AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

31 October 2016

Mischief.

Wyeth, Mischief Night, 1994

Not-returning.


GOBLIN MARKET

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries;—
All ripe together
In summer weather,—
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;
Come buy, come buy.”

Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bowed her head to hear,
Lizzie veiled her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger tips.
“Lie close,” Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.
“Oh,” cried Lizzie, “Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men.”
Lizzie covered up her eyes,
Covered close lest they should look;

Laura reared her glossy head,
And whispered like the restless brook:
“Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Thro’ those fruit bushes.”

“No,” said Lizzie: “No, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us.”
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man.
One had a cats face,
One whisked a tail,
One tramped at a rat’s pace,
One crawled like a snail,
One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry.
She heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.

Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.

Backwards up the mossy glen
Turned and trooped the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
“Come buy, come buy.”
When they reached where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One reared his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heaved the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
“Come buy, come buy,” was still their cry.

Laura stared but did not stir,
Longed but had no money:
The whisk-tailed merchant bade her taste
In tones as smooth as honey,
The cat-faced purr’d,
The rat-paced spoke a word
Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard;
One parrot-voiced and jolly
Cried “Pretty Goblin” still for “Pretty Polly;”—
One whistled like a bird.
But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
“Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather.”
“You have much gold upon your head,”
They answered all together:
“Buy from us with a golden curl.”
She clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away
But gathered up one kernel-stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turned home alone.

Lizzie met her at the gate
Full of wise upbraidings:
“Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the moonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more but dwindled and grew grey;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.
You should not loiter so.”
“Nay, hush,” said Laura:
“Nay, hush, my sister:
I ate and ate my fill,
Yet my mouth waters still;
Tomorrow night I will
Buy more:” and kissed her:
“Have done with sorrow;
I’ll bring you plums tomorrow
Fresh on their mother twigs,
Cherries worth getting;
You cannot think what figs
My teeth have met in,
What melons icy-cold
Piled on a dish of gold
Too huge for me to hold,
What peaches with a velvet nap,
Pellucid grapes without one seed:
Odorous indeed must be the mead
Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink
With lilies at the brink,
And sugar-sweet their sap.”
Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other’s wings,
They lay down in their curtained bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fall’n snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipped with gold for awful kings.
Moon and stars gazed in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forbore to fly,
Not a bat flapped to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Locked together in one nest.

Early in the morning
When the first cock crowed his warning,
Neat like bees, as sweet and busy,
Laura rose with Lizzie:
Fetched in honey, milked the cows,
Aired and set to rights the house,
Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat,
Cakes for dainty mouths to eat,
Next churned butter, whipped up cream,
Fed their poultry, sat and sewed;
Talked as modest maidens should:
Lizzie with an open heart,
Laura in an absent dream,
One content, one sick in part;
One warbling for the mere bright day’s delight,
One longing for the night.

At length slow evening came:
They went with pitchers to the reedy brook;
Lizzie most placid in her look,
Laura most like a leaping flame.
They drew the gurgling water from its deep;
Lizzie plucked purple and rich golden flags,
Then turning homewards said: “The sunset flushes
Those furthest loftiest crags;
Come, Laura, not another maiden lags,
No wilful squirrel wags,
The beasts and birds are fast asleep.”
But Laura loitered still among the rushes
And said the bank was steep.

And said the hour was early still,
The dew not fall’n, the wind not chill:
Listening ever, but not catching
The customary cry,
“Come buy, come buy,”
With its iterated jingle
Of sugar-baited words:
Not for all her watching
Once discerning even one goblin
Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling;
Let alone the herds
That used to tramp along the glen,
In groups or single,
Of brisk fruit-merchant men.
Till Lizzie urged, “O Laura, come;
I hear the fruit-call but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
The stars rise, the moon bends her arc,
Each glowworm winks her spark,
Let us get home before the night grows dark:
For clouds may gather
Tho’ this is summer weather,
Put out the lights and drench us thro’;
Then if we lost our way what should we do?”

Laura turned cold as stone
To find her sister heard that cry alone,
That goblin cry,
“Come buy our fruits, come buy.”
Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit?
Must she no more such succous pasture find,
Gone deaf and blind?
Her tree of life drooped from the root:
She said not one word in her heart’s sore ache;
But peering thro’ the dimness, nought discerning,
Trudged home, her pitcher dripping all the way;
So crept to bed, and lay
Silent till Lizzie slept;
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnashed her teeth for baulked desire, and wept
As if her heart would break.

Day after day, night after night,
Laura kept watch in vain
In sullen silence of exceeding pain.
She never caught again the goblin cry:
“Come buy, come buy;”—
She never spied the goblin men
Hawking their fruits along the glen:
But when the noon waxed bright
Her hair grew thin and grey;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay and burn
Her fire away.

