Just another Easter thought

This Luci Shaw poem was read out in the Tenebrae service I attended on Good Friday.

***

P1000367

Judas, Peter

because we are all
betrayers, taking
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out and hang ourselves

but if we find grace
to cry and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
clearly enough
to break our hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me

— Luci Shaw

***

A Happy Easter to all!

Reading The Season: Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle

It’s that time of the year when a quiet respite is probably the most precious gift. For the past four years since I started blogging, amidst the cacophony of December festivities, I would pick something to read that anchors me to the spiritual meaning of the occasion.  I call these attempts “Reading The Season”. This year, I took down from the shelf a long-time TBR, Walking On Water: Reflection On Faith And Art by Madeleine L’Engle.

After reading it, I went straight to her Newbery Award novel A Wrinkle In Time (another long time TBR for me). Amazed at its wisdom and depth, once I finished it I went back to reread Walking On Water, appreciated all the more L’Engle’s intricate weaving of intellect and spiritual insights.

At the very beginning of the book, these words jumped right out at me:

I sit on my favourite rock, looking over the brook, to take time away from busyness, time to be. I’ve long since stopped feeling guilty about taking being time; it’s something we all need for our spiritual health, and often we don’t take enough of it.

And just a few pages after that, I found this gem:

Leonard Bernstein tells me … for him music is cosmos in chaos. That has the ring of truth in my ears and sparks my creative imagination. And it is true not only of music; all art is cosmos, cosmos found within chaos.

Bernstein might have echoed a Jungian concept of the power of memory and the subconscious self, but there’s a spiritual reality in the thought.

It all began with the calling forth of light from darkness, splendor from void, life from nothingness, the Creation. Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life comes to mind… the cosmic light and galaxy clouds, the molten lava that spews out of the earth, the roaring breakers of the ocean deep, and my heart resounds: ‘day to day pours forth speech, night to night declares knowledge.’

But what’s most awesome is not just the forming of the cosmos, but the Creator incarnated, the infinite confined, the invincible made vulnerable in order to live the hurts, to share the pains. L’Engle writes:

To be alive is to be vulnerable. To be born is to start the journey towards death… We might paraphrase Descartes to read, ‘I hurt; therefore I am.’

The Creator demonstrated that behind the majesty, there’s the power of love, that driving force behind the willingness to stoop, to be made vulnerable, to be stripped naked, be born a babe. Utterly unfathomable. At one point in human history,  Cosmos entered and lived among Chaos.

And artists, those who write, who paint, who sing, who dance, who act… they are birth-givers. “An act of art is an incarnational activity,” L’Engle writes. Artists partake in the continuation of creation, bringing wholeness to a fragmented world, hope in the slough of despair.

As well, true artists live the vulnerability as the One who first took that cosmic plunge, taking the risk of birth because of love.

Here, take a 3:44 minute respite to enjoy some Seasonal reflections. Click on the video to listen to the music as you read Madeleine L’Engle’s poem:

The Risk of Birth 

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a nova lighting the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour & truth were trampled by scorn–
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by greed & pride the sky is torn–
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Madeleine L’Engle

***

Walking On Water: Reflections On Faith And Art by Madeleine L’Engle, Commemorative Edition, published by Shaw, 1998, 227 pages.

CLICK HERE to Reading the Season 2012: Surprised by Joy

‘Reading The Season’ posts in previous years:

Reading The Season: C. S. Lewis

Reading The Season: Fleming Rutledge

Reading The Season: Madeleine L’Engle’s The Irrational Season

Reading The Season: Luci Shaw

The Tranquil Side of Vancouver

I’m not a hockey fan. I go to Vancouver mainly for the tranquility of forests, gardens and greenery. There are places where one can be utterly alone, in quiet solitude. Especially now after the ugly Stanley Cup riot, I must show you this side of Vancouver, the quiet gardens and forests that offer one a haven far from the madding crowd.

The flora on the UBC campus… the budding irises, hanging wisteria, exploding rhododendrons, and the unknown flowers and foliage (I’d appreciate your identifying them for me below the rhododendron)… and the sequestered Nitobe Japanese Garden:

  

The Nitobe Japanese Garden:

.

