Monday, December 30, 2013

Daphnis and Chloé

For aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.

~William Shakespeare

Daphnis and Chloé by Pierre Cabanel

The story of Daphnis and Chloé was written in the second century by Longus. In it, an innocent young man (Daphnis) and woman (Chloé) fall in love but events go awry due to raiders, other suitors, mistaken identities, and pirates. It isn't too much of a spoiler to tell you that things end happily, though, is it?

Listening to an excellent performance of part of Maurice Ravel's Daphnis and Chloé this Music Monday:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Robust Spirits

Two by Emily Dickinson today. I saw the first one in a book called Poems for Children and Other People, edited by George Hornby, that my Winter Poem Swap friend Michelle gave me:

He ate and drank the precious words

by Emily Dickinson

He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!


I stepped from plank to plank
by Emily Dickinson

I stepped from plank to plank
   So slow and cautiously;
The stars about my head I felt,
   About my feet the sea.

I knew not but the next
   Would be my final inch,—
This gave me that precarious gait
   Some call experience.


I'll be sharing the original poem Michelle gave me next week! Mary Lee is the Poetry Friday round-up host today.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Nativity Scenes From Around The World

Merry Christmas! I'm scheduling this post to be Art Thursday on Wednesday -- you can see why. I like seeing the great variety of materials and techniques in these nativities:

Adoration of the Shepherds, Munich, Germany
photo by Andreas Praefcke

Nativity in Cathedral, Antigua, Guatemala
photo by Ericwaltr

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
photo by Radim Holiš

Nativity, Portugal
photo by António Amen

Convent of St. Francis of Assisi exhibit, São Paulo, Brazil
photo by Vagner Carvalheiro

Santuari de Sant Salvador, Felanitx, Balearic Islands
photo by Frank Vincentz

Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C
photo by Tim Evanson

Convent of St. Francis of Assisi exhibit, São Paulo, Brazil
photo by Vagner Carvalheiro

Monday, December 23, 2013

O Great Mystery

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

How many composers have reworked O Magnum Mysterium (a responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas)? According to Wikipedia, there are eighteen "notable" versions. Not sure how many didn't make the cut! Here's one of the notable ones:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

You're on Cleo's Nice List

Go ahead and tell her what you'd like this year:

Can't leave out our other cat, Emma:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hurrah for the Chocolate Cat!

by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

HAVE you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
'T is a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
(As those who have tasted it say)
That good little children have only to eat
Of that fruit to be happy next day.

When you've got to the tree, you would have a hard time
To capture the fruit which I sing;
The tree is so tall that no person could climb
To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!
But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,
And a gingerbread dog prowls below--
And this is the way you contrive to get at
Those sugar-plums tempting you so:

You say but the word to that gingerbread dog
And he barks with such terrible zest
That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,
As her swelling proportions attest.
And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around
From this leafy limb unto that,
And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground--
Hurrah for that chocolate cat!

There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,
With stripings of scarlet or gold,
And you carry away of the treasure that rains
As much as your apron can hold!
So come, little child, cuddle closer to me
In your dainty white nightcap and gown,
And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.


The following images are from Lullaby land: Songs of childhood by Eugene Field. Selected by Kenneth Grahame and illustrated by Charles Robinson. from the Making of America Books collection at the University of Michigan:


Buffy is the Poetry Friday host today.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


1. To mold or carve in relief.
2. To decorate with or as if with a raised design.

When I think of embossing, I tend to envision embossed paper. Obviously, it doesn't end there:

Helmet, Embossed Steel, 1550, Italy
Photo by Mary Harrsch
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Mehrangarh Cannon
Photo by Ben Lepley

Man's Bag, Germany or Holland, 14th century
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Smoking Set with Masks, 18th century (Edo-Meiji). The netsuke is by Tadatsugu.
Walters Art Museum

Thoroughly Beaten, copper work, Thailand
Photo by Andrew

Leather Neck Corset
by Denby Jorgensen

Photo by postbear

Embossing copper how-to at eHow
How to emboss paper at WikiHow
Paper embossing on Instructables

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hope Is Coming For Me

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
as I wait for hope to come for me
~Brooke Fraser

Haven't ever repeated a song before, but there's a first time for everything. I love singing along with this in the car:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Writopia Lab's 2014 Worldwide Plays Festival & Competition

Passing along information for young writers and their parents and teachers:

Writopia Lab’s Worldwide Plays Festival 2014 is calling for submissions from playwrights across the globe ages 6 to 18!

Who can submit?
The competition is open to playwrights in 1st through 12th grade around the world.

