Friday, September 15, 2006

"A Hymn to God the Father" by John Donne

Exhausted. Have been up most of the night for the past three or four nights trying to get my thesis in shape to submit to my intimidating, rigourous, and brilliant advisor. Have also been embarrassed thoroughly in front of my dept. when someone bcc-ed the faculty list on a first draft of a petition I was circulating among the grad students for (later, after extensive editing) submission to the faculty.

But it seems to all be ironing itself. I sent an apology and the final draft of the petition to the chair and my advisor. My advisor copied the polite and complimentary final draft to the rest of the faculty who had earlier gotten this manifesto-ish rah-rah-let's-rally-the-students-and-fight-for-our-rights petition meant for the eyes of the students only. (It actually wasn't that bad and didn't say anything the students haven't been saying among themselves for years. The only damning paragraph was a brief statement, which I will copy here. "Since the department often does not seem to take into consideration the wishes or needs of the graduate students in offering required courses in a timely fashion or in offering courses which meet requirements or general practical interests, I figure the only way to make a difference is to take a collective stand. It may not work, but it doesn't hurt to try and create a more powerful voice for ourselves in the department. " I stand by the statement, but I never would have said it directly to the faculty in that way--one approaches these things with a bit more caution when one is speaking to ones superiors.

I'm still embarrassed, and have learned the important lesson that one must never write in an email what one would not like the whole world to see, as it is so easy for an email to get forwarded/bcc-ed/whatever. (A bit ironic, then, that I am copying the damning paragraph on my blog which IS open to the whole world. I figure once it's out there, let it be out there.) But, apparently, it is promoting dialogue amongst the faculty and hopefully later amongst the faculty and students, and that was the intent--although I never wanted to come across as a rabble-rouser. I'm usually quite diplomatic (I've often been called a "politician" for my tendency to straddle the fence and see both sides of an issue), but I have this great flaw of getting angry when I see "injustice" (which admittedly is sometimes just my own interpretation of injustice in a structure), whether to myself or to others, and then tend to act out passionately rather than wisely (the flaw would be the action not the anger), which usually comes back and bites me. ai, ai, ai...

As I sit here editing and deleting footnotes in my thesis, I did a brief search for a citation for another poem by John Donne, and came across this hymn, which so beautifully expresses thoughts I've had recently. I've got to read more Donne.

201. A Hymn to God the Father

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done; 5
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sins their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallow'd in a score? 10
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done;
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself that at my death Thy Son 15
Shall shine as He shines now and heretofore:
And having done that, Thou hast done;
I fear no more.

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