Monday, January 18, 2010

Emily Dickinson

I have been rather interested in poetry since I was old enough to realize that my grandmother, Helen Livingston, was a published poet.  She taught HS English forever and a day (thirty years at least), and once I even accompanied her to school where I received a lot of welcome attention from her students.  One day soon I will post some of her poetry.  I think it is really wonderful and worth saving.  But today, I want to focus on another poet--Emily Dickinson. I have read some of her poetry and I love most of it.  I found that she could be rather dark and she wrote about death a lot, but in a beautiful, dark sort of way. 

Well, I was right about the death part!  I have just come back from Wikapedia and she certainly was preoccupied with death, largely because she experienced a lot of it in her lifetime and it had an effect on her.  While she was alive, her poetry wasn't known and before she died, she made her sister promise to burn all of her poetry.  Thankfully, that didn't happen and while less than a dozen of her poems were known while she was alive, nearly 1800 poems were discovered after her demise.

I like this one:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,                                         
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

 And this one:

I had been hungry all the years-
My noon had come, to dine-
I, trembling, drew the table near
And touched the curious wine.
'T was this on tables I had seen
When turning, hungry, lone,
I looked in windows, for the wealth                   
I could not hope to own.

I did not know the ample bread,
'T was so unlike the crumb
The birds and I had often shared
In Nature's dining-room.

The plenty hurt me, 't was so new,--
Myself felt ill and odd,
As berry of a mountain bush
Transplanted to the road.

Nor was I hungry; so I found
That hunger was a way
Of persons outside windows,
The entering takes away.

This particular poem tells me that sometimes a person doesn't realize what they have because they want what they don't have and so never really appreciate what they've had all along.  Sometimes I think that is what winning the lottery would be like.  I'd win a million bucks and try to go out and spend it and realize that I just am not that happy with what that million bucks could get.  I know, I isn't happiness, but it sure helps out a lot.

This next one makes me wonder if she is speaking of one of her dear friends that she lost to death.  Her autobiography at Wikapedia talks about the principal of her school, Amherst Academy Director,  Leonard Humphrey, who died unexpectedly while she attended there. She apparently idolized him and thought the world of him.  Maybe she is possibly talking about him in this verse, just a guess:

God permit industrious angels
Afternoons to play.
I met one, -- forgot my school-mates,
All, for him, straightaway.

God calls home the angels promptly
At the setting sun;
I missed mine. How dreary marbles,
After playing the Crown!

At any rate, I know I've only just scratched the surface of the works of this poet, but what beautiful language she uses to help us visualize the feelings in her heart!  I'm just glad that someone didn't honor her dying wishes!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

One Thing, That's For Sure

Since the New Year has arrived, an interesting thing has happened to me.

Let me just preface that by saying that the months of November and December were months of high's and low's for me in terms of mood and outlook. Of course there were the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays that I'm sure I enjoyed just as much as everyone else. But then there were the dark, dismal days of winter, with thick cloud cover, heavy and opressive air quality, and much shortened days. Those days put me into a major funk and I felt that I, like a falling boulder, was hurtling into an abyss into which I would crash and never come out of. I felt like I was suffocating under a blanket of fog. I blamed myself for not being productive, being un-motivated, having a lack of desire to do much of anything. It definitely sounds like depression, doesn't it? Who me? Nah.....Total denial. I even posted one day on Facebook - "Help! I'm succumbing to winter's icy grip."

But then came the week of the New Year and bam! Back in the saddle for me. There was a little bit of sun, a new outlook, I found out that my weight was 2 lbs. better than at this time last year! (Woo hoo! For me, that's amazing!) Anyway, with the New Year comes my new set of challenges to myself to see if I can do them. I'm pretty sure that I can do at least some of them. So why not? I think teh New Year is a great time to recommit and move forward. So with is at least one thing I want to accomplish.

I picked a new background to remind me of my one desired, dear-to-my-heart committment for 2010. I WILL be playing the violin this year. It has been several years since I have played. I think the last time I played was in church for Easter Sunday in 2007. I have a knack of doing something and then not doing it for a really long time afterwards or maybe even never again.

I know it's been like that for me with crafts. I once was an avid sewer, making all of my own dresses and sewing costumes for my son for Halloween. My mentor was Sheri Lester, who was so, so talented! She would always answer my silly questions and just encourage me. And then I moved. I didn't move my whole household. Just myself. I left the sewing machine behind. I left it behind, along with the life I left behind. No more dresses made by me.

There was the knitting phase. I learned how to knit on circular knitting needles. I did it well enough that I made a complete sweater, sort of like this one pictured.  I gave it to my sister and that was that.  I've done that with crocheting, cross-stitching, needlepoint, basket-weaving (that was my major at BYU), and embroidery.  But I'm OK with that, I'm of the belief that at least I have tried and completed something in all these areas and at some point, maybe even in another existence, I will have the opportunity to expand and create beautiful things that stem from the knowledge I gleaned at some point in my life.  How's that for rationalization?

But the violin has got to be another matter.  I had played for years and I will play it again.  I love the sound, the expressive nature, I love the beauty of the instrument in every way.   What I will do is find a teacher who will bring me back to the old habits that I need in order to play well.  I'm sure that my playing has gone way down.  I will have to get the callouses back onto my fingers again and I will have to get into that groove of practice everyday.  I know that music is a jealous mistress.  You can't just leave her for a long while and expect to return  without serious consequences.  So I will humbly return and take my lashes, pay the price  and then feel the gratifying rewards of being able to play beautiful music. 
 So let the New Year come, ring out the old and ring in the new!  I'm ready for 2010!

What's UP with the English Language?

I got this from a blogger who got it from someone else, whom she didn't reference. So listen up.

The word up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake up? At a meeting why does a topic come up? Why do we speak up, why are officers up for election, and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report?

We call up our friends, brighten up a room, polish up the silver, warm up the leftovers and clean up the kitchen. We lock up the house and fix up the old car.

People stir up trouble, line up for tickets work up an appetite, and think up excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed up is special.

A drain must be opened up when it is stopped up. We open up a store in the morning and close it up at night. When the sky becomes gray, we say it's clouding up, but when the sun comes up we say it's clearing up. When it rains it messes things up.

We seem to be pretty mixed up about up. Maybe we should look it up in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, up takes up almost 1/4 of the page and can add up to about 30 definitions. If you are up to it, try building up a list of the uses of up. It will take up a lot of your time. But don't give up.

I could go on but I'll wrap it up. My time is up, so I'll shut up.