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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Joyeux Jour de la Terre! (Armchair April in Paris...)

 

Bonjour!  

 

One thing I love about being an Etsy seller is that sometimes I send my artsyletters offerings to the four corners of the world.  I've had customers in close to 20 countries. This week I received an order with a special request from France, and the message was sent via email rather than through Etsy, so there wasn't an option to translate on the spot.  However, I was delighted to realize that my four years of French in high school and one in college were sufficient for me to make out its meaning!  [I still used an online translator just to make sure, and sent my reply in English and via a copy from an online translator, though I did "check" that it looked right.]

 

And while items in my shop have a definite British Isles bent - I mean, my target market really is nerdy English-major types like myself - somewhow a few items for Francophiles continue to surface from my work table. Especially since I was able to procure some gorgeous letters and postcards and bank notes and such from centuries past, from a seller in France.  (I often buy supplies from other corners of the earth, too.) 

 

I am especially smitten with postcards and business receipts and such with layers of interesting text or handwriting in different hues of ink, all jumbled together - ahhhh.  And while I do reproduce some antique maps etc. for items I make that I need more than one of (tourist-friendly items at a local shop here in Beaufort, etc.), I do prefer to just capture the actual text or image under glass as a one-of-a-kind snippet of history, such as the items in the picture above.  I'll wrangle these into finished pieces and get some listed today, to join a few French items already listed.

 

I don't have an actual French poem to share today, but when I think about French writing, Le Petit Prince always come to mind.  (I do have a copy in French somewhere...!)  I have always adored this book, and even read it out loud to eighth graders - eighth graders! - back in the day when I briefly taught middle school English. 

 

My love affair is shared  by the world, evidently - did you know there was a The Little Prince theme park in France, near the German and Swiss borders?  (See https://www.thelittleprince.com.) There's also a foundation. And closer to home, evidently a Broadway play just opened? 

 

If you haven't read the story, it's just a treasure of creativity, love, loss, and hope.  In fact, I read that aside from religious texts, it's the most translated book in the world. It features a pilot, stranded in the Sahara desert, who encounters a little prince requesting a drawing of a sheep. Throughout the tale, the young prince describes his journey across planets, and amusing and touching encounters which evoke universal themes. 

 

The whole book seems poem-like to me, with its fairy tale qualities and compression into a deceptively simple form.  (Saint-Exupery did write poetry and other works.) Plus, the art is charming. So for a taste of the book's voice, I'll just share a few sentences from the beginning, as the narrator, before meeting the book's subject, explains how he left a career in art at the tender age of 6, after an unsuccessful (according to others) couple of drawings. 

 

The grown-ups then advised me to give up my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and to devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. Thus it was that I gave up a magnificent career as a painter at the age of six. I had been disappointed by the lack of success of my drawing No. 1 and my drawing No. 2. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves and it is rather tedious for children to have to explain things to them time and again.

 

So I had to choose another job and I learnt to pilot aeroplanes.

 

[Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de. The Little Prince (pp. 10-11). GENERAL PRESS. Kindle Edition.]

 

The book was written while Saint-Exupery was in the United States.  It was published in 1943, only a year before the author's plane disappeared on a mission in World War II.

 

Earth Day wasn't around in the 1940s, but I have a feeling The Little Prince would agree with its aims of nurturing this planet. And speaking of this planet, and of France, the world will be keeping an eye on the presidential election there this weekend I'm sure, with ramifications not just for France but for the war in Ukraine and political relations beyond. 

 

Merci for joining me in this very rambling post today - be sure to pilot on over to see Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for this week's Roundup, and to catch up with the Kidlit Progressive Poem! Thanks for all the hosting, Margaret. 

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Poetry Friday - Hooray - It's National Poetry Month!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Happy NATIONAL POETRY MONTH 2022!  (Click here for the poets.org link.)

 

So much goodness is planned for our Kidlit corner of the online universe; be sure to check out Jama's Roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  And be sure to follow along with this year's Kidlit Progressive Poem, kindly hosted again by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

 

As for my own little corner of the corner, I plan to get a little jump on celebrating 10 (!) years of artsyletters later this year with some 'perfect-for-poets' gift ideas each Friday. I'll share poetry each week, too, of course!

