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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Family Ties & Armistice Day Centennial

 

The intriguing discussion on public radio's On Point on Thursday reminded me that Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, when World War I officially ended.

 

Meghna Chakrabarti hosted Lora Vogt and Jack Beatty in an exploration of history and World War I, in which Vogt said "20th-Century technology pushed up against 19th-Century ideology."  Seven countries entered the war when it began in 1914; at its end in 1918, 30-plus countries were involved on every inhabited continent.

 

My mother's father, John Hollingsworth Conditt, was a small and evidently feisty Arkansas teenager when war broke out.  He lied about his age to join the Army.  In fact, somehow I've inherited the very shirt he wore when he signed up – with some blood stains on it from a blow he took to the nose during some kind of a fight that day….

 

Regular readers over here know I'm a little obsessed with family history and Ancestry.com.  Recalling the photo of my grandfather above, I visited my online tree to see if any military "hints" popped up for my grandfather. I found an application for a military headstone.  Over the initial writing, a red pencil added details… a change in rank from private to corporal, and, under the "Medals" section, "Purple Heart" and "Silver Star"!  My eyes filled with tears.  (I should add that a few hours of online sleuthing have yet to substantiate the red-pencilled additions on that 1959 form, but I'm still on the hunt. I was able to find military transport records back and forth across the seas. )

 

A call to my mother (Hi, Mom!) revealed that she didn't really know about medals, except for a vague memory of a ribbon and metal medal with a clasp in a hinged tin box on the shelves in their kitchen, when she was very little. Hmmmm….  She knew her father had been shot in the hip in France. (Which would explain the Purple Heart, though I haven't found records yet. There's not a comprehensive list, evidently – maybe the same for the Silver Star?)  I did find that he came back on a ship from France in 1919, but then evidently headed out again.... Mom recalled that he was part of the lingering forces on the China Expedition, which occurred around the turn of the century when he was born, but US troops were still coming and going into the early 1920s.)

 

My mother also recalled how, after her dad returned home from the Army in 1922 and was walking through his little town with a buddy, he saw my grandmother in a field and declared, "I'm going to marry her."  He didn't know who she was. They wed the next year.  Outside in the middle of the road, mind you – her father had some objection (perhaps her age of 18? We're not sure…) and wouldn't let them get married in the house.  My grandmother said it was very cold outside! 

 

In my studio among my many old books I found THE VITAL ISSUES OF THE WAR (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1918), a collection of sermons by Richard Wilson Boynton, a Unitarian Minister and professor.  I have not read it all, only skimmed some of it.  But I sympathize with the struggle between a longing for pacifism and the gritty reality that evil cannot be permitted to destroy innocent lives unchecked.

 

From Sermon III, THE GOSPEL OF PACIFISM, a few excerpted lines:

 

"But until August, 1914, I supposed myself to be a fairly consistent peace advocate.  Up to that fateful summer most Americans, one fancies, had a more or less fervent hope for the near advent of the new internationalism, the gradual reduction of armaments on land and sea, the progress of the principle of arbitration in disputes between nations – in short, the whole group of world-ideals represented by the two Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907."

 

And, "It is well to practice kindness to animals, but that does not mean stopping to reason with a mad dog when he is attacking your child."

 

Boynton ended Sermon V, THE INFLUENCE OF SEA POWER IN THE WAR, with this poem below by Alfred Noyes. (I can't find an easy link so will include the whole poem.)

 

 

   The Searchlights

 

Shadow by shadow, stripped for fight,

          The lean black cruisers search the sea.

Night-long their level shafts of light

          Revolve, and find no enemy.

Only they know each leaping wave

May hide the lightning, and their grave.

 

And in the land they guard so well

          Is there no silent watch to keep?

An age is dying and the bell

          Rings midnight on a vaster deep.

But over all its waves, once more

The searchlights move, from shore to shore.

 

And captains that we thought were dead,

          And dreamers that we thought were dumb,

And voices that we thought were fled,

          Arise, and call us, and we come;

And "Search in thine own soul," they cry;

"For there, too, lurks thine enemy."

