March 31, 2011

Street Lanterns

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--Description: 20th C, Coleridge M.E., Nature, Travel-- 

 
Country roads are yellow and brown.
We mend the roads in London town.

Never a hansom dare come nigh,
Never a cart goes rolling by.

An unwonted silence steals
In between the turning wheels.

Quickly ends the autumn day,
And the workman goes his way,

Leaving, midst the traffic rude,
One small isle of solitude,

Lit, throughout the lengthy night,
By the little lantern's light.

Jewels of the dark have we,
Brighter than the rustic's be.

Over the dull earth are thrown
Topaz, and the ruby stone.

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

--Did You Know: Mary Elizabeth Coleridge (23 September 1861 – 25 August 1907) was a British novelist and poet, who also wrote essays and reviews. She taught at the London Working Women's College for twelve years from 1895 to 1907. She wrote poetry under the pseudonym Anodos, taken from George MacDonald; other influences on her were Richard Watson Dixon and Christina Rossetti. Coleridge published five novels, the best known of those being The King with Two Faces, which earned her £900 in royalties in 1897. She travelled widely throughout her life, although her home was in London, where she lived with her family. Mary Coleridge was the great-grandniece of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the great niece of Sara Coleridge, the author of Phantasmion. She died from complications arising from appendicitis while on holiday in Harrogate in 1907, leaving an unfinished manuscript for her next novel, and hundreds of unpublished poems. Read more at: Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

--Word of the Day: bedaub \bih-DOB\, transitive verb:
1. To smudge over; to besmear or soil with anything thick and dirty.
2. To overdecorate; to ornament showily or excessively.
The patient's signature is less neat than usual, not only because of his agitated state but also, quite possibly, because the pen is so bedaubed with chocolate that it slips through his fingers.
-- Marcel Beyer, "The Karnau Tapes.", Grand Street, Fall 1997

--Quote of the Day: “...we can't survive without enchantment... the loss of it is killing us.”
-- Thomas Moore

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March 29, 2011

A Former Life

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--Description: Baudelaire C., 19th C, Dreams, Illusion, Memories--



Long since, I lived beneath vast porticoes,
By many ocean-sunsets tinged and fired,
Where mighty pillars, in majestic rows,
Seemed like basaltic caves when day expired.

The rolling surge that mirrored all the skies
Mingled its music, turbulent and rich,
Solemn and mystic, with the colours which
The setting sun reflected in my eyes.

And there I lived amid voluptuous calms,
In splendours of blue sky and wandering wave,
Tended by many a naked, perfumed slave,

Who fanned my languid brow with waving palms.
They were my slaves--the only care they had
To know what secret grief had made me sad.

Charles Baudelaire

--Did You Know: (9 April 1821 - 31 August 1867) Baudelaire was a nineteenth century French poet, critic, and translator. A controversial figure in his lifetime, Baudelaire's name has become a byword for literary and artistic decadence. At the same time his works, in particular his book of poetry Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), have been acknowledged as classics of French literature. Baudelaire was born in Paris, France in 1821. His father, a senior civil servant and amateur artist, died during Baudelaire's childhood in 1827. The following year, his mother, Caroline, thirty-four years younger than his father, married Lieutenant Colonel Jacques Aupick, who later became a French ambassador to various noble courts. Baudelaire's relationship with his mother was a close and complex one, and it dominated his life. He later stated "I loved my mother for her elegance. I was a precocious dandy". He later wrote to her "There was in my childhood a period of passionate love for you". Read more at: Charles Baudelaire


--Word of the Day: interregnum \in-tuhr-REG-nuhm\, noun;
plural interregnums \-nuhmz\ or interregna \-nuh\:
1. The interval between two reigns; any period when a state is left without a ruler.
2. A period of freedom from authority or during which government functions are suspended.
3. Any breach of continuity in an order; a lapse or interval in a continuity.
Forewarned by his equations that the Galactic Empire is about to collapse, Seldon hopes to shorten the inevitable interregnum from a predicted 30,000 years of bloody anarchy to a mere thousand.
-- Gerald Jonas, review of Foundation's Fear, by Gregory Benford, New York Times, April 6, 1997

--Quote of the Day: Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
~ Anaïs Nin

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March 27, 2011

Ode To A Loved One

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--Description: 6thC BC, Sappho, Adoration, Love, Mythology--


Lest as the immortal gods is he,
The youth who fondly sits by thee,
And hears and sees thee, all the while,
Softly speaks and sweetly smile.