What are the prizes?
This year, professional playwrights and comedy writers will select two plays (one comedy, one drama) in each age group for Off-Broadway production in May. The Worldwide Plays Festival, funded by David Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, will run May 17th through May 22nd at the Abingdon Theatre in New York City. The winning playwrights will also be awarded scholarships: $1,000 for the high school winners, $500 for middle school winners, and $250 for the elementary school winners.

The winner of the middle school drama award will be the recipient of the $500 Playscripts Scholarship, sponsored by Playscripts, Inc, an independent publisher of new plays and musicals. Playscripts, Inc. will also be offering a 25% discount on all book orders to members of the Writopia community! Enter the promocode WRITE234 at checkout to use the discount.

What are the guidelines?
We accept monologues, dramas, comedies, musicals, and more. Plays should be no longer than 10 pages and should be written in standard play formatting. (Please note that we do not accept collaborations by more than three writers.) Writers may submit more than one piece. Submissions must include a cover sheet with the following information: title, full name of writer, birthdate, school, grade, address, two phone numbers, and an email address.

How do I submit?
Submissions must be postmarked by February 5th, 2014, and mailed to Writopia Lab, 155 West 81st Street, Suite A, New York, NY 10024. Electronic submissions may be sent to; hard copies are preferred.

Friday, December 13, 2013

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.
~Christina Rossetti

Welcome! It's time for Poetry Friday. If you've come to share a link, please do so in the comments and I will round-up during the day. I've got Christina Rossetti's In the Bleak Mid-winter today, which was set to music by Gustav Holst.


* Fats is sharing a few verses from Pearl Cleage's "We Speak Your Names," celebrating womanhood and the gift of sisterhood.

* Donna has a silly Christmas poem for us.

* Margaret is offering a give away of her Christmas poetry book, Illuminate, along with an original poem and recording of "In the Bleak Midwinter."

* At Random Noodling, Diane has a small collection of door haiga.

* Kurious Kitty shares "The Sniffle" by Ogden Nash.

* KK's Kwotes posts a quote by Ray Bradbury.

* Robyn continues with a haiku theme, kicking off a "Student Poet of the Month" adventure featuring Tom Painting's haiku students. Starting us off is 8th grader Emma Jones.

* Keri contributes the winner of last week's giveaway and some "story rules" from a former Pixar artist.

* Michelle shares "The Flight Before Christmas" -- her entry for Susanna Leonard Hill's Holiday Writing Contest.

* Father Goose is celebrating the "Holly Days."

* Renee is in with another installment of the NCTE Poets Series with Lee Bennett Hopkins, this time featuring Myra Cohn Livingston.

* Joy is thinking about creation and the wonderful way writing a poem makes her feel, and she also has a poetry challenge.

* Over at The Drift Record, Julie is seeing a strange convergence between a poem by Walter de la Mare and peppermint bark candy.

* Mary Lee shares a couple of haiku for the Friday that's a week away from Winter Break. (My kids would call that "Winter Break Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Day")

* Author Kelly Bingham visits Laura's blog to talk about her Shark Girl verse novels and her picture book, Z Is for Moose.

* Jama brings us "The Cookie Thief" and some thoughts about the first cookie she ever baked.

* Tara offers Grace Paley, poetry, and pies.

* Liz has some sweet Christmas cookie haiku.

* Mandy is reflecting on a snow day with an original poem.

* Laura Purdie Salas is in today with "Schoolhouse" by Cynthia Grady.

* Irene is thinking about writing as spiritual practice, plus she shares "Instructions for the Journey" by Pat Schneider.

* Dori's poem is by Nikki Grimes from her book Voices of Christmas.

* Linda shares a picture book/Christmas poem by Maya Angelou.

* Violet posted an original poem called Christmas on the West Coast.

* Carmela discusses three of her favorite books from 2013 and includes a poem from Helen Frost's SALT.

* Catherine offers Denise Levertov's "The Secret."

* Jeannine wrote a post about revising called Poetry and Houses.

* After several months away from blogging, Elaine returns with an original poem for the season titled "Under the Tree."

* Tricia is in today with a poem by Amy Lowell entitled "Superstition."

* This week, Anastasia visited Jone's blog, where Jone shared Anastasia's new haiku, "Last Leaf."

* Jone adds, "This is a follow-up to her interview on Wednesday."

* Little Willow gives us "Unfading Pictures" by Louisa C. Poole.

* Janet's selection is "Sharing the Seasons: a book of poems," selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by David Diaz.

