November 30, 2011

The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls

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

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveler hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveler to the shore.
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

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

--Poetry Terminology: Emotive Language -
Language which is charged with emotion e.g. love, hate, fear etc. Sometimes associated with inferior poetry - especially that produced by angst-ridden teenagers.

--Word of the Day: afterclap - afterclap \AF-ter-klap\, noun:
An unexpected, often unpleasant sequel to a matter that had been considered closed.
Example:
The afterclap of the rebellion struck down Abraham Lincoln. The first peal from the clouds of checked dictatorship, that had been flashing less vividly, and rumbling less loudly and at longer intervals for weeks,—like the chain lightning, and the ripping, tearing, striking thunder—laid low James Abram Garfield.
-James Seymour Hoyt, The death of President Garfield: a sermon preached at Prospect Street Church

--Quote of the Day: Nature is man's teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence.
~Alfred Billings Street

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November 27, 2011

A Thanksgiving Poem

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO OUR VERY SPECIAL READERS!
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--Description: 20th C, Dunbar P.L., Christianity, Contentment, Holidays, Peace, Thanks--

The sun hath shed its kindly light,
Our harvesting is gladly o’er,
Our fields have felt no killing blight,
Our bins are filled with goodly store.

From pestilence, fire, flood, and sword
We have been spared by thy decree,
And now with humble hearts, O Lord,
We come to pay our thanks to thee.

We feel that had our merits been
The measure of thy gifts to us,
We erring children, born of sin,
Might not now be rejoicing thus.

No deed of ours hath brought us grace;
When thou wert nigh our sight was dull,
We hid in trembling from thy face,
But thou, O God, wert merciful.

Thy mighty hand o’er all the land
Hath still been open to bestow
Those blessings which our wants demand
From heaven, whence all blessings flow.

Thou hast, with ever watchful eye,
Looked down on us with holy care,
And from thy storehouse in the sky
Hast scattered plenty everywhere.

Then lift we up our songs of praise
To thee, O Father, good and kind;
To thee we consecrate our days;
Be thine the temple of each mind.

With incense sweet our thanks ascend;
Before thy works our powers pall;
Though we should strive years without end,
We could not thank thee for them all.


Paul Laurence Dunbar

--Did You Know: (June 27, 1872– February 9, 1906) Dunbar was a seminal American poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dunbar gained national recognition for his 1896 Lyrics of a Lowly Life, one poem in the collection Ode to Ethiopia. Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio to parents who had escaped from slavery; his father was a veteran of the American Civil War, having served in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment. His parents instilled in him a love of learning and history. He was a student at an all-white high school, Dayton Central High School, and he participated actively as a student. During high school, he was both the editor of the school newspaper and class president, as well as the president of the school literary society. Dunbar had also started the first African-American newsletter in Dayton. He wrote his first poem at age 6 and gave his first public recital at age 9. Dunbar's first published work came in a newspaper put out by his high school friends Wilbur and Orville Wright, who owned a printing plant. Read more at: Paul Laurence Dunbar

--Word of the Day: perseverate \per-SEV-uh-reyt\, intransitive verb:
1. To involuntarily repeat a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.
2. To repeat something insistently or redundantly.
Example:
"Perseverate is a word I grew up using because my sister Claire was often said to be "perseverating again." She would get stuck on whether or not the cat was eating enough and if my mother was off somewhere getting sucked up by a tornado.
-- Jeanne Marie Laskas, Growing Girls

--Quote of the Day: Happiness is often the result of being too busy to be miserable.
-Anonymous

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November 22, 2011

Talking and Singing of the Nordic Man

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


I

Behold, my child, the Nordic man,
And be as like him, as you can;
His legs are long, his mind is slow,
His hair is lank and made of tow.


II

And here we have the Alpine Race:
Oh! What a broad and foolish face!
His skin is of a dirty yellow.
He is a most unpleasant fellow.


III

The most degraded of them all
Mediterranean we call.
His hair is crisp, and even curls,
And he is saucy with the girls.


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

--Poetry Terminology: Haibun -
Japanese form, pioneered by the poet Basho, and comprising a section of prose followed by haiku. They are frequently travelogues - as in Basho's The Records of a Travel-Worn Satchel (1688). In the best examples, the prose and haiku should work together to create an organic whole.

