April 30, 2011

The Power of Music

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--Description: 17th C, Fletcher, J., Music, Nature--
 



Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain-tops that freeze,
Bow themselves when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.


Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or, hearing, die.

John Fletcher

--Did You Know: (1579 – 1625) John Fletcher was a Jacobean playwright. Following William Shakespeare as house playwright for the King's Men, he was among the most prolific and influential dramatists of his day; both during his lifetime and in the early Restoration, his fame rivaled Shakespeare's. Though his reputation has been eclipsed since, Fletcher remains an important transitional figure between the Elizabethan popular tradition and the popular drama of the Restoration. His father Richard Fletcher was an ambitious and successful cleric who was in turn Dean of Peterborough, Bishop of Bristol, Bishop of Worcester, and Bishop of London (shortly before his death) as well as chaplain to Queen Elizabeth. Read more at: John Fletcher

--Word of the Day: corybantic \kawr-uh-BAN-tik\, adjective:
Frenzied; agitated; unrestrained.
The key turned with a snap, the door was flung open, and there stood Martha, in a corybantic attitude, brandishing a dinner-plate in one hand, a poker in the other ; her hair was dishevelled, her face red, and fury blazed in her eyes.
-- George Gissing, Will Warburton: A Romance of Life


--Quote of the Day: Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.
(Jacqueline Bisset)

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April 28, 2011

Five Flights Up

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--Description: 20th C, Bishop E., Children, Humor, Life -- 

Still dark.
The unknown bird sits on his usual branch.
The little dog next door barks in his sleep
inquiringly, just once.
Perhaps in his sleep, too, the bird inquires
once or twice, quavering.
Questions---if that is what they are---
answered directly, simply,
by day itself.

Enormous morning, ponderous, meticulous;
gray light streaking each bare branch,
each single twig, along one side,
making another tree, of glassy veins...
The bird still sits there. Now he seems to yawn.

The little black dog runs in his yard.
His owner's voice arises, stern,
"You ought to be ashamed!"
What has he done?
He bounces cheerfully up and down;
he rushes in circles in the fallen leaves.

Obviously, he has no sense of shame.
He and the bird know everything is answered,
all taken care of,
no need to ask again.
---Yesterday brought to today so lightly!
(A yesterday I find almost impossible to lift.)

Elizabeth Bishop


--Did You Know: (8 February 1911 – 6 October 1979) Bishop was an American poet and writer. She was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, and a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956. Elizabeth Bishop House is an artist's retreat in Great Village, Nova Scotia dedicated to her memory. Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. After her father, a successful builder, died when she was eight months old, Bishop’s mother became mentally ill and was institutionalized in 1916. Bishop would later write about the time of her mother's struggles in her short story "In The Village." Effectively orphaned, during her very early childhood, she lived with her grandparents on a farm in Nova Scotia, a period she would later reference in her writing. Bishop's mother remained in an asylum until her death in 1934, and the two were never reunited. Read more at: E. Bishop

--Word of the Day: peregrinate \PER-i-gruh-neyt\, verb:
1. To travel or journey, especially to walk on foot.
2. To travel or walk over; traverse.
The old show man and his literary coadjutor were already tackling their horses to the wagon, with a design to peregrinate southwest along the sea coast.
-- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Tales and sketches

--Quote of the Day:If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up.
Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
- Michael Jordan

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April 26, 2011

Lines By A Person of Quality

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--Description: 18th C, Pope A., Beauty, Mythology, Nature--



Fluttering spread thy purple pinions,
Gentle Cupid, o'er my heart,
I a slave in thy dominions,
Nature must give way to art.

Mild Arcadians, ever blooming,
Nightly nodding o'er your flocks,
See my weary days consuming,
All beneath yon flowery rocks.

Thus the Cyprian goddess weeping,
Mourned Adonis, darling youth:
Him the boar, in silence creeping,
Gored with unrelenting tooth.

Cynthia, tune harmonious numbers;
Fair Discretion, tune the lyre;
Soothe my ever-waking slumbers;
Bright Apollo, lend thy choir.

Gloomy Pluto, king of terrors,
Armed in adamantine chains,
Lead me to the crystal mirrors,
Watering soft Elysian plains.

Mournful Cypress, verdant willow,
Gilding my Aurelia's brows,
Morpheus, hovering o'er my pillow,
Hear me pay my dying vows.

