Friday, April 30, 2010

The Primrose

Upon this Primrose hill,
Where, if Heav'n would distil
A shower of rain, each several drop might go
To his own primrose, and grow manna so;
And where their form and their infinity
Make a terrestrial Galaxy,
As the small stars do in the sky:
I walk to find a true Love; and I see
That 'tis not a mere woman that is she,
But must or more or less than woman be.

Yet know I not which flower
I wish; a six, or four;
For should my true-Love less than woman be
She were scarce any thing; and then, should she
Be more than woman she would get above
All thought of sex, and think to move
My heart to study her, and not to love;
Both these were monsters; since there must reside
Falsehood in woman, I could more abide
She were by art than Nature falsified.

Live primrose then, and thrive
With thy true number five;
And woman, whom this flower doth represent,
With this mysterious number be content;
Ten is the farthest number; if half ten
Belong unto each woman, then
Each woman may take half us men;
Or if this will not serve their turn, since all
Numbers are odd or even, and they fall
First into this, five, woman may take us all.

John Donne
English Jacobean Poet
1572 - 1631

Centuries later, primroses continue to enchant humans.

Read my short review of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic
 The Spring Cleaning.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Child, though I tell you in this sunlit cove

This cup of captive sea is ever blue,

For you it may be equally as true

That it is nacre, emerald, taupe or mauve.

Youth, though I say to you our days are scrolled
In hues allied to charcoal, chalk or steel,
For you it may be equally as real
To name them carmine, coral, or yet gold.

Experience and age have tossed a bone:
The right to paint life as it seems to me,
And you may heed the colors that I see,
But never let them blind you to your own.

Ethel Barnett de Vito
McCalls Magazine, September 1960

This poem caught my eye as I was perusing my personal anthology and think that it's a nice compliment to Dominion Family's ongoing examination of schooling.  Specifically, here's a link to one didactic post describing two types of teachers.

What kind are you?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poetical Musings

Three cheers for Cady, Harrison
ensconsed in his beautiful garrison,

with a smile on his face
as he ages with grace;

a man to whom there is no comparison.

He sits in his Ivory Tower
and reflects on the bird and the flower,
and the animals, too,
for he drew quite a few
as they placed in their deep woodland bower.

When young he acquired the good habit
of drawing the hare, Peter Rabbit
and it brought to his name
quite some measure of fame,
that equaled Bugs Bunny & Br'er Rabbit.

Illustrations he drew
one a day,
fifteen thousand in all,
so they say.

W. Harrison Cady
American Illustrator
1877 - 1970

Here's a link to the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art which hosts an online exhibit of his work.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Do The Next Thing

"From an old climbing rosebush, right next to me,
there came in the twilight a message for thee.
Its quaint Southern legend deeply engraven
hath, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration
 'Do the next thing.'

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus,
Do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
leave all resultings,
Do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing,
Then as He beckons thee
Do the next thing."

Author Unknown

Monday, April 26, 2010


Today I'm thinking about the Glyman family, extended. They lost a sister (Sue) over the weekend. And while I never had the opportunity to meet her in real life, I do know one of her sisters, Donna at Quiet Life. So, in this very small way, I honor their grief by highlighting the strength of sisters in this colorful poem.

You were yellow,
I was red, including pink and some
lavenders.  If the lavenders
got too bluish, they were Tita's, our
blue sister, who could also have
green if she wanted.  Our baby sister
wasn't even born yet, and
then she was mostly in white for a few
years until she stared learning
her colors and wanted all of them for
herself.  We were ingrained in
our colors; to this day, almost thirty
years later, I see a sunset,
and I think, yours.

 poet, novelist, and essayist
1950 -      

John Constable
British Oil Painting, 1828

Friday, April 23, 2010

Constable's Clouds
for Fred H Stocking
by Peter Filkins


Scudding through distances, hovering in blue
vacuities of a summer's day, cumuli
float upon the surface of a ranging eye
that studies their shape, analyzes their hue

in pigments now aswirl upon the palette,
soft collisions of white and red and grey
soon weathering the canvas, capturing a day
whose transience we know because he saw it

there in the changeable sky he stood beneath,
stratus and nimbus, thunderhead and puff
fixed in their currency, the consequence of
the raw prevailing wind on Hampstead Heath.

