Image for a poem by Ted Hughes
Have You Heard? August 15, 2016
Have you heard of this book? this author? Well I hadn’t heard of the author Jerome Chardyn or the book A Loaded Gun. I had heard of Emily Dickinson, a New England poet of the 19th century. Now I seem to be finding the author and his work and Emily Dickinson references everywhere. I originally ordered the book partly because I was intrigued by the title and I was interested in learning more about this poet. I have been rewarded. It has turned out to be a fascinating read. Now I will turn to a fictional book about Emily Dickinson by the same author.
A Poem For Winter December 16, 2015
A poem by Thomas Hardy
The Darkling Thrush
Abraham Lincoln and My Grandmother’s Poem February 13, 2015
I have been writing about my grandmother’s little book of poetry, Late Flowers, written when she was in her 70’s. The poem I want to quote today is her tribute to Abraham Lincoln. Having lived overseas for so long I had kind of forgotten my U.S. history or maybe my history lessons slipped to the back of the queue in my brain. Whatever, now being back in the U.S. on a more permanent basis I am refreshing and renewing my interest in matters historical on this side of the Atlantic. I recently read the book Manhunt, the 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killers, by James L. Swanson. One thing that struck me about the book was the fervor with which people reacted to the Assassination. Abraham Lincoln is an icononic figure in U.S. history but in part it was the fact that he was assassinated that elevated him to such a…
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A Voyage of Discovery September 3, 2011
This book has been in print for a while – and also sitting on my shelf of unreads. But I have finally got around to reading it and it was most enthralling. On Amazon.com I found the following review from the Scotsman.
My Grandmother’s Poetry April 25, 2011
I have the impression that it was very fashionable several generations ago for genteel ladies to write poetry. I would like to think that my grandmothers would be numbered among such circles. My maternal grandmother was very well educated, having attended Wellesley College in the early years of the 20th century. My paternal grandmother also attended college, albeit less prestigious. In fact it was called a Normal School or a 2 year teacher training college – this school dated back to the 1840’s and is now a large university, SUNY. I would like to learn more about their early lives. One was born in 1863, the other in 1872. One grew up in Boston, the other in upstate New York. Each married and raised families. One lived almost to age 70, the other lived into her 90’s.
It was my paternal grandmother who actually compiled a little book of her poems and had it printed. I am so pleased, and thrilled actually, to have this legacy from her. I cannot assess her work as to its literary value, but to me it has great personal value. It is only through this little booklet, a few photographs, and a few of her letters and recollections of my sisters that I have a feeling for what this person was like. I wish I could have known her in real time.
I have even fewer ways of getting a sense of the type of person my maternal grandmother was. She passed away when I was very young, hardly a toddler. There are only photographs – not even letters. Now as the years pass, I think about my mother in so many ways – as she grew older did she think about her mother in the way that I do? It is puzzling to me. And questions I could have asked but never did because at the time those answers weren’t of interest to me. Does each generation live in its own present and just idly wonder about the comparable present of previous generations? Now that I am a grandmother myself, I want to know more about the grandmothers who went before.
What Were They Singing Then January 29, 2011
As I explore the lives of previous generations in my family, I’ll shift the theme a bit from what were they reading then to what were they singing then. As regular followers of my blog know, one of my grandmothers became a poet in her later years. And the other grandmother, on my mother’s side, was an accomplished musician. Her publications are listed in her entry in The Woman’s Who’s Who of America, A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915; John William Leonard, Editor-in-Chief. Published by the American Commonwealth Company, New York.
She is listed as the author of the following: Ten Easy and Melodious Recreations; Twelve Melodious Etudes in Unfamiliar Keys; Six Duets; On the Playground; Love’s Solace; Ride of Revere; L’ll Drum; Love Lost; Lullaby; Eventide; Romance in G. This list indicates to me that she was a piano teacher. I wonder. I know she taught Sunday School after the family moved to Winchester Mass. in the mid-1920’s. My cousin who lives near the family home in Winchester has met a person who was a Sunday School pupil of this grandmother.
