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.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Poor School Boy  Antonio Mancini
from The School Boy 
by William Blake
I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the sky-lark sings with me.
O! what sweet company.

But to go to school in a summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away;
Under a cruel eye outworn.
The little ones spend the day,
In sighing and dismay.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Juneteenth  G. Rose

Freedoms Plow 
by Langston Hughes
When a man starts out with nothing,
When a man starts out with his hands
Empty, but clean,
When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself
And the faith that is in his heart-
The strength there,
The will there to build.

First in the heart is the dream-
Then the mind starts seeking a way.
His eyes look out on the world,
On the great wooded world,
On the rich soil of the world,
On the rivers of the world.

The eyes see there materials for building,
See the difficulties, too, and the obstacles.
The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles.
The hand seeks tools to cut the wood,
To till the soil, and harness the power of the waters.
Then the hand seeks other hands to help,
A community of hands to help-
Thus the dream becomes not one man's dream alone,
But a community dream.
Not my dream alone, but our dream.
Not my world alone,
But your world and my world,
Belonging to all the hands who build.

A long time ago, but not too long ago,
Ships came from across the sea
Bringing the Pilgrims and prayer-makers,
Adventurers and booty seekers,
Free men and indentured servants,
Slave men and slave masters, all new-
To a new world, America!

With billowing sails the galleons came
Bringing men and dreams, women and dreams.
In little bands together,
Heart reaching out to heart,
Hand reaching out to hand,
They began to build our land.
Some were free hands
Seeking a greater freedom,
Some were indentured hands
Hoping to find their freedom,
Some were slave hands
Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,
But the word was there always:
Freedom.

Down into the earth went the plow
In the free hands and the slave hands,
In indentured hands and adventurous hands,
Turning the rich soil went the plow in many hands
That planted and harvested the food that fed
And the cotton that clothed America.
Clang against the trees went the ax into many hands
That hewed and shaped the rooftops of America.
Splash into the rivers and the seas went the boat-hulls
That moved and transported America.
Crack went the whips that drove the horses
Across the plains of America.
Free hands and slave hands,
Indentured hands, adventurous hands,
White hands and black hands
Held the plow handles,
Ax handles, hammer handles,
Launched the boats and whipped the horses
That fed and housed and moved America.
Thus together through labor,
All these hands made America.

Labor! Out of labor came villages
And the towns that grew cities.
Labor! Out of labor came the rowboats
And the sailboats and the steamboats,
Came the wagons, and the coaches,
Covered wagons, stage coaches,
Out of labor came the factories,
Came the foundries, came the railroads.
Came the marts and markets, shops and stores,
Came the mighty products moulded, manufactured,
Sold in shops, piled in warehouses,
Shipped the wide world over:
Out of labor-white hands and black hands-
Came the dream, the strength, the will,
And the way to build America.
Now it is Me here, and You there.
Now it's Manhattan, Chicago,
Seattle, New Orleans,
Boston and El Paso-
Now it's the U.S.A.

A long time ago, but not too long ago, a man said:
ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL--
ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR
WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS--
AMONG THESE LIFE, LIBERTY
AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
His name was Jefferson. There were slaves then,
But in their hearts the slaves believed him, too,
And silently too for granted
That what he said was also meant for them.
It was a long time ago,
But not so long ago at that, Lincoln said:
NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH
TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN
WITHOUT THAT OTHER'S CONSENT.
There were slaves then, too,
But in their hearts the slaves knew
What he said must be meant for every human being-
Else it had no meaning for anyone.
Then a man said:
BETTER TO DIE FREE
THAN TO LIVE SLAVES
He was a colored man who had been a slave
But had run away to freedom.
And the slaves knew
What Frederick Douglass said was true.

With John Brown at Harper's Ferry, Negroes died.
John Brown was hung.
Before the Civil War, days were dark,
And nobody knew for sure
When freedom would triumph
"Or if it would," thought some.
But others new it had to triumph.
In those dark days of slavery,
Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,
The slaves made up a song:
Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
That song meant just what it said: Hold On!
Freedom will come!
Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
Out of war it came, bloody and terrible!
But it came!
Some there were, as always,
Who doubted that the war would end right,
That the slaves would be free,
Or that the union would stand,
But now we know how it all came out.
Out of the darkest days for people and a nation,
We know now how it came out.
There was light when the battle clouds rolled away.
There was a great wooded land,
And men united as a nation.

