Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist

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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Poe and Unexpected Gifts

October 5, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Poe, ponderings, artsyletters, Etsy

October Greetings, Poetry Peeps! I do love this month so.

At the moment, various projects with a spooky bent are strewn around my studio. I’ve been acquiring vintage or literary-themed postage stamps lately, and when I stumbled upon this recent 2009 image above celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allen Poe, well – more on that in a minute. The 42-cent stamp features a portrait by Michael J. Deas, who, according to the USPS web page about the stamp, is also an expert on portraits and daguerreotypes of the mysterious author and poet.

Even in miniscule form, I find Deas’s portrait haunting and full of life… the eyes really do follow you! I also recently discovered a wholesale supplier of hearty pewter shepherd’s hook bookmarks, ready for the addition of charms or oddities. And I found a wonderful pewter raven charm. Somehow I knew these things all needed to come together, so I placed the stamp on a vintage-y cardstock background (re-purposed from part of an old promotional postcard I’d had printed a few years ago) and made a magnet, then made a bookmark with a few links of black chain and the pewter components, and combined these with a pack of my raven note cards. Voilà – a Raven-Poe Gift Pack. (I’ve gone a little crazy with new gift packs to add to my regulars – other new ones pictured above, all made in a similar fashion, include a Bird Lover’s Pack, a Cat Lover’s Pack, A Book Lover’s Pack, and an additional Teacher Gift Pack.)

Back to Poe - Here are two excerpts from Poe’s 1850 poem, “The Bells”

                     The Bells
           by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)


      Hear the sledges with the bells-
            Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
      How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
      While the stars that oversprinkle
      All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
      Keeping time, time, time,
      In a sort of Runic rhyme,
    To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
      From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
            Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


          Hear the tolling of the bells-
              Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
      In the silence of the night,
      How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
      For every sound that floats
      From the rust within their throats
              Is a groan. …

For the poem its in entirety, click here.

Speaking of stamps, a Poetry Friday friend emailed to see if I ever used vintage stamps? And here I was, with little piles all around.

And speaking of gifts, I learned a new-to-me word on the subject this week, and I must share it with fellow wordsmiths. We had dinner with another couple Wednesday night, and my very dear friend pulled something from her purse and said, “Here – a sursy for you.”

“A what?” I asked, eyeing the fetching little box of pumpkin spice caramels.

“Sursy,” she said. “A little gift.” Well, I went crazy over the caramels AND the word, and was surprised I didn’t know it.

My friend’s husband started Googling and quickly determined that it didn’t share the same spelling with the goddess Circe – it’s just “s-u-r-s-y.” He found this definition in the Urban Dictionary: “A term commonly used in the South to denote a small, unexpected gift.”

Why didn't I know this word? – I am a Southerner after all, but – okay, perhaps growing up in Florida was not quite the same as growing up in the Carolinas. (A debate for another day.)

I told my friend that I had just received a lovely fall note in the mail from a far-away poetry friend, and it had a little Pumpkin Spice teabag enclosed. I guess it was a sursy?! And wouldn’t it be perfect to sip a cup of that tea with one of those caramels?

I’m grateful to these friends for unexpected gifts. Especially this week, when the horror has not been of the tingly Poe variety, but has seared our hearts.

Poetry Friday, for me, is always restorative. One soul-filling sursy after another. Enjoy each treasure today with our beautiful Violet, gathering all in the Roundup this week.


  1. October 6, 2017 12:04 AM EDT
    How lovely, Robyn. I feel like I've just sat down with you for a little natter (I could definitely be tempted by one of those pumpkin spice salted caramels - and might even try a sachet of chai - though pumpkin in a drink (other than soup) does seem like it stretching the friendship...) but it feels like our morning has just meandered along with a sharing of your treasures.

    Loving your sursy! #commitstomemory
    - Kathryn Apel
  2. October 6, 2017 12:33 AM EDT
    I think your friend's sursy just made me want a trip to Trader Joe's sometime soon! I am in love with salted caramel ice cream, so those caramels must be wonderful. How fun that you've made all those discoveries this week, and I'm glad to hear about new gift packs! I'll come visit soon! Arvie loved ravens so I've kept some of his collection, part of why I love your raven cards. And this month, paired with Poe! Perfect. Happy Weekend, Robyn!
    - Linda Baie
  3. October 6, 2017 8:52 AM EDT
    Lovely, all the way around. I have to confess, I grew up in North Carolina, and sursy is a new word to me, too. I think I must find a way to start using it! And yes, those salted caramels look divine, and the Poe pack is deliciously creepy. I love "The Bells." Maybe one day I'll get around to memorizing it. Wouldn't it be fun to be able to spout that one out on occasion?
    - Kay Jernigan McGriff
  4. October 6, 2017 9:00 AM EDT
    Oh, Kat - I'd love to sit down with a little "natter" with you! ;0) I sipped that chai tea last night, and it was actually yummy. Might not have ever tried it if it hadn't been "gifted."

