Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happy Walpurgisnacht!

or, if your German is as defunct as mine, happy May Eve!  It is the eve of the feast day of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century abbess in Germany. In German folklore Walpurgisnacht is believed to be the night of a witches' meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany between the rivers Weser and Elbe. The first known written occurrence of the English translation 'Walpurgis Night' is from the 19th century. Local variants of Walpurgis Night are observed across Europe in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Estonia.
     Being a Pagan of Germanic, Swede and Celtic descent, I find the combination of Walpurgisnacht and Beltane so much fun: music, dancing, good food, faerie watches, all kinds of happiness and joy as we welcome the advent of summer. Granted, today doesn't feel very summer-like: gray, chilly and rainy, it's a typical April day here in New England, but sundown marks the season's change for me, and I'm looking forward to the next phase of the year! Happy Walpurgisnacht all!

Here's a lovely citrusy cake to celebrate your Walpurgis, Beltane or May Day...enjoy!!

Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream Frosting

1 c. finely grated carrots (squeeze out juice)
1 c. golden raisins
1 c. chopped pecans
2 large eggs
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. chopped clementine peel (white pith scraped off)
3/4 c. plus 1 Tbs. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350; grease and flour 2 8-inch round cake pans.
2. Mix carrots, raisins and nuts in a large bowl; set aside.
3. In another large bowl beat eggs and sugar, then add oil, vanilla and clementine peel; mix well.
4. Gradually add baking soda, salt, cinnamon and flour; beat well after each addition; pour into the carrot mix, stir with a wooden spoon until well-combined.
5. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pans; bake 20 to 25 minutes. The cakes will be dark and springy to the touch.
6. Let sit in pans on racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool on racks. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Orange Buttercream Frosting

8 Tbs. room-temperature butter
2-3 Tbs. orange juice (2 to start, 1 extra as needed)
1 Tbs. chopped clementine peel (white pith scraped off)
up to 4 c. powdered sugar

1. Beat butter, 2 Tbs. orange juice, peel and 2 c. powdered sugar until smooth.
2. Gradually add the remainder of the sugar by 1/2 cups until smooth and creamy. (if too thick, add remaining 1 Tbs. orange juice.)

Makes enough frosting for one two layer cake or 15 to 20 cupcakes.

For an extra-sweet touch, garnish cake with chocolate-dipped candied orange peel. I don't make my own: I buy it from Richardson's Candy Kitchen in South Deerfield (MA), but if you are a super kitchen-maven and want to make your own, here's a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis:

Using a vegetable peeler, cut the orange part of the peel from the stem end of the orange down to the navel end, forming long 3/4 to 1-inch-wide strips. Bring a heavy small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the peels and cook for 1 minute. Drain and then rinse the peels under cold water. Repeat cooking the peels in the saucepan with fresh boiling water and rinsing under cold water.
Stir the sugar and 1/2 cup of fresh water in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Add the orange peels and simmer over medium-low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the peels to a sheet of parchment paper to dry slightly, about 1 hour.
Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir the chocolate in a small bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Dip 1 1/2-inches of each candied orange peel into the chocolate then place them on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 15 minutes.

The incomparable Elizabeth Barrett Browning...

   I love this poet so much I named my daughter after her (AlysonRose Elizabeth).

A Dead Rose

O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat,---
Kept seven years in a drawer---thy titles shame thee.

The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day,---
If breathing now,---unsweetened would forego thee.

The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom, and flower to burn,---
If shining now,---with not a hue would light thee.

The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grow incarnadined, because
It lay upon thee where the crimson was,---
If dropping now,---would darken where it met thee.

The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet,
Along thy leaf's pure edges, after heat,---
If lighting now,---would coldly overrun thee.

The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive,---
If passing now,---would blindly overlook thee.

The heart doth recognise thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete,---
Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.

Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold!---
Lie still upon this heart---which breaks below thee!

                   ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning  


A Year's Spinning

He listened at the porch that day,
To hear the wheel go on, and on;
And then it stopped, ran back away,
While through the door he brought the sun:
But now my spinning is all done.