Melancholy, smooth Mæander,
Swiftly purling in a round,
On thy margin lovers wander
With thy flowery chaplets crowned.

Thus when Philomela, drooping,
Softly seeks her silent mate,
So the bird of Juno stooping;
Melody resigns to fate.


Alexander Pope

--Did You Know:( 21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) Pope is generally regarded as the greatest English poet of the eighteenth century, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson. Pope was a master of the heroic couplet. Pope was born in London to Alexander Pope (senior, a linen merchant) and Edith Pope (née Turner), who were both Catholics. Pope's education was affected by the penal law in force at the time upholding the status of the established Church of England, which banned Catholics from teaching on pain of perpetual imprisonment. Pope was taught to read by his aunt, then went to Twyford School in about 1698–9. He then went to two Catholic schools in London. Such schools, while illegal, were tolerated in some areas. Read more at: Alexander Pope

--Word of the Day: presage \PRES-ij; pri-SEYJ\, noun:
1. An indication or warning of a future event; an omen.
2. A feeling or intuition of what the future holds.
3. Prophetic significance.
4. [Archaic] A prediction; a prognostication.
transitive verb:
1. To indicate or warn of beforehand; to foreshadow.
2. To have a presentiment of.
3. To predict; to foretell.
intransitive verb:
1. To make or utter a prediction.
Example:
Although the enlightenment and liberation which had been expected to come after the war had not come with victory, a presage of freedom was in the air throughout these post-war years, and it was their only historical meaning.
-Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

--Quote of the Day: For Mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.
-Thomas Bulfinch


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April 25, 2011

I Must Have Wanton Poets

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--Description: 16th C, Marlowe C., Nobility, Poetry, Tribute--




I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits,
Musicians, that with touching of a string
May draw the pliant king which way I please:
Music and poetry is his delight;
Therefore I'll have Italian masks by night,
Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing shows;
And in the day, when he shall walk abroad,
Like sylvan nymphs my pages shall be clad;
My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
Shall with their goat-feet dance the antic hay;
Sometime a lovely boy in Dian's shape,
With hair that gilds the water as it glides,
Crownets of pearl about his naked arms,
And in his sportful hands an olive-tree,
To hide those parts which men delight to see,
Shall bathe him in a spring; and there, hard by,
One like Actæon, peeping through the grove,
Shall by the angry goddess be transform'd,
And running in the likeness of an hart,
By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall seem to die:
Such things as these best please his majesty.


Christopher Marlowe

--Did You Know: (1564-1593) Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. The foremost Elizabethan tragedian next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his own mysterious and untimely death. Marlowe was born to a shoemaker in Canterbury named John Marlowe and his wife Catherine. His date of birth is not known, but he was baptised on 26 February 1564, and thus born a few days before. He attended The King's School, Canterbury (where a house is now named after him) and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge on a scholarship and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1584. In 1587 the university hesitated to award him his master's degree because of a rumour that he had converted to Roman Catholicism and intended to go to the English college at Rheims to prepare for the priesthood. However, his degree was awarded on schedule when the Privy Council intervened on his behalf, commending him for his "faithful dealing" and "good service" to the Queen. The nature of Marlowe's service was not specified by the Council, but its letter to the Cambridge authorities has provoked much speculation, notably the theory that Marlowe was operating as a secret agent working for Sir Francis Walsingham's intelligence service. No direct evidence supports this theory, although the Council's letter is evidence that Marlowe had served the government in some capacity. Read more at: Christopher Marlowe

--Word of the Day: precatory /(PREK-uh-tor-ee)/ adjective:
1. Expressing a request.
2. Nonbinding: only expressing a wish or giving a suggestion.
Example:
"Even worse, [the proposed amendment] is a deception because it amounts to nothing more than a precatory expression of pious hope."
-Robert C. Byrd; A Hollow and Dangerous Promise; The Washington Post; Oct 31, 1993.

--Quote of the Day: There is no passion to be found playing small.
-Nelson Mandela

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April 21, 2011

A Child's Garden

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--Description: 20th C, Kipling R., Childhood, Children, Dreams, Youth--


Now there is nothing wrong with me
Except -- I think it's called T.B.
And that is why I have to lay
Out in the garden all the day.

Our garden is not very wide
And cars go by on either side,
And make an angry-hooty noise
That rather startles little boys.

