Friday, May 30, 2008

"...there is only the dance."

I promised something especially smutty in honor of my first anniversary at Blogger, but I'm afraid I'm feeling more philosophical than raunchy. I'm sure that'll pass, but meanwhile, here's a bit of a great poem about time, for those of us who brood on its mysteries. The full text is here. Happy pondering.

At the still point of the turning world.
Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards;
at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.

From "Burnt Norton" by T. S. Eliot, 1935.
(Apologies, as always, for the formatting limitations of Blogger. The link above displays the poem in its proper shape.)

Trés Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Gebroeders van Limburg, c.1416. Image from A World History of Art.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Never cut the rulers any slack

That's my motto when it comes to politics, which is why, even though I've been supporting Obama, I was happy to see this excellent column in the latest edition of New Statesman. It's a nice rundown of all the ways President Obama is likely to fuck with the world, just as ruthlessly as Bush, Clinton and their predecessors have done.

Before you ask, the answer is yes, I am still going to vote for Obama in November. But I like to enter a dysfunctional relationship with my eyes open.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pets, old and new

First of all, I am sorry to report that I found Stinky belly up on the bathroom floor this morning. Everybody's gotta go sometime. RIP, Stinky.

Apparently the household spirits do not want me to feel bereft, because shortly after I laid Stinky to rest, a mouse scurried out from under my desk and disappeared into the closet. We have periodic mice incursions in the basement and the attic, and they've shown up a couple of times in the kitchen, but this was the first rodent visitation in my boudoir, ever. I can't say I was very happy about it. I was even less happy an hour later when I was in the kitchen feeding Pearl and she suddenly lurched away from her bowl in pursuit of, yes, another mouse. Or maybe it was the same mouse and he just likes to follow me around.

In any case, two mouse sightings in a morning is a bit much, even for a vermin-tolerant soul like me. I appreciate the cosmic desire to fill the void left by Stinky, but I really do have all the critters I need, thank you. I bought some of those fancy no-kill traps and anybody I nab will be re-homed to the great outdoors. (For the record, I have no ethical qualms about killing mice, but I am not feeling sufficiently bloodthirsty to do the job at the moment. Sometimes you feel like being the Angel of Death, sometimes you don't.)

Dessert Still-Life, Georg Flegel (1566-1638). Image from Web Gallery of Art.*

*The WGA analysis of this painting reads like something written by an over-caffeinated art history undergrad. Unintentionally hilarious. You can see it here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"The substance of faith and the only reality"

In the face of such shape and weight of present misfortune, the voice of the individual artist may seem perhaps of no more consequence than the whirring of a cricket in the grass; but the arts do live continuously, and they live literally by faith; their names and their shapes and their uses and their basic meanings survive unchanged in all that matters through times of interruption, diminishment, neglect; they outlive governments and creeds and the societies, even the very civilizations that produced them. They cannot be destroyed altogether because they represent the substance of faith and the only reality. They are what we find again when the ruins are cleared away. And even the smallest and most incomplete offering at this time can be a proud act in defense of that faith.

Katherine Anne Porter, June 21 1940, from the introduction to The Modern Library edition of Flowering Judas and Other Stories.

Click here to see recent paintings by Iraqi artists. Read about the Iraqi Art project here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stinky lives!

My pet stink bug is back. He disappeared for a while and I thought he was a goner, but he has reappeared this morning looking fit as ever. Dave wondered aloud what he could possibly be eating to stay alive. I dunno. It's possible that his continued survival is down to my terrible housekeeping--but that's pure speculation.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy anniversary to us

Dave and I were married on the Sunday before Memorial Day 21 years ago. Somehow the actual date didn't register with either of us, so we're never sure exactly which day is our official anniversary--we just let the holiday be our benchmark. Yesterday Dave gave me (well, really, gave us) a framed lithograph by Laurie Lipton, an American-born artist who lives in London. She had a show at a Nashville gallery, and I fell in love with a print called "Leashed Passion." You can see it on her website here. It's the first image in the set. Click to enlarge.** Fun, huh? I'm thrilled to have it. The print is big--70 X 100 cm--so it really dominates the room where we hung it, in spite of the fact that there's a lot of other art in there.