He sat beside me, with an oath
That love ne'er ended, once begun;
I smiled--believing for us both,
What was the truth for only one:
And now my spinning is all done.

My mother cursed me that I heard
A young man's wooing as I spun:
Thanks, cruel mother, for that word--
For I have, since, a harder known!
And now my spinning is all done.

I thought--O God!--my first-born's cry
Both voices to mine ear would drown:
I listened in mine agony--
It was the silence made me groan!
And now my spinning is all done.

Bury me 'twixt my mother's grave,
(Who cursed me on her death-bed lone)
And my dead baby's (God it save!)
Who, not to bless me, would not moan.
And now my spinning is all done.

A stone upon my heart and head,
But no name written on the stone!
Sweet neighbours, whisper low instead,
"This sinner was a loving one--
And now her spinning is all done."

And let the door ajar remain,
In case he should pass by anon;
And leave the wheel out very plain,--
That HE, when passing in the sun,
May see the spinning is all done.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mary Robinson...

Mary Robinson (née Darby) (27 November 1757? – 26 December 1800) was an English actress, poet, dramatist, novelist, and celebrity figure. During her lifetime she was known as "the English Sappho". She earned her nickname "Perdita" for her role as Perdita (heroine of Shakespeare's Th Winter's Tale) in 1779 and as the first public mistress of King George IV while he was still Prince of Wales.

The Bee and the Butterfly

UPON a garden's perfum'd bed
With various gaudy colours spread,
Beneath the shelter of a ROSE
A BUTTERFLY had sought repose;
Faint, with the sultry beams of day,
Supine the beauteous insect lay.

A BEE, impatient to devour
The nectar sweets of ev'ry flow'r,
Returning to her golden store,
A weight of fragrant treasure bore;
With envious eye, she mark'd the shade,
Where the poor BUTTERFLY was laid,
And resting on the bending spray,
Thus murmur'd forth her drony lay:­

"Thou empty thing, whose merit lies
In the vain boast of orient dies;
Whose glittering form the slightest breath
Robs of its gloss, and fades to death;
Who idly rov'st the summer day,
Flutt'ring a transient life away,
Unmindful of the chilling hour,
The nipping frost, the drenching show'r;
Who heedless of "to-morrow's fare,"
Mak'st present bliss thy only care;
Is it for THEE, the damask ROSE
With such transcendent lustre glows?
Is it for such a giddy thing
Nature unveils the blushing spring?
Hence, from thy lurking place, and know,
'Tis not for THEE her beauties glow."

The BUTTERFLY, with decent pride,
In gentle accents, thus reply'd:
"'Tis true, I flutter life away
In pastime, innocent and gay;
The SUN that decks the blushing spring
Gives lustre to my painted wing;
'Tis NATURE bids each colour vie,
With rainbow tints of varying die;
I boast no skill, no subtle pow'r
To steal the balm from ev'ry flow'r;
The ROSE, that only shelter'd ME,
Has pour'd a load of sweets on THEE;
Of merit we have both our share,
Heav'n gave thee ART, and made me FAIR;
And tho' thy cunning can despise
The humble worth of harmless flies;
Remember, envious, busy thing,
Thy honey'd form conceals a sting;
Enjoy thy garden, while I rove
The sunny hill, the woodbine grove,
And far remov'd from care and THEE,
Embrace my humble destiny;
While in some lone sequester'd bow'r,
I'll live content beyond thy pow'r;
For where ILL-NATURE holds her reign
TASTE, WORTH, and BEAUTY, plead in vain;
E'en GENIUS must to PRIDE submit
When ENVY wings the shaft of WIT.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Alcott and Thoreau...

A funeral yesterday morning, a Reiki treatment yesterday afternoon and family needs into the evening means no poetry post yesterday. I do apologize. Having just finished reading John Matteson's Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, and recently having finished Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante, and preparing to reread Thoreau's Walden, I decided today's poems should combine the talents of my favorite author and one who was a mentor to her. Thus, Thoreau's Flute, written by Louisa at Thoreau's death, and I Am the Autumnal Sun, by Henry David Thoreau.

