Thursday, April 30, 2009


For Poem-In-My-Pocket Day.

He drew a circle that shut me out --
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

Edwin Markham
American Poet
1852 - 1940

What's in your pocket?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Theme for English B

This poem is one of the one's recited by Poetry Out Loud Contestant, William Farley. He is from Arlington, Virginia and won first place. Here's a link to a newspaper article announcing the results. The other poem chosen by Farley was John Donne's, The Flea.

The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

By Langston Hughes

I have discovered that Kathleenaomi (like that name) Wooten was Georgia's state winner. She's from the Columbus area, but I dont know which poem she recited.

What can you find out about your State's contest?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poetry Out Loud

Each day this month I've been posting a poem: one I like, want to remember, or has special meaning.

It's easy to read poetry.

Much more difficult to write.

But it's an exercise in discipline to memorize and recite.

It can even be a gift.

From Caroline Kennedy:
For each holiday or birthday, John and I would have to write or chose a poem for my mother. We had to copy it down and illustrate it, and she pasted them all in a special scrapbook.

In fourth grade, I remember struggling to memorize I Corinthians 13 or the Love Poem. The problem was not with the words, but the fact that I had waited until the night before to begin the process.

Today in Washington, DC, the finalists in the Poetry Out Loud contest are reciting their final selections and soon we will know the winner.

I'm curious to know who wins.

And what poem was recited.

In the meantime, for today?

Tell me about the first poem you had to memorize and recite.

Monday, April 27, 2009

In beauty may I walk

No, not Lord Byron, but an unknown Native American poet writing about Nature. These verses are quoted by Leslie Mass who wrote a charming memoir about her hiking of the Appalachian Trail. I read the book a couple of years ago and wanted to remember her mantra. I'm no through-hiker, or even a dedicated enthusiast, but I do enjoy walking - through the woods, along the beach, or in my own neighborhood. It's refreshing to revel in God's creation

In beauty may I walk
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk
In beauty will I possess again
Beautifully birds
Beautifully joyful birds
On a trail marked with pollen may I walk
With wild flowers about my feet may I walk
With dew about my feet may I walk
With beauty may I walk
With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age, wondering on a trail of beauty
Lively may I walk
In old age, wondering on a trail of beauty
Living again may I walk
It is finished in beauty.

Here's a link to my Xanga site where I've detailed my most recent hike.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Augustine of Hippo

Today is the anniverary of Augustine's baptism and his heart rested.

O God, by whose laws the poles revolve,
the stars follow their courses.
The sun rules the day
and the moon presides over the night;
And all the world maintains,
as far as this world of sense allows,
The wondrous stability of things
by means of the order and recurrences of seasons:
Through the days
by the changing of light and darkness.
Through the months
by the moon's progressions and declines,
Through the years
by the successions of
Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter,
Through the cycles
by the completion of the Sun's course,
Through the great eras of time
by the return of the stars to their starting points.

God of life,
There are days
when the burdens we carry
chafe our shoulders and wear us down;
When the road seems dreary and endless,
The skies grey and threatening;
When our lives have no music in them
and our hearts are lonely.
And our souls have lost their courage.

Flood the path with light,
We beseech you;
Turn our eyes
to where the skies are full of promise.

Our hearts are restless, O Lord,
until they rest in you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Carmina Burana

At Hillsdale's Spring Choir Concert DD#3 and #4 will be singing this ancient collection of poems together with the 100-person choir. Since I cant attend in person I will be listening over the weekend to Atlanta's Robert Shaw rendition of this famous work. Here's a little taste - translated from the Latin:

Truly, in the season of spring
Stands above the withering tree
sweet Juliana with her sister.
Sweet love!
He who is without you in this season
Is worthless.
Behold the trees bloom,
Birds are singing lustily;
Among them, the girls are cooling off.
Sweet love!
He who is without you in this season
Is worthless.
Behold the lilies bloom,
And throngs of virgins give
songs to the highest of the gods.
Sweet love!
He who is without you in this season
Is worthless.
If I could hold the girl I love
In the forest under the leaves,
I would kiss her with joy.
Sweet love!
He who is without you in this season
Is worthless.

Conductor James Holleman chose the most famous version to perform, that by Carl Orff, but has made sure that the text is *PG-rataed* and least likely to offend anyone in the audience.

Here's a link to a short analysis.

I have never heard Carmina Burana.