There are three more chapters to this memorial poem which I will post after my short explanation.  It appears that Filkins wrote this poem to honor a colleague who was fond of Constable and Clouds, both of which interest me.

Last year I visited the Frick and gazed at one rendition of Salisbury Cathedral, which rekindled my interest in Constable.  If I were re-doing college at this stage of the game, I might very well choose some sort of blended major that would allow me to combine subjects.

Art, science, geography, history, et cetera are all subjects easily covered by studying Constable.  I wish I'd been able to see the National Gallery exhibit of 2007.  The next best thing is reading all about it here.

Now for the rest of the story.


"no two days are alike, nor even two hours,"
and so his brush keeps on the move while he
does not, despising those who continually
ignore their craft by "running after pictures."

Weymouth, Harrow, Flatford, Dedham Vale,
ephemera beneath the sky's broad radius
casting England's neutral light on all that is
and eludes him, be it fame, or more so the pale

evening light off a dark grey effect-looking
eastwards" toward a drifting back of cloud
that's there, then gone, someone in the crowd
later calling his picture "a nasty green thing."


Maria coughs again, the taste of blood
causing a cloud of fear to pass across
her feverish bright-eyed gaze.  Soon loss
will fell him. "Every gleam of sunshine blighted,

can it be wondered I paint continual storms?"
Each gathering front, each rising eastern gale
turbid now with grief, as wind and hail
consume a placid landscape, unleashing forms

that build and threaten, yet do not release
him from the sadness planted in his heart,
the demands of composition, the rigor of art
as equal to rain as sun, misery as peace.


"I shall never feel again as I have felt,
the face of the world is totally changed to me."
And yet the sketches continue, originality
hard won upon the back of a life that's deal

with setback by studying atmospheric effect.
"Clouds, Moving very fast. With occasional
very bright openings to blue," the residual
of an autocumulus inhabiting the flex

of a brushstroke, "wind after rain in the morning"
the note he jots to catalogue the weather
he'll use, if not survive, observing much later,
"in truth, my art is another word for feeling."

I hope reading this poem inspires you as it does me on several levels.

But first, let me give credit where credit is due.

I learned about this poem from American Arts Quarterly, where it was published in the Spring 2009 edition.
They are a rich resource.

And last, but not least, the details about the painting in my FineArtFriday entry here.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Homeward Leading Lane

Today would have been Grandpa Jago's 84th birthday and I know we family members are thinking about him.

What follows is a memorial poem composed and delivered by the pastor who conducted the funeral on November 13, 2001.

He took the homeward leading lane,
While still lingered summer's day,
Then slowly walked 'neath autumn's sun,
As we shared with him the homeward way.

We sat together in quiet thought,
As we did his life and love recall,
And thus we shared the homeward lane,
As autumn leaves from the trees did fall.

Then as the days took on a morning chill,
'Neath autumn skies so clear and bright,
We reached the gate in the homeward lane,
Where he bid each of us good night.

He then walked on beyond our view
To climb heaven's front porch step,
As we lingered by the homeward gate,
And held each other as we wept.

Yet in our tears there is no despair,
For Jesus was his homeward way and gate.
So when we take the homeward lane we know,
He will for us on heaven's front porch wait.

C.R. Hill, Jr.
In Memory of Norman S. Jago
Copyright 11/11/01

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Death at Suppertime

Phyllis McGinley, author and poet, penned the following verse in 1948, decrying the media's encroachment upon that crucial hour once reserved for family meals.

Time and time again we wonder why the world is in such a sad state of affairs.

My personal solution is the maintenance of the dinner hour (free of television, telephone, and teleprompter)

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupation,
That is known as the Children's Hour.

That endeth the skipping and skating,
The giggles, the tantrums, and tears,
When, the innocent voices abating,
Alert grow the innocent ears.

The little boys leap from the stairways,
Girls lay down their dolls on the dot,
For promptly at five o'er the airways
Comes violence geared to the tot.