What I’m leading up to here is to write about another venture of mine that is on the burner, so to speak. Inspired by my daughter-in-law and my 2 grandaughters here in Seattle, I have been taking voice/singing lessons. The teacher Krista of Krista’s Music Studio is most encouraging, as is my cousin in San Francisco who did voice lessons herself a few years ago. I am really enjoying the experience. Last weekend there was a recital featuring Krista’s students of flute, piano and voice – my classmates, I would like to say although we don’t all gather round the piano at the same time. The recital, held in Bethany Lutheran Church, was wonderful, and daughter-in-law Susan and the grandaughters Ashley and Susan participated. Caitlin performed early on and she played a Mozart piece, A Little Night Music. Ashley was further along in the programme and her piece was Ode to Joy. And eventually it was Susan’s turn. She sang Mozart’s Ave Verum – it was beautifully moving. The memories came flooding back of singing this piece when I was in Bhutan and participated in a small choir. It was our piece de resistance for our performance in the Hotel Jumolhari there in Thimphu.
Krista has 9 adult students and for us neophytes there is going to be a soiree. I am of 2 minds about performing in this more intimate setting but am probably going to do it. But my debut will be in a duet with Susan, who is more keen on solo performances than I am. Hopefully she can cover my mistakes or hesitations etc. It’s supposed to be fun. The song we are going to work on is Aura Lee, a Civil War song. Since my grandfather served in the Civil War, I feel it’s legitimate to include this in my research of the generations and hence the title What Were They Singing Then. Here are the lyrics I’m trying to memorize. We have until March 5th to perfect our duet.
Neath the willow tree,
Sat and piped, I heard him sing
In praise of Aura Lee
Chorus I Aura Lee, Aura Lee,
Maid with golden hair,
Sunshine came a-long with thee,
And swallows in the air
Verse 2 Take my heart and take my ring,
I give my all to thee.
Take me for e-ternity,
Dearest Aura Lee!
Chorus I again
Verse 3 In her blush the rose was born,
‘Twas music when she spake
In her eyes, the light of morn
Sparkling, seemed to break
Chorus I again
Verse 4 Aura Lee, the bird may flee
The willow’s golden hair,
Then the wintry winds may be
Chorus 4 Yet if thy blue eyes I see,
Gloom will soon de-part
For to me, sweet Aura Lee
Is sunshine to the heart
But before we get to perform the above, here is the programme for last week’s concert and a few photos.
I don’t seem to have an individual photo of Ashley but she is in the front row of the group photo.
A Little Known Family Fact January 22, 2011
The best work, as well as the greatest joy of my life, has been the rearing of my four children to good American citizenship.
Spending winters in Orlando, Florida, in 1939 I was attracted to the Poetry Club and, although I had never before written any poetry, I found I could really turn out something with rhyme and rhythm.
The greater number of these poems were written for the Club before I left Orlando for Daytona Beach.
I hope, dear reader, that you like them and become my friend as I am yours.
How could you help but be proud of and have great fondness for this grandmother of mine. A grandmother I did not see all that often, in fact only seldom, and who lived far away from where I grew up.
My grandmother in fact outlived her son by 5 years. She passed away in 1954 at the age of 91. I can only remember her through photographs, a few letters in the family archive, and what my sisters now in their 80’s are able to tell me about her.
A poem she wrote To The Half-Century Club (At State College, Albany, New York, June 1941) on the occasion of their 60th reunion.
To the Half-Century Club
Half-Centuryites we are here today
To look back along the way
We trod together for awhile
Only a short, but lovely mile,
And gather up from here and there
Some recollections we may share,
So short a time it was, you know,
Only two years, that long ago
That teachers did their sturdy part
To us their wisdom to impart.
