Wednesday, April 30, 2008


~ John Gould Fletcher (1886–1950)

At the first hour, it was as if one said, “Arise.”
At the second hour, it was as if one said, “Go forth.”
And the winter constellations that are like patient ox-eyes
Sank below the white horizon at the north.

At the third hour, it was as if one said, “I thirst”;
At the fourth hour, all the earth was still:
Then the clouds suddenly swung over, stooped, and burst;
And the rain flooded valley, plain and hill.

At the fifth hour, darkness took the throne;
At the sixth hour, the earth shook and the wind cried;
At the seventh hour, the hidden seed was sown;
At the eighth hour, it gave up the ghost and died.

At the ninth hour, they sealed up the tomb;
And the earth was then silent for the space of three hours.
But at the twelfth hour, a single lily from the gloom
Shot forth, and was followed by a whole host of flowers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Laughing Song

~ William Blake (1757—1827)

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing ‘Ha, ha he!’

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of ‘Ha, ha, he!’

Monday, April 28, 2008

The King's Laughter

from Ballad of the White Horse
~ GK Chesterton (1874–1936)

And the earth shook and the King stood still
        Under the greenwood bough,
And the smoking cake lay at his feet
        And the blow was on his brow.

Then Alfred laughed out suddenly,
        Like thunder in the spring,
Till shook aloud the lintel-beams,
And the squirrels stirred in dusty dreams,
And the startled birds went up in streams,
        For the laughter of the King.

And the beasts of the earth and the birds looked down,
        In a wild solemnity,
On a stranger sight than a sylph or elf,
On one man laughing at himself
        Under the greenwood tree–

The giant laughter of Christian men
        That roars through a thousand tales,
Where greed is an ape and pride is an ass,
And Jack’s away with his master’s lass,
And the miser is banged with all his brass,
        The farmer with all his flails;

Tales that tumble and tales that trick,
        Yet end not all in scorning–
Of kings and clowns in a merry plight,
And the clock gone wrong and the world gone right,
That the mummers sing upon Christmas night
        And Christmas Day in the morning.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

[For context: The story is told of how, weary from a lost battle, Alfred, wandering alone, is mistaken by a poor old woman for a beggar. She offers him some food if he will tend it and not let it burn while she milks her cow. Unfortunately, Alfred becomes lost in thought while tending the cakes and lets them burn. In Chesterton’s version, Alfred, thankful for the poor woman’s pity on him, also pities her and her condition and muses on the incongruities of life — how the Sovereign of the Universe makes himself a servant to his people. When the supper is burned, the old woman takes up a cake in her anger and strikes Alfred on the temple, leaving a painful mark. At first Alfred stands up in fury, ready to return the blow, but the very incongruity of his former pity with current desire for vengeance, his thoughts of the servant-Saviour, cause him to break into hearty laughter instead.]

Sunday, April 27, 2008

O Jesus, crowned with all renown

~ Edward W. Benson (1829-1896)

O Jesus, crowned with all renown,
Since Thou the earth hast trod,
Thou reignest, and by Thee come down
Henceforth the gifts of God.
Thine is the health and Thine the wealth
That in our halls abound,
And Thine the beauty and the joy
With which the years are crowned.

Lord, in their change, let frost and heat,
And winds and dews be giv’n;
All fostering power, all influence sweet,
Breathe from the bounteous Heav’n.
Attemper fair with gentle air
The sunshine and the rain,
That kindly earth with timely birth
May yield her fruits again.

That we may feed the poor aright,
And gathering round Thy throne,
Here, in the holy angels’ sight,
Repay Thee of Thine own:
That we may praise Thee all our days,
And with the Father’s Name,
And with the Holy Spirit’s gifts,
The Savior’s love proclaim.