* Amy has a mask poem in the voice of a (her?) Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Doing the Pigeon

Listen, sweet Dove, unto my song, And spread thy golden wings in me; Hatching my tender heart so long, Till it get wing, and flie away with Thee.
~George Herbert

If you try to find out the difference between pigeons and doves, you might hear that pigeons are bigger, gray, and domesticated, while doves are smaller, white, and wild. But then again, you might just hear that they are one and the same. I think connotation is important in this case: doves are well-liked symbols of peace, and the best thing I know about pigeons is this. But they are sharing the stage here for Art Thursday:

Detail from Peace (1887)
by Edward Onslow Ford (1852-1901)
photo by ketrin1407

The Jambu Fruit Dove, whose habitat is in southern Thailand, Malaysia and the islands of Indonesia
photo by cuatrok77

An illustration from Jules Verne's short story "Aventures de la famille Raton" (1866-69)
by Felicien de Myrbach-Rheinfeld (1853—1940)

Church window
photo by Reinhardhauke

Pigeon on a peach branch
by Emperor Huizong of Song, Northern Song Dynasty, circa 1108

Relief with orphan children, 1581

Eucharistic dove, Limoges, first half of the thirteenth century.
photographed by David Monniaux

Le Pigeon
by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824–1898)


* Picasso Peace Doves/Pattern Practice art lesson
* Video: Such a patient cat to put up with this bird!
* DIY doily origami dove
* Early Poetry Friday-ers may leave their link in the comments!

Monday, December 9, 2013

That Man

A fun song for Music Monday:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nothing But What It Is

In the world of hip-hop, Lewis Turco would be considered an “Original Gangsta,” an “O.G.”—a title given to someone who started it all. In the more genteel business of poetry writing, however, Turco would be called an “Institution,” and what he started was nothing less than a renewed appreciation of poetic forms.
~Daniel Nester

Sharing a poem by Lewis Turco, author of The Book of Forms, today. I had a hard time picking which terzanelle of his to post, as I like them all.

What's a terzanelle? A terzanelle has "nineteen lines total, with five triplets and a concluding quatrain. The middle line of each triplet stanza is repeated as the third line of the following stanza, and the first and third lines of the initial stanza are the second and final lines of the concluding quatrain; thus, seven of the lines are repeated in the poem."

by Lewis Turco
"The March sun causeth dust, and the wind blows it about."

There is a room, and in that room hourdust
Lies smothering the chairs, the rugs and couches
Where no one sits, where the radiators rust,

Thinking of steam. The chill of evening slouches
In the corner shadows where wallpaper peels in waves,
Lies smothering the chairs, the rugs and couches.

Nothing is certain here. The twilight saves
The day in ripples that fall through windowpanes
On the corner shadows where wallpaper peels in waves,

Sounding the silent combers. Everything stains
Everything, is nothing but what it is.
The day, in ripples that fall through windowpanes,

Washes the floor and fades. Now, in this
Heartbeat preceding night, the room is still
Everything, is nothing but what it is:

The raveling of mildew upon a sill;
Heartbeat preceding night. The room is still
Where no one sits, where the radiators rust.
There is a room, and in that room, our dust.

Original publication: Poetry Miscellany, 8, 1978. Included in The Collected Lyrics of Lewis Turco / Wesli Court 1953-2004, Scottsdale: Star Cloud Press, 2004; all rights reserved by the author. Posted here with permission of the poet.


Robyn is the Poetry Friday host today. I bought a Writer Mouse ornament from her artsyletters shop recently:

photo by Elena Y

Isn't it adorable? Robyn does a wonderful job of packaging her products, too -- you can rest assured that if you send an artsyletters gift, it will look great!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Imparting Color

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.
~Marcus Aurelius

For Art Thursday, the art of dyeing:

Dye pits in the Fes Tannery
photo by rytc

Pigments for sale on market stall, Goa, India.
photo by Dan Brady

Rōketsuzome, a traditional wax-resist textile dyeing technique in Japan, printing wheels
photo by Blue Lotus

Egg Dye
photo by Matt Batchelor

A dyer adorning the top of the fountain "Weberbrunnen" by sculptor Bonifatius Stirnberg, Germany
photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont

Red Polar Bear by Bjargey Ólafsdóttir -- Langjökull Glacier, Iceland
The image is painted with red organic food dye approved for environmental use
photo by

Dyeing bezin cloth, Bamako
photo by Robin Taylor

Clay cuneiform tablet with instructions for dyeing wool
Recipes are given to produce blue and purple wools, 600-500 BC

A madagascar chichlid, dyed by American Museum of Natural History ichthyologist John S. Sparks. The different dyes reveal different parts of the fish.
photo by Beyond My Ken

Monday, December 2, 2013

International Sweethearts of Rhythm

Jazz is the music of the body.
~Anaïs Nin

Listening to a little swing and jazz this Music Monday:

An NPR piece on the Sweethearts