"Autobiographies of great nations are written in three manuscripts – a book of deeds, a book of words, and a book of art.
Of the three, I would choose the latter as truest testimony." - Sir Kenneth Smith, Great Civilisations

"I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine." - Leo Tolstoy

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so
great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. - John Updike

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour
is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Elizabeth Akers Allen - Rock Me to Sleep




Rock Me to Sleep
by Elizabeth Akers Allen

Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep; -
Rock me to sleep, mother, - rock me to sleep!

Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years!
I am so weary of toil and of tears, -
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain, -
Take them, and give me my childhood again!
I have grown weary of dust and decay, -
Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away;
Weary of sowing for others to reap; -
Rock me to sleep, mother - rock me to sleep!


Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,
Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you!
Many a summer the grass has grown green,
Blossomed and faded, our faces between:
Yet, with strong yearning and passionate pain,
Long I tonight for your presence again.
Come from the silence so long and so deep; -
Rock me to sleep, mother, - rock me to sleep!

Over my heart, in the days that are flown,
No love like mother-love ever has shone;
No other worship abides and endures, -
Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours:
None like a mother can charm away pain
From the sick soul and the world-weary brain.
Slumber’s soft calms o’er my heavy lids creep; -
Rock me to sleep, mother, - rock me to sleep!


Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold,
Fall on your shoulders again as of old;
Let it drop over my forehead tonight,
Shading my faint eyes away from the light;
For with its sunny-edged shadows once more
Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore;
Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep; -
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Mother, dear mother, the years have been long
Since I last listened your lullaby song:
Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem
Womanhood’s years have been only a dream.
Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,
With your light lashes just sweeping my face,
Never hereafter to wake or to weep; -
Rock me to sleep, mother, - rock me to sleep!



* * * * * * * * * * *



Elizabeth Akers Allen

Elizabeth Anne (Chase) Akers Allen (October 9, 1832 – August 7, 1911), initially writing as Florence Percy and Elizabeth Akers, was an American poet and journalist.

Writing career

She was born Elizabeth Anne Chase in 1832 in Strong, Maine. Her mother died when she was an infant, and her father moved the family to Farmington, where she attended Farmington Academy.
Her earliest poems are said to have been published when she was between 12 and 15 years old, under the pen name 'Florence Percy'. In 1855, using this pseudonym, she published her first book of poetry, Forest Buds from the Woods of Maine. She started contributing poems to the Atlantic Monthly in 1858. In 1866, she published her second collection, Poems, under the name of Elizabeth Akers. All subsequent volumes were published under the name Elizabeth Akers Allen.
For much of her career, Allen earned her living partly as a journalist. The success of her first book allowed her to travel in Europe in 1859–60. While in Europe she served as a correspondent for the Portland Transcript and the Boston Evening Gazette. In 1874, she moved to Portland, Maine, where she spent seven years as the literary editor of the Daily Advertiser. She was a member of the professional women's club Sorosis, which had many writer members.
Allen is best known for the first couplet of her sentimental poem "Rock Me to Sleep, Mother" (1859), which was written during her European sojourn and first published in the Saturday Evening Post of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though it is not considered her finest work, it was very popular during the Civil War, and for some years she was forced to dispute its authorship with a number of claimants. The first couplet runs:
Backward, turn backward, O time, in thy flight;
Make me a child again, just for to-night.
During the Civil War, in 1863, Allen had an appointment as a government clerk in the War Office in Washington, D.C., and also worked as a nurse.
She move to Tuckahoe, New York in 1881 and died there in 1911.
Her papers are held by Colby College.

Personal life

In 1851 she married Marshall S. M. Taylor, but he abandoned her and their infant daughter and they were divorced in 1857.
She married Paul Akers, a Maine sculptor whom she had met in Rome, in 1860; he died of tuberculosis in 1861. Their only child died shortly afterwards.
In 1865 or 1866 she married Elijah M. Allen and they lived in Richmond, Virginia, and Ridgewood, New Jersey, before settling in New York.

Selected publications

  • Forest Buds from the Woods of Maine (1855, as Florence Percy)
  • Poems (1866, as Elizabeth Akers)
  • Queen Catharine's Rose (1885)
  • The Silver Bridge, and Other Poems (1885)
  • Two Saints (1888)
  • The High-Top Sweeting, and Other Poems (1891)
  • The Proud Lady of Stavoven (1897)
  • The Ballad of the Bronx (1901)
  • The Sunset Song, and Other Verses (1902)

Monday, May 8, 2017

R.E. Slater - Anguish



Anguish
by R.E. Slater


I

Two guests arrive at a wedding, one invited and one not...

