Thursday, January 20, 2011

♪I've got my love to keep me warm♫


Well, I messed up. I know I was supposed to post once a week. Well, last week, I went to post, and the internet went out. Then, I went out of town for a few days, and here it is almost to the end of this week with only one post! *sigh* I will get motivated sometime, I promise.

I'm so glad I have Billie Holiday keeping me company and reminding me that love does keep one warm. We need all the help we can get here in Wisconsin with temperatures supposed to sit at -15○ F tomorrow. BRRR! Now that's what I call chilly! (P.S. That was supposed to be a degree symbol, but I don't know how to make one.)

I was reading through  Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford book the other day, when I came across a charming old folk song. It's known simply as "Lord Lovel". I do not know from whence it originated, but I found it quite charming. Unfortunately, this makes writing history about the author rather difficult. It was probably an oral tradition for so long that even those who knew it were unsure of its true origins. It is sad to think that we have no or few oral traditions left in our culture. I would love to snuggle in front of the fire and listen to an elder hand down the stories and histories his/her elders had given him/her. Well, I can cry for our lost traditions elsewhere. So, without further ado, Lord Lovel.

Lord Lovel

Lord Lovel he stood at his castle gate,
A-combing his milk-white steed;
When along came Lady Nancy Bell,
A-wishing her lover good speed,
A-wishing her lover good speed.

"O where are you going, Lord Lovel?" she said,
"O where are you going?" said she;
"I'm going, my dear Nancy Bell,
Strange countries for to see."

"O when will you be back, Lord Lovel?" she said,
"O when will you be back?" said she.
"In  a year or two or three at the least
I'll return to my Lady Nancy."

He hadn't been gone but a year and a day,
Strange countries for to see,
When a languishing thought came into his mind,
Lady Nancy Bell he must see.

He rode and he rode upon his white steed,
Till he came to London Town;
And there he heard St. Varner's bell,
And the people all mourning round.

"Is anybody dead?" Lord Lovel he said,
"Is anybody dead?" said he.
"A lord's daughter's dead," a lady replied,
"And some call her Lady Nancy."

He ordered the grave to be opened forthwith
And the shroud to be folded down;
And there he kissed the clay-cold lips,
Till the tears came trinkling down.

Lady Nancy she died as she might be to-day
Lord Lovel he died to-morrow
And out of her bosom there grew a red rose
And out of Lord Lovel's a briar

They grew and they grew till they reached the church top
And there they couldn't grow any higher
And there they twined in a true lover's knot
Which true lovers always admire.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

♪What a day this has been, what a rare mood I'm in♫

Good times and bad times seem to come in waves around here. If you know the rest of the song (blog title), you will be able to tell what my good times are! However, it seems that only on the wings of sorrow can hope fly. This nagging depression that has been eating me shows no signs of lifting, but I am strangely happy. I have begun reading a book that will hopefully help bring some relief from this darkness, and I ran across a poem that I found rather fitting.

The poem goes alternately by the title "Lend Me Your Hope" or "Borrowed Hope". Under the title "Lend Me Your Hope", it appears as an anonymous author. However, after doing a little research, I found that "Borrowed Hope" was written by a remarkable woman by the name of Eloise Cole. She truly found ways to overcome adversity and conquer with a strong spirit.

Eloise Cole grew up in an adopted home after her birth parents abandoned her. However, her new home was very dysfunctional. In the '70s, she married a widower named Elwood Cole and helped to raise his four teenage children two of whom were very ill with a neuromuscular disease and were quadriplegic. One of the boys then suffered cardiac arrest and died. He was preceded in death by Eloise's father and followed 20 days after by her mother. Eloise worked as a Bereavement Specialist and became nationally renowned for her work in that field. In 2005, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died four months later. She was reported to say that though her body had cancer, her spirit did not.

