Sunday, October 25, 2015

Saint Crispin's Day festivities

Last night we had our annual bash -- a bonfire/cookout/St Crispin's Day feast/Henry V/Medieval everything party. Some guests come in costumes and we give a prize to the crowd's favorite. We set up an archery range and take turns shooting. We play Medieval music, several of the menfolk put on the first part of Act IV, Scene II of Shakespeare's Henry V, the part with The Famous Speech, and this year we sang Non nobis Domine at the suggestion of one of our guests.

But the highlight of the festivities is always the dragon tail we serve.

We neglected to take a prettied-up picture of it

Creepy, isn't it?



Work in progress


Eldest Daughter has made it for us every year and I usually decorate it, but this year my youngest son asked to be in charge of decorating, so we bought him some fondant and told him to go to YouTube and figure out how to work with it, since we've never used it before.

I think it turned out really well.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Arithmetic for young children, classical style

This summer I visited the Parthenon in Nashville. While there I bought a book by Jacob Klein, entitled Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra (translated by Eva Brann). I’ve only read a little of the beginning of it, but it’s given me another piece of the puzzle I’ve been trying to put together for the last couple of years—how was math taught to children prior to the revolutionary changes that were made in the 1800s?

Since the fall of 2014 I’ve been slowly (ever so slowly!) working my way through the Introduction to Arithmetic written by Nicomachus of Gerasa, who was born in the first century after Christ, and along the way I’ve also been reading through the supplemental materials that are available in this PDF version of Nicomachus, where I found the following passage:

Arithmetic is fundamentally associated by modern readers, particularly by scientists and mathematicians, with the art of computation. For the ancient Greeks after Pythagoras, however, arithmetic was primarily a philosophical study, having no necessary connection with practical affairs. Indeed the Greeks gave a separate name to the arithmetic of business, λογιστικη [logistic, or calculation]; of this division of the science no Greek treatise has been transmitted to us. In general the philosophers and mathematicians of Greece undoubtedly considered it beneath their dignity to treat of this branch, which probably formed a part of the elementary instruction of children.

“Studies in Greek Mathematics” by Frank Egleston Robbins and Louis Charles Karpinski

This was my first clue that what we call arithmetic today isn’t necessarily the same thing as what Plato called arithmetic, and that brings me to chapter two of the Klein book, which summarizes the very few references in classical literature to teaching arithmetic—excuse me, calculation—to children. One of the books mentioned was Plato’s Laws, so I looked up the passage in my copy of the book:

All freemen I conceive, should learn as much of these branches of knowledge as every child in Egypt is taught when he learns the alphabet. In that country arithmetical games have been invented for the use of mere children, which they learn as a pleasure and amusement. They have to distribute apples and garlands, using the same number sometimes for a larger and sometimes for a lesser number of persons; and they arrange pugilists and wrestlers as they pair together by lot or remain over, and show how their turns come in natural order. Another mode of amusing them is to distribute vessels, sometimes of gold, brass, silver, and the like, intermixed with one another, sometimes of one metal only; as I was saying they adapt to their amusement the numbers in common use, and in this way make more intelligible to their pupils the arrangements and movements of armies and expeditions, and in the management of a household they make people more useful to themselves, and more wide awake; and again in measurements of things which have length, and breadth, and depth, they free us from that natural ignorance of all these things which is so ludicrous and disgraceful.

Plato, Laws, Book VII [819] (emphasis added)

The second chapter of Klein also quotes a passage from a commentary on Plato’s Gorgias by Olympiodorus the Younger (c. 495-570) where he says in passing that “even little children know how to multiply.” And in chapter three Klein reiterates that children must be taught calculation through play, “thus making it possible for children to acquire correctness in counting and in combining numbers painlessly.”

This is such an exciting line of inquiry! I wish all my kids were babies again so I could start over.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lord Peter and Christendom

[Originally posted on this date in 2003]

Early this summer I ordered a boxful of books from Carmon which contained, among other things, Dorothy L. Sayers' The Nine Tailors, the first of her books I've ever read. Since then, I've read four more Lord Peter novels plus a collection of Lord Peter short stories. There are still about a half a dozen others that I haven't read yet, and I'm enjoying them so much I would be glad to own her complete works.

As he spoke, the sound of a church clock, muffled by the snow, came borne upon the wind; it chimed the first quarter.