A delivery driver pulls into a parking lot to decide whether to quit or continue his route...

A young mother picks up her kids from school returning home remembering all the dreams
she once dreamt as a youth...

A ballerina dances gracefully across the stage wondering if fulfillment meant more than this…

An older pastor, now retired, thinks back to his school days wondering if he heard God's call
aright or simply his own self urging forward...

A college student sits in class wondering if his lessons enlighten so much as persuade...

Two sisters lead happy lives but neither are happy within....


II

Two streams diverged in a woods - one to wander through the bramble and hillocks,
the other to grow wider, deeper; which were the more successful?

If fate chooses fortune, or fortune fate, what chooses the other to do the choosing?

If wonderment is stillborn can awe ever follow?

Where do dreams go if they die within?

If evil brought good how can good succeed against such horror?

If life wrought ruin is life better lived unloved or unlived?

Can anguish be escaped or does it define who we are?


III

If all choices never were choices but momentary streams wresting apart could one ever
be sure which stream to follow?

If old age brought wisdom can youth have none without experience or regrets?

If regrets pile up one upon another can its force be overturned?

Can the eye that guides the heart serve the heart if betraying itself?

Where can peace be found if peace can nowhere be found but within?

Were enlightenment all one thing gathered together could it ever be known?

Two guests arrived at a wedding - who then was invited if no wedding was held?


R.E. Slater
May 7, 2017

@copyright R.E. Slater Publications
all rights reserved



Monday, May 1, 2017

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - Catawba Wine


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Catawba Wine
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1907-1882)

*Written on the receipt of a gift of Catawba wine
from the vineyards of Nicholas Longworth on the Ohio River.


    This song of mine
    Is a Song of the Vine,
To be sung by the glowing embers
    Of wayside inns,
    When the rain begins
To darken the drear Novembers. 

    It is not a song
    Of the Scuppernong,
From warm Carolinian valleys,
    Nor the Isabel
    And the Muscadel
That bask in our garden alleys. 

    Nor the red Mustang,
    Whose clusters hang
O'er the waves of the Colorado,
    And the fiery flood
    Of whose purple blood
Has a dash of Spanish bravado. 

    For richest and best
    Is the wine of the West,
That grows by the Beautiful River;
    Whose sweet perfume
    Fills all the room
With a benison on the giver. 

    And as hollow trees
    Are the haunts of bees,
Forever going and coming;
    So this crystal hive
    Is all alive
With a swarming and buzzing and humming. 

    Very good in its way
    Is the Verzenay,
Or the Sillery soft and creamy;
    But Catawba wine
    Has a taste more divine,
More dulcet, delicious, and dreamy. 

    There grows no vine
    By the haunted Rhine,
By Danube or Guadalquivir,
    Nor on island or cape,
    That bears such a grape
As grows by the Beautiful River. 

    Drugged is their juice
    For foreign use,
When shipped o'er the reeling Atlantic,
    To rack our brains
    With the fever pains,
That have driven the Old World frantic. 

    To the sewers and sinks
    With all such drinks,
And after them tumble the mixer;
    For a poison malign
    Is such Borgia wine,
Or at best but a Devil's Elixir. 

    While pure as a spring
    Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it, one needs but name it;
    For Catawba wine
    Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it. 

    And this Song of the Vine,
    This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
    To the Queen of the West,
    In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.




Catawba Wine by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow







Cincinnati, Ohio, Fountain Square - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow verse on wall nearby

Setting

Cincinnati Museum Center

How Did Cincinnati Come to be Known as the Queen City?

During the first forty years after its founding, Cincinnati experienced spectacular growth. By 1820, citizens, extremely proud of their city, were referring to it as The Queen City or The Queen of the West.

On May 4, 1819, Ed. B. Cooke wrote in the Inquisitor and Cincinnati Advertiser, "The City is, indeed, justly styled the fair Queen of the West: distinquished for order, enterprise, public spirit, and liberality, she stands the wonder of an admiring world."

In 1854, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote his poem, Catawba Wine, to memorialize the city's vineyards, especially those of Nicholas Longworth. The last stanza of the poem reads:

And this Song of the Vine,
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver,
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.