Borrowed Hope
 
Lend me your hope for awhile.
I seem to have mislaid mine.
Lost and hopeless feelings accompany me daily.
Pain and confusion are my companions.
I know not where to turn.
Looking ahead to the future times
does not bring forth images of renewed hope.
I see mirthless times, pain-filled days,
and more tragedy.
Lend me your hope for awhile,
I seem to have mislaid mine.
Hold my hand and hug me;
listen to all my ramblings.
I need to unleash the pain and let it tumble out.
Recovery seems so far distant;
the road to healing a long and lonely one.
Stand by me; offer me your presence.
Your ears and your love
acknowledge my pain. It is so real and ever present.
I am overwhelmed with sad and conflicting thoughts.
Lend me your hope for awhile,
A time will come when I will heal
and I will lend my renewed hope to others.

A Canadian singer/songwriter named Monica Joy put this poem to music under the title "Lend Me Your Hope". I found it quite compelling so I include the link here:
 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My non-resolution New Year's Resolution

So, I have decided this year, as with all the year's in the past, to not make a New Year's Resolution. However, that being said, I am resolved to write more with this blog. I am thinking... once or twice a week. I will start small since there are many changes coming up in my life like potentially moving to another state. I *should* be able to handle once a week though. I will also be resolved to write more interesting things than I have in the past. I realize I tend to go on a few (dozen) tangents... this will probably not change. I will try to make them more interesting tangents, though. How about that?

That being said, I don't really have any poetry to post today. I am completely unprepared. Not that this is so terribly different than usually, except usually I have an idea of what I want to post about. Okay, so here goes nothing. I searched for new year's poetry and followed link trails until I came upon this "The Darkling Thrush" by Thomas Hardy. It seems slightly more somber than we usually think of the new year dawning, but I find I rather like it.

Thomas Hardy regarded himself as a poet who wrote novels for more mercenary means. However, during his lifetime, he was known most for his novels. As his family did not have the means to send him on to college, Hardy became apprenticed to an architect at the age of 16. It was not until he had published Far from the Madding Crowd  that he realized he could make a living as an author and quit the architectural career. After the publication of his novel Jude the Obscure, he gave up writing novels to focus on poetry. Jude the Obscure created a veritable outrage due to traveling outside the realm of "proper" in Victorian England. He was not quite as instantaneous of  a success as a poet as he was as a novelist. However, he is now considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. He wrote "The Darkling Thrush" on Dec. 30th, 1900.


The Darkling Thrush
Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

♪I'm a LOOOOOSER♫

Alright, I apologize. I realize I have slacked off greatly in my blogging this past month. With the holiday season comes my most depressed time of the year, and I simply do not have the kind of energy to maintain a blog. However, I believe my brief(ish) hiatus is over, and I will begin posting with much more frequency. I sincerely hope that all of your holiday experiences were filled with joy and good food! I must say, my aunt Wei-chi made the most stunning crab cakes I have ever tasted. MMMMMmmmm good!

I realize that I usually have some relation to poetry in the first section of my blog, but I really don't feel that food poetry would be quite appropriate. I also just wrote up an entire blog with poetry from my great-great-great-grandmother. I erased it because I realized you all probably don't care about her. I will try to focus on more relevant things. It's bad enough I subject you to my ramblings let alone the ramblings of an ancestor. I think I would like some feedback. What type of poetry or specific poet or topic would you like to read about? I will try to honor any requests you make (within reason!).

When I was about three years old, I really started getting interested in Abraham Lincoln (don't ask me, I was an odd child). I have carried this obsession throughout life, though I have lost in the recesses of my mind most of the information I used to retain on his life. Naturally, one of my favorite poems of the day was "Oh, Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman because it is about Lincoln.

Walt Whitman was a man of many talents. He was employed in trades from printing, to teaching, to journalism, and, for a brief time, he was clerk for the Department of the Interior. He began his working life at the age of 11 when he was pulled out of school to help support his family. It was when he began work as a printer at age 12 that he began his love affair with written language. He was mostly self-taught. He was a strong abolitionist, and even developed a "free soil" newspaper. He was influential in the lives of the wounded often giving his own salary to pay for gifts and supplies for them.He left Washington D.C. for Camden in order to care for his dying mother and brother.  He suffered a stroke in the mid 1870s and found returning to Washington D.C. impossible. He lived in Camden for the last of his days.