Have you?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Brown Thrush

There's a merry brown thrush sitting up in the tree,
He's singing to me! He's singing to me!
And what does he say, little girl, little boy?
"Oh, the world's running over with joy!
Don't you hear? don't you see?
Hush! Look! In my tree,
I'm as happy as happy can be!"

And the brown thrush keeps singing, "A nest do you see,
And five eggs hid by me in the juniper tree?
Don't meddle! don't touch! little girl, little boy,
Or the world will lose some of its joy!
Now I'm glad! now I'm free!
And I always shall be,
If you never bring sorrow to me."

So the merry brown thrush sings away in the tree,
To you and to me, to you and to me;
And he sings all the day, little girl, little boy,
"Oh, the world's running over with joy;
But long it won't be,
Don't you know? don't you see?
Unless we are as good as can be!"

by Lucy Larcom
American Poet
1924 - 1893

From 1865 to 1873, she was the editor of Our Young Folks, later renamed St. Nicholas Magazine.

Be sure and watch the video in this link. A poet, photographer, blogger in Pennsylvania has captured the early morning vocalizing of one of my favorite birds.

Here's another related link to my xanga site where I review a book about a wood thrush.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

God's Grandeur

This is my comment on Earth Day....and I do have one question. What do you think the poet means by *shining from shook foil*? Surely not aluminum foil!

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Gerard Manley Hopkins
English Poet
1844 - 1889

Photo borrowed from ViaNegativa

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) versus Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis)

Lavender-colored blossoms abound at this time of year. Between the azaleas, lilacs (trees and bushes) and the wisteria vines, it can be a little confusing. So, here are a couple of pictures (for my own edification) and an Emily Dickinson poem.

The Lilac is an ancient Shrub
But ancienter than that
The Firmamental Lilac
Upon the Hill tonight -
The Sun subsiding on his Course
Bequeaths this final plant
To Contemplation - not to Touch -
The Flower of Occident.

Of one Corolla is the West -
The Calyx is the Earth -
The Capsule's burnished Seeds the Stars -
The Scientist of Faith
His research has but just begun -
Above his Synthesis
The Flora unimpeachable
To Time's Analysis -
"Eye hath not seen" may possibly
Be current with the Blind
But let not Revelation
By Theses be detained -

The lilacs in Emily's garden were laden with perfumed panicles of bloom in May. Apparently it is impossible for people not to stick their noses in them :) They are long-lived and their purple flowers reminded Emily of the sunset and of her botanical glossary. I will have to consult the dictionary to understand some of her verse.

At present I dont have any lilac in my yard, but a tip in Marta McDowell's book Emily Dickinson's Gardens states that

lilacs are undemanding plants. They will grow in sunny spots in practically any soil, and once established, don't ask for any extra water or fertilizer, though they will reward you if you give them a dusting of lime near their roots in spring.

Sounds like something I might could grow.

Wisteria is also lavender-colored.

This vine is something I'd rather not have in my backyard.

It is almost as invasive as kudzu.

I dont want to confuse it with Lilac.

Now I think I know the difference.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nonsensical Poems

We all enjoyed as children reciting tongue twisters and such. I remember laughing over How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck (if a woodchuck could chuck wood). So, today's selections cover that genre.

Practice these today.

The Tutor

A tutor who tooted a flute,
Tried to teach two young tooters to toot.
Said the two to the tutor,
"Is it harder to toot, or
To tutor two tooters to toot?"

by Carolyn Wells

The Fly and the Flea

A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the fly, "Let us flee,"
Said the flea, "Let us fly,"
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

By Anonymous


Sunday, April 19, 2009

O Day of Rest and Gladness

O day of rest and gladness, O day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright:
On Thee, the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
Sing holy, holy, holy, to the great God Triune.

On Thee, at the creation, the light first had its birth;
On Thee, for our salvation, Christ rose from depths of earth;
On Thee, our Lord, victorious, the Spirit sent from heaven,
And thus on Thee, most glorious, a triple light was given.

Thou art a port, protected from storms that round us rise;
A garden, intersected with streams of paradise;
Thou art a cooling fountain in life’s dry, dreary sand;
From thee, like Pisgah’s mountain, we view our promised land.

Thou art a holy ladder, where angels go and come;
Each Sunday finds us gladder, nearer to heaven, our home;
A day of sweet refection, thou art a day of love,
A day of resurrection from earth to things above.