Introduction
http://host31.spidergraphics.com/jos/doc/Ode_to_Catawba_-_Short_Version.pdf

Nicolas Longworth was a self-made millionaire and attorney who had an avid interest in horticulture. Beginning as early as 1813, he started vineyards along the banks of the Ohio River, hiring German immigrants whose homeland work was similar. He first began with a grape called “Alexander”, but found that it was only palatable as a fortified wine. He also planted “Catawba” vines and made a table wine which met with some success with the German immigrants in the area. An accidental discovery in the 1840’a led him to produce, with the later help of instruction from French winemakers on the “methode champenoise”, a sparkling Catawba wine – which met with great success both locally and on the East Coast. By the 1850’s, Longworth was producing 100,000 bottles of sparkling Catawba a year and advertising nationally. In the mid-1850’s he sent a case to poet, Henry Longfellow, then living in New York City, who wrote this ode. Remember, when Longfellow refers to the “Beautiful River”, he is referring to the Ohio River, which begins in Pittsburgh and passes through Cincinnati and Louisville, Kentucky on its way to Mississippi.


Catawba (grape)

Catawba is a red American grape variety used for wine as well as juice, jams and jellies. The grape can have a pronounced musky or "foxy" flavor. Grown predominantly on the East Coast of the United States, this purplish-red grape is a likely cross of the Native American Vitis labrusca and Vitis vinifera. Its exact origins and parentage are unclear but it seems to have originated somewhere on the East coast from the Carolinas to Maryland.

Catawba played an important role in the early history of American wine. During the early to mid-19th century, it was the most widely planted grape variety in the country and was the grape behind Nicholas Longworth's acclaimed Ohio sparkling wines that were distributed as far away as California and Europe.

Catawba is a late-ripening variety, ripening often weeks after many other labrusca varieties and, like many vinifera varieties, it can be susceptible to fungal grape diseases such as powdery mildew.







Saturday, April 8, 2017

Palm Sunday Readings, Poems & Observances




Palm Sunday
http://www.seedbed.com/scripture-quotes-poems-palm-sunday/

The Gospel of John notes that Jerusalem welcomed him with palm branches (John 12:13). Palm trees were in abundance in the Mediterranean and were even found on ancient coins. After the Maccabean Revolt (167-160 AD), the Jews rededicated the temple carrying palm branches (1 Macc. 13:51). In Revelation 7:9, people from all nations use palm branches in their worship of Jesus. All four Gospels provide an account of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem:





Many churches initiate the Palm Sunday service with a procession that represents Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem. This practice is attested to as early as in the 4th century in the Pilgrimage of Egeria.
"Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in." - Psalm 24:7
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us." - Psalm 118:26-27a
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you; righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." - Zechariah 9:9

Palm Sunday Observances & Poems

Within the very liturgy of Palm Sunday, the tension is evident; traditionally, it is the only day with two Gospel readings—the enervating triumphal entry, and the tragic narrative of crucifixion. Palms turn to passion. It is the way God has designed it, for he did not count equality with God something to be grasped- Brian Rhea



O Christ our God
When Thou didst raise Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion,
Thou didst confirm the resurrection of the universe
Wherefore, we like children,
carry the banner of triumph and victory,
and we cry to Thee, O Conqueror of love,
Hosanna in the highest
Blessed is He that cometh
in the Name of the Lord.

- Toparion of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday



When Christ entered into Jerusalem the people spread garments in the way: when He enters into our hearts, we pull off our own righteousness, and not only lay it under Christ’s feet but even trample upon it ourselves. - Augustus Toplady



No pain, no palm;
no thorns, no throne;
no gall, no glory;
no cross, no crown.

- William Penn



Rest for my soul -- REST! Admidst fears,
Doubts, insecurities -- REST! For my anxious
Heart REST! You made the flower of the field and clothed it --
REST! FOR MY WORK-A-HOLIC
BUSY WAY OF AVOIDING YOU -- rest! FOR TIRED
FEET AND TIRED HANDS.
YOU ARE THE ONE UNRAVELING ME --SLOWING ME
DOWN SO I CAN FEEL AGAIN -- SO I CAN FIND Hope
IN SOMETHING MORE reliable than my own success -- 
YOU ARE SETTING ME free
Healing my wounds
Purifying my desires
Pushing back the effects of the fall
And you are coming soon
I can feel it every time I see the flowers.