America is a dream.
The poet says it was promises.
The people say it is promises-that will come true.
The people do not always say things out loud,
Nor write them down on paper.
The people often hold
Great thoughts in their deepest hearts
And sometimes only blunderingly express them,
Haltingly and stumblingly say them,
And faultily put them into practice.
The people do not always understand each other.
But there is, somewhere there,
Always the trying to understand,
And the trying to say,
"You are a man. Together we are building our land."

America!
Land created in common,
Dream nourished in common,
Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on!
If the house is not yet finished,
Don't be discouraged, builder!
If the fight is not yet won,
Don't be weary, soldier!
The plan and the pattern is here,
Woven from the beginning
Into the warp and woof of America:
ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH
TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN
WITHOUT HIS CONSENT.
BETTER DIE FREE,
THAN TO LIVE SLAVES.
Who said those things? Americans!
Who owns those words? America!
Who is America? You, me!
We are America!
To the enemy who would conquer us from without,
We say, NO!
To the enemy who would divide
And conquer us from within,
We say, NO!
FREEDOM!
BROTHERHOOD!
DEMOCRACY!
To all the enemies of these great words:
We say, NO!

A long time ago,
An enslaved people heading toward freedom
Made up a song:
Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
The plow plowed a new furrow
Across the field of history.
Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.
From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.
That tree is for everybody,
For all America, for all the world.
May its branches spread and shelter grow
Until all races and all peoples know its shade.
KEEP YOUR HAND ON THE PLOW! HOLD ON!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Miracles

The Birds-nest  Sophie Gengembre Anderson
For Every Bird a Nest
by Emily Dickinson
For every Bird a Nest --
Wherefore in timid quest
Some little Wren goes seeking round --

Wherefore when boughs are free --
Households in every tree --
Pilgrim be found?

Perhaps a home too high --
Ah Aristocracy!
The little Wren desires --

Perhaps of twig so fine --
Of twine e'en superfine,
Her pride aspires --

The Lark is not ashamed
To build upon the ground
Her modest house --

Yet who of all the throng
Dancing around the sun
Does so rejoice?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Getting Some Air

Anemones and Chinese Vase  Henri Matisse
The Table and the Chair 
by Edward Lear
Said the table to the chair,
"You can scarcely be aware
How I suffer from the heat
And from blisters on my feet!
If we took a little walk
We might have a little talk.
Pray, let us take the air!"
Said the table to the chair.

Said the chair unto the table,
"Now you know we are not able!
How foolishly you talk
When you know we cannot walk!"
Said the table with a sigh,
"It can do no harm to try.
I've as many legs as you.
Why can't we walk on two?"

So they both went slowly down,
And walked about the town,
With a cheerful bumpy sound
As they toddled all around.
And everybody cried
As they ran up to their side
"See! The table and the chair
Have come out to take the air!"

But, in going down an alley,
To the castle, in the valley,
They completely lost their way
And they wandered all the day
‘Til, to see them safely back,
They paid a ducky-quack
And a beetle and a mouse
To take them to their house.

Then they whispered to each other
"Oh delightful little brother!
What a lovely walk we've taken!
Let us dine on beans and bacon!"
So the ducky and the little
Brownie-mousey and the beetle
Dined, and danced upon their heads,
‘Til they toddled to their beds.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gold Fever

Lewes River  Charles Edwin Fripp
Men of the High North
by Robert W. Service 
Men of the High North, the wild sky is blazing; 
Islands of opal float on silver seas; 
Swift splendors kindle, barbaric, amazing; 
Pale ports of amber, golden argosies. 
Ringed all around us the proud peaks are glowing; 
Fierce chiefs in council, their wigwam the sky; 
Far, far below us the big Yukon flowing, 
Like threaded quicksilver, gleams to the eye. 

Men of the High North, you who have known it; 
You in whose hearts its splendors have abode; 
Can you renounce it, can you disown it? 
Can you forget it, its glory and its goad? 
Where is the hardship, where is the pain of it?
Lost in the limbo of things you've forgot; 
Only remain the guerdon and gain of it; 
Zest of the foray, and God, how you fought! 

