Berenice’s Hair: Yeats Challenge, Days 23 and Day 24

This is for Jane’s Yeats Challenge, Day 23 and Day 24.

“…your hair was bound and wound

About the stars and moon and sun::—W.B. Yeats

 

“We know their dream; enough

To know they dreamed and are dead;” —W.B. Yeats 

 

He was away at war, another one

it seemed to happen again and again.

Was it glory, she wondered, or was it fun?

Would he return from battle, if so, when?

And what would happen when it was all done?

Though common worries, this time she’d had a dream

that he was wounded, or no, that he was killed

she woke with a scream, so true it seemed

for all their hopes dashed, left now unfulfilled.

She begged the goddess to spare his life,

and swore in return she’d cut her hair–

for her husband, as his wife,

she’d shear the strands that shone golden in the sunlit air

that flowed like waves of honeyed wheat

a glory recalled by all who saw it there

tumbling to her feet.

Then when her husband returned unharmed and well,

she kept her vow and left her hair at Aphrodite’s altar,

her husband pondered the story she had to tell

and that she never had faltered

and both were first bewildered, then enthralled

to find up in the sky

installed in a constellation

(though unsure why)

her hair swirled and flowed, unbound and wound

in glittering strands of riotous celebration

there far above the smiling moon, a shining crown

a tribute to her sacrifice, done without any hesitation–

though that was not the end of course

of war or force, nor of remorse

for pain and dying

yet still the stars keep flying,

and we, marvel at their beauty, keep sighing.

 

 

NGC_4565

By ESO [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons. “The galaxy pictured here is NGC 4565, which for obvious reasons is also called the Needle Galaxy. First spotted in 1785 by Uranus’ discoverer, Sir William Herschel (1738-1822), this is one of the most famous example of an edge-on spiral galaxy and is located some 30 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair). It displays a bright yellowish central bulge that juts out above most impressive dust lanes.”

 

 

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Thanksgiving Ghosts: Shadorma

Gratitude

for life, love, and food,

we gather

together

around the table to eat

where ghosts watch, smiling

 

they hover

as we make toasts to

absent friends,

ancestors,

spirits in our memories

sit with us in peace

 

 

This is a Shadorma for Eliot’s November Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Swans: Yeats Challenge, Day 22

I’ve been busy getting ready for Thanksgiving. Wishing all of those who celebrate the holiday a very Happy Thanksgiving. 

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Challenge. Today’s quotation:

 “I wander by the edge
Of this desolate lake
Where wind cries in the sedge:” —W.B. Yeats

 

I wandered by the shadowed lake,

desolate it seemed at first,

till a swan glided there and took

a sip to slake his thirst.

Soon after that, his mate sailed to him,

the two swam side-by-side

a lover’s dance, in evening dim

across the lakeside wide,

but with moonlight the sky turned brighter

together then, they spread their wings and gracefully took flight.

Their feathered bodies seemed larger and whiter

against the blanket of indigo night,

and though I’ve traveled, often far,

this is the memory that comforts me

when hope seems lost to faultless stars

I think of the swans on that moonlit night–and I feel free.

Schwaene_im_Schilf_(C_D_Friedrich)

Caspar David Friedrich, “Swans in the Reeds,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Caspar David Friedrich, “Swans in the Reeds,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

The Immigrants: Quadrille

They journeyed–

sharing quarters with livestock

and worldly goods,

battered and buffeted

by wind and waves,

sailing through salt spray

under sun and shimmering stars,

the ship a speck in the vast sea-space

rocked them

sometimes gently, sometimes furiously,

rocked them into the unknown

 

This is a quadrille for dVerse. The prompt was “rock.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Deer: Yeats Challenge Shadorma, Day 21

A Shadorma for Eliot’s November Shadorma Challenge and Jane’s A Month with Yeats Challenge. 