- Samantha Wedelich



The smell of church reminds me of my childhood
but over the years, the priest becomes a foolish man.
I've pondered over my faith for so long -
sometimes I reach into my conscious and
pull out steaming fistfuls of pop culture like,
watching Rosemary's Baby on Saturday.
Was God dead in the 50s?
Not nearly as much as he is now.
Today was Palm Sunday, and I felt like a baby,
so naked in the desert sand.
Delicate church, how do you reel me in?

- Kyra Rae



Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,
And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune. I know what lies behind
The surface flourish that so quickly fades;
Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,
The hardness of the heart, its barricades,
And at the core, the dreadful emptiness
Of a perverted temple. Jesus come
Break my resistance and make me your home.

- from a Christian Lectionary


* * * * * * * *




A Collection of Palm Sunday Observances
http://happyvalentineimages.com/palm-sunday-quotes-poem-for-god-from-bible/

Palm Sunday is also known as a "Movable Feast" as the church celebrates on the Sunday before Easter. It celebrates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

1. "Palm Sunday is like a glimpse of Easter. It’s a little bit joyful after being somber during Lent." - Laura Gale

2. "What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured." - Kurt Vonnegut

3. "Palm Sunday tells us that it is the cross [where] is the truer tree of life." - Pope Benedict XVI

4. "Palm Sunday is like a glimpse of Easter. It’s a little bit joyful after being somber during Lent." - Laura Gale

5. "Then I saw heaven opened and a white horse appeared. Its rider is the Faithful and True; he judges and wages just wars." - Revelation 19:11

6. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you; righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." - Zechariah 9:9

7. "It is wiser to build our dependence on God than building it on people because people can choose to leave us at any moment. But only we can choose to leave God because He is ever present and there for those who need and seek Him with a sincere Heart. Happy Palm Sunday!" - Anon

8. "The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake." - Basil Hume

9. A Palm Sunday’s thought: "Life is full of ups and downs. Glorify God during the ups and fully trust in Him during the downs." - Anon

10. "Anyway - because we are readers, we don’t have to wait for some communications executive to decide what we should think about next - and how we should think about it. We can fill our heads with anything from aardvarks to zucchinis - at any time of night or day." - Kurt Vonnegut

11. "What’s with this final curtain? When God-disturbed churches are packed Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas, but not in-between? Will we feel the fateful lightening of his terrible swift sword? Is this Armageddon?" - Buck Malachi

12. "Jesus found a donkey and sat upon it, as Scripture says: Do not fear, city of Zion! See, your king is coming, sitting on the colt of a donkey!" - John 12:14

13. "There would be no Christmas if there was no Easter." - Gordon B. Hinckley

14. "Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, ‘Christ has risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’" - Phillips Brooks


Sunday, March 26, 2017

William Sharp - A Crystal Forest & Other Poems (Poetry from 2017 "Beauty & the Beast")




A CRYSTAL FOREST
by William Sharp

The air is blue and keen and cold,
With snow the roads and fields are white
But here the forest's clothed with light
And in a shining sheath enrolled.
Each branch, each twig, each blade of grass,
Seems clad miraculously with glass:

Above the ice-bound streamlet bends
Each frozen fern with crystal ends.
.
.
.
Belle reads William Sharp's poem "A Crystal Forest"
in Beauty & the Beast and then adds the following
lines from the Disney script:

"For in that solemn silence is heard
in the whisper of every sleeping thing:

Look, look at me,
Come wake me up
for still here I'll be."




Transcripts from Nature
1882-1886


WILD ROSES

Against the dim hot summer blue
Yon wave of white wild-roses lies,
Watching with listless golden eyes
The green leaves shutting out their view,
The tiny leaves whose motions bright
Are like small wings of emerald light:

White butterflies like snow-flakes fall
And brown bees drone their honey-call.


THE EBBING TIDE

A long low gurgle down the strand,
The sputtering of the drying wrack
The tide is slowly ebbing back
With listless murmuring from the land,
And the small waves reluctant flow
Where the broad-bosomed currents go.

The sea has fall'n asleep, and lies
Dense blue beneath the dense blue skies.


DAWN AMID SCOTCH FIRS

The furtive lights that herald dawn
Are shimmering 'mid the steel-blue firs;
A slow awakening wind half stirs
And the long branches breathe upon;
The east grows clearer---clearer---lo,
The day is born! A refluent flow:

Of silver waves along each tree
For one brief moment darlingly.