***

Art of gardening

nature reshaped, redesigned

 prune the riotous heart

***

All photos and writing by Arti of Ripple Effects, June, 2011. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Of Words and Spring

April is the month of empty dreams
Half the days gone
waiting for words and spring
still frozen ground
and on the screen
a frigid page as white as snow.

Brown could be the color of hope
After the white
for all I know
green is too much to wish for
I’m contented to see a patch
of dry and withered brown.

The sun is a perpetual sign
that there’s still hope
But it’s no herald of the seasons
for its presence comforts all year long
warming my blank and barren state
as I await for words and spring.

But Easter is an apt reminder
that The Word had come
spoken clear to half-frozen ears
His body hung on a lifeless tree
Blood and water flowed
onto parched and dusty earth

So what if no words come to me
That dreaded writer’s block
reigning the winter of sterility
numbing senses,
snatching thoughts,
seizing any sign of spring.

It’s not about a post or a blog,
Or even buds and melting snow.
The Word had come
lived and loved among us,
broken, bled, died and rose,
melting frozen hearts to greet
a new Spring and eternal growth.

Poem and Photos by Arti of Ripple Effects, April 2011. All Rights Reserved.


Reading the Season: Luci Shaw

Every year around this time, I try to stay afloat in the sea of chaos and consumerism.  My method of survival has been to seek a quiet haven where I can dwell upon the meaning of the Season.  I entitled my annual December post on this theme ‘Reading the Season’.

This year, watching the daring flash mob singing of Hallelujah Chorus in a shopping mall food court has jump started my quest for a spiritual respite.  In a time where the legitimate word is Jollity over Jesus, where Christ has been declared politically incorrect at Christmas, and where God is denounced together with Bigfoot and the tooth fairy in ads on buses, I want to mull on some subversive counter-reflections.

This time, I’ve steered my search towards poetry and found this collection edited by Luci Shaw.  It is the 1984 Regent College Publication of  A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation. (Click on link to read excerpts from Google Books.)


Luci Shaw has partnered with Madeleine L’Engle on her literary journey, including being her publisher, co-author, fellow poet and close writer-friend.  For years, I have enjoyed Luci Shaw’s poetry and her other works, and one time, had sat in her workshop learning the art and craft of journal writing.

A Widening Light is a collection of poetry by some of twentieth century prominent Christian writers and scholars, including C. S. Lewis, Eugene Peterson, Mark Noll, as well as lesser known but just as inspiring contributors.  My favourite in the collection are those from Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw.

As a meager attempt to stoke the flame of faith and keep the Reason in the Season,  I’d like to share some excerpts from this collection here.

Made flesh
After the bright beam of hot annunciation
Fused heaven with dark earth
His searing sharply-focused light
Went out for a while
Eclipsed in amniotic gloom:
His cool immensity of splendor
His universal grace
Small-folded in a warm dim
Female space—
The Word stern-sentenced to be nine months dumb—
Infinity walled in a womb
Until the next enormity—the Mighty,
After submission to a woman’s pains
Helpless on a barn-bare floor
First-tasting bitter earth.

Now, I in him surrender
To the crush and cry of birth.
Because eternity
Was closeted in time
He is my open door
To forever.
From his imprisonment my freedoms grow,
Find wings.
Part of his body, I transcend this flesh.
From his sweet silence my mouth sings.
Out of his dark I glow.
My life, as his,
Slips through death’s mesh,
Time’s bars,
Joins hands with heaven,
Speaks with stars.

Luci Shaw


Some Christmas stars
Blazes the star behind the hill.
Snow stars glint from the wooden sill.
A spider spins her silver still

within Your darkened stable shed:
in asterisks her webs are spread
to ornament your manger bed.

Where does a spider find the skill
to sew a star?  Invisible,
obedient, she works Your will

with her swift silences of thread.
I weave star-poems in my head;
the spider, wordless, spins instead.

Luci Shaw



After annunciation

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d been no room for the child.

Madeleine L’Engle

.

.

The risk of birth

This is no time for a child to be born.
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a nova lighting the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born.
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn—
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by greed and pride the sky is torn—
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Madeleine L’Engle





Click to read my other ‘Reading The Season’ posts:

2015: The Book of Ruth

2014: Lila by Marilynne Robinson

2013: Poetry by Madeliene L’Engle

2012: C. S. Lewis Surprised by Joy 

2011: Madeleine L’Engle: Walking on Water

C. S. Lewis: A Grief Observed

Fleming Rutledge: The Bible and The New York Times

Madeleine L’Engle: The Irrational Season

Photos:  All photos in this post except “Water drops on spider web” are taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, All Rights Reserved.