 

Search for the foe in thine own soul,

          The sloth, the intellectual pride;

The trivial jest that veils the goal

          For which our father lived and died;

The lawless dreams, the cynic Art,

That rend thy nobler self apart.

 

Not far, not far into the night,

          These level swords of light can pierce;

Yet for her faith does England fight,

          Her faith in this our universe,

Believing Truth and Justice draw

From founts of everlasting law;

 

The law that rules the stars, our stay,

          Our compass through the world's wide sea,

The one sure light, the one sure way,

          The one firm base of Liberty;

The one firm road that men have trod

Through Chaos to the throne of God.

 

Therefore a Power above the State,

          The unconquerable Power, returns,

The fire, the fire that made her great

          Once more upon her altar burns,

Once more, redeemed and healed and whole,

She moves to the Eternal Goal.

 

(Learn more about Alfred Noyes, of "The Highwayman" fame, here.) 

 

Finally, - and thanks for bearing with a long post - today (Poetry Friday) is the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht ("The Night of Broken Glass," termed by the Nazis). On this horrific night, anti-Semitic sentiment and laws erupted into actual violence and brutality, and the Holocaust followed.  [On Thursday, Joshua Johnson on public radio's 1A hosted an important  show about preserving Holocaust survivor stories.]

 

We cannot forget.  It's barely fathomable that the lives of those beautiful souls at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh were taken not even two weeks ago. Only 20 years from Armistice Day to Kristallnacht. And 80 years from then to now.  History is important.  

 

Please visit the ever-thoughtful Michelle at Today's Little Ditty for this week's Roundup. 

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Poetry Friday - Longfellow's Maiden and Weathercock

Wood engraving by Boyd Hanna in The Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Heritage Press, 1943.  

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

I know hearts are heavy this week for those affected by another brutal hurricane.  I found it a little crazy that with family members and like-family friends from Central Florida up through Charlotte, we were all experiencing some effects of this storm within hours of each other.  Beaufort was once again very fortunate.  We did hunker down for a tornado warning near midnight on Wednesday night, and our power went out for a few hours not long thereafter, but other than lots of wind, my corner of town at least was all right. (Schools and government offices were closed Thursday.)

 

I stood in front of the television in disbelief Thursday morning when The Weather Channel showed the first drone images of Mexico Beach, a place my folks have enjoyed visiting in the past.  A few battered structures remained, but mostly - empty slabs where countless houses and businesses used to be.  Nothing.  Left. Prayers and more prayers for all who are dealing with so many kinds of losses.

 

(Some PF regulars might know that our own Jan Godown Annino is from Tallahassee; I hope she won't mind my sharing that I reached her by text Thursday morning, and they are okay.)

 

I wish I had the right words for comfort today, but instead, the diversion of a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, which was published in 1880 in "Youth's Companion."  The view over the sea is a much more pleasant one in this ballad-like poem.  

 

 

MAIDEN AND WEATHERCOCK

 

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

               MAIDEN

 

O Weathercock on the village spire,

With your golden feathers all on fire,

Tell me, what can you see from your perch

Above there over the tower of the church?

 

 

             WEATHERCOCK

 

I can see the roofs and the streets below,

And the people moving to and fro,

And beyond, without either roof or street,

The great salt sea, and the fisherman's fleet.

 

I can see a ship come sailing in 

Beyond the headlands and harbor of Lynn,

And a young man standing on the deck

With a silken kerchief round his neck.

 

Now he is pressing it to his lips,

And now he is kissing his finger-tips,

And now he is lifting and waving his hand,

And blowing the kissses toward the land.

 

 

               MAIDEN

 

Ah, that is the ship from over the sea,

That is bringing my lover back to me,

Bringing my lover so fond and true,

Who does not change with the wind like you.

 

 

              WEATHERCOCK

 

If I change with all the winds that blow,

It is only because they made me so,

And people would think it wondrous strange,

If I, a Weathercock, should not change.

