Saturday, October 31, 2015

MAYA ANGELOU 1928-2014


When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Use what you have, use what the world gives you. Use the first day of fall: bright flame before winter's deadness; harvest; orange, gold, amber; cool nights and the smell of fire.

Our tree-lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smells of nostalgia: apples bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider, warmth itself.

The leaves as they spark into wild colour just before they die are the world's oldest performance art, and everything we see is celebrating one last violently hued hurrah before the black and white silence of winter.

from Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way
by Shauna Niequist


Thursday, October 29, 2015



I shall not sing a May song.
A May song should be gay.
I'll wait until November
And sing a song of grey.

I'll wait until November
That is the time for me.
I'll go out in the frosty dark
And sing most terribly.

And all the little people
Will stare at me and say,
"That is the Crazy Woman
Who would not sing in May."

This Americn poet and teacher was the first black person to win a Pulitzer Prize. She was appointed Poet Laureate for Illinois in 1968, a post she held till her death.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015



Out back, behind the yard
in the brush and scrub at the edge
a world unfolds for those willing
to stop and look, crunch and tread
where squirrel and ant, snake and fox
hunt and work, amongst the deadfall
Wonder of nature in the back, beyond
the cut lawn and past the leaf litter
a bend of a branch held by ivy
a curl of birch bark
a spider’s leg showing below the
lip of a fungus on an old trunk
patterns in the ground, beneath the
newness of spring in the woods
before the full greening of the
new shoots and leaves
in between time in early April
in New Hampshire


Tuesday, October 27, 2015




HASSAN - Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells,
 When shadows pass gigantic on the sand,
And softly through the silence beat the bells
 Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.

ISHAK - We travel not for trafficking alone;
 By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known
 We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

MASTER OF THE CARAVAN - Open the gate, O watchman of the night!
THE WATCHMAN -  Ho, travellers, I open. For what land
Leave you the dim-moon city of delight?
MERCHANTS (with a shout) - We take the Golden Road to Samarkand!

(The Caravan passes through the gate)
THE WATCHMAN (consoling the women) - What would ye, ladies? It was ever thus.
 Men are unwise and curiously planned.
A WOMAN - They have their dreams, and do not think of us.

VOICES OF THE CARAVAN (in the distance singing)
 We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

James Elroy Flecker was an English poet, novelist and playwright. On his death at the age of thirty, he was described as "unquestionably the greatest premature loss that English literature has suffered since the death of Keats".


Monday, October 26, 2015




Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings? -
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending; -
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more. 

This famous English poet along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their Lyrical Ballads in 1798.


Sunday, October 25, 2015



There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Sheldon Allan "Shel" Silverstein was an American poet, singer-songwriter, cartoonist, screen-writer and author of children's books.


Saturday, October 24, 2015




Here in this sequester'd close 
Bloom the hyacinth and rose, 
Here beside the modest stock 
Flaunts the flaring hollyhock; 
Here, without a pang, one sees 
Ranks, conditions, and degrees. 

All the seasons run their race 
In this quiet resting-place; 
Peach and apricot and fig 
Here will ripen and grow big; 
Here is store and overplus, -
More had not AlcinoĆ¼s! 

Here, in alleys cool and green, 
Far ahead the thrush is seen; 
Here along the southern wall 
Keeps the bee his festival; 
All is quiet else - afar 
Sounds of toil and turmoil are. 

Here be shadows large and long; 
Here be spaces meet for song; 
Grant, O garden-god, that I, 
Now that none profane is nigh, -
Now that mood and moment please, -
Find the fair Pierides! 

This English poet, biographer and essayist wrote articles for the Dictionary of National Biography 1901 and the Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911.


Friday, October 23, 2015



Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue,
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game,
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame.

The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand,
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away.

Yesterday when I was young
So many drinking songs were waiting to be sung,
So many wayward pleasures lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see.

I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out,
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me, me and nothing else at all.

Yesterday the moon was blue
And every crazy day brought something new to do,
I used my magic age as if it were a wand
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond.

The game of love I played with arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died.
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play.

There are so many songs in me that won't be sung,
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue,
The time has come for me to pay for yesterday 
When I was young.

Born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian, this French-Armenian singer, songwriter, actor, public activist and diplomat wrote more than 1,200 songs and sold more than 180,000,000 records.



Thursday, October 22, 2015

D.H. LAWRENCE 1885-1930



It ought to be lovely to be old
to be full of the peace that comes of experience
and wrinkled ripe fulfilment.

The wrinkled smile of completeness that follows a life
lived undaunted and unsoured with accepted lies
they would ripen like apples, and be scented like pippins
in their old age.

Soothing, old people should be, like apples
when one is tired of love.
Fragrant like yellowing leaves, and dim with the soft
stillness and satisfaction of autumn.

