Sunday, June 30, 2013


Paternal Grandparents

~ Recent Family History ~
a poem
by Ernest Sandeen (1908 - 1997)
Looking out at us from their photographs,
mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles,
now dead for forty - five years or more,
don't recognize us, can't even imagine us.
And we are helpless to penetrate the safety
of their innocence . . .

from Collected Poems (237)

Maternal Grandparents

" . . . we start [that which] we will not live to see,
just as our ancestors could not live to see us.
And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us,
as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood,
and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time."

by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
from Letters to a Young Poet (62)


See more
on the
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A fortnightly [every 14th & 28th]
literary blog of connection & coincidence; custom & ceremony

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Patterns: Lowell & Emerson

Dramatic Patterns at the Venetian, Las Vegas

My approach to writing and organizing these blog posts is precisely what I always wanted to do with literature. More than scholarly analysis or research ~ going back to my first highschool notebooks, scrapbooks, personal poetry collections, reading lists, and posters ~ I was always most interested in drawing all the loose threads together, weaving some kind of comprehensible pattern, and saying to everyone, "See! Doesn't that make life more meaningful? Doesn't everything make more sense now?" Certainly to me it does." As Amy Lowell says: "Christ, what are patterns for?"


I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover,
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon --
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
"Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se'nnight."
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
"Any answer, Madam," said my footman.
"No," I told him.
"See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer."
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, "It shall be as you have said."
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down,
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

by American poet Amy Lowell (1874 - 1925)
Pulitzer Prize, 1926 (awarded posthumously)

from Men, Women and Ghosts
for more of Lowell's poetry, see also
A Dome of Many - Coloured Glass


Mystically Patterned Ceiling Lamp at the Palazzo, Las Vegas

In the essay "Experience," Ralph Waldo Emerson writes from a personal sense of apparent fragmentation, a sensation which leads most people to question the patterns life is offering them. "Experience" opens with a question -- and an answer: "Where do we find ourselves? In a series of which we do not know the extremes, and believe it has none. We wake and find ourselves on a stair; there are stairs below us, which we seem to have ascended; there are stairs above us, many a one, which go upward and out of sight." (141). Stairs, or a hallway, or a balcony, or a promenade -- stretching ahead and behind.

Emerson questions the uncertainty of our limited perspective. However, his goal in "Experience" is not to search for or explain the extremes of this series but to suggest methods by which we may find ultimate value in the inconsistencies and frustrations of daily experience. He assures the reader that the certainty we seek is not to be found by imposing order on what seems incoherent, and he offers insight into the possibility that an order beyond our immediate comprehension already exists and is in operation despite the haphazard wreck we may feel our life, at times, reduced to.

If we would grasp the meaning and the pattern of our experiences and see them as other than fragmented and incoherent, we must be willing to wait: "The years teach much which the days never know" (153). We must, Emerson advises, draw conclusions not in the morning but in the evening. We must readjust our perception. Emerson's focus in "Experience" is not the poet of specialized vision but the view of the horizon available to all human beings who take the time to understand the ramifications of their experiences. One thing we can gain by grasping the pattern of our own experience is an understanding of the experience of others.

for more on Emerson, see additional posts:
Always Have the Blues a Little
Portal to the Divine
Fond of Books and Watchful
Burning Bush
Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny
Patterns: Lowell & Emerson
The Primrose Post
An Experience Old House
One Hundred Years From Now
Ben's Birthday: The World Is His
Excellent Images
Dream For Your Life
A Screen of Purest Sky
Through A Glass Brightly

And on The Fortnightly:
Through a Glass Brightly
Emmanuel, God With Us
Opal: In Love With The World
Melancholy and / or Properly Tormented
O Ya - Ya of Little Faith