One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dewed it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watched for a waxing shoot,
But there came none:
It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dreamed of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth
With shade of leaf-crowned trees,
And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze.
She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.

Tender Lizzie could not bear
To watch her sister’s cankerous care
Yet not to share.
She night and morning
Caught the goblins’ cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:”—
Beside the brook, along the glen,
She heard the tramp of goblin men,
The voice and stir
Poor Laura could not hear;
Longed to buy fruit to comfort her,
But feared to pay too dear.
She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died
In her gay prime,
In earliest Winter time,
With the first glazing rime,
With the first snow-fall of crisp Winter time.
Till Laura dwindling
Seemed knocking at Death’s door:
Then Lizzie weighed no more
Better and worse;
But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clumps of furze
At twilight, halted by the brook:
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look.

Laughed every goblin
When they spied her peeping:
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping,
Puffing and blowing,
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling,
Mopping and mowing,
Full of airs and graces,
Pulling wry faces,
Demure grimaces,
Cat-like and rat-like,
Ratel- and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter skelter, hurry skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes,—
Hugged her and kissed her,
Squeezed and caressed her:
Stretched up their dishes,
Panniers, and plates:
“Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries,
Bite at our peaches,
Citrons and dates,
Grapes for the asking,
Pears red with basking
Out in the sun,
Plums on their twigs;
Pluck them and suck them,
Pomegranates, figs.”—
“Good folk,” said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie:
“Give me much and many:”—
Held out her apron,
Tossed them her penny.
“Nay, take a seat with us,
Honour and eat with us,”
They answered grinning:
“Our feast is but beginning.
Night yet is early,
Warm and dew-pearly,
Wakeful and starry:
Such fruits as these
No man can carry;
Half their bloom would fly,
Half their dew would dry,
Half their flavour would pass by.
Sit down and feast with us,
Be welcome guest with us,
Cheer you and rest with us.”—
“Thank you,” said Lizzie: “But one waits
At home alone for me:
So without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits tho’ much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I tossed you for a fee.”—
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One called her proud,
Cross-grained, uncivil;
Their tones waxed loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbowed and jostled her,
Clawed with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soiled her stocking,
Twitched her hair out by the roots,
Stamped upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeezed their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.
White and golden Lizzie stood,
Like a lily in a flood,—
Like a rock of blue-veined stone
Lashed by tides obstreperously,—
Like a beacon left alone
In a hoary roaring sea,
Sending up a golden fire,—
Like a fruit-crowned orange-tree
White with blossoms honey-sweet
Sore beset by wasp and bee,—
Like a royal virgin town
Topped with gilded dome and spire
Close beleaguered by a fleet
Mad to tug her standard down.

One may lead a horse to water,
Twenty cannot make him drink.
Tho’ the goblins cuffed and caught her,
Coaxed and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratched her, pinched her black as ink,
Kicked and knocked her,
Mauled and mocked her,
Lizzie uttered not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in:
But laughed in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syrupped all her face,
And lodged in dimples other chin,
And streaked her neck which quaked like curd.
At last the evil people
Worn out by her resistance
Flung back her penny, kicked their fruit
Along whichever road they took,
Not leaving root or stone or shoot;
Some writhed into the ground,
Some dived into the brook
With ring and ripple,
Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
Some vanished in the distance.

In a smart, ache, tingle,
Lizzie went her way;
Knew not was it night or day;
Sprang up the bank, tore thro’ the furze,
Threaded copse and dingle,
And heard her penny jingle
Bouncing in her purse,
Its bounce was music to her ear.
She ran and ran
As if she feared some goblin man
Dogged her with gibe or curse
Or something worse:
But not one goblin skurried after,
Nor was she pricked by fear;
The kind heart made her windy-paced
That urged her home quite out of breath with chaste
And inward laughter,

She cried “Laura,” up the garden,
“Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me:
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men.”

Laura started from her chair,
Flung her arms up in the air,
Clutched her hair:
“Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted
For my sake the fruit forbidden?
Must your light like mine be hidden,
Your young life like mine be wasted,
Undone in mine undoing
And ruined in my ruin,
Thirsty, cankered, goblin-ridden?”—
She clung about her sister,
Kissed and kissed and kissed her:
Tears once again
Refreshed her shrunken eyes,
Dropping like rain
After long sultry drouth;
Shaking with aguish fear, and pain,
She kissed and kissed her with a hungry mouth.
Her lips began to scorch,
That juice was wormwood to her tongue,
She loathed the feast:
Writhing as one possessed she leaped and sung,
Rent all her robe, and wrung
Her hands in lamentable haste,
And beat her breast.
Her locks streamed like the torch
Borne by a racer at full speed,
Or like the mane of horses in their flight,
Or like an eagle when she stems the light
Straight toward the sun,
Or like a caged thing freed,
Or like a flying flag when armies run.