And a girl should say:
It must be wonderful to live and grow old.
Look at my mother, how rich and still she is! -

And a young man should think: By Jove
my father has faced all weathers,
but it's been a life!

This English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter endured persecution and censorship during the second half of his life. Opinions have changed dramatically since that time and many would agree with E.M. Forster who described him as "the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation."



Wednesday, October 21, 2015



we had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me, "be happy Henry!"
and she was right: it's better to be happy if you
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while
raging inside his 6-foot two frame because he couldn't
understand what was attacking him from within. 

my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: "Henry, smile!
why don't you ever smile?" 

and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw. 

one day the goldfish died, all five of them,
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother

The work of this German-born American poet, novelist and short-story writer continues to have an influence on modern literature.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015




Two sparrows, feeding,
Heard a thrush
Sing to the dawn, 
The first said, “Tush!

In all my life
I never heard
A more affected
Singing bird.”

The second said,
“It’s you and me
Who slave to keep
The likes of he.”

“And if we cared,”
Both sparrows said,
“We’d do that singing
On our head.”

The thrush pecked sideways
And was dumb.
“And now,” they screamed,
“He’s pinched our crumb!”

Humbert Wolfe CB CBE was an Italian-born British poet and author. He once stated that he was "of no political creed, except that his general view is that money and its possessors should be abolished."

The new Art Blog MUSIC MAKERS IN ART is now online


Monday, October 19, 2015

THOMAS HARDY 1840-1928



When summer shone
Its sweetest on
An August day,
"Here evermore,"
I said, "I'll stay;
Not go away
To another shore
As fickle they!"

December came:
'Twas not the same!
I did not know
Would serve me so.
Frost, hunger, snow;
And now, ah me,
Too late to go!

Although Thomas Hardy is better known as a novelist (Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, The Mayor of Casterbridge, etc.) he himself claimed he was first and foremost a poet.

The new Art Blog MUSIC MAKERS IN ART is now online -


Friday, October 16, 2015



Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky;
Imagine all the people
Living for today . . .

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too;
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace . . .

Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man;
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world . . .

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one;
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one.

John Lennon MBE was the British singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the  Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. With fellow member Paul McCartney, he formed the famous songwriting partnership.

The new Art Blog begins on Monday.
The next post at POETRY - A PERSONAL CHOICE is on Monday


Thursday, October 15, 2015




Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield OM the English poet and writer was Poet Laureate of the UK from 1930 until his death. He was the author of the children's novels The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights.

The new Art Blog begins on Monday 19th October


Wednesday, October 14, 2015



TWO LOVERS  (c.1865)

Two lovers by a moss-grown spring:
They leaned soft cheeks together there,
Mingled the dark and sunny hair,
And heard the wooing thrushes sing.
O budding time!
O love's blest prime!

Two wedded from the portal stept:
The bells made happy carolings,
The air was soft as fanning wings,
White petals on the pathway slept.
O pure-eyed bride!
O tender pride!

Two faces o'er a cradle bent:
Two hands above the head were locked:
These pressed each other while they rocked,
Those watched a life that love had sent.
O solemn hour!
O hidden power!

Two parents by the evening fire:
The red light fell about their knees
On heads that rose by slow degrees
Like buds upon the lily spire.
O patient life!
O tender strife!

The two still sat together there,
The red light shone about their knees;
But all the heads by slow degrees
Had gone and left that lonely pair.
O voyage fast!
O vanished past!

The red light shone upon the floor
And made the space between them wide;
They drew their chairs up side by side,
Their pale cheeks joined, and said, "Once more!"
O memories!
O past that is!

George Eliot was the pseudonym for Mary Ann or Marian Evans. She was an English novelist, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian age. Her novels included The Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch.

The new Art Blog begins on Monday 19th October


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

MAYA ANGELOU 1928-2014



The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill 
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom. 


Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, this remarkable woman was an American author, poet, dancer, actress and singer. She published 7 autobiographies, 3 books of essays and several books of poetry. She was given more than 50 honorary degrees.

The new Arts Blog begins on Monday 19th October


Monday, October 12, 2015



from Twelfth Night)

O mistress mine, where are you roaming? 
O stay and hear! your true-love's coming 
That can sing both high and low; 
Trip no further, pretty sweeting, 
Journey's end in lovers' meeting - 
Every wise man's son doth know. 

What is love? 'tis not hereafter; 
Present mirth hath present laughter; 
What's to come is still unsure: 
In delay there lies no plenty - 
Then come kiss me, Sweet and twenty, 
Youth's a stuff will not endure. 


A new Art Blog begins on Monday 19th October


Friday, October 9, 2015

JOHN KEATS 1795-1821



Old Meg she was a gipsy;
And lived upon the moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
And her house was out of doors.