**I think you may be able to see an even bigger image here.

My present to Dave, in case you're wondering, is that I took him hiking with me at beautiful Beaman Park just north of Nashville. We saw wild azaleas and a Great Blue Heron. They make a pretty nice gift, don't you think?

And while we're talking about anniversaries, next weekend marks one year since I departed my former home at POL for the soulless but comparatively unrestrained environment of Blogger. I'll try to put up something especially smutty in honor of the occasion.

Wild azalea pic from the Friends of Beaman Park website.

One Sentence Perfume Review: Bois Oriental, Serge Lutens

An olfactory translation of the third movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12--rich, classic and innocent, all at once.

Notes per Bois de Jasmin: violet, peach, plum, rose, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, musk, Atlas cedarwood, and vanilla.

Portrait of a Boy, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763-64. Possibly a portrait of Mozart. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

(You can hear all of Piano Concerto No. 12 here.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

A guest

A green stink bug has been loitering in my bathroom for two days. I'm way too clueless about insect ID to say precisely what he is, but he looks more or less exactly like the little guy in the pic. He refused to be photographed himself, hiding behind a shelf on the vanity when I approached. He probably knows what a lousy photographer I am.

By all rights he should be out in the garden eating up everything Dave has planted, but he seems to like the indoor life. I expected him to perish within a day, but he's hanging on and looking perfectly lively. I think he's cute, and I really don't mind finding him on the towel when I go to dry my hands, or clinging to the tissue when I pull it from the box. After all, what better home for a stink bug than a perfume freak's house? (According to Wikipedia, the stink bug's stink comes from aldehydes. He probably thinks I'm a cousin.)

I suppose he can't last much longer, but so far he's been the ideal pet. No shedding, no fighting, no drooling on the floor. I'm starting to understand why people keep tarantulas and hissing cockroaches.

Photo copyright 2006 by Sean McCann, from Bug Guide.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reining in the "rescuers"

I don't know how much y'all have been following the FLDS case in Texas, but I have, and I'm very glad to see this ruling today, which essentially says that the state had no right to swoop in and kidnap the children. Don't get me wrong, I am not in favor of forced marriage or statutory rape. The Yearning for Zion community sounds like a pretty sickening place. Hell, even mainstream Mormonism makes me queasy, for the same reason its cousin faiths do. Patriarchal religion is a nasty business, no matter how you dress it up--but unchecked state authority is pretty nasty, too. Do we really want to encourage the government to destroy people's lives in the name of protecting children?

If the authorities in Texas had simply gone into the community to investigate the original anonymous allegation and look for other evidence of abuse, that would have been perfectly reasonable. The First Amendment doesn't give anyone the right to rape a child in the name of God, but it is supposed to protect all of us from being persecuted for having unpopular ideas, and there's no way to interpret Texas' action as anything other than persecution. On the basis of a single complaint, they removed over 400 children from their homes, and informed the parents that the only way they could get their children back would be if they left the Yearning for Zion ranch. Now, if that's not a deliberate effort to destroy a religious sect, I don't know what would be.

The way this whole thing has been treated by the news media has been pretty disturbing, too. I especially loved the breathless coverage of the 16-year-old who gave birth shortly after the raid--as if teenage girls didn't deliver babies every day in every hospital in America, many of them fathered by males over 18. And then we had the hysterics over the discovery that slightly less than 10 percent of the kids had evidence of past broken bones--again, as if that would be at all unusual in the general population, especially among kids who don't spend their days sitting in front of an Xbox.