O Captain My Captain

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; 
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won; 
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, 
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: 
    But O heart! heart! heart!        
      O the bleeding drops of red, 
        Where on the deck my Captain lies, 
          Fallen cold and dead. 
  
 
 

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
 
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills; 
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding; 
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; 
    Here Captain! dear father! 
      This arm beneath your head; 
        It is some dream that on the deck, 
          You’ve fallen cold and dead. 
  


My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
 
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; 
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; 
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 
    Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! 
      But I, with mournful tread, 
        Walk the deck my Captain lies, 
          Fallen cold and dead. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

♪Someday, my love, there will be songs to sing♫

Yay! There is finally snow on the ground, so I can post the winter poem I found without feeling guilty. I am rather spastastic (yes, Firefox, that is a word. I just made it up.) today due to waking up at 5 and drinking lots of caffeine and getting into the Christmas spirit. Well, I made Christmas gifts if that counts as the Christmas spirit. I think  we'll say it counts. I even attempted to remember how to play "Carol of the Bells" on the piano. This is astonishing since I hate pretty much all Christmas music. I'm Scrooge in a much younger, smaller package! Actually, my high school choir always sang "Carol of the Bells" in our Christmas concert, so I kind of know the words. Except two years I sang it as a soprano (which I am), and two years I sang it as an alto (which I am most assuredly not). I tend to sing the beginning half of the words from whence I spiral down into "ding dong ding dong", which is the alto part. Congratulations to me for a long pointless story!

Boris Pasternak won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958 for Dr. Zhivago. It was the only novel he ever wrote (that I am aware of. He did write a "novel in verse", but I'm not sure entirely what that entails.), but it was not published in his own homeland until 1988 (which, if I do say so myself, was a very good year). He turned down the Prize, but it was presented posthumously to his son in 1989. I think that's a very ambiguous sentence, and I apologize.  Interestingly enough, he has a planet named after him, the 3508 Pasternak. Though here in the West, we know him best for Dr. Zhivago, he was much more highly influential and well known as a poet. He set the groundwork for much contemporary Russian poetry. He also was a translator in his homeland translating Shakespeare and Goethe as well as many others into Russian. Without further ado and more pointless rambling from yours truly, I present Winter's Night.

Winter's Night


Blizzards were blowing everywhere
Throughout the land.
A candle burned upon the table,
A candle burned.



As midgets in the summer fly
Towards a flame,
The snowflakes from the yard swarmed to
The window pane. 



And, on the glass, bright snowy rings
And arrows formed.
A candle burned upon the table,
A candle burned. 



And on the white illumined ceiling
Shadows were cast,
As arms and legs and destinies
Fatefully crossed. 



Two slippers fell on to the floor
With a light sound,
And waxen tears dripped from the candle
On to a gown. 



No object in the misty whiteness
Could be discerned.
A candle burned upon the table,
A candle burned.



A mild draught coming from the corner
Blew on the candle,
Seduction's heat raised two wings crosswise
As might an angel. 



It snowed and snowed that February
All through the land.
A candle burned upon the table,
A candle burned.


Disclaimer: I do not speak one iota of Russian, so I sincerely hope this translation is good. 
 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Antiquities

Well, today was an adventure of the grandest sort! I went out to eat with one of my dearest friends and her mother, imbibed in so much sweet stuff I almost exploded, got a package in the mail for my birthday, and was given an antique book of Lowell's Poems. All in all, I was pretty well satisfied today. Some days I feel better equipped for coping with life than others. After yesterday's maudlin attitude, I definitely needed to feel upbeat. I think the lack of sleep and the copious amounts of sugar added greatly to the spasticity of my mood (I think I made that word up. Oh well, I definitely think it should be added to my Funk and Wagnalls! Actually, I can't say "my" since I don't technically own one. I would like one someday though. *sends hint out to the cosmos* Maybe next year for my birthday when it doesn't land on a holiday, and people have fewer things on their plates. *sigh*

James Russell Lowell. Consequently, if I had been a boy, my name would have been Russell. Okay, maybe that much sugar was not a good idea. You should see me when I have espresso! Poetry, think poetry!

