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Life on the Deckle Edge

Humming Songs of Innocence

William Blake by Thomas Phillips
(Note - Fourth grade poets are not quite finished with their projects. Will post a few soon!)

Hearts are heavy in my part of the world this week, as unprecedented storms ravaged our region. My town in north Georgia was very fortunate as the tornadoes skirted around rather than through us. SCBWI Southern Breeze folks (Ga./Ala./Miss.) have been checking in through our Listserve with harrowing tales but mostly thankfulness that their families are still here.

Perhaps that's why this morning's Royal Wedding was worth the early wake-up call. It was a kind of blessing to focus on something positive and joyful across the pond. Many years ago I had the privilege of breathing in the history at Westminster Abbey, and I thought the bishop's words there today were fresh and inspiring.

Since the royal couple chose among their hymns "Jerusalem," first composed by William Blake in 1804 as an introduction to "Milton" (set to music a century later by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry), I thought we could use a bit of Blake, and I could use a bit of The Songs of Innocence.

Introduction to the Songs of Innocence
By William Blake (1757–1827)

Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:


"Pipe a song about a Lamb!"
So I piped with merry cheer.
"Piper, pipe that song again;"
So I piped: he wept to hear.


"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer:"
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.


"Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read."
So he vanish'd from my sight,
And I pluck'd a hollow reed,


And I made a rural pen,
And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.


Please visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for today's Poetry Friday RoundupRead More 
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"Nature rarer uses yellow..."

Cherry tree in early April
It's Good Friday and Earth Day, and the cherry blossoms have drifted away, leaving a canopy of lush green outside my studio window. White dogwood blossoms are gone, too – those trees all green now. Azaleas, in light and dark pink, are still going strong, as is the rhododendron and the neglected but exuberant rose bush out back.

These ever-changing colors of spring conjure up this gem from Emily Dickinson:

Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,--
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover's words.


What a blessing to live in a world of color. And poems - isn't "Spending scarlet like a woman" a provacative line? Next week I’ll have some colorful haiku poems from fourth graders!

Enjoy the Poetry Friday roundup today hosted by Kate at Book Aunt.  Read More 
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To Sing of Spring

A field of fourth-grade poets
This morning I had the privilege of leading two classes of fourth graders outside on a nature walk/poem safari to collect sensory details that they are writing into poems. Though we are focusing on haiku, today I'm sharing a longer classic celebrating the natural world this time of year.

I read that Gerard Manley Hopkins gave up writing poems for Lent while in college (and then for many years). And I thought giving up chocolate was tough! Happy Spring - and apolgies that my blog swallows indentations.

Spring

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

The Poetry Friday round-up is at RANDOM NOODLING.
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She picked a pack of 'pacas....

1.) Paula Puckett 2.) some of her fiber creations........... 3.) Riley, 5, shares some carrots
Who did? Paula B. Puckett: my dear friend, SCBWI conference travelling buddy, fellow writer and illustrator and critique group member. I know today is Poetry Friday (click here for Roundup), but I'm interrupting strictly poetic posts to share something fun.

Today, Paula's family hosted what's becoming an annual "alpaca shearing and pot luck lunch" for family and friends at their beautiful farm nestled in the North Georgia mountains.

I've always had a thing for alpacas and have enjoyed getting to visit hers. Today's shearing was interesting. The animals are laid out one at a time on special mats, and then the shearers go to work, removing the gorgeous, thick fleece with skilled hands. The process only takes a few minutes, and then the animal is trotting off to rejoin the herd. I'm thinking Paula's alpacas are going to be thankful come Sunday they're in short coats - we're supposed to have temps in the 80s! Read More 
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AMB Alpacas

AMB Alpacas - Read Below.
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Happy Poetry Month!

At my home in Georgia, April is making her appearance in cherry blossoms and pink and white dogwoods. I know not every spot in the world is so lovely this morning.

Here are two haiku by seventeenth-century Japanese poets, from WOMEN POETS OF JAPAN, translated and edited by Kenneth Rexroth and Ikuko Atsumi, ©1977, publshed by New Directions, 1982:

The fireflies' light.
How easily it goes on
How easily it goes out again


Chine-Jo, late 17th Century

and, with best wishes to my friends up North welcoming April with a nor'easter:

On the road through the clouds
Is there a short cut
To the summer moon?


Den Sute-Jo, 1633-1698

Wishing a Happy Poetry Month to all, whatever the weather, and continued thoughts and prayers for Japan.

Amy has the POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP at The Poem Farm. Read More 
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