Swift fire spread thro’ her veins, knocked at her heart,
Met the fire smouldering there
And overbore its lesser flame;
She gorged on bitterness without a name:
Ah! fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!
Sense failed in the mortal strife:
Like the watch-tower of a town
Which an earthquake shatters down,
Like a lightning-stricken mast,
Like a wind-uprooted tree
Spun about,
Like a foam-topped waterspout
Cast down headlong in the sea,
She fell at last;
Pleasure past and anguish past,
Is it death or is it life?

Life out of death.
That night long Lizzie watched by her,
Counted her pulse’s flagging stir,
Felt for her breath,
Held water to her lips, and cooled her face
With tears and fanning leaves:
But when the first birds chirped about their eaves,
And early reapers plodded to the place
Of golden sheaves,
And dew-wet grass
Bowed in the morning winds so brisk to pass,
And new buds with new day
Opened of cup-like lilies on the stream,
Laura awoke as from a dream,
Laughed in the innocent old way,
Hugged Lizzie but not twice or thrice;
Her gleaming locks showed not one thread of grey,
Her breath was sweet as May
And light danced in her eyes.
Days, weeks, months, years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them other early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town:)
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.”

Christina Rossetti

Happy birthday, Vermeer.

Vermeer, The Geographer, 1669


Jan Vermeer was born on this day 1632.

Master of Light

Sports.

Wyeth, Bonfire, 1992


HALLOWEEN

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.


Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin' clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu' blithe that night.


The lasses feat, and cleanly neat,
Mair braw than when they're fine;
Their faces blithe, fu' sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, and warm, and kin';
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs,
Weel knotted on their garten,
Some unco blate, and some wi' gabs,
Gar lasses' hearts gang startin'
Whiles fast at night.


Then, first and foremost, through the kail,
Their stocks maun a' be sought ance;
They steek their een, and graip and wale,
For muckle anes and straught anes.
Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
And wander'd through the bow-kail,
And pou't, for want o' better shift,
A runt was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow't that night.


Then, staught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar and cry a' throu'ther;
The very wee things, todlin', rin,
Wi' stocks out owre their shouther;
And gif the custoc's sweet or sour.
Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
Syne cozily, aboon the door,
Wi cannie care, they've placed them
To lie that night.


The lasses staw frae 'mang them a'
To pou their stalks of corn:
But Rab slips out, and jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippet Nelly hard and fast;
Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
When kitlin' in the fause-house
Wi' him that night.


The auld guidwife's well-hoordit nits,
Are round and round divided,
And monie lads' and lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle coothie, side by side,
And burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa, wi' saucy pride,
And jump out-owre the chimlie
Fu' high that night.


Jean slips in twa wi' tentie ee;
Wha 'twas she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, and this is me,
She says in to hersel:
He bleezed owre her, and she owre him,
As they wad never mair part;
Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
And Jean had e'en a sair heart
To see't that night.


Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,
Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie;
And Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compared to Willie;
Mall's nit lap out wi' pridefu' fling,
And her ain fit it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swore by jing,
'Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.


Nell had the fause-house in her min',
She pits hersel and Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
Till white in ase they're sobbin';
Nell's heart was dancin' at the view,
She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't:
Rob, stowlins, prie'd her bonny mou',
Fu' cozie in the neuk for't,
Unseen that night.


But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She lea'es them gashin' at their cracks,
And slips out by hersel:
She through the yard the nearest taks,
And to the kiln goes then,
And darklins graipit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue throws then,
Right fear't that night.


And aye she win't, and aye she swat,
I wat she made nae jaukin',
Till something held within the pat,
Guid Lord! but she was quakin'!
But whether 'was the deil himsel,
Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She didna wait on talkin'
To spier that night.


Wee Jennie to her grannie says,
"Will ye go wi' me, grannie?
I'll eat the apple at the glass
I gat frae Uncle Johnnie:"
She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap'rin',
She notice't na, an aizle brunt
Her braw new worset apron
Out through that night.


"Ye little skelpie-limmer's face!
I daur you try sic sportin',
As seek the foul thief ony place,
For him to spae your fortune.
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
And lived and died deleeret
On sic a night.


"Ae hairst afore the Sherramoor, --
I mind't as weel's yestreen,
I was a gilpey then, I'm sure
I wasna past fifteen;
The simmer had been cauld and wat,
And stuff was unco green;
And aye a rantin' kirn we gat,
And just on Halloween
It fell that night.


"Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen,
A clever sturdy fallow:
His son gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,
That lived in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed, I mind it weel,
And he made unco light o't;
But mony a day was by himsel,
He was sae sairly frighted
That very night."


Then up gat fechtin' Jamie Fleck,
And he swore by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a' but nonsense.
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
And out a hanfu' gied him;
Syne bade him slip frae 'mang the folk,
Some time when nae ane see'd him,
And try't that night.


