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I found a book of poems by Karol Wojtyla (soon to be St. Pope John Paul II!) at a yard sale a few weeks ago. I finally had a chance to crack it open a few days ago, and I really like it!

I will admit that I find a great similarity between Karol Wojtyla’s poetry and Pope John Paul II’s prose (yes they are both the same person). It can be confusing. I had an “ah ha” moment when someone explained to me that you read his work as if you were taking a trip up a spiral staircase: you go in circles, but each time you come to a higher understanding of the subject matter. When you finally come to the top of the staircase, you can look down and see that you were not just going in circles, you climbed five stories and your point of view is completely different now.

So for your reading pleasure I present to you:

Thought’s Resistance to Words by Karol Wojtyla

Sometimes it happens in conversation: we stand
facing truth and lack the words,
have no gesture, no sign;
and yet – we feel – no word, no gesture
or sign would convey the whole image
that we must enter alone and face like Jacob.

This isn’t mere wrestling with images
carried in our thoughts;
we fight with the likeness of all things
that inwardly constitute man.
But when we act, can our deeds surrender
the ultimate truths we presume to ponder?

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Okay, now that I have typed the phrase busy bee, all I can think of is that scene in Gladiator where Commodus has reached a-place-that-is-beyond-creepy and he calls Lucillia a busy bee. I always want to scream at Lucillia to just grab her kid and leave the palace.

But I wanted to pop in for a minute to once again apologize for not posting and to assure you that I am still alive and well! I’ve been in over my head in events, planning and projects. The picture above shows the sewing project I’ve been working on – 20+ Shakespearean shirts for a middle school production of Taming of the Shrew. Ooo, ooo, that Shakespearean rag. . .

And to add to the randomness of this post, here is a poem for you:

MORNING AT THE WINDOW

by: T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

THEY are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,

And along the trampled edges of the street

I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids

Sprouting despondently at area gates.

The brown waves of fog toss up to me

Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,

And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts

An aimless smile that hovers in the air

And vanishes along the level of the roofs.

My roommate found this video produced by BBC. Apparently they have a whole series of Horrible Histories – I thought this one was particularly funny!

Two items of note: 1) Film above is the story of Dick Turpin which is romanticized by William Harrison Ainsworth in his novel Black Bess, of The Knight of the Road. 2) In case you were wondering, from what I can tell the poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes is based in Scotland, not England, on a generic highwayman character, not Dick Turpin, but I could be wrong.

P.S. Did you know that Alfred Noyes converted to Catholicism?

So I stumbled across this piece by Benjamin Britten, called Friday Afternoon op. #7 (Cuckoo). I guess it was used in Moonrise Kingdom, the film by Wes Anderson, which I haven’t seen yet and I mean to soon.

Anyway, I love this bit so much I made it my alarm. It’s perfect! I love waking up to it. I love it so much that I press snooze several times so I can hear it again and again (never mind that I would be pressing snooze anyway).

Another great feast day! Happy feast of St. John of the Cross – his poetry is so beautiful! Enjoy! (Plus with a poem about the night like this, doesn’t it seem appropriate that there is a meteor shower sheduled on St. John’s feast?)

On A Dark Night by St. John of the Cross 

On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings
–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised
–oh, happy chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide,
save that which burned in my heart.

This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he
(well I knew who!) was awaiting me
— A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined
Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping,
and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand
He wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

One my New Year’s resolutions was to memorize a poem, and I am still trying to get around to that. It’s not the first time I have tried to memorize poetry, I picked out Kubla Khan by a year ago to try and memorize the whole thing, and now I have the first two lines – yay me, aren’t you impressed? Now maybe I’ll try to put the whole thing to memory before 2013. Apparently (according to a Wikipedia article, the English major in me cringes when I look things up on Wikipedia, I don’t like to quote Wikipedia, so part of me will just disregarding everything I just learned there, but. . . ) T. S. Elliott did not like the poem Kubla Kahn – which makes me panic a little bit. If a great man like T. S. Elliot didn’t like something, who am I to argue? But then again, it sounds so cool!

Confession: the other reason I like this poem is because they read the first couple lines in the movie Shipwrecked. So I’ve had the first two lines down by heart since I was, oh, I don’t know, eight or nine.

Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Or a Vision in a Dream. A Fragment.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
 
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
 
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
 
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
 
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
 
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
 
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
 
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Cheese alert: what you about to see includes spacy-kinda-weird music, and cheesy filming of nature and buildings. But, what you are about to hear is Sir Sean Connery reciting the poem Ithaca by C.P. Cavafy. It is pretty awesome.

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!

~Robert Louis Stevenson

Source: dailydoseofstuf.tumblr.com via Trena on Pinterest

If you have never read the The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, you need to stop everything you are doing and read it right now. I even included the link. It’s a favorite of mine and I think you’ll like it too. T. S. Eliot is amazing. . .

Source: dailydoseofstuf.tumblr.com via Trena on Pinterest

This past week was so busy, dear readers, I apologize for the lack of posts. I’ll be better next week. Promise. In the mean time, I am going to bed.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (Dutch Lullaby) by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe—
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”
Said Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea—
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish—
Never afeard are we”;
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought ‘t was a dream they ‘d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea—
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

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