A DEAD CALM AND MIST
(Towards evening)

The slow heave of the sleeping sea
With pulse-like motion swells and falls,
And drowsily a stray gull calls
The very wail of melancholy;
All day the moveless mist has slept
On the same bosom east winds swept:

No breath of change in the grey mist,
Save just a dream of amethyst.


TANGLED SUNRAYS

Aslant from yonder sunlit hill
The lance-like sunrays stream across
The meadows where the king-cups toss
I' the wind, and where the beech-leaves thrill
With flooding light they twist and turn
And seem to interlace and burn:

Until at last in tangle spun
'Mid the damp grass their race is run.


LOCH CORUISK (SKYE)

The bleak and barren mountains keep
A never-ending gloom around
The lonely loch; the winds resound,
The rains beat down, the tempests sweep,
The days are calm and dark and still,---
No other changes Coruisk fill:

Scarce living sound is heard, save high
The eagle's scream or wild swan's cry.


SUNRISE ABOVE BROAD WHEAT- FIELDS

The pale tints of the twilight fields
Have turnéd into burnished gold,
For waves of yellow light have rolled
From the open'd east across the wealds
While 'mid the wheat spires far behind
Stirs lazily the awaken'd wind:

A skylark high (a song-made bird)
Sings as though God his singing heard.


PHOSPHORESCENT SEA

The sea scarce heaves in its calm sleep,
The wind has not awakened yet
Tho' in its dreams it seems to fret
For, ever and again, the deep
Hearkens a sigh that steals along
As might some echo of sad song:

Ah, there the wind stirs! Lo, the dark
Dim sea's on fire around our barque.


A GREEN WAVE

Between the salt sea-send before
And all the flowing gulfs behind,
Half lifted by the rising wind,
Half eager for the ungain'd shore,
A great green wave of shining light
Sweeps onward crowned with dazzling white:
Above, the east wind shreds the sky
With plumes from the grey clouds that fly.


A CRYSTAL FOREST

The air is blue and keen and cold,
With snow the roads and fields are white
But here the forest's clothed with light
And in a shining sheath enrolled.
Each branch, each twig, each blade of grass,
Seems clad miraculously with glass:

Above the ice-bound streamlet bends
Each frozen fern with crystal ends.


THE WASP

Where the ripe pears droop heavily
The yellow wasp hums loud and long
His hot and drowsy autumn song:
A yellow flame he seems to be,
When darting suddenly from high
He lights where fallen peaches lie:

Yellow and black, this tiny thing's
A tiger-soul on elfin wings.


AN AUTUMNAL EVENING

Deep black against the dying glow
The tall elms stand; the rooks are still;
No windbreath makes the faintest thrill
Amongst the leaves; the fields below
Are vague and dim in twilight shades---
Only the bats wheel in their raids:

On the grey flies, and silently
Great dusky moths go flitting by.


A WINTER HEDGEROW

The wintry wolds are white; the wind
Seems frozen; in the shelter'd nooks
The sparrows shiver; the black rooks
Wheel homeward where the elms behind
The manor stand; at the field's edge
The redbreasts in the blackthorn hedge:

Sit close and under snowy eaves
The shrewmice sleep 'mid nested leaves.


THE ROOKERY AT SUNRISE

The lofty ehn-trees darkly dream
Against the steel-blue sky; till far
I' the twilit east a golden star
O'erbrims the dusk in one vast stream
Of yellow light, and lo! a cry
Breaks from the windy nest---the sky:

Is filled with wheeling rooks---they sway
In one black phalanx towards the day.


MOONRISE

The first snows of the year lie white
Upon the branches bending low;
A surging wind the flakes doth blow
Before the coming feet of Night--
Half dusk, half day, betwixt the pines
Green-yellow the full moon reclines:

Green-yellow, and now wholly green,
While faint the windy stars are seen.


FIREFLIES

Softly sailing emerald lights
Above the cornfields come and go,
Listlessly wandering to and fro
The magic of these July nights
Has surely even pierced down deep
Where the earth's jewels unharmed sleep:

And filled with fire the emeralds there
And raised them thus to the outer air.


THE CRESCENT MOON

As though the Power that made the Nautilus
A living glory o'er seas perilous
Scathless to roam, had from the utmost deep
Called a vast flawless pearl from out its sleep
And carv'd it crescent-wise, exceeding fair,---
So seems the crescent moon that thro' the air:

With motionless motion glides from out the West,
And sailing onward ever seems at rest.