Today on weary nations the heavenly manna falls;
To holy convocations the silver trumpet calls,
Where Gospel light is glowing with pure and radiant beams,
And living water flowing, with soul refreshing streams.

New graces ever gaining from this our day of rest,
We reach the rest remaining to spirits of the blessed.
To Holy Ghost be praises, to Father, and to Son;
The church her voice upraises to Thee, blessed Three in One.

Words by Christopher Wordsworth
Tune Mendebras & Lowell Mason

Friday, April 17, 2009

Time Tested Beauty Tips

Instead of highlighting a piece of my *closet* today, I'm posting this well-known poem. It describes the most effective way of maintaining beauty, a fashion that never goes out of style. It was originally written for the poet's granddaughter, but popularized by actress Audrey Hepburn.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.

Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!

by Sam Levenson
American humorist, writer, journalist and television host
1911 - 1980

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table
At which he's fed.
Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.
Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for peanuts

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat ,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.
Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.
Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.
Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.
Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.
Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won't be done
Till he has no dough.
When he screams and hollers,
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He's good and sore.
Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he's laid.

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
'Taxes drove me to my doom...'
When he's gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.
Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax & lt; BRService Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Sales Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

Not really sure who wrote this ditty, but it hones in on a very real problem. I'm ready for forgo *government services* in exchange for lower taxes.
Consider reading about the Fair Tax in Neal Boortz's book by the same name.
We cant keep up this pace.

Here's a link to the AJC article about the Tea Party/Tax Protest that took place in downtown Atlanta Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Christus Victor

Resurrection hope hastens hence
on bud, breeze, and blossom
grieving rynds* banished in lilac scents.

Hark, the Easter Hymn rings haste
from its loveliest biding-place.

A lavish breach of winter's curt hard sword
an ardent repudiation of death's dark pall
the out-veining sun of the Christus Lord.

At the refectory of your loving-care
the transfiguration clarion sounds a call
that didicae** could ne're convey nor spare.

Thus, Gospel comes ensconced in Word and Deed
and the evidence is your shimmering touch:
Christus Victor, shown in a life's sown seed.

Hark, the Easter hymn rings haste
From its loveliest biding-place

by Tristan Gylberd
American poet
1954 -

Reading the blogs of George Grant and other reformed Christians, I learned of Gylberd and his poetry. But I cant find out any more information about him. If you have anything to share or know where I can secure a copy of his poetry, please leave a comment.

Photo borrowed from LauraC's blog.

rynds = rinds
didicae = ?? plural of learners or followers??

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Look at a Photograph

Child on Porch

Taken by Eudora Welty in the mid 1930's when she was working as a photographer for the Works Projects Administration in her home state of Mississippi.

Eudora Welty would be 100 years old today and wrote the poem, I Look at a Photograph, but I have been unable to read it.... yet.*

She wrote most of her poems as a young girl, the first being published in St Nicholas, a children's magazine, in 1920, at age 11. This one appears to be available in a current children's magazine, Cicada, a Cricket magazine group, the March/April 2005 issue.

While Welty is better known for her prose and photography, she did write a number of poems; and I would like to peruse a few. If you (or your library) has access to Cicada, I would appreciate receiving a photocopy of the poem.

But first, click over to my Xanga page and read my review of the acclaimed musical fable, The Shoe Bird, a delightful symphonic story, based on Welty's novella of the same title, published in 1964. I've listened to it several times over the weekend.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a short paragraph about photography from her memoir, One Writer's Beginnings.

The camera was a hand-held auxiliary of wanting-to-know.

It had more than information and accuracy to teach me. I learned in the doing how ready I had to be. Life doesnt hold still. A good snapshot stopped a moment from running away. Photography taught me that to be able to capture transience, by being ready to click the shutter at the crucial moment, was the greatest need I had. Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I earned that every feeling waits upon its gesture; and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it.

These were things a story writer needed to know. And I felt the need to hold transient life in words -- there's so much more of life that only words can convey --strongly enough to last me as long as I lived.

In your family, who is the photographer, who is the story writer/teller?

Who writes poetry?