 

O pretty Maiden, so fine and fair,

With your dreamy eyes and your golden hair,

When you and your lover meet to-day,

You will thank me for looking some other way.

 

 

I found this poem in The Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, part of THE AMERICAN POETS series edited by Louis Untermeyer for The Heritage Press (1943). I'm smitten with the wood engraving illustrations throughout, by 20th Century artist and illustrator Boyd Hanna. 

 

For so many in our country (including Puerto Rico) and around the world reeling from recent natural disasters, prayers for healing and for the eventual changes of direction that time brings.

 

Our gracious host for the Roundup this week is the ever-amazing Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids.  Enjoy all the offerings!

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Poetry Friday - The Poetry of US

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Are your bags packed?

 

This week the third National Geographic volume of poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis launched into the world, THE POETRY OF US.  (Earlier collections are THE BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY and THE BOOK OF NATURE POETRY - both full of natural wonders and animal magnetism!)

 

THE POETRY OF US invites readers to journey from one end of the country to the other to savor the culture, history, and quirks of the many varied places we call home. It is divided into eight sections:  New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Great Plains, Rocky Mountains West, Pacific Coast (including Hawaii and Alaska), and Territories. You'll find thoughtful poems, cheerful poems, challenging poems, heartbreaking poems... I've only just begun to delve in.  

 

I'm beyond thrilled to have a poem included, along with many other Poetry Friday folks.  (I hope there are lots of sneak peeks celebrated in posts!)  My Philadelphia-themed poem shares a page with a powerful one by Charles Waters called "City of Brotherly Love."  And just a couple pages back are a couple of 'our' Lauras on the same page - "Beach Day" by Laura Shovan and "Water, Water Everywhere:  A Delaware Chant" by Laura Purdie Salas.  It's an honor share book space with so many poetry friends and their fine poems in each geographical section.  

 

There are traditional poems such as the Navajo "Twelfth Song of Thunder" and several poems with translations, as well as timeless poems by national literary lights including Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Robert Frost, among others.  More than 200 poems in all!

 

A Frost quote leads us in, in fact: 

 

"All poetry begins with Geography."

 

Our editor extradordinaire offers an enchanting introduction and a final note with poetic invitation. I look forward to sharing this volume and all its breadth and depth with my third-grade-teacher daughter, Morgan, and with family and friends, as well as with young readers and writers in schools. 

 

Here's my contribution, celebrating the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, the nation's largest public art project.  (If you're in that vicinity, it happens to be Mural Arts Month with events from Sept. 28 through November 3!  Click here for more info.)

 

 

Mural Compass

 

Tall figures rise from city ground.

They speak to me without a sound

from vibrant faces, facing sun -

these paintings are for everyone.

 

Chartreuse and purple pop the street,

kaleidoscoping at my feet.

Graffiti marks are now long gone.

These paintings are for everyone.

 

On buildings bare and bridges wide

where history and hope collide

shine songs of freedom, fame, and fun-

These paintings are for everyone.

 

©Robyn Hood Black

 

 

This poem is a kyrielle - a centuries-old French form with eight syllables per line and a repeating end line in couplets or quatrains, with a minimum of three stanzas.  (Its origins are liturgical; the name comes from Old French kyriele, literally, kyrie eleison, from Late Latin, according to Miriam Webster.)

 

Deepest thanks to J. Patrick Lewis for this national treasure of a collection.  Lewis has penned more than 110 poetry and picture books for young readers and in 2011 he received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. He served as US Children's Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2013.  He continues to travel across the country inspiring students and grown-ups.

 

Now point your compass over to Deowriter, where the oh-so-talented Jone is hosting the Roundup from her lovely writer blog, and making it a GREAT MORNING all day long.  Thanks, Jone!

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Poetry Friday - Blue Worlds by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

 

Greetings from the Georgia foothills, Poetry Lovers!  As I write this on Thursday, we are 300+ miles from our little coastal home and pondering the best time to head back, watching Florence updates.  Our prayers are with all in the path of this and other storms.