In seventy-nine I came to wait
For knowledge at old New York State,
In June, ’81, I left its hall
But where’er my footsteps fall,
In all my life, I’ll ne’er forget
The lessons learned, the friends I met.
I recall that building, old and gray,
Where Dr. Alden held full sway,
I still can see, as I saw of yore,
The faculty filing through the door
To seat themselves in solumn style
Upon the rostrum for awhile,
While Marsh, the temperamental dear,
Made music to delight the ear;
His eagle eye cast ’round the ring
Making sure that each should sing.
Today could Dr. Alden see
What his school has grown to be
A certain pride he’d surely know,
But other things would shock him so
He’s shed a tear and tear his hair,
Perchance, forsooth, he’d even swear,
Full well I know the dancing class
Would make him cry aloud, “Alas,”
Once on the carpet I was called,
Across the coals well overhauled,
Because one evening forth I pranced
Broke every rule and danced and danced.
Enough of this, we stand today
In life’s twilight, cold and gray,
Our work near done, our faces turn
To where the sunrise glories burn,
For well we know this life to be
Only a link in the chain which we
Make complete when, our lessons learned,
Last life lived! last body spurned,
Strivings over and hardships past,
Perfect peace is ours at last.
So from Daytona’s Beach I send
Greeting and farewell to each friend
Until next year shall bring our way
Another glad Alumni Day.
I just love what she has written. So long ago now. My grandmother on the occasion of her 60th reunion from college – and only recently I celebrated my 50th reunion from college, relatively near where she was born and went to school. Middlebury Vermont, Crown Point New York, and Albany New York are not all that far apart. She went to the college (I guess what would have been called a Normal School or a Teacher Training College) at the age of 16. Attended for the requisite 2 years. Graduated in 1881 and then married in 1882. The little known family fact – to me anyhow – was that she had even gone to college at all.
The Winter Solstice Is Approaching December 20, 2009
The Winter Solstice is drawing near.
photo from this source.
This year, according to my source, the winter will officially occur in Dublin at 15:47 , 5:47 p.m., tomorrow December 21. Correspondingly, it will be 9:47 a.m. on the west coast of America, 8 hours behind us here in Dublin. There is a really interesting website showing photos and explaining the winter solstice at Newgrange, a world famous prehistoric site in Ireland. Around the time of the winter solstice the rising sun shines into the inner chamber for 5 or 6 mornings. Some of the photos shown of the 2005 solstice were taken by Anne-Marie Moroney, a weaving friend of mine.
Anne-Marie is also a photographer and author interested in archaeological and mystic phenomena. Anne-Marie and a poet friend, Susan Connelly, produced a book about some of the holy wells in Ireland. She used not only her own photographs but also some of her textiles as illustrations. I would like to tell you more, but that will have to wait for another day. My copy of the book is currently in a container on the SS Rotterdam Express, approaching the Panama Canal, en route to Seattle.
I have a diary called Murakami Diary 2009. Haruki Murakami is Japanese by birth and his books have been translated into many languages. According to the Diary, the Winter Solstice in Japan is called Toji. And looking up Toji I found the following:
Japan: Tou Ji or To Ji (literally means winter solstice)
A few weeks (about 15 days) starting around 22nd of December is called Toji [or Tou Ji : Winter Solstice].
When solar celestial longitude gets 270 degrees, the most south, the solar height becomes lowest in the year in Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, the daytime is shortest in the year and cold increase severity. In Japanese custom, we eat “Japanese Pumpkin” and Konnyaku (devil’s tongue) to pray for luck of money. Also, we take Yuzuburo (citron bath) to pray for health and fortune. From ancient times, there are many festivals held in all around the world to celebrate Toji (Winter Solstice), when sun approaches most in Northern Hemisphere. The festival of Christmas, which is originated in Europe is related to Toji this strongly.
Winter solstice in Latin sol=sun in stice=stand still