Today’s quotation:

“..by water among the trees
The delicate-stepping stag and his lady sigh” —W.B. Yeats

 

stag and doe

over golden leaves

side by side

they travel

at dusk, searching, wandering–

sighing, find a home

 

 

Marc_-_Hirsche

Franz Marc [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

The Race: Yeats Challenge

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Challenge.  Sorry for so many posts today. I’m doing them while I get a chance before I’m back to projects and before Thanksgiving.

This quote is from “The Old Age of Queen Maeve.”

“out of the dark air over her head there came
A murmur of soft words and meeting lips.”—W.B. Yeats

 

Once she was young and fair of face,

she lived life as if it were a race

where she was the brightest and fastest, and before it stopped

she would need to make it to the top.

But now she was confined to a castle tower

so far in time from her bridal bower

and instead of those who loved her well,

it was to her a sort of hell

with only servants and guards who gaped and glowered.

And so, she sat, and sometimes she’d spin,

sometimes ponder, or wonder about her sins

(of which she thought there were many

but as with her life, far from ordinary.)

Of late she had begun to tire,

become very cold, even before the fire,

she thought sometimes her husband, her lover,

was there in the night, his spirit would hover

as if to say, soon, though not today

once again, you’ll dance and sway

in my arms—we’ll be together,

it will be like yesterday

when you were young and fair of face,

but you’ll no longer be running in the race,

a few nights later he came for her,

took her hand and opened a door

the glowering servants saw a faint glimmer

that grew bright, then dimmer in the night

and she was gone, to dance in the starlight.

 

Ford_Madox_Brown_-_Convalescent_-_Portrait_of_Emma_Madox_Brown

Ford Madox Brown, “Convalescent: Portrait of Emma Madox Brown,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Value of Art and Dancing in the Rain

Monday Morning Musings:

“Great art evokes a response. . .emotion.”

Bruce Graham, The Craftsman

“We have a story we want to tell you about a play — a play that changed my life. Every night, we tell this story. But somehow I can never remember the end.”

–Lemml, at the beginning of Indecent by Paula Vogel

“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin. . .dance me to the end of love.”

–Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”

 

The day began with a stunning sunrise

a prize or disguise

for what would come later?

IMG_7912

Pitman golf coures, Pitman, NJ

We walk through city streets

listen to the beats

the syncopation of traffic and conversations

the announcements from underground stations,

look at the buildings and public art

take heart that the rain has not yet started.

I notice a clock, a reminder to go inside,

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the theater,

another world unfurls.

 

At the back of stage

projections of artwork by Vermeer

Johannes_Vermeer_-_Girl_Reading_a_Letter_by_an_Open_Window_-_Google_Art_Project

Johannes Vermeer, “Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

over them we suddenly hear

guns or bombs and the paintings disappear

overlaid with black

then from the back

a man appears to give a speech

he is the head of the provisional government,

the Nazis are gone

the dawn of a new time

but justice must be done.

 

The play is about a forger, a con man

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who longs to be an artist, and when he can—

he also gets revenge upon the man, the critic

the con man’s a cynic

his wife, perhaps anti-Semitic

later she says she should have spoken out

without a doubt

a line that is relevant today

as is much of the play

which explores art, creativity, ability

and should an “expert’s” opinion hold dominion

over art

What is it worth, what is fake and what is real?

what will you pay to seal a deal?

I’m reminded of a man, an emperor with no clothes,

(as everyone knows)

who insists that his paintings (and news) are real

because he could never admit that he was taken

for a fool

(He is mistaken.)

The play is partly a courtroom drama

set in a particular time and place

the space converted

with a clever set and lighting

inviting us to see the different scenes—

office, jail cell, and courtroom.

there are flashbacks to the past,

and an excellent cast.

The setting is important–

the Netherlands had been occupied

those in the Resistance tried to defy

with some success, but also retaliation

leading to the Hunger Winter

and more lives splintered.

What should happen to those collaborate?