 

Poetry is always good medicine in times of stress.  Today I am grateful to Rebecca Kai Dotlich for allowing me to share her beautiful poem from the new anthology by Lee Bennett Hopkins, WORLD MAKE WAY - New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Poetry Friday regulars have no doubt enjoyed peeks into this gorgeous collection, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers in partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You'll see some familiar Poetry Friday names among contributors, too! (Click here for a wonderful interview with Lee by NPR's Scott Simon, which aired on March 31.) 

 

Rebecca wrote in response to Mary Cassatt's Young Mother Sewing (Oil on canvas, 1900).

 

 

Blue Worlds

 

I grow up in a world the color of water.

Sometimes when breezes blow just right,

when sun puddles in blue folds,

mama talks of blue things, wild things;

sea glass and butterflies,

peacocks and poppies.

 

While clocks keep perfect time

ships sail on seas yet named,

and birds sing odes to skyight.

Cornflowers turn to tufted stars

while mama threads light rain,

stitching my name

into air.

 

©Rebecca Kai Dotlich.  All rights reserved.

 

In my corner of the country, as folks react and respond to the power of water unleashed by a storm, I'm comforted by Rebecca's poem.  Its water imagery opens doors to wonder and connection, and to this exquisite painting of a tender bond between mother and child.

 

And, an aside about 'voice': When I first read, excerpted in Lee Bennett Hopkins's foreword, "cornflowers turn to tufted stars," I did not need to see who had written it - I knew that lyrical line must have come from Rebecca's pen. *Swoon*....

 

To learn more about Rebecca and her work, click here, and click here for the website of Lee Bennett Hopkins.

 

For the Poetry Friday Roundup, find some high ground and inspiration at The Poem Farm this week with Amy, who just happens to be one of the poets whose work graces the pages of WORLD MAKE WAY!

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Poetry Friday - This Title Is Longer than my Poem...

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

There will be lots of words over here next week, when I host Poetry Friday.  

 

So this week I thought I 'd simply share the shortest poem I've ever had published - four words!  (You might recall my spring post about one-line haiku, sometimes called monoku.  Here's the link if you missed it.)

 

Today's poem appears in the summer issue of Modern Haiku.

 

 

 

a penny saved verdigris

 


Modern Haiku, Vol. 49.2, Summer 2018

 

 ©Robyn Hood Black

 

 

I had verdigris on my mind this spring, having recently turned in my batch of writing for the Core Essentials Character Education Curriculum I've been contributing to for many years.  I handle the animals, colors, and quotes corresponding to each monthly value.  Often I suggest/pick these items too, and this year I tossed in "verdigris."  I've always been enchanted by that variegated blue-green sheen over metal.  (And it wasn't hard to find a bit in my studio, either!)

 

Did you know it took the Statue of Liberty 30 years to change from her coppery brown to that beautiful green patina?  One must be patient with verdigris, and with poetry! Even the shortest poems appear when they want to, on their own time.

 

Thanks to our colorful, thoughtful Margaret for hosting the Roundup this week at Reflections on the Teche, where you can find links to poetry of varied lengths and learn about Zeno Zines! (See you back here next Friday.) :0)

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Poetry Friday - For the Birds this Week!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers - and Bird Lovers!

 

Our wonderful Round-up host today, Christie over at Wondering and Wondering, issued a call for bird poems for anyone so inclined.  Oh, I am ALWAYS inclined for birds.  I'm also a bit jealous about the educators workshop she participated in this summer with the Cornell bird folks in NY... Swoon!!!

 

We usually take our wee doggie Rita for a walk after dinner, sometimes around the neighborhood and sometimes on the Spanish Moss Trail at the end of our street.  I'm always craning my neck (ha - meant to do that?!) to see who's out and about among the tree canopy, power lines, or marshes as the sun sinks toward the horizon.