You who have made good, you foreign faring; 
You money magic to far lands has whirled; 
Can you forget those days of vast daring, 
There with your soul on the Top o' the World? 
Nights when no peril could keep you awake on 
Spruce boughs you spread for your couch in the snow; 
Taste all your feasts like the beans and the bacon 
Fried at the camp-fire at forty below? 

Can you remember your huskies all going, 
Barking with joy and their brushes in air; 
You in your parka, glad-eyed and glowing, 
Monarch, your subjects the wolf and the bear? 
Monarch, your kingdom unravisht and gleaming; 
Mountains your throne, and a river your car; 
Crash of a bull moose to rouse you from dreaming; 
Forest your couch, and your candle a star. 

You who this faint day the High North is luring 
Unto her vastness, taintlessly sweet; 
You who are steel-braced, straight-lipped, enduring, 
Dreadless in danger and dire in defeat: 
Honor the High North ever and ever, 
Whether she crown you, or whether she slay; 
Suffer her fury, cherish and love her-- 
He who would rule he must learn to obey. 

Men of the High North, fierce mountains love you; 
Proud rivers leap when you ride on their breast. 
See, the austere sky, pensive above you, 
Dons all her jewels to smile on your rest. 
Children of Freedom, scornful of frontiers, 
We who are weaklings honor your worth. 
 Lords of the wilderness, Princes of Pioneers, 
Let's have a rouse that will ring round the earth.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Love and Roses

Bouquet of Roses in a Vase  Pierre Augusta Renior
O My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns
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 art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ 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.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Off You Go

A Toy Boat   Alfred Bathurst Binning
Where Go the Boats?
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dark brown is the river.
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating—
Where will all come home?

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Decoration Day

A British Spitfire Downs an Enemy Plane  T. Cowill

And Irish Airman Foresees His Death
by William Butler Yeats
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anyone for Croquet

Croquet  James Tissot
Croquet
by Alice Guerin Crist
In a garden where the may made the straggling fences gay
And the roses cream and scarlet shed their petals on the breeze
Your maiden aunts and I, and you, demure and shy,
Played a sober game of croquet underneath the spreading trees.

Just beyond the garden wall we could hear the merry call
Of the tennis players yonder, flitting gaily in the sun,
But we recked not of their glee, for all too content were we,
And we weren’t flushed and heated when our quiet game was done.

What a picture sweet you made! As you rested in the shade,
Listening to my eager chatter with a glance of grave surprise;
Was it nectar, love, or tea that your white hands poured for me
In the dainty Wedgewood tea-cups that were bluer than your eyes?

Love I know not; this I know, that we parted years ago –
That our paths lie far asunder in the giddy whirl of life,
And the tender vows we made, underneath the spreading shade,
Are a memory half forgotten ‘mid the city’s toil and strife.

But when wearied by its din, by its ceaseless strife and sin,
My thoughts will wander backwards at the close of some long day,
Once again I see you stand with your mallet in your hand,
‘Twixt a nodding scarlet rose-bush and a hedge of snowy may.

And the scent of mignonette comes to haunt and thrill me yet
While your blue eyes light the distance with a half reproachful smile;
Love, it is the world sad way, just to worship for a day-
And I doubt if you remember, after all this weary while.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Of Knights and Ladies

The May Jaunt, from Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
The Limbourg Brothers

Hunting Song
by Sir Walter Scott
Waken, lords and ladies gay,
On the mountain dawns the day;
All the jolly chase is here
With hawk and horse and hunting-spear,
Hounds are in their couples yelling,
Hawks are whistling, horns are knelling,
Merrily, merrily mingle they—
"Waken, lords and ladies gay."

Waken, lords and ladies gay,
The mist has left the mountain gray;
Springlets in the dawn are steaming,
Diamonds on the brake are gleaming;
And foresters have busy been
To track the buck in thicket green;
Now we come to chant our lay,
"Waken, lords and ladies gay."

Waken, lords and ladies gay,
To the greenwood haste away;
We can show you where he lies,
Fleet of foot and tall of size;
We can show the marks he made
When 'gainst the oak his antlers fray'd;
You shall see him brought to bay—
"Waken, lords and ladies gay."

