Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Drew and Cheryl Win!!

I am so excited that Drew and Cheryl won Dancing with the Stars on Sunday night!! I thought that Jerry and Anna had won for sure when Stacy and Tony were eliminated early on. I was sooooo disappointed. I like Jerry Rice, and I think his last dance was so good, but Drew and Cheryl had been so outstanding, positive, and fun the whole series that it would have been a shame had they not won. I think it a shame that Stacy did not come in second.

But, Drew won!! Yay!!

I can't believe how much fun this show was - though I admit I would have been happy just to watch the results show instead of both Thursday and Friday night. There is a lot of repetition to fill up time and I guess to increase the suspense. I only found it irritating.

Poem #5: Something of My Own

This is a bit egotistical perhaps, but I wrote a poem for a World Lit II assignment years ago, and I simply love it. I present it here mainly because I need a more humorous piece to balance the darker ones I've posted already.

The assignment was to write something in the style of the French Symbolists (e.g. Baudelaire and Verlaine). This group of poets believed that everything had beauty, even something as disgusting and mundane as roadkill. It had beauty because it was part of the natural order of life - it fed bugs which fed birds which fed mammals, etc. Of course, there is a lot more to Fr. Symbolism, but this bit explains the title and perspective of my poem.

Festering Sore, Part 1

I avoided driving over a dead armadillo;
I didn’t want my tires defiled.
Then my mind turned it thoughts to this peccadillo:
“What if my love were that roadkill so vile?”

Would I find your lost handsomeness so very attractive?
Or would squashed bones and flesh make my stomach revolt?
Would ruptured intestines leave my passion in ashes
As the pleasure once found in you quickly turned cold?

Can I love you through the roadkill-like days
When I see only vile rotting flesh in your place?
Do I only love you when I have my own way?
Can this feeling survive a Michelin squashed face?

I don’t know -- just the thought of that roadkill decaying
Is enough to revolt and crinkle my nose.
I promised to love you through sickness and well-being,
But I never said I’d love you while you decomposed.
Sunday, February 26, 2006

Poem #6: Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith was a British 20th Century poet who died of a brain tumor. Her poetry is seemingly simply in its nursery rhyme like quality, but the poems have undercurrent. This short poem is one of my favorites, though it is very sad. I guess I like it because the poem expresses such truth about life and how often we misunderstand each other. It's called "Not Waving But Drowning"

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Read it a few times and pay close attention to when the drowning/dead man is speaking. Smith doesn't use quotation marks, but some of these lines are quotes from speakers in the poem, and it makes a difference to figure who's saying what.
Monday, February 20, 2006

Poem #7: A Fragment

In the X-Files episode "The Field Where I Died," Mulder has a past life experience, and the show opens with Mulder's voiceover - a quote from Robert Browning's poem "Paracelsus" about a famous alchemist who spent his life looking for the mythic Philosopher's Stone which granted immortality. The poem is extremely long, and very rarely studied unless you're taking a graduate class on Browning. But this fragment is wonderful:

At times I almost dream
I too have spent a life the sage's way,
and tread once more familiar paths. Perchance
I perished in an arrogant self reliance
an age ago; and in that act a prayer
for one more chance went up so earnest, so
instinct with better light led in by death,
that life was not blotted out -- not so completely
but scattered wrecks enough of it remain,
dim memories, as now, when once more seems
the goal in sight again."
Sunday, February 19, 2006

Poem #8: Oh Western Wind

One of my favorite poems is an Early English lyric by an unknown author. It is very short, but I find it extremely powerful and romantic:

Oh Western Wind, when wilt thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms,
And I in my bed again.

I wrote music to this poem decades ago, when I was in high school. Everytime I read it, I hear the simple tune in my head that I composed.

I hope you enjoy this gem.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Poem #9

For Valentine's Day, how could I post anyone else but Byron? Here's one of my favorites by Lord B.

To Caroline (4)

Oh when shall the grave hide for ever my sorrow?
Oh when shall my soul wing her flight from this clay?
The present is hell, and the coming to-morrow
But brings, with new torture, the curse of to-day.

From my eye flows no tear, from my lips flow no curses
I blast not the fiends who have hurl'd me from bliss;
For poor is the soul which bewailing rehearses
Its querulous grief, when in anguish like this.