But worst of all is when they take
Me out in cars that growl and shake,
With charabancs so dreadful-near
I have to shut my eyes for fear.

But when I'm on my back again,
I watch the Croydon aeroplane
That flies across to France, and sings
Like hitting thick piano-strings.

When I am strong enough to do
The things I'm truly wishful to,
I'll never use a car or train
But always have an aeroplane;

And just go zooming round and round,
And frighten Nursey with the sound,
And see the angel-side of clouds,
And spit on all those motor-crowds!


Rudyard Kipling

--Did You Know: (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) Kipling was a British author and poet. Born in Bombay, in British India, he is best known for his works of fiction The Jungle Book (1894) (a collection of stories which includes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King (1888); and his poems, including Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), and If— (1910). He is regarded as a major "innovator in the art of the short story"; his children's books are enduring classics of children's literature; and his best works speak to a versatile and luminous narrative gift. Kipling was one of the most popular writers in English, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author Henry James said of him: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known." In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient. Among other honours, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he declined.[7]Read more at: Rudyard Kipling

--Poetry Terminology: Tetrasyllables-
Tetrasyllables have four syllables in a foot.

--Word of the Day: nettle / (net-l) / verb tr.:
1. To irritate.
2. To sting.
Example:
-"My questions about the wisdom or otherwise of disbanding the Iraqi army visibly nettled him [General David McKiernan]."
Mark Urban; When Generals Become Unstuck; BBC News; May 12, 2009.

--Quote of the Day: "We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English."
-Winston Churchill

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April 17, 2011

I Said To Love

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--Description: 20th C, Hardy T., Adoration, Love--


I said to Love,
"It is not now as in old days
When men adored thee and thy ways
All else above;
Named thee the Boy, the Bright, the One
Who spread a heaven beneath the sun,"
I said to Love.

I said to him,
"We now know more of thee than then;
We were but weak in judgment when,
With hearts abrim,
We clamoured thee that thou would'st please
Inflict on us thine agonies,"
I said to him.

I said to Love,
"Thou art not young, thou art not fair,
No faery darts, no cherub air,
Nor swan, nor dove
Are thine; but features pitiless,
And iron daggers of distress,"
I said to Love.

"Depart then, Love! . . .
- Man's race shall end, dost threaten thou?
The age to come the man of now
Know nothing of? -
We fear not such a threat from thee;
We are too old in apathy!
Mankind shall cease.--So let it be,"
I said to Love.

Thomas Hardy

--Did You Know: (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) Hardy was an English novelist and poet of the naturalist movement, although in several poems he displays elements of the previous romantic and enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural. He regarded himself primarily as a poet and composed novels mainly for financial gain. The bulk of his work, set mainly in the semi-fictional land of Wessex, delineates characters struggling against their passions and circumstances. Hardy's poetry, first published in his 50s, has come to be as well regarded as his novels, especially after The Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The term "cliffhanger" is considered to have originated with Thomas Hardy's novel A Pair of Blue Eyes. In this novel Henry Knight, one of his protagonists, is left literally hanging off a cliff. Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton, a hamlet in the parish of Stinsford to the east of Dorchester in Dorset, England. His father (Thomas) worked as a stonemason and local builder. His mother Jemima was well-read and educated Thomas until he went to his first school at Bockhampton at age eight. Read more at: Thomas Hardy

--Word of the Day: countervail \kown-tur-VAYL\, transitive verb:
1. To act against with equal force, power, or effect; to counteract.
2. To compensate for; to offset; to furnish or serve as an equivalent to.
intransitive verb:
1. To exert force against an opposing, often bad, influence or power.
Example:
In spite of its keel's weight, and even without the countervailing underwater resistance of its mast, Dubois's boat seemed comfortably stable upside down.
-Derek Lundy, Godforsaken Sea

--Quote of the Day: Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.
-Marianne Williamson

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April 12, 2011

Song To A Fair Young Lady Going Out of Town in the Spring

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--Description: 17th C, Dryden J., Adoration, Love--


Ask not the cause why sullen spring
So long delays her flow'rs to bear;
Why warbling birds forget to sing,
And winter storms invert the year?
Chloris is gone; and Fate provides
To make it spring where she resides.