Thoreau's Flute

We sighing said, "Our Pan is dead;
His pipe hangs mute beside the river
Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,
But Music's airy voice is fled.
Spring mourns as for untimely frost;
The bluebird chants a requiem;
The willow-blossom waits for him;
The Genius of the wood is lost."

Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
There came a low, harmonious breath:
"For such as he there is no death;
His life the eternal life commands;
Above man's aims his nature rose.
The wisdom of a just content
Made one small spot a continent
And turned to poetry life's prose.

"Haunting the hills, the stream, the wild,
Swallow and aster, lake and pine,
To him grew human or divine,
Fit mates for this large-hearted child.
Such homage Nature ne'er forgets,
And yearly on the coverlid
'Neath which her darling lieth hid
Will write his name in violets.

"To him no vain regrets belong
Whose soul, that finer instrument,
Gave to the world no poor lament,
But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.
O lonely friend! he still will be
A potent presence, though unseen,
Steadfast, sagacious, and serene;
Seek not for him -- he is with thee."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Two reflections of everyday life, by me :)

Daisies on My Shoes

            The daisies on my shoe

            Blink at me

            In the dark closet.

            Behind me

            Dreams are lazing

            In the twisted sheets.

            They’re losing their hold now,

            Gossamer shreds

            Drifting out the window

            To melt in the

            Early September rain,

            And I wonder

            What the night brought,

            What the night will


            From beneath the bed

            The other shoe 

                              ~Nicole Kapise Perkins

Home Cooking

                        Who will remain
In the end?
A chicken is cooking,
Mingled scent of oranges, onions.
Can they smell it
Time zones away
Where cars explode and
Children die?
                   ~Nicole Kapise Perkins


Thursday, April 24, 2014

W. H. Auden, a English treasure


  by W. H. Auden

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

- See more at:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I have this poem on my refrigerator...

where I see it every time I'm in the kitchen. I haven't found any of Patrick Donnelly's poetry in my library, but an internet search has led to many such lovely works on his webpage,

On Being Called To Prayer
While Cooking Dinner for Forty

When the heavens and the earth
are snapped away like a painted shade,
and every creature called to account,
please forgive me my head
full of chickpeas, garlic and parsley.
I am in love with the lemon
on the counter, and the warmth
of my brother’s shoulder distracted me
when we stood to pray.
The imam takes us over
for the first prostration,
but I keep one ear cocked
for the cry of the kitchen timer,
thrilled to realize today’s cornbread
might become tomorrow’s stuffing.
This thrift may buy me ten warm minutes
in bed tomorrow, before the singer
climbs the minaret in the dark
to wake me again to the work
of thought, word, deed. 
I have so little time to finish;
only I know how to turn the dish, so the first taste
makes my brother’s eyes open wide--
forgive me, this pleasure
seems more urgent than the prayer--
too late to take refuge in You
from the inextricable mischief
of every thing You made,
eggs, milk, cinnamon, kisses, sleep.

-- Patrick Donnelly

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Creamy Spaghetti Primavera....

I realize I haven't shared any recipes here's one that's just too good, really.

Creamy Spaghetti Primavera


(I take no credit for this, and I can only heartily and humbly thank Rachael Ray for creating this amazing comfort-food dish. I make it for myself on my birthday every year. Yeah, it's that good.)


5 c vegetable or chicken stock (I generally use chicken)

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs butter

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 pound of spaghetti (or substitute orzo, which makes it more risotto-like, but still tastie)

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, cut into thin sticks

1 zucchini, cut into thin sticks

2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves

salt and pepper to taste

3/4 c dry white wine

1/2 c heavy cream (no, this dish is not the most healthy you can make yourself.)

1 c grated Asiago cheese

grated peel of 1 lemon

1/2 c chopped flat-leaf parsley


* Simmer the broth over medium heat; keep hot.

