Friday, August 23, 2013

Phyllis Wheatly

Phyllis Wheatly courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Phyllis Wheatly was born in what is now Gambia in 1753. She was captured and brought to Boston aboard the slave ship Phyllis. When she was nine, she was sold to the wealthy John Wheatly as a servant for his wife, Suzanna. She was named Phyllis after the ship and given the surname Wheatly as was the custom of the time. The Wheatly’s were kind to her, treating her almost as a daughter.
The Wheatly’s son and daughter taught Phyllis how to read and write and by the time she was twelve, she was able to read Greek and Latin.  The Wheatlys encouraged her, allowing her to study instead of working for them. Phyllis was one of the first American poets, famously writing a poem to George Washington and being invited to his house when she was still a slave.
Her greatest poem is considered to be On Being Brought from Africa to America, which shows not resentment for her enslavement, but thankfulness for her education and most of all, her conversion to Christianity. Her life was difficult, but she showed a willingness to overcome the unconquerable and strive for the unreachable. Her legacy is an inspiration for all Americans.
Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their colour is a diabolic dye."
Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,
May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.


Friday, August 9, 2013

The Purloined Detective

File:Edgar Allan Poe portrait B.jpg
Edgar Allan Poe
Who knows who the most famous man who never lived was? – Everyone shouts in chorus, “Sherlock Holmes of course!” Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, the creator of Holmes, was a bit of a Holmes himself with perhaps a dash of Doctor Watson. It’s often thought that Doyle created the detective story with his creative and frankly thrilling narratives such as The Red Headed League, Silver Blaze and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

But it wasn’t Doyle at all…it was Poe, Edgar Allan Poe. The same Poe who so movingly told of lost love in the poems Annabelle Lee and The Raven also wrote The Purloined Letter, The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Mystery of Marie RogĂȘt forty years before Doyle began publishing in the Strand. C. Auguste Dupin is Poe’s detective and the baffled Paris police seek his advice while his faithful unnamed friend narrates. All the aspects that set apart Sir Arthur Conon Doyle’s work are in these stories; systematic logic and seemingly impossible situations that are somehow possible. One has only to change the names to have three new Sherlock Holmes stories.

Sir Arthur Conon Doyle
Sir Arthur Conon Doyle certainly wrote some amazing stories, but like nearly all writers, he was standing on the shoulders of one who came before. Poe might have invented the detective story, but Doyle raised it out of obscurity while horrifying and delighting his readers for decades.       


Thursday, August 1, 2013

More about our username

We've always been fascinated by the story of Cupid and Psyche ever since we got a hold of the sumptuously illustrated book by M. Charlotte Craft. It's originally a Greek tale, but it's a story that transcends the ages. It's been retold again and again in varying forms like Beauty and the Beast or the Black Bull of Norway.

But our love of the story was really cemented when we read Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis.

Till We Have Faces is not the retelling of Cupid and Psyche, it is the story of the troubled sister watching from a distance. Reading this story was like looking from the outside in; the view of a non-Christian of the beautiful, but mysterious joy of the Christian. It is a breathtaking story told in a style completely unlike Lewis, bringing together the light and dark of a legend of ancient Greece, with a deeper understanding of human nature.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." ~1 Corinthians 13:12

Though neither of us are remotely like Psyche or her sister, we felt something that reflected them was a fitting name for us.

~Rose and Psyche

P.S. Unless otherwise specified, you can pretty much assume that all the photographs on this blog were taken by us.