Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Reminiscence

"Ring out the grief that saps the mind
for those that here we see no more."

excerpt from the long poetic requiem "In Memoriam A. H. H."
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809 - 1892
Poet Laureate of Victorian England, 1850 - 1892, and
still one of the most popular poets in the English language.

Churchyard at St. Mary's, in Little Crosby, Liverpool, England

A Reminiscence
Yes, thou art gone! and never more
Thy sunny smile shall gladden me;
But I may pass the old church door,
And pace the floor that covers thee,

May stand upon the cold, damp stone,
And think that, frozen, lies below
The lightest heart that I have known,
The kindest I shall ever know.

Yet, though I cannot see thee more,
'Tis still a comfort to have seen;
And though thy transient life is o'er,
'Tis sweet to think that thou hast been;

To think a soul so near divine,
Within a form so angel fair,
United to a heart like thine,
Has gladdened once our humble sphere.

by Anne Brontë, 1820 – 1849
British novelist and poet,
youngest member of the Brontë literary family.

This poem appeared in 1946, in Poems By
Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell
-- the pen-names chosen by
Charlotte, Emily, and Anne for their first book of poetry.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I Shall Come Back

another painting by Kate Greenaway (1846 - 1901)
English children's book illustrator and writer

I Shall Come Back
I shall be coming back to you
From seas, rivers, sunny meadows,
Glens that hold secrets:
I shall come back with my hands full
Of light and flowers....
I shall bring back things I have picked up,
Traveling this road or the other,
Things found by the sea or in the pinewood.
There will be a pine-cone in my pocket,
Grains of pink sand between my fingers.
I shall tell you of a golden pheasant’s
Will you know me?

a childhood reverie, composed at age 10 - 12
by American child poet Hilda Conkling (1910 - 86)

For more poems on this theme see
my post "Love In The Open Hand"
my fortnightly literary blog
of connection and coincidence

Friday, May 28, 2010

Love In The Open Hand

A few months ago, when I mentioned this sonnet (see "Kiss Me," March 1, 2010) I knew that it deserved another, longer look. Millay is undoubtedly one of the the most-mentioned writers in my literary discussions, and always one of my top choices for desert island reading. I know you're supposed to say The Bible or Shakespeare, but I think I'd be more inclined to pack the sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Sonnet XI
Not in a silver casket cool with pearls
Or rich with red corundum or with blue,
Locked, and the key withheld, as other girls
Have given their loves, I give my love to you;
Not in a lovers'-knot, not in a ring
Worked in such fashion, and the legend plain—
Semper fidelis, where a secret spring
Kennels a drop of mischief for the brain:

"Down in
the meadow
where the
cowslips grow"

by Kate Greenaway
(1846 - 1901)
English children's
book illustrator

Love in the open hand, no thing but that,
Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,
As one should bring you cowslips in a hat
Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt,
I bring you, calling out as children do:
"Look what I have!—And these are all for you."
~from the sonnet sequence Fatal Interview

What I admire about "Sonnet XI" is its innocence and optimism. It's a poem to read when you fear that what you have to offer, the things that you hold out are not being accepted, not even when you say, "these are all for you." And what are those things? Not diamond rings so much as thoughts, ideas, values, dreams, favorite poems, past experiences, rice in a jar, cowslips in a hat -- all the things that add to up to your own particular way of being in the world. How sad, the thought of offering honest companionship and getting the message, "Oh, no, you should be a different way than what you are."

This sonnet says that you deserve someone who offers you "Love in the open hand / nothing but that." However lovely the gifts and delightful the tokens, they should always be offered freely out of tenderness and a desire for your company -- just the way you are -- never as a way to control or "improve." And better yet, when you offer your affection and your deepest hopes and dreams, "ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt," they should be accepted freely -- not scrutinized or analyzed or held against the light or laughed at or brushed aside or put on hold.

Take care of your heart.

For more poems on this theme see today's post
my fortnightly literary blog
of connection and coincidence

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quality Time

For a quality time activity,
be kind to yourself and take the scenic route!
St. Peter's Way a pedestrian friendly greenway,
brings you past such lush, shady sights as this,
right in the middle of busy Philadelphia!
(Can you see our house?)

A few ideas about "quality time"
from some of my favorite writers:

Peggy Jones and Pam Young (aka The Slob Sisters): "I had never agreed with the idea that it was 'quality time' that was important when raising children. I think it's quantity time that counts. A child can't be expected to concentrate all the important things he or see feels and thinks into some arbitrary hour or day that a parent designates as 'quality time.' . . . In the end, the person who is there all the time is the one who gives quality time" (Get Your Act Together, 133 - 34).

