September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.
She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,
It’s time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle’s small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac
on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.
It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.
But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.
Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.
As I was cruising the internet for inspiration and resources, I found this gem. It is the format for a poem: The “I Am” poem, specifically.
I Am Poem (format)
I am (two special characteristics about your personality) I wonder (something you are actually curious about) I hear (a saying that someone might say to you that encourages/discourages) I am on a journey toward (a vision for your future/challenge in your present) I want (an actual desire that you hold for yourself) I am (the first line of the poem restated)
I pretend (something you actually pretend to do) I feel (a feeling about something imaginary that is holding you back) I touch (an imaginary touch) I worry (something that really bothers you) I cry (something that makes you very sad) I am (the first line of the poem repeated)
I understand (something you know is true about yourself/context) I say (something you believe in) I dream (something you dream about for your future) I try (something you really make an effort to do/understand) I hope (something you actually hope for yourself/context) I am (the first line of the poem repeated)
I am musical and creative. I wonder about a lot of things I hear keep putting one foot in front of the other. I am on a journey toward an unknown future. I want peace. I am musical and creative.
I pretend everything is okay. I feel like I’m underwater. I touch cold space. I worry about being shot. I cry for beauty. I am musical and creative.
I understand Love.
I say aspire to inspire. I dream in color. I try to improve. I hope I can sleep. I am musical and creative.
He who has God lacks nothing. Quien a Dios tiene nada le falta.
Rose-covered garden path, Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
church in NJ
image by Jill, The Tromp Queen (Creative Commons license: attribution-noderivatives-noncommercial 4.0) Milwaukee Art in Bloom exhibit 2014
image by Su Heng Pak (peshk78) via Flickr CC
Hermit Thrush eggs image by Ken McFarland via Flickr CC
Milwaukee River image by TTQ cc
Lake Michigan, view from MaM; image by TTQ cc
first leaves, late March at Gov Dodge SP, image by TTQ cc
View of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point
Magical mist and morning sunbeams at Turkey Run SP on Trail 3; photo by quirkyjazz, aka Jill
Door County sunset reflected on the water, photo by quirkyjazz, aka Jill
photo by quirkyjazz, aka Jill crabapple blooms
My attempt at a creative photo of That Tree. photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
Road in Ephesus
sun is gone — photo by quarkyjazz
photo by quirkyjazz
The Tromp Queen’s boots
setting sun near Rountree Branch, photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
light National Cathedral, DC
stained glass from the National Cathedral in DC
Praise What Comes
surprising as unplanned kisses, all you haven’t deserved
of days and solitude, your body’s immoderate good health
that lets you work in many kinds of weather. Praise
talk with just about anyone. And quiet intervals, books
that are your food and your hunger; nightfall and walks before sleep. Praising these for practice, perhaps
you will come at last to praise grief and the wrongs
you never intended. At the end there may be no answers
and only a few very simple questions: did I love,
finish my task in the world? Learn at least one
of the many names of God? At the intersections,
the boundaries where one life began and another
ended, the jumping-off places between fear and
possibility, at the ragged edges of pain,
did I catch the smallest glimpse of the holy?
~ Jeanne Lohmann ~
I posted this poem in a previous blog post, but the photos disappeared. I added a mosaic of images (most are photos I’ve taken) that the poem evokes for me. I still find this poem captivating and inspiring. I hope you do, too.
I cannot ope mine eyes, But thou art ready there to catch My morning-soul and sacrifice: Then we must needs for that day make a match.
My God, what is a heart? Silver, or gold, or precious stone, Or star, or rainbow, or a part Of all these things, or all of them in one?
My God, what is a heart, That thou shouldst it so eye, and woo, Pouring upon it all thy art, As if that thou hadst nothing else to do?
Indeed man’s whole estate Amounts (and richly) to serve thee: He did not heav’n and earth create, Yet studies them, not him by whom they be.
Teach me thy love to know; That this new light, which now I see, May both the work and workman show: Then by a sunbeam I will climb to thee.
poem by George Herbert 1633
Ineffable Creator, Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom, has established three hierarchies of angels, has arrayed them in marvelous order above the fiery heavens, and has marshaled the regions of the universe with such artful skill, You are proclaimed the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin
raised high beyond all things.
Pour forth a ray of Your brightness
into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul
the twofold darkness
into which I was born:
sin and ignorance.
You make eloquent the tongues of infants.
Refine my speech
and pour forth upon my lips
the goodness of Your blessing.
