Twelve years ago today I was in labor. I had been in labor since dawn of the winter solstice the day before. We said: A solstice baby! Uh, no, guess not. Labor would continue for another two days… My daughter was contemplating the looooong journey ahead of her.
Then she was ready. You go girl!
These sketches are from a baby journal I began after our daughter was born. Not the same day though.
This is a verse we say on the eve of a birthday (filling in the appropriate ages):
When I have said my evening prayer,
And clothes are folded on the chair,
And mother switches off the light,
I’ll still be [ ] years old tonight.
But from the very break of day,
Before the children rise and play,
Before the purple turns to gold,
Tomorrow I’ll be [ ] years old.
[ ] kisses when I wake,
[ ] candles on my cake.
Today is the birthday of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), and it is difficult to choose from among her rich and relentless outpouring. But here is one to ponder as we move inexorably, yet hopefully, toward the darkest time of year.
This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond —
Invisible, as Music —
But positive, as Sound —
It beckons, and it baffles —
Philosophy — don’t know —
And through a Riddle, at the last —
Sagacity, must go —
To guess it, puzzles scholars —
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown —
Faith slips — and laughs, and rallies —
Blushes, if any see —
Plucks at a twig of Evidence —
And asks a Vane, the way —
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit —
Strong Hallelujahs roll —
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul —
Today is the birthday of John Milton (1608-1674), and in his honor I post the closing lines of his masterpiece Paradise Lost, along with a drawing by my daughter from our homeschooling Old Testament block several years ago. It’s not exactly a match, but I couldn’t resist.
Her drawing belies the solemnity of the poem. Adam and Eve actually look rather pleased at their departure from the Garden of Eden.
In either hand the hastening angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
This year the First Sunday of Advent happens to fall on the birthday of visionary poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827). And so it seems appropriate to post this poem, with its manifestation of hope in the midst of bleak reality.
I heard an Angel singing
When the day was springing,
“Mercy, Pity, Peace
Is the world’s release.”
Thus he sung all day
Over the new mown hay,
Till the sun went down
And haycocks looked brown.
I heard a Devil curse
Over the heath and the furze,
“Mercy could be no more,
If there was nobody poor,
And pity no more could be,
If all were as happy as we.”
At his curse the sun went down,
And the heavens gave a frown.
Down pour’d the heavy rain
Over the new reap’d grain …
And Miseries’ increase
Is Mercy, Pity, Peace.