Monday, April 28, 2014

Elizabeth Bishop: Painter & Poet

“If after I read a poem the world looks like that poem
for 24 hours or so I'm sure it's a good one —
and the same goes for paintings. ”

~ Elizabeth Bishop ~

Elizabeth Bishop was "aware of the
smallness and dignity of human observation."

[i.e., the quotidian!]

~ David Kalstone ~

Daisies in Paintbucket
Watercolor and gouache, 10½ x 9½ inches.

William Benton, editor of Exchanging Hats: Elizabeth Bishop Paintings observes that "The general rule of a Bishop picture is: If a table exists, put flowers on it. In this case, with the dramatic focus on the extension cord crossing the planes of the white room (to bring a lamp to the narrow working space), she simply opened the door to the garden instead."

Interior With Extension Cord
Watercolor, gouache, and ink, 6 x 6 inches.
both paintings by Elizabeth Bishop
from the Collection of Loren MacIver

concluding stanza from "A Summer's Dream"
We were awakened in the dark by
the somnambulist brook
nearing the sea,
still dreaming audibly.

concluding stanza from "Cirque D'Hiver" ("Winter Circus")
Facing each other rather desperately—
his eye is like a star—
we stare and say, "Well, we have come this far."

More about Elizabeth Bishop: Painter & Poet on my
~ The Inner World
of the Dream Character

Thanks for reading
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker:
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

Friday, April 25, 2014

Birnam Wood

Never Fear!
It's just Gerry and Grandpa Ron
rearranging the trees in the yard!

"Who can impress the forest, bid the tree / Unfix his earthbound root?"
Gerry and Ron -- that's who!

Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him.

That will never be.
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earthbound root? Sweet bodements! Good!
Rebellious dead, rise never till the wood
Of Birnam rise . . .

IV, i, 96 - 103

Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane,
I cannot taint with fear. . . .

I will not be afraid of death and bane,
Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane.

V, iii, 2 - 3, 59 - 60

As I did stand my watch upon the hill,
I look'd toward Birnam, and anon, methought,
The wood began to move. . . .

I pull in resolution, and begin
To doubt the equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth: 'Fear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane:' and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane.

V, v, 35 - 36, 41 - 45
from Shakespeare's Macbeth

Look how beautiful the zinnias were in 2005!
I hope we'll have such good luck this year!
And see Josef, out enjoying the day -- to the right?
And to the left, a football!

I especially love this one of Josef and
Grandma Rosanne, out for a walk! ~ Fall 2006

And Dear Old Josef, Sunning Himself On the Deck ~ Fall 2006

Happy Arbor Day
& Belated Birthday to Shakespeare!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day at Stanford

I was lucky enough to be in California for Earth Day this year,
wandering around the campus of Stanford University.

Thank you Mr. Stanford (1824 - 1893)
for these words of wisdom:
More at BrainyQuote

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Alas, Poor Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern! We Knew Them!

A couple of weeks ago, my friends Beata and Katie, and I attended a mini - theater festival at Purdue: Hamlet on the first night; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, it seemed par for the course that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were dead at the end, along with everyone else in Hamlet. But the next day, I felt so let down by the conclusion of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, even though Stoppard's play is jollier than Shakespeare's. Somehow it seemed that the final result for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, after two hours of consternation and consciousness - raising, should be an awareness that would somehow save their lives, but no. Still dead.

I saw / read this play once years ago and have always remembered it as funny; but this time it made me sad. I was still dwelling on the gloomy after - effects a couple of days later and discussing them with Beata, when my friend Ann posted an article which seemed to totally explain our deflated mood:

Do You Owe The Reader A Happy Ending?
by Celest Ng

Ng points out that it's the sad stories that seem to stay with us not only the next day, but sometimes for years afterward:
Maybe that’s the best argument for allowing yourself to write an “unhappy” ending where justice is not done, for why it’s okay sometimes to leave readers dissatisfied, or yes, even to break their hearts. “Unhappy” endings—that irritate, that rankle, that perturb—keep the reader thinking about them long after the last page. Like a grain of sand against the skin, they rub at the reader’s sense of injustice, asking them to reflect and question. It’s okay to leave the reader satisfied, with a contented sigh, but you don’t have to. It’s okay to leave the reader provoked, too.
Examples from Ng's personal experience include, Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting (both of which I read several years ago at the request of my son Ben) and Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind (a new title for me -- just added to my amazon shopping basket,) which Ng says, "upset me so much that . . . More than two decades later, I’m still thinking about that book."

As for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, I'm still thinking about them.

While there is no obvious resurrection
in this play, there are still a lot of
great quotations to think about
over the Easter Weekend:

Favorite Passages

All your life you live so close
to truth, it becomes a permanent
blur in the corner of your eye,
and when something nudges it into
outline it is like being ambushed
by a grotesque.

"Doubt thou, the stars are fire."
"Doubt that the sun doth move,
but never doubt I love."

