Monday, August 18, 2014

All the Doo Dah Day

Nothing like lively ghosts to help you wake up on a Monday morning!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Honey With Poems In It

Flüssiges Gold by Maja Dumat

Today's poem was written by Su Shi more than nine hundred years ago. The Mountain Songs Chinese poetry website explains that Su Shi was friends with a monk poet named Zhongshu: "Before becoming a monk, Zhongshu...had taken a wife. However, he found it impossible to stay at home, and one day his angry wife poisoned his meat. Zhongshu nearly died but cured himself by eating honey, which he continued to do for the rest of his life. Furthermore, doctors warned him that if he even touched meat again, the poison would reactivate and he would be dead. On hearing this, Zhongshu decided that he might as well become a monk." Su Shi wrote a number of poems for Zhongshu, including "Song of the Honey-eating Old Man from Anzhou."

Song of the Honey-eating Old Man from Anzhou
by Su Shi, 1036-1101

The old fellow of Anzhou has a mind as resolute as iron
But still manages to retain the tongue of a child.
He will not touch the five grains, but eats only honey:
Smiling, he points to the bees and calls them his "donors"!
The honey he eats contains a poetry men do not understand:
But the myriad flowers and grasses vie to transport it.
The old fellow sips and savors and then spits out poems,
Poems designed to entice the ill "children" of the world.
When the children taste his poems, it is like tasting honey,
And that honey is a cure for the hundred ills.
Just when they are madly rushing about grasping at straws,
Smiling, they read his poems and all their cares vanish!
Master Dongpo has always treated others with fairness
But still there are some who like him and some who don't!
Like a tea that some find bitter and other sweet,
And unlike honey, which tastes sweet to everyone.
So, Sir, I am sending you a round cake of Double Dragon tea:
Which, if held up to a mirror, will reflect the two dragons.
Though Wu during the sixth month is as hot as boiling water,
This old man's mind is as cool as the Double Dragon Well!

Translated by Beata Grant


The Poetry Friday round-up is at My Juicy Little Universe.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Francisco de Zurbarán

Only the poet or the saint can water an asphalt pavement in the confident anticipation that lilies will reward his labour.
~W. Somerset Maugham

Art by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) today. I like Zurbarán's colors, textures, and the bits of narrative he includes in the portraits.

The Child Virgin Asleep
by Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Francis in Meditation
by Francisco de Zurbarán

The Burial of St Catherine
by Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Andrew
by Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Ambrosius
by Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Dorothea

Saint Lawrence
by Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Engratia
by Francisco de Zurbarán

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sonnet XVII

Like many people who only knew Robin Williams through his work, I have been shedding tears for him in the past day. Was it his vulnerability that enabled him to touch his audience so deeply?

Robin Williams chose a number of films that had poetry in them one way or other. The most obvious is Dead Poets' Society, but there were also poems in Awakenings and Patch Adams. Perhaps others, too? I saw the clips of the sonnet Williams reads in Patch Adams and the second clip made me cry (he's reading it in a cemetery). I'm not going to share that clip here, both because I don't want to make anybody cry and because I don't think the producers want the clip around. But here's the poem:

Sonnet XVII
by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Metropole Orkest

Metropole Orkest is a jazz and pop orchestra based in the Netherlands.

Friday, August 8, 2014

And Both Be Right

Two gentle poems today.

Corners on the Curving Sky
by June Jordan (often misattributed to Gwendolyn Brooks)

Our earth is round, and, among other things
That means that you and I can hold
completely different
Points of view and both be right.
The difference of our positions will show
Stars in your window I cannot even imagine.
Your sky may burn with light,
While mine, at the same moment,
Spreads beautiful to darkness.
Still, we must choose how we separately corner
The circling universe of our experience.
Once chosen, our cornering will determine
The message of any star and darkness we

Blue skies, green sod by Casey Sjolund


A Prayer
by Max Ehrmann

Let me do my work each day; and if
the darkened hours of despair
overcome me, may I not forget the strength
that comforted me
in the desolation of other times.

May I still remember the bright hours that
found me walking over
the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming
on the margin of a quiet
river, when a light glowed within me, and
I promised my early God
to have courage amid the tempests of the
changing years.

Spare me from bitterness and from the
sharp passions of unguarded
moments. May I not forget that poverty and
riches are of the spirit.
Though the world knows me not, may my
thoughts and actions be
such as shall keep me friendly with myself.

Lift up my eyes from the earth, and let me not
forget the uses of the
stars. Forbid that I should judge others lest
I condemn myself.
Let me not follow the clamor of the world,
but walk calmly in my

Give me a few friends who will love me for what
I am; and keep ever
burning before my vagrant steps the kindly
light of hope.

And though age and infirmity overtake me,
and I come not within
sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me
still to be thankful for
life, and for time's olden memories that are good
and sweet; and
may the evening's twilight find me gentle still.


A Year of Reading has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint on it you can.
~Danny Kaye

A time-consuming, temporary art today -- body and face painting.

Living Statue, Festival Nieuwe Binnenweg
photo by Gerard Stolk

Puli, Kerala, India
photo by Ranjith Shenoy R

photo & retouching by Rodrigo Adonis
body painting by Mila Delaporte

2010 FIFA World Cup Fans
photo by Octagon

Sydney Body Art Ride
photo by Ernest Fratczak

Participant in body painting competition at San Carlos City, Philippines
photo by Billy Lopue

Young Suri boy with face painting in Kibish, Ethiopia
photo by Dietmar Temps

Silver Woman, Living Statue
photo by Simon Mugridge

Colchester Free Festival, 2012
photo by Jason Cobb