THE EAGLE

Between two mighty hills a sheer
Abyss---far down in the ravine
A thread-like torrent and a screen
Of oaks like shrubs-and one doth rear
A dry scarp'd peak above all sound
Save windy voices wailing round:

At sunrise here, in proud disdain
The eagle scans his vast domain.


A VENETIAN SUNSET: BEFORE A CHANGE
(Returning from Torcello)

In violet hues each dome and spire
Stands outlined against flawless rose;
O'er this a carmine ocean flows
Streak'd with pure gold and amber fire,
And through the sea of sundown mist
Float isles of melted amethyst:

Storm-portents, saffron streamers rise,
Fan-like, from Venice to the skies.


EMPIRE (PERSEPOLIS)

The yellow waste of yellow sands,
The bronze haze of a scorching sky!
Lo, what are these that broken lie;
Were these once temples made with hands
Once towers and palaces that knew
No hint of that which one day threw:

Their greatness to the winds---made this
The memory of Persepolis?




* * * * * * * *


William Sharp photographed in 1894
by Frederick Hollyer.


Poems by William Sharp - http://www.sundown.pair.com/Sharp/WSVol_1/contents.htm



Biography of William Sharp

William Sharp (12 September 1855 – 12 December 1905) was a Scottish writer, of poetry and literary biography in particular, who from 1893 wrote also as Fiona MacLeod, a pseudonym kept almost secret during his lifetime. He was also an editor of the poetry of Ossian, Walter Scott, Matthew Arnold, Algernon Charles Swinburne and Eugene Lee-Hamilton.

Sharp was born in Paisley and educated at Glasgow Academy and the University of Glasgow, which he attended 1871-1872 without completing a degree. In 1872 he contracted typhoid. During 1874-5 he worked in a Glasgow law office. His health broke down in 1876 and he was sent on a voyage to Australia. In 1878 he took a position in a bank in London.

He was introduced to Dante Gabriel Rossetti by Sir Noel Paton, and joined the Rossetti literary group; which included Hall Caine, Philip Bourke Marston and Swinburne. He married his cousin Elizabeth in 1884, and devoted himself to writing full time from 1891, travelling widely.

Also about this time, he developed an intensely romantic but perhaps asexual attachment to Edith Wingate Rinder, another writer of the consciously Celtic Edinburgh circle surrounding Patrick Geddes and "The Evergreen." It was to Rinder ("EWR") he attributed the inspiration for his writings as Fiona MacLeod thereafter, and to whom he dedicated his first MacLeod novel ("Pharais") in 1894. Sharp had a complex and ambivalent relationship with W. B. Yeats during the 1890s, as a central tension in the Celtic Revival. Yeats initially found MacLeod acceptable and Sharp not, and later fathomed their identity. Sharp found the dual personality an increasing strain.

On occasions when it was necessary for "Fiona MacLeod" to write to someone unaware of the dual identity, Sharp would dictate the text to his sister (Mary Beatrice Sharp), whose handwriting would then be passed off as Fiona's manuscript. During his MacLeod period, Sharp was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

He died (and is buried) at Castello di Maniace, Sicily. In 1910, Elizabeth Sharp published a biographical memoir attempting to explain the creative necessity behind the deception, and edited a complete edition of his works.

William Sharp's Works:

* Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and Study (1882)
* The Human Inheritance, The New Hope, Motherhood and Other Poems (1882)
* Sopistra and Other Poems (1884);
* Earth's Voices (1884) poems
* Sonnets of this century (1886) editor
* Sea-Music: An Anthology of Poems (1887)
* Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1887)
* Romantic Ballads and Poems of Phantasy (1888)
* Sport of chance (1888) novel
* Life of Heinrich Heine (1888)
* American Sonnets (1889)
* Life of Robert Browning (1889)
* The Children of Tomorrow (1889)
* Sospiri di Roma (1891) poems
* Life of Joseph Severn (1892)
* A Fellowe and his Wife (1892)
* Flower o' the Vine (1892)
* Pagan Review (1892)
* Vistas (1894);
* Pharais (1894) novel as FM
* The Gipsy Christ and Other Tales (1895)
* Mountain Lovers (1895) novel as FM
* The Laughter of Peterkin (1895) as FM
* The Sin-Eater and Other Tales (1895) as FM
* Ecce puella and Other Prose Imaginings (1896)
* The Washer of the Ford (1896) novel as FM
* Fair Women in Painting and Poetry (1896)
* Lyra Celtica: An Anthology of Representative Celtic Poetry (1896)
* By Sundown Shores (1900) as FM
* The Divine Adventure (1900) as FM
* Iona (1900) as FM
* From the Hills of Dream, Threnodies Songs and Later Poems (1901) as FM
* The Progress of Art in the Nineteenth century (1902)
* The House of Usna (1903) play as FM
* Literary Geography (1904)
* The Winged Destiny: Studies in the Spiritual History of the Gael (1904) as FM and dedicated to Dr John Goodchild
* The Immortal Hour (1908) play as FM


