Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blood, Texts, and Spenser

Today was an important day for me.

To mark it (and because I was eligible as of yesterday), I went to give blood.

Sometimes, it's important to remember and honor something really basic, and blood is pretty much basic from the donor point of view, though the science behind transfusion and such probably isn't.


When I was working with my text class last term, I was trying to explain to them some basic ideas about a project that centers on their use of various texts to explain themselves to a reader. I pulled my donor card out of my wallet, passed it around, and asked them what they learned from it.

They started out with basics:
Blood type
Red Cross info (and area info), including the symbol of a red cross.
Web site information, and a phone number.

Then they got creative and started looking at the bar code, donor id, and stuff that was there but that we couldn't "read" in a traditional sense.

What I was hoping they'd "read" (and what I finally told them), is that the donor card also has health info (my blood pressure readings). AND, the donor card also indicates something about my health (good enough to give blood) and something about my attitude (I give blood regularly, as one can tell from the blood pressure entries). So in that way, it represents some things about me that are important to me.

And on a day that's important to me, what's important is pretty basic.


If you're me, you think of Spenser's Red Crosse Knight when you see it the Red Cross symbol. I'm awed by the wonderfully cinematic opening of that Gentle Knight [] pricking on the plain...

A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,
Y cladd in mightie armes and siluer shielde,
Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,
The cruell markes of many' a bloudy fielde;
Yet armes till that time did he neuer wield:
His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
Full iolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.

But on his brest a bloudie Crosse he bore,
The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead as liuing euer him ador'd:
Vpon his shield the like was also scor'd,
For soueraine hope, which in his helpe he had:
Right faithfull true he was in deede and word,
But of his cheere did seeme too solemne sad;
Yet nothing did he dread, but euer was ydrad.

Spenser's totally bizarre, but I learned so much from a prof one day explicating this opening that this opening stays deeply in my heart and mind.

I try not to be "too solemne sad" and try to dread nothing; whatever the right balance is, it's a difficult one, but I feel like I'm closer to getting the joy without the fear. And, of course, without the whole Christian thing, which wouldn't make any sense at all to Spenser.

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