‘Water drops on spider web’ is in the public domain, please refer to Wikimedia Commons for further  details.  CLICK HERE to go there.

A Late Autumn Walk

What’s more pleasurable

than a late Autumn walk in the wild

Chopin as companion, ballade cinematic

Tonal colors streamed through earbuds

Sight and sound in perfect harmony

 

.

Stripped of adorning leaves,

the birches displayed their true essence.

Backbones strong against the wind,

Branches lifted to reach the remaining sun

Stoic elegance intertwined Romanze Larghetto

 

.

.

And then we met,

A surprise encounter, a momentary start,

Among the low bushes a deer, antlers majestic,

Eyes darted up from his quiet meal,

Weighing my next move.

 

I walked past without stopping.

It’s not polite to stare,

especially when someone’s eating.

His gaze held me a moment, then let me pass.

I sensed a mutual respect, nature shared.

 

And so we parted, unperturbed,

after just a split second of cautious exchange,

leaving each other feeding freely,

foliage in his mouth,

and Chopin in my ears.

 

***

 

This is what I was listening to… Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1, Second Movement, Romanze Larghetto.

Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age!

Thanks to Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge 4, I have the chance to explore the intricate world of Kenzaburo Oe (pronounced ‘oh-ay’, 大江 健三郎 ), Japan’s second Nobel Laureate for Literature (1994), after Yasunari Kawabata (川端 康成) received the Prize in 1968.

Like his earlier work A Personal Matter*, Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age! is an autobiographical novel dealing with the author’s experiences of raising a handicapped child.  A Personal Matter was written when Oe was young, describing an ordeal still raw from the initial shock of the birth of his brain-damaged child. Rouse Up was published in 1983, almost twenty years after A Personal Matter.

Rouse Up chronicles a more mature protagonist, the writer K, who has gone past the stage of denial and escape, to come to terms with the reality of fathering a handicapped child. Through the arduous journey, the writer has gained insights and pleasure from his relationship with his son Hikari, whom he nicknamed Eeyore in his novels.

Oe starts off the book with K’s plan to write a dictionary of terms for his now maturing son, to prepare him for his entry into the real, adult world.  This turns out to be a learning task in itself.  How do you explain to a brain-damaged person what the word ‘foot’ means?  Or ‘river’, ‘life’, or ‘death’?  He needs to deconstruct the realities of his everyday life before he can grasp the essence and meaning of his encounters.

It’s interesting to see how K get through to his son in defining ‘foot’. Eeyore understands it in relation to ‘gout’ from which his father once suffered. After the healing of the pain and swelling of the gout, it has turned into ‘a nice foot’.  So, the understanding of ‘foot’ comes in light of the pain it had experienced. K soon realizes that the definitions are more for himself as for Eeyore.

The author’s long journey of acceptance and self-discovery owes mostly to his love for the works of William Blake.  Rouse Up is a smorgasbord of selections if you are a Blake scholar. So admittedly, I have had a hard time ploughing through Oe’s use of parallels from Blake’s poetic and artistic symbolisms to reflect on his own predicament.  In certain parts, Oe’s writing is just as esoteric as Blake’s mythical depictions.  However, one thing is clear.  My enjoyment of this novel is no less, and the poignancy of a father-son relationship no weaker as I find my way through the Blake maze.  The book requires and deserves multiple reading.

Despite its complexity and denseness, the essence filters through Oe’s meticulous descriptions.  Further, John Nathan’s translation navigates effectively through Oe’s nuanced and sensitive narratives.  I’m just curious as to what the original Japanese version looks like since there are numerous references and quotes from Blake.  Are they in English or in Japanese translation?

Two lines from The Four Zoas seem to have outlined K’s personal journey:

“That Man should Labour & sorrow & learn & forget, & return
To the dark valley whence he came to begin his labours anew.”

It’s a perpetual striving, not unlike Sisyphus’s effort, and yet still leads from one path to the next, prompting a renewed acceptance and offering novel discoveries on the way.