He marches through amang the stacks,
Though he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks.
And haurls it at his curpin;
And every now and then he says,
"Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
And her that is to be my lass,
Come after me, and draw thee
As fast this night."


He whistled up Lord Lennox' march
To keep his courage cheery;
Although his hair began to arch,
He was say fley'd and eerie:
Till presently he hears a squeak,
And then a grane and gruntle;
He by his shouther gae a keek,
And tumbled wi' a wintle
Out-owre that night.


He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu' desperation!
And young and auld came runnin' out
To hear the sad narration;
He swore 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
Or crouchie Merran Humphie,
Till, stop! she trotted through them
And wha was it but grumphie
Asteer that night!


Meg fain wad to the barn hae gaen,
To win three wechts o' naething;
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
And two red-cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That very nicht.


She turns the key wi cannie thraw,
And owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie gies a ca'
Syne bauldly in she enters:
A ratton rattled up the wa',
And she cried, Lord, preserve her!
And ran through midden-hole and a',
And pray'd wi' zeal and fervour,
Fu' fast that night;


They hoy't out Will wi' sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanced the stack he faddom'd thrice
Was timmer-propt for thrawin';
He taks a swirlie, auld moss-oak,
For some black grousome carlin;
And loot a winze, and drew a stroke, 

Till skin in blypes cam haurlin'
Aff's nieves that night.


A wanton widow Leezie was,
As canty as a kittlin;
But, och! that night amang the shaws,
She got a fearfu' settlin'!
She through the whins, and by the cairn,
And owre the hill gaed scrievin,
Whare three lairds' lands met at a burn
To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.


Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As through the glen it wimpl't;
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays;
Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't;
Whyles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
Wi' bickering, dancing dazzle;
Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel,
Unseen that night.


Among the brackens, on the brae,
Between her and the moon,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up and gae a croon:
Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool!
Near lav'rock-height she jumpit;
but mist a fit, and in the pool
Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi' a plunge that night.


In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies three are ranged,
And every time great care is ta'en',
To see them duly changed:
Auld Uncle John, wha wedlock joys
Sin' Mar's year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heaved them on the fire
In wrath that night.


Wi' merry sangs, and friendly cracks,
I wat they didna weary;
And unco tales, and funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap and cheery;
Till butter'd so'ns, wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a-steerin';
Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt,
They parted aff careerin'
Fu' blythe that night.

Robert Burns

Special.


The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.

Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows' Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.

Ray Bradbury, from The Halloween Tree

Safety.

'Tis Autumn.

Butterfinger.


Butterfinger.  Every, single time.

Happy birthday, Keats.

Haydon, Life Mask of John Keats, 1816


John Keats was born on this day in 1795.

WRITTEN on TOP of the BEN NEVIS

Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud
Upon the top of Nevis, blind in mist!
I look into the chasms, and a shroud
Vapourous doth hide them - just so much I wist
Mankind do know of hell; I look o'erhead,
And there is sullen mist, - even so much
Mankind can tell of heaven; mist is spread
Before the earth, beneath me, - even such,
Even so vague is man's sight of himself!
Here are the craggy stones beneath my feet, -
Thus much I know that, a poor witless elf,
I tread on them, - that all my eye doth meet
Is mist and crag, not only on this height,
But in the world of thought and mental might! 

John Keats

Unturned.


The SHADOW on the STONE

 I went by the Druid stone
   That broods in the garden white and lone,
And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows
   That at some moments fall thereon
   From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing,
   And they shaped in my imagining
To the shade that a well-known head and shoulders
   Threw there when she was gardening.

      I thought her behind my back,
   Yea, her I long had learned to lack,
And I said: ‘I am sure you are standing behind me,
   Though how do you get into this old track?’
   And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf
   As a sad response; and to keep down grief
I would not turn my head to discover
   That there was nothing in my belief.

      Yet I wanted to look and see
   That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: ‘Nay, I’ll not unvision
   A shape which, somehow, there may be.’
   So I went on softly from the glade,
   And left her behind me throwing her shade,
As she were indeed an apparition—
   My head unturned lest my dream should fade.

Thomas Hardy

30 October 2016

Sing.

Frank Sinatra, "Witchcraft"

Fiddler.

Rockwell, Halloween Fiddler, 1921

Bruce Springsteen, "The Ties That Bind"

Pleasures.


To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air.  What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet.  Some of these apples might be labeled, “To be eaten in the wind.” It takes a savage or wild taste to appreciate a wild fruit.  Thus, the era of the Wild Apple will soon be past.  It is a fruit which will probably become extinct in New England.  I fear that he who walks over these fields a century hence will not know the pleasure of knocking off wild apples.  Ah, poor soul, there are many pleasures which you will not know! The end of it all will be that we shall be compelled to look for our apples in a barrel.