And on Kitti's Book List:
Suggestions for Sam
A Couple of Domestic Goddesses

Monday, June 24, 2013

Primrose Path

"If any of us knew what we were doing, or where we are going, then when we think we best know! We do not know today whether we are busy or idle. In times we thought ourselves indolent, we have afterward discovered that much was accomplished and much was begun in us. All our days are so unprofitable while they pass, that 'tis wonderful where or when we every got anything of this which we call wisdom, poetry, virtue. We never got it on any dated calendar day. . . . Our life looks trivial, and we shun to record it . . . So much of our time is preparation, so much is routine, and so much retrospect, that the pith of our genius contracts itself to a very few hours. . . . The years teach much which the days never know. . . . We must be very suspicious of the deceptions of the element of time. It takes a good deal of time to eat or to sleep, or to earn a hundred dollars, and a very little time to entertain a hope and an insight which becomes the light of our life."

Ralph Waldo Emerson
American Essayist, 1803 - 1882
from the essay "Experience"

"The imagination doesn't crop annually like a reliable fruit tree.
The writer has to gather whatever's there: sometimes too much,
sometimes too little, sometimes nothing at all (115)"

Julian Barnes
British Novelist (b. 1946)
from the novel Flaubert's Parrot


Unfortunately, it was so cloudy
that we could see only
the bottom half of the moonrise.

Later that night ~ still hazy.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Earth-maker Pain-bearer Life-giver

Pre - Solstice Sunrise
by Missouri Photographer Jay Beets

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.

from the New Zealand Prayer Book

[to read more]

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eat Your Strawberries!

"There's nothing better than summer salads!"
Photograph by my niece, Sara Carriker

An old favorite summertime song:

performed by John Denver

Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I'll taste your strawberries I'll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine today.

I'll be a dandy and I'll be a rover
You'll know who I am by the songs that I sing
I'll feast at your table and I'll sleep in your clover
Who cares what tomorrow shall bring.

Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I'll taste your strawberries I'll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine today.

I can't be contented with yesterday's glory
I can't live on promises winter to spring
Today is my moment and now is my story
I'll laugh and I'll cry and I'll sing.

Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I'll taste your strawberries I'll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine today...

Words & music by Randy Sparks
(from The New Christy Minstrels)

This song appeared in the soundtrack of the
motion picture Advance To The Rear

Recorded over the years by The New Christy Minstrels,
The Brothers Four (also "Four Strong Winds"),
Ray Conniff (also Christmas),
John Denver (my personal favorite!),
and many others.

Our Favorite You - Pick
Annie's Orchard ~ on facebook

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bloomsday & Father's Day

Cartoons for Father's Day

Happy Father's Day . . .

and Happy Bloomsday!

"For myself, I always write about Dublin,
because if I can get to the heart of Dublin
I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world.
In the particular is contained the universal."

~ James Joyce ~

"Heureux Qui, Comme Ulysse . . . "
Happy he (or she)
Who travels the day
Hopefully, and the
World without hope, calm,
A smiling stoic
Who savours what his
Life may bring. Happy
The day of birth, and
Happy our dying:
Without it, life will
Not be known. Let all
Be seen for itself,
For what it is! Do
Not fear the voyage
Towards the world's edge
And the final hour.
Take pity on time.
Welcome each event
Because it greets you
As the destined one.

by Edward Lucie - Smith
in Light Unlocked, 47

Friday, June 14, 2013

This Life Flies


Oh, threats of hell and hopes of paradise!
One thing at least is certain -- this life flies;
One thing is certain, and the rest is lies;
The flower that once has blown forever dies.

from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

One of those days: You get up early and have this little fantasy that you might get four or five things done before 8 a.m., but it turns out to be only one or two! Then the next thing you know, it's midnight! How does that happen?

This. Life. Flies.


You can find more irises on my current post:
"When the Iris Blows Blue"
on the
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A fortnightly [every 14th & 28th]
literary blog of connection & coincidence; custom & ceremony

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cafe Presse at the Palazzo, Las Vegas

The perfect afternoon . . . all alone in the coffee shop . . .
with a fine book and a Panama Bag and a cappuccino . . .

