Why am I wary about reading the news?
The crux of this issue is the overwhelming focus on entertainment in our current age. This is something I discussed in my review of Neil Postman’s brilliant book “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” With the advent of the television and more recently, digital media, the image reigns supreme, and along with this shift from word to image comes the overabundance of visual stimuli. When we are constantly flooded by images, there is no longer the same focus on logic and permanence implied in the written word. Instead, with the image, transience is key. The image is not designed to last. But it is certainly designed to distract. And it is absolutely designed to amuse.
Let’s play the word association game with Thomas Hardy! If anything comes springing to mind, it is most likely his classic novel, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, his most widely known work. Tess of the D’Urbervilles is certainly an excellent novel- in fact, I adore this novel and will probably write a review of it at some point in the future. Yet, interestingly, Hardy’s primary passion was not for the novelistic form but for poetry. Indeed, Hardy desired to be a poet and saw himself as a poet first and foremost. He set about writing novels to support himself financially, and then focused on poetry when he was better off.
Today Thomas Hardy is mainly remembered for his novels. This recognition is well-deserved, since, as I mentioned above, Hardy is a master craftsman when it comes to the novel. However, he is also a master poet, one of the best of the Victorian era, and it is his poetry that I want to recommend in this post, specifically the poem, “The Convergence of the Twain.” This poem, which you can read here, is about the ill-fated Titanic.