Aside from the esoteric passages of Blake’s visions, some very simple lines shine through, and they are the ones that are most moving for me:

… healing the rift with my son, I became aware of his grief through the agency of a Blake poem, “On Another’s Sorrow,” which includes this stanza:

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill’d.

One of the “Songs of Innocence,” the poem concludes with the following verse:

O! he gives to us his joy,
That our grief he may destroy
Till our grief is fled & gone
He doth sit by us and moan.

In his attempt to know more about Eeyore, K explores the power of dreams and the imagination. Using Blake’s mythological poetry and artwork, he tries to understand Eeyore’s internal world. Both he and his wife know Eeyore does not dream, but that does not preclude he does not have imagination.

Subscribing to Blake’s conviction that: “The Imagination is not a State:  It is the Human Existence itself.”, K strives in earnest to cultivate Eeyore’s imagination. Eeyore has an almost instinctive response to bird calls, distinguishing them even before he adopts human language.  As he grows older, he is drawn towards the music of Bach and Mozart.  His imagination soon finds a channel of expression in composing, an amazing accomplishment nurtured by a highly supportive and loving family.  In real life, Oe’s son Hikari is a composer.

Adopting Blake’s vision, K sees a future for father and son together in a state of grace, from Blake’s Jerusalem:

“Jesus replied Fear not Albion unless I die thou canst not live
But if I die I shall arise again & thou with me
This is friendship & Brotherhood without it Man is Not

So Jesus spoke! The Covering Cherub coming on in darkness
Overshadowed them & Jesus and Thus do Men in Eternity
One for another to put off by forgiveness, every sin.”

From coming to terms with the tragic reality of fathering a brain-damaged child, to ultimately, almost symbiotically, sharing his life with his son, is a process not short of a personal epiphany.  At the end of the novel, Eyeore has grown to be a twenty-year-old man. While still having a limited mental capacity, Eeyore has his way of exuding his own humor, love and care for those around him.  The story is a poignant tapestry weaving real-life and the visionary, through which an imagined world of reality is beautifully conceived.

As for the source of the book title, it comes as a moving episode at the end of the book.  I should keep that for you to discover.  A heart-warming finish to a poignant chronicle.

John Nathan’s Afterword is an eloquent tribute to the father, son, and the nurturing family. It is also a helpful annotation of the novel.

Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age! by Kenzaburo Oe, translated by John Nathan, published by Grove Press, NY, 2002.  259 pages.

***

* A touching review of A Personal Matter has been posted recently by Claire at Kiss A Cloud.  Also, Mel U’s A Reading Life has posted extensively on Oe and other Japanese writers.  Of course, there’s Bellezza at Dolce Bellezza, who has hosted Japanese Literature Challenge all these years, now in its fourth term.  I thank them all for their inspiration.

Greening of a Calgary Street

April 23

.

May 23

.

June 23

.

Waiting

He could have said
Let there be life
As in the beginning
But He made me wait.
For three months
I went back to the same spot
and watched
slowly
green bursting out from bare branches
fighting storms and snow
into full bloom.

.

I had waited before
Nine years, nine months
He could have said
Let there be…
But He had made me wait
and watch
slowly
like time-lapse photography
the gestation of a miracle.
He could have just said,
But He made me wait
and watch.

***

Pictures and poem by Arti of Ripple Effects, June 2010.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The Power of Aloneness

.

Before the resurrection was the death.
Before the death, the long path of suffering.
Before the suffering, the lonely struggle,
Agonizing solitude.

The Garden of Gethsemane,
Epitome of aloneness.
Even the closest would fall asleep
But one kept watch, awake for all.

Sweat dropped like blood
A heart pierced before nails were hammered in.
The soul cried out no, not this cup
But oh, not my will.

Not fear of sinews tearing from the joints
But the searing pain of separation
A Father who would leave totally alone
the tainted Son of Sin.

A prostrating prayer, a yielding spirit
The power of aloneness thus transformed.
As He got up from that rock, He had risen
Ready to accept the kiss of death.

I would never know the nailing pain
nor the bitter taste of that dreadful cup
But let me feel the power of solitary rest
To stay awake and rise and conquer death.

.

***

Poem by Arti of Ripple Effects
On the Eve of Good Friday, 2010.

