio in un bosco ingiallito, e purtroppo non potevo percorrerle entrambe, ed essendo un viaggiatore solo, rimasi a lungo a guardarne una fino a che potei, nel punto in cui svoltava nel sottobosco


Poi presi l’altra, perché era altrettanto bella, e aveva forse l’aspetto migliore, perché era erbosa e meno consumata; Sebbene il passaggio le avesse rese davvero simili,


Ed entrambe quella mattina giacevano lì uguali con foglie che nessun passo aveva annerito. Oh, misi da parte la prima per un altro giorno! Pur sapendo come una strada porti altrove, dubitavo se mai sarei tornato indietro.


Racconterò questo con un sospiro, da qualche parte secoli e secoli da qui: due strade divergevano in un bosco, e io – io presi la meno percorsa, e questo ha fatto tutta la differenza.


TOPIC 3: ON CHOOSING OR BEING CHOSEN

  • What is the tone of the poem? Is the poet content or remorseful?

  • What is the moral of this poem?

  • Fill in the table with the symbolic meaning of the phrases below


TOPIC 4: SEIZE THE DAY!


To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)


Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow will be dying.


The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,

The higher he’s a-getting,

The sooner will his race be run,

And nearer he’s to setting.


That age is best which is the first,

When youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst

Times still succeed the former.


Then be not coy, but use your time,

And while ye may, go marry;

For having lost but once your prime,

You may forever tarry.


Alle vergini, perché facciano buon uso del loro tempo


Cogliete le rose finché potete, Il Vecchio Tempo ancora vola, E lo stesso fiore che oggi sorride, Domani sarà morto


La gloriosa lampada del cielo, il Sole, Diviene sempre più alta, Presto la sua corsa sarà compiuta, Ed è prossimo a tramontare.


Quell'età che è la prima è la migliore, Quando la giovinezza e il sangue sono più caldi; Ma essendo trascorsa, il peggio, il peggior Tempo già subentra al precedente.


Quindi non siate riluttanti, ma usate il vostro tempo E finché potete, sposatevi; Perché, avendo perduto una volta il primo, Potreste attardarvi per sempre.

  • Tell us about that time you really seized the day…

  • …and that other time when you did not, and lost a chance

TOPIC 5: COMPARE THE PREVIOUS POEM WITH THE FOLLOWING ONE, BY THE IRISH POET W.B. YEATS (1865 – 1939) AND WITH THE SONG BY FABRIZIO DE ANDRE':


When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;


How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;


And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


VALZER PER UN AMORE (1969)


Quando carica d'anni e di castità Tra I ricordi e le illusioni Del bel tempo che non ritornerà Troverai le mie canzoni Nel sentirle ti meraviglierai Che qualcuno abbia lodato

Le bellezze che allor più non avrai E che avesti nel tempo passato


Ma non ti servirà il ricordo Non ti servirà Che per piangere il tuo rifiuto Del mio amore che non tornerà


Ma non ti servirà più a niente Non ti servirà Che per piangere sui tuoi occhi Che nessuno più canterà


Ma non ti servirà più a niente Non ti servirà Che per piangere sui tuoi occhi Che nessuno più canterà


Vola il tempo lo sai che vola e va Forse non ce ne accorgiamo Ma più ancora del tempo che non ha età Siamo noi che ce ne andiamo

E per questo ti dico amore, amor Io t'attenderò ogni sera Ma tu vieni non aspettare ancor Vieni adesso finché è primavera


TOPIC 6: ON LIVING LIFE IN THE WOODS OR AMONG THE CROWD


“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”


Christopher McCandless




H.D. THOREAU (1817-1862)


I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; of if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to five a true account of it in my next excursion.


TOPIC 7 (IN MUSIC): TWO WAYS OF BEING YOURSELF


YOU CAN BUILD WALLS or HAVE NO NEED TO HIDE



TOPIC 8: ON PERSONAL IDENTITY vs SELF IDENTITY


Although often used synonymously, we distinguish personal identity from self-identity. Self-identity is how you see and identify yourself, while personal identity is who you are and what makes you unique.


Your personal identity is who you are as an individual. It is a composite of your personality traits, beliefs, values, physical attributes, abilities, aspirations, and other identifiers that make you who you are. It is all those pieces that combine to make you a unique individual person. Essentially, it is the collection of the answers to the philosophical question "WHO AM I?".


Your self-identity instead is your perspective of your personal identity. Simply put, personal identity is who you are, while self-identity is the way that you see yourself and it is closely related to your self-image and self-concept. It affects the way you feel about yourself and how you behave in challenging situations.


Your self-identity may often be tied to jus a single or a few parts of your personal identity. Some people firmly tie their self-identity to their occupation, and if they lose their job, they will often really struggle with finding their self-identity. On the other hand, personal identity is not connected to a single or a few limited characteristics. It is connected to deeper and more rooted traits of who you are.


Personal Identity


Riccardo Zambon - 4th March 2023




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