Comes murder, comes arson, come G-men
Pursuing unspeakable spies;
Come gangsters and tough-talking he-men
With six-shooters strapped to their thighs;
Comes the corpse in the dust, comes the dictum
"Ya' better start singin', ya' rat!"
While the torturer leers at his victim,
The killer unleashes his gat.

With mayhem the twilight is reeling.
Blood spatters, the tommy guns bark.
Hands reach for the sky or the ceiling
As the dagger strikes home in the dark.

And lo! with what rapturous wonder
The little ones hark to each tale
Of gambler shot down with his plunder
Or outlaw abducting the mail.

Between the news and the tireless
Commercials, while tempers turn sour,
Comes a season of horror by wireless,
That is known as the Children's Hour.

I have been known to refer to this *Children's Hour* (say 5p - 7p) as the *Witching Hour* - that time of day in which all hell can break loose, if one is in charge .... of young children especially.  It can also refer to Longfellow's charming poem about his family.  I posted it last year.  

But after living through a few such bewitchings, I determined to avoid them.  I learned that my entire day would go more smoothly, if I knew what we were having for dinner and took at least a couple of steps early in the day to get that meal under control.  Thank goodness for freezers, crockpots, oven-timers, and dishwashers. 

Unfortunately, I discovered Mrs. McGinley after learning to cope without the benefit of her wise words.

But I continue to read her essays and poems because after all....

A woman's mind needs to be well-furnished.

She spends a lot of time there.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Butterfly That Stamped

There was never a Queen like Balkis,
From here to the wide world's end;
But Balkis talked to a butterfly
As you would talk to a friend.

There was never a King like Solomon
Not since the world began;
But Solomon talked to a butterfly
As a man would talk to a man.

She was Queen of Sabea--
And he was Asia's Lord--
But they both of 'em talked to butterflies
When they took their walks abroad!

Rudyard Kipling
English Poet/Author
1865 - 1936

Here's a link to the entire short story of the same title.

Two additional Kipling poems that rate very high on my list of favorites:

The Female of the Species
The Betrothed

What about you?

What's your favorite Kipling verse?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Owl and the Pussy-cat

In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are."

Pussy said to the Owl "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?"
Said the Piggy, "I will"
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

So, Edward Lear's nonsense poetry wins the day because I wanted to highlight this delightful collection of beautifully illustrated poems and his Owl and the Pussy Cat graces the cover.  Neil Philip is the editor, and Isabelle Brent, the illustrator.

Here's my FAF (fineartfriday) post.   I'm adding their books to my Amazon Wish List.

Best-Loved Poems is a common title for anthologies, this one being first published in 2000.   I give it five stars because 1) I like most of the poems; 2) I like the illustrations; and 3) I like its layout.

Two other oft-referenced anthologies on my bookshelf are The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and The Best-Loved Poems of the American People.

Do you have a favorite anthology?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who Is This That Comes From Edom

This is a favorite hymn (228 Blue Trinity) of mine.  We sang it in church today, probably selected because the sermon covered Isaiah 62-64.  The message was so *meaty* that I listened to it again.

Who is this that comes from Edom,
All His garments stained with blood;
To the slave proclaiming freedom;
Bringing and bestowing good;
Glorious in the garb He wears,
Glorious in the spoils He bears?

’Tis the Savior, now victorious
Traveling onward in His might;
’Tis the Savior, O how glorious
To His people is the sight!
Jesus now is strong to save,
Mighty to redeem the slave.

Why that blood His raiment staining?
’Tis the blood of many slain;
Of His foes there’s none remaining,
None the contest to maintain:
Fallen they are, no more to rise,
All their glory prostrate lies.

This the Savior has effected
By His mighty arm alone;
See the throne for Him erected;
’Tis an everlasting throne:
’Tis the great reward He gains,
Glorious fruit of all His pains.

Mighty Victor, reign forever,
Wear the crown so dearly won;
Never shall thy people, never
Cease to sing what Thou hast done;
Thou hast fought Thy people’s foes;
Thou wilt heal Thy people’s woes.

