December 31, 2011

A Golden Day

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--Description: 20th C, Wilcox E.W., Hope, Joy, Life--


The subtle beauty of this day
Hangs o'er me like a fairy spell,
And care and grief have flown away,
And every breeze sings, "all is well."
I ask, "Holds earth or sin, or woe?"
My heart replies, "I do not know."

Nay! all we know, or feel, my heart,
Today is joy undimmed, complete;
In tears or pain we have no part;
The act of breathing is so sweet,
We care no higher joy to name.
What reck we now of wealth or fame?

The past--what matters it to me?
The pain it gave has passed away.
The future--that I cannot see!
I care for nothing save today--
This is a respite from all care,
And trouble flies--I know not where.

Go on, oh noisy, restless life!
Pass by, oh, feet that seek for heights!
I have no part in aught of strife;
I do not want your vain delights.
The day wraps round me like a spell
And every breeze sings, "All is well."

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

--Did You Know: (November 5, 1850–October 30, 1919)Wilcox was an American author and poet. Her best-known work was Poems of Passion. Her most enduring work was "Solitude", which contains the lines: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone". Her autobiography, The Worlds and I, was published in 1918, a year before her death. Ella Wheeler was born in 1850 on a farm in rural Johnstown, Wisconsin, east of Janesville, the youngest of four children. The family soon moved to north of Madison. She started writing poetry at a very early age, and was well known as a poet in her own state by the time she graduated from high school. When about 28 years of age, she married Robert Wilcox. They had one child, a son, who died shortly after birth. Not long after their marriage, they both became interested in Theosophy, New Thought, and Spiritualism.

--Word of the Day: stultify \STUHL-tuh-fahy\, (verb):
1. To render useless or ineffectual; cripple.
2. To cause to appear stupid, inconsistent, or ridiculous.
3. Law To allege or prove insane and so not legally responsible.
Example:
The word "civilization" to my mind is coupled with death. When I use the word, I see civilization as a crippling, thwarting thing, a stultifying thing. For me it was always so. I don't believe in the golden ages, you see... civilization is the arteriosclerosis of culture.
-Henry Miller

--Quote of the Day: A sense of humor... is needed armor. Joy in one's heart and some laughter on one's lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.
Hugh Sidey

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December 29, 2011

Moonlit Night

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--Description: Tu Fu, Celestial, Love, Nature, Night-- 


Tonight at Fu-chou, this moon she watches
Alone in our room. And my little, far-off
Children, too young to understand what keeps me
Away, or even remember Chang'an. By now,

Her hair will be mist-scented, her jade-white
Arms chilled in its clear light. When
Will it find us together again, drapes drawn
Open, light traced where it dries our tears?


Tu Fu

--Did You Know: Tu Fu, 712–770) Du Fu (Tu Fu) was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. Along with Li Bai (Li Bo), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and his last 15 years were a time of almost constant unrest. Although initially he was little known to other writers, his works came to be hugely influential in both Chinese and Japanese literary culture. Of his poetic writing, nearly fifteen hundred poems have been preserved over the ages. He has been called the "Poet-Historian" and the "Poet-Sage" by Chinese critics, while the range of his work has allowed him to be introduced to Western readers as "the Chinese Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Wordsworth, Béranger, Hugo or Baudelaire". Read more at: Du Fu

--Word of the Day: hiemal \HAHY-uh-muhl\, adjective:
Of or pertaining to winter; wintry.
Example:
Since snow and frost lasted from October well into April, no wonder the mean of my school memories is definitely hiemal.
-- Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

--Quote of the Day: The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree
is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
- Burton Hills

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December 27, 2011

From Sunset to Star Rise

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--Description: 19th C, Rossetti C., Nature, Seasons--




Go from me, summer friends, and tarry not:
I am no summer friend, but wintry cold,
A silly sheep benighted from the fold,
A sluggard with a thorn-choked garden plot.
Take counsel, sever from my lot your lot,
Dwell in your pleasant places, hoard your gold;
Lest you with me should shiver on the wold,
Athirst and hungering on a barren spot.
For I have hedged me with a thorny hedge,
I live alone, I look to die alone:
Yet sometimes, when a wind sighs through the sedge,
Ghosts of my buried years, and friends come back,
My heart goes sighing after swallows flown
On sometime summer's unreturning track.


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

--Word of the Day: gangrel \GANG-gruhl\, noun:
1. A lanky, loose-jointed person.
2. A wandering beggar; vagabond; vagrant.
Example:
Patrick had a likeness to his father, but was still just a gangrel of a boy with long arms and a slouching posture.
-- David Farland, Worlds of the Golden Queen

--Quote of the Day: Sometimes you get the results you wanted,
sometimes you don't.
What matters is that you did your best.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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December 21, 2011

Ceremonies for Christmas

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--Description: 17th C, Herrick R., Christmas, Holidays, Seasons--


Come, bring with a noise,
My merry, merry boys,
The Christmas log to the firing,
While my good dame, she
Bids ye all be free,
And drink to your heart’s desiring.

