Monday, October 31, 2011

Dancing Skeletons

Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zag, on his violin.
~ Henri Cazalis

Some Halloween-y music today by Camille Saint-Saëns. His Danse Macabre was inspired by Henri Cazalis' poem, which was based on a legend that says at midnight on Halloween, Death starts playing his violin and the dead (skeletons) dance for him until morning.

"Danse Macabre" plays and artworks in general evolved during late-medieval plague years to show that death (and judgment) reaches us all, and even the wealthy are not immune.

Danse Macabre

by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1538
An album cover...I wish we could see our violinist a little better:

* Free Danse Macabre scores at the International Music Score Library Project.
* Images and poems

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Art of the Hobbit

He took to writing poetry and visiting the elves; and though many shook their heads and touched their foreheads and said "Poor old Baggins!" and though few believed any of his tales, he remained very happy to the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long.
- J.R.R. Tolkien

Want to see Tolkien's drawings for The Hobbit, including never-before-published ones? They are being included in a new book called The Art of the Hobbit, which was supposed to be released on October 27th, but doesn't seem to be quite out yet. For a sneak preview, visit Tolkien's Hobbit drawings published to mark 75th anniversary

~ The Hobbit Wiki
~ Once Upon a Hobbit, for hobbit-y news.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Words Collection

Words are also actions, and actions are a kind of words.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Opposite of Indifference
Words Collection:

poems and art about poetry and books

A Blank White Page by Francisco X. Alarcón
A New Poet by Linda Pastan
Between what I dream and what I forget by Octavio Paz
Book Talk by Elaine Magliaro
Browning Decides to be a Poet by Jorge Luis Borges
Fair Warning by Alden Nowlan
For the young who want to by Marge Piercy
How These Words Happened by William Stafford
I would not have been a poet by Wendell Berry
Ode to a Paradelle By Cody Mace
pencil by Valerie Worth
Poetry Should Ride the Bus by Ruth Forman
There Is No Frigate Like A Book by Emily Dickinson
The Weight of Nothing by Amy Uyematsu
What is a Sonnet?
Where By Taha Muhammad Ali
Where The Poem Sleeps by Michael Simms


The beauty of letters
Book covers
Book-inspired art by Quint Buchholz
Caldecott awards
Movable books (pop-up art)
Poem art

Original poems:
Poetry City
Sea of Frozen Words

Poetry-Inspired clothes
Poetry t-shirts

Other Collections: Halloween, African-American, Drama, Food, Humor, and Animals.

A personal note: The Opposite of Indifference passed 100,000 pageviews yesterday. Small potatoes for big blogs, I know, but exciting for me!

Friday, October 28, 2011

To My Brother Killed In Battle

An meinen gefallen Bruder
by Wolfgang Möller
Translated by Patrick Hinchy

To My Brother Killed in Battle
by Wolfgang Möller

What are you now? A pear tree or a beech tree,
A birch grove or a little ivy leaf?
My brother, I am looking for you, looking
For what it is that God has changed you to.

Is your spirit present in some form?
Is it a living form or inanimate?
I will love it in whatever form I find it.
Even in stone, it will seem familiar to me.

Perhaps a blade of grass, some lilac blossom.
Whatever you are now, I'll ask the sun
To make completely golden with his fire
You, through every being which resembles you.

I'll have compassion on the little beetle
That struggles upwards out of your grave.
I'll embrace the wooden cross and the sand on it,
And bless the bird that sings above it.

But if you're now a thought, and if in thinking it,
I could transcend the limits of the earth,
Then I would want to immerse myself in it so deeply
That I found you once again in God's presence.

from Relevance, the quarterly journal of the Great War Society.

Kind of a strange story with this poem. I read it in the context of World War I poetry and liked it very much. But when I looked up the poet, I discovered that, although he wrote about World War I, Möller was actually too young to participate in that war. He was really a Nazi propagandist during World War II. So. My question for you is -- can you enjoy the poem even so or does that cast a pall over it?

Updated to add: I think he wrote this poem in 1929.

Diane at Random Noodling has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Haunted Book Covers

Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?
~ Shirley Jackson

In honor of Halloween, I'm sharing spooky book covers for Shirley Jackson's works. Shirley Jackson wrote "The Lottery," which is one of the most powerful short stories around. I would guess that "The Lottery" might have inspired The Hunger Games, but I don't know. So, which covers are your favorites? Which one creeps you out the most?

