Category Archives: Poems

nosin2win

It is no sin to try and fail, and try again; it is the only way to win.

Si l’on veut a triomphé, ce n’est pas un péché d’essayer et d’échouer, et d’tâcher à nouveau.

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Verba in ventum

A bit of gafufferal: ‘Once they leave the lips, Words in the Wind are less than a Will o’the Wisp’

Les mots qui sont partis sou le vent comme une volonté du feu follet

evening-milky-way

Verba in ventum

Homer’s poetry was originally composed as words to be recited not written. It is now generally agreed that the Illiad was first written down in the 8th century BC. Those who date the Trojan War, generally agree that it took place in the 11th or 12th century BC. This means that the poetry that became the Illiad was developing for three or four hundred years before it took definite form.

During this time the words of the Illiad were verba in ventum, words in the wind that ever changed depending on the speaker, the place, and the moment.

I suppose to be fair and accurate, I should use the Greek λέξεις στον άνεμο, rather than the Latin. The Greeks do not have a direct saying for words in the wind, but they do have όπου φυσάει ο άνεμος, which translates as “where the wind blows” which implies that our views and positions depend on prevailing interests or views.

Homer

Did Homer exist?

Was he one individual or a collective composition of the musings of dozens or hundreds of poets who appeared in Greek City States and entertained the citizens with stories of long ago?

Was he a Will o’the Wisp, divine and inspired?

I have toiled over this line in the Illiad. It deals with Agamemnon, son of Atreus, leader of the Greeks, who contemplates the campaign against the Trojans in pursuit of Helen, his brother’s wife.

Late as I slumber’d in the shades of night,
A dream divine appear’d before my sight;

Homer explains, it was a phantom, a will o’the wisp that appeared o’er his head and said:

‘And, dost thou sleep, O son of Atreus?
Ill befits a chief who mighty nations guides,
In council directs and war presides;
To whom its safety a whole people owes,
To waste long nights in indolent repose.’

Something borrowed something blue

All of this gafufferal leads me to the conclusion that words belong to no one. They are part of the collective common, like the air, used as we wish, borrowed, then replaced to be used again and again. They are blue or yellow or red or green depending on our mood, meant to color the world and create images from words.

Gafufferal, I repeat. It is a made up word, as all words are, and if used enough, some day it may be written down and become part of the collective.

hands forming a heart encircling the sun

He is Risen

Yellow, the color of sunshine, hope, and happiness, and, as this is Easter Sunday, a sign that He is Risen.
yellow-morning-oil.jpg

Pâques is French for Easter

Pâques is the French word for Easter. It derives from the Greek “paskha” and Latin “pascha”, meaning “Passover”, which comes from Hebrew “Pesah” meaning “passing way” (“passage”), the Jewish name for the celebration of Passover, which remembers the Jewish Exodus out of Egypt (c. 1450 BCE).

Strange is it not, that the French choose a Jewish word for a Christian holy day?

Stranger still, that the English and Americans call the holiday Easter.

The explanation comes from the Anglo-Saxon monk Bede (673–735), whose explanation, in Latin, translates as:

Eosturmanath has a name, now translated “Paschal month,” which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honored name of the old.
Bede, De temporum ratione cap. 13

If I think I am, am I?

The subject came up this morning when a daughter said to her father, ” ‘You are as you thinketh,’ Jesus said,”

So she said.

Confounded the old man looked it up and found this:

Jesus says in Mark 7:15-16, “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” Jesus is explaining that we are what we think. Proverbs 23:7 backs Him up: “For as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.”

This is a good shout out for the theory of positive thinking. So, get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’.

You gotta believe.

Sunset at Lake Eldorado, Kansas

Demain dès l’aube, Victor Hugo

moonlight

Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885) recalls a visit to his daughter Léopoldine Hugo’s grave.

Demain dès l’aube

English translation

Tomorrow, at dawn, at the moment when the land is light,
I will leave. You see, I know that you wait for me.
I will go by the forest, I will go by the mountain.
I cannot stay any longer, far away from you.

