Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy birthday to Shakespeare, and to me

Today is Shakespeare's birthday, and it's also the anniversary of the day I started this blog. I've now been blogging for three years. Lately I have had a lot of silent spells, but I'm still around, reading what others have to say.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poetry Friday - Abide with Me

The text of this hymn was written by Henry F. Lyte (1793-1847). Whenever I hear it, I think of evening chapels at boarding school. We would always sing it then, and those words, "fast falls the eventide," were then simply literal for me. I wanted God to be with me through the night, with its darkness and scary sounds. These days I think about it more metaphorically, and focus on the second stanza: "Change and decay in all around I see; O thou who changest not, abide with me."

It seems appropriate for Good Friday, but with strong echoes of Easter.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Link with music.

Here's this week's Poetry Friday roundup.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Children's Book Sequels That Never Were

You still have time to enter the Unnecessary Children's Book Sequels That Never Were contest. Or just to go over and read the hilarious entries people have already posted in the comments.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Save the Words!

I am sure you feel badly about many injustices in this world, but have you ever spared a thought for the words that are disappearing from our language each day? The Oxford Dictionaries people have brought us a new opportunity to do something about this tragedy. You can adopt a word and help bring it back into usage. All you have to do is commit to using the word "in conversation and correspondence" as frequently as possible.

Here at the Save the Words site, you can view the many words waiting for adoption, and hear their pitiful little voices begging you to "Pick me!" (Somehow, I would have expected words to be a bit more eloquent, but this is all they seem to be able to manage.)

I am still agonizing over which word to choose; there are so many worthy candidates, such as morsicant (producing the sensation of repeated biting or pricking), buccelation (the act of dividing into small bite-sized portions of food), and epalpabrate (lacking eyebrows). Isn't it hard to understand how these words have fallen out of use?

Go on, you know you want to adopt a word.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Poetry Friday - Prufrock

Today in the mail I got my copy of Voices from the Middle, the magazine for teachers of middle school language arts put out by the National Council of Teachers of English. The topic of this issue, is, of course, poetry. It looks like there's lots of good reading in it, though I haven't started in yet.

In the center of the magazine there's a poster for National Poetry Month. I love this year's image.

Here you can see photos submitted to a contest called Free Verse: Poetry in the Wild contest. Participants were supposed to take a picture of a line of poetry "off the page," like in the image above.

"Do I dare disturb the universe?" What a question! It's quoted from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot. When my son (aged 6) saw the poster, he laughed and said that he thought his sister would say that he disturbs the universe. J. Alfred Prufrock didn't quite dare. Poor old J. Alfred.

I remember the brilliant lecture on this poem in my American Literature class in college as though I had heard it much more recently than twenty years ago. Several quotes from this poem come to my mind frequently: "In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo," "I have heard the mermaids calling, each to each - I do not think they will sing for me," "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons," and, most frequently, "I grow old, I grow old, I wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."

Here's the beginning of the poem:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

You can read the rest here.

And here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Theme Day - Yellow

The DP blogs' theme for today is "Yellow." You can see thumbnails of how bloggers from around the world have interpreted this by clicking here.

Today was the first day of Poetry Month, of which, no doubt, more later.