Friday, March 10, 2017

Robert Frost - (Swinging on) Birches


Poet Robert Frost

Related Poem Content Details

When I see birches bend to left and right 
Across the lines of straighter darker trees, 
I like to think some boy's been swinging them. 
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay 
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them 
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning 
After a rain. They click upon themselves 
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored 
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. 
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells 
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust— 
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away 
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. 
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, 
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed 
So low for long, they never right themselves: 
You may see their trunks arching in the woods 
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground 
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair 
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. 
But I was going to say when Truth broke in 
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm 
I should prefer to have some boy bend them 
As he went out and in to fetch the cows— 
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball, 
Whose only play was what he found himself, 
Summer or winter, and could play alone. 
One by one he subdued his father's trees 
By riding them down over and over again 
Until he took the stiffness out of them, 
And not one but hung limp, not one was left 
For him to conquer. He learned all there was 
To learn about not launching out too soon 
And so not carrying the tree away 
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise 
To the top branches, climbing carefully 
With the same pains you use to fill a cup 
Up to the brim, and even above the brim. 
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish, 
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground. 
So was I once myself a swinger of birches. 
And so I dream of going back to be. 
It's when I'm weary of considerations, 
And life is too much like a pathless wood 
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs 
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping 
From a twig's having lashed across it open. 
I'd like to get away from earth awhile 
And then come back to it and begin over. 
May no fate willfully misunderstand me 
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away 
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love: 
I don't know where it's likely to go better. 
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree, 
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk 
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, 
But dipped its top and set me down again. 
That would be good both going and coming back. 
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches. 

Source: The Poetry of Robert Frost (1969)




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About the Author

Wikipedia - Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech.[2] His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. One of the most popular and critically respected American poets of the twentieth century,[3] Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America's rare "public literary figures, almost an artistic institution."[3] He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont.


Biographical References




Analysis of the Poem


Summary

When the speaker (the poet himself) sees the birches being bent to left and right sides in contrast to straight trees, he likes to think that some boys have been swinging them. He then realizes that it is not the boys, rather the ice storms that bend the birches. On a winter morning, freezing rain covers the branches with ice, which then cracks and falls to the snow covered ground. The sunlight refracts on the ice crystals, making a brilliant display.

When the Truth again strikes the speaker, he still prefers his imagination of the boys swinging and bending the birches. In his imagination, the boy plays with the birches. The speaker says he also was a swinger of birches when he was a boy, and wishes to be so now. When he becomes weary of this world, and life becomes confused, he likes to go toward heaven by climbing a birch tree and then come back again because earth is the right place for love.

Robert Frost as a young man
Robert Frost as an old man
Analysis

This poem is written in blank verse with a particular emphasis on the “sound of sense.” For example, when Frost describes the cracking of the ice on the branches, his selections of syllables create a visceral sense of the action taking place:
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shellsShattering and avalanching on the snow crust —Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away…
Originally, this poem was called “Swinging Birches,” a title that perhaps provides a more accurate depiction of the subject. In writing this poem, Frost was inspired by his childhood experience with swinging on birches, which was a popular game for children in rural areas of New England during the time. Frost’s own children were avid “birch swingers,” as demonstrated by a selection from his daughter Lesley’s journal:
“On the way home, i climbed up a high birch and came down with it and i stopped in the air about three feet and pap cout me.”
In the poem, the act of swinging on birches is presented as a way to escape the hard rationality or “Truth” of the adult world, if only for a moment. As the boy climbs up the tree, he is climbing toward “heaven” and a place where his imagination can be free. The narrator explains that climbing a birch is an opportunity to “get away from earth awhile / And then come back to it and begin over.” A swinger is still grounded in the earth through the roots of the tree as he climbs, but he is able to reach beyond his normal life on the earth and reach for a higher plane of existence.


