OK. So I've been teaching George Herbert, wonderful 17th-century poet. Went to class. Heard the B-word. B is for BORING.
I ditched my plan and showed them this poem first.
I Bless thee, Lord, because I GROW
Among thy trees, which in a ROW
To thee both fruit and order OW.
What open force, or hidden CHARM
Can blast my fruit, or bring me HARM,
While the inclosure is thine ARM.
Inclose me still for fear I START.
Be to me rather sharp and TART,
Then let me want thy hand and ART.
When thou dost greater judgments SPARE,
And with thy knife but prune and PARE,
Ev’n fruitfull trees more fruitful ARE.
Such sharpnes shows the sweetest FREND:
Such cuttings rather heal then REND:
And such beginnings touch their END.
I said, "What do you think is going on with the words at the ends of the lines?"
Then I looked down at my book for a while, using the trick of silence I learned when I taught at a Quaker college.
Eventually, a student said, "It's about pruning and paring, as he says in the next-to-last stanza." Yes!
Now, look at the title: through PARING, you get to PARE-ADISE=PARADISE.
Certainly, I didn't go into Renaissance literature because of the religious content: it just so happens that sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British lit is IMHO the greatest ever, and not just because of Shakespeare.
And isn't it true that PARADISE is all about PARING DOWN, whether one is talking about frugality or about decluttering one's space or wardrobe?
My blogpal Duchesse, by the way, is challenging us to limit our wardrobes, another kind of paring down.
How are you paring down these days?