Was my eye, 'stead of tears, with red fury flakes bright'ning,
Would my lips breathe a flame which no stream could assuage
On our foes should my glance launch in vengeance its lightning,
With transport my tongue give loose to its rage.

But now tears and curses, alike unavailing,
Would add to the souls of our tyrants delight;
Could they view us our sad separation bewailing
Their merciless hearts would rejoice at the sight.

Yet still, though we bend with a feign'd resignation,
Life beams not for us with one ray that can cheer;
Love and hope upon earth bring no more consolation,
In the grave is our hope, for in life is our fear.

Oh! when, my adored, in the tomb will they place me,
Since, in life, love and friendship for ever are fled?
If again in the mansion of death I embrace thee,
Perhaps they will leave unmolested the dead.

Now that is poetry. Byron has such lyricism. He takes what could be a trite subject and manages to form the most beautiful, sad song of lost love. I really get chills when I read this.
Monday, February 13, 2006

The new top ten

Okay, I haven't done a top ten list in a while, so I'm going to start one now. This list will be my Top Ten favorite poems!! I'm getting ready to start the poetry unit in my Introduction to Literature class, so I thought I would kick it off by listing my favorite poems. This isn't really listed in any order, these are mainly my most favorite poems - some of which would not make a contemporary literary anthology.

So, #10 is: "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. I love this poem for several reasons. One, it was in one of my favorite story books I had as a child. Two, it was a poem Anne of Green Gables recited, and I adore Anne. And three, it is such a wonderful example of metaphor, onamatopoeia, and other figurative language. I use it in lit class because it clearly illustrates important aspects of poetry without being so literary that beginning students can't appreciate them because they can't understand what's going on in the poem. ;-) Alright, I also love it because I'm a romantic, and it's one of the most sentimental and romantic poems I've ever read. ;-)



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,
And he tapped with his whip on the shuters, 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 i' 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,
(Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.



He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' 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 matching, 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 barrel beneath her breast!
"Now, keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead 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 barrel 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 horse-hoofs 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,
Riding, 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 red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, 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, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' 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 the 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.
Saturday, February 04, 2006

Betty's Meme Challange

· If you were a food, what would you be? Well, I could say I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener....but I would really be Southern Fried Chicken - finger lickin' good. ;-)

· What do you think is the greatest invention? Why? Writing - because it not only allows us to pass down important ideas, experiences, and events (both private and public), but it also allows us to connect to the past and hopefully learn from it. As G. Santayana said: those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it.

· What is your earliest childhood memory? This is hard. My earliest memories are of a recurring nightmare I used to have about being overwhelmed by giant tractor tires. They would multiply in the living room, and I would keep climbing to the highest one to avoid being squashed, but then I was so high I was terrified. It's either that memory or of one lazy summer eating watermelon all the time because Dad planted a patch and had more than we expected - so we ate watermelon on the porch like every evening in my memory. I LOVE watermelon, BTW. It was one of the foods my mom craved when she was pregnant with me.

· Is there something that you memorized long ago and still remember? In 2nd grade, we memorized the opening lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" - Listen my children and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. Twas the 18th of April in '75, hardly a man is still alive who remembers that famous day and year...One if by land or two if by sea and I on the opposite shore shall be." I also remember just about all of the History Rock songs from Schoolhouse Rock - including the Preamble to the Constitution.

· Which way does the toilet paper roll go? Over or under? OVER!!!

· What is your favorite season of the year? Why? I do love Spring - everything is blooming, Baseball is starting, the weather is sunny but still cool enough to be pleasant. Unfortunately, my allergies hate it.

· What superpower would you like to have? What would you do with it? The power to grant true heart desires. Not just grant wishes, but only wishes that reflected the real wants of someone. That or the power to burn calories at will.

· If you had to move to another state, which one would you choose? Since I haven't been to all 50 states, this is a hard one. I've always wanted to live near the ocean, but I've never seen the Pacific, and it looks like the most interesting to me. I have a fantasy of living near Carmel in California - you know, living the artist's life.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bronchitis strikes again

Last Saturday, my bronchitis came back with a vengence. I've had fever, chills, muscle aches, sore throat, ear aches, horrible sinus headache that feels like a stroke whenever I cough, and that lovely hacking cough which makes my ribs hurt. I missed 2 days of school and went back today, and now, I have a slight fever again. Anyway, I'm blogging to let everyone know why I've not been blogging and why I won't be blogging a lot in the upcoming days.

I hate mucus!!