Chloris is gone, the cruel fair;
She cast not back a pitying eye:
But left her lover in despair,
To sigh, to languish, and to die:
Ah, how can those fair eyes endure
To give the wounds they will not cure!

Great god of Love, why hast thou made
A face that can all hearts command,
That all religions can invade,
And change the laws of ev'ry land?
Where thou hadst plac'd such pow'r before,
Thou shouldst have made her mercy more.

When Chloris to the temple comes,
Adoring crowds before her fall;
She can restore the dead from tombs,
And ev'ry life but mine recall.
I only am by love design'd
To be the victim for mankind.


John Dryden

--Did You Know: (9 August 1631 – 1 May 1700) Dryden was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden. Walter Scott named him "Glorious John." After the Restoration, Dryden quickly established himself as the leading poet and literary critic of his day and he transferred his allegiances to the new government. Along with Astraea Redux, Dryden welcomed the new regime with two more panegyrics; To His Sacred Majesty: A Panegyric on his Coronation (1662), and To My Lord Chancellor (1662). These poems suggest that Dryden was looking to court a possible patron, but he was to instead make a living in writing for publishers, not for the aristocracy, and thus ultimately for the reading public. Read more at: John Dryden

--Word of the Day: balderdash \BAWL-der-dash\, noun:
1. Senseless, stupid, or exaggerated talk or writing; nonsense.
2. (Archaic:) A muddled mixture of liquors.
"That bit about cleanliness being next to godliness was a lot of balderdash as far as I was concerned."
-- Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses

--Quote of the Day: Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
- Rabindranath Tagore

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April 10, 2011

The Frog

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--Description: 20th C, Belloc H., Childhood, Children, Humor--


Be kind and tender to the Frog,
And do not call him names,
As "Slimy skin," or "Polly-wog,"
Or likewise "Ugly James,"
Or "Gap-a-grin," or "Toad-gone-wrong,"
Or "Bill Bandy-knees":
The Frog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.

No animal will more repay
A treatment kind and fair;
At least so lonely people say
Who keep a frog (and, by the way,
They are extremely rare).


Hilaire Belloc

--Did You Know: (27 July 1870 – 16 July 1953) Belloc was an Anglo-French writer and historian who became a naturalised British subject in 1902. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He is most notable for his Roman Catholic faith, which had an impact on most of his writing. Belloc was born in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France (next to Versailles and near Paris) to a French father and English mother, and grew up in England. Much of his boyhood was spent in Slindon, West Sussex, for which he often felt homesick in later life. His mother Elizabeth Rayner Parkes (1829–1925) was also a writer, and a great-granddaughter of the English chemist Joseph Priestley. In 1867 she married attorney Louis Belloc, son of the French painter Jean-Hilaire Belloc. In 1872, five years after they wed, Louis died, but not before being wiped out financially in a stock market crash. The young widow then brought her son Hilaire, along with his sister, Marie, back to England where he remained, except for his voluntary enlistment as a young man in the French artillery. Read more at: Hilaire Beloc

--Word of the Day: futz \FUHTS\, verb:
1. To pass time in idleness (usually followed by around).
noun:
1. A fool; a simpleton.
"For God's sake, Tommy, just do it, and then you can futz with your papers all you want to."
-- Peter Freeborn, The Stark Truth

--Quote of the Day:
A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.
- Dorothy Canfield Fisher

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April 9, 2011

The Birds

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--Description: 20th C, Belloc H., Christianity, Nature--

When Jesus Christ was four years old
The angels brought Him toys of gold,
Which no man ever had bought or sold.

And yet with these He would not play.
He made Him small fowl out of clay,
And blessed them till they flew away:
Tu creasti Domine

Jesus Christ, Thou child so wise,
Bless mine hands and fill mine eyes,
And bring my soul to Paradise.

Hilaire Beloc

--Did You Know: (27 July 1870 – 16 July 1953) Belloc was an Anglo-French writer and historian who became a naturalised British subject in 1902. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He is most notable for his Roman Catholic faith, which had an impact on most of his writing. Belloc was born in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France (next to Versailles and near Paris) to a French father and English mother, and grew up in England. Much of his boyhood was spent in Slindon, West Sussex, for which he often felt homesick in later life. His mother Elizabeth Rayner Parkes (1829–1925) was also a writer, and a great-granddaughter of the English chemist Joseph Priestley. In 1867 she married attorney Louis Belloc, son of the French painter Jean-Hilaire Belloc. In 1872, five years after they wed, Louis died, but not before being wiped out financially in a stock market crash. The young widow then brought her son Hilaire, along with his sister, Marie, back to England where he remained, except for his voluntary enlistment as a young man in the French artillery. Read more at: Hilaire Beloc

--Word of the Day: subserve / (suhb-SURV) / verb tr.
To help to further something.
Example:
"The decisions were ad hoc in nature and were taken to subserve political expediency."
H.N. Das; Ethnic Aspirations; The Assam Tribune (India); Apr 19, 2009.