Grant to me
keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.
Guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion.
You Who are true God and true Man,
Who live and reign, world without end.
–St. Thomas Aquinas
These beautiful prayers were posted on a friend’s Facebook wall recently.
The words have stayed with me.
I decided to add a few photos and share them here.
I hope you find a spark of inspiration.
ALSO — I recently discovered these great poetry books. Great stuff for those who ASPIRE to INSPIRE!
lotus flower image: via Flickr CC by Richard IJzermans: A beautiful lotus flower in the forbidden city, Beijing China.
Everyone once in a while, I come across a word that I have never heard before or that I may have heard but have no idea (or can not remember!) what it means.
Eremite is one of those words. I heard it in a song that I played for our local high school choir sometime last school year. I searched around for some insight into the word, and wrote nearly all this post many months ago while I was searching. One of my endeavors this year is to attempt to publish all my drafts (or decide they are not worth sharing and thus delete them).
I recently received a question from a colleague of my wife’s asking about the word eremite. I believe that the word means ‘religious recluse’. The question arose because Robert Frost made reference to Keats’s eremite in one of his poems. Could you help us to understand the word and who may have been Keats’s eremite?
An eremite (pronounced ERR-uh-mite) is indeed a ‘religious recluse’, someone who, from religious motives, has retired into a solitary life. Both eremite and hermit came into English late in the 12th century and were used interchangeably for over 400 years. Hermit is now the more common word. In Modern English, especially since the 16th century, eremite is most often used poetically or to create a certain effect. Time magazine referred to J.D. Salinger as “the eremite of Cornish, N.H.” in a 1999 article.
The Greek adjective eremos means ’empty or desolate’. From this came the noun eremia ‘desert’. Toward the end of the 3rd century, it became common for Christians in Egypt to go into the desert, where they lived a solitary life of contemplation and asceticism. A person who did this was known as an eremites in Greek or an eremita in Latin. An eremite is, therefore, literally ‘someone who lives alone in the desert’. *from Wikipedia
In the poem “Bright Star,” Keats speaks of “nature’s patient sleepless Eremite.” The reference is to an unidentified star which, like a hermit, sits apart from the world. Frost, in “Choose Something Like a Star,” refers to the steadfastness of “Keats’ Eremite.” I’ll leave it to those of you who are interested to look up the full texts of the poems. They can be easily found on the Internet.
Here are a few more words to expand your vocabulary: “eremic” means ‘relating to deserts’ “eremophilia” is ‘a love of solitude’ “eremophobia” is ‘a fear of being alone’
I’m struck by the opposite definitions of the last two words in that short list. “Philia” denotes an “abnormal love for a specified thing” or an “undue inclination” for something. “Phobia” is a label we use for “extreme or unnatural fear” of something.
Bright Star by John Keats
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art —
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors —
No — yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever — or else swoon to death.
Addressed to a star (perhaps Polaris, around which the heavens appear to wheel), the sonnet expresses the poet’s wish to be as constant as the star while he presses against his sleeping love. The use of the star imagery is unusual in that Keats dismisses many of its more apparent qualities, focusing on the star’s steadfast and passively watchful nature. In the first recorded draft (copied by Charles Brown and dated to early 1819), the poet loves unto death; by the final version, death is an alternative to love.
The poem is punctuated as a single sentence and uses the rhyme form of the Shakespearean sonnet (ababcdcdefefgg) with the customary volta, or turn in the train of thought, occurring after the octave.
from Frostiana, “Choose Something Like a Star”
(Randall Thompson, Lyrics by Robert Frost)
O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune!
As fair thou art, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I:
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun;
I will luve thee still my dear,
When the sands of life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.
I was walking from Princeton University to Westminster Choir College shortly after a brief summer rain. I couldn’t resist taking photographs of some lovely roses as I strolled along the sidewalk. The poem popped into my head as I was cropping the photos. I realize my roses are not red, but the poem insisted on being included in this post.
*poem by Robert Burns
poem by Elizabeth Bishop, photos via Flickr Creative Commons
I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!
There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.
sonnet by Elizabeth Bishop
I believe I understand what Elizabeth is describing with her words. Early in my teen years, I discovered that music was a calming force for me. Not that I always felt or feel calm when I play, but that the act of playing (of creating music) brings me to a calmer state of being.