'Twas this deprived my soul of rest,
And raised such tumults in my breast;
For, while I gazed, in transport tossed,
My breath was gone, my voice was lost;

My bosom glowed; the subtle flame
Ran quick through all my vital frame;
O'er my dim eyes a darkness hung;
My ears with hollow murmurs rung;

In dewy damps my limbs were chilled;
My blood with gentle horrors thrilled:
My feeble pulse forgot to play;
I fainted, sunk, and died away.

Sappho

--Did You Know: Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet, born on the island of Lesbos. Later Greeks included her in the list of nine lyric poets. Her birth was sometime between 630 and 612 BC, and it is said that she died around 570 BC, but little is known for certain about her life. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired throughout antiquity, has been lost, but her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments. The only contemporary source which refers to Sappho's life is her own body of poetry, and scholars are sceptical of biographical readings of it. Later biographical traditions, from which all more detailed accounts derive, have also been cast into doubt. Read more at: Sappho

--Poetry Terminology: Trope - The figurative use of language - as in simile and metaphor.

--Word of the Day: eschew \es-CHOO\, transitive verb:
To shun; to avoid (as something wrong or distasteful).
In high school and college the Vassar women had enjoyed that lifestyle, but afterward they had eschewed it as shallow.
-- Nina Burleigh, A Very Private Woman

--Quote of the Day: Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen.
Keep in the sunlight.
- Benjamin Franklin

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March 26, 2011

Echo

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--Description: 19th C, Rossetti C., Love, Dreams, Memories-- 
 
Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low
As long ago, my love, how long ago.

Christina Rossetti

--Did You Know: (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894) Christina Rossetti was a British poet, who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children's poems. She is best known for her long poem Goblin Market, her love poem "Remember", and for the words of what became the popular Christmas carol "In the Bleak Midwinter". Rossetti was born in London and educated at home by her mother. Her siblings were the artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, and Maria Francesca Rossetti. Their father, Gabriele Rossetti, was an Italian poet and a political asylum seeker from Naples; their mother, Frances Polidori, was the sister of Lord Byron's friend and physician, John William Polidori, author of The Vampyre. In the 1840s her family was stricken with severe financial difficulties due to the deterioration of her father's physical and mental health. When she was 14, Rossetti suffered a nervous breakdown and left school. In the early 20th century Rossetti's popularity faded as many respected Victorian writers' reputations suffered from Modernism's backlash. Rossetti remained largely unnoticed and unread until the 1970s when feminist scholars began to recover and comment on her work. In the last few decades Rossetti's writing has been rediscovered and she has regained admittance into the Victorian literary canon. Read more at: Christina Rossetti

--Poetry Terminology: Triplet / Tercet -
A stanza comprising of three lines e.g. The Old Familiar Faces by Charles Lamb.

--Word of the Day: prolix \pro-LIKS; PRO-liks\, adjective:
1. Extending to a great length; unnecessarily long; wordy.
2. Tending to speak or write at excessive length.
It was a cumbersome book, widely criticized for being prolix in style and maddeningly circular in argument.
-- Simon Winchester, "Word Imperfect", The Atlantic, May 2001

--Quote of the Day: People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.
- Dale Carnegie

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March 20, 2011

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

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--Description: 20th C, Cummings E.E., Love, Nature--

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

e.e. cummings

--Did You Know: (October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962)Cummings, popularly known as E. E. Cummings, with the abbreviated form of his name often written by others in all lowercase letters as e. e. cummings, was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. Despite Cummings's consanguinity with avant-garde styles, much of his work is traditional. Many of his poems are sonnets, and he occasionally made use of the blues form and acrostics. Cummings's poetry often deals with themes of love and nature, as well as the relationship of the individual to the masses and to the world. His poems are also often rife with satire.While his poetic forms and themes share an affinity with the romantic tradition, Cummings's work universally shows a particular idiosyncrasy of syntax, or way of arranging individual words into larger phrases and sentences. Read more at: e.e. cummings