Al Franken: "Quantity time is quality time. My dad never took me horseback riding. We never went white-water rafting. He never gave me the seven-thousand-dollar fully functional sale model of a Ferrari that I coveted when I was twelve. But he did spend time with me. Not necessarily quality time, but quantity time, hours and hours and hours of nonproductive, aimless quantity time.

"What did we do with this quantity time? Mainly, we watched television, hours and hours and hours of television. My fondest memories of childhood are of sitting on the couch watching comedians on TV with my parents. . ."

Funny Franken goes on the describe his father's laughing fits, pipe-smoking habit, and eventual death of lung cancer at age eighty-five, concluding that "it was this quantity time with spent with my father, laughing and coughing up phlegm, that inspired me in choosing my life's' work: making people laugh and raising money for the American Lung Association" (Oh, the Things I Know! A Guide to Success, or, Failing That, Happiness, xiv - xv).

Barbara Ehrenreich: "Forget 'quality time.' I tried it once on May 15, 1978. I know because it is still penciled into my 1978 appointment book. 'Kids,' I announced, 'I have forty-five minutes. Let's have some quality time!' They looked at me dully in the manner of rural retirees confronting a visitor from the Census Bureau. Finally, one of them said, in a soothing tone, 'Sure, Mom, but could it be after Gilligan's Island?'

" . . . The only thing that works is low-quality time: time in which you -- and they -- are ostensibly doing something else . . . "

Ehrenreich's essay draws to a conclusion with this amusing yet truthful advice: "Do not be afraid they will turn on you, someday, for being a lousy parent. They will turn on you. They will also turn on the full-time parents, the cookie-making parents, the Little League parents, and the all-sacrificing parents. If you are at work every day when they get home from school, they will turn on you, eventually, for being a selfish, neglectful careerist. If you are at home every day, eagerly awaiting their return, they will turn on you for being a useless, unproductive layabout. This is all part of the normal process of 'individuation,' in which one adult ego must be trampled into the dust in order for one fully formed teenage ego to emerge. Accept it."

Ehrenreich points out that one day, just on the other side of those teenage ego years, our children will relate to us as adults. They may start out as Little Gnomes, but that doesn't last long. As children they are just smaller versions of that bigger person who is soon to come. "Your job is to help them . . . get on with being that larger person, and in a form that you might like to know."

All Ehrenreich passages are from
the essay "Stop Ironing the Diapers,"
found in her book The Worst Years of Our Lives
(see pp 146 - 48)

For more on Raising Children & Perfect Parenting
see my post "Play With This!"
my fortnightly literary blog
of connection and coincidence

Friday, May 28th

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rainbow Trail

Back in the days when my friend Etta made the beautiful birthday card for me (see previous post), we had another friend, Marilyn, who gave me the above cardboard clipping from the side of a Girl Scout Cookie box, annotated, as you can see, with our names above each head. (I wonder what flavor those cookies were?)

On the back, Marilyn wrote the words of the classic Navajo song:

Walk on a rainbow trail;
walk on a trail of song,
and all about you will be beauty.
There is a way out of every dark mist
over a rainbow trail.

Throughout college, I kept this little picture on my bulletin board as a souvenir of our high school days, and over the years I copied the rainbow verse down every now and then to share with other friends. I later transferred it to a scrapbook along with a letter that I received a few summers ago (2002) from my college friend Milly.

Milly wrote:


Do you remember this:

Walk on a rainbow trail;
walk on a trail of song,
and all about you will be beauty.
There is a way out of every dark mist
over a rainbow trail. ~Navajo Song

You sent that to me on my birthday in 1980!"



Ah, how sweet of Milly to remember that and to have saved the card I must have written it on. And how inspired of Marilyn to name the three hopeful little rainbow Girl Scouts after herself, Etta, and me. Ever the best of friends.

Etta, Marilyn, Kitti
Our Highschool Graduation
June 3, 1975

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Day!

A couple of months ago, I was writing a quick note on facebook to one of my nieces, and ended up inadvertently typing "Happy Birthday Day." I was just about to send an "oops sorry about that" post script, when I decided that maybe this was an even better greeting, a new improved, expanded celebratory salutation.

So from now on, it's not just Happy Birthday . . .

It's Happy Birthday Day!

Here's something I have been saving in one of my treasure boxes for 35 years: a beautiful birthday card -- one of my best ever -- handmade by my friend Marietta on my 18th birthday! Thanks Et!