* In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Stir in the garlic. Add the spaghetti (or orzo) and toast lightly, 2 minutes or so. (Do not let your garlic overcook.) Add the onion, carrots, zucchini and thyme, season with salt and pepper. Cook until the veggies are tender, stirring with tongs, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until completely absorbed. Add a cup of warm broth and stir the pasta. Let the broth become absorbed and continue to add more, cooking like you would a risotto, until all the broth has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

* Stir the cream and the cheese into the pasta, remove from the heat, and continue to stir for another minute until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately, topped with lemon peel and parsley. Oh, happiness. And if it's your birthday, follow up with cake. Because you deserve it.


Another one, just cause.....

—Anne Hébert

Better not go to these deep woods
for great fountains
sleep in their depths.

Better not wake the great fountains
A false sleep closes their salty eyelids
No dream invents the blossoms
underwater white and rare.

The days around them
and the lean and chanting trees
sink no image into them.

Water in these dark woods
is so pure and uniquely fluid
and hallowed in this flowing source
a sea profession where I gaze.

O tears inside me
in the hollow of this grave space
where erect columns oversee
my old patience
keep intact
eternal solitude water solitude.

A stunning poem, and a link tro the song...!

Mary Hynes

(The most beautiful woman in the West. Padraic Fallon translation
of the Anthony Raftery poem)

That Sunday, on my oath, the rain was a heavy overcoat
on a poor poet; and when the rain began in fleeces
of water to buck-leap like a goat, I was only a walking
penence reaching Kiltartan

and there so suddenly that my cold spine broke out
on the arch of my back in a rainbow;
this woman surged out of the day with so much sunlight,
that I was nailed there like a scarecrow.

But I found my tongue and a breath to balance it,
and I said:

'If I'd bow to you with this hump of rain, I'll fall
On my collarbone, but luck I'll chance it'; and after falling bow again
She laughed: Ah! she was gracious, and softly she said to me,

'For all Your lovely talking I go marketing with an ass, I know him.
I’m no hill-queen, alas, or Ireland, that grass widow,
So hurry on,
sweet Raftery, or you’ll keep me late for Mass!'

The parish priest has blamed me for missing second Mass
And the bell talking on the rope of the steeple,
But the tonsure of the poet is the bright crash
Of love that blinds the irons on his belfry.
Were I making an Aisling I’d tell the tale of her hair,
But now I’ve grown careful of my listeners
So I pass over one long day and the rainy air
Where we sheltered in whispers.

When we left the dark evening at last outside her door,
She lighted a lamp though a gaming company
Could have sighted each trump by the light of her unshawled poll,
And indeed she welcomed me
With a big quart bottle and I mooned there over glasses
Till she took that bird, the phoenix, from the spit;
And, 'Raftery,' says she, 'a feast is no bad dowry, Sit down now and taste it.'

If I praised Ballylea before it was only for the mountains
Where I broke horses and ran wild,
And for its seven crooked smoky houses
Where seven crones are tied
All day to the listening-top of a half door,
And nothing to be heard or seen
But the drowsy dropping of water
And a gander on the green.

But, Boys! I was blind as a kitten till last Sunday,
This town is earth’s very navel.
Seven palaces are thatched there of a Monday,
And O the seven queens whose pale
Proud faces with their seven glimmering sisters,
The Pleiads, light the evening where they stroll,
And one can find the well by their wet footprints,
And make one’s soul!

For Mary Hynes, rising, gathers up there
Her ripening body from all the love stories;
And rinsing herself at morning, shakes her hair
And stirs the old gay books in libraries;
And what shall I do with sweet Boccaccio?
And shall I send Ovid back to school again
With a new headline for his copybook,
And a new pain?

Like a nun she will play you a sweet tune on a spinet,
And from such grasshopper music leap
Like Herod’s hussy who fancied a saint’s head
For grace after meat;
Yet she’ll peg out a line of clothes on a windy morning
And by noonday put them ironed in the chest,
And you’ll swear by her white fingers she does nothing
But take her fill of rest.