--Word of the Day: quotidian \kwoh-TID-ee-uhn\, adjective:
1. Occurring or returning daily; as, a quotidian fever.
2. Of an everyday character; ordinary; commonplace.
Example:
Erasmus thought More's career as a lawyer was a waste of a fine mind, but it was precisely the human insights More derived from his life in the quotidian world that gave him a moral depth Erasmus lacked.
-"More man than saint", Irish Times, April 4, 1998

--Quote of the Day: Courage doesn't always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day, saying,
"I will try again tomorrow."
-Mary Anne Radmacher

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March 17, 2011

Life Lesson

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--Description: 20th C, Riley J.W., Childhood, Children, Encouragement,Hope--



There! little girl; don't cry!
They have broken your doll, I know;
And your tea-set blue,
And your play-house, too,
Are things of the long ago;
But childish troubles will soon pass by. --
There! little girl; don't cry!

There! little girl; don't cry!
They have broken your slate, I know;
And the glad, wild ways
Of your schoolgirl days
Are things of the long ago;
But life and love will soon come by. --
There! little girl; don't cry!

There! little girl; don't cry!
They have broken your heart I know;
And the rainbow gleams
Of your youthful dreams
Are things of the long ago;
But Heaven holds all for which you sigh. --
There! little girl; don't cry!

James Whitcomb Riley

--Did You Know: (October 7, 1849 – July 22, 1916) Riley was an American writer and poet. Known as the Hoosier Poet, National Poet,[1] and the Children's Poet,[2] he started his career in 1875 writing newspaper verse in Indiana dialect for the Indianapolis Journal. His verse tended to be humorous or sentimental, and of the approximately one thousand poems that Riley published, over half are in dialect. Claiming that "simple sentiments that come direct from the heart"[3] were the reason for his success, Riley vended verse about ordinary topics that were "heart high."[4] Riley was a bestselling author during the early 1900s and earned a steady income from royalties; he also traveled and gave public readings of his poetry. Read more at: James Whitcomb Riley

--Word of the Day: lambent \LAM-buhnt\, adjective:
1. Playing lightly on or over a surface; flickering; as, "a lambent flame; lambent shadows."
2. Softly bright or radiant; luminous; as, "a lambent light."
3. Light and brilliant; as, "a lambent style; lambent wit."
Example:
I have an image in my mind of the soaring vault rising and disappearing into the gray-white silence, the niches in the salt walls where the saints dwelled, the few points of lambent gold glimmering feebly on the altar.
-Richard O'Mara, "The Unapologetic Tourist", New York Times, November 21, 1999

--Quote of the Day:
Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again.
-Dag Hammarskjold


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March 15, 2011

The Bridge

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--Description: 19th C, Longfellow H.W., Memories, Disillusion, Nature, Night--


I stood on the bridge at midnight,
As the clocks were striking the hour,
And the moon rose o'er the city,
Behind the dark church-tower.

I saw her bright reflection
In the waters under me,
Like a golden goblet falling
And sinking into the sea.

And far in the hazy distance
Of that lovely night in June,
The blaze of the flaming furnace
Gleamed redder than the moon.

Among the long, black rafters
The wavering shadows lay,
And the current that came from the ocean
Seemed to lift and bear them away;

As, sweeping and eddying through them,
Rose the belated tide,
And, streaming into the moonlight,
The seaweed floated wide.

And like those waters rushing
Among the wooden piers,
A flood of thoughts came o'er me
That filled my eyes with tears.

How often, oh, how often,
In the days that had gone by,
I had stood on that bridge at midnight
And gazed on that wave and sky!

How often, oh, how often,
I had wished that the ebbing tide
Would bear me away on its bosom
O'er the ocean wild and wide!

For my heart was hot and restless,
And my life was full of care,
And the burden laid upon me
Seemed greater than I could bear.

But now it has fallen from me,
It is buried in the sea;
And only the sorrow of others
Throws its shadow over me.

Yet whenever I cross the river
On its bridge with wooden piers,
Like the odor of brine from the ocean
Comes the thought of other years.

And I think how many thousands
Of care-encumbered men,
Each bearing his burden of sorrow,
Have crossed the bridge since then.