"As she read, at peace with the world and happy
as only a little girl could be with a fine book
and a little bowl of candy, and all alone in the house,
the leaf shadows shifted and the afternoon passed."

from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Vegas

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Journey On

In The Land of Brigadoon ~ Kip DeVore

"Evening comes, the voices
of our homeland echo far away,
Evening comes, our hearts
will dream of childhood till the break of day.
Singing of the sadness of broken hearts and weary souls,
Dreaming of the promise of happiness that will unfold.
Sweetly singing far away, sweetly singing far away.
Come, then let us journey on."

Girls' Chorus from Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin
Performed by St. Matthew's Choir, London*

Though not from Brigadoon, Tchaikovsky's tune of homesickness conveys a similar wistful sentiment, as does the following Pueblo Indian Blessing:

Hold On
"Hold on to what is good
even if it is a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe
even if it is a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do
even if it is a long way from here.

Hold on to life even when
it is easier letting go.

Hold on to my hand even when . . . "
I journey on.

Go the sidebar at right ~> ~>
and scroll down for more
"Simple Words at Parting"

Thanks to Mary Kate McKenna
for posting the Pueblo Blessing

* An even lovelier version of the Girls' Chorus from "Eugene Onegin" can be found on the CD Tchaikovsky Discovers America, part of the highly instructive and entertaining Classical Kids Collection.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Composed of Mystery

Girl in Front of Mirror
Pablo Picasso, 1881 - 1973

"There is nothing in nature that does not reflect the Trinity:
each of us is an icon of the Trinity."

The Rev. Peter J. Bunder

I keep thinking about the juxtaposition of these two paintings in the Trinity Sunday Bulletin a couple of weeks ago at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd ~ The Episcopal Campus Ministry at Purdue.

Two nearly contemporary artists treat the same subject matter -- a girl before a mirror, absorbed in her reflection. Yet each, in his own distinctive style, captures a different aspect of reflective contemplation. Rockwell's girlish subject daydreams apprehensively of the not - so - distant future while Picasso's visionary subject strives to embrace the fragmented mystery of life at the present moment.

Girl at Mirror
Norman Rockwell, 1894 - 1978

We are composed of mystery:
"The mystery beyond us, the mystery among us,
and the mystery within us are all the same mystery."

from Listening to Your Life
by Frederick Buechner (b 1926)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Mere Sight of a Book

"Many people, myself among them,
feel better at the mere sight of a book."
~ Jane Smiley ~
Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel

Girl With Pigtails
by Sir Samuel Henry William Llewellyn, 1858 - 1941
English painter of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries

If you're looking for something to read, here's
what I've posted lately on Kitti's Book List:


Losing Strength, Not Style

Songs Our Grandmothers Sang

Fault In Our Stars

Girl Reading by Oliver Ray
Contemporary Canadian Artist

"The reader may ask how to tell fact from fiction.
A rough guide:
anything that seems particularly unlikely is probably true."
~ Hilary Mantel ~
A Place of Greater Safety

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fig Newtonian

Ben McCartney, Boy Genius, Age 2
With Fig Newton, Apple and Awesome Circus Pants!
Thanks to Grim & Gram, Ben always had the coolest toddler clothes
from the trendiest kids' clothing stores in Southport, England!

"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." ~ Newton
from the
Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton
by Sir David Brewster (1855 ~ Volume II ~ Chapter 27)

Newtonian Apple Tree
University of Wisconsin, Madison

"To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one person
or even for any one age. 'Tis much better to do a little with
certainty, and leave the rest for others that come after you,
than to explain all things by conjecture without making sure of any thing."
~ Newton
from the
unpublished notes for the Preface to Opticks ~ 1704
Quoted in Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton
by Richard S. Westfall (1983 ~ p 643)

For the Glastonbury Thorn believers among us,
the plaque reads:

"This tree is a direct descendant of the original tree
said to have borne the fruit that inspired
Sir Isaac Newton's Theory of Gravitational Forces.
. . . we hope the fruit of this descendant inspires others
to partake in scientific discovery."