I can wade grief

155_emilydickinsonsmall

Here is a poem by Emily Dickinson, American poet  :

The Test     by Emily Dickinson

I can wade grief,

Whole pools of it, —

I ‘m used to that.

But the least push of joy

Breaks up my feet,

And I tip — drunken.

Let no pebble smile,

‘T was the new liquor, —

That was all!

Power is only pain,

Stranded, through discipline,

Till weights will hang.

Give balm to giants,

And they ‘ll wilt, like men.

Give Himmaleh, —                            ( Himmaleh = Himalayas)

They ‘ll carry him!

himilayas

 

 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/test/”>Test</a&gt;

 

Advertisements

Building Facades

virginia-duran-blog-unusual-facades-pixel-building-melbourne

 

I’m taking “façade” in its most literal sense:  the face of a building.

These are some facades that intrigue me:

pontalba_buildings-new-orleans

Pontalba building, New Orleans Louisiana USA

GR001_Magritte
The front of the Musee Rene Magritte is covered with a hoarding as it is prepared for opening in a neo-classical building known as the Altenloh Hotel, part of the Museum of Modern Art complex on the Place Royale in Brussels. Rene Magritte Museum, Brussels, Belgium Commissioned

 

tudor-facade-england

Tudor façade, Chester  UK

virginia-duran-blog-unusual-facades-mc-donalds-by-giorgi-khmaladze

façade of a McDonald’s,  Georgia

tour-vegetale-des-nantes

Tour Vegetal,  Nantes, France

And finally, here is the medieval façade of the west front of Salisbury Cathedral, UK:

salisbury_cathedral_west_front_niche_enumeration

and a wonderful poem it inspired,  by Thomas Hardy:

A Cathedral Façade at Midnight

Along the sculptures of the western wall

I watched the moonlight creeping:

It moved as if it hardly moved at all

Inch by inch thinly peeping

Round on the pious figures of freestone, brought

And poised there when the Universe was wrought

To serve its centre, Earth, in mankind’s thought.

The lunar look skimmed scantly toe, breast, arm,

Then edged on slowly, slightly,

To shoulder, hand, face; till each austere form

Was blanched its whole length brightly

Of prophet, king, queen, cardinal in state,

That dead men’s tools had striven to simulate;

And the stiff images stood irradiate.

A frail moan from the martyred saints there set

Mid others of the erection

Against the breeze, seemed sighings of regret

 At the ancient faith’s rejection

Under the sure, unhasting, steady stress

Of Reason’s movement, making meaningless

 

From: Thomas Hardy, Human Shows (1925)

 

 

 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/facade/”>Facade</a&gt;

Courage to Speak, Humility to Listen

gty_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_split_jt_150912_16x9_992

No valuing of humility in evidence in the September 26 debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  I think of Mohandas Gandhi  and Desmond Tutu, and  I weep.

 

Here’s a passage from the writings of Parker Palmer, and a poem by Marge Piercy. These appeared on the podcast “On Being.”

“If we value things like friendship, family, community, education, workplaces that work, and democracy, there’s a minimum requirement. We must learn to talk with each other, even when we disagree. Not “at” each other, or even “to” each other, but “with” each other!

So, how’s that going for us? The answer varies from one person to another, from one setting to the next. But when it comes to American democracy, it’s not going very well.

The problem goes much deeper than the infamous dysfunction in Washington, D.C. The problem goes all the way down to us, to “We the People.”

We could have an impact on how they talk with each other, if we would learn to talk with each other across our lines of difference. For real. In a democracy, that’s how “We the People” address urgent issues, form a rough consensus on the common good, and hold our leaders accountable to our will. When we can’t do any of that, we have no leverage on our government.

Here’s a poem about talking with each other by one of my favorite poets, Marge Piercy. It’s not only wise but full of practical advice.

I love the idea of talking in the dark so we couldn’t see who’s speaking and would have to focus on what’s being said! I love the idea that some of us must “dare to speak” while others must “bother to listen.” I love the idea that some of us “must learn to stop dancing solos on the ceiling”! And I love the last few lines. They remind us how impermanent we are, thus encouraging the humility required for good things to happen between and among us.”     Parker J. Palmer

“Councils”
by Marge Piercy

We must sit down
and reason together.
We must sit down.
Men standing want to hold forth.
They rain down upon faces lifted.

We must sit down on the floor
on the earth
on stones and mats and blankets.
There must be no front to the speaking
no platform, no rostrum,
no stage or table.
We will not crane
to see who is speaking.

Perhaps we should sit in the dark.
In the dark we could utter our feelings.
In the dark we could propose
and describe and suggest.

In the dark we could not see who speaks
and only the words
would say what they say.

Thus saying what we feel and what we want,
what we fear for ourselves and each other
into the dark, perhaps we could begin
to begin to listen.

Perhaps we should talk in groups
small enough for everyone to speak.