Louder, louder chant the lay,
Waken, lords and ladies gay!
Tell them youth and mirth and glee
Run a course as well as we;
Time, stern huntsman! who can balk,
Staunch as hound and fleet as hawk:
Think of this, and rise with day,
Gentle lords and ladies gay!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gabrielle and Jean  Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Parental Recollections
by Charles Lamb
A child's a plaything for an hour;
Its pretty tricks we try
For that or for a longer space—
Then tire, and lay it by.

But I knew one that to itself
All seasons could control;
That would have mock’d the sense of pain
Out of a grievèd soul.

Thou straggler into loving arms,
Young climber-up of knees,
When I forget thy thousand ways
Then life and all shall cease.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Keeping On

Thankful Poor  Henry Ossawa Tanner
Mother to Son 
by Langston Hughes
Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor--”
Bare.
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now--”
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Friday, April 29, 2011

For God's Gift of Trees (and all Other Things Green and Growing)

Pink Peach Tree in Blossom  Vincent VanGogh
Trees
by Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree. 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast; 

A tree that looks at God all day, 
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 

A tree that may in Summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain. 

Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Eighteenth of April

Paul Revere's Ride  N. C. Wyeth
Paul Revere's Ride
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 15, 1865: President Lincoln's Assassination

The Death of Lincoln  Alonzo Chappel
O Captain my Captain!
by  Walt Whitman
O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blooming Spring

Still Life with Pussy Willows  Vladimir Maximovich Sokolov
Pussy Willow
by Kate L Brown 
Pussy willow wakened 
From her cozy winter nap,
For the frolicking spring breeze, 
On her door would tap.
“It is chilly weather, 
Though the sun feels good;
I will wrap up warmly 
And wear my furry hood.”
Mistress Pussy Willow 
Opened wide her door;
Never had the sunshine 
Seemed so bright before.
Never had the brooklet 
Seemed so full of cheer; 
“Good morning, Pussy Willow, 
Welcome to you, dear.”
Never guest was quainter, 
Than when Pussy came to town,
In her hood of silver gray, 
And tiny coat of brown. 

Happy little children 
Cried with laugh and shout,
“Spring is coming, coming,
Mistress Pussy Willow’s out.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

Milking Time

Milk-Maid  Myles Birket Foster
 The Milkmaid 
by Thomas Hardy
Under a daisied bank
There stands a rich red ruminating cow,
And hard against her flank
A cotton-hooded milkmaid bends her brow.

The flowery river-ooze
Upheaves and falls; the milk purrs in the pail;
Few pilgrims but would choose
The peace of such a life in such a vale.

The maid breathes words--to vent,
It seems, her sense of Nature's scenery,
Of whose life, sentiment,
And essence, very part itself is she.

She bends a glance of pain,
And, at a moment, lets escape a tear;
Is it that passing train,
Whose alien whirr offends her country ear? -

Nay! Phyllis does not dwell
On visual and familiar things like these;
What moves her is the spell
Of inner themes and inner poetries:

Could but by Sunday morn
Her gay new gown come, meads might dry to dun,
Trains shriek till ears were torn,
If Fred would not prefer that Other One.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Might I Have a Bit of Earth?

.A Cottage Near Brook  Helen Allingham
Ode on Solitude
By Alexander Pope
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Echoes of the Past

Alnwick Castle at Northumberland  Canaletto
 The Splendor Falls on Castle Walls
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson 
The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying. dying, dying.

O, hark, O, hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O, sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river;
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Selma, Alabama, 1965

Confrontation at the Bridge  Jacob Lawrence
Democracy 
by Langston Hughes
Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right 
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet 
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say, 
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Daytime and Nighttime Images of Dover

Dover 3  William Daniell
 From Dover Beach
by Matthew Arnold
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

She's Real to Me

Doctor and the Doll  Norman Rockwell
Bessie's Song to her Doll
by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson)
Matilda Jane, you never look 
At any toy or picture-book. 
I show you pretty things in vain-- 
You must be blind, Matilda Jane! 

I ask you riddles, tell you tales, 
But all our conversation fails. 
You never answer me again-- 
I fear you're dumb, Matilda Jane! 

Matilda darling, when I call, 
You never seem to hear at all. 
I shout with all my might and main-- 
But you're so deaf, Matilda Jane! 