I will walk eyes fixed on my thoughts,
Seeing nothing outside, not hearing a noise,
Alone, unknown, back hunched, hands crossed,
Sad, for the day for me will be like night.

I will not look for the golden evening that falls,
Nor the faraway sails descending upon Harfleur.
And when I arrive, I will put on your tomb
A bouquet of green holly and heather in bloom.

Original French

Demain, dès l’aube, à l’heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m’attends.
J’irai par la forêt, j’irai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.

Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

Je ne regarderai ni l’or du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et quand j’arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.
beach_sit

What’s a Grecian urn?

It is an old joke told in Vaudeville days:

What’s a Grecian urn?
25 bucks a day unless he owns the restaurant.*

Keats_urn

“La beauté est la vérité, beauté vérité, c’est tout
Vous savez sur cette terre, et seul ce que vous devez savoir.

The low-brow joke is made the funnier by its understood reference to John Keats’ poem Ode on a Grecian Urn whose last two lines are often quoted for the purpose of enjoying the mysteries of life without understanding them.

Ode sur une Urne Grecque

Ô toi! encore mariée vierge de la calme,
Ô toi! enfant recueillie du silence et du temps lent,
Sylvestre historien, qui peut ainsi exprimer
Un récit fleuri plus doucement que notre rime:
Quelle légende frangée de feuilles hante ta forme
Des divinités ou des mortels, ou des deux,
Dans les Temples ou les vallons d’Arcady?
Quels sont les hommes ou les dieux?
Quelles vierges résistent?
Quelle poursuite folle? Quelle lutte pour échapper?
Quelles pipes et timbrels? Quelle extase sauvage?

Les mélodies entendues sont douces,
mais celles qui ne sont pas entendues
Sont plus doux; par conséquent,
vous, les tuyaux mous, jouer sur;
Pas à l’oreille sensuelle, mais, plus proche,
Pipe à l’esprit des dieux d’aucun ton:
Juste la jeunesse, sous les bois, tu ne peux pas partir
Ton chant, jamais ces bois ne peuvent être nus;
Amant audacieux,
jamais, tu ne peux jamais embrasser,
Bien que gagnant près du but, ne vous affligez pas;
Elle ne peut pas disparaître,
bien que tu n’as pas ta béatitude,
A jamais tu aimeras et elle sera belle!

…à qui tu dis,
“La beauté est la vérité, beauté vérité, c’est tout
Vous savez sur cette terre, et seul ce qui vous devez savoir.

*Greeks immigration to New York City was the result of a general Turkish genocide of of the Christian Ottoman Greek population (and Armenians) during World War I and the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922. The Greek Turkish conflict has been a long one. In 1824, fellow poet Lord George Gordon Byron died at the young age of 36 in what is now Greece, where he had gone in support of the Greek struggle for independence from Ottoman Turkey. Predeceasing him in death was Keats, who died of tuberculosis on 23 February 1821 in Rome. He was twenty-five years old.

Simple Gifts

stemplefall-leaves

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right

 


C’est un don d’être simple, c’est le don d’être libre

C’est le don de descendre là où nous devrions être,

Et la traduction n’est jamais juste,  ni facile

Ni ce qui, que je veux qu’il soit

Tour, tour sera notre joie,

Tour, tour, tant que on vient à droite

Portia, I love thee for who thou art.

Regarde! Jusqu’où cette petite bougie jette sa lumière, brille une bonne action dans un monde méchant.
Marchand de Venise, Acte 5, Scène 1, William Shakespeare

Rich, beautiful, gracious, and smart, if a suitor had to choose only one quality in his fair Portia, which would it be?

candle_black

The Merchant of Venice is a play in which the women clearly outsmart the men. In considering what love is, one is reminded of Elizabeth Barret Browning, How do I love thee, let me count the ways…

Love should not come down to a choice, but if it did what would your choice be?

C’est l’amour un choix?