--Word of the Day: opuscule \oh-PUHS-kyool\, noun:
1. A small or minor work.
2. A literary or musical work of small size.
Example:
Little by little, with patience and luck and the progressive sharpening of my predatory eye, I found one or another opuscule of his in my used book stores in Oxford and London.
-- Javier Marías, Dark Back of Time

--Quote of the Day:
When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It's to enjoy each step along the way.
- Wayne Dyer

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November 17, 2011

Tree At My Window

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--Description: 20th C, Frost R., Nature--
Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

Robert Frost

--Did You Know: Did You Know: (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) Frost was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. 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. A popular and often-quoted poet, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California to journalist William Prescott Frost, Jr., and Isabelle Moodie. His mother was of Scottish descent, and his father descended from Nicholas Frost of Tiverton, Devon, England, who had sailed to New Hampshire in 1634 on the Wolfrana. Frost's father was a teacher and later an editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. After his father's death on May 5, 1885, in due time the family moved across the country to Lawrence, Massachusetts under the patronage of (Robert's grandfather) William Frost, Sr., who was an overseer at a New England mill. Frost graduated from Lawrence High School in 1892. Frost's mother joined the Swedenborgian church and had him baptized in it, but he left it as an adult. Despite his later association with rural life, Frost grew up in the city, and published his first poem in his high school's magazine. Read more at: Robert Frost

--Word of the Day: sylvan \SIL-vuhn\, adjective:
1. Of or pertaining to woods or forest regions.
2. Living or located in a wood or forest.
3. Abounding in forests or trees; wooded.
noun:
1. A fabled deity or spirit of the woods.
2. One that lives in or frequents the woods or forest; a rustic.
Example:
They probably picture it as a kind of modest conservatory, set in sylvan splendour in some charmingly landscaped garden.
-Sally Vincent, "Driven by daemons", Guardian, November 10, 2001

--Quote of the Day: "The right man is the one who seizes the moment."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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November 14, 2011

Mist

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--Description: 19th C, Thoreau H.D., Nature-- 

Low-anchored cloud,
Newfoundland air,
Fountain head and source of rivers,
Dew-cloth, dream drapery,
And napkin spread by fays;
Drifting meadow of the air,
Where bloom the daisied banks and violets,
And in whose fenny labyrinth
The bittern booms and heron wades;
Spirit of the lake and seas and rivers,
Bear only purfumes and the scent
Of healing herbs to just men's fields!



Henry David Thoreau

--Did You Know: (July 12, 1817– May 6, 1862) Thoreau was an American author, poet, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state. Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore; while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and "Yankee" love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time imploring one to abandon waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs. He was a lifelong abolitionist. Read more at: Henry David Thoreau

--Word of the Day: ethereal \ih-THEER-ee-uhl\, adjective:
1. Light, airy, or tenuous.
2. Extremely delicate or refined.
3. Heavenly or celestial.
4. Pertaining to the upper regions of space.
5. Chemistry. Pertaining to, containing, or resembling ethyl ether.
Example:
The 1997 reissue of Beach Boys' Pet Sounds included a disc of 11 songs with all instrumentation stripped out, leaving only those terminally sunny, ethereal vocal lines behind.
-Erin Thompson, "Reverb blog", Seattle Weekly, May 2010

--Quote of the Day: "Once you have heard the lark, known the swish of feet through hill-top grass and smelt the earth made ready for the seed, you are never again going to be fully happy about the cities and towns that man carries like a crippling weight upon his back."
~Gwyn Thomas

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November 11, 2011

Laugh and Be Merry

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--Description: 20th C, Masefield J., Contentment, Joy--


Laugh and be merry, remember, better the world with a song,
Better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong.
Laugh, for the time is brief, a thread the length of a span.
Laugh and be proud to belong to the old proud pageant of man.

Laugh and be merry: remember, in olden time.
God made Heaven and Earth for joy He took in a rhyme,
Made them, and filled them full with the strong red wine of
His mirth
The splendid joy of the stars: the joy of the earth.

So we must laugh and drink from the deep blue cup of the sky,
Join the jubilant song of the great stars sweeping by,
Laugh, and battle, and work, and drink of the wine outpoured
In the dear green earth, the sign of the joy of the Lord.