"I have come to believe that you can get along without anyone — that is, without the close contact of any one person. That is a terrible shock to me, but I think it is true. You do need companionship, but wherever you go, in whatever new environment, you will find people who, to a large degree, take the place of those you left. That is, you will find as many contacts, they will become as intimately a part of your life, as friends before.

"If you can get along without friends is it all gone after you leave a person? I don't think so, because when you see them again, or write to them, it all comes back. You can meet and talk with as much intensity and freedom as before, your connection is as strong even though the contact surface is not as great.

"Besides, I think that companionship is a static, objective thing. You can have it with anyone and it is relatively the same, while friendship is subjective and multicolored. There are as many different kinds of friendship (for me, at least) as there are friends. The intimate companionship goes, I think, when you leave a friend, but friendship stays. It is an inherent possibility of relationship that, once admitted — well, there it is."

by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
from Bring Me A Unicorn, 1972

Friday, May 21, 2010

OT: Elbow Gazing

Back in the days when I was learning Alexander Technique in hopes of eliminating tendonitis in my right elbow, I also dabbled in Occupational Therapy. I was assigned to a young (20 - something) occupational therapist named Robert who helped me not only with my aching elbow but also with turning off the bad tapes in my head.

When he would ask me to gauge my own progress, I would say, "Well, it still doesn't feel like the left elbow" or "When will it return to how it used to be?" He would very patiently remind me that these were not the right responses. "Give me another answer" he would say, or "Ask me a different question. We're not trying to go backwards here, we're going forward."

I used to wonder, how did he get to be so wise? I asked him if he had thought of going back to grad school in psychology and becoming a counselor. Here he was so young and healthy and level - headed, surrounded by all these whining, aging, wounded complainers, yet he never became exasperated, never lost hope that we were all going to improve -- and we did! There was the mail carrier whose shoulder had started aching in such a way that he could no longer play his jazz trombone without pain; the cyclist who most tragically had lost half a finger in a hand-brake accident (we all grieved for her loss); the woman with carpel tunnel who was frustrated by buttons and zippers; the man who could not remember being thrown from his motorcycle (had he been wearing a helmet?); and me with my elbow. We brought all our troubles to the table. We commiserated, we focused, and eventually we improved!

After several weeks, Robert told me I needed an appointment with the elbow specialist for a recheck. I made a negative face, and he said, "Why not?" I explained to him that this particular orthopedic surgeon had diagnosed me as getting old and prescribed accepting that fact. Nothing more to do for me, no medication, no suggestions. Just live with it. Robert, in his helpful way, said, "That's not true. You don't have to believe that. You do need to see a doctor, but it doesn't have to be him. Pick someone different."

See what I mean? Robert just had the right tapes going in his head and he nudged me to re-train my own thought patterns. Thank you Robert! His view of practicing occupational therapy serves equally well as a philosophy of life. His focus was on training the patient to live in the present and turn off the unhelpful repeating decimal "if only" tapes, otherwise known as "hey, let's rewrite the past." Yes, it is okay to mourn for what is not coming back; but our goal lies ahead not behind. In fact, we cannot go back. Forward is the only way, even if it means embracing uncertainty.

At the turning point of my improvement, I came up with a polite suggestion for my right arm when I realized that I had been (for god only knows how long) holding it out from my body, ever so slightly, penguin style, as if I were carrying a book in my hand. I tried to retrain the arm to hang more naturally, by whispering gently under my breath, "You're not carrying anything." Then I changed the instruction to "Stop doing that" -- just a gentle reminder, never bossy. If there's one thing I learned from the Alexander Technique, it's that my body and my mind are one entity, not two; so I needn't do anything to hurt its -- well, make that my feelings. Likewise, A Course in Miracles advises that "The body appears to be largely self-motivated and independent, yet it actually responds only to the interventions of the mind."

Shortly after devising my mantra of "Stop doing that," I read Just Play Naturally, by famous cellist, Vivien Mackie, who used the Alexander Technique to improve her musicianship. I was delighted to read that her message to herself, whenever she felt the stress mounting before a performance, was "Just stop all that!" That gave me confidence that telling my arm to "Stop" was the right approach!

Then, to clinch the idea for me, along came an e-mail from one of my reading buddies, recommending the book Embracing Uncertainty: Breakthrough Methods for Achieving Peace of Mind When Facing the Unknown (Susan Jeffers) and explaining her latest approach to quieting the worry tapes in her head: "Stop Stop Stop." You can't get any more straightforward than that. Perhaps that's what our psyches are waiting to hear: Stop Stop Stop! Just stop all that! Stop doing that!