Is it because my mind stops turning inward or spinning in worried circles? I focus on the notes and the feel of the keys, the pattern of the chords and melodies — and there is only music. Is it the physicality of the hand/eye coordination or the wavelengths of sound going through my eardrums into my brain that does it? Or is it the “Zen”ness of the playing, the feeling of letting myself slip away until I only see and hear and feel the music?
There is healing, of rest, of flow (hence the imagery of water), of stillness, of floating. Quiet Breath.
I don’t know why it works this way for me, but it truly does.
These are but a few of the many reasons why I will always be in need of music.
This post marks the end of my February Haiku (part of my Joy 365 project). This was more difficult than the January photos. I am already behind on March! I’m not sure what I will be doing with March yet. Stay tuned, and as always, thank you for reading and following The Tromp Queen!
25 Tues — First rehearsal with area HS students preparing for upcoming district solo/ensemble contests.
Singers prepare songs. First run-through: a little shy. Music minds the gaps.
26 Wed — Meet with photographer at Milwaukie’s Art Museum lobby to take head shots for my new job as MCC accompanist.
Hair, make-up, jewelry: Head shots at Art Museum. Carved marble profile?
27 Thurs — Driving across the state from east to west. Going through Pville en route to quilt retreat.
image by TTQ, CC license
image by TTQ, CC license
image by TTQ, CC license
image by TTQ, CC license
image by TTQ, CC license
Driving Driftless roads Passing bluish-white meadows Trees and cows dot hills.
Tears rush to fill eyes. I don’t live here anymore. “Home” is elsewhere now.
Favorite coffee shop: Time to chat with my dear friend. Joyful day begins.
Next stop: Quilt Retreat. Bound with stories, tools, advice, Hugs, laughter, sorrows.
Connections endure: Souls and voices — we still hear. Fabric soothes us all.
Stark shadows on snow. Branches cast graphic shapes: Nature’s modern art
Fragile bunny tracks Trail the length of my sidewalk. Snow too deep for hops?
Anything better than a roomful of girl teens laughing and talking?
(Answer: No! life is good)
Late afternoon sun — Long winter shadows on snow — Golden light shimmers
Ebony sketches As ink on pastel batiks — Twigs, branches, sky glow.
(I wrote this thinking about tree branches silhouetted against the sunset, but this stained glass window captures the look, color, texture, and the feeling so I’m going with the “non-literal” illustration this time.)
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
image by NichoDesign via Flickr CC
image by nichodesign via Flickr CC
image by ThruMikesViewFinder via Flickr CC
image by lexie.longstreet via Flickr CC
image by GenBug via Flickr CC
image by NichoDesign via Flickr CC
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop. She worked on this poem for 15 years!!!
This fact boggles my mind.
The words and message of this poem speak to me. I assume this is because I got a lot of practice in the “art of losing” last year.
I can’t decide if Elizabeth is urging us to hold loosely onto the things of this worlds (keys, watches, houses, cities) — to hold onto only the things that matter, though sometimes we lose those things, too. Or if she is trying to convince herself that losing all these things, including the things she loves most, is no big deal. Is she saying, “We enter this world alone and leave it alone?”
I prefer the view I’ve spoken about before: It hurts because it matters. Saying goodbye to things you love is painful, but taking the risk of loving is worth the chance of being hurt. I’d rather have things/people who break my heart to leave behind/say goodbye to/lose than to feel alone in the world, unattached and unloved.
A few more thoughts: I enjoy the rhymes she makes with disaster. Faster. Vaster. Gesture. Fluster. The repetition of the word disaster adds interesting structure and emphasis. Each stanza has three lines, except the last which has four. Hmmmm. Not sure what that means, but if she worked on this for 15 years, she must have had some intention behind it? Don’t you think?
I’ve gathered a few more of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems. I’ll share them in future posts.
from Writer’s Almanac Feb 8 2014:
Poet Elizabeth Bishop, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts (2-8-1911). Her father died when she was a little girl. Her mother had an emotional breakdown from grief and spent the rest of her life in various mental institutions. Elizabeth spent most of her childhood moving back and forth between her grandparents in Nova Scotia and her father’s family in Massachusetts.
She was an extremely slow writer and published only 101 poems in her lifetime. She worked on her poem “One Art” for more than 15 years, keeping it tacked up on her wall so that she could rearrange the lines again and again until she got it right. But she was an obsessive letter writer. She once wrote 40 letters in a single day. She said, “I sometimes wish that I had nothing, or little more, to do but write letters to the people who are not here.” A collection of her letters, One Art: The Letters of Elizabeth Bishop, was published in 1994.