The Haunting of Hill House:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle:

The Sundial:


* A post featuring Ben Stahl's illustrations for The Haunting of Hill House
* The New York Times obituary for Shirley Jackson
* Karl Reinsch has an impressive collection of Jackson covers
* The Shirley Jackson awards
* Jackson Lesson Plans

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things Could Be Worse

Have you seen Benjamin Dewey's Things Could Be Worse series? It is described thusly: "Depictions drawn from regrettable accounts of the less fortunate for purposes of instruction; so that one may avoid similar missteps."

I'm not sure how much instruction I've gotten from them, but they are entertaining. If they start to be too tragic for you, just look for the "sadness reprieves."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Love and War

Edward Shanks was born in England in 1892 and was a member of the British army during World War I. In 1915, though, he was "invalided out" and he finished his service away from the action. The second poem below discusses his feelings about that. This first poem, however, covers an entirely different topic...

The Cup
by Edward Shanks

As a hot traveller
Going through stones and sands,
Who sees clear water stir
Amid the weary lands,
Takes in his hollowed hands
The clean and lively water,
That trickles down his throat
Like laughter, like laughter,

So when you come to me
Across these parchèd places
And all the waste I see
Flowered with your graces,
I take between my hands
Your face like a rare cup,
Where kisses mix with laughter,
And drink and drink them up
Like water, like water.


The Pool
by Edward Shanks

Out of that noise and hurry of large life
The river flings me in an idle pool:
The waters still go on with stir and strife
And sunlit eddies, and the beautiful
Tall trees lean down upon the mighty flow,
Reflected in that movement. Beauty there
Waxes more beautiful, the moments grow
Thicker and keener in that lovely air
Above the river. Here small sticks and straws
Come now to harbour, gather, lie and rot,
Out of cross-currents and the water's flaws
In this unmoving death, where joy is not,
Where war's a shade again, ambition rotten
And bitter hopes and fears alike forgotten.


* More poems by Edward Shanks here and here.

Jama has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Art Theft

I don't know much about art theft. Here's what I do know -- there's a lot more of it than I had ever imagined. Simon Houpt's Museum of the Missing introduced me to some of the basics. I'm including links at the bottom in case you're interested in learning more.

O lavrador de café
by Cândido Portinari
Stolen from the São Paulo Museum of Art on Dec 20, 2007. Recovered by the Brazilian police less than three weeks later.

Chez Tortoni
by Édouard Manet
In March 1990, two men stole thirteen pieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, including this painting by Manet. The art has never been recovered.

Descent from the Cross
by Rembrandt
Looted in 1806 by French soldiers from the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. Most recently on display in Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

This 1914 painting by Albert Gleizes was stolen in 2009, along with nine other works. The thief was caught, but the art is still missing.

Two works by René Magritte, including this one, were stolen from a private residence in Bruges, Belgium in October 2011.

Midas at the Source of the River Pactole, circa 1626-1627
by Nicolas Poussin
Four works were stolen in February 2011 from Ajaccio's Fine Arts Museum by a guard, who left the paintings in his car and attempted to ransom them. When he returned to his car, however, he found that someone had broken the car window and they were gone.

In 2005, the FBI's Robert Wittman helped return this Rembrandt self-portrait to the Swedish National Museum


* Interpol's Works of Art section
* The FBI's Art Theft site
* The Guardian's art theft coverage
* Art Theft Central: a blog by Mark Durney
* A Telegraph set of photos about some of the most famous art heists of the last 100 years.
* Stuff about the Gardner Museum theft
* A digital work by Markus Winkler called Investigation into Stolen Paintings.
* The looting of the Iraq Museum
* Wikipedia on looted art
* Info about stolen art from Museum Spot

Ending with a quote today:
A great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.
~German proverb

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dozing in the Speckled Shade

Where The Poem Sleeps
by Michael Simms

You have to write every day
because you never know where a poem sleeps

It might be coiled around a branch
high in the air
dozing in the speckled shade

It might be dreaming in a story you loved
when you were a mouse
in a wall much larger than now

You may find a poem in a cloud
a boy watches, thinking
of the one time he went fishing with a bear

But you have to let it happen
you have to listen real hard

The poem can survive a night
in the woods alone, curled up
under an elm tree
after a day of looking for you

It can even be happy as a stone in the river
if it knows you are waiting for it to come home

And you are waiting
as darkness descends
and the birds become invisible
on the branches
          their nests
like the thoughts of drowsy mathematicians


The Summer You Learned to Swim

by Michael Simms
for Lea

The summer you learned to swim
was the summer I learned to be at peace with myself.
In May you were afraid to put your face in the water
But by August, I was standing in the pool once more
when you dove in, then retreated to the wall saying
You forgot to say Sugar! So I said Come on Sugar, you can do it
and you pushed off and swam to me and held on
laughing, your hair stuck to your cheeks—
you hiccupped with joy and swam off again.

