Introduction to Lit. No. 3

Why Study Literature

Studying literature formally can bring new favorites into your world. Working alone, you will be exposed to authors that you happen to run across in your reading. You may have a circle of friends who enjoy reading, and that will enlarge your reading experience. Then, there are book clubs that you can join that also discuss authors and current book releases.

Studying literature will probably increase your awareness of authors from other time periods and cultures that you might not have heard of otherwise. Plus, as you examine these other works, you might learn that there are themes and topics that people from all around the world like to write about. There are topics common to most people around the world.

People from all walks of life enjoy literature for many different reasons. The most rewarding answer ever received from a fan of Literature was that he studied Literature because he “like[d] people, and Literature teaches [you] about people.” When you read, you will learn about other cultures. When you read Literature, you will learn more because these novels, dramas and poems offer the best portrayals of people within those cultures.

This morning I pray for my enemies
By Joy Harjo

And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.
It sees and knows everything.
It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.
The door to the mind should only open from the heart.
An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.

This poem by Joy Harjo brings with it a new idea about the old saying that suggests that you pray for your enemies. Harjo writes that “the door to the mind should only open through the heart.” If you let yourself feel something for your enemy, you might end up making your enemy a friend. This makes the idea of praying for an enemy more about mercy growing within you and less about the harm that you are believing the enemy has done to you. That’s one interpretation.

As I reread this poem over the next few days. I will learn more about her, her work and about myself. I brought my bias into the first reading. I will need to see where to discard it and what to keep. That’s the last reason to study Literature: you learn about yourself.

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