Henry David Thoreau

Willie & Merle, "A Horse Called Music"

Those were the days when a horse he called Music
Could jump through the moon and sail across the sky ...

Man, that's a nice hat!

Great.


They stood at last by a crumbling wall, looking up and up and still farther up at the great tombyard top of the old house. For that's what it seemed. The high mountain peak of the mansion was littered with what looked like black bones or iron rods, and enough chimneys to choke out smoke signals from three dozen fires on sooty hearths hidden far below in dim bowels of this monster place. With so many chimneys, the roof seemed a vast cemetery, each chimney signifying the burial place of some old god of fire or enchantress of steam, smoke, and firefly spark. even as they watched, a kind of bleak exhalation of soot breathed up out of some four dozen flues, darkening the sky still more, and putting out some few stars.

Ray Bradbury, from The Halloween Tree

Saint-Saëns, La Danse Macabre

Jean-François Zygel directs the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra ...

Heroically.


Under pacifism and democracy, the individual is literally dying of boredom, rather than living and dying heroically.  Ours is an age in which everything is based on the premise that it is best to live as long as possible. The average life span has become the longest in history, and a monotonous plan for humanity unrolls before us.  Once a young man finds his place in society, his struggle is over, and there is nothing left for youth apart from retirement, and the peaceful, boring life of impotent old age. The comfort of the welfare state ensures against the need to struggle, and one is simply ordered to rest.

Yukio Mashima

Tartini, Violin Sonata in G minor, Bg 5, "Devil's Trill"

Anne-Sophie Mutter performs, with Lambert Orkis accompanying ...

Typography.

Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565

Karl Richter performs ...

29 October 2016

Wonder.

Chatham, Autumn Moonrise, 1988


The BEAUTIFUL CHANGES

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides   
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies 
On water; it glides 
So from the walker, it turns 
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you   
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes. 

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed   
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;   
As a mantis, arranged 
On a green leaf, grows 
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves   
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows. 

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says   
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes   
In such kind ways,   
Wishing ever to sunder 
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose   
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

Richard Wilbur

Happy.


The WOOD-CUTTER'S NIGHT SONG

Welcome, red and roundy sun,
Dropping lowly in the west;
Now my hard day's work is done,
I'm as happy as the best.

Joyful are the thoughts of home,
Now I'm ready for my chair,
So, till morrow-morning's come,
Bill and mittens, lie ye there!

Though to leave your pretty song,
Little birds, it gives me pain,
Yet to-morrow is not long,
Then I'm with you all again.

If I stop, and stand about,
Well I know how things will be,
Judy will be looking out
Every now-and-then for me.

So fare ye well! and hold your tongues,
Sing no more until I come;
They're not worthy of your songs
That never care to drop a crumb.

All day long I love the oaks,
But, at nights, yon little cot,
Where I see the chimney smokes,
Is by far the prettiest spot.

Wife and children all are there,
To revive with pleasant looks,
Table ready set, and chair,
Supper hanging on the hooks. 
Soon as ever I get in, 
When my faggot down I fling,
Little prattlers they begin
Teasing me to talk and sing.

Welcome, red and roundy sun,
Dropping lowly in the west;
Now my hard day's work is done,
I'm as happy as the best.

Joyful are the thoughts of home,
Now I'm ready for my chair,
So, till morrow-morning's come,
Bill and mittens, lie ye there!

John Clare

Smoky.


... Indian summer is hazy or smoky.

Presence.


Jim was never a hands-on mentor to me. Other writers fulfilled that role. Rather, his sheer presence in my life helped take the mythology out of writing, but none of the magic. Here was this blind-in-one-eye, bulbous man, who once compared himself to a massive beetle, at my dinner table shoving food into his mouth with greasy fingers. Great literature felt close enough to touch, and you didn’t even have to wash your hands first.

Offer.

Perron, Thistles in a Blue Vase, 1928


The pagan blood returns! The Spirit is near, why doesn’t Christ help me by granting my soul nobility and freedom? Alas! The Gospel has passed! The Gospel! The Gospel.

I wait for God with greed. I’ve been of inferior race from all eternity.

Here I am on the Breton shore. How the towns glow in the evening. My day is done: I’m quitting Europe. Sea air will scorch my lungs: lost climates will tan me. To swim, trample the grass, hunt, above all smoke: drink hard liquors like boiling metals – as those dear ancestors did round the fire.

I’ll return with iron limbs; dark skin, a furious look: from my mask I’ll be judged as of mighty race. I’ll have gold: I’ll be idle and brutal. Women care for those fierce invalids returning from hot countries. I’ll be involved in politics. Saved.

Now I’m damned, I have a horror of country. The best is a good drunken sleep on the beach.

One doesn’t go. – Let’s take to the roads again, full of my vice, the vice that has thrust its roots of suffering into my side, since the age of reason – that rises to the sky, strikes me, knocks me down, drags me along.

