Thursday, July 3, 2014

Independence Day

Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776  Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
Excerpt from a letter to Abigail 
by John Adams

The second day of July, 1776, 
will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. 
I am apt to believe it will be celebrated 
by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. 
It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, 
by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. 
It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, 
with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, 
from one end of this continent to the other, 
from this time forward forevermore.
You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. 
I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure 
that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration 
and support and defend these states. 
Yet, through all the gloom, 
I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. 
I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. 
And that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction, 
even although we should rue it, 
which I trust in God we shall not…
It may be the will of Heaven 
that America will suffer calamities still more wasting, 
and distress yet more dreadful. 
If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect at least. 
It will inspire us with many virtues which we have not, 
and correct many errors, follies and vices 
which threaten to disturb, dishonor and destroy us. 
The furnace of affliction produces refinement, 
in States as well as individuals...
But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, 
in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hunters in the Snow  Pieter Bruegel the Elder
A Hunting Morning
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Put the saddle on the mare,
For the wet winds blow;
There's winter in the air,
And autumn all below.
For the red leaves are flying
And the red bracken dying,
And the red fox lying
Where the oziers grow.

Put the bridle on the mare,
For my blood runs chill;
And my heart, it is there,
On the heather-tufted hill,
With the gray skies o'er us,
And the long-drawn chorus
Of a running pack before us
From the find to the kill.

Then lead round the mare,
For it's time that we began,
And away with thought and care,
Save to live and be a man,
While the keen air is blowing,
And the huntsman holloing,
And the black mare going
As the black mare can.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Song and Sport

Colonel Acland and Lord Sydney, The Archers  Sir Joshua Reynolds
The Arrow and the Song
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The End of Summer

Rosa Gallica Eveque  Pierre Joseph Redoute
Tis the Last Rose of Summer
by Thomas Moore
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.
I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.
So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
From Love's shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit,
This bleak world alone?

Monday, August 1, 2011

At the Beach

Children Playing at the Beach  Mary Cassatt

At the Sea-Side
by Robert Louis Stevenson
When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup.
In every hole the sea came up
Till it could come no more.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Searching for a Friend

Young Girl Holding a Doll  Fritz Zuber Buhler
 A Lost Doll
by Sarah O. Jewett

The sunflowers hang their heavy heads
And wish the sun would shine;
The clouds are gray, the wind is cold.
“Where is that doll of mine?
The dark is coming fast,” said she.
“I’m in a dreadful fright.
I don’t know where I left my doll,
And she’ll be out all night.

“Twice up and down the garden-walks
I looked; but she’s not there.
Oh! yes, I’ve hunted in the hay;
I’ve hunted everywhere.
I must have left her out of doors;
But she is not in sight.
No dolly in the summer-house,
And she’ll be out all night.

“The dew will wet her through and through
And spoil her dear best dress;
And she will wonder where I am
And be in such distress!
The dogs may find her in the grass,
And bark or even bite;
And all the bugs will frighten her
That fly about at night.

“I’ve not been down into the woods
Or by the brook to-day.
I’m sure I had her in my arms
When I came out to play,
Just after dinner; then, I know,
I watched Tom make his kite.
Will anybody steal my doll
If she stays out all night?

“I wonder where Papa has gone?
Why, here he comes; and see!
He’s bringing something in his hand.
That’s Dolly, certainly!
And so you found her in the chaise,
And brought her home all right?
I’ll take her to the baby-house.
I’m glad she’s home to-night.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Growing Older, but Not Wiser?

Portrait of an Old Man  Adolph von Menzel 
Past and Present 
by Thomas Hood 
I remember, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day:
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away.

I remember, I remember
The roses, red and white,
The violets, and the lily-cups—
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,—
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow.

I remember, I remember
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance;
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from heaven
Than when I was a boy.