For more on Vivien Mackie & other
books about the Alexander Technique


and my list on Listmania

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Alexander Technique

The Poise With Which We're Born

"To look up and not down,
look forward and not back,
look out and not in . . ."
Edward Everett Hale (1822 - 1909)
American author and Unitarian clergyman

Hale's maxim for a healthy mental attitude uses the same words that Alexander applied to the ideal physical stance: up, forward, out. In the photo above, you can see how four - year - old Sam executes this motion naturally, bending and balancing effortlessly.

I came to the Alexander Technique by way of tendonitis, whether from snow shoveling, playing scales, swimming, or dragging my urban grocery cart around the streets of Philadelphia was never determined. A non-tennis player with tennis elbow, I began Alexander lessons as a way of learning how unconscious physical habits might be a contributing factor. The Alexander Technique focuses holistically on helping the student improve the "use" of the body; my "homework" involved lying flat on the floor and letting gravity pull the tension out of my joints. While the sessions do not work like magic, they do provide an instructive, calming method of learning to re-align your posture, always with the neck free, and the head forward and up. Additional Alexander imperatives are to take more time before moving any body part and to use no more energy than absolutely necessary, something I've been guilty of in piano, swimming, driving, and storming around in general. The goal is a new way of being in the world, not a way of escape.

A primary Alexander concept is to pause, as does the 265 - year - old man in The Tao of Pooh, who attributes his long life to "walking lightly" and "inner quiet." The legendary F. M. Alexander, who founded the Technique, is supposed to have said on his death bed: "If I had it do over again, I think I would have been happier if I had paused more." Hmmmm. Something to think about.

Another principle is to stop doing, i.e., we can't improve ourselves by changing or doing something different but only by ceasing to do what is harming us in the first place. According to Alexander, our goal is to go forward, never back or sideways (even though going backward to a life before pain may seem preferable to our present situation). Musician and Alexander practitioner, Pedro De Alcantara invokes wise King Solomon on this topic: "Ask not thou, 'What is the cause the former days were better than these?' for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this." De Alcantara says that "Stress is a stimulus, strain a response. Clearly it is the response that causes a problem . . . The stress of life is permanent and inevitable," (2). Thus we study the Alexander Technique as a way of functioning that will reduce the strain to our selves.

For a list of books about
the Alexander Technique


and my list on Listmania

Friday, May 14, 2010

Perfect Parent? Not!

Looking for the perfect childhood?
You can almost find it here,
on this beautiful street in Philadelphia.

Perfect street? Almost. Perfect parent? Not quite! Ben and Sam still love to punish me for not letting them watch Billy Elliot when it first came out and for the time when I refused to play hide & seek with them, and for the time when I got mad and took all their toys off the shelf and threw them into a big pile on the bed, shouting "play with this; play with this; play with this" -- after they had complained to me that they had nothing to play with. These are the embarrassing things they said they'd make me include if I ever decided to write an essay about the parenting errors I made during their childhood. Well, now I've confessed voluntarily, so no one has to make me. Ha!

See all those toys?

For more on Raising Children & Perfect Parenting
see TODAY'S POST: "Play With This!"
my fortnightly literary blog
of connection and coincidence

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Holy Connection and Coincidence Batman!

"Flash your Batsign over Lime Street" ~Adrian Henri
Elephants at Lime Street Station, Liverpool
"Holy Historical Circus Parade, Batman!"

This coming Friday (the 14th!)I will be putting up a new post on my Fortnightly blog, but before moving on, I have just a few more bat thoughts to share with you. Last month, the day after "Happy Batday," I was having lunch with a friend who takes a great interest in Animal Totems. She was telling me that, for several reasons, she feels that my personal totem must be the bat. I said, no, the cat; she said, no, the bat! Coincidence? At that point, I asked her if she had read my blog the day before. No she had not! Yet, coincidentally, she had identified the bat as right for me without even knowing about my interest in the batpoems.

Batman is just one step removed from an actual bat, and the batpoems are just one step removed from Batman. Two degrees of separation? I guess that's pretty close! Upon returning home from lunch that day, I opened my laptop, and the first thing I saw on my facebook was this picture, posted by my nephew Daniel, along with the caption: "Holy Bat Brush, Batman!"