And I’ll wager now that my song is ended,
Loughrea, that old dead city where the weavers
Have pined at the mouldering looms since Helen broke the thread,
Will be piled again with silver fleeces:
O the new coats and big horses! The raving and the ribbons!
And Ballylea in hubbub and uproar!
And may Raftery be dead if he’s not there to ruffle it
On his own mare, Shank’s mare, that never needs a spur.

But ah, Sweet Light, though your face coins
My heart’s very metals, isn’t it folly without a pardon
For Raftery to sing so that men, east and west, come
Spying on your vegetable garden?
We could be so quiet in your chimney corner–
Yet how could a poet hold you any more than the sun,
Burning in the big bright hazy heart of harvest,
Could be tied in a henrun?

Bless your poet then and let him go!
He’ll never stack a haggard with his breath:
His thatch of words will not keep rain or snow
Out of the house, or keep back death.
But Raftery, rising, curses as he sees you
Stir the fire and wash delph,
That he was bred a poet whose selfish trade it is
To keep no beauty to himself.

Behold! 'Tis the artist himself, Mr. Liam Clancy:

Liam Clancy - Mary Hynes (+playlist)

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's springtime and that means...

it's time to plant! Well, mostly. Almost. It's time to start seeds indoors? I have. In a pot on the kitchen bar I have three sweet little tomato plantlings valiantly reaching to the sky. Ceiling. Whatever. The peppers I planted in an accompanying pit have yet to do much of anything, which just proves their contrary nature. Outside, covered, are pots of lettuce and basil, and the window box's chives wintered over beautifully, and are doing their thing. I let my little bitty plant some sage and pansies in the window box as well, but I'll probably just buy some herbs to add to it. I have all kinds of photos of the work-in-progress, and blogger won't load any of them, so just use your imaginations while I try to figure out why blogger is being as contrary as my peppers. (I can't even copy and paste my own photos. How annoying is that??)
   Anyway, I've already grabbed my pickle buckets from the restaurant downstairs--the 5 gallon buckets make perfect pots for a back-step garden-- and have my 'garden plan' all drawn up. Two pots with tomato and pepper; one with zucchini; one with a mix of cucumbers and peas; one with tomato and eggplant; and one for the little guy: purple beans, pansies, Wee-Be-Little pumpkins, Thumbelina carrots, and if I can find them, Easter Egg radishes. (Not that he'll eat them, but my husband and I love radishes, and the little one will love pulling pink and purple radishes from his garden and feeding them to us.) This may sound like an awful lot to plant in one five gallon bucket, but provided I do it right (i.e., follow directions as laid out in The Bountiful Container) all should go according to plan. 

   Another one that I love, but do not own is Grow Great Grub:

Both are incredibly helpful for the new (in other words, completely clueless) gardener (me) who only has a small space to try and have a garden. I'd love to try to do more, but my back stairs do need to be accessible in case of any kind of emergency. So six big pots, four smaller pots, and two window boxes will have to do for now. We actually have three community gardens here in town as well, and I'm thinking about putting my name in for one. Sadly, I have heard from neighbors that participate that the vegetables have a habit of disappearing before the gardeners have a chance to pick their produce, so I'm a little leery about spending my time on a garden that others will benefit from because they'd just rather take my stuff. It bears thinking about, though.

    I just found this one on Amazon as well, and it looks worth reading simply for the sake of reading  it!

Here are some links to books (on Amazon) that I can't seem to paste. Happy planting! And playing! And getting dirty!

Kids Container Gardening:

Gardening Projects for Kids:

Kids Garden:

Compost Stew: (We use yet another pickle bucket for composting, but we don't actually use the contents. Every time we fill a bucket we drop it off with the restaurant's collection, and they cart it away to whatever garden supplies the restaurant with veggies.)

The Edible Balcony:

Small Space Container Gardens:




Mr. Keats

     One simply cannot post entries for National Poetry Month without acknowledging, nay, swooning, weeping, lamenting and living the agony of the doomed romance of John Keats and Fanny Brawne. And so, dear readers, with my heart full and my eyes welling, I give you

                        Bright Star

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.