Perhaps we should start by speaking softly.
The women must learn to dare to speak.

The men must bother to listen.

The women must learn to say, I think this is so.

The men must learn to stop dancing solos on
the ceiling.
After each speaks, she or he
will repeat a ritual phrase:

It is not I who speaks but the wind.
Wind blows through me.
Long after me, is the wind.

 

 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/disagree/”>Disagree</a&gt;

Unfinished Symphonies

shubert-unfinished-symphony

Karl Rahner, the great twentieth century Jesuit theologian, once said:

“In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable, we finally learn that here in this life all symphonies must remain unfinished.

He’s not the only one.

Henry Ward Beecher, nineteenth century American clergyman, abolitionist, and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, observed:

 

 

henry-ward-beecher

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unfinished/”>Unfinished</a&gt;

 

and sorry I could not travel both

two-roads-diverged
Read again this classic poem by Robert Frost :

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

 

yellow-leaf-road-photo-by-tilman-paulin

Frost plays with us in this poem.  My students take him at his word when he says “I took the one less travelled by.” However, earlier in the poem he says that they are worn about the same:

“Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black…”
That’s why this poem is so vexing.

 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/dilemma/”>Dilemma</a&gt;

 

 

 

 

Perfect Dress

It amazes me when I look at stylish dresses and how they change from decade to decade. In particular, I decided to look at prom dresses:

Here is a recent prom dress :

prom-2002

Here’s a prom photo from the 1990’s:

prom-1990s

 

and here’s what a prom dress looked like in the 1950’s:1950s-formal-dress-prom-gown-316x500

When I saw this prompt, the first thing I thought about was this marvelous poem by Marisa de los Santos:

Perfect Dress 

It’s here in a student’s journal, a blue confession

in smudged, erasable ink: “I can’t stop hoping

I’ll wake up, suddenly beautiful,” and isn’t it strange

how we want it, despite all we know? To be at last

 

the girl in the photography, cobalt-eyed, hair puddling

like cognac, or the one stretched at the ocean’s edge,

curved and light-drenched, more like a beach than

the beach. I confess I have longed to stalk runways,

 

leggy, otherworldly as a mantis, to balance a head

like a Fabergé egg on the longest, most elegant neck.

Today in the checkout line, I saw a magazine

claiming to know “How to Find the Perfect Dress

 

for that Perfect Evening,” and I felt the old pull, flare

of the pilgrim’s twin flames, desire and faith. At fifteen,

I spent weeks at the search. Going from store to store,

hands thirsty for shine, I reached for polyester satin,

 

machine-made lace, petunia- and Easter egg-colored,

brilliant and flammable. Nothing haute about this

couture but my hopes for it, as I tugged it on

and waited for my one, true body to emerge.

 

(Picture the angel inside uncut marble, articulation

of wings and robes poised in expectation of release.)

What I wanted was ordinary miracle, the falling away

of everything wrong. Silly maybe or maybe

 

I was right, that there’s no limit to the ways eternity

suggests itself, that one day I’ll slip into it, say

floor-length plum charmeuse. Someone will murmur,

“She is sublime,” will be precisely right, and I will step,

 

with incandescent shoulders, into my perfect evening.

 

Marisa de los Santos

 

 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/stylish/”>Stylish</a&gt;

 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/stylish/”>Stylish</a&gt;

“A word is worth one coin; silence, two.”

chaim-potok-the-chosen

How ironic!   I can talk on and on about the word silence! So many songs, so many poems, so many associations!

However, I’ve decided to talk about Chaim Potok’s novel, The Chosen.

It was first published in 1967, but the themes of the story are timeless.

The novel is set in New York at the end of World War II. The main characters are two high school age boys. They are both Jewish, but one is Orthodox and the other is Hasidic. Many conflicts and complications occur, involving the boys’ fathers and their differing stances on Zionism. All the same, Reuven and Danny become friends.

I don’t want to spoil the story. Suffice it to say that it is very well worth reading.

One salient point is that Danny’s father, a Rabbi in the Hasidic tradition, has decided to raise his son in silence. He never talks to his son except in discussions of the Talmud. This enrages and frustrates Reuven, who does not understand. I as a reader did not understand. Eventually, however, Danny somewhat explains to Reuven how silence teaches him:

In chapter 7, the narrator notes “The silence that followed had a strange quality to it: expectation, eagerness, love, awe.”

Later, Danny says:

“You can listen to silence, Reuven. I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own. It talks to me sometimes. I feel myself alive in it. It talks. And I can hear it. “…You have to want to listen to it, and then you can hear it. It has a strange, beautiful texture. It doesn’t always talk. Sometimes – sometimes it cries, and you can hear the pain of the world in it. It hurts to listen to it then. But you have to.”
silence-igor-lazarevIgor Lazarev “Silence”

and from Christian Schloe:

christian-schloe-art-18

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/silence/”>Silence</a&gt;