 

When I ponder poetry, I often let my mind wander to the privilege I had of meeting Nancy Willard decades ago at a writer's conference.  (You might recall her A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE'S INN won the Newbery Award in 1982, and the Provensens received a Caldecott Honor for it.)  One of my favorite books about writing is her TELLING TIME - Angels, Ancestors, and Stories. I've mentioned it before, I know.  (Willard was born in 1936 and died in 2017; you can read more about her here.)

 

I especially love her first chapter, "How Poetry Came Into the World and Why God Doesn't Write It."  This essay includes some banter between Adam and Eve, and both find that poetry helps them to communicate.  Here are a couple of treasures Willard includes from The Rattle Bag, by anonymous authors:

 

 

I will give my love an apple without any core,

I will give my love a house without any door,

I will give my love a palace wherein he may be

and he may unlock it without any key.

 

 

and

 

 

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;

the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.

It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;

and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

 

 

If all this talk of love has your heart a-flutter, take it over to my juicy little universe, where Heidi has much more to love in the Roundup this week.  Thanks for hosting, Heidi!  And here's to a Happy Poetry Month to all.  I look forward to starting off mine with an online Haiku Society of America Southeast Region workshop on Saturday. :0)

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Poetry Friday - Meet-Up with Jone and a Scottish Nursery Rhyme

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

I had a special treat last Sunday, when I headed "north" to Charleston to meet up with the multi-talented and all-around wonderful  Jone Rush MacCulloch, who was visiting this side of the world from Oregon.  She and her hubby Chuck & I enjoyed some tasty food at a new Charleston gem, The Honey Hive.  We solved all the world's problems and enjoyed catching up.

 

My good day continued right on, as my daughter Morgan and her college girlfriends had met up in Charleston for a girls' weekend, and I got to see them briefly later!  Morgan is expecting, and did you know there's a three-floor baby store downtown there?  I didn't either.  Very dangerous.  

 

But back to Jone, and weaving these two things together slightly.... Jone and I share a love of Scotland (Ireland, too!), and ancestral connections for our families.   I blogged about our family trip there in the summer of 2018.  Jone had planned to go in 2020, but - alas, the pandemic squelched that.  She is planning a fantabulous-sounding trip there this summer, and I'll be vicariously sneaking back....

 

Anyway, since Jone and Chuck and I didn't really solve the world's problems, and they've gotten horrifically worse since the weekend, I thought I'd offer something light as a tiny respite today.  I have a book of Scottish Nursery Rhymes from the early 1930s.  Really, they are songs, with music for piano.  But they can work as poems, too.  (FIFTY TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH NURSERY RHYMES, Collected, edited and arranged for Voice & Paino by Alfred Moffat, Augener Ltd., London.)

 

Here's one in honor of Jone and her upcoming trip, and in honor of wee ones. 

 

(Note - a "kirtel" is a skirt, and a "kirk" is a church.)

 

 

WHEN I WAS A WEE THING

 

Air:  Lennox love to Blantyre.

 

 

When I was a wee thing

Just eight or nine years auld,

I hadn't any petticoat

To keep me frae the cauld.

 

So I went into Edinbro'

That bonnie burrows toun,

And there I bought a petticoat,

A kirtel, and a goun.

 

And as I hameward wended 

I thought I'd build a kirk,

And a' the birdies o' the air

They helpit me to work.

 

The herring was the high priest,

The salmon was the clerk, 

The bullfinch played the organ

All in my bonnie kirk!

 

 

Speaking of birds and last week's post, I was only able to count birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count on Saturday and Sunday, but it's always such a great thing to do.  For the first time I tried the "ID by Sound" feature of the Merlin bird app, and - Oh my goodness -  I'm hooked! I plan to use it to further develop my birding-by-ear skills. 

 

Our wonderful Tricia has this week's Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.  Thanks for hosting, Tricia!

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Poetry Friday - Blue Horizons in Postcards from Margaret And Linda B.

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  A couple more postcards from our New Year's Poem Postcard Swap, coordinated by the wonderful Jone Rush MacCulloch.

 

Speaking of Jone, please see her poignant haiku featured on The Haiku Foundation's "Haiku of the Day" page for Jan. 13 here - Congratulations, Jone! 

 

This week's additions to the refrigerator door have complementary visuals - I  love that!  Margaret Simon sent a photo postcard with a collage on the front in beautiful blue celestial and warm earth hues.  Having recently seen the traveling interactive Van Gogh exhibit, I enjoyed the bits of Starry Night in this piece!  These envelope a wonderful quote from Emily Dickinson.  The image includes some mountain-y layers in the background under the sun, and a yoga enthusiast under myriads of stars, among other delights.  