Personally, I hope all those kids abandon their parents' nutty archaic religious ideas and enjoy happy lives making love and babies with the partners of their choice. Unfortunately, nothing the state has done makes that more likely. On the contrary, it will only reinforce the narrow, hostile view of the world they were already being taught. The next Warren Jeffs is sitting in a foster home somewhere in Texas.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The real me

So, I saw this silly article on Yahoo!, and I just couldn't resist getting my very own online handwriting analysis. Here's what I'm telling the world with my illegible scrawl:

"Bitter is an introvert." (Duh. Do extroverts spend a lot of time poring over their own handwriting?)

"The first time someone angers Bitter, she probably will not say anything to that person at that time. However, she will mentally keep track of everything this person does wrong to her until she cannot hold her emotions inside any longer. Then; Boom! Bitter will cloud up and rain all over them." (Just call me Storm.)

"Bitter has a desire for attention." (You think?)

"Bitter can disagree without being disagreeable." (Try telling that to the people I rain all over.)

"In reference to Bitter's mental abilities, she has a very investigating and creating mind. She investigates projects rapidly because she is curious about many things ... She probably gets too many things going at once." (This must explain all the dogs.)

"Bitter is capable of seeing far into the future." (Of course--that's why I own enough perfume to last into the next millenium.)

"Bitter has a tendency to put things off, Bitter procrastinates." (No, really?)

"Bitter exaggerates about everything that has a physical nature. Although she may not intend to deceive or mislead, she blows things way out of proportion because that is the way she views them. She will be a good story teller." (There you have it. Don't believe everything you read on this blog.)

Nothing in there about fringe politics or a love of antique smut. I guess those'll just be our little secret. You can get yourself analyzed here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"In the beauty of the lilies ..."

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

From Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe, 1862

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you--that's a verse from a hymn/patriotic anthem cluttering up the front page of this freethinking Neopagan anarchist perfume blog. What gives? Well, I heard the song somewhere recently, I can't even remember where, and it's been running through my head for days. That particular verse was once very important to me.

As some of you know, I wasn't born into my present cultural niche. My pedigree is 100% Tennesse redneck. I'm a preacher's granddaughter, raised in the Church of the Nazarene, and I clocked a lot of childhood hours listening to sermons, not to mention all the time spent in Sunday school and at tent revivals. And I sang a lot of hymns. Battle Hymn of the Republic wasn't sung during services, but it was a big favorite whenever the kids were corralled into singing at vacation Bible school, church camp, etc. It's an easy tune to carry, and the violence appeals to children. (Click here to read the complete lyrics.)

Not surprisingly, we generally sang only the first, second and fourth verses. The third verse, along with the final verse above, are a little too overtly abolitionist. Talk of liberation was not welcome in Nazarene churches back when Jim Crow was in his death throes. I doubt it's any more welcome now. But I didn't understand that at the time, at least not with any clarity. I loved the "lilies verse," and it baffled me that we never sang it. All the judgment and swordplay in the other verses distressed me, while the image of Jesus born among the flowers was beautiful. And dying for freedom seemed like the best death you could have, since death was inevitable. The connection between beauty and freedom in the words stirred me deeply. I loved them so much that I would sometimes sing them sotto voce while everyone else was singing about sifting out the hearts of men.

Remembering that little rebellion gives me a lot of hope. There was nobody whispering subversive ideas in my ear, nobody telling me to question the rigid, fearful, hateful view of life that I was being taught. There was just an instinct within me that led in another direction and I followed it--as so many people do. That's what gives me hope, the realization that there's a commonplace impulse toward liberty, and it routinely survives attempts to suppress it. There have been times these last few years that I've despaired when I thought of all the kids being raised on the venom that spews from the pulpits of megachurches, and the way they're indoctrinated with the fear and bigotry of the "War on Terror." How stupid of me. There have to be millions of children who feel the same way I did as a kid, knowing--without any help from anyone--that there's a better way. I wonder what they're singing?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Here there be tygers"

by Stephen Vincent Benét

My mind’s a map. A mad sea-captain drew it
Under a flowing moon until he knew it;
Winds with brass trumpets, puffy-cheeked as jugs,
And states bright-patterned like Arabian rugs.
“Here there be tygers.” “Here we buried Jim.”
Here is the strait where eyeless fishes swim
About their buried idol, drowned so cold
He weeps away his eyes in salt and gold. (more)

World map by Moroccan cartographer Al-Idrisi, 1154. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Since we're celebrating love ...