And I dove in too, trying new things.
I tried not giving advice. I tried waking early to pray. I tried
not rising in anger. Watching you I grew stronger—
your courage washed away my fear.

All day I worked hard thinking of you.
In the evening I walked the long hill home.
You were at the top, waving your small arms,
pittering down the slope to me and I lifted you high
so high to the moon. That summer all the world
was soul and water, light glancing off peaks.
You learned the turtle, the cannonball, the froggy, and the flutter
And I learned to stand and wait for you to swim to me.


from The Happiness of Animals published by Monkey Sea Editions, copyright 2003 by Michael Simms. Posted with permission of the poet.

Dave has our Poetry Friday round-up this week.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Not-So-Rough Drafts

I have never written anything in one draft, not even a grocery list, although I have heard from friends that this is actually possible.
~ Connie Willis

Today we have sketches, designs, and studies:

Paris sharmanschitsa, sketch
by Vasily Perov

Dante`s Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice, study
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Prince Golitsyn and the boyars
by Konstantin Korovin

The Chimera, sketch
by Gustave Moreau

Pendant, design
by Hans Holbein the Younger

Theater Curtain, draft
by Gustav Klimt

Banner for the boys festival, design
by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Homage to Gogol, design for curtain for Gogol festival
by Marc Chagall


* A previous post on sketches by Leonardo daVinci
* Costume designs by Leon Bakst
* A video in praise of making drafts
* A different kind of draft...The Declaration of Independence: From Rough Draft to Proclamation (lesson plan)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The BSO Commemorates Jeanne d'Arc

The 600th anniversary of Joan of Arc's birthday is coming up next January. People have many reasons for celebrating the Maiden. Some of my favorite things about Joan of Arc were her intelligence, her courage, and her loyalty -- traits that we need in any age.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will be presenting Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher on November 17 & 18 in honor of the 600th anniversary of French heroine Joan of Arc’s birth.

I don't typically post twice in one day, but I wanted to share this now because of the October 15th deadline below...


* The Opera section of Suite101 gives more information about Honegger's 'Joan of Arc at the Stake'
* A Honegger biography
* 600 portraits for Joan's 600th birthday (due October 15th!)
* The Joan of Arc Project in New Orleans
* Joan of Arc: Heavenly Warrior

Monday, October 10, 2011


A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air.
~Eric Sloane

For this Music Monday, we have Autumn...

And Four Seasons album covers:

And a doodle:


* A biography of Vivaldi, with a list of recommended recordings
* An upcoming movie based on Vivaldi's early life
* Movies that have used Vivaldi's music
* Free scores of the Four Seasons at Mutopia
* Vivaldi's lost manuscripts

Did you see how long the list was of movie soundtracks that have used Vivaldi's music? It's 187 titles long!

Classical music, boring? Movie directors use it to heighten excitement, fear, romance, mystery, adventure, sorrow. Sounds like pretty much the opposite of indifference to me.

Friday, October 7, 2011

See As You Did Again

Credit: Roxanne Evans Stout

The Prescription
by Jacob Polley

Darling, d'you think you can't see as you did?
Then find inside this battered tin,
this tin that smells of cold metal and rust,
these steel-rimmed spectacles. Hook them on,
for I want you to see as you did again.
Others have. Those who've aged, or lost,
have worn them a while, and regained
lovers or sons, memories or minds,
then returned to their lives, less vague, less blind.
Now look straight at me and say what you see.
Tell me I look as I looked before,
that you feel as you felt. That I'm yours.


The Prescription is from Little Gods, published by Picador, UK. Posted with permission of the poet.

Also, don't miss Polley's A Jar of Honey.

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is at Great Kid Books.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In The Hidden Places

The moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places.
~ from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

by Stephane Halleux

by Harry Brockway

Bride of Frankenstein
by Asunción Macián Ruiz, aka Medusa the Dollmaker

Not sure who made this:

by José Miguel Pérez Buenaño

Bride of Frankenstein
by Mike Mignola

by Eric Joyner


* About Mary Shelley
* The text of Frankenstein on
* Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature, a neat site by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It includes lesson plans for middle and high school.
* A 3D papercraft Frankenstein on a wonderful blog called Frankensteinia.
* A site devoted to the Frankenstein films.
* Mary Shelley shirt
* A poem by Mary's husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
* An engraving of Mary and Percy.

Note: I know, and you know, and you might know that I know, that the "monster" isn't Frankenstein. The doctor who made the monster is Dr. Frankenstein. We know it, but still, nobody calls the monster anything but Frankenstein. Addendum: OK, so this guy does.