 

A few nights ago, thinking about the Poetry Friday bird-theme, I had a couple of treats on our walk.  

 

Here's the rather silly wordplay that sprouted from our sunset saunter:

 

 

Walking at Dusk, Tickled Pink

 

 

Woodpecker - pileated.

Spoonbills - roseate(d).

Birdwatcher me - très elated!

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved.

 

Those birds really ARE that pink, and they fish by swinging those curious bills horizontally back and forth along the surface of the water. 

 

Find out more here, and then click over for more about those equally magnificent pileated woodpeckers.

 

In case you missed my post last week, there are several birds in it!  I shared animal pictures from our Scotland/Ireland trip.  Over at my art blog, I shared a bunch more trip pictures of animals in art, images, and other related curiosities.  Check it out! :0)

 

Enjoy flocking over the the Roundup, and feathery thanks to Christie for the ornithological advenures in poetry!  And, not sure this will work, but here is a link to a video I posted on Facebook featuring those spoonbills. :0)

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Poetry Friday - Animals! TWO BY TWO, Trip Pictures, and New Books to Crow About...

 

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

 

If you might indulge a few more trip pictures (with no promise that these are the last), I thought I'd share a brand new animal-themed book with a romping rhyme, and a general celebration of our non-human friends today. (Keep scrolling down after the post, if viewing on a computer, to see all of the animal pictures and the book cover at the bottom. IDs and locations are in the caption at the very bottom!)

 

 

Upon returning home from our amazing Scotland/Ireland family adventure this summer, I realized I had snapped several pictures of animals along with the castles and misty vistas.  Of course, I thought to myself upon this discovery.  My life has always been animal-centric, benefiting from a free-range childhood in the woods of Florida, and a lifetime of sharing life with the furred, feathered, hoofed, and scaled, and 30-plus years as a vegetarian. 

 

 

On our first full day in Edinburgh, a pigeon came to call at our apartment window overlooking James Court. We exchanged pleasantries.  I never thought conversing with birds was unusual, since I've done so since I was little, but my kids once gently let me know that not everyone goes around acting like Snow White in the forest scene in the original Disney movie. (Why not?)

 

 

This week I had a tête-à-tête with a broad-winged hawk (from a safe distance, yard to pine tree), letting it know that, No, I would not be putting my tiny Chihuahua back on the ground any time soon, thank you.

 

 

Anyway, as is my practice with close encounters of the animal variety, while in Scotland I looked up pigeon "spirit medicine" and found that it held perfect messages for the beginning of a trip that originated in vials sent off to Ancestry.com. 

 

 

"As a totem, the pigeon teaches us to return to our roots and explore our heritage. …  Pigeon also serves as a reminder that we come from a clan and are not alone."

https://www.thoughtco.com/bird-totems-4062050

 

 

Yay, pigeons!

 

 

And yay, books (especially ones with poetry!) which celebrate our fellow animals.

 

 

In 2011, it was my privilege to coordinate a children's poetry retreat with Rebecca Kai Dotlich for the SCBWI Southern Breeze region.  Among our wonderful attendees was long-time member Lisa Lowe Stauffer  Lisa's first book for children, TWO BY TWO, a board book by Zonderkids, has just been released! 

 

 

On her website, Lisa mentioned our SCBWI poetry retreat and an assignment Rebecca gave everyone.

 

 

"TWO BY TWO started as a simple, steady poem about Noah's Ark," she writes, noting that the first lines haven't changed.

 

 

On the first colorful page we find animals entering the ark:

 

 

Two by two,

 

Board the boat.

 

Shut the door.

 

Time to float.

 

 

The monkeys become bored, however, and soon they want to do much more than float.  In fact, they "free the zoo" so that all the animals can party like it's, well, a long long time ago, BC.

 

 

Illustrator Angelika Scudamore's bright and lively characters are appealing and full of expression.  Young readers/listeners will have fun pointing out all the different animals on each spread.  The trim size is a generous 8 X 8, perfect for sharing with a wee one in your lap.  Here is another taste of the fun verse:

 

 

Anaconda limbo,

 

Tigers race in pairs.