Lyrics by Thomas Kelly
Irish Hymnodist
1769 - 1855
Music by Albert Lister Peace
English Musician (Organist)
1844 - 1912

Friday, April 16, 2010

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams
American Poet
1883 - 1963

Thursday, April 15, 2010

List Poetry

Dressing appropriately
Greeting patients
Answering phones
Listening to requests
Fielding questions
Making appointments
Writing messages
Typing data
Editing claims
Creating reports
Mailing letters
Observing the flow
Learning new things
Solving problems
Serving others
Working creatively
Understanding why God made me.

Here's a link to another such poem. 

It addresses the other side of my coin.

That round tuit.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Quadrivium

Last year when I was reading Josef Pieper's Leisure:  The Basis of Culture with an online book club, I ran across the following poem and saved it for sharing during National Poetry Month.

Currently, the group is hashing out their
philosoph(ies) of education as they read Norms and Nobility by David Hicks.

While I havent made it much past reading the acknowledgements and perusing the bibliography of the paperback edition, I have found this poem to be a propos.  the discussion.

I also appreciate its logic.

Science begins in brain;
Philosophy begins in mind;
Poetry begins in ear and mouth;
Religion begins in breath.

For science to say anything about life, it must experiment;
for philosophy to say anything about life, it must exhaust words;
for poetry to say anything about life, it must listen;
for religion to say anything about life, it must fall on its face.

Where science ends, philosophy begins;
where philosophy ends, poetry begins;
where poetry ends, death begins;
where death ends, religion begins.

By Allan Roy Andrews

Here's a link to the poet's blog.

The poem appeared originally in Voice, a newsletter of St. Martin's-in-the-Field Episcopal Church, Severna Park, MD, February 2002.

Definition/Etymology of Quadrivium:

The higher division of the seven liberal arts in the Middle Ages, composed of geometry, astronomy, arithmetic, and music.

[Late Latin, from Latin, place where four roads meet : quadri-, quadri- + via, road; see via.]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Cindy of Dominion Family aka Ordo Amoris fame not only helped me to appreciate *leisure* by idealizing it on her blog, but also challenged me to re-assess my working definition of the word.  Basically she kept using the term in relation to education or schooling.

Here's a link to the instigating post.

The result was an interesting online book club discussion that clarified her position and undergirded mine.

Here's a link to my comments on Pieper's book.

In short.... Leisure is not for the faint-hearted.

W. H. Davies, who interestingly enough spent a significant part of his life as a vagabond, entertained the concept in the following poem:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have not time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

W. H. Davies
1871 - 1940
Welsh Poet

Leisure can be a trigger word.

Much like the word *boredom*.

What do you think?

Photo borrowed from Flickr:
Sculpture by Andrew Brown 2005
Port William, Scotland

Monday, April 12, 2010

Woman Holding A Balance

Between dark and light,
Between this world and the next,
Between maidenhood and motherhood
She pauses, held in balance
Like the balance she holds.

Her focus not the gold or
The weighing, but the justice
Of her scales, settling to their still
Point in a steady hand,
And she herself unadorned,
A lily that needs no gilding
But the points of light that lie
On her veil like jewels in a crown.

If she raised her eyes, she would see
This luminous beauty, drop the scales,
And, like a blushing Eve, break
The balance and forsake
The innocence of her task,
But she does not.

If she turned, she would see
The Last Judgment, saints and sinners,
Weighed in the final balance, and,
Called to think on ultimate things,
Lose this moment –
But she does not.

Trained on the object, undistracted,
Patient while the instrument swings
To its center and is still, she turns
This little task to prayer - if mindfulness is
Prayer – to an exercise of love – if it is love
To be attentive to the thing at hand.

Marilyn Chandler McEntyre
American poet/author

Sharing an article from Christianity today, my mother introduced me to Marilyn Chandler McEntyre.  The essay was a review of her book, Caring for Words in Culture of Lies, which is right up my alley as a word-lover.

I encourage you to search her out.

Here's a link to her website.

Her life lines are most enjoyable.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

When Morning Gilds the Skies

A favorite hymn, I mean poem.