Sung to Kingsfold, traditional Eng­lish mel­o­dy, ar­ranged by Ralph Vaugh­an Will­iams (1872-1958)

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Today is Rogation Sunday, which is the Sunday preceding the three rogation days — the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day. “Rogation” comes from the Latin rogare and means “to ask.” The traditional Scripture readings for this Sunday include John 16, where Jesus says to his followers, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you,” and James one where we are told that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction…”

On this day, in the midst of rejoicing with our Saviour’s triumph over sin and death, remembering his Ascension and rule over the earth, and looking forward to our own resurrection and ascension, we ask him to bless the land and crops, the people and the work of their hands as we fulfill the Gospel, living for his glory.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

In Time of "The Breaking of Nations"*

~ Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)

Only a man harrowing clods
    In a slow silent walk,
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
    Half asleep as they stalk.

Only thin smoke without flame
    From the heaps of couch grass:
Yet this will go onward the same
    Though Dynasties pass.

Yonder a maid and her wight
    Come whispering by;
War’s annals will fade into night
    Ere their story die.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

* Jeremiah 51:20

Friday, April 25, 2008


[While not poetry, this speech of noble Faramir’s is so poetically beautiful that I felt it right to include it here.]

From The Two Towers
~ JRR Tolkien

‘For myself,’ said Faramir, ‘I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens: not a msitress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves. War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.’

Thursday, April 24, 2008

To Lucasta, going to the Wars

~ Richard Lovelace (1618–1659)

Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
      That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
      To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
      The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
      A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
      As thou too shalt adore;
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
      Loved I not Honour more.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fairest Una

In honor of Saint George, whose feast day is today

From The Fairy Queen, Book I, Canto XII
~ Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599)

[George has killed the dragon after a three days’ battle, and now the King presents his kingdom and his daughter to the victor…]

Then forth he calléd that his daughter fair,
The fairest Una his only daughter dear,
His only daughter, and his only heir;
Who forth proceeding with sad sober cheer,
As bright as doth the morning star appear
Out of the East, with flaming locks bedight,
To tell that dawning day is drawing near,
And to the world does bring long wishéd light;
So fair and fresh that Lady showed herself in sight.

So fair and fresh, as freshest flower in May;
For she had laid her mournful stole aside,
And widowlike sad wimple thrown away,
Wherewith her heavenly beauty she did hide,
Whiles on her weary journey she did ride;
And on her now a garment she did wear,
All lily white, withoutten spot, or pride,
That seemed like silk and silver woven near,
But neither silk nor silver therein did appear.


So fairly dight, when she in presence came,
She to her Sire made humble reverence,
And bowed low, that her right well became,
And added grace unto her excellence…

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Merry Margaret

~ John Skelton (c.1460-1529)

Merry Margaret,
As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon
Or hawk of the tower;
With solace and gladness,
Much mirth and no madness,
All good and no badness,
So joyously,
So maidenly,
So womanly
Her demeaning
In every thing,
Far, far passing
That I can indite
Or suffice to write
Of merry Margaret,
As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon
Or hawk of the tower.
As patient and as still
And as full of good will
As fair Isyphill,
Sweet pomander,
Good Cassander;
Steadfast of thought,
Well made, well wrought ;
Far may be sought
Erst that ye can find
So courteous, so kind
As merry Margaret,
This midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon
Or hawk of the tower.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Sunne Rising

~ John Donne (1572-1631)

                        Busie olde foole, unruly Sunne,
                        Why dost thou thus,
Through windowes, and through curtaines call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers seasons run?
                        Sawcy pedantique wretch, goe chide
                        Late schoole boyes, and sowre prentices,
            Goe tell Court-huntsmen, that the King will ride,
            Call countrey ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clyme,
Nor houres, dayes, moneths, which are the rags of time.

                        Thy beames, so reverend, and strong
                        Why shouldst thou thinke?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a winke,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
                        If her eyes have not blinded thine
                        Looke, and tomorrow late, tell mee,
            Whether both the’India’s of spice and Myne
            Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with mee.
Aske for those Kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt heare, All here in one bed lay.