"Thank God!" said Wimsey. "Where there is a church, there is civilization."+

Even though the Lord Peter stories are mysteries, some of them involving murder, what Miss Sayers wrote about was Christian civilization. Born near the end of Queen Victoria's reign, Miss Sayers lived through the revolutionary social changes of the early 20th century, and a recurring theme in her stories is the contrast between the coarseness of modern behavior the more genteel manners of the past.

"How about a punt at 3:o'clock from Magdalen Bridge?"

"There'll be an awful crowd on the river. The Cherwell's not what is was, especially on a Sunday. More like Bank Holiday at Margate, with gramophones and bathing-dresses and everybody barging into everybody else."

"Never mind. Let's go and do our bit of barging along with the happy populace...."

Harriet smiled to herself as she went to change for the river. If Peter was keen on keeping up decayed traditions he would find plenty of opportunity by keeping to a pre-War standard of watermanship, manners and dress. Especially dress. A pair of grubby shorts or a faded regulation suit rolled negligently about the waist was the modern version of Cherwell fashions for men; for women, a sun-bathing constume with (for the tender-footed) a pair of gaily-coloured beach-sandals. Harriet shook her head at the sunshine, which was now hot as well as bright. Even for the sake of startling Peter, she was not prepared to offer a display of grilled back and mosquito-bitten legs. She would go seemly and comfortable.

The Dean, meeting her under the beeches, gazed with exaggerated surprise at her dazzling display of white linen and pipe-clay.

"If this were twenty years ago I should say you were going on the river."

"I am. Hand in hand with a statelier past."

The Dean groaned gently. "I'm afraid you are making yourself conspicuous. That kind of thing is not done. You are clothed, clean and cool. On a Sunday afternoon, too. I am ashamed of you...."

She was punctual at the bridge, but found Peter there before her. His obsolete politeness in this respect was emphasized by the presence of Miss Flaxman and another Shrewsburian, who were sitting on the raft, apparantly waiting for their escort, and looking rather hot and irritable.*

But Peter and Harriet are only pretending.

"You will find the tea-basket," said Wimsey, "behind you in the bows."

They had put in under the dappled shade of an overhanging willow a little down the left bank of the Isis. Here there was less crowd, and what there was could pass at a distance. Here, if anywhere, they might hope for comparative peace. It was, therefore, with more than ordinary irritation that Harriet, with the thermos yet in her hand, observed a heavily-laden punt approaching.

"Miss Shuster-Slatt and her party. Oh...! and she says she knows you."

The poles were firmly driven in at either end of the boat; escape was impossible. Ineluctably the American contingent advanced upon them. They were alongside. Miss Schuster-Slatt was crying out excitedly. It was Harriet's turn to blush for her friends. With incredible coyness Miss Schuster-Slatt apologized for her intrusion, effected introductions, was sure they were terribly in the way, reminded Lord Peter of their former encounter, recognized that he was far too pleasantly occupied to wish to be bothered with her, poured out a flood of alarming enthusiasm about the Propagation of the Fit, again drew strident attention to her own tactlessness, informed Lord Peter that Harriet was a lovely person and just too sympathetic, and favoured each of them with an advance copy of her new questionnaire. Wimsey listened and replied with imperturbable urbanity, while Harriet, wishing that the Isis would flood its banks and drown them all, envied his self-command. When at length Miss Schuster-Slatt removed herself and her party, the treacherous water wafted back her shrill voice from afar:

"Well, girls! Didn't I tell you he was just the perfect English aristocrat?"

At which point the much-tried Wimsey lay down among the tea-cups and became hysterical.*

The "good manners" of several generations ago were not just about wearing the right clothes and using the right words. The way men and women treated each other, the way parents regarded children, the way social superiors took care of their inferiors and inferiors defered to their superiors, was all a part of a culture that lived out Christianity, each esteeming the other better than himself. Christendom was not perfect then, but at least then we had an idea of what it meant to live as a people of God, and our standard was the world's standard.

Lord Peter lived with the disillusionment of post-WWI England. The political intrigues, the knowledge that the old security was gone and that another war could erupt at any time, the realization that the old way was dying and the "new cilization grow[ing] in on it like a jungle*" and that his nephew, the heir of the family estate, might be just as inclined to sell the property for the development of strip malls as to preserve his heritage, leads him to long for the peace, for the escape, of Oxford.