*Much later I received a copy of this poem from the library reference desk.  In fact, it is NOT written by Miss Welty, but someone who was inspired by viewing her photograph.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Triumph of the Lamb

by Marguerite of Angouleme
11 April 1492 – 21 December 1549

Today is the 517th birthday of the author of this poem, and aside from noting that, I want to remember to study her. She was truly a Renaissance woman who not only carried out her political role at court but also devoted much of her energy and attention to spiritual matters. In 1521 she began a correspondence with Guillaume Briconnet, bishop of Meaux, who introduced her to the evangelist movement, the call for reform within the Catholic Church, and a return to the original purity of the Scriptures.

The following is only a small part of a larger poem.

Since my desire is now to celebrate
Thy triumphs, Word divine, impart to me
Such sweet accords and lofty harmonies
That no defect shall marr my song to Thee.
To sing Thy praises, Lord, is my intent
If by Thy Spirit Thou inspire my pen....
Thus, trusting, Lord, in Thy abundant grace
And knowing Thou wilt guide and lead me on,
I will begin to show the reason why
Thou first didst have compassion on mankind.

This is thought to be a portrait of Marguerite d'Angouleme,

Queen Consort to Henry II of Navarre and also the sister of Francis I, King of France.

Remember that Calvin addressed his Institutes of the Christian Religion to this king.

Oil on panel, 61.2 x 52.6cm
Jean Clouet, ca 1530
Court painter to Francis I

Walker Gallery
National Museums of Liverpool

This painting is full of symbols which may give clues to the painting's meaning. The sitter wears daisies in her hat. The French word for daisy is Marguerite. The parrot may symbolise eloquence and mean Marguerite was a good talker. The bird may also symbolise love, its green colour denoting passion.

Be sure and check out yesterday's Fine Art Friday post.

Zurbaran's painting is exquisite.

Friday, April 10, 2009

John Henry, Steel Driving Man

I hunted high and low for a poem about the Great Locomotive Chase aka Andrews Raid, which started April 12, 1862, but didnt find one. Instead I found a neat webpage with lots of other poems about trains.

From there I chose Old John Henry. Remember singing about him in grade school? I do.

Plus I thought this description of manliness might add to Cindy's discussion on Masculinity. What do you think?

John Henry was a railroad man,
He worked from six 'till five,
"Raise 'em up bullies and let 'em drop down,
I'll beat you to the bottom or die."

John Henry said to his captain:
"You are nothing but a common man,
Before that steam drill shall beat me down,
I'll die with my hammer in my hand."

John Henry said to the Shakers:
"You must listen to my call,
Before that steam drill shall beat me down,
I'll jar these mountains till they fall."

John Henry's captain said to him:
"I believe these mountains are caving in."
John Henry said to his captain: "Oh, Lord!"
"That's my hammer you hear in the wind."

John Henry he said to his captain:
"Your money is getting mighty slim,
When I hammer through this old mountain,
Oh Captain will you walk in?"

John Henry's captain came to him
With fifty dollars in his hand,
He laid his hand on his shoulder and said:
"This belongs to a steel driving man."

John Henry was hammering on the right side,
The big steam drill on the left,
Before that steam drill could beat him down,
He hammered his fool self to death.

They carried John Henry to the mountains,
From his shoulder his hammer would ring,
She caught on fire by a little blue blaze
I believe these old mountains are caving in.

John Henry was lying on his death bed,
He turned over on his side,
And these were the last words John Henry said
"Bring me a cool drink of water before I die."

John Henry had a little woman,
Her name was Pollie Ann,
He hugged and kissed her just before he died,
Saying, "Pollie, do the very best you can."

John Henry's woman heard he was dead,
She could not rest on her bed,
She got up at midnight, caught that No. 4 train,
"I am going where John Henry fell dead."

They carried John Henry to that new burying ground
His wife all dressed in blue,
She laid her hand on John Henry's cold face,
"John Henry I've been true to you."

by W. T. Blankenship

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Children's Hour

BETWEEN the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American Poet
1807 - 1882

Link to more information about the painting.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

To Keep A True Lent

Is this a Fast, to keep
The larder lean,
And clean,
From fat of veals, and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish?

Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragged to go
Or show
A downcast look, and sour?

No; 'tis a fast, to dole
Thy sheaf or wheat,
And meat,
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,
From old debate,
And hate;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent,
To starve thy sin,
Not bin;
And that's to keep thy Lent.

by Robert Herrick
English lyric poet
1591 - 1674

The word for Lent comes from Middle English and means the *lengthening of days* or Spring.

