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Poem for May

Prone to Periphrasis* * Emily Dickinson

Once, checking
My raveled sleeve of care,
I found a loose string
Hanging there.

A yarn had broken free
Of the weave
And was dangling down
From my work shirt sleeve.

I snapped it off
With a twist and a jerk,
Flicked it aside,
And hurried to work.

But returning that evening,
As I happened to pass,
That tiny string
Still lay in the grass.

This insignificant shred
Of cotton
That I’d cast adrift
And quite forgotten

Had now passed twice
Across my mind,
And I can’t put something
Like that behind.

The lonely mind
Is a terrible thing
Ensnared with ease
By a wisp of string,

And that night as I tossed
And turned in bed,
I couldn’t unthink
That tattered shred.

Like an anxious dog
That worries a bone,
That twice seen thread
Wouldn’t leave me alone.

And I dreamt that night
Of a little brown bird
Who wandered somehow
Into my yard,

And coming across
That piece of string,
Had scooped it up,
And taken to wing,

And flown high up
In the crux of a tree
Where only a man
In a dream could see,

And sewn that ribbon
Into the mix
Of a nest she was building
Of twigs and sticks,

And smoothed it with mud
To the fit of her breast,
In a seamless knit
And perfect nest.

And thus my yarn
Had found a weave
Far surpassing
My raveled sleeve

Where he’d help to nurture
The new young life
Of a little brown bird
And his lady wife.

For however the arc of Time
May curve,
Even the lowliest remnant
May serve.

And if that’s too maudlin,
Corny, or dreary,
It’s more human by far
Than most string theory.

But the eggs were laid
And the summer passed on,
And by September
The birds had flown.

Then all that winter
Through stormy weather,
That tight knit nest
Still hung together,

But in several seasons
Of wind and rain
Those sticks and twigs
Unwove again,

And bristled forth
All ragged and torn
Like a jagged disc
Or a crown of thorn,

Till brittle and broken,
It fell to the ground,
And my cotton remnant
Again hung down

On that lonely tree
Till it nearly fell...
But how it ended
I cannot tell.

With shame I relate
The dream failed there!
And I woke again
To my sleeve of care.

We rhyming dreamers
Should be ignored...
Blasphemers that muck
With the Sacred Word.

Like sadistic gods
From a foul Parnassus,
We rhymers... prone to
Periphrasis...

And beguiled by the hum
Of idle muses
To kill our heroes with
Strange abuses,

Create poor yarns
With roads to travel
Then wickedly let them
All unravel.

These hung out heroes, the Bard would say,
Are prey to our wretched sort;
As flies to wanton boys are they,
We kill them for our sport.

Then how much the worse
For my shred of cotton
Whose dream had no end
And was simply forgotten?

How worse than a world
Where you end up dead!
I dreamt up his story
But lost the thread.

And I hope the Creator
Who dreamt up me...
Though a useless
Remnant I may be...

Will knit me up
In a final weave,
Not leave me dangling
From a raveled sleeve,

Or worse,
Forsaken on a wretched tree!
Sweet Jesus!
Don’t do that to me.



 

To Order

"Teeny and the Whale" Acclaimed

"The Teeny stories are remarkable tales, both funny and intellectual. Slade is a very understanding man and captures the reader with humor and art. I give it ten stars."
Maggie Osterbauer, '03

"Schuster's work is amazing! He is wise beyond his years, and that's high praise."
Eric Vidrine, '03

"Teeny and the Whale" is a masterpiece plumbing the ocean-depths of the human psyche."
James Byron, '03

"Mr. Schuster's droll wit and Mike Sooy's artistry make for a raucous romp through adolescence and the unconscious."
Ars Azam, '03

"Slade's combination of wry humor and sound moral instruction make his volume worth twice what I paid for it!"
Brian Libby, History Dept.




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Critical Reviews of Teeny's Travels

"This fantastical world of Zander-snitches, horrid harpies, and blimple stones will be a source of pride to heroic teenagers everywhere . . . as long as they have a dead ear for irony."
Sonja Johnson '88

"Oh, the droll, drooling days of adolescence! What exactly are these minds we are concerned to mold? Slade lays it all before us. Here you have it, Dude!"
Molly Gilbert, Admissions

"A terrific poem describing a typical, modern teenager (I think it's Brett Wallnutt) on the symbolic journey of life, the same journey we have read this year in ancient tales."
Samira Abu-Ghazaleh '01

"Teeny's Travel's" is an exhilarating, verse tale delving into the adventures of an average, nutty teenager, probably Brett Wallnutt."
Chad Mayfield '01

"This is one of the greatest works of our times. Teeny is a complex, intricate, fascinating hero . . . as am I."
Brett Wallnutt '01


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Readers Rave for "Teeny!"