...how I loathe haste and violence and all that ghastly, slippery cleverness. Unsound, unscholarly, insincere - nothing but propaganda and special pleading and 'what do we get out of this?' No time, no peace, no silence; nothing but conferences and newpapers and public speeches till one can't hear one's self think.... If only one could root one's self in here among the grass and stones and do something worth doing, even if it was only restoring a lost breathing for the love of the job and nothing else."

She was astonished to hear him speak with so much passion.

"But, Peter, you're saying exactly what I've been feeling all this time. But can it be done?"

"No; it can't be done. Though there are moments when one comes back and thinks it might."

" 'Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.' "

"Yes," said he bitterly, "and it goes on: 'But they said: we will not walk therein.' Rest? I had forgotten there was such a word."*

He longs for the university, not the Church, for though Lord Peter was raised in the Church, he admits that he is not devout, and this is why his search for rest ends in bitterness.

I haven't read enough of Miss Sayers' books to know if she offers a solution, but in the short story "Talboys," Lord Peter has settled down, married, and is the happy father of three children. The quiet domesticity of that story gives a clue to the answer.

I believe a large part of rebuilding a Christian civilization lies with families who live out Ephesians 4 at home, at work, wherever the Lord calls them.

O Almighty Father, thou King eternal, immortal, invisible, thou only wise God our Saviour; Hasten, we beseech thee, the coming upon earth of the kindgom of thy Son, our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ, and draw the whole world of mankind into willing obedience to his blessed reign. Overcome all his enemies, and bring low every power that is exalted against him. Cast out all the evil things that cause wars and fightings among us, and let thy Spirit rule the hearts of men in righteousness and love. Repair the desolations of former days; rejoice the wilderness with beauty; and make glad the city with thy law. Establish every work that is founded on truth and equity, and fulfill all the good hopes and desires of thy people. Manifest thy will, Almighty Father, in the brotherhood of man, and bring in universal peace; through the victory of thy Son, Jesus Christ our LORD. Amen.#



+ The Nine Tailors
* Gaudy Night
# The Reformed Episcopal Prayer Book (1963)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Of the making of books there is no end . . .

. . . and apparently that’s true of the acquiring of books as well. Recently I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I found it was just what I needed to give direction to my heretofore dilatory efforts at decluttering.

Finished bookcases, this iteration, anyway. :-p

For the last two weeks I’ve been going through our books with the goal of having all my books on shelves (or at least on furniture) rather than in boxes in the attic and in piles on the floors of various rooms, which seems like a reasonable enough goal, given that I have more than a hundred and twenty feet of shelf space available, not counting shelves in the bedrooms, plus end tables and various other horizontal surfaces that normal people adorn with knick-knacks.

Untouched bookcases

To date I’ve gotten rid of nearly five hundred (500!) books, and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to meet the goal after all.

Books everywhere!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Recipe from Cookery and Dining in Ancient Rome

I know that since reading about the Romans' habit of eating stuffed dormice a few years ago y'all have all been dying to try it for yourselves. Well, today I came across an authentic Roman recipe.

STUFFED DORMOUSE

IS STUFFED WITH A FORCEMEAT OF PORK AND SMALL PIECES OF DORMOUSE MEAT TRIMMINGS, ALL POUNDED WITH PEPPER, NUTS, LASER, BROTH. PUT THE DORMOUSE THUS STUFFED IN AN EARTHEN CASSEROLE, ROAST IT IN THE OVEN, OR BOIL IT IN THE STOCK POT.

From the aforementioned cookbook by Apicius, Book VIII, Chapter IX.

The translator adds this helpful note:

Glis, dormouse, a special favorite of the ancients, has nothing to do with mice. The fat dormouse of the South of Europe is the size of a rat, arboreal rodent, living in trees.
Galen, III, de Alim.; Plinius, VIII, 57/82; Varro, III, describing the glirarium, place where the dormouse was raised for the table.
Petronius, Cap. 31, describes another way of preparing dormouse. Nonnus, Diæteticon, p. 194/5, says that Fluvius Hirpinus was the first man to raise dormouse in the glirarium.
Dormouse, as an article of diet, should not astonish Americans who relish squirrel, opossum, muskrat, “coon,” etc.