I was wondering.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Forty years ago I was the recipient of a little award in my school music class. Camille St Saens' Carnival of the Animals became music to my ears because I listened over and over to the recording in an effort to *distinguish* the sounds that mimicked different animals. Now whenever I hear these notes, my ears perk up and I imagine the parade.

Last Fall on NPR I heard the following Ogden Nash poems interspersed with the music and set out to buy one. Alas, the disc is not readily available (read it costs more than I want to pay) but here's a link to some fun activities related to St Saens' Carnival.


Camille Saint-Saens
Was wracked with pains,
When people addressed him,
As Saint-Saens.
He held the human race to blame,
Because it could not pronounce his name,
So, he turned with metronome and fife,
To glorify other kinds of life,
Be quiet please - for here begins
His salute to feathers, fur and fins.


The lion is the king of beasts,
And husband of the lioness.
Gazelles and things on which he feasts
Address him as your highoness.
There are those that admire that roar of his,
In the African jungles and velds,
But, I think that wherever the lion is,
I’d rather be somewhere else.


The rooster is a roistering hoodlum,
His battle cry is cock- a- doodleum.
Hands in pockets, cap over eye,
He whistles at pullets, passing by.


Have ever you harked to the donkey wild,
Which scientists call the onager?
It sounds like the laugh of an idiot child,
Or a hepcat on a harmoniger,
But do not sneer at the donkey wild,
There is a method in his heehaw,
For with maidenly blush and accent mild
The donkey answers shee-haw.


Come crown my brow with leaves of myrtle,
I know the tortoise is a turtle,
Come carve my name in stone immortal,
I know the turtoise is a tortle.
I know to my profound despair,
I bet on one to beat a hare,
I also know I’m now a pauper,
Because of its tortley, turtley, torper.


Elephants are useful friends,
Equipped with handles at both ends,
They have a wrinkled moth proof hide,
Their teeth are upside down, outside,
If you think the elephant preposterous,
You’ve probably never seen a rhinosterous.


The kangaroo can jump incredible,
He has to jump because he is edible,
I could not eat a kangaroo,
But many fine Australians do,
Those with cookbooks as well as boomerangs,
Prefer him in tasty kangaroomeringues.


Some fish are minnows,
Some are whales,
People like dimples,
Fish like scales,
Some fish are slim,
And some are round,
They don’t get cold,
They don’t get drowned,
But every fishwife
Fears for her fish,
What we call mermaids
They call merfish.


In the world of mules
There are no rules.
(Laughing, In the world of mules
There are no rules)


Cuckoos lead bohemian lives,
They fail as husbands and as wives,
Therefore, they cynically disparage
Everybody else’s marriage


Puccini was Latin, and Wagner Teutonic,
And birds are incurably philharmonic,
Suburban yards and rural vistas
Are filled with avian Andrew Sisters.
The skylark sings a roundelay,
The crow sings “The Road to Mandalay,”
The nightingale sings a lullaby,
And the sea gull sings a gullaby.
That’s what shepherds listened to in Arcadia
Before somebody invented the radia.


Some claim that pianists are human,
Heh, and quote the case of Mr. Truman.
Saint Saens on the other hand,
Considered them a scurvy band,
A blight they are he said, and simian,
Instead of normal men and wimian.


At midnight in the museum hall,
The fossils gathered for a ball,
There were no drums or saxophones,
But just the clatter of their bones,
Rolling, rattling carefree circus,
Of mammoth polkas and mazurkas,
Pterodactyls and brontosauruses
Sang ghostly prehistoric choruses,
Amid the mastodonic wassail
I caught the eye of one small fossil,
“Cheer up sad world,” he said and winked,
“It’s kind of fun to be extinct.”


The swan can swim while sitting down,
For pure conceit he takes the crown,
He looks in the mirror over and ovea,
And claims to have never heard of Pavlova.


Now we’ve reached the grand finale,
On an animalie, carnivalie,
Noises new to sea and land,
Issue from the skillful band,
All the strings contort their features,
Imitating crawly creatures,
All the brasses look like mumps
From blowing umpah, umpah, umps,
In outdoing Barnum and Bailey, and Ringling,
Saint Saens has done a miraculous thingling.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Wind

Awakened by the sound of gusting winds, I changed the poem I'd planned to highlight today. The wind will feature prominently in my weather today, ushering in much colder temperatures unseasonably cool for this time of year.

I saw you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies' skirts across the grass--
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!

I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all--
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!