John Keats 

     Oh, Mr. Keats. Alas that thou didst die one hundred fifty-six years before I was born. Oh, my heart.

Behold, a link to the trailer for one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking movies EVER.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Praxilla, 450 BCE

Light and Earth

Most beautiful of things I leave is sunlight.
Then come glazing stars and the moon’s face.
Then ripe cucumbers and apples and pears.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Two for today.....

I missed yesterday; my husband took me out for a day-long adventure for my birthday. He's such a nice man. And so today I give you two: Thirteen ways of looking at a Blackbird, by Wallace Stevens, and The Unicorn in Captivity, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, two of my favorites. Enjoy!

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
          ~ Wallace Stevens


Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird. II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds. III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime. IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one. V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after. VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause. VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you? VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know. IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles. X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply. XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds. XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying. XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

The Unicorn in Captivity
  ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Here sits the Unicorn
In captivity;
His bright invulnerability
Captive at last;
The Chase long past,
Winded and spent,
By the king's spears rent;
Collared and tied
To a pomegranate tree--
Here sits the Unicorn
In captivity,
Yet free.

Here sits the Unicorn;
His overtakelessness
Bound by a circle small
As a maid's embrace;
Ringed by a round corral;
Pinioned in place
By a fence of scarlet rail,
Fragile as a king's crown,
Delicately laid down
Over horn, hoofs, and tail,
As a butterfly net
Is lightly set.

He could leap the corral,
If he rose
To his full height;
He could splinter the fencing light,
With three blows
Of his porcelain hoofs in flight--
If he chose.
He could shatter his prison wall,
Could escape them all--
If he rose,
If he chose.

Here sits the Unicorn;
The wounds in his side
Still bleed
From the huntsmen's spears,
Yet he takes no heed
Of the blood-red tears
On his milk-white hide,
That spring unsealed,
Like flowers that rise
From the velvet field
In which he lies.
Dream wounds, dream ties
Do not bind him there
In a kingdom where
He is unaware
Of his wounds, of his snare.

Here sits the Unicorn;
Head in collar cased,
Like a girdle laced
Round a maiden's waist,
Broidered and buckled wide,
Carelessly tied.
He could slip his head
From the jeweled noose
So lightly tied--
If he tried,
As a maid could loose
The belt from her side;
He could slip the bond
So lightly tied--
If he tried.

Here sits the Unicorn;
Leashed by a chain of gold
To the pomegranate tree.
So light a chain to hold
So fierce a beast;
Delicate as a cross at rest
On a maiden's breast.
He could snap the golden chain
With one toss of his mane,
If he chose to move,
If he chose to prove
His liberty.
But he does not choose
What choice would lose.
He stays, the Unicorn,
In captivity.

In captivity,
Flank, hoofs, and mane--
Yet look again--
His horn is free,
Rising above chain, fence, and tree,
Free hymn of love; His horn
Bursts from his tranquil brow
Like a comet born;
Cleaves like a galley's prow
Into seas untorn;
Springs like a lily, white
From the Earth below;
Spirals, a bird in flight
To a longed-for height;
Or a fountain bright,
Spurting to light
Of early morn--
O luminous horn!

Here sits the Unicorn--
In captivity?
In repose.
Forgotten now the blows
When the huntsmen rose
With their spears; dread sounds
Of the baying hounds,
With their cry for blood;
And the answering flood
In his veins for strife,
Of his rage for life,
In hoofs that plunged,
In horn that lunged.
Forgotten the strife;
Now the need to kill
Has died like fire,
And the need to love
Has replaced desire;
Forgotten now the pain
Of the wounds, the fence, the chain--
Where he sits so still,
Where he waits Thy will.

Quiet, the Unicorn,
In contemplation stilled,
With acceptance filled;
Quiet, save for his horn;
Alive in his horn;
In captivity;
As prisoners might,
Looking on a high at night,
From day-close discipline
Of walls and bars,
To night-free infinity
Of sky and stars
Find here felicity;
So is he free--
The Unicorn.
What is liberty?
Here lives the Unicorn,
In captivity,

Thursday, April 17, 2014



'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll 

Picture book scavenger hunt!