I honestly knew nothing about James Russell Lowell before today. I am finding out many fascinating odds and ends. For example, he was the godfather of Virginia Woolf. He was good friends with Longfellow and Emerson. He had a rather illustrious political career later in his life serving in both the Spanish and English courts. He was a strong supporter of Lincoln, which definitely bumps him up in my book since Lincoln is my favorite president. He was abolitionist though he was much less involved in that belief later in life. In fact, he oscillated considerably on that belief. His first wife was a strong supporter of the anti-slavery movement and pushed him to be more actively involved. He struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts many times. Three out of his four children died in infancy, and he almost didn't recover. I liked the quote from Walt Whitman in regard to Lowell. He said, "Lowell was not a grower--he was a builder. He built poems: he didn't put in the seed, and water the seed, and send down his sun—letting the rest take care of itself: he measured his poems—kept them within formula." Lowell wrote a goodly amount of sonnets, which is nice for me since I rather enjoy sonnets in general--their structure and ebb and flow. Here is Sonnet XIV.

I would not have this perfect love of ours
Grow from  a single root, a single stem,
Bearing no goodly fruit, but only flowers
That idly hide Life's iron diadem:
It should grow always like that Eastern tree
Whose limbs take root and spread forth constantly;
That love for one, from which there doth not spring
Wide love for all, is but a worthless thing.
Not in another world, as poets prate,
Dwell we apart, above the tide of things,
High floating o'er earth's clouds on faery wings;
But our pure love doth ever elevate
Into a holy bond of brotherhood
All earthly things, making them pure and good.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm BACK :D

My apologies, gentle reader, I have been without internet connection for a little over a month now. I decided against blogging via my cell phone since I probably couldn't figure out if I tried, and, even if I could, I wouldn't want to type anything on that little ol' screen! *Takes cake for longest run-on ever* I am afraid I have lost you all. However, hopefully, I can eke back a faithful following. Or at least one or two views every now and again.

Today, I will post something from Keats as an homage to my bestie, m (you know who you are!). Unfortunately, I will not be quoting it with a sultry voice a la Benedict Cumberbatch, but I do what I can.

John Keats was one of the foremost Romantic poets. During his life, however, he received little recognition for his work. He grew up in a very unstable home and, by the time he was fourteen, had lost both of his parents. He worked in medicine as a young man and, at the age of 20, obtained a position as a junior house surgeon at Guy's Hospital. His first surviving poem was written in 1814 when he was only 19 years old. In 1816, Keats decided he would devote his time to poetry rather than a career in apothecary for which he had received his license. He spent a good deal of time nursing his brother Tom who was dying of tuberculosis. Both of his brothers died penniless of the disease. Keats died on February 23, 1821 also of tuberculosis. (Sorry I cut his bio short, but I wanted to have room for the poem and also get to bed at a decent hour.)

Ode to a Nightengale

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
    My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
    One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
    But being too happy in thine happiness, -
        That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
                In some melodious plot
    Of beechen green and shadows numberless,
        Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
    Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
    Dance, and Proven├žal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
    Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
        With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
                And purple-stained mouth;
    That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
        And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
    What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
    Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
    Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
        Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
                And leaden-eyed despairs,
    Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
        Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
    Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
    Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
    And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
        Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
                But here there is no light,
    Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
        Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
    Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
    Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
    White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
        Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
                And mid-May's eldest child,
    The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
        The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
    I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
    To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
    To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
        While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
                In such an ecstasy!
    Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain -
        To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
    No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
    In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
    Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
        She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
                The same that oft-times hath
    Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
        Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
    To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
    As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
    Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
        Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
                In the next valley-glades:
    Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
        Fled is that music: - Do I wake or sleep?


P.S. It is so good to be back :D