Let's include the hetero contingent

Paul-Émile Bécat (1885-1960)

And, of course, the people who just have rich fantasy lives

Franz von Bayros (1866-1942)

Images from and Museum of Bestial Art.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"It's about human dignity. It's about human rights."

That's San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, talking about today's California Supreme Court decision. Preach on it, Gavin.

How about a little pictorial celebration?

A Rural Dalliance, Pietro D'Aban0, 1315

Fond Confessions, Louis de Schryver, 1905

Men Kissing, Bartolomeo Cesi (1556-1629)

Potok, Maxmilian Pirner, 1903

Images from,, and Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"He cues the clear blue daylight ..."

The Black Cock
by Ishmael Reed

for Jim Hendrix, hoodoo from his natural born

He frightens all the witches and the dragons in their lair
He cues the clear blue daylight and He gives the night its dare
He flaps His wings for warning and He struts atop a mare
for when He crows they quiver and when He comes they flee

In His coal black plumage and His bright red crown
and His golden beaked fury and His calculated frown
in His webbed footed glory He sends Jehovah down
for when He crows they quiver and when He comes they flee

O they dance around the fire and they boil the gall of wolves
and they sing their strange crude melodies and play their
weirder tunes and the villagers close their windows and the grave-
yard starts to heave and the cross wont help their victims and
the screaming fills the night and the young girls die with
open eyes and the skies are lavender light
but when He crows they quiver and when He comes they flee ...(more)

Mask from Southern Guinea, Kono or Guerze peoples, early 20th century. Image from Artchive.

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's a wise child that knows its own father

That's a brown thrasher in the top pic. Thrashers are cousins to the mockingbird, and have the same hysterical temperament without the pugnacious tendencies. They're always the first to sound the alarm when anything remotely threatening appears, and they're usually befuddled by the slightest change in their environment. Although they are primarily fruit and insect eaters, they get interested in the seed that falls out of feeders, just because they see the other birds eating it. I often see thrashers struggling to open the hull of a sunflower seed, a task that always seems to defeat them. At the risk of engaging in species stereotyping, I'd say the thrasher is the charming dimwit of the bird world.

Today there was a daddy thrasher feeding his fledgling in my back yard. The dad was wandering pretty far in search of grub for the kid, and while he was out of sight, a female flicker (the bird in the bottom photo) appeared on the scene. Junior, being of average thrasher intelligence, decided the flicker was Dad and started following her around doing the "Feed me" cheep. The flicker tried to dodge him, like a spooked suburbanite evading a downtown panhandler. Junior wasn't the least bit discouraged and kept chasing her around the yard. When Dad finally reappeared, the baby took the food he offered and then immediately turned his attention back to the flicker. This went on for a good ten minutes, until the flicker departed in a huff. Junior did have enough sense to stay with his father and follow him home, but I wonder how he'll do when it comes time to find a girlfriend.

Flicker photo from Wikipedia, and Brown Thrasher likewise.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Body of War

Tomas Young was scheduled to appear at a special screening of Body of War in Nashville Saturday night, so Dave and I both felt an obligation to show up and support the cause. I have to admit, I was not really all that eager to see the film, since I knew it would be sad and infuriating, but I'm glad we went. The film is well made, and I came away admiring the honesty of Young and his family. The whole point of the movie is to show the toll of the war on one injured soldier, and it does that without generally pandering to the viewer's inner empathy whore. Of course, there are a couple of moments that get dangerously close--this is a Phil Donahue production, after all--but the movie is mostly frank and unflinching. If you can't stand the idea of watching a grown man catheterized by his mother, or hearing the the intimate details of Young's struggle to have a sex life, this might not be the movie for you.