 

Ring toss on

 

the caribou,

 

Pin the tail on bears!

 

 

Did I mention this was a FUN book?  Congratulations, Lisa and Angelika!

 

 

Interestingly, another rhyming board book was born not too long after that poetry retreat.  Prolific children's author Gail Langer Karwoski penned THANK YOU, TREES (Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner) – a terrific book to share with any inhabitant of the planet. (Here's my blog post about it.) 

 

 

Other Poetry Friday regulars in attendance that weekend included Doraine Bennett and Irene Latham.  (Did I miss any other PF folks?)  Irene has written about LOTS of animals in her novels and picture books.  Keep an eye out for LOVE, AGNES: POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS (Millbrook) coming soon to a bookshelf near you!

 

 

One last shout-out. While in Edinburgh, I got to catch up with my buddy Elizabeth Dulemba, and Jane Yolen joined us for lunch.  (She and Elizabeth had a literary event together in Edinburgh that week.) Elizabeth blogged about our meet-up here.   She also blogged about TWO BY TWO with an interview with Lisa and Angelika here

 

 

Elizabeth has lent her rich artistic talents to a book written by Jane with her son, Adam Stemple.  This wonderful new book from Cornell Lab Publishing Group, CROW, NOT CROW, debuts  August 28. (Here is Jane's blog post about it, with peeks inside the pictures from Elizabeth here.)   

 

 

I can't wait to add it to my bookshelf, right next to our Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's EVERYDAY BIRDS.  Young and not-so-young readers who love birds will soon be crowing about CROW, NOT CROW! 

 

Now, flap on over to Nix the Comfort Zone, where the Magnificent Molly has our Roundup.  [What?  MORE trip pix, you ask?  Well, click on over to my new post at artsyletters for a bunch of "animals in images" (& other related curiosities) from our trip!]

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Poetry Friday - Scotland & Timely Verse by Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  We've been blessed with company since returning from our trip to Scotland and Ireland, and I've just taken up a wee space at a gift shop downtown for some of my artsyetters offerings, so I am still playing catch-up with everything else!

 

But I wanted to share a few lines from our dear old friend, Gerard Manley Hopkins.  He went to Scotland in 1881, and upon visiting Loch Lomond, wrote "Inversnaid."  Here's a link to the entire poem, and here are the lines pictured above:

 

 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.

 

 

These words and other literary quotes on the outside walls of The Scottish Parliament were just some of the diversions which slowed my progress down The Royal Mile as we walked to Holyrood Palace.

 

We would all go back to Edinburgh in a heartbeat, and I have a feeling we will!  After all, among its many attributes and siren calls, it's The World's First UNESCO City of Literature!  (More on that here.) 

 

The beautiful Hopkins verses seem so poignant and relevant here across the Pond this week, with the potential for heartbreaking environmental losses with attacks on The Endangered Species Act, and, pretty much everything else offering thoughtful stewardship of animals and plants and places we can never replace. Sigh.

 

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet!

 

For this week's Roundup, Catherine at Reading to the Core is celebrating GREAT MORNING, the brand-newest Pomelo Books poetry book!  (I'm thrilled to have a poem included.)  Catherine shares her own inspired and inspiring poem in the collection, "Walking for a Cause."

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Poetry Friday - I Hear Bagpipes....

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

We are gearing up for our family "Ancestry" trip to Scotland and Ireland this month - Can't wait!  Except that I still have some 'ready' to get.... 

 

I think some Robert Burns (1759-96) is in order, from a wonderful old book (un-repurposed!) I have:

 

 

CONTENTED WI' LITTLE

Tune:  Lumps o' pudding

 

 

Contented wi' little, and cantie wi' mair,

Whene'er I forgather wi' sorrow and care,

I gie them a skelp as they're creepin' alang,

Wi' a cog o' gude swats, and an auld Scottish sang.