Photos taken by Arti in Israel, 2007.
Top: Via Dolorosa, Bottom: A Garden in Jerusalem

All Rights Reserved.

Bright Star (2009)

Bright Star 1

Was it a vision, or a waking dream?

Fled is that music:– Do I wake or sleep?

— John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale (1819)

1819 was the most prolific year of the English Romantic poet John Keats.  Many of his well-known works were created then, two years before his untimely death from tuberculosis at age 25.  His muse was Fanny Brawne, his 18 year-old neighbor, a fresh and self-assured young fashion designer whom he met a year earlier. Untrained in poesy or prose, Fanny Brawne had nothing in common with the brooding poet, but Fate, cruel or kind, instilled in them a burning passion for each other.

Unable to maintain a living financially, Keats was honorable to restrain his love for Fanny, knowing marriage would never be realized.  Yet Fanny’s incessant devotion for him soon won him over.   In a short time, she devoured all of Keats’ poetry, as well as other literary works through the ages.  Their short-lived romance culminated in an engagement.  But they were never married.  Stricken by tuberculosis,  Keats left for Italy in 1820 to seek better climate for his ailing health, knowing that would be their last farewell.

When I have fears that I may cease to be

Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain…

Nominated for a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year, Jane Campion’s Bright Star is a beautiful tapestry weaving together the visual and the word.  Based partly on Sir Andrew Motion’s biography on Keats, the film depicts the bittersweet romance between the poet and his muse, tragically short-lived yet ever burning bright.

Bright Star 3

Campion has created on screen the dazzling visuals of the master painters.  There are numerous Vermeer moments in the interior shots, all done by the window with natural light seeping in as Fanny sews, makes her laces, reads love letters.  Outdoor scenes are a natural cinemascape reminiscence of impressionist vision.  Like the paintings of Monet and Seurat, hazy and dreamlike, they effectively convey the illusive union the young lovers achingly long for but is teasingly placed out of their reach.

Although never consummated, their passion for each other is no less ablaze.  The film is a clear statement that love is not synonymous with nudity and sex on screen.  Campion has depicted their passionate ardor with sensitivity and restraints.  There are moments of utter quietness, for love needs no language.  There are scenes adorned with melodious vocals and instrumentals, augmenting the yearning within.  Campion is a master of cinematic effects.

The talented Ben Whishaw (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, 2006) is aptly cast as Keats.  Fanny Brawne is played by Abbie Cornish (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, 2007).  Both are award-winning rising stars in their homeland of England and Australia.  Bright Star could well be their breakout work in North America.

Bright Star 2

Paul Schneider (Lars and the Real Girl, 2007) is convincing as Keats’ friend Charles Brown, and what looks like Fanny’s love rival.  A stark contrast in character with the poet, Brown offers much needed tension and conflicts. Fanny’s adorable little sister Toots (Edie Martin) gets some of the best lines. Her brother and chaperone Samuel is played by Thomas Sangster.  But why Thomas Sangster?  The talented young actor who has held his own in such films as Love Actually (2003), Nanny McPhee (2005), and The Last Legion (2007) playing against such calibre actors as Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth and Emma Thompson, is put in the background only, with less than half a dozen speaking lines.  There’s definitely a miscast here. (Watch for his role as Paul McCartney in the upcoming John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy.)

While the film is a beautiful testament of a star-crossed romance, compared to Campion’s previous works, I find it lacks the depth and complexity of The Piano (1993, Palme d’Or) and the intensity and riveting effect of The Portrait of a Lady (1996).  I have no problem with the slow pacing of Bright Star, but I do wish to see more dramatic conflicts and deeper exploration of character.  A thing of beauty should indeed bring us joy, or deep emotion, but for some reasons the visual beauty has not come across to me as affectively and engagingly as they are intended.

Nevertheless, as the only woman director to have won the Palme d’Or in the 62 years history of the Cannes Film Festival, and one of three women ever nominated for an Oscar in directing, Campion has much to offer.  I’m excited to see that it looks like the trajectory of Bright Star is one that shoots for the Academy Awards comes next March.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

(Photo Sources: canada.com, ctv.ca)

***

The Poets’ Corner

poets-corner-book-cover

Just got this from the library, and it’s a gem.  The Poets’ Corner is subtitled The One-And-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family, compiled by John Lithgow.  Yes, that’s John Lithgow of the ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’.  From Matthew Arnold to W. B. Yeats, Geoffrey Chaucer to Allen Ginsberg, it’s more like a high school curriculum than your light family reading.  However, the collection includes many favorite selections, ideal to share as literary heirloom.