The play explores how we express hate

“revenge has become a spectator sport,”

do we resort then to the level of the oppressors?

We walk and talk

See a house with sunflowers

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Walking now a bit in showers

discuss the play over wine, beer, and cheese

then out into the night

see rain reflecting off city lights

prance and dance

tap a beat onto the street.

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Over homemade pizza and wine again

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Cozy inside from wind and rain

we watch a play on TV,

we see

another story based on events that were real,

and we feel,

we definitely feel—

this play within a play

to Klezmer music, the actors dance

and ashes fall from their coats and pants

they dance to the end of love

and perhaps they dance then back again,

there is a scene in the original play,

written in 1907, God of Vengeance

by Sholem Asch

the scene, referred to as “the rain dance”

involves two women, lovers—

the play is about the history of that play

performed successfully in Yiddish in Europe,

then the cast was arrested on obscenity charges

when it was translated into English and performed in the U.S.

(not a success),

the play is performed in the Lodz ghetto, in an attic room,

though all there know, they are probably doomed.

The play is about a culture lost

to time, to the Holocaust,

but it is about past and present

and how art matters

even when people are battered, shattered

their life in tatters,

and though some only value art for its monetary worth

the true value is in what it brings forth

in emotion and feeling

art sends those who value it reeling–

makes us think and want to dance in the rain

again and again

makes us laugh, or cry

makes us sigh and want to defy

Does it change our lives?

Yes, this I know,

art does, and helps us grow.

 

We saw the Lantern Theater Company.’s  production of The Craftsman.

We saw Indecent on PBS’ Great Performances. You may still be able to see in online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Vision in the Night: Yeats Challenge, Day Nineteen

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Poetry Challenge, Day Nineteen.

Today’s quotation:

“We who still labour by the cromlech on the shore,

The grey cairn on the hill, when day sinks drowned in dew,

Being weary of the world’s empires, bow down to you,

Master of the still stars and of the flaming door.”—W.B. Yeats

 

This was going to be a triolet, but it isn’t.  🙂

 

A Vision in the Night

She had a vision in the night

saw by the cairns there was such peace

in utter darkness, shone a light,

stars sang there, they scarcely ceased,

though by the cairns there was such peace

and shadows lingered out of sight

 

Looking up at fiery stars

from high above the shore she stared

wondered if a door opened there

where people dared and peace was shared

from high above the shore she stared,

thought peace lived there beyond the stars

Józef_Chełmoński_-_Noc_gwiaździsta (1)

Józef Marian Chełmoński [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dream Goddess–Yeats Challenge, Day 18

This is for Jane’s A Month of Yeats Poetry Challenge, Day Eighteen. 

Today’s quotation: 

“The dews drop slowly and dreams gather;” —W.B. Yeats

 

She gathered dreams like berries in a basket,

grasped them, sorted them, sweet and tart,

an art,

matching dreams to dreamers,

sending them to lovers and schemers

some fragrant and ripe, like the fruit

but that wouldn’t suit,

not everyone.

Some dreams were like the fruit for jam or pies

mixed together, cooked, filled with hints of other things, or lies,

or perhaps words for the wise—

sometimes she even prophesized.

She went about her task with thoroughness,

not obsessed or oppressed,

it simply was her endeavor

she existed always and forever.

 

Luis_López_Y_Piquer_-_The_Goddess_Juno_in_the_House_of_Dreams_-_WGA13453

 

 

 

 

 

Resting Before Flight: Shadorma Challenge

This is for  the November Shadorma Challenge that Eliot of Along the Interstice is doing. This is Day 18. I am participating sporadically.

 

Birds on a wire

like clouds gathering

for a storm,

or perhaps

like thoughts coming together

resting before flight

 

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I missed the murmuration, but got this quick shot while stopped at a traffic light the other day.

 

Every time I see a bird on a wire, I think of Leonard Cohen’s song. Here’s a live version.