Scope for Imagination

Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?

-Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Transcendentalists?--not Hawthorne!

When all's said and done, Nathaniel Hawthorne was not a transcendentalist. The writer of The Scarlet Letter, was a Concord neighbor to Emerson, Channing, Thoreau and Alcott, but he became deeply skeptical of their utopian beliefs.

Like Louisa May Alcott, he published stories for children at a time when he was in need of some cash.

We read from A Wonder Book For Boys and Girls, (I love the title), where Hawthorne presents Greek myths framed within a story of young college graduate, Eustace Bright.

Eustace, like some Yankee Pied Piper, tromps around Tanglewood followed by a hoard of children who can't get enough of his storytelling and lessons in natural philosophy.

(Hmmm...I'm thinking this Eustace guy sounds an awful lot like Thoreau...coincidence?)

The kids have names like:
Blue Eye
Squash Blossom

We read Hawthorne's retelling of Pandora's Box...

We made cardboard versions of boxes and decorated them...some of us decorated them with what we thought came out of Pandora's box...some scary stuff! But we all appreciated the last thing left in the box...Hope.

Then we considered whether Hope made it worth the trade off. Whether we wished all those horrible troubles had never escaped.

Here's some Emily Dickinson on the topic:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

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