       The awesome blog Blog Me Mom has recently posted what is probably the most fun literary activity I have ever seen, and I'm stupidly ashamed to say that I never thought of it before now. Small children love treasure hunts. My little guy adores maps of any kind, probably because the bigger guy is a HUGE Dungeons and Dragons fan and has all the books he could possibly own, as well as several interactive maps and miniatures to go with it. Hence, the small one's love of all things cool and big brother-ish. So what did the geniuses at Blog Me Mom do? Came up with a picture book scavenger hunt. She hid books all around her yard, gave her children a list of clues, and set them loose. Very very cool. I have included the link below (hope it works!) and on the page the moms have added a downloadable link for the clues and book riddles. If you don't have all the books they used, you can of course make up your own. I don't know how good I'd be at making up riddles, but I can try. Happy hunting!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It's my birthday....

and so today I will share several of my favorite poems, because reading some of my favorite words is a lovely present for me to give myself!

The Little Mermaid
         ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Only the little mermaid knows the price
One pays for mortal love, what sacrifice
Exacted by the Sea-Witch, should one choose
A mermaid's careless liberty to lose.

Into the smoky cauldron she must throw
A mermaid's kingdom, gleaming far below
The restless waves in filtered light that falls
Through dim pellucid depths on palace walls.

All childhood haunts must go, all memories;
Her swaying garden of anemones
Circled  by conch-shells, where the sea-fans dance
To unheard music, bending in a trance.

No longer--now she seeks a mortal home--
Sharing with sisters laughter light as foam.
Those moon-bright nights alone upon the shore,
Singing a mermaid's song, are hers no more.

The magic sweetness of a mermaid's song,
She must abandon, if she would belong
To mortal world, the gift--O fatal choice--
That might have won the Prince, her golden voice.

The mermaid's silver tail, with which to dart
From octopi; the mermaid's coral heart
That felt no pain, she must now do without,
Exchanged for mortal longing, mortal doubt.

The Blind Goddess
          ~ Fadhila Chabbi

And the blind goddess, when we touched her
like a twinkling of the eye.
On the dry shore her hurried gait...
And in her face when sun and moon quarreled,
and in her step when the sea pecked a drop of life
the water receded--having become pregnant--for a time.
How can the letter be Seeing, Omnipotent,
a peer to the belated, jealous god.
And in the blind goddess when she dimmed
and the earth came to be
and it was the insolence of the ages.

White blossoms of the pear
and a woman in moonlight
reading a letter.

That snail--
one long horn, one short,
what's on his mind?
              ~ Buson

A bat flits
in moonlight
above the plum blossoms.
                    ~ Buson

          ~Ruben Dario

In the pale afternoon the clouds go by
Aimlessly roving in the quiet sky.
His head between his hands, the dreamer weaves
His dream of clouds and Autumn-colored leaves.
Ah, his intimate sorrow, his long sighs,
And the glad radiance that has dimmed his eyes!
And all the tender glances, the blond tresses,
The rose hands over-brimming with caresses,
The sudden faces smiling everywhere
In the gold-dusted curtains of the air!

In the pale afternoon
A friendly faerie maiden comes to me
And tells me tales of many a secret thing
Fraught with the spell and music of the moon,
And I have learned what wonder the birds sing,
And what the breezes bring over the sea,
All that lies hidden in the mist or gleams,
A fleeting presence, in a young girl's dreams.

And once the thirst of infinite desire
Possessed me like a fever, and I said,
'I want to feel all radiance, fragrance, fire
And joy of life within me, to inspire
My soul forever!' And the faerie maid
Called me to follow her, and when he spoke
It was as if a harp to the soft stroke
Of loving hands had wakened suddenly:
She syllabled hope's language, calling me.

Oh, thirst for the idea! From the height
Of a great mountain forested with night
She showed me all the stars and told their names;
It was a golden garden wherein grows
The fleur-de-lys of heaven, leaved with flames.
And I cried, 'More!' and then the dawn arose.

