Literary Lingerie

By Morgan O.Neill

Lately, I have had writers block.  It has been hard.  The words just have not flowed.  Not that they ever flowed with a fluency that made much sense to those who take time to read them, but at least I could get something reasonably coherent out.  But not right now.  I feel somewhat out-of-sorts.  And I wonder why sometimes it seems easy and sometimes it requires umpteen drafts and sometimes it is just impossible to begin at all.

 I have heard all sorts of stories about writing disciplines.  They run the gamut from no discipline at all to writing every day.   Write a thousand words no matter what, even if you are lying in bed with influenza. Take a break, put the pen down, travel somewhere and forget about the idea entirely.   One sage counsels aspiring authors to find a comfortable place, … Read more

By Morgan O’Neill

Summer is here and with the long languid days, ever warm, I think of Lake George east of the Adirondacks in upstate New York.  It is not hard.  My parents, both deceased for many years are buried there.  I don’t mean in a cemetery landed and occupied by strange neighbors on a hillside somewhere.   I mean their cremated remains are scattered on the lake.  Morbid?  No.  Far from it.  Since I was three, more than 50 plus years ago they started taking me there and the memories of their joy at being isolated on the islands away from civilization remains indelibly etched in my mind.  The fact that their remains are resting in the lake only means to me that they are still joyfully there.

I am not talking about the honky tonk southern end defaced by motels, big homes and the … Read more

By Morgan O’Neill

It may be strange to say this, but to me, a woman lounging somewhere – on a couch reading near the fire on a blustery winter night or perhaps, early in the evening while the light is still good under a tree on a breezy late spring day is sexy.  Maybe she is squirreled away in a library nook, alone, open book in hand, intently focused, oblivious to all else around her; legs akimbo.  Maybe she is there with tortoise shell eyeglasses on the bridge of her nose, or dangling by their stem between her teeth.  It is just plain sexy.  It’s a problem I have.  I know.  I admit it.

Thank God I don’t live in a time where the only media of consequence was the written word.  Wouldn’t that be ironic?   That would have been devastating! Everywhere I would turn … Read more

By Morgan O’Neill

Act IV. Scene 7, the body count is rising in what many consider Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy.  Hamlet’s turn is coming, but not before Ophelia, unable to cope any longer… succumbs.  Her brother, Laertes listens as Gertrude describes the scene:

There is a willow grows askant the brook
That shows his (hoar) leaves in the glassy stream.
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call
Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up, …
But long it could not be
Til her garments, heavy with the drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

Beauty in tragedy is hard to fathom, yet Shakespeare does not dismiss it. Evocative, feminine Ophelia even in death is … Read more

By Morgan O’Neill

Call me Ishmael, or….

Call me Insane. Recently, I cannot recall how long ago, being the pauper I am, I was perusing old books at an ancient book store.  Call it the pre-Kindle, pre-e-book era.  I thought I would go on a trip, but having no income to outlay for such a venture I imagined I might escape in a story.  Then I saw, on the shelf, Moby Dick, and I decided to go to sea.  It was not without some trepidation.

The forced march through the classics in High School did little to endear me to this blubbering tale (no pun intended).  It is long and often feels as if Melville, himself, is that stiff backed and stern teacher with ruler in hand, one imagines pacing the hand-hewn wooden planks of the isolated one room school house, long ago, on … Read more

by Morgan O’Neill

Though it cannot be confirmed, Edmund Spenser is thought to be born in 1552 in London, twelve years before Shakespeare.  He is most recognized as the author of The Faerie Queene, yet many would argue that his shorter poems alone would rank him among the greatest English poets.  One of those shorter works, Epithalamion, epitomizes his skill and brilliance.

In the Epithalamion, Spenser constructs a tightly wrought love poem that elevates and transforms a single twenty-four hour day into an expose of the cyclical nature of life. The poem is focused on Spenser’s approaching matrimonial day of June 11, 1594.   As one begins the journey to the altar with Spenser and then beyond to the matrimonial evening of consummation with his bride, it is clear that the content, stanza by stanza, takes the reader beyond this single event into … Read more

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