Laugh and be merry together, like brothers akin,
Guesting awhile in the rooms of a beautiful inn,
Glad till the dancing stops, and the lilt of the music ends.
Laugh till the game is played; and be you merry, my friends.

John Masefield

--Did You Know: (1 June 1878 – 12 May 1967) John Masefield was an English poet and writer, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death in 1967. He is remembered as the author of the classic children's novels The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights, and many memorable poems, including "The Everlasting Mercy" and "Sea-Fever". Masefield was born in Ledbury in Herefordshire, to Caroline and George Masefield, a solicitor. His mother died giving birth to his sister when Masefield was only six, and he went to live with his aunt. His father died soon after following a mental breakdown. After an unhappy education at the King's School in Warwick (now known as Warwick School), where he was a boarder between 1888 and 1891, he left to board the HMS Conway, both to train for a life at sea, and to break his addiction to reading, of which his aunt thought little. He spent several years aboard this ship and found that he could spend much of his time reading and writing. It was aboard the Conway that Masefield’s love for story-telling grew. While on the ship, he listened to the stories told about sea lore. He continued to read, and felt that he was to become a writer and story teller himself. Read more at: John Masefield

--Word of the Day: junket \JUHNG-kit\, noun: 1. A trip, usually by an official or legislative committee, paid out of public funds and ostensibly to obtain information. 2. A sweet, custardlike food of flavored milk curdled with rennet. 3. A pleasure excursion, as a picnic or outing. verb: 1. To go on a junket. 2. To entertain; feast; regale.
Example:
Yeah, well, there's a lot more of them on the operation, fellows in the control room, women too. They all decided to go to California together on a junket. Whooping it up, you know?
-- Patricia Highsmith, Tales of Natural and Unnatural Catastrophes

--Quote of the Day: A hearty laugh gives one a dry cleaning, while a good cry is a wet wash.
~Puzant Kevork Thomajan

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November 9, 2011

Rose Pogonias

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--Description: 20th C, Frost R., Nature, Seasons--


A SATURATED meadow,
Sun-shaped and jewel-small,
A circle scarcely wider
Than the trees around were tall;
Where winds were quite excluded,
And the air was stifling sweet
With the breath of many flowers,--
A temple of the heat.
There we bowed us in the burning,
As the sun's right worship is,
To pick where none could miss them
A thousand orchises;
For though the grass was scattered,
Yet every second spear
Seemed tipped with wings of color,
That tinged the atmosphere.
We raised a simple prayer
Before we left the spot,
That in the general mowing
That place might be forgot;
Or if not all so favoured,
Obtain such grace of hours,
That none should mow the grass there
While so confused with flowers.

Robert Frost


--Did You Know: Robert Frost's personal life was plagued with grief and loss. His father died of tuberculosis in 1885, when Frost was 11, leaving the family with just $8. Frost's mother died of cancer in 1900. In 1920, Frost had to commit his younger sister, Jeanie, to a mental hospital, where she died nine years later. Mental illness apparently ran in Frost's family. Read more at: Robert Frost

--Word of the Day: flaneur\flah-NUR\ , noun
Meaning: One who strolls about aimlessly; a lounger; a loafer.
Example: Burrows and Wallace show how New York embraced the idea of the flaneur -- of the disinterested, artistically inclined wanderer in the city, of what they call "city watching."
(Jed Perl, "The Adolescent City", New Republic, January 22, 2001)

--Quote of the Day: Youth is like spring, an over-praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.
(Samuel Butler)

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November 8, 2011

When the Sun Comes After Rain

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--Description: 19th C, Stephenson Robert L., Aging, Life, Love, Nature--

When the sun comes after rain
And the bird is in the blue,
The girls go down the lane
Two by two.

When the sun comes after shadow
And the singing of the showers,
The girls go up the meadow,
Fair as flowers.

When the eve comes dusky red
And the moon succeeds the sun,
The girls go home to bed
One by one.

And when life draws to its even
And the day of man is past,
They shall all go home to heaven,
Home at last.