Happy in that we are not overhappy.

On Fortune's cap we are
not the very button.
Nor the soles of her shoes?
Neither, my lord.
Then you live about her waist,
or in the middIe of her favours?
Faith, her privates we.
In the secret parts of fortune?
O, most true!
She is a strumpet.

Half of what he said meant
something else, and the other
half didn't mean anything at all.

You understand,
we are tied down to a language
which makes up in obscurity
what it lacks in style.
There's a design at work in all
art surely you know that?

Events must play themselves
out to an aesthetic, moral
and logical conclusion.
And what's that in this case?
It never varies.

We aim for
the point where everyone
who is marked for death dies.

Generally speaking things have
gone about as far as
they can possibly go
when things have got about as
bad as they can reasonably get.

Who decides?
Decides? It is written.
We're tragedians, you see.
We follow direction there
is no choice involved.
The bad end unhappily,
the good unluckily.
That is what tragedy means.

Dark, isn't it?
Not for night.
No, not for night.
It's dark for day.
Oh, yes, it's dark for day.

Do you think death
could possibly be a boat?

I don't believe in it anyway.
In what?
Just a conspiracy of
cartographers, you mean?
I mean I don't believe it.
England! I don't believe it!
Just a conspiracy
of cartographers you mean.
I mean I don't believe it and even
if it's true what do we say?

Was it all for this? Who are we
that so much should converge
on our little deaths?

You are Rosencrantz
and Guildenstern. That is enough.
No, it is not enough.

To be told so little to
such an end and still, finally,
to be denied an explanation.
In our experience,
almost everything ends in death.
Your experience! Actors!
You die a thousand casual deaths
and come back in a different hat.

But nobody gets up after death...
there's no applause only silence
and some secondhand
clothes, that's death!

If we have a destiny, then so
had he and this is ours,
then that was his
and if there are no explanations
for us, then let there
be none for him.

Oh, come, come gentlemen,
no flattery it was merely competent.
You see, it is the kind
you do believe in,
it's what is expected.
Deaths for all ages and occasions!
Deaths of king and princes
and nobodies...
That's it then, is it?

We've done nothing wrong.
We didn't harm anyone, did we?
I can't remember.
All right, then, I don't care.
I've had enough.
To tell you the truth,
I'm relieved.

There must have been
a moment at the beginning,
where we could have said no.
But somehow we missed it.
Well, we'll know better next time.

Till then.
The sight is dismal.
And our affairs from
England come too late.

The ears are senseless that should
give us hearing. To tell him his
commandment is fulfilled...
that Rosencratz
and Guildenstern are dead.


Additional Favorites from my friend Kathie:

“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered. “

“[Y]ou can't act death. The fact of it is nothing to do with seeing it happen—it's not gasps and blood and falling about—that isn't what makes it death. It's just a man failing to reappear, that's all—now you see him, now you don't, that’s the only thing that's real: here one minute and gone the next and never coming back—an exit, unobtrusive and unannounced, a disappearance gathering weight as it goes on, until, finally, it is heavy with death.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Many Many Moons

Thanks to my friends Andrea . . .

Trying to Capture the Moon

. . . and Jay

Lunar Eclipse

for sharing
their amazing pictures of the moon this week!

More about the moon on my
~ "Many Many Moons" ~

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Hold On Me

Our West Lafayette Renovation Project
in the Lafayette Journal and Courier ~ March 26th 2005
More about this house on my
~ House With a Past ~

Our West Philly Renovation Project
in The Philadelphia Inquirer ~ March 27th, 1994
More about this house on my
~ House Sisters ~


You're in my eyes.
How else could I see light?

You're in my brain
This wild joy.

If love did not live in matter,
how would any place have
any hold on anyone?

Rumi (1207 - 1273)

Persian Spiritual Sage*

Unusually Snowy Day in April

*As with the proverbs quoted on the above posts
for April 7th & April 10th,
these lines from Rumi can be found in
Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems
edited by Ravi Nathwani & Kate Vogt
Thanks to my friend Lani for her
generous gift of this lovely inspirational book!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

So Full of Knowing




I know a cure for sadness:
Let your hands touch something that
makes your eyes smile.

I bet there are a hundred objects close by
that can do that."

Mirabai (1498 - 1565)

16th - Century Indian Mystic

I think Mira might have meant dogs & cats, don't you?
Likewise, the following anecdote from St. John of the Cross
works with dogs and cats, as well as rabbits:

I was sad one day and went for a walk;
I sat in a field.

A rabbit noticed my condition and
came near.

It often does not take more than that to help at times -

to just be close to creatures who
are so full of knowing,
so full of love
that they don’t
- chat,

they just gaze with
marvelous understanding.