                        She’is all States, and all Princes, I,
                        Nothing else is.
Princes doe but play us, compar’d to this,
All honor’s mimique; All wealth alchimie,
                        Thou sunne art halfe as happy’as wee,
                        In that the world’s contracted thus;
            Thine age askes ease, and since thy duties bee
            To warme the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art every where;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy spheare.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Caeli enarrant

~ Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech,
and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven,
and his circuit unto the ends of it:
and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever:
the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is thy servant warned:
and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors?
cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me:
then shall I be upright,
and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth,
and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD,
my strength, and my redeemer.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Time to Rise

~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)

A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon my window sill,
Cocked his shining eye and said:
“Ain’t you ’shamed, you sleepy-head!”



Sorry today’s entry is so late — usually I write it up a day or two before and set the timestamp so it will post just after midnight on the appropriate day — but I’m just now getting up and about. And no, I’m not ashamed. I took three of my kids to a rather late (7:40) showing of Expelled last night, which was the only one we would be able to manage this weekend. The rest of the family are out of town visiting a great-grandmother, so I slept in this morning.

By the way, go see Expelled!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Let the King Reign

~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

(from Idylls of the King)

Then while they paced a city all on fire
With sun and cloth of gold, the trumpets blew,
And Arthur’s knighthood sang before the King:–

      ‘Blow, trumpet, for the world is white with May;
Blow trumpet, the long night hath rolled away!
Blow through the living world– “Let the King reign.”

      ‘Shall Rome or Heathen rule in Arthur’s realm?
Flash brand and lance, fall battleaxe upon helm,
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.

      ‘Strike for the King and live! his knights have heard
That God hath told the King a secret word.
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.

      ‘Blow trumpet! he will lift us from the dust.
Blow trumpet! live the strength and die the lust!
Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.

      ‘Strike for the King and die! and if thou diest,
The King is King, and ever wills the highest.
Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.

      ‘Blow, for our Sun is mighty in his May!
Blow, for our Sun is mightier day by day!
Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.

      ‘The King will follow Christ, and we the King
In whom high God hath breathed a secret thing.
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.’

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Goblin Feet

~ J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973)

I am off down the road
Where the fairy lanterns glowed
And the little pretty flitter-mice are flying:
A slender band of gray
It runs creepily away
And the hedges and the grasses are a-sighing.
The air is full of wings,
And of blundery beetle-things
That warn you with their whirring and their humming.
O! I hear the tiny horns
Of enchanted leprechauns
And the padded feet of many gnomes a-coming!

O! the lights! O! the gleams! O! the little tinkly sounds!
O! the rustle of their noiseless little robes!
O! the echo of their feet—of their happy little feet!
O! their swinging lamps in little starlit globes.
I must follow in their train
Down the crooked fairy lane
Where the coney-rabbits long ago have gone,
And where silvery they sing
In a moving moonlit ring
All a-twinkle with the jewels they have on.
They are fading round the turn
Where the glow-worms palely burn
And the echo of their padding feet is dying!
O! it’s knocking at my heart—
Let me go! O! let me start!
For the little magic hours are all a-flying.

O! the warmth! O! the hum! O! the colours in the dark!
O! the gauzy wings of golden honey-flies!
O! the music of their feet—of their dancing goblin feet!
O! the magic! O! the sorrow when it dies.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Written on 27-28 April 1915, shortly before leaving for the War, for his future wife who “loved tales of ’spring and flowers and trees, and little elfin people.’”

Obviously this is nothing like his portrayal of elves and goblins that fans of The Lord of the Rings are familiar with and Tolkien himself later tried to distance himself from this very Victorian painting of the little people — in 1971 when he was asked permission to include “Goblin Feet” in an anthology, he said, “I wish the unhappy little thing, representing all that I came (so soon after) to fervently dislike, could be buried for ever.”

Tolkien’s first encounter with fighting was in France, in the Battle of the Somme, which is remembered as the bloodiest battle ever fought in history. On the first day of the battle nineteen weeks before Tolkien arrived, nineteen thousand British troops were killed. By the time the battle was over more than eight hundred thousand of the British had been killed.


Tolkien never forgot the brutality and horror of the battle. Many years later he drew on these memories to create his own lands. The blackened landscape of Mordor, and the Battle of Helm’s Deep were both based on The Battle of Somme.