The last innocence, and the last timidity. I’ve said it. Not to carry my disgust and betrayals through the world.

Let’s go! Marching, burdens, deserts, boredom, anger.

Whom shall I hire myself to? What beast must be adored? What saintly image attacked? What hearts shall I break? What lie must I uphold? – Slosh through what blood?

Rather, protect oneself from justice – a hard life, pure brutalisation – to open the coffin lid with a withered hand; sit down, stop your breath. So no old age, no dangers: to be terrified is un-French.

– Ah! I am so forsaken I could offer any divine image no matter what my urges towards perfection.
O my self-denial, O my marvellous pity! Even down
here!

De profundis Domine, what a creature I am!

Arthur Rimbaud

Tea.

Happy birthday, Haley.

Romney, William Haley, 1795


William Haley was born on this day in 1745.

The HERMIT'S DOG

Of dogs who sav'd a living friend,
    Most nobly, ye have read:
  Now to a nobler still attend,
    A guardian of the dead.

  As o'er wild Alpine scenes I stray'd,
    Not far from that retreat,
  Where Bruno, with celestial aid,
    First plann'd his sacred seat.

  An anchorite of noble mien,
    Attracted my regard;
  Majestic as that savage scene,
    Or as a Cambrian bard.

  He to no silent dome belongs,
    The rock is his domain;
  It echoes to his nightly songs
    Devotion's lonely strain.

  His mansion is a tranquil grot,
    Form'd in the living stone:
  My view of the sequester'd spot,
    I owe to chance alone.

  For happening near his cell to rove,
    Enamour'd of the wild;
  I heard within a piny grove
    What seem'd a plaintive child.

  The distant cry so struck my ear,
    I hasten'd to the ground,
  But saw surpris'd, as I drew near,
    The author of the sound.

  No human form, yet one I thought,
    With human feelings fill'd,
  And from his tongue, by nature taught,
    Strange notes of sorrow thrill'd.

  Unseen myself, I clearly saw
    A dog that couchant moan'd;
  He struck the hard earth with his paw,
    Then look'd at Heaven, and groan'd!

  With silent caution I drew near,
    To mark this friend of man,
  Expressing grief in sobs so clear,
    It through my bosom ran!

  The noble beast was black as jet,
    And as a lion large;
  He look'd as on a tombstone set,
    To hold the dead in charge.

  Grand was his visage, round his neck
    Broad silver rings he wore;
  These rings, that his dark body deck,
    The cross of Malta bore.

  I gaz'd, but soon my steps, tho' soft,
    Announced a stranger near;
  The brave beast bounded up aloft,
    Nor was I free from fear.

  But soon his master's voice represt
    And call'd him to his side:
  And soon I was the hermit's guest,
    He was my guard and guide.

  My own intrusion to excuse,
    The wond'rous dog I prais'd,
  Whose milder mien my eye reviews,
    Delighted and amaz'd!

  "If I disturb thy calm retreat,
    Divinely calm indeed,
  The noble servant at thy feet,
    May for my pardon plead."

  "That noble servant in my sight
    Whom strength and grace adorn,
  Announces, if I read aright,
    A master nobly born."

  The sire replied, with graceful bend,
    "No not my servant, he!
  A noble independent friend,
    He deigns to live with me!"

  "But, stranger, if you kindly rest,
    His story you shall hear,
  And all that makes my sable guest,
    Most singularly dear."

  "Here it has been my chosen lot,
    Some awful years to spend!
  Few months have pass'd, since near this spot
    I gain'd this signal friend."

  "This friend, with whom to live and die,
    Is now my dearest aim;
  He likes the world no more than I,
    And Hero is his name."

  "Some two miles off, as near a wood,
    Of deepest gloom I stray'd;
  Struck by strange sounds, I wond'ring stood,
    They echoed from the shade."

  "First like a noise in troubled dreams,
    But soon distinct I heard,
  A dog's triumphant bark, and screams,
    That spoke a dying bird."

  "A bird of loud portentous note,
    One of the vulture race,
  Which shepherds will to death devote,
    In sanguinary chace."

  "I thought some shepherd's joy to share,
    And hurried to the sound:
  To what I had expected there
    Far different scene I found."

  "A man, of blood-bespotted vest,
    I saw upon the earth;
  And Malta's cross upon his breast,
    Spoke him of noble birth."

  "Misfortune long had press'd him sore;
    I know not how he died;
  He had been dead two days or more,
    When I his corse descried."

  "Him, as their prey, two vultures seek,
    With ravenous rage abhorr'd;
  But Hero guarded from their beak,
    The visage of his lord!"

  "When first my eyes on Hero glanc'd,
    One vulture he had slain:
  The second scar'd as I advanced,
    Flew off in fearful pain."