I see the long procession
Still passing to and fro,
The young heart hot and restless,
And the old subdued and slow!

And forever and forever,
As long as the river flows,
As long as the heart has passions,
As long as life has woes;

The moon and its broken reflection
And its shadows shall appear,
As the symbol of love in heaven,
And its wavering image here.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

--Did You Know: (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) Longellow was an American educator and poet whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and "Evangeline". He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy and was one of the five Fireside Poets.Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, then part of Massachusetts, and studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841). Longfellow retired from teaching in 1854 to focus on his writing, living the remainder of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a former headquarters of George Washington. His first wife, Mary Potter, died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife, Frances Appleton, died in 1861 after sustaining burns from her dress catching fire. After her death, Longfellow had difficulty writing poetry for a time and focused on his translation. He died in 1882. Longfellow predominantly wrote lyric poems which are known for their musicality and which often presented stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. He has been criticized, however, for imitating European styles and writing specifically for the masses. Read more at: Henry W. Longfellow

--Word of the Day: clinquant \KLING-kunt\, adjective:
1. Glittering with gold or silver; tinseled.
noun:
1. Tinsel; imitation gold leaf.
Example:
Leaves flicker celadon in the spring, viridian in summer, clinquant in fall, tallying the sovereign seasons, graying and greening to reiterate the message of snow and sun.
-Ann Zwinger, Beyond the Aspen Grove

--Quote of the Day: Appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.
-Abraham Maslow

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March 12, 2011

A Lover's Quarrel

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--Description: Browning R., 19th C, Love, Separation--


I.
Oh, what a dawn of day!
How the March sun feels like May!
All is blue again
After last night's rain,
And the South dries the hawthorn-spray.
Only, my Love's away!
I'd as lief that the blue were grey,

II.
Runnels, which rillets swell,
Must be dancing down the dell,
With a foaming head
On the beryl bed
Paven smooth as a hermit's cell;
Each with a tale to tell,
Could my Love but attend as well.

III.
Dearest, three months ago!
When we lived blocked-up with snow,---
When the wind would edge
In and in his wedge,
In, as far as the point could go---
Not to our ingle, though,
Where we loved each the other so!

IV.
Laughs with so little cause!
We devised games out of straws.
We would try and trace
One another's face
In the ash, as an artist draws;
Free on each other's flaws,
How we chattered like two church daws!

V.
What's in the `Times''?---a scold
At the Emperor deep and cold;
He has taken a bride
To his gruesome side,
That's as fair as himself is bold:
There they sit ermine-stoled,
And she powders her hair with gold.

VI.
Fancy the Pampas' sheen!
Miles and miles of gold and green
Where the sunflowers blow
In a solid glow,
And---to break now and then the screen---
Black neck and eyeballs keen,
Up a wild horse leaps between!

VII.
Try, will our table turn?
Lay your hands there light, and yearn
Till the yearning slips
Thro' the finger-tips
In a fire which a few discern,
And a very few feel burn,
And the rest, they may live and learn!

VIII.
Then we would up and pace,
For a change, about the place,
Each with arm o'er neck:
'Tis our quarter-deck,
We are seamen in woeful case.
Help in the ocean-space!
Or, if no help, we'll embrace.

IX.
See, how she looks now, dressed
In a sledging-cap and vest!
'Tis a huge fur cloak---
Like a reindeer's yoke
Falls the lappet along the breast:
Sleeves for her arms to rest,
Or to hang, as my Love likes best.

X.
Teach me to flirt a fan
As the Spanish ladies can,
Or I tint your lip
With a burnt stick's tip
And you turn into such a man!
Just the two spots that span
Half the bill of the young male swan.

XI.
Dearest, three months ago
When the mesmerizer Snow
With his hand's first sweep
Put the earth to sleep:
'Twas a time when the heart could show
All---how was earth to know,
'Neath the mute hand's to-and-fro?

XII.
Dearest, three months ago
When we loved each other so,
Lived and loved the same
Till an evening came
When a shaft from the devil's bow
Pierced to our ingle-glow,
And the friends were friend and foe!

XIII.
Not from the heart beneath---
'Twas a bubble born of breath,
Neither sneer nor vaunt,
Nor reproach nor taunt.
See a word, how it severeth!
Oh, power of life and death
In the tongue, as the Preacher saith!

