Musings + Essays

A Different Way to Read the Iliad.

By: Jen Shoop

Our recent conversations on the way texts move and reflect seem tailor-made for a funny little poem by Winifred Welles called “School,” in which a schoolboy neglects his studies while he daydreams by the window:

“How could he study while the sunlight gleamed

in small, sweet shapes, like wild things tame enough

to dart to him and touch his hands for love?”

Recognizing his star-gazing tendencies, his teachers reposition him in the middle of the classroom, where he descends into gloom until he finds himself seated behind a girl “with sunset in her hair,” and “his soul recolors.” Welles observes:

“He had a different way to read the Iliad.

While through cold ashes others groped to learn

he lit the towers of Tory and saw them burn.”

The poem is quirky in its accommodation of both a sing-song brand of moral instruction and a spoken word kind of practicality. These modulations in pitch felt to me reminiscent of the movement between reality and imagination I encounter when reading. I see the words and interpret them in a literal sense and then float above, or beneath, or between them, plucking at chords that seem ready to be strummed.

But mainly I warmed to the thought that experience enables us to read differently — viscerally, immediately.

Anyone else hungry for a new book?

Post Scripts.

+More musings on poetry here and here.

+A shape that satisfies.

+The slimmest of griefs.

+Creative habits.

+The loft born of experience.

Shopping Break.

+I picked up this hydrating mask while in NYC after reading about it for years and years. I really needed a quick hit of hydration before heading out for the evening and it was just the ticket. You can even use it as a heavy duty moisturizer overnight if you need to — my skin just FELT better from the inside out. Fully hydrated, relaxed, rejuvenated. You can buy it in a mini size if you want to test first. My new favorite thing is to apply this to my forehead/t-zone and then use the Clarins depuffing mask from my cheeks down, including my neck. I feel like this combo is a dream for prepping skin before applying makeup for a night out.

+My mom said she was absolutely gutted by this book — for that reason, I will avoid, but it’s getting some decent buzz.

+My earrings are back in stock! I absolutely cannot believe the quality for the price. Stunning! Handmade!

+Would look fab with a statement top like this. Keep coming back to this print!

+Speaking of fantastic Etsy jewelry, I keep getting messages about this heart necklace I wear daily. I can’t believe the price.

+A few of you have been messaging me for recs on outdoor furniture — I LOVE this new series from CB2 in the punch red stripe. (Hello, the sofa?! Conveniently estimated to ship in April so you can have it in time for warm weather!)

+You know I’ll never fully quit my Cle de Peau but this new concealer from Bobbi Brown intrigues me.

+You need this dress to go with those cushions! Major La Ligne vibes.

+Tarte is offering 30% off sitewide if you sign up for emails. I know many of you are enormous devotees of their shapetape concealer.

+These dog beds are truly the best. We’ve had one for Tilly for a few years now — fantastic quality. She loves to lean against the back — she’s such a funny pooch, but she LOVES a good lean. You can often find her leaning against Mr. Magpie’s legs, against the back of the sofa, etc.

+A BIG yes to this navy blouse. Love it tucked into lighter wash denim.

+A great LBD.

+Still loving all things hot pink, especially this new Mille dress. (More pink finds here and here.) I also have it on good authority that HHH will be launching a hot pink nap dress in about a week…!

+I feel like I would get a shocking amount of wear out of this Toteme cardigan because about half of my wardrobe is blue dresses and I love to pattern match. This would be cute over a blue floral!

+This illustrator book series!

+Adore this gingham dress. Memorial Day vibes for under $100.

+Cute tennis tote.

+Converse has some great colors out right now — I always thought Chucks were a tad edgy for me but these may do the trick.

+This collared knit sweater has a 1940s sensibility that I am here for.

+Adore this shower curtain.

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2 thoughts on “A Different Way to Read the Iliad.

  1. I’m reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern right now and it reminds me of this. I think you would like it – my book club read it (I’m a little behind) and everyone commented on the place being one of the main characters. It’s wildly magical and wondrous.

    1. Oh thank you for the rec! I’ve heard good things about this book! I love your description – wildly magical and wondrous. Yes please!


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