  "Enchanted with a guard so brave,
    So faithful to the dead:
  The wounded dog to soothe and save,
    With beating heart I sped."

  "He lick'd my hand, by me carest,
    But him with grief I saw
  Half famish'd, and his gallant breast
    Gor'd by the vulture's claw!"

  "Tho' anxious o'er his wounds I bend;
    By kindness or by force,
  I could not tempt this generous friend.
    To quit the pallid corse!"

  "The body to my cell I bear;
    This mourner with it moved;
  Then he submitted to my care,
    And all my aid approv'd."

  "In the soft stone, that's near my cell,
    I soon entomb'd the dead;
  With stone above I shield him well,
    And laurels round I spread."

  "Oft to the spot with mournful praise,
    The mindful Hero springs,
  And in such notes, as he can raise,
    A requiem he sings."

  "Dear faithful dog! if man to me
    Had half thy virtue shewn,
  From social life I should not flee,
    To roam the wild alone!"

  "No! not alone, nor yet in woe,
    While here thy virtues shine,
  For I defy the world to shew
    Associate like to mine!"

  The dog, he now press'd to his heart,
    Then utter'd this desire;
  "Stranger if thine a poet's art,
    Let Hero wake thy lyre!"

  His wish was kind--may love so true.
    Ne'er want its wishes long:
  Thus from his fond suggestion grew,
    This tributary song.


William Haley

Gloom.

Quidor, The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, 1858


In preparation for this evening ...

It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued his travels homewards, along the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Tarry Town, and which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon. The hour was as dismal as himself. Far below him the Tappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here and there the tall mast of a sloop, riding quietly at anchor under the land. In the dead hush of midnight, he could even hear the barking of the watchdog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so vague and faint as only to give an idea of his distance from this faithful companion of man. Now and then, too, the long-drawn crowing of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far off, from some farmhouse away among the hills—but it was like a dreaming sound in his ear. No signs of life occurred near him, but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, or perhaps the guttural twang of a bullfrog from a neighboring marsh, as if sleeping uncomfortably and turning suddenly in his bed.

All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the afternoon now came crowding upon his recollection. The night grew darker and darker; the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving clouds occasionally hid them from his sight. He had never felt so lonely and dismal. He was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost stories had been laid. In the centre of the road stood an enormous tulip-tree, which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into the air. It was connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate André, who had been taken prisoner hard by; and was universally known by the name of Major André’s tree. The common people regarded it with a mixture of respect and superstition, partly out of sympathy for the fate of its ill-starred namesake, and partly from the tales of strange sights, and doleful lamentations, told concerning it.

As Ichabod approached this fearful tree, he began to whistle; he thought his whistle was answered; it was but a blast sweeping sharply through the dry branches. As he approached a little nearer, he thought he saw something white, hanging in the midst of the tree: he paused and ceased whistling but, on looking more narrowly, perceived that it was a place where the tree had been scathed by lightning, and the white wood laid bare. Suddenly he heard a groan—his teeth chattered, and his knees smote against the saddle: it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another, as they were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in safety, but new perils lay before him.

About two hundred yards from the tree, a small brook crossed the road, and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen, known by the name of Wiley’s Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grape-vines, threw a cavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate André was captured, and under the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomen concealed who surprised him. This has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy who has to pass it alone after dark.

As he approached the stream, his heart began to thump; he summoned up, however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of kicks in the ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the bridge; but instead of starting forward, the perverse old animal made a lateral movement, and ran broadside against the fence. Ichabod, whose fears increased with the delay, jerked the reins on the other side, and kicked lustily with the contrary foot: it was all in vain; his steed started, it is true, but it was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket of brambles and alder bushes. The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip and heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed forward, snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge, with a suddenness that had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head. Just at this moment a plashy tramp by the side of the bridge caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveller. 

Washington Irving, from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

GO BLUE!

Second.

Today.

1982.

Lessons.


EARLY RISERS

Getting up too early is a vice habitual in horned owls, stars, geese, and freight trains. Some hunters acquire it from geese, and some coffee pots from hunters. It is strange that of all the multitude of creatures who must rise in the morning at some time, only these few should have discovered the most pleasant and least useful time for doing it.

Orion must have been the original mentor of the too-early company, for it is he who signals for too-early rising. It is time when Orion has passed west of the zenith about as far as one should lead a teal.

Early risers feel at ease with each other, perhaps because, unlike those who sleep late, they are given to understatement of their own achievements. Orion, the most widely traveled, says literally nothing. The coffee pot, from its first soft gurgle, underclaims the virtues of what simmers with in. The owl, in his trisyllabic commentary, plays down the story of the night's murders. The goose on the bar, rising briefly to a point of order in some inaudible anserine debate, lets fall no hint that he speaks with the authority of all the far hills and the sea.