XIV.
Woman, and will you cast
For a word, quite off at last
Me, your own, your You,---
Since, as truth is true,
I was You all the happy past---
Me do you leave aghast
With the memories We amassed?

XV.
Love, if you knew the light
That your soul casts in my sight,
How I look to you
For the pure and true
And the beauteous and the right,---
Bear with a moment's spite
When a mere mote threats the white!

XVI.
What of a hasty word?
Is the fleshly heart not stirred
By a worm's pin-prick
Where its roots are quick?
See the eye, by a fly's foot blurred---
Ear, when a straw is heard
Scratch the brain's coat of curd!

XVII.
Foul be the world or fair
More or less, how can I care?
'Tis the world the same
For my praise or blame,
And endurance is easy there.
Wrong in the one thing rare---
Oh, it is hard to bear!

XVIII.
Here's the spring back or close,
When the almond-blossom blows:
We shall have the word
In a minor third
There is none but the cuckoo knows:
Heaps of the guelder-rose!
I must bear with it, I suppose.

XIX.
Could but November come,
Were the noisy birds struck dumb
At the warning slash
Of his driver's-lash---
I would laugh like the valiant Thumb
Facing the castle glum
And the giant's fee-faw-fum!

XX.
Then, were the world well stripped
Of the gear wherein equipped
We can stand apart,
Heart dispense with heart
In the sun, with the flowers unnipped,---
Oh, the world's hangings ripped,
We were both in a bare-walled crypt!

XXI.
Each in the crypt would cry
``But one freezes here! and why?
``When a heart, as chill,
``At my own would thrill
``Back to life, and its fires out-fly?
``Heart, shall we live or die?
``The rest. . . . settle by-and-by!''

XXII.
So, she'd efface the score,
And forgive me as before.
It is twelve o'clock:
I shall hear her knock
In the worst of a storm's uproar,
I shall pull her through the door,
I shall have her for evermore!


Robert Browning

--Did You Know:  He was not a love poet as such. For the most part, he wrote historical and narrative poems and various experimental poetry in the form of dramatic monologues .

--Word of the Day: paper tiger (PAY-puhr TY-guhr), noun
Meaning: One who is outwardly strong and powerful but is in fact powerless and ineffectual.
Example: "But will it be another Arab paper tiger? 'I don't think much can be accomplished by merely meeting at an annual conference and issuing a list of recommendations,' Abu Zeid agrees."
(Hadia Mostafa; A River Runs Through It; Egypt Today (Cairo); Jul 12, 2004.)

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March 10, 2011

A Culinary Puzzle

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--Description: 20th C, Butler Ellis P., Humor, Love, Marriage-- 




In our dainty little kitchen,
Where my aproned wife is queen
Over all the tin-pan people,
In a realm exceeding clean,
Oft I like to loiter, watching
While she mixes things for tea;
And she tasks me, slyly smiling,
“Now just guess what this will be!”

Hidden in a big blue apron,
Her dimpled arms laid bare,
And the love-smiles coyly mingling
With a housewife’s frown of care—
See her beat a golden batter,
Pausing but to ask of me,
As she adds a bit of butter,
“Now just guess what this will be!”

Then I bravely do my duty,
Guess it, “pudding,” “cake” or “pie,”
“Dumplings,” “waffles,” “bread” or “muffins;”
But no matter what I try,
This provoking witch just answers:
“Never mind, just wait and see!
But I think you should be able,
Dear, to guess what this will be.”

Little fraud! she never tells me
Until ’tis baked and browned—
And I think I know the reason
For her secrecy profound—
She herself with all her fine airs
And her books on cookery,
Could not answer, should I ask her,
“Dearest, what will that mess be?”



