Friday, April 29, 2011


Today is the birthday of this poet and I've been saving this poem for my final entry of my month-long tribute to National Poetry Month.  Blogger-friend, Cindy, writes to encourage homeschool families and that's where I first read these inspirational verses.

THIS I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:-
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.
A craven hung along the battle's edge,
And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel-
That blue blade that the king's son bears,-but this
Blunt thing-!" he snapt and flung it from his hand,
And lowering crept away and left the field.
Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

Edward Rowland Sills
American educator
1841  - 1887

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dying Confederate's Last Words

Dear comrades on my brow the hand of death is cast,
My breath is growing short, all pain will soon be past;
My soul will soar away to that bright land of bliss,
Far from the pain and woe of such a place as this.

I left my home and friends to battle with the foe,
To save the Southern land from misery and woe;
I gave my all (oh! not to win a name,
Or have it e'en enrolled upon the scroll of fame.)

Not so, I only wished a helper brave to be
To save the glorious South from cruel tyranny;
My soul with ardor burned the treacherous foe to fight
And take a noble stand for liberty and right.

But oh! how weak is man! It was not God's decree,
That I should longer live a helper brave to be,
Before another day I shall be with the dead,
And 'neath the grassy sod will be my lonely bed.

And should you see the friends that nurtured me in youth,
Tell them I tried to walk the ways of peace and truth;
O ! tell my mother kind the words that she has given,
Have led her wayward child to Jesus and to heaven.

Farewell! farewell! my friends my loving comrades dear,
I ask you not to drop for me one bitter tear;
The angels sweetly stand and beckon me to come,
To that bright land of bliss that heavenly realm my home.

~Author Unknown

Photo Credit:
Myself - Link to Info

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sister Cat

Cat stands at the fridge,
Cries loudly for milk.
But I've filled her bowl.
Wild cat, I say, Sister,
Look, you have milk.
I clink my fingernail
Against the rim. Milk.
With down and liver,
A word I know she hears.
Her sad miaow. She runs
To me. She dips
In her whiskers but
Doesn't drink. As sometimes
I want the light on
When it is on. Or when
I saw the woman walking
toward my house and
I thought there's Frances.
Then looked in the car mirror
To be sure. She stalks
The room. She wants. Milk
Beyond milk. World beyond
This one, she cries.

by Frances Mayes
American Poet
1940 -

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday, April 25, 1943

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had been arrested just days before.  He didnt think he'd be there long.  But ended up being there for two years before being hanged by Hitler's posse on April 9, 1945.

Here's a quote from his writings that tell us how he viewed his position that day.

"One of the great advantages of Good Friday and Easter Day is that they take us out of ourselves, and make us think of other things, of life and its meaning, and of its suffering and events. It gives us such a lot to hope for."

Here's a link to my review of a recent biography.

Here's a link to a free download of the Easter Story.

Listen and believe!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

For a Time of Sorrow

Sorrow is one of the things that are lent, not given.
A thing that is lent may be taken away;
A thing that is given is not taken away.
Joy is given.
Sorrow is lent.

We are not our own, we are bought with a price (I Cor 6:19-20).

"And our sorrow is not our own." (Samuel Rutherford said this a long time ago.)  It is lent to us for just a little while that we may use it for eternal purposes.  Then it will be taken away and everlasting joy will be our Father's gift to us.

The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces (Isaiah 25:8)

Amy Carmichael
Edges of His Ways

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

But women will be saved through childbearing—
if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
 I Timothy 2:15

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow--
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky--
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

William Ross Wallace
American Poet
1819 - 1881

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sonnet LXXV

One day I wrote her name upon the sand,
But came the waves and washed it away;
Again I wrote it with a second hand.
But came the tide and made my pains his prey.
"Vain man," said she, "that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize,
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise,"
"Not so," quod I, "let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame;
My verse your virtues rare shall eternize
And in the heavens write your glorious name,
Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew."

by Edmund Spenser
1522 - 1599

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sonnet #43, Kitchen Style

Driving into my neighborhood last evening, I noticed that a local had neatly planted and staked about a dozen tomato plants.  That's what prompted the re-posting of this delightful ode. 