(Information and quotes found at the Tolkien Library.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fairy Bread

~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)

Come up here, O dusty feet!
      Here is fairy bread to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
Children, you may dine
On the golden smell of broom
      And the shade of pine;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Yesterday’s was my favorite RLS, this is my little ones’ favorite — though it’s hard to pick just one, and it may be Tasha Tudor’s delightful illustration as much as the words.

I’m using Ambleside Online Year 1 with the four younger ones this year, so we spent the first few months of this school year reading one a day from A Child’s Garden of Verse, sometimes three or four a day, and nearly every day rereading something from the previous days because everyone wanted to hear it again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Escape at Bedtime

~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)

The lights from the parlour and kitchen shone out
            Through the blinds and the windows and bars;
And high overhead and all moving about,
            There were thousands of millions of stars.
There ne’er were such thousands of leaves on a tree,
            Nor of people in church or the Park,
As the crowds of the stars that looked down upon me,
            And that glittered and winked in the dark.

The Dog, and the Plough, and the Hunter, and all,
            And the star of the sailor, and Mars,
These shown in the sky, and the pail by the wall
            Would be half full of water and stars.
They saw me at last, and they chased me with cries,
            And they soon had me packed into bed;
But the glory kept shining and bright in my eyes,
            And the stars going round in my head.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's all relative

On my choir director’s t-shirt at a recent rehearsal:

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Recently discovered limerick:

There was a young lady named Bright
Who traveled much faster than light
            She started one day
            In the relative way
And returned on the previous night.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nissi dominus

~ Psalm 127

Except the LORD build the house,
they labour in vain that build it:
except the LORD keep the city,
the watchman waketh but in vain.

It is vain for you to rise up early,
to sit up late,
to eat the bread of sorrows:
for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man
that hath his quiver full of them:
they shall not be ashamed,
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Hebrew poetry is my favorite — I love the parallelism.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Interesting architectural and historical note — the first verse of this Psalm (in Latin) is written in stone lettering, forming the parapet of Castle Ashby, which has been the possession of the same family since the 1500s.

(Click picture for larger image, which you can then zoom in on by clicking again. [N.B. I've just reposted this from my old dead blog where it was originally posted, and I can't figure out how to get the zoomable picture, so those instructions won't work until I come up with something. Kelly. 21 August 2011])

Architecture is my favorite art form, and this is my favorite building. Well, favorite house. Favorite big house.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Windhover

~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

                                To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
        dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
        Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
        As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
        Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
        Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

        No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
        Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I meant to add this link to an essay on The Windhover. Very helpful to me as I’m learning poetry, and learning how to talk about it with my children.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pied Beauty

~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things—
        For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
                For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
        Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
                And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
        Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
                With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                                                                                Praise him.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Some of our dappled things — a new batch of mail-order chicks that arrived Tuesday afternoon:

Most of these are layers, Silver-Spangled Hamburgs (the striped ones with the grey heads), and Blue Andalusians (the black/grey/cream and the grey/cream ones). The golden ones are Buff Orpingtons, a dual-purpose breed which we bought as a “straight run” meaning that we didn’t order a particular sex, they just gave them to us as they hatched out. Statistically this means that they should be half male (which will mostly be butchered) and half female (which we’ll keep for layers). The light yellow ones are a straight run batch of Jumbo X Rocks, a heavy meat bird.

This little chickie is my favorite:

(pictures taken Wednesday)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Postmodern

~ D. A. Carson

At last we know all truth is gray: no more
Faith’s raucous rhetoric, this blinding trap
Of absolutes, this brightly colored map
Of good and bad: our ocean has no shore.
Dogmatic truth is chimera: deplore
All arrogance: the massive gray will sap
The sparkling hues of bigotry, and cap
The rainbow, mask the sun, make dullness soar.

            Yet tiny, fleeting hesitations lurk
            Behind the storied billows of the cloud
            Like sparkling, prism’d glory in the murk:
            The freedom of the gray becomes a shroud.

