Friday, November 30, 2012


Spring and Fall: To A Young Child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah, as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, or ghost guessed:
It was the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins

"[Sir Ector] stood gloomily for a moment, watching his two boys trying to catch the last leaves in the chase. They had not gone out with that intention, and did not really, even in those distant days, believe that every leaf you caught would mean a happy month next year. Only, as the west wind tore the golden rags away, they looked extremely fascinating and were difficult to catch. For the mere sport of catching them, of shouting and laughing and feeling giddy as they looked up, and of darting about to trap the creatures, which were certainly alive in the cunning with which they slipped away, the two boys were prancing about like young fauns in the ruin of the year." --T. H. White, The Sword in the Stone.

"Ai! laurie lantar lassi surinen,
Yeni unotime ve ramar aldaron!"
[Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind,
long years numberless as the wings of trees!]

--J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"When The Frost Is On The Punkin"

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the keyouk and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then's the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kind o harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here--
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock--
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries--kind of lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below--the clover overhead!--
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage, too!
I don't know how to tell it--but ef such a thing could be
As the Angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me--
I'd want to 'commodate 'em--all the whole indurin' flock--
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

--James Whitcomb Riley. One of his 'dialect' poems.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Penny For The Old Guy

Remember, remember,
The fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason, and plot.
I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy (or Guido) Fawkes was foiled this day in 1605 from bringing off a plan to blow up Parliament and members of the royal family (including the King) by touching off a huge cache of gunpowder stored under the House of Lords; it was hoped this would help return England to Catholicism.

In thanksgiving for deliverance from the plot, the government declared November 5 as a day of remembrance. It was celebrated with bonfires, and in time with an effigy or scarecrow of Guy Fawkes, sometimes stuffed with firecrackers, usually with a pointed hat and a lantern in hand, but always fantastically dressed. Children would carry the stuffed man around, asking for "A penny for the Guy," used to buy more fireworks or refreshments for the end of the day, when the Guy was thrown on the bonfire.

In the 19th century, any unusually dressed or raggedy person was called a "guy" after this scarecrow figure. In the United States the term lost any negative connotation. Whether you consider Guy Fawkes a villain or a hero, you memorialize him and the Fifth of November every time you call someone "guy."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

MORE Variations On A Thanksgiving Theme

In 1943 Norman Rockwell produced a series of four paintings on the Four Freedoms, a concept that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had introduced in one of his speeches. One of these paintings, Freedom From Want, has come to exemplify the old American traditional Thanksgiving, and is most often referred to as the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. Over the years there have been many spoofs and variations on this image; I present here several more of them.