Ellis Parker Butler

--Did You Know: (December 5, 1869 – September 13, 1937) Ellis Parker Butler was an American author. Butler was born in Muscatine, Iowa. He was the author of more than 30 books and more than 2,000 stories and essays, and is most famous for his short story "Pigs is Pigs", in which a bureaucratic stationmaster insists on levying the livestock rate for a shipment of two pet guinea pigs, which soon start proliferating geometrically. Working from his home in Flushing (Queens) New York, Butler was—by every measure and by many times—the most published author of the pulp fiction era. Amongst others he wrote twenty-five stories to Woman's Home Companion between 1906 and 1935. His career spanned more than forty years and his stories, poems and articles were published in more than 225 magazines. His work appeared alongside that of his contemporaries including Mark Twain, Sax Rohmer, James B. Hendryx, Berton Braley, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Don Marquis, Will Rogers and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Despite the enormous volume of his work, Butler was, for most of his life, only a part-time author. He worked full-time as a banker and was very active in his local community. A founding member of both the Dutch Treat Club and the Author's League of America, Butler was an always-present force in the New York City literary scene. Read more at Ellis Parker Butler

--Word of the Day: rigmorole \RIG-muh-rohl\, noun:
1. An elaborate or complicated procedure.
2. Confused, incoherent, foolish, or meaningless talk.
Example:
"My dear young lady," I groaned, "you don't want to be stripped of every dollar for such a "rigmarole!"
-- Henry James, Four Meetings

--Quote of the Day: There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it.
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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March 8, 2011

How Soon Hath Time

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--Description: 17th C, Milton J., Aging, Life, Seasons -- 


How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on wtih full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
That I to manhood am arrived so near,
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven;
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Taskmaster's eye.

John Milton

--Did You Know: (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) Milton was an English poet, author, polemicist and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England. He is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. He was both an accomplished, scholarly man of letters and polemical writer, and an official serving under Oliver Cromwell. His views may be described as broadly Protestant, if not always easy to locate in a more precise religious category. Milton was writing at a time of religious and political flux in England, and his poetry and prose reflect deep convictions, often reacting to contemporary circumstances. He wrote also in Latin and Italian, and had an international reputation during his lifetime. After his death, Milton's personal reputation oscillated, a state of affairs that has largely continued through the centuries. Samuel Johnson described him as "an acrimonious and surly republican"; but William Hayley's 1796 biography called him the "greatest English author", at a time when his reputation was particularly in play. He remains, however, generally regarded "as one of the preeminent writers in the English language and as a thinker of world importance." Read more at: John Milton

--Word of the Day: demagogue \DEM-uh-gog\, noun:
1. A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.
2. A leader of the common people in ancient times.

This was to have held a sculpture of a Roman charioteer driving four horses, but the work was never completed, leaving behind what looks like a diving board or a futurist balcony, ideally suited for a demagogue exhorting a throng below.
-- Michael Z. Wise, "A Fascist Utopia Adapted for Today", New York Times

--Quote of the Day: “Our deepest need is for the joy that comes with …knowing we are of genuine use to others.”
-- Eknath Easwaran

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March 6, 2011

The Wild White Rose

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--Description: 21st C, Willis E., Christianity, Nature--


It was peeping through the brambles, that little wild white rose,
Where the hawthorn hedge was planted, my garden to enclose.
All beyond was fern and heather, on the breezy, open moor;
All within was sun and shelter, and the wealth of beauty's store.
But I did not heed the fragrance of flow'ret or of tree,
For my eyes were on that rosebud, and it grew too high for me.
In vain I strove to reach it through the tangled mass of green,
It only smiled and nodded behind its thorny screen.
Yet through that summer morning I lingered near the spot:
Oh, why do things seem sweeter if we possess them not?
My garden buds were blooming, but all that I could see
Was that little mocking wild rose, hanging just too high for me.

So in life's wider garden there are buds of promise, too,
Beyond our reach to gather, but not beyond our view;
And like the little charmer that tempted me astray,
They steal out half the brightness of many a summer's day.
Oh, hearts that fail with longing for some forbidden tree,
Look up and learn a lesson from my white rose and me.
'Tis wiser far to number the blessings at my feet,
Than ever to be sighing for just one bud more sweet.
My sunbeams and my shadows fall from a pierced Hand,
I can surely trust His wisdom since His heart I understand;
And maybe in the morning, when His blessed face I see,
He will tell me why my white rose grew just too high for me.