Frost highlights the narrator’s regret that he can no longer find this peace of mind from swinging on birches. Because he is an adult, he is unable to leave his responsibilities behind and climb toward heaven until he can start fresh on the earth. In fact, the narrator is not even able to enjoy the imagined view of a boy swinging in the birches. In the fourth line of the poem, he is forced to acknowledge the “Truth” of the birches: the bends are caused by winter storms, not by a boy swinging on them.

Significantly, the narrator’s desire to escape from the rational world is inconclusive. He wants to escape as a boy climbing toward heaven, but he also wants to return to the earth: both “going and coming back.” The freedom of imagination is appealing and wondrous, but the narrator still cannot avoid returning to “Truth” and his responsibilities on the ground; the escape is only a temporary one.

Overview

Written in conversational language, the poem constantly moves between imagination and fact, from reverie to reflection. In the opening, the speaker employs an explanation for how the birch trees were bent. He is pleased to think that some boys were swinging [on] them when he is suddenly reminded that it is actually the ice-storm that bends the trees. Thus, the poem makes some shift of thought in its description. An abrupt shift occurs when the speaker yearns to leave this earth because of its confusion and make a heaven-ward journey. But the speaker does not want to die by leaving earth forever. He wants to come back to this earth, because to the speaker, the earth is, though not perfect, a better place for going on. The speaker is not one who is ready to wait for the promise of afterlife. The love expressed here is for life and himself. This shows Frost's agnostic side where heaven is a fragile concept to him. This becomes clear when he says the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

Rich metaphoric thinking and imagery abounds the poem where Frost presents some sharp descriptions of natural phenomena.

Themes

The poem centers on various themes of balance, youth, spirituality, and natural world. The poem deals with the issue of how to reconcile between impulse and carefulness, between spontaneity and structure. This act of balancing remains a crucial theme in Frost's thought, and Frost's typical suggestion to this is to execute things in a way that requires control and skill – be it a question of climbing and swinging a Birch tree or an act of writing or any other issue of real-life. Youth also comes as a theme in this poem as the speaker imagines some boy despite coming across one.

Form

The poem is written in blank verse. The language is conversational (use of first person 'I' and second person 'You'.)

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GradeSaver

When the narrator looks at the birch trees in the forest, he imagines that the arching bends in their branches are the result of a boy “swinging” on them. He realizes that the bends are actually caused by ice storms - the weight of the ice on the branches forces them to bend toward the ground - but he prefers his idea of the boy swinging on the branches, climbing up the tree trunks and swinging from side to side, from earth up to heaven. The narrator remembers when he used to swing on birches and wishes that he could return to those carefree days.

Analysis

This poem is written in blank verse with a particular emphasis on the “sound of sense.” For example, when Frost describes the cracking of the ice on the branches, his selections of syllables create a visceral sense of the action taking place: “Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells / Shattering and avalanching on the snow crust — / Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away…”

Originally, this poem was called “Swinging Birches,” a title that perhaps provides a more accurate depiction of the subject. In writing this poem, Frost was inspired by his childhood experience with swinging on birches, which was a popular game for children in rural areas of New England during the time. Frost’s own children were avid “birch swingers,” as demonstrated by a selection from his daughter Lesley’s journal: “On the way home, i climbed up a hi birch and came down with it and i stopt in the air about three feet and pap cout me.”

In the poem, the act of swinging on birches is presented as a way to escape the hard rationality or “Truth” of the adult world, if only for a moment. As the boy climbs up the tree, he is climbing toward “heaven” and a place where his imagination can be free. The narrator explains that climbing a birch is an opportunity to “get away from earth awhile / And then come back to it and begin over.” A swinger is still grounded in the earth through the roots of the tree as he climbs, but he is able to reach beyond his normal life on the earth and reach for a higher plane of existence.

Frost highlights the narrator’s regret that he can no longer find this peace of mind from swinging on birches. Because he is an adult, he is unable to leave his responsibilities behind and climb toward heaven until he can start fresh on the earth. In fact, the narrator is not even able to enjoy the imagined view of a boy swinging in the birches. In the fourth line of the poem, he is forced to acknowledge the “Truth” of the birches: the bends are caused by winter storms, not by a boy swinging on them.

Significantly, the narrator’s desire to escape from the rational world is inconclusive. He wants to escape as a boy climbing toward heaven, but he also wants to return to the earth: both “going and coming back.” The freedom of imagination is appealing and wondrous, but the narrator still cannot avoid returning to “Truth” and his responsibilities on the ground; the escape is only a temporary one.