With the last year’s brand
Light the new block, and
For good success in his spending,
On your psalteries play,
That sweet luck may
Come while the log is a-teending.

Drink now the strong beer,
Cut the white loaf here,
The while the meat is a-shredding;
For the rare mince-pie,
And the plums stand by,
To fill the paste that’s a kneading.

Robert Herrick

--Did You Know: (baptized 24 August 1591 – buried 15 October 1674) Herrick was a 17th century English poet. Born in Cheapside, London, he was the seventh child and fourth son of Nicholas Herrick, a prosperous goldsmith, who fell out of a window when Robert was a year old (whether this was suicide remains unclear). The tradition that Herrick received his education at Westminster is groundless. It is more likely that (like his uncle's children) he attended The Merchant Taylors' School. In 1607 he became apprenticed to his uncle, Sir William Herrick, who was a goldsmith and jeweler to the king. The apprenticeship ended after only six years when Herrick, at age twenty-two, matriculated at St John's College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1617. Robert Herrick became a member of the Sons of Ben, a group centered upon an admiration for the works of Ben Jonson. Herrick took holy orders in 1623, and became vicar of Dean Prior in Devonshire, but lost his position because of his Royalist bent. Read more at: Robert Herrick

--Word of the Day: ratiocination \rash-ee-ah-suh-NAY-shun; rash-ee-oh-\, noun:
The process of logical reasoning.
Example:
For all their vaunted powers of ratiocination, grand masters of chess tend to be a skittery lot.
-"People", Time, October 26, 1987

--Quote of the Day: Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
-Washington Irving

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December 14, 2011

Confined Love

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--Description: 17th C, Donne J., Love--

Some man unworthy to be possessor
Of old or new love, himself being false or weak,
Thought his pain and shame would be lesser
If on womankind he might his anger wreak,
And thence a law did grow,
One might but one man know;
But are other creatures so?

Are Sun, Moon, or Stars by law forbidden
To smile where they list, or lend away their light?
Are birds divorced, or are they chidden
If they leave their mate, or lie abroad a-night?
Beasts do no jointures lose
Though they new lovers choose,
But we are made worse than those.

Who e'er rigged fair ship to lie in harbours
And not to seek new lands, or not to deal withal?
Or built fair houses, set trees, and arbors,
Only to lock up, or else to let them fall?
Good is not good unless
A thousand it possess,
But dost waste with greediness.

John Donne

--Did You Know: Donne was an English Jacobean poet, preacher and a major representative of the metaphysical poets of the period. His works are notable for their realistic and sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, satires and sermons. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor, especially as compared to those of his contemporaries. Read more at: John Donne

--Word of the Day: eidetic \ahy-DET-ik\, adjective:
1. Of, pertaining to, or constituting visual imagery vividly experienced and readily reproducible with great accuracy and in great detail.
2. Marked by or involving extraordinarily accurate and exacting recall especially of visual images.
Example:
I've been writing about the future of e-books for many years now, and I bought the Amazon Kindle when it first arrived, and I sent it back as the latency when going from page to page was awful for me since I have a pseudo-eidetic memory, which basically means every latent image gets burned into my brain and sticks there and I see it in my mind and that conflicts with visualizing a faraway place in the story I'm reading.
-Christopher Simmons, "Waking up to the iPad Wi-Fi+3G – Part One", Publishers Newswire.

--Quote of the Day: Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so.
-Ray Stannard Baker [David Grayson]

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December 12, 2011

The Betrothed

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--Description: 20th C, Kipling R., Humor, Love, Marriage--
OPEN the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

We quarreled about Havanas – we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I know she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

Open the old cigar-box – let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapor, musing on Maggie's face.

Maggie is pretty to look at – Maggie's a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

There's peace in a Laranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay,
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away –

Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown –
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty – gray and dour and old –
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

And the light of the Days that have Been, the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar –

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket –
With never a new one to light tho' its charred and black to the socket.

Open the old cigar-box – let me consider a while –
Here is a mild Manila – there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion – bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties – fifty tied in a string?

Counsellors cunning and silent – comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride.

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close.

This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee's passion – to do their duty and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty, will send me my brides again.

I will take no heed for their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love, and the great god Nick o' Teen.

And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been priest of Partagas a matter of seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey, or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

Open the old cigar-box – let me consider anew –
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.

Light me another Cuba; I hold to my first-sworn vows,
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for spouse!

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. Read more at: Rudyard Kipling

--Poetry Terminology: Well Versed -
Somebody proficient in the rules of prosody.

--Word of the Day: regnant \REG-nuhnt\, adjective:
1. Prevalent; widespread.
2. Reigning; ruling (usually used following the noun it modifies): a queen regnant.
3. Exercising authority, rule, or influence.
Example:
The mere fact that it was the regnant authority in the State of Louisiana at that time does not give validity or legality to its acts or its officers.
-Isaac Grant Thompson, Irving Browne, The American Reports (Volume 20);

--Quote of the Day: "To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I've done it a thousand times."
~Mark Twain, attributed

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December 9, 2011

Mistletoe

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--Description: 20th C, de la Mare W ., Contentment, Holidays-- 

 
Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen—and kissed me there.