Coincidence? I wrote to Dan right away to find out. No, he said, he had not yet seen the Bat Blog! As a helpful gesture, I sent him the link, and can you guess what word popped up in the security check box: "Robyn." No kidding!

Later that evening, while reading Elif Batuman's amazing memoir of her years as a graduate student in Russian Literature (The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and The People Who Read Them), I came across the following short poem in translation:

Was it my heart -- a bird -- that was caught in your
locks that unfortunate night,
Or was it bats of some kind?

~Alisher Navoi, 1441 - 1501
Poet, Statesman, and Founder of Uzbek Literature

At this point, I was beginning to hear the Call of the Wild and decided it was time to do a little batground* reading. I googled Animal Totems to see what more I could learn about the Bat. Some of the things I read spoke straight to my heart.Turns out that the bat, although a misunderstood and unnecessarily feared animal, is a great Totem to have on your side, a symbol of energy, vision, and social connectedness.
". . . someday,
we would feel the motion of our thought
beating as softly as the wings of a bat."

from the story
"O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing"
in The Kneeling Bus (p 100)
by Beverly Coyle

I like it that the Bat is a verbally oriented animal totem who encourages you to tell a new story about yourself and your life, to relinquish all the old fearful narratives that are no longer representative of your spiritual growth. The Bat is a totem of transition and rebirth, a truth - seeker with an unwavering agenda of self - exploration, including:

Dying to our ego
Loving our enemies as ourselves
Going within to touch our inner demons
Exploring the underworlds of reality (which can be scary)
Renewing our thoughts & beliefs on a moment-to-moment basis

Moment to moment?

Every, every minute . . .

The Bat it is.

Original Bat Blog: Happy Batday
my fortnightly literary blog
of connection and coincidence

P.S. *Batground* Thanks to Gerry for inspiring this new term!
P.S.S. Not to mention the spelling of Elif's Batuman's last name:

BAT - u - MAN!

Tennessee Bats

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Comic Strip

Contemporary writer, reviewer, and artist of many kinds, Curtis Cotrell (also my old friend from James Joyce Quarterly days), has composed a cleverly titled poetry sequence, "Comics Trip," an alphabetical ode to an entire generation of cartoon characters and superheroes. What a nostalgic trip it was just to sit down and read through the wealth of cartoon imagery he has organized in these poems! I also like the way that, like the Liverpool poets, Cottrell weaves in serious current events:

The Great Pumpkin
Good grief! A pumpkin
Has taken root in my yard:
Washed up by the flood
From Hurricane Katrina
Just in time for Halloween.

social commentary:

Nancy and Sluggo,
Quite an unlikely couple.
Right way and wrong way
Or is it a class conflict
Culture assimilation?

creative existentialism:

Green Lantern
Focused through alien lens
Brings the ring power.
You are only limited
By the freedom of your will.

an aesthetics of common decency
(in manner of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)
and startling imagery:

from Plainclothesmen
Hawk nose and square jaw,
A grotesque hieroglyphic
Of law and order:
Law of commercial design;
Art of sequential order.

Icon of action:
Car curves around a corner;
Tracy dodges past,
Swasticated arms and legs,
Coattail signifying speed.

A reader complains,
"Your villains are so ugly!"
Popular phrenology
Characterizing affects.
There's nothing cute about crime.

retro recollections:

Beany and Cecil
The big seasick sea serpent
Had buttons for eyes.
They began as hand puppets
Before they became cartoons.

and last but never least -- my favorite! -- the intertextual pun:

"Et tu, Bluto?" exclaims Popeye!

My Heroes: Pirate & Batman, Halloween 1997

For more Comic Strip Heroes, see
the latest post: "Happy Batday"
my fortnightly literary blog
of connection and coincidence

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dream For Your Life

Deer in Our Backyard
Photo taken by Ben McCartney, June 2007

"A gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which we call doing our duty. We loiter in winter while it is already spring."

~Henry David Thoreau

"Be not the slave of your own past -- plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience, that shall explain and overlook the old."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience."

~George Washington

"You did then what you knew how to do,
and when you knew better, you did better."

~Maya Angelou

"Is willing to accept that she creates her own reality except for some of the parts where she can't help but wonder what the hell she was thinking."

~Brian Andreas

And finally this, from one of my wisest friends, who pulled all the above passages together for me:

"Yes, looking back can be a trap, for me anyway. I like the Serenity Prayer--because "accept the things I cannot change" includes the entire past, through and including five minutes ago. That doesn't leave me off the hook for "changing the things I can." But it saves wear and tear on my nerves and heart to forgive myself for all my decisions, and to remember that given the emotional and other data I had at the time, I made what seemed like the best decision I could, at the consciousness level I had achieved to that point. That's what it is to be human--no crystal ball.