You're welcome.

:-D


Thursday, April 30, 2015

School out of doors

. . . while I'm reading The Song of Roland, my twelve year old daughter is decorating her sister's hair . . .



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

i thank You God for most this amazing



~ E.E. Cummings (1894-9162)

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hymn for the Third Sunday of Easter




The strife is o’er, the battle done
 ~ tr. from Latin by Francis Potts (1832-1909)

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The strife is o’er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.
Alleluia!

The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed:
let shout of holy joy outburst.
Alleluia!

The three sad days are quickly sped,
he rises glorious from the dead:
all glory to our risen Head!
Alleluia!

He closed the yawning gates of hell,
the bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumphs tell!
Alleluia!

Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live and sing to thee.
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Listeners



~ Walter De la Mare (1873-1956)

“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveler,  
   Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses  
   Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,  
   Above the Traveler’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;  
   “Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no one descended to the Traveler;  
   No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,  
   Where he stood perplexed 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 stirred and shaken  
   By the lonely Traveler’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 starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even  
   Louder, and lifted his head:—
“Tell them I came, and no one answered,  
   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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Spring Morning


~ Meng Haoran (689-740) [tr. Ulrich Theobald]



I awake light-hearted this morning of Spring,
Everywhere round me the singing of birds—
But now I remember the night, the storm,
And I wonder how many blossoms were broken.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rain


~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

The rain is raining all around,
    It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
    And on the ships at sea.



Monday, April 13, 2015

The Cloud


~ Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
    From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
    In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
    The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
    As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
    And whiten the green plains under;
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
    And laugh as I pass in thunder.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Welcome, happy morning!




~ Venantius Honorius Fortunatus (540?-600?)
[tr. John Ellerton (1826-1893)]

“Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say:
hell today is vanquished, heaven is won today!
Lo! the dead is living, God for evermore!
Him their true Creator, all his works adore!

Earth her joy confesses, clothing her for spring,
all fresh gifts return with her returning King:
bloom in every meadow, leaves on every bough,
speak his sorrow ended, hail his triumph now.

Months in due succession, days of lengthening light,
hours and passing moments praise thee in their flight.
Brightness of the morning, sky and fields and sea,
Vanquisher of darkness, bring their praise to thee.





Maker and Redeemer, life and health of all,
thou from heaven beholding human nature’s fall,
of the Father’s Godhead true and only Son,
mankind to deliver, manhood didst put on.

Thou, of life the Author, death didst undergo,
tread the path of darkness, saving strength to show;
come then, true and faithful, now fulfill thy word,
’tis thine own third morning! rise, O buried Lord!

Loose the souls long prisoned, bound with Satan’s chain;
all that now is fallen raise to life again;
show thy face in brightness, bid the nations see;
bring again our daylight: day returns with thee!






Saturday, April 11, 2015

“O wind, where have you been”




~ Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)

O wind, where have you been,
    That you blow so sweet?
Among the violets
    Which blossom at your feet.

The honeysuckle waits
    For Summer and for heat
But violets in the chilly Spring
   Make the turf so sweet.

Friday, April 10, 2015

“it smells like spring”

~ Violin Daughter (b. 1998)


it smells like spring

     the grass’s new growth is soft and green and

     the air is alive

peach blossoms are soft beside the dark wood of winter

    and when i look up

    i see new green buds

against

   the

         soft

                  grey

                            sky

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Lark Ascending

When I planned the post for yesterday I had intended to post Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending,” to go along with it, but when I was looking for a good recording to post here I learned two things. The first was that it was originally composed for piano and violin in 1920. He soon rescored it for solo violin and orchestra, which is the version most of us are familiar with. The second was that Vaughn Williams was inspired by a poem of the same name. So of course, I had to find both a recording of the original composition, and the poem which inspired it. The poem’s longer than what I usually post here—it takes about as long to read aloud as it takes the music to play. That’s probably not a coincidence, is it?

Enjoy!