Walter de la Mare
--Did You Know: (25 April 1873 – 22 June 1956) Walter de la Mare was an English poet, short story writer and novelist, probably best remembered for his works for children and the poem "The Listeners". He was born in Kent (at 83 Maryon Road, Charlton,[2] now part of the London Borough of Greenwich), descended from a family of French Huguenots, and was educated at St Paul's Cathedral School. His first book, Songs of Childhood, was published under the name Walter Ramal. He worked in the statistics department of the London office of Standard Oil for eighteen years while struggling to bring up a family, but nevertheless found enough time to write, and, in 1908, through the efforts of Sir Henry Newbolt he received a Civil List pension which enabled him to concentrate on writing. De la Mare also wrote some subtle psychological horror stories; "Seaton's Aunt" and "Out of the Deep" are noteworthy examples. His 1921 novel, Memoirs of a Midget, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. Read more at: Walter de la Mare

--Word of the Day: dipsomania \dip-suh-MEY-nee-uh\, noun:
An irresistible, typically periodic craving for alcoholic drink.
Example:
During his last years he'd become a regular drinking companion of Roosevelt's younger brother, Elliot, whose life was also ended by dipsomania some years later.
-- Caleb Carr, The Alienist

--Quote of the Day: A generous heart, kind speech,
and a life of service and compassion
are the things which renew humanity.
- The Buddha

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December 3, 2011

Now Thrice Welcome Christmas

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Now thrice welcome, Christmas,
Which brings us good cheer,
Mince pies and plum porridge,
good ale and strong beer;
With pig, goose and capon,
The best that may be,
So well doth the weather
And our stomachs agree.


Observe how the chimneys
Do smoke all about:
The cooks are providing
For dinner, no doubt;
But those on whose tables
No victuals appear -
Oh may they keep Lent
All the rest of the year!


With holly and ivy
So green and so gay,
We deck up our houses
As fresh as the day,
With bay and rosemary
And laurels complete,
And everyone now
Is a king in conceit.


Anon

--Word of the Day: gammon \GAM-uhn\, verb:
1. To deceive.
noun:
1. In backgammon, a victory in which the winner throws off all his or her pieces before the opponent throws off any.
verb:
1. To win a gammon (in the game of backgammon) over.
noun:
1. A smoked or cured ham.
2. Deceitful nonsense.
Example:
"Come," said Perrot to Luned, stopping short; "we will gammon him with a silver bit or so."
-- Ernest Rhys, The whistling maid: A romance


--Quote of the Day: Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.
- William Shakespeare

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December 2, 2011

Let Love Go, If Go She Will

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--Description: 19th C, Stevenson R.L., Love, Passion--

Let love go, if go she will.
Seek not, O fool, her wanton flight to stay.
Of all she gives and takes away
The best remains behind her still.

The best remains behind; in vain
Joy she may give and take again,
Joy she may take and leave us pain,
If yet she leave behind
The constant mind
To meet all fortunes nobly, to endure
All things with a good heart, and still be pure,
Still to be foremost in the foremost cause,
And still be worthy of the love that was.
Love coming is omnipotent indeed,
But not Love going. Let her go. The seed
Springs in the favouring Summer air, and grows,
And waxes strong; and when the Summer goes,
Remains, a perfect tree.

Joy she may give and take again,
Joy she may take and leave us pain.
O Love, and what care we?
For one thing thou hast given, O Love, one thing
Is ours that nothing can remove;
And as the King discrowned is still a King,
The unhappy lover still preserves his love.


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, Rudyard Kipling, Marcel Schwob, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton, who said of him that he "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins". An only child, strange-looking and eccentric, Stevenson found it hard to fit in when he was sent to a nearby school at six, a pattern repeated at eleven, when he went on to the Edinburgh Academy; but he mixed well in lively games with his cousins in summer holidays at the Colinton manse. In any case, his frequent illnesses often kept him away from his first school, and he was taught for long stretches by private tutors. He was a late reader, first learning at seven or eight; but even before this he dictated stories to his mother and nurse. Throughout his childhood he was compulsively writing stories. His father was proud of this interest: he had himself written stories in his spare time until his own father found them and told him to "give up such nonsense and mind your business".

--Word of the Day: interlocutor \in-ter-LOK-yuh-ter\, noun:
1. Someone who takes part in a conversation, often formally or officially.
2. The performer in a minstrel show who is placed midway between the end men and engages in banter with them.
Example:
In the course of an hour, Mukasey cracked jokes, asked an interlocutor not to address him with the honorary title "General" and continued to field questions even after his media director moved to get up from the table.
-- Carrie Johnson, "Highest Lawman Prepares to Meet Highest Court", Washington Post, March 22, 2008

--Quote of the Day: "An inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather."
-Washington Irving

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