Teeny is an hilarious character, portrayed perfectly to relate to young adults. Well worth reading! Very clever! Very funny!
- Ruthie Sudderth, '02

Finally, a story that lays open the truth about adolescence: materialism, power, and sloth. Things come to closure, Chaucer. The curtain is closing, Shakespeare. Move over, Freud. Slade is here!
- Lars Jensen, '02

This is why Schuster's Teeny Series is so critically acclaimed.
- Stephen Van Pelt, '02

A comical tale of teenhood and the complete idiot's guide to Christian selflessness.
- Erik Thunem, '02

An exemplary tale that warns teens of the "hockey" generation to be cautious when touching "pastry." It will grate the nerves of the boorish adolescent, but touch the heart strings of "special" students who interest themselves in literature.
- Mary Stenson, '02

The Legends

Teeny's Travels reprises the "wasteland theme" which informs so many ancient, medieval, and modern tales, including Oedipus and Hamlet. In this story line, a youthful hero on a spiritual quest enters a strange land wasted by a plague afflicting vegetal, animal, and human vitality. The hero visits the castle of the doomed country where he finds an ailing king. The king's infirmity is the source of the plague (king and country being magically one vitality), and it is the hero's task to restore the king's vigor by curing or replacing the ailing king. The king, though infirm, is wise and can grant the hero a vision of the spiritual truth if he judges the young man's heart to be pure. In medieval versions, the vision often involves the mystic grail or sword (inverted cross) of Christian import. At the moment of revelation, the hero must make a correct response, often by asking the right question. Quests imply a climactic question. The hero fails to cure the wasteland as often as he succeeds, but the moral lesson is imparted as forcefully in either case. "By men who won't be taught by other men, shall other men be taught."

Teeny and the Green Knight satirizes a long, 14th-century poem, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," written in Middle English by an unknown author, a contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer. In it an untested, young hero is confronted by a giant, green horse and rider. The menacing figure challenges Gawain to cut off the green man's head with an axe. However, Gawain must first agree to visit the green giant's domain within a year and have his own head hewn off. Fair is fair. Gawain accepts, seizes the ax, and chops off the man's head. The adventure that follows is marvelous, ominous, full of Christian lore, but not without its humorous implications. Gawain's honor, bravery, and chastity are sorely tested by several trials, most but not all of which he passes. Narrowly escaping death, Gawain returns home, as spiritual heroes must, with a boon, prize, elixir, symbol, or code to enrich his society. Gawain's prize is a simple, green garter, the meaning of which, were it imparted, would benefit young men in any society, especially our own. The Gawain story is the source of a knightly order still revered in England and awarded by her monarchs, the order of the garter.

Teeny and the Whale, like most whale, great fish, or monster-of-the-deep stories (Jonah, Leviathan, Pinocchio, Moby Dick), has a symbolic interpretation. Read psychologically, water (the deep) represents the unconscious, dark regions of the hero's psyche, from which the monster rises to menace him. The monster, of course, is the unmastered excess of the hero's own ego (hubris). Male hubris is the tragic flaw that again and again these tales are concerned to render. As long as the hero remains unaware of the danger his own desires pose (as human desires have no bounds), he will be dragged under and devoured. When he masters fully his own nature, he will rise up and walk upon the flood unhindered. As Thomas a Kempis says, "Know that the love of thyself doth hurt thee more than anything in the world. Forsake and resign thyself, and thou shalt enjoy much inward peace." Teeny is a failed hero in all three adventures.



To Order

Alumni Review

"Straight River Anthology is an insight into the heart and mind of the great Slade. We all wondered what was going on in his head during high school. This is your chance to find out."
Sara Huntley, class of '94

"Slade captures the sublime in everyday occurrences. I enjoy his poetry immensely."
Bob Irby, class of '60

"Slade's poetry isn't Classical...or Romantic...or even Modern (thank God), but it often makes me laugh, sometimes cry (a bitter tear...no loud boo-hooing) and mostly reminds me that the Grim Reaper lurks behind every tree like a boogie-man in the park. Jus'skidding! You must have this book!"
Sonja Johnson, class of '88

"I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of poems, a glimpse at the quirky yet intriguing Mr. Schuster. My favorite,"Violins," perfectly shares the unique and amazing experiences this school offers; the emotion this poem conveys is truly touching."
Katie Simonson, class of '01

"I don't read poetry, and if Slade's mortgage is indeed twice his monthly pay, you'd be a fool to feed that monkey. Nevertheless, I bought some copies of his book. One levels the game table in my basement; the other is shimming the bar fridge."
Tim Gillin, class of '68



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Rare!
Samuel Johnson Collection

For Sale (16 volumes total): $19,900.00


A Dictionary of the English Language
by Samuel Johnson
London
printed by W. Strahan
MDCCLV (1755)

FIRST EDITION, with contemporary boards (1755), restored spines and a double signature at 19K, considered the most pristine copy one book dealer had seen in his career of selling Johnsonalia.


Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, to the
WORKS OF THE ENGLISH POETS
by Samuel Johnson
London
Printed by J. Nichols (in ten volumes)
MDCCLXXIX (1779)


The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.
by James Boswell, Esq.
The third edition, Revised and Augmented,
in Four Volumes
London
Printed by H. Baldwin and Son
MDCCXCIX (1799)