O you that are so strong and cold,
O blower, are you young or old?
Are you a beast of field and tree,
Or just a stronger child than me?
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!

by Robert Louis Stevenson
Scottish novelist, poet, essayist
1850 - 1894

Portrait by
John Singer Sargent

What's the weather like where you are?

PS Most dramatic April weather in my memory? April 4, 1987 - 4 inches of snow in Rome, GA. Picture may follow.... if I can find it :)

Or remember the tornado that came through the campsite on April 1st, girls? What year was that?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Revising the Future

Our memory could have a past and lack only a future,

but we don't read what our forefathers wrote or read.

We select some figures, and then we fit them to our culture--
our fathers are what we make them once they're dead.
But we don't read what our forefathers wrote or read,
because we don't want to know if we believe a lie.

Our fathers are what we make them once they're dead,
and they make us in their image before we die.

Because we don't want to know if we believe a lie,
we design committees to transmit the truth,
and they make us in their image before we die;
we build them schools so they can also shape our youth.

We design committees to transmit the truth.
They are guiltless. They just believe what they've read.
We build them schools so they can also shape our youth,
and children have no reason to oppose how they're led.

They are guiltless. They just believe what they've read--
our fabricated heroes always do what they're told,
and children have no reason to oppose how they're led;
consequences always follow the ideas we hold.

Our fabricated heroes always do what they're told--
we select some figures, and then we fit them to our culture.
Consequences always follow the ideas we hold--
Our memory could have a past and lack only a future.

by Michael Minkoff, Jr
Christian School Teacher

Additional information:

This poem is a pantoum and was recently published in The Counsel of Chalcedon, ministry magazine of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, Cumming, GA

Here's a link to MsRogers English Room/Poetry site with 30 different formats for writing your own poetry. I have a strong memory of trying to write a limerick in elementary school. That may explain my fondness for Ogden Nash, but thankfully no extant copy of my creativity remains.

I love this example of concrete poetry entitled Forsythia.

And the only other format I've completed is the list poem.

Here's my example.

Are you a poet?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Vernal Sentiment

Though the crocuses poke up their heads in the usual places,

The frog scum appear on the pond with the same froth of green,

And boys moon at girls with last year's fatuous faces,

I never am bored, however familiar the scene.

When from under the barn the cat brings a similar litter, -
Two yellow and black, and one that looks in between, -
Though it all happened before, I cannot grow bitter:
I rejoice in the spring, as though no spring ever had been.

Theodore Roethke
American (Michigan) Poet
1908 - 1963

This year I am taken with the color contrast between the purple redbuds and the greenness of the budding trees. It explains how/why those two colors look good together in my wardrobe. But I didnt figure it out on my own. Artist daughter told me.

What colors are drawing your eyes?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Calf Path

Experiencing a resurgence in popularity, this poem is making appearances in speeches (recited from memory by Judge Roy Moore), books (Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola), and blogs (BuriedTreasureBooks and others). It is not Foss's most well-known, that's The House by the Side of the Road, but it is worthy of sharing because of its commentary on the herd mentality.

Initially, on that first trip home, I suspect the herdsman led the calf directly. The obvious lesson for me then is to find the herdsman and make our paths straight (Prov 3:5-6).

On the civil front, I learned how to keep the path straight from the legislator highlighted on my Xanga page. He would have been 74 yrs old today. And he was no fool.

One day thru the primeval wood
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail, all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
Since then 300 years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still, he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way.
And then, a wise bell -weathered sheep
Pursued the trail, o'er vale and steep,
And drew the flocks behind him too
As good bell-weathers always do.
And from that day, o'er hill and glade
Thru those old woods, a path was made.

And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because 'twas such a crooked path,
But still they followed, do not laugh,
The first migrations of that calf.
And thru the winding woods they stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street.
And this, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis.
And men, two centuries and a half
Trod the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand route
Followed the zig-zag calf about,
And o'er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf, near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way
And lost one hundred years per day.
For this such reverence is lent
To well establish precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained, and called to preach.
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out, and in, and forth, and back,
And still their devious course pursue
To keep the paths that others do.

They keep the paths a sacred groove
Along which all their lives they move.
But how the wise old wood gods laugh
Who saw that first primeval calf.
Ah, many things this tale might teach,
But I am not ordained to preach.

by Sam Walter Foss
American Poet and Librarian
1858 - 1911