When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When you begin the day, O never fail to say,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
And at your work rejoice, to sing with heart and voice,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Whene’er the sweet church bell peals over hill and dell,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
O hark to what it sings, as joyously it rings,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

My tongue shall never tire of chanting with the choir,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
This song of sacred joy, it never seems to cloy,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

To God, the Word, on high, the host of angels cry,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let mortals, too, upraise their voice in hymns of praise,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this at meals your grace, in every time and place;
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this, when day is past, of all your thoughts the last
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When mirth for music longs, this is my song of songs:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evening shadows fall, this rings my curfew call,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

The night becomes as day when from the heart we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

No lovelier antiphon in all high Heav’n is known
Than, Jesus Christ be praised!
There to the eternal Word the eternal psalm is heard:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Let all the earth around ring joyous with the sound:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
In Heaven’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Sing, suns and stars of space, sing, ye that see His face,
Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s whole creation o’er, for aye and evermore
Shall Jesus Christ be praised!

In Heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let earth, and sea and sky from depth to height reply,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Sing this eternal song through all the ages long:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Text: Katholisches Gesangbuch
Music: Joseph Barnby, 1838-1896
Tune: LAUDES DOMINI, Meter: 666.666

I remember singing this one in elementary school chapel.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Gran Torino

Today's selected poem is somewhat out of character for me, but read on if you're interested in the explanation.

They are the lyrics to a movie's theme song. 
And no, I dont have it as my ringtone :-\

In reflecting over the movies I'd watched since last April, I could recall only a few.  Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino was one of them.  In fact, I rewatched it last night on HBO.  With a warning about the foul language and gang violence, I highly recommend the film for adults - teenaged children are okay, if parents are watching with them.

Realign all the stars
Above my head
Warning signs
Travel far
I drink instead
On my own
Oh,how I've known
The battle scars
And worn out beds

Gentle now
A tender breeze blows
Whispers through a Gran Torino
Whistling another tired song

Engines humm and bitter dreams grow
Heart locked in a Gran Torino
It beats A lonely rhythm all night long

These streets are old
They shine with the things I've known
And breaks through the trees
Their sparkling

Your world
Is nothing more
Than all
The tiny things
You've left behind

So tenderly
Your story is
Nothing more
Than what you see
What you've done
Or will become
Standing strong
Do you belong
In your skin
Just wondering

Gentle now a tender breeze blows
Whispers through the Gran Torino
Whistling another tired song
Engines humm and bitter dreams grow
A heart locked in a Gran Torino
It beats A lonely rhythm
All night long

May I be so bold and stay
I need someone to hold
That shudders my skin
Their sparkling

Your world
Is nothing more
Than all
The tiny things
You've left

So realign
All the stars
Above my head
Warning signs
Travel far
I drink instead
On my own
How I've known
The battle scars
And worn out beds

Gentle now a tender breeze blows
Whispers through the Gran Torino
Whistling another tired song
Engines humm and better dreams grow
Heart locked in a Gran Torino
It beats a lonely rhythm
All night long
It beats a lonely rhythm
All night long
It beats a lonely rhythm
All night long

Over and above their utilitarian purpose, there is something seductive about cars.  In my early teenaged years (old enough to drive), I thought I might like to own a Gran Torino.  Furthermore, cars qualify as art.

For at The High Museum there is a widely popular exhibit now open.  The Allure of the Automobile  is on my list of things to see, but I'm thinking that I should take in John Portman's Architecture exhibit first, especially since it's about to close AND there's a walking tour attached.

Now I'm curious....

do you know of a poem about cars?

Better yet, tell me about a car you love(d).

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Adversary

Mothers are hardest to forgive.

Life is the fruit they long to hand you,

Ripe on a plate.  And while you live,

Relentlessly they understand you.

Phyllis McGinley
American writer/poet
1905 - 1978

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Strictly speaking it's early Spring here in north Georgia, but we've had a string of unusually high temperatures (87 degrees yesterday) making it seem like early Summer.

Everyone is outside enjoying Nature.

Wordsworth who penned I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud sums it up very well in this seasonal verse written earlier in his career.

Today's his birthday as well.  Visit his homepage.