 

I whyles claw the elbow o' troublesome thought;

But man is a soger, and life is a faught:

My mirth and gude humour are coin in my pouch,

And my freedom's my lairdship nae monarch dare touch.

 

A towmond o' trouble, should that be my fa',

A night o' gude fellowship sowthers it a';

When at the blythe end of our journey at last,

Wha the deil ever thinks o' the road he has past?

 

Blind Chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way,

Be't to me, be't frae me, e'en let the jad gae:

Come ease, or come travail; come pleasure or pain,

My warst word is- 'Welcome, and welcome again!'

 

 

(For help with some of those words, here's a link to a 1920 book on Google Books with a few definitions!)

 

Most of the Scots in our family tree were already over here by the time Mr. Burns was born in Scotland.  I've been staying up way too late, too many nights, chasing ancestors and rabbit trails through the brances of my Ancestry.com family tree! My family is threatening an intervention.  I even made a side trip off the interstate through South Carolina recently to go pay my respects to the bones of some newly-discovered Quaker ancestors buried in a small, historic cemetery in the middle of nowhere.... These folks were as old as our Mr. Burns, part of the Ulster Scots-Irish who came over and meandered down through the Carolinas and over into the midwest.  But I digress.

 

Christmas before last, I made my hubby and kids spit in vials and said we'd plan a trip according to where we were from.  We're all very, very, very British! (My brother happened to do the test about the same time, and so did my mother, so it's been especially fun comparing generational DNA results, too.)

 

So off to Edinburgh and Dublin it is, with a couple of day trips to the countryside.  We have ancestral connections in every corner of Great Britain, actually - Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland - as well as Ireland.  We'll mainly focus on the Celtic roots this time. 

 

What I've discovered is that basically we've got "family" on all sides of every historical conflict over there, it seems.  Sigh.  This clan attacks that one; this country fights its neighbors - and yet somehow folks cross lines and marry and have babies. Then they grow up and this group fights that group, etc. etc. The same tune across the globe, I know, across the centuries.  We can't take peace for granted, that's for sure. 

 

Speaking of clans, I've been a bit tartan-crazy in the studio lately.  I've begun making items using a couple of circa 1930 small books, published in Edinburgh, featuring tartans and coats of arms for clans and septs. When I discovered some mid-century Murano glass beads called "Scottish agate" (because they mimic the actual stones), I bought a couple of vintage necklaces to repurpose, too.  I'm having fun combining these with the tartan images, clipped and tucked under glass cabachons. 

 

I also bought an older book on the same theme on Ebay a week or two ago (didn't pay a lot for it)... I was thrilled to receive it and discover what a lovely little treasure it is!  It's pictured above.  It was published in 1891 and is just too lovely for me to dismember.  The printed tartan colors are wonderful, and - the endpapers!  The gilded edges!  And gilded design just inside the covers! It's quite safe for now and makes a delightful photo prop. 

 

Oh - just for fun, I included a pic of "explorer" necklaces I made for Morgan and myself.  100-year-old maps, cuckoo clock chain, vintage telescope charms, vintage Middle Eastern charms (she got my 1 percent in the DNA too), and some fun contemporary metal beads and compass charm.  I'll make some more of these this summer.  Hers features County Fife, where I've got one line of my family and a line of my hubby's back hundreds of years to the same place... different clans.  But same place! And that is happening quite often on my ancestral explorations, both across the Pond and in pre-and post-Colonial migrations here. 

 

My necklace is the British Isles, with a touch of the Western edge of Europe. Which is appropriate, because I JUST found out in my research that "Hood" is not English, as my brother and I thought, but was originally "Hoed" - and, DUTCH!  As in, came-from-Amsterdam-to-New-Amsterdam-before-it-was-New-York Dutch.  But that's another story.... [And, I hadn't really paid attention before, but the splotch of color over the Great Britain region on the Ancestry.com DNA map covers that edge of Europe right beside it, including the Netherlands.]