The Lark Ascending

George Meredith (1828–1909)

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,
All intervolv’d and spreading wide,
Like water-dimples down a tide
Where ripple ripple overcurls
And eddy into eddy whirls;
A press of hurried notes that run
So fleet they scarce are more than one,
Yet changingly the trills repeat
And linger ringing while they fleet,
Sweet to the quick o’ the ear, and dear
To her beyond the handmaid ear,
Who sits beside our inner spring,
Too often dry for this he brings,
Which seems the very jet of earth
At sight of sun, her music’ mirth,
As up he wings the spiral stair,
A song of light, and pierces air
With fountain ardor, fountain play,
To reach the shining tops of day,
And drink in everything discern’d
An ecstasy to music turn’d,
Impell’d by what his happy bill
Disperses; drinking showering still,
Unthinking save that he may give
His voice the outlet, there to live
Renew’d in endless notes of glee,
So thirsty of his voice is he,
For all to hear and all to know
That he is joy, awake, aglow,
The tumult of the heart to hear
Through pureness filter’d crystal-clear,
And know the pleasure sprinkled bright
By simple singing of delight,
Shrill, irreflective, unrestrain’d,
Rapt, ringing, on the jet sustain’d
Without a break, without a fall,
Sweet-silvery, sheer lyrical,
Perennial, quavering up the chord
Like myriad dews of sunny sward
The trembling into fulness shine,
And sparkle dropping argentine;
Such wooing as the ear receives
From zephyr caught in choric leaves
Of aspens when their chattering net
Is flush’d to white with shivers wet;
and such the water-spirit’s chime
On mountain heights in morning’s prime,
Too freshly sweet to seem excess,
Too animate to need a stress;
But wider over many heads
The starry voice ascending spread,
Awakening, as it waxes thin,
The best in us to him akin;
And every face to watch him rais’d,
Puts on the light of children prais’d,
So rich our human pleasure ripes
When sweetness on sincereness pipes,
Though nought be promis’d from the seas,
But only a soft-ruffling breeze
Sweep glittering on  a still content,
Serenity in ravishment.

For singing till his heaven fills,
’T is love of earth that he instill,
And ever winging up an dup,
Our valley is his golden cup,
And he the wine which overflows
To lift us with him as he goes:
The woods and brooks, the sheep and kine
He is, the hiss, the human line,
The meadows green, the fallows brown,
The dreams of labor in the town;
He sings the sap, the quicken’d veins;
The wedding song of sun and rains
He is, the dance of children, thanks
Of sowers, shout of primrose-banks,
And eye of violets while they breathe;
All these the circling song will wreathe,
And you shall hear the herb and tree,
The better heart of men shall see,
Shall feel celestially, as long
As you crave nothing save the song.
Was never voice of ours could say
Our inmost in the sweetest way,
Like yonder voice aloft, and link
All hearers in the song they drink:
Our wisdom speaks from failing blood,
Our passion is too full in flood,
We want the key of his wild note
Of truthful in a tuneful throat,
The song seraphically free
Of taint of personality,
So pure that it salutes the suns
The voice of one for millions,
In whom the millions rejoice
For giving their one spirit voice.
Yet men have we, whom we revere,
Now names, and men still housing here,
Whose lives, by many a battle-dint
Defaced, and grinding wheels on flint,
Yield substance, though they sing not, sweet
For song our highest heaven to greet:
Whom heavenly singing gives us new,
Enspheres them brilliant in our blue,
From firmest base to farthest leap,
Because their love of Earth is deep,
And they are warriors in accord
With life to serve and pass reward,
So touching purest and so heard
In the brain’s reflex of yon bird;
Wherefore their soul in me, or mine,
Through self-forgetfulness divine,
In them, that song aloft maintains,
To fill the sky and thrill the plains
With showerings drawn from human stores,
As he to silence nearer soars,
Extends the world at wings and dome,
More spacious making more our home,
Till lost on his aёrial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

To a Skylark

~ William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Ethereal minstrel! pilgrim of the sky!
Dost thou despise the earth where cares abound?
Or, while the wings aspire, are heart and eye
Both with thy nest upon the dewy ground?
Thy nest which thou canst drop into at will,
Those quivering wings composed, that music still!

Leave to the nightingale her shady wood;
A privacy of glorious light is thine;
Whence thou dost pour upon the world a flood
Of harmony, with instinct more divine;
Type of the wise who soar, but never roam;
True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home!

