All posts by missannita

Cathedral of My Enchantments

More from Stephen Pentz:

        The Wind Shifts

This is how the wind shifts:
Like the thoughts of an old human,
Who still thinks eagerly
And despairingly.
The wind shifts like this:
Like a human without illusions,
Who still feels irrational things within her.
The wind shifts like this:
Like humans approaching proudly,
Like humans approaching angrily.
This is how the wind shifts:
Like a human, heavy and heavy,
Who does not care.

Wallace Stevens, Harmonium (Alfred A. Knopf 1923).

And this:

As I suggested here recently, wisdom does not necessarily come with age.  I can attest to that.  But growing old does provide an opportunity to pare your life down to essentials.  Think of all the things you once thought were important and that now mean nothing.  The length of that list will depend upon the length of your time upon the earth, dear reader.

One day you will realize, out of the blue, that you have lived more years than the number of years that remain to you.  On that day, life becomes simpler.  You may turn your attention to the wind.

Autumn

Cathedral of my enchantments, autumn wind, I grew old giving thanks.
Czeslaw Milosz, Road-side Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1998).

James McIntosh Patrick, “Braes o’ Lundie”

Sign of a Nation

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The Flag Goes By

Hats off! Along the street there comes A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums, A flash of color beneath the sky: Hats off! The flag is passing by! Blue and crimson and white it shines, Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines. Hats off! The colors before us fly; But more than the flag is passing by. Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great, Fought to make and to save the State: Weary marches and sinking ships; Cheers of victory on dying lips; Days of plenty and years of peace; March of a strong land’s swift increase; Equal justice, right, and law, Stately honor and reverend awe; Sign of a nation, great and strong Toward her people from foreign wrong: Pride and glory and honor,–all Live in the colours to stand or fall. Hats off! Along the street ther comes A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums; And loyal hearts are beating high: Hats off! The Flag is passing by!

Henry Holcomb Bennett

On Picture Books

G. K. Chesterton wrote this poem in the front of a Caldecott picture book he presented to a young friend:

This is the sort of book we like
     (For you and I are very small),
With pictures stuck in anyhow,
     And hardly any words at all.
You will not understand a word
     Of all the words, including mine;
Never you trouble, you can see,
     And all directness is divine—
Stand up and keep your childishness:
     Read all the pedant’s screeds and strictures;
But don’t believe in anything
     That can’t be told in colored pictures.

The first Caldecott Medal winner (1937). I’m guessing this is probably not the book Chesterton gave, as the illustrations are all black and white.

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To Walk is By a Thought to Go

 

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Walking

To walk abroad is, not with eyes,
But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;
Else may the silent feet,
Like logs of wood,
Move up and down, and see no good,
Nor joy nor glory meet.

Ev’n carts and wheels their place do change,
But cannot see, though very strange
The glory that is by:
Dead puppets may
Move in the bright and glorious day,
Yet not behold the sky.

And are not men than they more blind,
Who having eyes yet never find
The bliss in which they move?
Like statues dead
They up and down are carried,
Yet neither see nor love.

To walk is by a thought to go,
To move in spirit to and fro,
To mind the good we see,
To taste the sweet,
Observing all the things we meet
How choice and rich they be.

To note the beauty of the day,
And golden fields of corn survey,
Admire each pretty flow’r
With its sweet smell;
To praise their Maker, and to tell
The marks of his great pow’r.

To fly abroad like active bees,
Among the hedges and the trees,
To cull the dew that lies
On ev’ry blade,
From every blossom, till we lade
Our minds, as they their thighs.

Observe those rich and glorious things,
The rivers, meadows, woods, and springs,
The fructifying sun;
To note from far
The rising of each twinkling star
For us his race to run.

A little child these well perceives,
Who, tumbling in green grass and leaves,
May rich as kings be thought:
But there’s a sight
Which perfect manhood may delight
To which we shall be brought.

While in those pleasant paths we talk
‘Tis that towards which at last we walk;
For we may by degrees
Wisely proceed
Pleasures of love and praise to heed,
From viewing herbs and trees.

Thomas Traherne (1636-1674), in H. I. Bell (editor), Traherne’s Poems of Felicity (Oxford University Press 1910).  I have modernized the spelling. The italicized words are in the original.

Thanks to Stephen Pentz

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Stonington Flower Show 2011

 

Music of the Reformation

 

Who trusts in God, a strong abode in heaven and earth possesses;
Who looks in love to Christ above, no fear his heart oppresses.
In thee alone, dear Lord, we own sweet hope and consolation;
Our shield from foes, our balm for woes, our great and sure salvation.
Tho’ Satan’s wrath beset our path, and worldly scorn assail us,
While thou art near we will not fear, thy strength shall never fail us:
Thy rod and staff shall keep us safe, and guide our steps forever;
Nor shades of death, nor hell beneath, our souls from thee shall sever.
In all the strife of mortal life our feet shall stand securely;
Temptation’s hour shall lose its pow’r, for thou shalt guard us surely.
O God, renew, with heav’nly dew, our body, soul, and spirit,
Until we stand at thy right hand, thro’ Jesus’ saving merit.
Written by Joachim Magdeburg in 1572, I discovered this hymn today in my 1935 Pilgrim Hymnal.    The CD set from which the above performance comes looks like something I would like to own, especially after reading this review:
“Heirs of the Reformation is nothing if not ambitious. Over forty chorales (dating from the time of Luther to German high Orthodoxy) are set by an encyclopedic list of cantors spanning the centuries, from Praetorius and Scheidt to Robert Buckley Farlee and Kevin Hildebrand. The dedicated vocal performances are backed by a kaleidoscopic variety of instrumentation, ranging from organ, brass and woodwinds to the period ensemble Musik Ekklesia. Kudos go to recording consultants Henry Gerike, Peter Reske, and Philip Spray; they and all the performers involved have produced not only a fine reference work, but a richly devotional listening experience.”
—GraceNotes (June/July 2009)
You can sample each of the hymns here.

Haydn: Joy Begats Joy

On this day in 1809 Franz Josef Haydn died, at the age of 77.  In The Imaginative Conservative Robert Reilly writes why he enjoys Haydn’s music:

While listening to Haydn, I feel gratitude, which is hardly strange, as it is gratitude that his work expresses. In the April 2009 Gramophone, Geraint Lewis wrote, “When he was berated late in life for the cheerful tone of his religious music, Haydn simply said that every time he thought of God his heart leapt for joy.” My heart leaps for joy when I hear him. Joy begets joy. As a result, I never tire of his music. I am always refreshed by it.

This effect exactly fits Haydn’s intention. Here is how he saw the purpose of his life’s labor, as expressed in 1802:

Often, when struggling against obstacles of every sort which oppose my labors: often, when the powers of mind and body weakened, and it was difficult to continue the course I had entered on; — a secret voice whispered to me: “there are so few happy and contented peoples here below; grief and sorrow are always their lot; perhaps your labors will once be a source from which the care-worn, or the man burdened with affairs, can derive a few moments rest and refreshment.” This was indeed a powerful motive to press onwards, and this is why I now look back with cheerful satisfaction on the labors expended on this art, to which I have devoted so many long years of uninterrupted effort and exertion.

And here is a pleasant interlude for today from Haydn.  The art is pleasing as well.

It has only been a couple of years since I first heard Haydn’s Creation.  Like so many things, experiencing it for the first time can’t be repeated, but the joy can.  Here it is in English.