How do I love thee, tomato?

Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and might
My palate can reach,

when remembering out of sight

Your peak month of August, when you bear fruits of juicy Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most urgent need for a BLT, by sun or moon-light.
I love thee with abandon, as Venus might her Mars or Vulcan
I love thee purely, as surely as the summer wanes
I love thee with the passion of my appetite
Above all fruits, and with my childhood's eye of Jersey tomatoes
As if they were falling from the sky.
I love thee with a hunger I seemed to lose
With my lost innocence (and the icky mealy tomatoes of January)! I love thee with the smell,
Unlike no other in the garden, and your vine-ripened sweetness
That bring me smiles, tears, only at this time of year! -- and if the farmer's choose
I shall but love thee better after many bowls of gazpacho.

I'm not much of a gardener.  I like to think I could, if need be.  In the meantime, I'll praise the fruits of others' labor.

Photo Credit:
Myself - July 2010
Fruit compliments of a neighbor

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Against the Vices of the Times

The following translation of a ballade, composed in 1386 by the prolific French writer Eustaches Deschamps, a contemporary of Chaucer, is an example of the moralizing use made of the Worthies to contrast the degenerate present with an ideal past.

If it were possible for human nature
To revive those who have turned to ashes,
The worthy Hector, Arthur, and Charlemagne,
Julius Caesar, Godfrey, Alexander,
David, Judas, and Joshua who were willing
To take so much trouble in order to conquer
And to gain honor and renown,
And were they to be brought back to life,
I believe they all would wish to die again
Thus seeing the envy of the world,
And the suffering that everyone here inflicts,
Of coveting, robbing, expropriating, and acquiring,
Of deceiving his neighbor, man or woman,
Of abandoning honor and taking up vices,
Doing evil to the good, and rewarding the wicked,
Doing disservice to the noble and generous heart
But serving and honoring the wicked,
And foolishly waging war against one another;
All the nine worthies would wish to make an end
Thus seeing the envy of the world.
It would seem a wicked thing to them
To compare time present with time past,
When honor was in the world, Sovereign
Knowledge, which made everyone understand
To love the good, and Largesse bestowed
Reward on everyone, in order to uphold valor
And loyalty, to maintain prowess:
Justice and Right held lordship.
It goes otherwise; they would all wish to perish
Thus seeing the envy of the world.


Princes, there is no one, if he has common sense,
And knew the tyranny of the world,
Who would not wish to die directly,
Thus seeing the envy of the world.

I ran across this poem when researching *heroes* for bookclub.  We were reading Anthony  Esolen's Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.  He decries the modern temptation to denigrate the reputation of all heroes, which tendency was also mentioned by author Eric Metaxas during the Q&A of his lecture on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The painting is by Giacomo Jaquerio (c. 1375 - 1453) an Italian medieval painter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Time to Sleep

On Saturday I had the opportunity to hear the author of this poem speak, but not about lullabies.  More like an alarm clock, Eric Metaxas captured my attention.  Entertaining in style, authentic in message, and powerful with vision, he shared his hopes for how the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer could impact our society for the Lord.  Metaxas has a heart for God and demonstrates it in all aspects of his work.  I 'm on a mission to read/collect all of his books, poems, essays, and writings.

"It's time to sleep, it's time to sleep,"
the fishes croon in waters deep.
The songbirds sing in trees above,
"It's time to sleep, my love, my love."
"It's time to sleep, my love."
So, go to sleep, my love.

So, go to sleep, my sleepy child,"
the tiger whispers in the wild.
The otter utters by the lake,
"It's getting hard to stay awake."
"So, go to sleep, my love."
"It's time to sleep, my love."

"Let's go to sleep, my darling love,"
so coos the sleepy turtledove.
So drones the drowsy bumblebee
inside its hive inside its tree.
"It's time to sleep, my love."
"Let's go to sleep, my love."