 

Her original poem reads:

 

    A new year

     new ideas

  growing buds

 to find a garden

already blooming

 

I love that surprise at the end; the kind of "relief" to feel that we don't always have to start everything from scratch.  I/we might need to take a look around and appreciate what's there. 

 

Linda Baie sent a gorgeous expansive photograph from Colorado - look at those majestic Rockies!  Her greeting reads:

 

     Happy New Year!

Blue Skies Smiling at YOU!

 

I'll take those smiling blue skies, thank you!

 

On the back of her card is a poetic quote from Chandra Kochhar, sentiments that seem to me in keeping with Margaret's inspiring words, too.

 

Here's to smiles and blooms and noticing - wishing you inspirations as you make your way through these winter days. 

 

(And, no - I still haven't sent my poem swap postcards out yet, but working on it.... ;0) )

 

Many thanks to our beloved and multitalented Tabatha for hosting the Roundup this week at The Opposite of Indifference - Enjoy the treasures!

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Poetry Friday - Into the LIGHT with Poetry Postcards from Linda M & Mary Lee...

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I hope you're having a good start to the New Year.  

 

I was too smothered in holiday Etsy orders to participate in the Winter Poem Swap this year, but I usually can't resist the call of Jone Rush MacCulloch to join in the New Year poem postcard swap. (It's a lovely way to start the year, and there's usually an optional nod to the Lunar New Year, meaning I have a few extra weeks to get my act together....)

 

What a delight to already receive two postcards from poets way more on the ball than I.  And they both celebrate one of my favorite things:  LIGHT.  (How much am I drawn to light?  I'm probably part moth....)

 

Linda Mitchell has been busy with her art supplies again, including vibrant stampings/printings on her card, and a gorgeous collaged star ornament.  On the front of the postcard, she included a mesmerizing poem by Sara Teasdale from 1926:

 

 

Dark of the Moon

 

There will be stars over the place forever;

Though the house we loved and the street

we loved are lost,

Every time the earth circles her orbit

On the night the autumn equinox is crossed,

Two stars we knew, poised on the peak of mid-night

Will reach their zenith; stillness will be deep;

There will be stars over the place forever,

There will be stars forever, while we sleep.

 

 

And on the back, an original poetic message:

 

Between joy and sorrow,

all I need to do is look up

to know the stars are above you too.

Remember to look up.

Happy New Year!

2022

 

And on the handcrafted star, a found/haiku poem also taking its inspiration from Teasdale's (direct quotes, in fact):

 

stillness will be deep

stars forever while we sleep

circles on the night

 

©Linda Mitchell

 

While Linda's gift has me gazing at the mystical and magical night sky, Mary Lee Hahn's beautiful card has me warming myself in the glow of close-by candlelight. (I love the immediacy of the flames and the texture of the bricks in the background of her original photograph on the card's front.)

 

Mary Lee's poem also takes a haiku turn:

 

each flame provides light

we illuminate this world

us all - together

 

©Mary Lee Hahn

 

Oh, how I hope 2022 can bring the world some much-needed togetherness and warmth for its human inhabitants, guided by starlight and all kinds of light.

 

For more poetic illumination, head over to Beyond Literacy Week, where Carol has 2022's first Roundup!  Thank you, Carol. 

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Poetry Friday - Rainer Maria Rilke Quote for the New Year

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I hope you are enjoying your holidays.  We are still in and out visiting family and grateful for time together.  Just a quote from a poet today - the beloved Rainer Maria Rilke. I discovered the words and their source on this curious quote-gatherer's website here.

 

Here's the whole sentence, written by Rainer Maria Rilke to his wife Clare in a 1907 letter:

 

          And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious, and great things.

 

If you like the clicky-tap-tappy sound of a typewriter, feel free to check out the video I put on Instagram (artsylettersgifts) - and click the little volume symbol to unmute it -  or Facebook (artsyletters) with a portion of the above quote.  Just my wish for us all for 2022. (Note - for the first video version I posted, I used my laptop's video editor and added background music from their list of options. It was a Ravel string quartet.  I got an email saying it was removed because of a copyright violation - I didn't know those built-in tracks could violate copyright!  Wouldn't ever do that intentionally.  So, version 2 here is just the keys tapping - and an occasional bong from the windchimes!) 

 

Enjoy this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Carol's Corner - Thanks for hosting, Carol!

