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Dark Like Blood


"Even a small change in the weather made Mrs. Cope thankful, but when the seasons
changed she seemed almost frightened at her good fortune in escaping
whatever it was that pursued her" (247).
Flannery O'Connor's "A Circle in the Fire" (1953; 1955)


Points of Reflection

EBB: "The Cry of the Children" (1843), PDF

1. why does EBB launch this poem with an epigraph pulled from Euripides' Medea?

2. does the voice and tone of this poem resemble that found in any of William Blake's poems? Do its themes or images recall poetry by William Wordsworth?

3. to whom is this narrator addressing herself, and does her message call for a change in action as well as perspective?

4. why do these children welcome death?

5. do these children's imaginations help them escape their unhealthy environment?

6. do the sounds which surround these children soothe them? Do they grow accustomed to and comfortable with the machinery's steady noise?

7. is the narrator serious when she calls on her "brothers" to encourage the children to pray to God for succor?

8. why might EBB identify midnight as an "hour of harm" (l.114)?

9. what factors complicate the children's understanding of God?

10. does E. B. B.'s "The Cry of the Children" rely too much on pathos to be convincing, or does this very reliance on her reader's emotions insure her poem's rhetorical success?

11. one Victorian reviewer of this poem observed that "The cadence, lingering, broken, and full of wail, is one of the most[t] perfect adaptations of sound to sense in literature" (BC 9:365). Do you agree, or do you fault EBB for the license she takes with meter?

RB: "Fra Lippo Lippi" (1853; 1855), 148-57

1. when questioned by law enforcement officials, whose name does our narrator, Fra Lippo Lippi, "drop" to suggest that he has strong social and political connections in Florence?

2. why does Fra Lippo suggest that one of the policeman is a "Judas to a tittle" (l.25), and that another looks like one of Herod's slaves holding John Baptist's severed head (ll.33-34)? What's our narrator doing?

3. where is Fra Lippo in this dramatic monologue's opening, and what is he doing? What various explanations does he provide to defend his current actions and location?

4. why did Fra Lippo become a monk?

5. how is it that Fra Lippo has developed such fine artistic skills?

6. what attributes of his painting generate praise from some of his fellow monks, and scorn from others?

7. why does Fra Lippo so value aesthetic beauty?

8. perform an online search for paintings by Giotto, Fra Angelico, Masaccio, and Fra Lippo Lippi himself so that you have some idea of the various styles referenced in this poem.

9. is the narrator of "Fra Lippo Lippi" an amusing or disgusting character? Are his aesthetic sensibilities sacred or profane, spiritually sound or morally corrupt?

10. what examples of modern art would the narrators of "Pictor Ignotus" and "Fra Lippo Lippi" each approve?

"from Un Biblia Sacra" (1969)
Salvador Dalí

Dr. Paul Marchbanks