The freight, I admit, is hardly reticent about his own importance, yet even he has a kind of modesty: his eye is single to his own noisy business, and he never comes roaring into somebody else's camp. I feel a deep security in this single-mindedness of freight trains.

To arrive too early in the marsh is an adventure in pure listening; the ear roams at will among the noises of the night, without let or hindrance from hand or eye. When you hear a mallard being audibly enthusiastic about his soup, you are free to picture a score guzzling among the duckweeds. When one widgeon squeals, you may postulate a squadron without fear of visual contradiction. And when a flock of bluebills, pitching pondward, tears the dark silk of heaven in one long rending nose-dive, you catch your breath at the sound, but there is nothing to see except stars. This same performance, in daytime, would have to be looked at, shot at, missed,, and then hurriedly fitted with an alibi. Nor could daylight add anything to your mind's eye picture of quivering wings, ripping the firmament neatly into halves.

The hour of listening ends when the fowl depart on muted wings for wider safer waters, each flock a blur against the graying east.

Like many another treaty of restraint, the pre-dawn pact lasts only as long as darkness humbles the arrogant. It would seem as if the sun were responsible for the daily retreat of reticence from the world. At any rate, by the time the mists are white over the lowlands, every rooster is bragging ad lib, and every corn shock is pretending to be twice as tall as any corn that ever grew. By sun-up every squirrel is exaggerating some fancied indignity to his person, and every jay proclaiming with false emotion about suppositious dangers to society, at this very moment discovered by him. Distant crows are berating a hypothetical owl, just to tell the world how vigilant crows are, and a pheasant cock, musing perhaps on his philanderings of bygone days, beats the air with his wings and tells the world in raucous warning that he owns this marsh and all the hens in it.

Nor are all these illusions of grandeur confined to the birds and beasts. By breakfast time com the honks, horns, shouts, and whistles of the awakened farmyard, and finally at evening, the drone of an untended radio. Then everybody goes to bed to relearn the lessons of the night.

Aldo Leopold

Thank You, Jess.

Mozart, Mass in C-major, K. 317, "Coronation"

Herbert von Karajan leads the Vienna Philharmonic, featuring the Vienna Philharmonic Singing Society ...

28 October 2016

Local.

Off.

Happy Friday!  Write this one off the books!

AC/DC, "Have a Drink on Me"

Happy.

Happy Friday!

Today.

1978.


"La Villa Strangiato"

Own.

Manet, Three Plums, 1880


I say, gentlemen, hadn’t we better kick over the whole show and scatter rationalism to the winds, simply to send these logarithms to the devil, and to enable us to live once more at our own sweet foolish will?

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Thank you, hopeleslie.

Properly.


Baked Apple & Mincemeat is telling us for sure that it's properly Autumn.


More.

Joe Strummer & The Latino Rockabilly War, "Straight to Hell"

Plug it in. Turn it UP!

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Remeau, Les Boréades

The Concert of Nations performs the Entrée de Polymnie and Contredance under the direct of Jordi Savall ...

Happy birthday, Erasmus.

Holbein, Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1523


Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus was born on this day in 1466.

I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their store-chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily use thumb them, batter them, wear them out, who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults.

Erasmus

Typography.

Meaningful.


I’m not interested in traveling. I never travel, and painting the Himalayas, or, I don’t care about scenes. I don’t care about interesting-looking trees. What I do care about are trees that I know, that I’ve grown up with and touched, and so forth. I just think it makes the work more meaningful. The more you’re familiar with something and comfortable and have a love for it or a hate for it even, the better the result.

Jamie Wyeth


At work ...


Talking ...


Kurt recently featured a piece on Jamie's dad, Andrew.

Give.

Wyeth, Jamie, The Thief, 1996


Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,
Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,
Mad with the joy of the Sabbath, 
Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,
Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes, 
A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry 
living wild on the Streets through generations of children. 

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away 
With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle
As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,
Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh
Of the wind in the pinewoods, 
At night give praise with starry silences.  

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls 
And the rattle and flap of sails 
And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell
Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor. 
Give praise with the humpback whales, 
Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.  

Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids
and cicadas, 
Give praise with hum of bees, 
Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.
When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries
We know that the winter is over. 

Give praise with mockingbirds, day’s nightingales.
Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle 
And glossy tulip trees
On quiet side streets in southern towns.  

Give praise with the rippling speech
Of the eider-duck and her ducklings
As they paddle their way downstream
In the red-gold morning 
On Restiguche, their cold river,
Salmon river, 
Wilderness river.  

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.
Far, far from the cities, 
Far even from the towns, 
With piercing innocence 
He sings in the spruce-tree tops,
Always four notes 
And four notes only.  

Give praise with water, 
With storms of rain and thunder 
And the small rains that sparkle as they dry,
And the faint floating ocean roar 
That fills the seaside villages, 
And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains  

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,
And with the angels in that other country.

Anne Porter