Here's to good health and joy (& lots of poems!) to you and yours in the New Year.

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Poetry Friday - Farewell to a Fine Dog

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  A sad week for our family, as daughter Morgan and son-in-law Matt had to say goodbye to a very special four-legged family member.  I traveled over to visit as he was coming back from a university veterinary hospital after being in and out of the regular vet's office in recent weeks. He had cancer, but with some rare complications.  It was heartbreaking to have to say goodbye to a fine dog at age 7.

 

"That face!" is what my mother, and others, always said about Cooper. Those soulful hound-dog eyes would get you every time. He was a beautiful, quirky boxer mix:  a rambunctious puppy, a dignified dog, a tireless tennis ball chaser, a relentless castle defender, a picky eater, a boat captain, a snuggly cuddler when it was his idea, and a devoted member of the family. He will be terribly missed by fellow canine family member Maggie, and of course by all of us humans.

 

On Wenesday evening we toasted this fine fellow via text, from four different geographical locations. Here's to you, Cooper!  

 

And here's a fun poem I found in Cooper's honor.  I didn't know it, but evidently it's a regular in schools in Scotland.  The Scots words might seem intimidating at first, but you can catch the drift if you read it through once or twice in a rhythm.  The audio at the bottom of the linked page is the way to go - with an adult and child reciting the poem, it's very entertaining. I hope it brings you a smile.

 

from "A Dug, a Dug" 

by Bill Keys

 

Hey, daddy, wid yi get us a dug?
A big broon alsatian? Ur a wee white pug,
Ur a skinny wee terrier ur a big fat bull.
Aw, daddy. Get us a dug. Wull ye?      

   

N whose dug'll it be when it durties the flerr?
and pees'n the carpet, and messes the sterr?
It's me ur yur mammy'll be taen fur a mug.
Away oot an play. Yur no needin a dug. 

...

 

Well, now you HAVE to click the link to find our what happens, right?

 

Find the rest here, and enjoy that audio link at the bottom. It's only a minute and a half long. 

 

And join the talented Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections for this week's Roundup.  Thanks for hosting, Elisabeth!

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Poetry Friday - Featured in Local Life Magazine!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Oh, I've missed you so.  I've been out of town and out of pocket much of the last couple of months.  This time last year, I was quarantined and caring for family members with Covid, right after the death of my father-in-law. What a difference a year makes.  

 

Since May, we've celebrated my sister's wedding in Florida; our son's graduation from grad school at Candler/Emory in Atlanta; a postponed-from-the-holidays family gathering on my husband's side in Georgia; and the wedding of a dear friend's daughter last weekend in Georgia. Also, on Mother's Day weekend, I made a crazy solo trip to the Upstate (the foothills and mountain-y part of South Carolina) to be the first person to see a house that was coming on the market, as we've been hunting a second home/retreat-type place closer to our kids for weekends and holidays and such.  We bought it!  And, yes, it was a crazy experience in a crazy market. 

 

Then another trip over so my hubby Jeff could see what we were buying.... Then out of the blue I learned that rent for my downtown studio/shop space was going up by 70 percent(!). So I packed up seven years worth of artistic hoarding and clunkily moved it all to my house - still sorting it out here. Shhh.  That was right after said son took much of his stuff out of the house post-graduation, to move with his girlfriend to the North Carolina high country.  (His closet is now full of art and framing supplies and such.)  Then came our house closing and moving a bunch of stuff there, and taking a week to set it up and take care of repairs and lots of little necessary things.  [Jone, if you're reading this, you'll like that I've decorated it all with Celtic/Scottish, British, and Irish themes!]

 

And in the midst of all of this wonderful activity, I was invited to submit work to the Local Life Magazine here to be the featured poet for July, and the kind editors and staff chose several summer-friendly haiku to publish this month!  The poems are accompanied by a stunning photograph from the month's featured photographer, Joan Edkhardt. What a treat and what an honor.  

 

You've probably seen most of these before, but here are the poems included, followed by names of the journals in which they first appeared:

 

 

my small insights

a hummingbird

at the trumpet flower

 

 

night thunder

shaking the house

and the dog

 

 

hatchlings - 

beyond orange tape

the sea

 

 

telling it slant

a ghost crab

slips into a hole

 

 

between 

rounds of rain

rounds of treefrogs

 

 

(Haiku originally published in Modern Haiku, Prune Juice, Frogpond, Acorn, and bottle rockets. Poems ©Robyn Hood Black.)