 

I'll be back with more stories and poems in a few weeks - wishing you a swoon-worthy start to June!  Buffy has just the post to get us in the swing of summer, over at the Roundup.  Enjoy!

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Poetry Friday - Royal Wishes! (& Oscar Wilde)

 

Greetings, Poetry (& Royal Wedding!) Lovers -

 

For those of you on my side of the world, is your alarm set?  My daughter Morgan will rise early in Georgia Saturday morning and I'll do the same here in South Carolina so we can catch the Royal Wedding in Real Time (& text back and forth, I'm sure)! Truth be told, while we're delighted for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, we really just want to see Princess Charlotte as an attendant.

 

The world needs a good ol' happy ritual, and it certainly needs more love.  And there's an American in this wedding… so, it's kind of our patriotic duty to tune in, right? ;0)

 

I've caught bits of the PBS "Royal Wedding Watch" specials this week. I always love it when historian Lucy Worsley shows up.  In the first episode, she popped in to explain how Queen Victoria established so many wedding traditions we still enjoy, wearing white dresses among them.  When the eldest daughter of Victoria and Prince Albert, "Vicky," was wed, she carried some myrtle in her bouquet, from a plant grown from a spray that had been a gift from Albert's grandmother to the queen.  The story goes that sprigs from that very same planting have been used in royal bouquets ever since!  I've come across some accounts calling this last part a myth, but then many others still support it, so I'm going to enjoy the historical and botanical connection.

 

Hunting for a myrtle-infused poem to share today, I found "Flower of Love" by Oscar Wilde.  You remember Oscar (1854-1900), the flamboyant writer who was born in Dublin and pursued his literary career in London? From his lively mind and fraught life he gave us many wonderful quotes, including:

 

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

- Oscar Wilde

 

Here are the first few and last few stanzas from his "Flower" poem.

 

 

Flower of Love

 

    Sweet, I blame you not, for mine the fault 
was, had I not been made of common clay 
I had climbed the higher heights unclimbed 
yet, seen the fuller air, the larger day.

 

    From the wildness of my wasted passion I had 
struck a better, clearer song, 
Lit some lighter light of freer freedom, battled 
with some Hydra-headed wrong.

 

    Had my lips been smitten into music by the 
kisses that but made them bleed, 
You had walked with Bice and the angels on 
that verdant and enamelled mead.

 

 

    Yet I am not sorry that I loved you - ah! 
what else had I a boy to do, - 
For the hungry teeth of time devour, and the 
silent-footed years pursue.

 

    Rudderless, we drift athwart a tempest, and 
when once the storm of youth is past, 
Without lyre, without lute or chorus, Death 
the silent pilot comes at last.

 

    And within the grave there is no pleasure, 
for the blindworm battens on the root, 
And Desire shudders into ashes, and the tree 
of Passion bears no fruit.

 

    Ah! what else had I to do but love you? 
God's own mother was less dear to me, 
And less dear the Cytheraean rising like an 
argent lily from the sea.

 

    I have made my choice, have lived my 
poems, and, though youth is gone in wasted days, 
I have found the lover's crown of myrtle better 
than the poet's crown of bays.

 

(Find the whole poem by scrolling down here .)

 

I'll say hello to Wilde's statue when we are in Dublin this summer! 

 

I've taken this whole royal wedding thing as artistic inspiration and come up with a few new items in my Etsy shop to celebrate.  Click here to see the necklace in the photo above, and click here to see a few brass royal coats of arms pins/bag tags with antique laundry pins, as well as a couple of Scottish coats of arms glass cabochon key chains (illustrations clipped from vintage books).  Lots more of the Scottish tartan/clan items to come… we'll be visiting some family ancestral sites around Edinburgh before we go to the ones near Dublin!  More on all that soon. 

 

Now, hop in your carriage and go share some royal waves with Rebecca at Sloth Reads. (Psstt... she's got a giveaway of a fanTAStic and oh-so-funny book that my husband and I bought - just for ourSELVES! - a few months ago.) Cheerio!

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