The dawn came blushing; on her forehead beamed
Delicate splendor, and to me it seemed
A girl that, opening her casement, sees
Her lover watching her, and with surprise
Reddens but cannot hide her from his eyes.

And I cried, 'More!' The faerie maiden smiled
And called the flowers, and the flowers were
Lovely and fresh and moist with essences, -
The virgin rose that in the woods grows wild,
The gentle lily tall and shy and fair,
The daisy glad and timid as a child,
Poppies and marigolds, and all the rare
Blossoms that freight with dreams the evening air.

But I cried, 'More!' And then the winds brushed by
Bearing the laughter of the world, the cry
Of all glad lovers in the woods of Spring,
And echoes, and all pleasant murmuring
Of rustling leaf or southward-flying bird,
Unworded songs and musics never heard.
The faerie maiden, smiling, led me where
The sky is stretched over the world, above
Our heights and depths of hoping and despair,
Beyond the reach of singing and of love.
And then the tore the veil. And I say there
That all was dawn. And in the deeps there
A woman's Face radiant exceedingly.-
Ah, never, Muses, never could ye say
The holy joyance that enkindled me!-
'More?…' said the faerie in her laughing way;
But I saw the Face only. And I dreamed.       

          ~Ruben Dario

Now is come the month of roses!
To the woods my verse has flown
Gathering fragrance and honey
From the blossoms newly blown.
Beloved, come to the forest,
The woodland shall be our shrine
Scented with the holy perfume
Of the laurel and the vine.
From tree-top to tree-top flitting
The birds greet you with sweet lay,
Finding joyance in your beauty
Fairer than the birth of day;
And the haughty oaks and hemlocks
Bend their leafy branches green
Forming rustling, regal arches
For the passage of a queen.
All is perfume, song and radiance;
Flowers open and birds sing:
O Beloved, 'tis the season
Of the Spring!

Flowing from a haunted cavern
Is a crystal fountain where
Naiads nude and flower-breasted
Bathe and play and freight the air
With the joyance of their laughter
And the gladness of the wave
When they stoop over the fountain
And their tresses'gin to lave.
And they know the hymns of Eros
That in lovely Grecian tongue
Pan one day made in the forest
In the glorious age of song.
Sweetest, of that glorious hymnal
I shall choose the fairest phrase
To enrich with ancient music
The full cadence of my lays.
Sweet as sweetest Grecian honey
Will my song be when I sing,
O Beloved, in the season
Of the Spring!        

The Highwayman
             ~Alfred Noyes

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.   
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.   
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,   
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.   
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
         His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.   
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there   
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
         Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked.   
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,   
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
         The landlord’s red-lipped daughter.
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,   
Then look for me by moonlight,
         Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;   
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
         (O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.


He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;   
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,   
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,   
A red-coat troop came marching—
King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord. They drank his ale instead.   
But they gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!   
There was death at every window;
         And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast!
“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
         Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!   
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
         Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.   
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.   
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;   
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
         Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horsehoofs ringing clear;   
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding—
The red coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still.

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!   
Nearer he came and nearer. Her face was like a light.
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,   
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
         Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned. He spurred to the west; he did not know who stood   
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood!   
Not till the dawn he heard it, and his face grew grey to hear   
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
         The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shouting a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high.
Blood red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat;
When they shot him down on the highway,
         Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

.       .       .

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,   
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.   
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there   
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
         Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

Sonnet XIX - The Beautiful Diana
                            ~Louise Labe

The beautiful Diana draws her bow,
Takes aim, and then lets fly her flaming dart:
Will she, in truth, strike straight through to the heart?
And though afraid, without a doubt we know

That once again, she will deliver
A rain of arrows from her pliant bow.
And she will say, “O woman, do not go
Before me now without a bow and quiver.”

A virgin goddess hunting for her prey,
She always strikes at any passer-by,
And nearby ones will watch and step away

As soon as she’s within clear sight.  We know
At once she’ll notch her arrows to her bow,
Take aim, and hit one hundred straight bull’s eyes.