Sketches I neglected to post last year, which seems more like ten years ago… A walk down memory lane.
It has arrived!
In honor of the first day of Spring, a poem by Robert Frost, and a painting.
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.
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.
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.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is 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
In honor of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, I post this painting of a view of his native town, along with the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, which expresses yearning for a kind of inner transformation difficult to achieve even over the course of a lifetime, but is worth regular inspirational revisiting. A baby step is at least a step.
Today is also the feast day, that is to say birthday, of writer and humorist Roy Blount, Jr. I don’t know if wild birds and hungry wolves eat tamely out of his hand, but dogs do. For a sketch, a riddle, and a mini-bio, please see Language Lover.
According to tradition and Edward Gibbon, September 4th, 476 is the date fixed for the fall of the Western Roman Empire. (The longevous Eastern Roman Empire had mostly been ruled separately since Diocletian’s reign, 284-305, and would hang on by its fingernails until the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453).
In reality the fall of the Empire was more of a gradual deterioration over time, like arthritis, or a growing tendency to misplace the car keys. It took hundreds of years of bad decisions, bad luck, and bad weather for the glories of Roman engineering and culture to crumble into temporary but lengthy obscurity. But September 4th was the day on which the Germanic chieftain Odovacar and his followers bashed their way into Rome and removed the lad Romulus Augustulus from his throne, sending him into early retirement. Officially, and poetically, Rome began and ended with a Romulus.
On this day of remembrance, I post a verse from my daughter’s Ancient Rome main lesson book, which we included in morning exercises while covering that block. Composed in the 9th or 10th century by an unknown author, it was supposedly sung by pilgrims trudging toward Rome. Perhaps pilgrims of the 25th century will chant a verse in the dead language of English as they make their way to New York or Washington DC.
For Valentines Day.
And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire aflame, But something rustled on the floor, And some one called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.
—William Butler Yeats
This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.