St. John of the Cross (1542 - 1591)

16th - Century Spanish Mystic

Both of the above proverbs,
along with many other favorites, can be found in
Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems
edited by Ravi Nathwani & Kate Vogt
Thanks to my friend Lani for her
generous gift of this lovely inspirational book!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Baby Rhubarb

The spring so far has been chilly, gray,
and rainy, but even with so little sun,
the baby rhubarb shoots are peeking through!

all this time
the sun never says to the earth,

"You owe me."
Look what happens
with a love like that --
it lights the whole world.

Hafiz (1325 – 1389)

14th - Century Persian poet

That one is blessed and at peace
Who doesn't hope, to whom
Desire makes no more loans.

Nothing coming, nothing owned.

or as my friend Cate taught me to say:
no appointments ~ no disppointments]

Lalla (1320–1392)

14th - Century Indian mystic

Both of the above proverbs,
along with many other favorites, can be found in
Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems
edited by Ravi Nathwani & Kate Vogt
Thanks to my friend Lani for her
generous gift of this lovely inspirational book!


P.S. April 15, 2014

So much growth in one short week
but can you believe it . . .

. . . covered in snow!

Friday, April 4, 2014

That Other World I Touch

In Memoriam
Charlotte Cathey Stewart
~ friend & litterateur ~
25 November 1938 ~ 29 March 2014

A poem for Charlotte . . . by Charlotte . . .

Lost Continent
Loss laps the shore of this awful
sunlit day, bathes the bare roots
of a single shoreline tree. I feel

this continent's afloat, conceals another
deeper down. I think that we could
find it, if we knew the way.
What's buried?
Some dark jubilance we've never known.
Or only I. That other world I touch.
That expectation you arouse in me:

maps in our hands, if they were joined,
deep spells that blind, and spells
that make us see. So be it.
Now begins
the evening's bright lament. Voices blaze
like sunset's spreading tent: I want
to know you. Naked thought:
as if to know could set us free.

written by Charlotte Stewart in 1983
from her book of poems: A Home Against One's Self

Re - reading this beautiful poem for the first time in many years, I had to wonder, did Charlotte compose it in honor of someone else's death? Perhaps she told me at the time and I've forgotten, yet another loss.

She writes of a deeper, lost continent concealed beneath our visible world but, more importantly, of a deeper, richer self - awareness, lost -- or as yet unfound -- that lives below the surface that we currently apprehend as our existence. Is Charlotte there now? Has she found it -- the dark jubilance -- now that she has touched the other life?

When I met Charlotte, she was managing editor of the James Joyce Quarterly, and I was lucky enough to be one of her student assistants for a semester. I've never forgotten Charlotte telling me that when she was little, she thought that the last line of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" was "life is butter beans" (rather than "life is but a dream"). Sometime after that, she drew me a little card with those words and a smiling butter bean. A happy memory.

On the back, it says "From Charlotte ~ October 11, 1982"

Other fun memories include the day that we sat in the office reading out all the the questions on the MMPI and making jokes of all our answers. Or the time when Charlotte bought me my first ever Cadbury Creme Egg at one of her favorite little shops near Utica Square. This confection was totally unknown to me until that day when Charlotte told me that I had to try one and we admired the candy yolk inside the white creme. Of course, best of all were the many friends and the way that Charlotte pulled us all together.

End of Fall Semester Party at Charlotte's house, 1982.
Look how much fun she was having!
Clockwise from noon: Kay, Charlotte, Susan, Jes, Jan, Donna

Charlotte's friend Marguerite shared this drawing and wrote to say that "Charlotte loved to doodle. When she learned that my totem was the rabbit (as I was born in the Chinese year of the hare), she started drawing rabbit images on her notes to me."

So fitting for this sad yet, to quote Charlotte,
"darkly jubilant" occasion.
And to you too, dear Charlotte:
"See you anon!"

For more doodles & photographs, see my facebook album:
Tulsa 1982 & Beyond

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

That Aprille with his Shoures Soote

A Very Late Spring This Year

April showers: Sweet! Radical!
Relief from March
Flowers, vines, veins, wine
Zephyr: Breath of Life
Celestial Ram
Melodic lark
Follow the West Wind;
Follow Your Heart!

my minimalist version of the
Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
by Geoffrey Chaucer


Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims as portrayed by William Blake
[Read more about the controversy
surrounding Blake's engraving of The Pilgrims]

as originally written inMiddle English, in 1380:
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages:
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmers for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende . . .

as translated by by Ronald L. Ecker & Eugene J. Crook in 1993:
When April's gentle rains have pierced the drought
Of March right to the root, and bathed each sprout
Through every vein with liquid of such power
It brings forth the engendering of the flower;
When Zephyrus too with his sweet breath has blown
Through every field and forest, urging on
The tender shoots, and there's a youthful sun,
His second half course through the Ram now run,
And little birds are making melody
And sleep all night, eyes open as can be
(So Nature pricks them in each little heart),
On pilgrimage then folks desire to start.
The palmers long to travel foreign strands
To distant shrines renowned in sundry lands;
And specially, from every shire's end
In England, folks to Canterbury wend . . .