 

 

Click here to peruse the entire issue of our local Local Life Magazine - my poems are almost at the end, and there is a lot of fun sizzle between the covers of the "hot" July issue! 

 

For lots more summer and lots more poetry, visit our wonderful Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone! Thanks for hosting the Roundup, Molly, and Stay Cool, All. 

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Poetry Friday - Some Ancient Irish/Family History...?

Adding these and more items as fast as I can! [Update - had some techno-issues with Etsy for some reason trying to make new listings Friday.  Slowly but surely getting some new things added.]   (Here's a link to CELTIC in my Etsy shop.)

Greetings, Poetry Lovers - Happy Almost-St. Patrick's Day! I've fallen prey to Celtic whispers again, and though returning to Ireland and The British Isles is not on the near horizon, I've been adding to my collection of books about Celtic ornament and medieval calligraphy and such, and dipping into bits of lore.  

 

I've been away form Ancestry.com for FAR too long, and hope to jump back in later this Spring.  But in addition to the major English/Welsh/Northwestern Europe lines in my family tree, and the more than a third of me that is Scottish, there is this intriguing branch of the family tree thanks to my mother's grandmother, Sarah O'Neal (born in 1861).  I spent a fair bit of time tracing these O'Neals before our family Scotland/Ireland trip in 2018, and there are definitely some characters in that line of folks.

 

I need to go back and double-check, but after some late-night sleuthings back then, it sure looked my family went right on back to a certain Sir Hugh O'Neall who was born at Shane's Castle in Antrim (Northern Ireland) in 1698 and eventually jumped ship in the Delaware Bay. 

 

My meanders then led me to that line of the family going all the way back to  - hold onto your shamrocks – a certain "Niall of the Nine Hostages" – (Niall Noígíallach), an ancient High King of Tara from 379 to 405 A.D.. Whether he existed in more than legend is not completely known, but some Trinity College genetic researchers determined that his DNA can actually be found in three million or so men alive today around the world. (The common Irish surname "O'Neill" - "Ui Neill" in Gaelic -  means 'descendant son of Niall.')

 

**Holiday Note:  Niall of the Nine Hostages is said to be responsible for the capture and enslavement of a 16-year-old boy from Wales named Succat (along with his sisters). This young man grew up to become Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.**

 

So for Poetry Friday, here's part of a dirge singing this ancient king's praises, translated by Kuno Meyer in

Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry, published by Constable & Company Ltd. in London in 1911:

 

 

A DIRGE FOR KING NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES (+ a.d. 405)

 

 

Tuirn son of Torna

 

When we used to go to the gathering with Echu's [15] son,

Yellow as a bright primrose was the hair upon the head of Cairenn's [16] son.

 

Torna

 

Well hast thou spoken, dear son. A bondmaid should be given thee

For the sake of the hair which thou hast likened to the colour of the crown of the primrose.

 

Eyelashes black, delicate, equal in beauty, and dark eyebrows—

The crown of the woad, a bright hyacinth, that was the colour of his pupils.

 

Tuirn son of Torna

 

The colour of his cheeks at all seasons, even and symmetrical:

The fox-glove, the blood of a calf—a feast without a flaw! the crown of the forest in May.

 

Torna

 

His white teeth, his red lips that never reproved in anger—

His shape like a fiery blaze overtopping the warriors of Erin.

 

Like the moon, like the sun, like a fiery beacon was the splendour of Niall:

Like a dragon-ship from the wave without a flaw was Niall, Echu's son.

 

[15]Niall's father.
[16]Niall's mother.

 

You can find the rest at Gutenberg here.

 

(And did Torna really say that Tuirn should be given a 'bondmaid' because of a clever simile about Niall's hair?! Did I read that right? :0! I do quite like that dragon-ship line, though!) 

 

You can find out much more about King Niall with an online search, such as these thoughts by Claire Santry, sharing her genealogical adventures at her website, Irish Geneology Toolkit.  

 

~In the studio, Celtic adventures continue... I've been going a bit crazy making jewelry and other items with reproductions from gorgeous 19th-Century printed plates/manuscripts that I have, featuring ancient Celtic ornaments and designs. Much more to come!~

 

If St. Paddy's Day has you in a celebratory mood, then you'll enjoy all the birthday doings over at My Juicy Little Universe, where Heidi is kindly hosting this week.  Happy Birthday, Heidi!

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