"Having said that, I think it is the ongoing challenge to listen to the "still small voice." That is my spirituality. I don't equate the voice with God. It's more like my own unique and local feeling of happiness and aliveness, in any scenario where I am one of the key players. What will I wish I had done, when the immediate pressures bearing on the situation are no longer there? Is it too much to ask, to be allowed to be true to myself? Something like that."

And to conclude ~
A couple of my favorite songs
sung by Judy Collins
on her CD Trust Your Heart

"Trust Your Heart"
The heart will teach us all we need to learn
We have dreams, we hold them to the light like diamonds . . .
Some we keep to light the dark nights on our journey . . .
The heart can see beyond our prayers
Beyond our fondest schemes . . . Trust your heart.
[emphasis added]

"The Life You Dream"
There's a time that comes once every morning
When you choose the kind of day you will have
It comes in with the sun and you know you've begun
To live the life you dream
You can light all your candles to the dawn
And surrender yourself to the sunrise
You can make it wrong you can make it right
You can live the life you dream.

Lyrics & music for both by Judy Collins
[also on Kitti's List: book blog on "Inner Quiet"]

The picture at top is better, but this one, with the corner of the garage included, gives a better idea of the proximity. Ben took a few at first through the window, so the deer wouldn't be startled. But those shots turned out so hazy, and the deer continued to remain so calm that Ben took the chance of going right outside. As you can see, the deer were only too happy to pose quietly for him!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Whitman for the Weekend

"Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me
and you shall possess the origin of all poems . . ."

from Song of Myself #2

Decorative Placard, New York City

For Mother's Day:
Women sit or move to and fro, some old, some young.
The young are beautiful
-- but the old are more beautiful than the young."
from By the Roadside

For Now:
"I have heard what the talkers were talking,
the talk of the beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now.

Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now."
from Song of Myself #3

All passages from Leaves Of Grass by Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892
American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Brush With Greatness

Not quite sure

how I got on a

middle - name - basis

with the Liverpool Poets;

but nice to have a

small collection of

autographed copies,


Click below to hear

a reading of

Henri's classic poem

"Tonight at Noon":





Tonight at Noon

Tonight at noon
Supermarkets will advertise 3p extra on everything
Tonight at noon
Children from happy families will be sent to live in a home
Elephants will tell each other human jokes
America will declare peace on Russia
World War I generals will sell poppies on the street on
November 11th
The first daffodils of autumn will appear
When the leaves fall upwards to the trees

Tonight at noon
Pigeons will hunt cats through city backyards
Hitler will tell us to fight on the beaches and on the landing fields
A tunnel full of water will be built under Liverpool
Pigs will be sighted flying in formation over Woolton
And Nelson will not only get his eye back but his arm as well
White Americans will demonstrate for equal rights
In front of the Black house
And the monster has just created Dr. Frankenstein

Girls in bikinis are moonbathing
Folksongs are being sung by real folk
Art galleries are closed to people over 21
Poets get their poems in the Top 20
There's jobs for everybody and nobody wants them
In back alleys everywhere teenage lovers are kissing
in broad daylight
In forgotten graveyards everywhere the dead will quietly
bury the living
You will tell me you love me
Tonight at noon

--Adrian Henri

For more on Liverpool Poets: Henri, McGough & Patten
see post for April 28, 2010

on my blog of literary connection and coincidence

Monday, May 3, 2010

Important Local Election

Tomorrow * Tuesday * May 4th
Important Local Election for West Lafayette Schools

In The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell describes the "magnitude of the Puritan devotion to higher education." In her discussion, she includes the following paragraph written by John Adams in 1778 as part of the Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Biographer David McCullough calls it "a declaration of Adams's faith in education as the bulwark of the good society."
"Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of legislators and magistrates in all future periods of this commonwealth to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them, especially the university at Cambridge, public schools, and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings, sincerity, good humor, and all social affections, and generous sentiments among the people." [emphasis added]

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States (1797–1801)

See The Wordy Shipmates, pp. 15 - 16. You might also try the excellent John Adams mini-series: very ennobling.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

Come to the orchard in Spring
There is light and wine
And sweethearts
In the pomegranate flowers
If you do not come
These do not matter
If you do come
These do not matter

Rumi (1207 - 1273)
13th-century Persian poet, philosopher, mystic