The Brain—is Wider Than The Sky by Emily Dickinson

The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—

The Brain is deeper than the sea—
For—hold them—Blue to Blue—
The one the other will absorb—
As Sponges—Buckets—do—

The Brain is just the weight of God—
For—Heft them—Pound for Pound—
And they will differ—if they do—
As Syllable from Sound—

After the class taught by Dr. John Chan tonight, I find this poem as a reaction to Reinhold Niebuhr’s claim that the transcendental ability of human nature as the origin of sin (The temptation to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). Imagination is boundless, much farther than the breadth of the sky and the depth of the sea, and even has Godlike power.

That time of year thou may’st in me behold

Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare

That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

The passing of youth and the coming of old age is compared to barren trees in a season, fading twilight in a single day and dying embers in a second. The final two lines make a plea to make good and intense use of the remaining time and moments of human relationship.

The More Loving One by W. H. Auden

The More Loving One by W. H. Auden

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

I love this poem very much, especially the line “If equal affection cannot be, /Let the more loving one be me.”. The poem talks about unrequited love. The person whom you love does not reciprocate your love (the love of the suitor). They don’t care about your fate. However, the speaker would rather his lover being indifferent to him as opposed to the contrary. And, if we have passion for someone who do not return our love, just let us be the one who love more. Although some day his lover might disappear or die, he can still take it and get over it in the end. He will still be able to live without his lover who would be finally gone, which means, it is not as bad as we might think about unrequited love because we can finally live with it.

A Man in Sham Shui Po

A jobless man lives in a cage
in Sham Shui Po crowded with subdivided cages
subdued, hungry and thirsty
He kneels down and prays for necessities
He has not eaten for 40 days
Cameras flash around him
Newspapers splash photographs on him
alongside the sale billboards of luxury apartments
The public fingers point in awe and amazement
Rumours spread around the city
Some say he is an artist
Some say he is a neurotic
Some say he is a grassroots university graduate

A week later
The man is forgotten by the city
No one bothers about him
He eats the bread
drinks the blood
His cage is removed with his dead body.


written on 13/11/2013


I know you are thinking about your dream when you are young, trying to study and prepare yourself to succeed in any way. I know you are thinking about your dream on your bed at midnight, pondering if tomorrow would give you light, showing you which way to go in sight. I know you are thinking about your dream through the window of an airplane, waiting to see the next destination of your journey, the new places you are going to visit. I know you are thinking about your dream in a bookstore, fiddling with books, from ancient to modern, which talk to your soul. I know you are thinking about your dream in a café, writing your resume, in the hope that you can get a well-paid job which pays off rent of your flat, when the price of rent continues to go up without end. I know you are thinking about your dream when dreams are only wishful thinking, no longer within reach, in a city where money is the only way out. I know you are thinking about your dream as you are toiling like a robot in an office, living like a cog in the mega machine, in return for a paycheck which allows you to live in a city where everything has a price tag on for buying and selling. I know you are thinking about your dream when the flies are coming to take over your job, your house, your school, your land and even your partner. I know you are thinking about your dream since you grow up in a grassroots family, when there is no hope for upward mobility in our city, in spite of how hard-working and smart you may be. I know you are thinking about your dream with your husband or wife, whispering if you should leave the city and find goodness in the foreign land, when things have become so gloomy and bleak after the handover. I know you are thinking about your dream after 50 years has gone and that you have seen enough to say that the best story is already gone.

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I like this poem very much. Maya Angelou is really a powerful poet when she writes about women. In this poem, she describes every little beautiful detail about women which makes women the readers feel their own feminine identities and appreciate their own characteristics. Honestly speaking, after reading this poem, I feel good about myself being a woman when men don’t quite get it our way. Every woman, let us all be phenomenal women!


Alone by Maya Angelou

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

To make our city a better place to live in, we cannot make it alone.

I’m Nobody! Who are you? by Emily Dickinson

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

The speaker exclaims that she is “Nobody” because Somebodies are constantly “telling their name” — croaking — to the swamp, reminding all the other frogs of their identities.

My Parents by Stephen Spender

My parents kept me from children who were rough
Who threw words like stones and wore torn clothes
Their thighs showed through rags they ran in the street
And climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams.

I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron
Their jerking hands and their knees tight on my arms
I feared the salt coarse pointing of those boys
Who copied my lisp behind me on the road.

They were lithe they sprang out behind hedges
Like dogs to bark at my world. They threw mud
While I looked the other way, pretending to smile.
I longed to forgive them but they never smiled.

This poem touches me deeply because it depicts the hardship that the speaker undergoes when he is growing up. The speaker is faced with big bullies who are harsh to him. The speaker’s parents want to protect him from the harsh reality of the world.

However, I think it is not enough for our parents to protect ourselves from big bullies. We should stand together to fight against and turn away big bullies. We need to fight back for ourselves when things become very worse.

On the other hand, we should also promote a kind of culture that respects and endures each other instead of flinging stones at each other. Only a respectful culture can finally save us from the coldness and harshness of the real world.