--Quote of the Day: Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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April 7, 2011

Dreams

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--Description: 19th C, Poe Edgar A., Dreams, Imagination, Illusion

 
Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho' that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
'Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
But should it be- that dream eternally
Continuing- as dreams have been to me
In my young boyhood- should it thus be given,
'Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
For I have revell'd, when the sun was bright
I' the summer sky, in dreams of living light
And loveliness,- have left my very heart
In climes of my imagining, apart
From mine own home, with beings that have been
Of mine own thought- what more could I have seen?
'Twas once- and only once- and the wild hour
From my remembrance shall not pass- some power
Or spell had bound me- 'twas the chilly wind
Came o'er me in the night, and left behind
Its image on my spirit- or the moon
Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
Too coldly- or the stars- howe'er it was
That dream was as that night-wind- let it pass.

I have been happy, tho' in a dream.
I have been happy- and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid coloring of life,
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Of semblance with reality, which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love- and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known

Edgar Allen Poe

--Did You Know: (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) Poe was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career. He was born as Edgar Poe in Boston, Massachusetts; his parents died when he was young. Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond, Virginia, but they never formally adopted him. He attended the University of Virginia for one semester but left due to lack of money. After enlisting in the Army and later failing as an officer's cadet at West Point, Poe parted ways with the Allans. Poe's publishing career began humbly, with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian". Read more at: E.A. Poe

--Poetry Terminology: Minstrel -
Itinerant medieval musician/singer/story teller/poet. See bard and jongleur.

--Word of the Day: canorous \kuh-NOR-us; KAN-or-uhs\, adjective:
Richly melodious; pleasant sounding; musical.
I felt a deep contentment listening to the meadowlark's complex melody as he sat on his bragging post calling for a mate, and the soft canorous whistle of the bobwhite as he whistled his name with intermittent lulls.
-- Donna R. La Plante, "Remember When: The prairie after a spring rain", Kansas City Star, March 16, 2003

--Quote of the Day: "The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination."
-- John Schaar

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April 5, 2011

Withdrawn

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--Description: 20th C, Tabb J. B., Love, Memories, Separation--

I MISS thee everywhere.
The places dear to thee,
Familiar shadows wear
Henceforth for memory.

And where thou hast not been,
Thou seemest to repose
As near, though never seen,
As fragrance to the rose.

 

John B. Tabb

--Did You Know: (March 22, 1845 - November 19, 1909) Father John Bannister Tabb was an American poet, Roman Catholic priest, and professor of English. (Although often misspelled as Bannister, the poet's middle name is actually spelled with only one "n", Banister.) Born into one of Virginia's oldest and wealthiest families, he became a blockade runner for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and spent eight months in a Union prison camp (where he formed a life-long friendship with poet Sidney Lanier); he converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1872, and began to teach Greek and English at Saint Charles College (Ellicott City, Maryland) in 1878. He was ordained as a priest in 1884, after which he retained his academic position. Plagued by eye problems his whole life, he lost his sight completely about a year before he died in the college rooms that he had continued to occupy after his retirement. Father Tabb (as he was commonly known) was widely published in popular and prestigious magazines of the day, including Harper's Monthly, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Cosmopolitan. Read more at: John B. Tabb

--Poetry Terminology: weak ending -
Where a word or syllable at the end of a line of verse is stressed metrically but is unstressed in ordinary speech.

--Word of the Day: afflatus \uh-FLAY-tuhs\, noun:
A divine imparting of knowledge; inspiration.
Whatever happened to passion and vision and the divine afflatus in poetry?
-- Clive Hicks, "From 'Green Man' (Ronsdale)", Toronto Star, November 21, 1999

--Quote of the Day: Choose rather to be strong of soul than strong of body.
- Pythagoras

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