Robert Louis Stevenson

--Did You Know: (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. Stevenson was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling. Stevenson was born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 13 November 1850, to Thomas Stevenson (1818–1887), a leading lighthouse engineer, and his wife Margaret, born Margaret Isabella Balfour (1829–1897). Lighthouse design was the family profession. Read more at: Robert Louis Stevenson

--Word of the Day: perpend \per-PEND\, verb:
1. To ponder; deliberate.
2. To be attentive; reflect.
noun:
1. A large stone passing through the entire thickness of a wall.
Example:
"So I do, madonna; but to read his right wits is to read thus: therefore perpend, my princess, and give ear.
-William Shakespeare, Twelfth night, or, What you will

--Quote of the Day: Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime.
~William Shakespeare

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November 6, 2011

Three Things to Remember

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


A Robin Redbreast in a cage,
Puts all Heaven in a rage.

A skylark wounded on the wing
Doth make a cherub cease to sing.

He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be beloved by men.


William Blake

--Did You Know:(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognized 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. Read more at: William Blake

--Word of the Day: quean \kween\, noun:
1. An overly forward, impudent woman; shrew; hussy.
2. A prostitute.
3. British Dialect. A girl or young woman, especially a robust one.
Example:
I answer thee, thou art a beggar, a quean, and a bawd.
-- Thomas Middleton, Five Plays

--Quote of the Day: A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
- Nelson Mandela

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November 4, 2011

Sweet Endings Come and Go, Love

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--Description: 19th C, Eliot G., Aging, Life, Love, Separation-- 
 
"La noche buena se viene,
La noche buena se va,
Y nosotros nos iremos
Y no volveremos mas."
-- Old Villancico.

Sweet evenings come and go, love,
They came and went of yore:
This evening of our life, love,
Shall go and come no more.

When we have passed away, love,
All things will keep their name;
But yet no life on earth, love,
With ours will be the same.

The daisies will be there, love,
The stars in heaven will shine:
I shall not feel thy wish, love,
Nor thou my hand in thine.

A better time will come, love,
And better souls be born:
I would not be the best, love,
To leave thee now forlorn.



George Eliot

--Did You Know: (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880) Eliot better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She is the author of eight novels, including The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876), most of them set in provincial England and well known for their realism and psychological insight. She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure that her works were taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names, but Eliot wanted to ensure that she was not seen as merely a writer of romances. An additional factor may have been a desire to shield her private life from public scrutiny and to prevent scandals attending her relationship with the married George Henry Lewes, with whom she lived for over 20 years. Read more at: George Eliot

--Word of the Day: Shangri-la / (shang-gri-LAH)
noun: An imaginary, idyllic place that is remote and secluded.
Example:
"For just one hour you think you are living in dreamland, a Shangri-La, where if life is not yet quite perfect, it will be very soon."
-Simon Hoggart; Budget 2010; The Guardian (London, UK); Mar 25, 2010.

--Quote of the Day: Life has meaning only if one barters it day by day for something other than itself.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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November 1, 2011

A Study (A Soul)

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--Description: 19th C, Rossetti C., Faithfulness--




She stands as pale as Parian statues stand;
Like Cleopatra when she turned at bay,
And felt her strength above the Roman sway,
And felt the aspic writhing in her hand.
Her face is steadfast toward the shadowy land,
For dim beyond it looms the light of day;
Her feet are steadfast; all the arduous way
That foot-track hath not wavered on the sand.
She stands there like a beacon thro' the night,
A pale clear beacon where the storm-drift is;
She stands alone, a wonder deathly white;
She stands there patient, nerved with inner might,
Indomitable in her feebleness,
Her face and will athirst against the light.

Christina Georgina 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: Vers de Societe -
Form of light verse which concerns itself with the comings and goings of polite society. Matthew Prior and Henry Austin Dobson both specialised in vers de société. How to Get On in Society by John Betjeman is another example - although this poem is also satirical in tone.

--Word of the Day: askance \uh-SKANS\, adverb:
1. With suspicion, mistrust, or disapproval.
2. With a side glance; sidewise; obliquely.
Example:
People had been looking askance at him for as long as he could remember, and he thought it was time to put a stop to that.
-- Richard Russo, The Risk Pool

--Quote of the Day: Kindness is the light that dissolves
all walls between souls, families, and nations.
- Paramahansa Yogananda


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