Lithgow presents fifty poets whose work he had grown up with.  He has written a two-page introduction for each of them, a personal response to a piece of literary art.  In the introduction of the book, he explains how it all started.  Lithgow was invited to host a benefit for a non-profit organization.  The fund raiser was for the fostering of creative approaches to educating autistic children.  He was given a few poems to read out that night, poignant poetry that speaks to the heart of parents with autistic children.  That night, Lithgow saw the power of poems read out, the voice and the words striking a shared chord with deep resonance. Thus planted the seed for this book.

The central theme here is not autism, but the selections here speak to a general and wider audience, humanity at large.  The bonus is a CD featuring readings from Lithgow And Friends.  I believe that poetry read out loud offers a heightened enjoyment than just from silent reading.  I had heard recordings of Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams  reading their own work, leaving indelible resonance that I didn’t get from reading off the page.

Here in this CD, what we have are  professional performers, experienced and well-trained in the art of speech, dramatically performing these selections. And Lithgow’s ‘Friends’ include: Eileen Atkins, Kathy Bates, Glenn Close, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Lynn Redgrave, Susan Sarandon, Gary Sinise, and Sam Waterston… what a cast.

Here are  some of my favorites, too bad I can’t embed the sound track.  But do check it out from your local library, or even get a copy of your own.  It’s a keeper.

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks

(Read by Morgan Freeman)

The Pool Players.

Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We

Left school. We

Lurk late. We

Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We

Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We

Die soon.

***

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth

(Read by Helen Mirren)

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

*

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

*

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

*

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

***

The Red Wheelbarrow

by William Carlos Williams

(Read by Jodie Foster)

so much depends

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens.

***

No Doctors Today, Thank You by Ogden Nash

(Read by John Lithgow… I LOL listening to him)

They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful,

well, today I feel euphorian,

Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetitite of a Victorian.

Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,

Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle any swashes?

This is my euphorian day,

I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.

I will tame me a caribou

And bedeck it with marabou.

I will pen me my memoirs.

Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!

I wasn’t much of a hand for the boudoirs,

I was generally to be found where the food was.

Does anybody want any flotsam?

I’ve gotsam.

Does anybody want any jetsam?

I can getsam.

I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,

I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.

I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because

I am wearing moccasins,

And I practically know the difference between serums and antitoccasins.

Kind people, don’t think me purse-proud, don’t set me down as vainglorious,

I’m just a little euphorious.

**

Lithgow and friends have convinced me all the more that poetry is written to be heard.

Poets’ Corner:  The One-And-Only Poetry Book For The Whole Family, compiled by John Lithgow, Grand Central Publishing, 2007,  280 pages.

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.  I’m glad we still celebrate poetry in this day of ephemeral twittering.  W. H. Auden once described poetry as “memorable speech”.  As millions upon millions join in on-line chats, exchanging the most trivial of their everyday life unreservedly, and even addictively all day long, how we need poetry all the more, to create lines that strive for some memorable quality worthy of keeping.

The late Canadian communication guru Marshall McLuhan was right, the medium is the message.   And such is the message of our time.  Mind you, I’m no Luddite, my iPhone is evidence.  I’ve gone through this before, so I’m not going to dwell on it here again.  It’s just that the rash and temporal nature of our medium, and mode, for that matter,  make me long for quality and permanence.

After posting an excerpt of  T.S. Eliot’s poetry in my last entry, I just didn’t have enough.  I re-read and explored more of his work and was amazed at how prophetic his vision was.  To celebrate National Poetry Month, here’s Arti’s selections of  lines from the work of T.S. Eliot, just for our post-modern, Facebook and Twitter generation.

nighthawk-by-edward-hopper

Twit twit twit

Jug jug “>jug jug jug jug jug

So rudely forc’d.

— The Waste Land (1922)



Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

— Ash Wednesday (1930)


There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

….

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all: —
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

….

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

— The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915)



The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of The Word.

All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

— Choruses from The Rock (1934)


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Visual: Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE EDWARD HOPPER.