Archive for 2011

The old year now away is fled

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

HappyNewYearLitPud

The old year now away is fled,
The new year it is entered;
Then let us all our sins downtread,
And joyfully all appear.
Let’s be merry be this holiday
And let us run with sport and play
Hang sorrow, let’s cast care away—
God send us a merry new year!
—English, 13th century

CakeBalloons2Christopher

Yahrzeit3Jacky


 

Take Joy

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

For the First Day of Christmas, a detail of a larger painting (part of a long-ongoing series, on which more later), and an excerpt from a letter written by a 16th century monk to a friend.

I wish you all a heavenly, peaceful, and joyful Christmas season.

FirstDay(detail)

I salute you.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not,
but there is much that while I cannot give, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
Take joy.

And so at this Christmastime, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.

—Fra Giovanni, 1513

CakeBerries2Ann

CakeChocCurls2Stephanie

 

Of Two Worlds

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Here is my daughter blowing out her birthday candles last year. Today she enters her teen years (!), chronologically leaving childhood behind; yet in reality she is straddling two worlds. In her are blended right now the growing thoughtful awareness and surprising wry humor of a young woman, and the openheartedness and generous, candid spontaneity of a child. It’s a sometimes-challenging but always-engaging time. In honor of her day, I post this poem by Sharon Olds, as it describes a malady my daughter shares. Happy, happy birthday, dear one.

ECS12Candles

Diagnosis
By the time I was six months old, she knew something
was wrong with me. I got looks on my face
she had not seen on any child
in the family, or the extended family,
or the neighborhood. My mother took me in
to the pediatrician with the kind hands,
a doctor with a name like a suit size for a wheel:
Hub Long. My mom did not tell him
what she thought in truth, that I was Possessed.
It was just these strange looks on my face—
he held me, and conversed with me,
chatting as one does with a baby, and my mother
said, She’s doing it now! Look!
She’s doing it now! and the doctor said,
What your daughter has
is called a sense
of humor. Ohhh, she said, and took me
back to the house where that sense would be tested
and found to be incurable.

— Sharon Olds

CakeSnowmanEileen


 

Winter Solstice

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

On this shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, I post a light-in-darkness painting (one of a series currently in progress based on Washington National Cathedral) and a poem by Patrick Kavanaugh. In celebration of the solstice, look for shooting stars tonight and tomorrow in the constellation Ursa Minor.

Last year, the solstice fell, for the first time since 1638, on the day of a lunar eclipse. For a sketch in honor of this event, please see Winter Solstice/Lunar Eclipse.

StainedGlassLight

A Star

Beauty was that
Far vanished flame,
Call it a star
Wanting better name.

And gaze and gaze
Vaguely until
Nothing is left
Save a grey ghost-hill.

Here wait I
On the world’s rim
Stretching out hands
To Seraphim.

—Patrick Kavanaugh

This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.

Why I Have A Crush On You, UPS Man

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

In the season of the ubiquitous brown truck, I post this love poem by Alice N. Persons.

For another [visual] take on the same subject, please see Season of Waiting.

SeasonWaitingUPS

you bring me all the things I order
are never in a bad mood
always have a jaunty wave as you drive away
look good in your brown shorts
we have an ideal uncomplicated relationship
you’re like a cute boyfriend with great legs
who always brings the perfect present
(why, it’s just what I’ve always wanted!)
and then is considerate enough to go away
oh, UPS Man, let’s hop in your clean brown truck and elope !
ditch your job, I’ll ditch mine
let’s hit the road for Brownsville
and tempt each other
with all the luscious brown foods —
roast beef, dark chocolate,
brownies, Guinness, homemade pumpernickel, molasses cookies
I’ll make you my mama’s bourbon pecan pie
we’ll give all the packages to kind looking strangers
live in a cozy wood cabin
with a brown dog or two
and a black and brown tabby
I’m serious, UPS Man. Let’s do it.
Where do I sign?

—Alice N. Persons

Advent 3: Birthday Wishes

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

In honor of my husband’s birthday, I post a sketch of him on holiday, painting, which is something I hope he will find more time to do as he fulfills his ongoing quest for retirement.

He shares this birthday with writer Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), and so I post a poem that speaks eloquently, and appropriately, of the overlooked and sleeping poet universally within.

JPainting

Ami, tu l’as bien dit: en nous, tant que nous sommes,
Il existe souvent une certaine fleur
Qui s’en va dans la vie et s’effeuille du coeur.
“Il existe, en un mot, chez les trois quarts des hommes,
Un poète mort jeune à qui l’homme survit.”
Tu l’as bien dit, ami, mais tu l’as trop bien dit.

Tu ne prenais pas garde, en traçant ta pensée,
Que ta plume en faisait un vers harmonieux,
Et que tu blasphémais dans la langue des dieux.
Relis-toi, je te rends à ta Muse offensée ;
Et souviens-toi qu’en nous il existe souvent
Un poète endormi toujours jeune et vivant.

Friend, you have spoken well: in us, such as we are,
There frequently exists a certain flower
That blossoms, fades and from the heart its leaves are shed.
“In three quarters of mankind, you understand,
A poet has died young yet outlived by the man.”
Well said, my friend—but a little too well said.

You didn’t pay attention, laying out your thought,
That your pen made poetry then and there, unsought.
In his own tongue you took Apollo’s name in vain.
I betray you to your injured Muse: Read again,
And remember that in all of us there often keeps
A poet young and vibrant, who is not dead, but sleeps.

—Alfred de Musset

PieForJJimmy

St. Nicholas Day

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

This is a good day to read about the discovery of the true author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” who was NOT Clement Clarke Moore. The naughty plagiarist.

Santa&HenryDetail

 

St. Nicholas’ Eve

Monday, December 5th, 2011

D&EShoesStNick

This is what my children will find when they awaken in the morning. I remember when their shoes were so tiny that it was difficult for St. Nicholas to tuck in the little gold-wrapped surprises.

CakeSnowmanDavid

CakeSprinklesGideon

 

Advent 2: Day in Autumn

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

The second Sunday of Advent falls on the birthday of Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), and in celebration I post this seasonal poem in the original German, along with one of its numerous translations, and a painting. If you have a translation you prefer then please tell me about it.

For another Rilke poem, and a sketch, please see Holding up all this falling.

Acorn

Herbsttag

Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.
Befiel den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.
Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird Es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

—Rainer Maria Rilke (1902)

Day in Autumn

Lord: it is time. Great was the Summer’s feast.
Now lay upon the sun-dials your shadow
And on the meadows have the wind released.
Command the last of fruits to round their shapes;
Grant two more days of south for vines to carry,
To their perfection thrust them on, and harry
The final sweetness into the heavy grapes.
Who has not built his house will not start now
Who now is by himself will long be so,
Be wakeful, read, write lengthy letters, go
In vague disquiet pacing up and down
Denuded lanes, with leaves adrift below.

—Trans. Walter Arndt (1989)

December

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Dec1-11

First snow! The flakes,
So few, so light,
Remake the world
In solid white.

All bundled up,
We feel as if
We were fat penguins,
Warm and stiff.

The toy-packed shops
Half split their sides,
And Mother brings home
Things she hides.

Old carols peal.
The dusk is dense.
There is a mood
Of sweet suspense.

The shepherds wait,
The kings, the tree—
All wait for something
Yet to be,

Some miracle.
And then it’s here,
Wrapped up in hope—
Another year.

John Updike