--Word of the Day: premorse
(pri-MORS), adjective
Meaning: Having the end abruptly truncated, as if bitten or broken off.
Example: "As I looked over the water, I saw the isles rapidly wasting away, the sea nibbling voraciously at the continent, the springing arch of a hill suddenly interrupted, as at Point Alderton -- what botanists might call premorse, -- showing, by its curve against the sky, how much space it must have occupied, where now was water only."
(Henry David Thoreau; Cape Cod; 1865.)


--Quote of the Day: Oh, that I might have my request, and that God would grant me the thing that I long for.

(Bible: Job 6:8.)
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March 5, 2011

On A Poet's Lips I Slept

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--Description: 19th C, Shelley P., Love, Night, Sleep--


On a poet's lips I slept
Dreaming like a love-adept
In the sound his breathing kept;
Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses,
But feeds on the aerial kisses
Of shapes that haunt thought's wildernesses.
He will watch from dawn to gloom
The lake-reflected sun illume
The yellow bees in the ivy-bloom,
Nor heed nor see what things they be;
But from these create he can
Forms more real than living man,
Nurslings of immortality!
One of these awakened me,
And I sped to succour thee.


Percy B. Shelley


--Did You Know: (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded among the finest lyric poets in the English language. He is most famous for such classic anthology verse works as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, and The Masque of Anarchy, which are among the most popular and critically acclaimed poems in the English language. His major works, however, are long visionary poems which included Prometheus Unbound, Alastor, Adonaïs, The Revolt of Islam, and the unfinished The Triumph of Life. The Cenci (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820) were dramatic plays in five and four acts respectively. Shelley's unconventional life and uncompromising idealism, combined with his strong disapproving voice, made him an authoritative and much-denigrated figure during his life and afterward. He became an idol of the next two or three or even four generations of poets, including the important Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite poets Robert Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Algernon Charles Swinburne, as well as Lord Byron, Henry David Thoreau, and William Butler Yeats. He was admired by Karl Marx, Henry Stephens Salt, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell and Isadora Duncan. Henry David Thoreau's civil disobedience and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's passive resistance were influenced and inspired by Shelley's nonviolence in protest and political action. It is known that Gandhi would often quote Shelley's Mask of Anarchy. Shelley was famous for his association with John Keats and Lord Byron. The novelist Mary Shelley was his second wife. Read more at: Percy B. Shelley

--Word of the Day: postprandial \post-PRAN-dee-uhl\ , adjective
Meaning: Happening or done after a meal.
Example: A gourmand who zealously avoids all exercise as "seriously damaging to one's health," he had caviar for breakfast and was now having oysters for lunch, whetted with wine, as he fueled himself for a postprandial reading at the Montauk Club in Brooklyn.

(Mel Gussow, "The Man Who Put Horace Rumpole on the Case", New York Times, April 12, 1995)

--Quote of the Day: "Avarice, envy, pride,
Three fatal sparks, have set the hearts of all
On Fire."
(Dante Alighieri)


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March 3, 2011

To Spring

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--Description: 19th C, Blake W., Nature, Seasons--



O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn’d
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!

Come o’er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish’d head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.

William Blake

--Did You Know:(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry has led one modern critic to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". On 8th October 1779, Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in Old Somerset House, near the Strand. While the terms of his study required no payment, he was expected to supply his own materials throughout the six-year period. There, he rebelled against what he regarded as the unfinished style of fashionable painters such as Rubens, championed by the school's first president, Joshua Reynolds. Over time, Blake came to detest Reynolds' attitude toward art, especially his pursuit of "general truth" and "general beauty".

--Word of the Day: arcane\ar-KAYN\, adjective:
Understood or known by only a few.
Quote:
There are other arcane traditions that seem like superstitions to us, or, perhaps, are simply lost in translation. Some cyclists, for instance, believe that riders should shower instead of bathe because in some way water weight from baths is absorbed.
-Allen Barra, "Tour de Lance", Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2009

--Quote of the Day: What is more cheerful, now, in the fall of the year, than an open-wood-fire? Do you hear those little chirps and twitters coming out of that piece of apple-wood? Those are the ghosts of the robins and blue-birds that sang upon the bough when it was in blossom last Spring. In Summer whole flocks of them come fluttering about the fruit-trees under the window: so I have singing birds all the year round.
-Thomas Bailey Aldrich

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