Her apples were swart blackberries,
Her currants, pods o' broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
Her book a church-yard tomb.

Her brothers were the craggy hills,
Her sisters larchen trees;
Alone with her great family
She lived as she did please.

No breakfast had she many a morn,
No dinner many a noon,
And 'stead of supper she would stare
Full hard against the moon.

But every morn, of woodbine fresh
She made her garlanding,
And every night the dark glen yew
She wove, and she would sing.

And with her fingers old and brown
She plaited mats o' rushes,
And gave them to the cottagers
She met among the bushes.

Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen,
And tall as Amazon:
An old red blanket cloak she wore,
A chip hat had she on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere -
She died full long agone! 


John Keats was just twenty-five when he died. He is especially remembered for the wide range of poetic forms he used in his writings. It is said that, in the case of the English ode, he brought that form to its highest level.

The new blog JOHN'S SCRAPBLOG was updated today


Thursday, October 8, 2015




Perhaps love is like a resting place,
A shelter from the storm;
It exists to give you comfort,
It is there to keep you warm.
And in those times of trouble
When you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home.
Perhaps love is like a window,
Perhaps an open door;
It invites you to come closer,
It wants to show you more.
And even if you lose yourself
And don't know what to do,
The memory of love will see you through.

Oh, love to some is like a cloud,
To some as strong as steel,
For some a way of living,
For some a way to feel;
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go,
And some say love is everything
And some say they don't know.

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of pain,
Like a fire when it's cold outside
Or thunder when it rains.
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true,
My memories of love will be of you.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015




Slowly autumn comes to an end.
Painfully cold a dawn wind thicks the dew.
Grass round here will not be green again,
Trees and leaves are already suffering.
The clear air is drained and purified
And the high white sky’s a mystery.
Nothing’s left of the cicada’s sound.
Flying geese break the heavens’ silence.
The Myriad Creatures rise and return.
How can life and death not be hard?
From the beginning all things have to die.
Thinking of it can bruise the heart.
What can I do to lighten my thoughts?
Solace myself drinking the last of this wine.
Who understands the next thousand years?
Let’s just make this morning last forever.

Tao Yuanming, also known as Tao Qian or T'ao Ch'ien, is one of the most foremost Chinese "recluse" poets, in whose poems the theme of countryside solitude particularly resonates.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015




Hadst thou a genius on thy peak,
What tales, white-headed Ben,
Could'st thou of ancient ages speak,
That mock th'historian's pen!

Thy long duration makes our lives
Seem but so many hours;
And likens, to the bees' frail hives,
Our most stupendous towers.

Temples and towers thou seest begun,
New creeds, new conquerors sway;
And, like their shadows in the sun,
Hast seen them swept away.

Thy steadfast summit, heaven-allied
(Unlike life's little span),
Looks down a mentor on the pride
Of perishable man.

This Scottish poet, chiefly remembered for his sentimental poetry, also produced a number of patriotic songs including "Ye Mariners of England" and "The Soldier's Dream."


Monday, October 5, 2015




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.


The new blog JOHN'S SCRAPBLOG was updated on Friday


Friday, October 2, 2015



(from The Crescent Moon)

I want to give you something, my child,
for we are drifting in the stream of the world.
Our lives will be carried apart,
and our love forgotten.
But I am not so foolish as to hope that
I could buy your heart with my gifts.
Young is your life, your path long, and
you drink the love we bring you at one draught
and turn and run away from us.
You have your play and your playmates.
What harm is there if you have no time
or thought for us.
We, indeed, have leisure enough in old age
to count the days that are past,
to cherish in our hearts what our
hands have lost for ever.
The river runs swift with a song,
breaking through all barriers.
But the mountain stays and remembers,
and follows her with his love.

Rabindranath Tagore (Ravindranatha Thakura) was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music. He was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The new blog JOHN'S SCRAPBLOG will be updated tomorrow


Thursday, October 1, 2015




We are not near enough to love,
I can but pity all your woe;
For wealth has lifted me above,
And falsehood set you down below.

If you were true, we still might be
Brothers in something more than name;
And were I poor, your love to me
Would make our differing bonds the same.

But golden gates between us stretch,
Truth opens her forbidding eyes;
You can't forget that I am rich,
Nor I that you are telling lies.

Love never comes but at love's call,
And pity asks for him in vain;
Because I cannot give you all,
You give me nothing back again.

And you are right with all your wrong,
For less than all is nothing too;
May Heaven beggar me ere long,
And Truth reveal herself to you! 

Mary Coleridge was a British novelist and poet who also wrote essays and reviews. She was a great-grand niece of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and a great niece of Sara Coleridge.