I HEARD a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:--
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

Williams Wordsworth, 1798
English Romantic Poet

Side Note ~
William's brother, Christopher wrote the words to one of my favorite hymns: 
 O day of rest and gladness

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

One Art

In Her Shoes is another movie in which poetry plays a significant role.

The main character (Maggie) reads aloud at the request of one of her nursing home patients.  He happens to be a blind retired professor of English literature.

Suffice it to say that this exercise empowers Maggie to pull her life together and reconcile with her family.

Of the three poems in the film, One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop is the one I went in search of last summer when I saw the movie: the one I wanted to remember for National Poetry Month in April.

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant to travel.
None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Read more about Elizabeth Bishop at the Poetry Foundation's website.

Some lines from E E Cummings i carry your heart with me and Jane Kenyon's Let Evening Come were also featured in the movie.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 19th century poet laureate (UK), carries the day (figuratively-speaking) in the 21st century award-winning film, The Blind Side.

It's my favorite scene in the movie.

Sean Tuohy hops up from the sofa where he's watching television and bursts into poetic recitation. The moment is pivotal because the verses provide Michael Ohr with the inspiration he needs to take the next step on his road to success.

Here you can see happiness when things begin to click academically for the main character.

His tutor is thrilled as well.

We can all relate.

Now for the rest of the story.....

Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
  All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
  Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
  All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
  Noble six hundred!

Share some poetry today.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Resurrection Poetry

Praise the Savior now and ever;

Praise Him, all beneath the skies;

Prostrate lying, suff’ring, dying
On the cross, a sacrifice.
Vict’ry gaining, life obtaining,
Now in glory He doth rise.

Man’s work faileth, Christ’s availeth;
He is all our righteousness;
He, our Savior, has forever
Set us free from dire distress.
Through His merit we inherit
Light and peace and happiness.

Sin’s bonds severed, we’re delivered,
Christ has bruised the serpent’s head;
Death no longer is the stronger,
Hell itself is captive led.
Christ has risen from death’s prison,
O’er the tomb He light has shed.

For His favor, praise forever,
Unto God the Father sing;
Praise the Savior, praise Him ever,
Son of God, our Lord and King.
Praise the Spirit, through Christ’s merit,
He doth us salvation bring.

Venantius Fortunatus
Latin Poet and Hymnodist
530 - 609

Trinity Hymnal #174

Painting Credits:
Venantius Fortunatus Reading His Poems to Radegonda VI
by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, British 19th Romantic artist
Oil on Canvas, 1862

Friday, April 02, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha' penny, two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

So, it's true. I'm enjoying half of a hot cross bun for breakfast. It's sharing the plate with my hard boiled egg and my hot tea (PG Tips compliments of my favorite Brit.)

And for the curious (or not) ~ here's Sunday's after church menu:

Roasted Leg of Spring Lamb
Eggplant Casserole
Steamed Asparagus
Sauted Sweet Orange Peppers

Black Swan Shiraz

Carrot Cake

Lots to do between now and then.

Pictures will follow.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Present Crisis

What follows is a short clip from James Russell Lowell's 90-line poem written in 1844.

It's fresh on my mind because it was cited in a New American article about Obamacare and I've been looking for poems to highlight in April.

It is, after all, National Poetry Month.

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,

Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever 'twixt that darkness and that light.

Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand,
Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land?

Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet 'tis Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.

Backward look across the ages and the beacon-moments see,
That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut through Oblivion's sea;
Not an ear in court or market for the low, foreboding cry
Of those Crises, God's stern winnowers, from whose feet earth's chaff must fly;
Never shows the choice momentous till the judgment hath passed by.

Careless seems the great Avenger; history's pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,—
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,

Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

I took the time to read up on Lowell and the crisis he was referencing ~ most likely the Mexican War coupled with the increasing tension over the expansion of slavery.

Here's a short description of this famous American poet.
Lowell's reputation at the time of his death in 1891 was a superstition.  His fame as a man of letters was international, but he was not in any respect a popular writer.  Except for a few school-room pieces like "The Vision of Sir Launfal," Lowell's poetry was considered too difficult by most readers.
Dont let that stop you from delving deeper into his works because
No one as richly versatile and influential as Lowell will forever remain unattractive or unrewarding to scholars.