"I'm getting very sleepy now,"
so moos the tired milking cow.
So croaks the almost-sleeping frog
amidst the settling of the fog.
"So, go to sleep, my love."
"It's time to sleep, my love, love."

Your dreams will be arriving soon.
They'll float to you in sleep's balloon.
They'll be here when I snuff the wick,
you'd better close your eyelids quick.
So you can dream, my love.
So you can dream, my love.

And as you dream inside your sleep,
the fishes crooning in the deep, and
all the songbirds up above
will sleep and dream of you, my love,
of you, the one I love.

by Eric Metaxas

Now that you've read through the poem, listen to Sally Taylor sing it.
(daughter of James Taylor and Carly Simon).

What a perfect gift!

Image is by Nancy Tillman and borrowed from her book.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fire and Ice

Quoted in Frances Mayes's Swan, a book recently reviewed (here) by me, Frost's poem rang a bell not only because I'd just read this fine review of Stanlis's book (link) by my college advisor, John Willson, but also because I'd been contemplating parenting (aka teaching) with the book club selection, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great,
And would suffice.

by Robert Frost
American Poet
1874 - 1963

Adding The Poet as Philosopher to my Wish List at Amazon, I'd love to know what's on yours.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who am I?

Posted in anticipation of a Saturday morning seminar devoted to the life of this poet who was hanged on April 9, 1945.

They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I?
They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, 0 God,
I am Thine!

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Lutheran Pastor/Theologian
1906 - 1945

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Gate of the Year

I first heard about this poem after watching the award-winning film, The King's Speech, and determined to remember it for posting during National Poetry Month.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart bestill:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

by Minnie Haskins
English Academic
1875 - 1957

The poem, published in 1908, was part of a collection titled The Desert. It caught the public attention and the popular imagination, when Queen Elizabeth handed a copy to her husband, King George VI, and he quoted it in his 1939 Christmas broadcast to the British Empire.

The poem was widely acclaimed as inspirational, reaching its first mass audience in the early days of the Second World War. Its words remained a source of comfort to the Queen for the rest of her life, and she had its words engraved on brass plaques and fixed to the gates of the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the King was interred. Queen Elizabeth was also buried here in 2002, and the words of "The Gate of the Year" were read out at her state funeral.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Birthday Blessings

April is so full of family and friend birthdays (two dozen at last tally) that I'm posting this poem as a tribute to all who enjoy natal days this month ~

Instead of counting candles,
Or tallying the years,
Contemplate your blessings now,
As your birthday nears.

Consider special people
Who love you, and who care,
And others who've enriched your life
Just by being there.

Think about the memories
Passing  years can never mar,
Experiences great and small
That have made you who you are

Another year is a happy gift,
So cut your cake, and say,
"Instead of counting birthdays,
I count blessings every day!"

by Joanna Fuchs

Just wondering - do you send birthday cards? 

Email, snail mail, or voice mail ?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Listeners

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champ'd the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Lean'd over and look'd into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplex'd and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirr'd and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starr'd and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answer'd,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

Walter de la Mare
English Poet
1873 - 1956

Brand new to me, de la Mare seems a bit moody but worth following.  This particular poem captured my attention just after one reading.  I am intrigued by the act of listening and non-listening, the nightime setting, and the integrity of the speaker.
Note to self:  For further study, remember de la Mare's interest in the imagination and his influence on writer Elizabeth Goudge.

Photo Credit:
DD#2 in Ireland

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Psalm 110

A Psalm of David.

The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at My right hand
Until I makeYour enemies a footstool for Your feet."
The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying,
"Rule in the midst of Your enemies."
Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power;
In holy array, from the womb of the dawn,
Your youth are to You as the dew.
The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind,
"You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek."
The Lord is at Your right hand;
He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.
He will judge among the nations,
He will fill them with corpses,
He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.
He will drink from the brook by the wayside;
Therefore He will lift up His head.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Dying Christian to His Soul

VITAL spark of heav'nly flame!
Quit, O quit this mortal frame:
Trembling, hoping, ling'ring, flying,
O the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.

Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister Spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes; it disappears!
Heav'n opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring!
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O Grave! where is thy victory?
O Death! where is thy sting?

by Alexander Pope
English Poet
1688 - 1744

Photo Credit:
Sheffield Leithart
Memory Hill Cemetery
Milledgeville, GA
February 2011

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A Thank-You for Friends

There are all kinds of men
Who have done me good turns,
That I still never think about,
Not for a minute;
yet if I were making up
That sort of grace,
They would all of them have
To be in it.

One man made up stories,
Another wrote verses
I found, and like,
And I read them until I knew them
Another one saw
All the things they had written,
Then, being an artist,
He drew them.

Another took wood
And a saw and some glue,
And put each of them just
In the place that would need it --
So that is the chair
Where I sit with my book
And am so much at ease
As I read it.

I'm forgetting the one
Who read tale after tale
When I was too young
To know letter from letter,
And the other who taught me them,
Till in the end
I could read for myself --
Which was better.

Rodney Bennett

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Adventures of Isabel

Today read about this fearsome youngster and be challenged to take charge of your situation.

Or listen to this YouTube version and be entertained.

Or buy this illustrated volume with CD as a gift for someone special.

The last stanza is my favorite.

Isabel met an enormous bear,
Isabel, Isabel, didn't care;
The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
The bear's big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I'll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry.
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.

Once in a night as black as pitch
Isabel met a wicked old witch.
the witch's face was cross and wrinkled,
The witch's gums with teeth were sprinkled.
Ho, ho, Isabel! the old witch crowed,
I'll turn you into an ugly toad!
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
Isabel didn't scream or scurry,
She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
But she turned the witch into milk and drank her.

Isabel met a hideous giant,
Isabel continued self reliant.
The giant was hairy, the giant was horrid,
He had one eye in the middle of his forhead.
Good morning, Isabel, the giant said,
I’ll grind your bones to make my bread.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She nibled the zwieback that she always fed off,
And when it was gone, she cut the giant’s head off.

Isabel met a troublesome doctor,
He punched and he poked till he really shocked her.
The doctor’s talk was of coughs and chills
And the doctor’s satchel bulged with pills.
The doctor said unto Isabel,
Swallow this, it will make you well.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She took those pills from the pill concocter,
And Isabel calmly cured the doctor.

by Odgen Nash
American poet
1902 - 1971

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Man may make a Remark

A Man may make a Remark -
In itself - a quiet thing
That may furnish the Fuse unto a Spark
In dormant nature - lain -

Let us divide - with skill -
Let us discourse - with care-
Powder exists in Charcoal -
Before it exists in Fire -

Emily Dickinson
American poet
1830 - 1886

Link to past Dickinson posts.

Still more of my favorite Dickinson.

Just now starting Rose MacMurray's book, Afternoons With Emily.

Monday, April 04, 2011

It's Spring!

Snapdragon, snap,
Toadstool, turn,
Pussy willow,purr,
Firweed, burn,
Black-eyed Susan, wink,
Sweet William, sing,
Forget-me-not, remember
It's Spring! Spring! Spring!

Catnip, nip,
Dandelion, roar,
Dogwood, bark,
Pitcher plant, pour,
Bee balm, buzz,
Bluebell, ring,
Preach today,
It's Spring! Spring! Spring!

by Leland G. Jacobs
1907 - 1992
American educator

Out of town this past weekend, I missed posting a poem each day for the first few days of National Poetry Month.  Today's selection comes from a book from my childhood library (published 1964) and speaks vitality to me ~ all those action verbs perfectly describe the hustle and bustle of the blooming landscape.

Now to make sure I can identity all the flora mentioned by Professor Jacobs.

See ya 'round!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Last Word

Today the April rain
Is flecked with snow:
Soft little flakes, wind-tossed,
Run in the rain - lost -
Trying to explain
That winter should remain
Letting us know
That winter hates to go.

Leland B Jacobs

PS  Daughters in Chicago and Hyde Park both made mention of rain mixed with snow today.  Here in Georgia the skies are partly cloudy, then clearing, to end on a good note.