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Here is the skylark’s song. It sounds a bit like a mockingbird to me.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

if up’s the word

~ E.E. Cummings (1894-1962)

if up’s the word;and a world grows greener
minute by second and most by more—
if death is the loser and life is the winner
(and beggars are rich but misers are poor)
—let’s touch the sky:
            with a to and a fro
(and a here there where) and away we go

in even the laziest creature among us
a wisdom no knowledge can kill is astir—
now dull eyes are keen and now keen eyes are keener
(for young is the year,for young is the year)
—let’s touch the sky:
            with a great(and a gay
and a steep) deep rush through amazing day

it’s brains without hearts have set saint against sinner;
put gain over gladness and joy under care—
let’s do as an earth which can never do wrong does
(minute by second and most by more)
—let’s touch the sky:
            with a strange(and a true)
and a climbing fall into far near blue

if beggars are rich(and a robin will sing his
robin a song) but misers are poor—
let’s love until noone could quite be(and young is
the year,dear)as living as i’m and as you’re
—let’s touch the sky:
            with a you and  a me
and an every(who’s any who’s some)one who’s we

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Annual PSA: Note on the capitalization of E.E. Cummings’ name

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sabbaths 2003: V

~ Wendell Berry (b. 1934)

The politics of illusion, of death’s money,
possesses us. This is the Hell, this
the nightmare into which Christ descended
from the cross, from which also he woke
and rose, striding godly forth, so free
that He appeared to Mary Magdalene
to be only the gardener walking about
in the new day, among the flowers.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Amoretti LXVIII: Most glorious Lord of Lyfe

~ Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

Most glorious Lord of Lyfe ! that, on this day,
Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;
And, having harrowd hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin;
And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dye,
Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin,
May live for ever in felicity !
and that Thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love Thee for the same againe;
and for Thy sake, that all lyke deare didst buy,
With love may one another entertayne !
    So let us love, deare Love, lyke as we ought,
    —Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Holy Sonnet XI

~ John Donne (1572-1631)

Spit in my face you Jewes, and pierce my side,
Buffet, and scoffe, scourge, and crucifie mee,
For I have sinn’d, and sinn’d, and onely hee,
Who could do no iniquitie, hath dyed:
But by my death can not be satisfied
My sinnes, which passe the Jewes impiety:
They kill’d once an inglorious man, but I
Crucifie him daily, being now glorified;
Oh let mee then, his strange love still admire:
Kings pardon, but he bore our punishment.
And Jacob came cloth’d in vile harsh attire
But to supplant, and with gainfull intent:
God cloth’d himselfe in vile mans flesh, that so
Hee might be weake enough to suffer woe.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Anthem for Good Friday

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross
joy has come to the whole world.

May God be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of his countenance, and come to us.

Let your ways be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross
joy has come to the whole world.

~ 1979 Book of Common Prayer, page 281

Thursday, April 2, 2015

“The mists rise over”

~ Yamabe No Akahito (fl. 724-736)




The mists rise over
The still pools at Asuka.
Memory does not
Pass away so easily.







[tr. Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982)]

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

This poem has a special meaning to me for two reasons – I’m currently reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s book The Buried Giant, which is about memory and mists. And yesterday I witnessed an April Fool’s Day prank of epic proportions, the memory of which will not “pass away so easily.”

Silvia is going to be blogging through the novel, and I hope to as well. I may or may not write about the prank orchestrated by the child formerly known as #1 Son.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Evening

~Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Now, in the middle of the limpid evening,
The moon speaks clearly to the hill.
The wheatfields make their simple music,
Praise the quiet sky.

And down the road, the way the stars come home,
The cries of children
Play on the empty air, a mile or more,
And fall on our deserted hearing,
Clear as water.

They say the sky is made of glass,
They say the smiling moon’s a bride.
They say they love the orchards and apple trees,
The trees, their innocent sisters, dressed in blossoms,
Still wearing, in the blurring dusk,
White dresses from that morning’s first communion.

And, where blue heaven’s fading fire last shines
They name the new come planets
With words that flower
On little voices, light as stems of lilies.

And where blue heaven’s fading fire last shines,
Reflected in the poplar’s ripple,
One little, wakeful bird
Sings like a shower.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Merry . . .

Can you guess why Shel Silverstein set him poem on this date?

MERRY...

No one’s hangin’ stockin’s up,
No one’s bakin’ pie,
No one’s lookin’ up to see
A new star in the sky.
No one’s talkin’ brotherhood,
No one’s givin’ gifts,
And no one loves a Chritsmas tree
On March the twenty-fifth.