Where nothing can be false, truth must away-
Not least the truth that all my world is gray.

Copyright (c) 1999 First Things (May 1999)

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

HT: Carmon

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I like the way Carson contrasts the grey of postmodernity, not with the black and white of modernity, but with the many colors our Trinitarian God actually used in the creation.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

More spring color here — pinkbuds and violets:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The great Gaels of Ireland

from Ballad of the White Horse, by G.K. Chesterton

[Alfred is gathering the chiefs for war and comes to Colan of Caerleon]

Last of a race in ruin–
    He spoke the speech of the Gaels;
His kin were in holy Ireland,
    Or up in the crags of Wales.

But his soul stood with his mother’s folk,
    That were of the rain-wrapped isle,
Where Patrick and Brandan westerly
Looked out at last on a landless sea
    And the sun’s last smile.

His harp was carved and cunning,
    As the Celtic craftsman makes,
Graven all over with twisting shapes
    Like many headless snakes.

His harp was carved and cunning,
    His sword prompt and sharp,
And he was gay when he held the sword,
    Sad when he held the harp.

For the great Gaels of Ireland
    Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
    And all their songs are sad.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Agrarian children at play

Yesterday being a wet dreary day, my two youngest (7yos & 5yod) were engaging in a bit of imaginative play with two bags of dried beans. Each bag represented a chicken, the male and his female. The conversation between these two wandered over various topics, but eventually the hen made an astonishing annoucement regarding her future offspring.

Hen: “I have a hundred and twenty eggs.

Rooster: “A hundred and twenty? How’d you do that?

Hen: “Ya mate me too long!”

I dunno people. I grew up in the city. Should I be concerned about this?

The Way of the Cross

from The Ballad of the White Horse by G.K. Chesterton

[King Alfred, discouraged in trying to rid his land of the heathen invaders, has a vision of the Virgin Mary and asks her whether he will ever succeed.]

“Mother of God,” the wanderer said,
    “I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
    To see a secret thing.

“The gates of heaven are fearful gates
    Worse than the gates of hell;
Not I would break the splendours barred
Or seek to know the thing they guard,
    Which is too good to tell.

“But for this earth most pitiful,
    This little land I know,
If that which is for ever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss,
    Seeing the stranger go?

“When our last bow is broken, Queen,
    And our last javelin cast,
Under some sad, green evening sky,
Holding a ruined cross on high,
Under warm westland grass to lie,
    Shall we come home at last?”

And a voice came human but high up,
    Like a cottage climbed among
The clouds; or a serf of hut and croft
That sits by his hovel fire as oft,
But hears on his old bare roof aloft
    A belfry burst in song.

“The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
    We do not guard our gain,
The heaviest hind may easily
Come silently and suddenly
    Upon me in a lane.


“The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
    We do not guard our gold,
Men may uproot where worlds begin,
Or read the name of the nameless sin;
But if he fail or if he win
    To no good man is told.

“The men of the East may spell the stars,
    And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the cross of Christ
    Go gaily in the dark.”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I love that image of the godly man setting his face like a flint to do what is right because it is Right, and not because he’s sure of success. May we ever “go gaily in the dark.”

Monday, April 7, 2008

a thrown a

~ E.E. Cummings *

a thrown a

-way It
with some-
thing sil


a thrown a-


-ous wisp A of glo-

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Okay, I love Cummings’ fun poems like yesterday’s and “anyone lived in a pretty how town” but when I see things like this I usually wonder what went wrong in the poet’s childhood. So I was very happy when earlier this year Ben posted a link to Remy’s explanation of this purely visual poem — and it’s very good. You should go read it. Unless, of course, you’re the sort of person who understands this kind of thing intuitively.

I’ve only seen this online so I don’t know if it’s really supposed to be centered the way I have, but I think it looks better that way, and it is a chiasm, after all.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

i thank you God for most this amazing

~ E.E. Cummings *

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)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

~ A.E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Friday, April 4, 2008


~ William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
                This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
                To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Astrophel and Stella: Sonnet XXXI

~ Sir Philip Sidney

With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb’st the skies !