The scenes of Young's home life and his involvement with the anti-war movement are punctuated with snippets of the "debate" in Congress over the resolution authorizing Bush to go to war, and with a roll call of the vote in the Senate. The takeaway here is supposed to be that our leaders let us down--Bush deceived us all, while Congress surrendered its authority to hold the executive in check. Robert Byrd is practically canonized for his passionate speech in opposition to the resolution, and the names of the "immortal 23" who voted No are lovingly recited.

It's easy to get suckered in to this view of events, but as far as I'm concerned it's bullshit--dangerous bullshit. Hearing the names of the Yes voters, including such supposed Bush enemies as Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Biden, et al., is a potent reminder that mainstream liberals are as rabidly protective of the American empire as the neocons. The Dems are every bit as tainted as the Republicans, and it's ridiculous to think that their return to the White House, if it happens, will herald some new moral order. The vote for Bush's war was not a unique failure of our government--it was the system working the way it's been working for a very long time.

The failure, in the end, is our failure. The fear-mongering from Bush and his supporters in 2002 about mushroom clouds, serrin gas, etc., was transparently phony, and hearing it again made me marvel at our collective willingness to be deceived. Americans chose not to speak out against the war, to swallow Bush's lies, because we couldn't be bothered to confront the truth. We still can't. The fantasy of the War on Terror feeds our smug righteousness, and comforts us with the idea that we're being looked after by a powerful Daddy state. Even after the disaster of Iraq, we still cling to it, fat and happy slaves that we are. It's keeping us in Iraq, and may lead us into Iran very soon.

Young is no slave, though he paid a high price for his liberation. He was an engaging, articulate speaker at the screening, and I was happy to see that he looked stronger and healthier than he does in the film. (Apparently, the VA has taken more of an interest in his welfare since the movie's release.) Still, it must be an incredible challenge for someone in his condition to travel around the country promoting the film, and his courage isn't very well rewarded. There were fewer than 100 people at the screening.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Without the hell, the heav'n of joy"

A Thousand Martyrs
by Aphra Behn (1640-1689)

A thousand martyrs I have made,
All sacrificed to my desire;
A thousand beauties have betrayed,
That languish in resistless fire.
The untamed heart to hand I brought,
And fixed the wild and wandering thought.

I never vowed nor sighed in vain
But both, though false, were well received.
The fair are pleased to give us pain,
And what they wish is soon believed.
And though I talked of wounds and smart,
Love’s pleasures only touched my heart.

Alone the glory and the spoil
I always laughing bore away;
The triumphs, without pain or toil,
Without the hell, the heav’n of joy.
And while I thus at random rove
Despise the fools that whine for love.

Text from Poetry Foundation.

Illustration by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827). Image from A World History of Art.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nothing happened today

At least, not on my walk through the woods. Nobody had an orgy, or got eaten by an owl, or anything like that. If they did I missed it. I did see a gray catbird--one of my favorites--and he posed very prettily in a bush for me. I stood there for ages, waiting for him to sing, but he never made a sound. Contrary little bastard.