Matilda Jane, you needn't mind, 
For, though you're deaf and dumb and blind, 
There's some one loves you, it is plain-- 
And that is me, Matilda Jane!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Baby's Dreamland

A Little Girl Rocking a Cradle  Nicolaes Maes
Sleep, Baby, Sleep
A German Poem

Sleep, baby, sleep!
Thy father watches his sheep;
Thy mother is shaking the dreamland tree,
And down falls a little dream on thee.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!
The large stars are the sheep;
The little stars are the lambs I guess;
And the bright moon is the shepherdess.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Who, Who, Who's There?

Snowy Owl   John James Audubon
The Owl
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sun beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his roundelay,
Twice or thrice his roundelay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Ins and Outs of It

Door and Cloud  Rene Magritte
Whimsy on Doors

by Helen Harrington


Doors are a wonderful invention
second to the wheel! Open one
at certain times and you will let
fresh air in,
a guest as sweet as Spring, saying
has been
walking among flowers or marshes.
If a gush
of Winter comes, you can - in a
rush -
close it quickly with a fervent bang!
You'll like doors - once you get the
hang
of how they work! They have the
terrific clout
to give two different worlds - In
and Out -
to you, at will. The trick, now and
again,
is knowing what to do with them -
and when!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nature Itself Longs for Spring

Ophelia   Arthur Hughes
To Spring
by William Blake
O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn’d
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!

Come o’er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish’d head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.

Friday, February 25, 2011

More Thoughts of Spring

Boy Under an Apple Tree  Jessie Willcox Smit
 Apple-blossoms
by Horatio Alger 
I sit in the shadow of apple-boughs,
In the fragrant orchard close,
And around me floats the scented air,
With its wave-like tidal flows.
I close my eyes in a dreamy bliss,
And call no king my peer;
For is not this the rare, sweet time,
The blossoming time of the year?

I lie on a couch of downy grass,
With delicate blossoms strewn,
And I feel the throb of Nature's heart
Responsive to my own.
Oh, the world is fair, and God is good,
That maketh life so dear;
For is not this the rare, sweet time,
The blossoming time of the year?

I can see, through the rifts of the apple-boughs,
The delicate blue of the sky,
And the changing clouds with their marvellous tints
That drift so lazily by.
And strange, sweet thoughts sing through my brain,
And Heaven, it seemeth near;
Oh, is it not a rare, sweet time,
The blossoming time of the year?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dreaming of Spring

The Apple Tree Seat   Helen Allingham
Apple Blossoms
by Hattie Howard
Of all the lovely blossoms
That decorate the trees,
And shower down their petals
With every breath of breeze,
There is nothing so sweet or fair to me
As the delicate blooms of the apple tree.

A thousand shrubs and flow’rets
Delicious pleasure bring,
But beautiful Pomona
Must be the queen of spring;
And out of her flagon the peach and pear
Their chalices fill with essence rare.

Oh, is it any wonder,
Devoid of blight or flaw,
The peerless blooms of Eden
Our primal mother saw
In redolent beauty before her placed
So tempted fair Eve the fruit to taste?

But woman’s love of apples,
Involving fearful price,
And Adam’s love for woman
That cost him Paradise,
By the labor of hands and sweat of brow,
Have softened the curse to a blessing now.

If so those pink-eyed glories,
In fields and orchards gay
Develop luscious fruitage
By Horticulture’s way,
Then, sweet as the heart of rich legumes,
Shall luxury follow the apple blooms.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22, 1732

Washington Crossing the Delaware  Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze
George Washington Poem 
by the Boston Gazette
Great hero! whose illustrious actions claim
Eternal blessings and an endless fame--
Of every virtue and each gift possess
Religion reigns triumphant in his breast.
Grant him, almighty God! thy aid and health
Ever to rule these states and guard their wealth.

What power of Language can enough extoll
A Son of Liberty and friend to all--
Saviour and patron of Columbia!
Her sons revere thee and exult this day--
In thee, their Favourite and firm support--
Nations applaud thee and thy friendship court.
Generous deliverer of thy Country's right!
Thou hast prov'd victor over lawless might.
Of all the Conquerors in the historic page,
None have surpass'd this Phonix of the age.