Friday, 28 September 2012

On Resuming University Life and Wordsworth's "After-Thought"

This is the river that inspired much of Machado's poetry. This also partly explains the
lecturer's digression on Wordsworth - regarding a mention of a river - that I mention in this post.
Image from

Sorry I haven't been blogging much. Anyone with anxiety - and other mental health issues - will understand how challenging university can be. I started term on Monday, and since then it has been quite stressful. However, I'm still alive, which I guess is what matters. I've made myself attend all my lectures and seminars, no matter how much anxiety that entails, and I've made some arrangements to make things easier. I'm having "mentoring" sessions every week with a lovely American, all my tutors are aware that I have some issues, and I've resumed therapy. I did end up having a panic attack in the therapy session, and I cried for almost the whole hour, but I'll ignore that. I've also told one of the people I live with about (some of) my problems. As PTSD therapy can be quite traumatic, I thought it would be polite to warn her. Even the preparation for it earlier in the year brought up nasty emotions and memories, making me very unsociable and reclusive.

My literature module this term is called "Desire and Power", covering texts from the Renaissance. The first week's reading was A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was nice to start with. Our seminar covered the structure of the play alongside the political aspects of it, particularly the links to Queen Elizabeth I. I've started The Faerie Queene for next week's study: that's a little more challenging to read and analyse! To prepare for the seminar, I have to consider how gender is represented, how allegory is used, and how poetry and power are linked.

My Spanish culture module is entitled "The Generation of 1898". Although I've only had two introductory lectures so far, I'm really enjoying it. It covers Campos de Castilla by Antonio Machado and Castilla by Azorín, neither of which I've studied before. Perhaps I'll write about these in detail when I've read them (yes, I've been a lazy student!), but in this post I'll mention a Wordsworth poem that is essentially completely irrelevant to my course. However, the lecturer likes to digress, and today he quoted a few lines from After-Thought. He also managed to mention Keats's death and Thomas Hardy. It's not too much of a surprise to know that he studied English & Spanish at Oxford.

After-Thought was not a poem that I've read before, but I'm glad the lecturer introduced me to it. The emboldened lines indicate the passage he referred to:

I thought of Thee, my partner and my guide,
As being past away.--Vain sympathies!
For, backward, Duddon! as I cast my eyes,
I see what was, and is, and will abide;
Still glides the Stream, and shall for ever glide;
The Form remains, the Function never dies;

While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise,
We Men, who in our morn of youth defied
The elements, must vanish;--be it so!
Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour;
And if, as toward the silent tomb we go,
Through love, through hope, and faith's transcendent dower,
We feel that we are greater than we know.

William Wordsworth


Anonymous said...

I think you're very courageous to embark on this PTSD therapy while taking a rigorous course load at the university. It sounds like you're surrounded by supportive people -- that's important. That's a lovely photo and poem! :)

Lucy said...

It's certainly not easy!

But yes, therapy seems a lot more manageable now that someone I'm living with is aware that I'm undertaking it.

Thank you for the message, I hope you're well :)

Santiago said...

If you are studying the generation of 98, I suggest you to read Rubén Darío.
He was not member becouse he was born in Nicaragua, but was a great influence in those meetings in Cafe Levante (near where I live =) to the "modernismo"

Greetings from a spaniard who also found a good medicine to my anxiety in a good book.

Buena suerte ;)

Violet said...

I think you're brave to be addressing your anxiety issues head-on and I hope the therapy goes well. I'm a therapy drop-out, never having found a therapist I liked and wanted to work with after a couple of sessions during which they seemed to have made wrong assumptions about me and my "stuff". The last one seemed to think my husband was my problem and wanted me to explore my options for "living on my own". I never went back to see her again and told my Dr I was done with therapy for now. Hilariously, I'm trained to teach stress management as part of my counselling work. I guess I'm just trying to say that it's a good idea to keep your ears open and make sure the therapy goes in a direction that you're comfortable with. I don't want to put you off or anything, but when you're in therapy you're vulnerable and some therapists are not as skilled as others.

Your studies sound interesting. I remember encountering Spenser for the first time. Not a great fan of archaic English, I have to say.

Lucy said...

I think that I'm happier speaking to my current therapist than my last one, particularly as this one is female. I've only had one session with her, so I'll be able to make a more accurate judgement after a few more sessions. She was rather displeased by how my last therapist brought up all my traumatic memories for EMDR earlier in the year, and then left me to fend for myself for four months over the summer. This female therapist can't even carry out EMDR therapy - the one I wanted - due to a lack of qualification, which is a typical example of an NHS mess-up! I'll probably try CBT and see if that works for me, although I'm doubtful.

If you go back into therapy, I hope that you find somebody you feel comfortable with and who won't make your problems worse.

I can't say that I'm enjoying Spenser too highly, although Book I has an interesting - although rather depressing - passage about the pros and cons of suicide.

Lucy said...

Thank you for the recommendation, I'll definitely look into his work!

It's great to hear that literature is helping your anxiety too.

Mis mejores deseos :)