How silently, and with how wan a face !
What, may it be that even in heavenly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries?
Sure, if that long with love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel’st a lover’s case;
I read it in thy looks; thy languisht grace
To me that feel the like, thy state descries.
Then, even of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
Is constant love deemed there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they above love to be loved, and yet
        Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?
        Do they call virtue there, ungratefulness?

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The picture was taken by my daddy at midnight on December 5, 1953, when he was 17 years old, using a telescope that he and his cousin made themselves. Cool, huh?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Wind and the Moon

~ George MacDonald (1824-1905)

Said the Wind to the Moon, “I will blow you out.
                You stare
                In the air
        Like a ghost in a chair,
Always looking what I am about;
I hate to be watched — I’ll blow you out.”

The Wind blew hard, and out went the Moon.
                So deep,
                On a heap
        Of clouds, to sleep,
Down lay the Wind, and slumbered soon –
Muttering low, “I’ve done for that Moon.”

He turned in his bed; she was there again!
                On high
                In the sky
        With her one ghost eye,
The Moon shone white and alive and plain.
Said the Wind — “I will blow you out again.”

The Wind blew hard, and the Moon grew dim.
                “With my sledge
                And my wedge
        I have knocked off her edge!
If only I blow right fierce and grim,
The creature will soon be dimmer than dim.”

He blew and he blew, and she thinned to a thread.
                “One puff
                More’s enough
        To blow her to snuff!
One good puff more where the last was bred,
And glimmer, glimmer, glum will go the thread!”

He blew a great blast, and the thread was gone;
                In the air
        Was a moonbeam bare;
Far off and harmless the shy stars shone;
Sure and certain the Moon was gone.

The Wind, he took to his revels once more;
                On down
                In town,
        Like a merry-mad clown,
He leaped and hallooed with whistle and roar,
“What’s that?” The glimmering thread once more!

He flew in a rage — he danced and blew;
                But in vain
                Was the pain
        Of his bursting brain;
For still the broader the Moon-scrap grew,
The broader he swelled his big cheeks and blew.

Slowly she grew — till she filled the night,
                And shone
                On her throne
        In the sky alone,
A matchless, wonderful, silvery light,
Radiant and lovely, the Queen of the night.

Said the Wind — “What a marvel of power am I!
                With my breath,
                Good faith!
        I blew her to death–
First blew her away right out of the sky–
Then blew her in; what strength have I!”

But the Moon, she knew nothing about the affair,
                For high
                In the sky,
        With her one white eye,
Motionless, miles above the air,
She had never heard the great Wind blare.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Today — the living room


•washed slipcovers, hung on line
•washed windows, inside and out, including screens
•vacuumed pictures on walls
•washed three walls and their baseboards
•gave plants a shower
•took all the books off of two bookcases, washed shelves, vacuumed books, washed china, replaced
•opened up sleeper-sofa to vacuum — disposed of abandoned mouse-nest (ick!)
•vacuumed whole room
•started to clean carpet but didn’t have enough Resolve
•arranged furniture into summertime configuration
•turned off gas to stove; cleaned stove and hearth
•took down broken ceiling fat
•vacuumed lampshades, washed lamps
•brought in slipcovers, put back on couches
•rehung wall calendar; I’ve never likes its position on the wall between the living room and breakfast room

needs to be done

•third bookcase — wash shelves, dust books as above
•buy more Resolve
•clean carpet
•replace plants — some need fresh potting soil
•wash fourth wall and its baseboard
•wash small blue shelf and its knick knacks
•dust clock
•vacuum shade over large window
•take curtain over glass door to cleaners


•every surface in this room needs to be repainted
•we have way too many magazines
•our mousekeeper is not doing a very good job; it’s so hard to get good help these days
•I’m glad I have so many children — they did at least 3/4 of the work

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I’m tired. I’m going to take a shower and go to bed early.


~ A.A. Milne

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
      She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
      And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
      And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
      “Winter is dead.”