Friday, February 29, 2008

The Ring of Words

A poem about the immortality of art by Robert Louis Stevenson, who, in addition to writing poetry, also authored Treasure Island (1882) and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886):

Bright Is the Ring...
by Robert Louis Stevenson

From Songs of Travel

Bright is the ring of words
When the right man rings them,
Fair the fall of songs
When the singer sings them.
Still they are carolled and said --
On wings they are carried --
After the singer is dead
And the maker buried.

Low as the singer lies
In the field of heather,
Songs of his fashion bring
The swains together.
And when the west is red
With the sunset embers,
The lover lingers and sings
And the maid remembers.

Portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson by Count Girolamo Nerli

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Stolen Monet and a Saintly Bussiere

This Monet was found recently in the back of a car in Zurich, Switzerland. It had been stolen from Zurich's Buehrle Museum, along with three other paintings. A Van Gogh was also recovered, and the police are still searching for the other two paintings by Cezanne and Degas.

Poppies near Vétheuil
By Claude Monet

I am working feverishly on a biography of Joan of Arc. In this painting by Gaston Bussiere, angels and saints are offering young Joan encouragement, prayer, and a sword.

Joan of Arc
By Gaston Bussiere

Friday, February 22, 2008

Flowers Flying

Poetry Out Loud is coming! If you live in the D.C. area, pencil this in:

The 2008 National Finals will be held at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC. Semifinal rounds will take place all-day on Monday, April 28 and the Finals will be held in the evening on Tuesday, April 29. Admission is free and open to the public.

If you live elsewhere, you can still attend your state's finals.

When the Poetry Out Loud participants recite a poem, they own it -- once you've memorized a poem, it's yours.

Here's a short one ... very easy to memorize!

by A.R. Ammons

Birds are flowers flying
and flowers perched birds.

Photo by Mila Zinkova

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

Opening Petal by Petal

Two flower-inspired poems, just because...

an excerpt from somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
by e.e. cummings

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose


by Frances E.W. Harper, 1825-1911.

Though a tremor of the winter
Did shivering through them run;
Yet they lifted up their foreheads
To greet the vernal sun.

And the sunbeams gave them welcome.
As did the morning air
And scattered o'er their simple robes
Rich tints of beauty rare.

Soon a host of lovely flowers
From vales and woodland burst;
But in all that fair procession
The crocuses were first.

First to weave for Earth a chaplet
To crown her dear old head;
And to beautify the pathway
Where winter still did tread.

And their loved and white haired mother
Smiled sweetly 'neath the touch,
When she knew her faithful children
Were loving her so much.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, born to free parents in Baltimore, Maryland, was an African American abolitionist and poet.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

All kinds of love this Valentine's Art Thursday...

Banjo Lesson
by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1859-1937

Love Among the Ruins
by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1833 - 1898

His Only Friend
by Briton Rivière, 1840 - 1920

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Wind-Scissors of February

Willow Song
by He Zhizhang (659-744, Tang dynasty)

From the clear green jade of one tall tree,
ten thousand green ribbons hang silkily.
No one knows who cut out the thin leaves;
perhaps the wind-scissors of February.
Jane Sassaman's "Willow"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Tempest's Miranda

I've been posting art that illustrates stories, and here's another one...

by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Miranda asks her father if his sorcery has sunk the vessel, saying:

O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer! a brave vessel
(Who had no doubt some noble creature in her)
Dashed all to pieces! O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart! Poor souls, they perished!
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere
It should the good ship so have swallowed and
The fraughting souls within her.

Prospero answers her, "Be collected. / No more amazement. Tell your piteous heart / There's no harm done."

Friday, February 1, 2008

Come Sit By My Fire

by Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer ...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in! Come in!

from Where the Sidewalk Ends

Def Poetry Jam

Have you heard of HBO's show Def Poetry Jam?

Here's 18-year-old Sarah Kay performing "Hands":