Consider using poetry as a sounding board for the next few weeks.

Sherry at Semicolon has made it easy to play along.

The rest of The Present Crisis follows this entry.
The Present Crisis

James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

WHEN a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth’s aching breast
Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west,
And the slave, where’er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb
To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime
Of a century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time.

Through the walls of hut and palace shoots the instantaneous throe,
When the travail of the Ages wrings earth’s systems to and fro;
At the birth of each new Era, with a recognizing start,
Nation wildly looks at nation, standing with mute lips apart,
And glad Truth’s yet mightier man-child leaps beneath the Future’s heart.

So the Evil’s triumph sendeth, with a terror and a chill,
Under continent to continent, the sense of coming ill,
And the slave, where’er he cowers, feels his sympathies with God
In hot tear-drops ebbing earthward, to be drunk up by the sod,
Till a corpse crawls round unburied, delving in the nobler clod.

For mankind are one in spirit, and an instinct bears along,
Round the earth’s electric circle, the swift flash of right or wrong;
Whether conscious or unconscious, yet Humanity’s vast frame
Through its ocean-sundered fibres feels the gush of joy or shame;—
In the gain or loss of one race all the rest have equal claim.

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand,
Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land?
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet ’tis Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.

Backward look across the ages and the beacon-moments see,
That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut through Oblivion’s sea;
Not an ear in court or market for the low foreboding cry
Of those Crises, God’s stern winnowers, from whose feet earth’s chaff must fly;
Never shows the choice momentous till the judgment hath passed by.

Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness ’twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,—
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

We see dimly in the Present what is small and what is great,
Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the iron helm of fate,
But the soul is still oracular; amid the market’s din,
List the ominous stern whisper from the Delphic cave within,—
‘They enslave their children’s children who make compromise with sin.’

Slavery, the earth-born Cyclops, fellest of the giant brood,
Sons of brutish Force and Darkness, who have drenched the earth with blood,
Famished in his self-made desert, blinded by our purer day,
Gropes in yet unblasted regions for his miserable prey;—
Shall we guide his gory fingers where our helpless children play?

Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,
And the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

Count me o’er earth’s chosen heroes,—they were souls that stood alone,
While the men they agonized for hurled the contumelious stone,
Stood serene, and down the future saw the golden beam incline
To the side of perfect justice, mastered by their faith divine,
By one man’s plain truth to manhood and to God’s supreme design. 60

By the light of burning heretics Christ’s bleeding feet I track,
Toiling up new Calvaries ever with the cross that turns not back,
And these mounts of anguish number how each generation learned
One new word of that grand Credo which in prophet-hearts hath burned
Since the first man stood God-conquered with his face to heaven upturned.

For Humanity sweeps onward: where to-day the martyr stands,
On the morrow crouches Judas with the silver in his hands;
Far in front the cross stands ready and the crackling fagots burn,
While the hooting mob of yesterday in silent awe return
To glean up the scattered ashes into History’s golden urn.

’Tis as easy to be heroes as to sit the idle slaves
Of a legendary virtue carved upon our father’s graves,
Worshippers of light ancestral make the present light a crime;—
Was the Mayflower launched by cowards, steered by men behind their time?
Turn those tracks toward Past or Future, that make Plymouth Rock sublime?

They were men of present valor, stalwart old iconoclasts,
Unconvinced by axe or gibbet that all virtue was the Past’s;
But we make their truth our falsehood, thinking that hath made us free,
Hoarding it in mouldy parchments, while our tender spirits flee
The rude grasp of that great Impulse which drove them across the sea.

They have rights who dare maintain them; we are traitors to our sires, Smothering in their holy ashes Freedom’s new-lit altar-fires;
Shall we make their creed our jailer? Shall we, in our haste to slay,
From the tombs of the old prophets steal the funeral lamps away
To light up the martyr-fagots round the prophets of to-day?

New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth;
Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires! we ourselves must Pilgrims be,
Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future’s portal with the Past’s blood-rusted key.