Sunday, 30 June 2013


In the late 16th century  it was fashionable for English gentleman authors to write sonnets, lyric poems composed of 14 lines. The sonnet is composed with a formal rhyme scheme, denoting different thoughts, moods, or emotions, sometimes summed up in the last lines of the poem.
The two main forms of the sonnet are the Petrarchan (Italian) and the Shakespearean (English).
Sonnets had been glorified by Petrarch in Italy more than 200 years before English poets even knew about them. Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, were among the first to introduce the sonnet into England. William Shakespeare's first and second years in London were spent writing in the Petrarchan style. The Petrarchan sonnet has an eight-line stanza, or octave, and six-line stanza, or sestet. The octave has two quatrains, rhyming abba, abba, but avoiding a couplet; the first quatrain gives the theme, and the second develops it. The sestet is built on two or three different rhymes; the first three lines reflect on the theme, and the last three lines bring the whole poem to an end.
The English sonnet  is divided into three quatrains, each rhymed differently, with an independently rhymed couplet at the end. Its rhyme scheme is abab, cdcd, efef, gg. Each quatrain takes a different appearance of the idea or develops a different image to express the theme. In his lifetime William Shakespeare composed 154 sonnets  which  were in this form and can be divided into three groups:
1. twenty-six sonnets written mostly to a young man, seventeen  of them urging marriage;
2. one hundred and one sonnets, also written to a young man (probably the same young nobleman as in the first twenty-six). These have a variety of themes, such as the beauty of the loved one; destruction of beauty; competition with a Rival Poet; despair about the absence of a loved one;  and reaction toward the young man's coldness;
3. the remaining twenty-seven sonnets are written mainly to a woman, popularly known as  "the Dark Lady." Seemingly Shakespeare had a love affair with this woman.
Most Elizabethan sonnets were written about joys and sorrows of love. Some of Shakespeare's sonnet arrangements are thought to be autobiographical. This is why scholars have tried to learn about William Shakespeare's life from his sonnets. But some of the critics view the sonnets as "purely literary exercises."  

Friday, 21 June 2013


The summer solstice marks the peak of summer and takes place on the longest day of the year, that is to say when the Sun is at its highest in the sky. In Britain and other places north of the equator, to be precise the Northern Hemisphere, this takes place on June 21. After the summer solstice the days get shorter until the winter solstice when they start to get longer again.
June 21 is called the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and simultaneously the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Around December 21 the solstices are reversed and winter begins in the Northern hemisphere.
The summer solstice has been celebrated since ancient times and is still celebrated around the world today. 
Many people gather at Stonehenge which is believed to have been used as an important religious site by early Britons 4,000 years ago.
Here you can read an interesting article about the meaning of the summer solstice. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013


The end of the school year has finally come about and I have been sent to a Technical Institute for the school-leaving examination  as an external teacher  -  the students there have to take tests on specific subjects, including English.

As to my students  of  5^ C Liceo Linguistico, today they had to sit for their II Prova Scritta, a Foreign Language written exam, but they had the opportunity to  decide on the English, Spanish or French language.
As usual, the English test included a text analysis, a summary and a composition, but there was a choice between an article about sealing your love with a Master Lock in Paris, taken from The Wall Street Journal, Europe Edition, and a passage from The Great Gatsby by the American author Francis Scott Fitzgerald, a love story  set in the 1920s  -  a period of jazz and decadence.
Here you can download  both of them,  just in case you are curious!

Sunday, 9 June 2013


Miss Austen Regrets is a BBC-produced drama film  that depicts the last years of Jane Austen's life. Approaching her fortieth birthday, Jane Austen appears happily unmarried and displays all the assured wit and charm of her novels' young heroines. Yet when asked to help her young niece, Fanny Knight, find a husband, her confident composure is threatened. She finds herself looking back on her potential suitors and the choices she has made.

Born the daughter of an English Anglican minister in 1775, she died in 1817 at age forty-one, unmarried  and poor; she left us with six completed novels acclaimed by many to be literary perfection.
Traditional views on Jane Austen's love life vary, and little evidence still exists today to support much of a story. What we know survives from her personal letters and family recollections of a quiet 18th century life, spent  in privacy and decorum. Apart from the one known proposal by Harris Bigg-Wither, no other known love affairs were documented. Unfortunately, much of Jane Austen's personal correspondence, that could have supplied more private details, was destroyed after her death by her sister Cassandra. From what we know, the question surrounding Jane Austen's life is how an individual with little personal experience of romance and love could write with such understanding about the nature of the human heart.
In this speculative tale, director Jeremy Lovering and screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes look into the motives why the real Jane Austen never found her own Mr. Darcy.

Now let’s watch the trailer of this beautiful film, graced with an excellent   performance by Olivia Williams

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


The Queen has joined 2,000 guests for a service at Westminster Abbey to mark 60 years since her Coronation.
Some of those who took part in the 1953 service were among the congregation. Inside the abbey, several generations of the  royal  family waited: the Queen's son, Prince Charles, now in his 60s, and next in line to the throne, and her grandson, Prince William, second in line, with his pregnant wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who is due to give birth to yet another royal heir next month.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron - the 12th to serve under Queen Elizabeth - gave the reading to all the guests gathered at the abbey.
Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby said the event honoured "60 years of commitment".
Several key items from the Coronation were placed in Westminster Abbey for the service.
They included the heavy, solid gold St Edward's Crown, displayed on the High Altar – it hasn’t been out of  the Tower of London since 1953. Beside it was the Ampulla, the gold, eagle-shaped bottle from which the holy oil was poured for the Queen's anointing. The Coronation Chair, one of the oldest pieces of English furniture still in use, was also on show.

Here you can watch a beautiful video of the 1953 Coronation ceremony!

Saturday, 1 June 2013