I was going to post a catbird photo, but I couldn't find any I liked. I did, however, find a fun website on "Biomes of the World," created by the biology department at Marietta College in Ohio. Just click here, and then click on any of the color regions on the world map. Each section has a lot of photos, so be patient if your internet connection is slow. I think the page on Temperate Deciduous Forest (which includes my corner of the planet) is especially nice. Click here to see it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hunters like us

I decided to scrap the essay I promised. It went all stupid on me. That happens. So instead I'm going to tell you about the drama in the woods this morning. I was in an area where I often see owls, and I was just thinking about how scarce they've been this spring when I heard a commotion up ahead. It was a red-bellied woodpecker in full freak-out, squawking madly. I couldn't see what the trouble was at first, but then I realized there was a great horned owl, a big female, behind the woodpecker. She spread her wings and took off through the trees. I think she was taking the woodpecker's mate with her. I couldn't see for sure but it's likely that she was, since woodpecker couples like to feed together in the early morning, and it would explain the red-bellied's distress. He carried on for quite a while after the owl was gone.

Between keeping feeders and doing a fair amount of birdwatching, I see a lot of bird-on-bird predation. Usually it doesn't bother me. It's a little gruesome, I guess, but the process of killing, plucking and eating is fascinating to watch. Seeing the attack on the woodpeckers made me sad, though. Stupidly, irrationally sad. It's not as if woodpeckers are endangered, or there's anything abnormal about an owl making breakfast out of one. This is how the world works, after all--and who should understand that better than me, a member of a predator species and citizen of a predator nation? But there's something about the woodpeckers that arouses my sympathy. Maybe it's their feisty attitude, or their weirdly engineered bodies, or their sweet attentiveness to their fledglings. Whatever it is, it destroys my natural admiration for the power and beauty of my sister, the killer.

La Nuit, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1883.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I know y'all are just dying for an essay from me

Okay, maybe you're not, but I am working on one, which I hope to post tomorrow. Meanwhile, here are some encouraging words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Bravely take hold of the real, not dallying now with what might be.
Not in the flight of ideas but only in action is freedom.
Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of living.

From "Stations on the Way to Freedom" in Ethics

You can read a good, short article on Bonhoeffer's Ethics here.

One Sentence Perfume Review: Douce Amére, Serge Lutens

Anisette toast and heavy cream are delightful, but they're best consumed in small quantities at long intervals.

Notes per Now Smell This: Cinnamon, artemisia absinthium, anise, lily, jasmine, tiare flower, tagette, cedar, and musk.

Photo from Veniero's (Mmmmm...)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bunting Report

In one of the parks where I walk there's a meadow where the Indigo Buntings always appear in April and May. I generally don't have much luck seeing them there later in the summer, so I'm guessing it's more a place to cruise for dates than a nesting ground. In any case, they're all over that meadow just now, and since I'm usually visiting early in the day, I get to see the the males' plumage in its full glory, as it flashes deep turquoise in the morning sun. The boys also have a pretty, high-pitched song that's very distinctive, which is helpful to sighting them, since they're small. I always hear them before I see them. The Cornell site says Indigo Buntings are declining in the Southeast, which seems true to me. I think I saw them more often ten years ago than I do now. They're a popular cage bird in Mexico, which sort of horrifies me. Since I've only seen them wild, I can't imagine imprisoning such a bright, beautiful thing.

Read about the Indigo Bunting at Animal Diversity Web and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Indigo Bunting photo courtesy of the Kingsville, Texas Chamber of Commerce website.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"meteors are not needed less than mountains"

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy;
life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic.

From "Shine, Perishing Republic" by Robinson Jeffers. Read the complete poem (with the correct line breaks)* here.

Still Life with a Skull, Paul Cézanne, 1895-1900.

*A pox on Blogger and its persnickety template.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

"...the rain is full of ghosts tonight ..."

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Text from Poetry Foundation.

Mary Magdalene in the Cave, Jules Joseph Lefebvre, 1876. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, May 2, 2008

"Long live the weeds ..."


by Gerard Manley Hopkins

This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Text from
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The reason my blog posts have been a little skimpy lately

I've got a couple of reviews out this week. One's a book piece on Don Beisswenger's prison memoir, Locked Up. I've blogged about Beisswenger before. He's a remarkable man. You can read my review of his book here. Also, you can click here to read my bloviation on what's wrong with treating books as art objects.