Latin America: Geography, Culture, and Literary Classics
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The Most Beautiful Poem in Ancient Literature (an excerpt)
Published 21 March 2013
For many connoisseurs and lovers of Latin literature, Virgil is the first poet due to his epic poem the "Aeneid". The second poet would be the lyrical Horace.
For some of these people the best poem written in Latin is precisely the Oda number 7 from the book IV by Horace. Naturally, about the likes, nothing is written; after all any artistic assessment is just a personal judgement because it is not only affected by the cold rational assessment.
In any case, English poet Alfred Edward Housman (1859 - 1936), extraordinary professor of Latin at Cambridge from 1911 to 1936, considered this the most beautiful poem of old literature.
It is the Epicurean thought that encourages this composition. In this poem the return of spring, already heralded with irresistible force, and the succession of the seasons, warn us that everything passes; but as the years are renewed cyclically, this doesn’t happen to men; when our sunset comes (we don’t know when) we do not return to life, we are only dust (in the urn) and shadow (in the afterlife), not even the gods can resurrect men; so that we have to seize the moment.
The snow is fled: the trees their leaves put on,
The fields their green:
Earth owns the change, and rivers lessening run
Their banks between.
Naked the Nymphs and Graces in the meads
The dance essay:
“No 'scaping death” proclaims the year, that speeds
This sweet spring day.
Frosts yield to zephyrs; Summer drives out Spring,
To vanish, when
Rich Autumn sheds his fruits; round wheels the ring,--
Yet the swift moons repair Heaven's detriment:
We, soon as thrust
Where good Aeneas, Tullus, Ancus went,
What are we? dust.
Can Hope assure you one more day to live
From powers above?
You rescue from your heir whate'er you give
The self you love.
When life is o'er, and Minos has rehearsed
The grand last doom,
Not birth, nor eloquence, nor worth, shall burst
Not Dian's self can chaste Hippolytus
To life recall,
Nor Theseus free his loved Pirithous
From Lethe's thrall.
Horace. The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace. John Conington. trans. London. (George Bell and Sons. 1882.)
The House of the Spirits
by Isabel Allende (Goodreads Author)
In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.
The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award! New York Times-bestselling novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez,
A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick
One of the twentieth century’s most beloved and acclaimed novels, One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women—brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul—this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.
The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as "magical realism."
by Paulo Coelho (Goodreads Author)
Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
* All book images and synopsis from Amazon.ca (or Goodreads where indicated).
Studies in Sikhism
Walking with Nanak:Travels in his Footsteps by Haroon Khalid
Haroon Khalid's lifelong fascination with Guru Nanak was reignited when he came upon Babur Bani, a poem written by the saint. This, and the discovery that Guru Nanak spent a large part of his life in Pakistan, inspired Khalid to undertake a journey that he hoped would help him learn more about the revered founder of Sikhism. In this wonderful paean to Guru Nanak, Khalid describes his travels across the length and breadth of Pakistan as he visits the many gurdwaras and other locales associated with the saint, delving into their history and musing about their place and significance in a Muslim country. But this book is not merely a story about gurdwaras, it is also a re-telling of the story of Nanak the son, the poet, the wanderer, the father, the friend. Sifting through the stories of his miracles and poetry, we emerge with a picture of Nanak, the man.
Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiyat:
Reflections on a Land and its People by Khushwant Singh
Punjab, Punjabis & Punjabiyat brings together Khushwant Singh’s best writings on Punjab, Punjabis and the Sikhs. Divided into three parts, the book deals with various aspects of the region—its geography, climate, history, culture, religion, politics, language and literature. Part I of the book delves into Punjab’s history, culture, language and Sikhism. Part II covers the burning issues that affected the state during Khushwant Singh’s lifetime, including the pains of Partition, the Khalistan movement, Operation Blue Star, the anti-Sikh riots, and more. Part III is a collection of profiles of well-known Punjabis—poets, politicians, activists, friends and family.
In Pursuit of Empire: Treasures from the Toor Collection of Sikh Art
by Davinder Toor (Author, Contributor)
The story of the meteoric expansion of the Sikh Empire in the late 18th century and its devastating collapse half a century later told through a stunning assemblage of 100 rare and beautiful objects from the world's finest private collection of Sikh art.
Through the remarkable achievements of one collector, who pursued his passion to create the world's finest private collection of Sikh art, In Pursuit of Empire reveals the lasting legacy of the Sikh Empire.
* All book cover images and synopses from amazon.ca
"When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. " -amazon.com