    Linda, the caramels are divine. I shared one with my hubby, and now there's one left... I love learning that about Arvie. Happy Weekend to you, too - XO.

    Kay, that makes me feel a little better - that it's a new word to you, too! I was thinking the same thing re. memorizing this poem, or at least a part or two. I should probably just start with the word, "tintinnabulation" - ;0)
    - Robyn Black
  5. October 6, 2017 9:09 AM EDT
    I've been delighted with "tintinnabulation" since I first heard it in elementary school, so thanks for stirring and memory. Another thanks for a completely new word, "sursy." Did you ever see my Poe haiga? Here's the link, if you're interested:
    - Diane Mayr
  6. October 6, 2017 9:13 AM EDT
    "a memory" not "and memory"!
    - Diane Mayr
  7. October 6, 2017 10:08 AM EDT
    I love learning new words. A sursy is something I have never received, but I love the idea of it, which is a sursy of sorts, I suppose. I like your Poe-October synthesis. Happy creating.
    - Brenda
  8. October 6, 2017 12:50 PM EDT
    What fun to learn a new word (I'd never heard of sursy either)! Love the Poe magnet. I've always wondered how artists can paint eyes that follow you. Thanks for the Poe fix today. :)
    - jama
  9. October 6, 2017 3:36 PM EDT
    Robyn -- thanks for all of these gifts. A new word! Pumpkin caramels! And, living near Baltimore, I had to share your Poe Packs on Facebook. I am SO excited about this new product in your shop.
    - Laura Shovan
  10. October 6, 2017 3:47 PM EDT
    Oh Robyn,
    I am sharing Poe with my grandgirl next week. Love the new word: sursy. The Poe gift bags are fabulous.
    - jone
  11. October 6, 2017 6:02 PM EDT
    What a fun post, Robyn! Your delight in those assembled gift packs just jumps off the screen and puts a smile on my face. And a new word to boot (which I have just scribbled into my journal which I keep at my elbow when I go through Poetry Friday posts)! Now I will be on the lookout for pumpkin spice salted caramels. I didn't even know such a treat existed!
    - Violet N.
  12. October 6, 2017 8:11 PM EDT
    Such a nice visit at your blog today. I'm so glad to learn the word sursy. I never heard of it either....but I'm a definite Yankee trying to learn "south" in limited Northern Virginia. And, what lovely packages. Fun, pretty AND yummy!
    And, of course.....I see all those really lovely syllables in the Poe poem. I do believe Poe holds some found haiku for me. My brain is already toying with crystalline delight.
    - Linda Mitchell
  13. October 6, 2017 9:54 PM EDT
    Diane, me too - though I think it was later than elementary school for moi. Love that Poe haiga! Thanks for the link.

    Hi, Brenda - glad you enjoyed. Happy creating to you, too!

    Jama, thanks for popping in! I think Mr. C. needs a sursy. I think he would agree. XO

    Hi Laura - you are THE BEST! Thanks so much for the shout-out. Hoping we can sip some chai in person one of these days...

    Jone, thanks much - and your grandgirl is a lucky young lady. (I'll bet you are a crazy fun grandmamma!)

    Hi, Violet - a journal for Poetry Friday words is a great idea... thanks so much for hosting all of us today, two years in a row at the same time!

    Linda - oh, you are on a creative roll! And if you ever make it down to the Lowcountry, I'll teach you more fun Southern-isms.... :0)

    - Robyn Black
  14. October 7, 2017 5:24 AM EDT
    (Hee Hee!) I saw your first image and thought, "There you go! She really DOES!" Now it just remains for me to organize a box full of future art for you!

    Poe's poem starts out happy and joyous, but it does go awfully dark, doesn't it? What would it have been like to live inside that brain?
    - Mary Lee
  15. October 7, 2017 8:53 AM EDT
    Love Poe! I've always been part fascinated, part creeped out! He's the October Poetry Poster Child, I believe! -- Christie @
    - Christie Wyman
  16. October 7, 2017 3:01 PM EDT
    Thanks, Mary Lee - SO many things you can do with stamps! :0) And... that must have been a scary mind.

    Christie - Ha! Absolutely. Happy October!
    - Robyn Black
  17. October 8, 2017 7:09 PM EDT
    One of my favorite poems by Poe - partly because it's more obscure than the Raven and others, but also because of the momentum he builds. (I also love "tintinnabulation," so he gets points for that, too!)
    - Matt Forrest Esenwine
  18. October 9, 2017 6:11 PM EDT
    spell-bound delightful post Robyn, thanks for the Poe poems and all here. Hope there are many takers for your "Raven-Poe Gift packs!
    - Michelle Kogan
  19. October 10, 2017 9:33 AM EDT
    Mine, too, Matt - a poem I can learn from for sure! Glad you enjoyed & thanks for popping in.

    Thank you, Michelle - and an early wish for lots of sales in your shop this season, too!
    - Robyn Black

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