We Live in Deeds not Years

We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; 
In feelings, not in figures on a dial. 
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives 
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best. 
And he whose heart beats quickest lives the longest: 
Lives in one hour more than in years do some 
Whose fat blood sleeps as it slips along their veins. 
Life’s but a means unto an end; that end, 
Beginning, mean, and end to all things—God. 
The dead have all the glory of the world.

Philip James Bailey

**Painting: Anna Pavlova by Sir John Lavery

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.

Nor you, ye proud, impute to those the fault,
If memory o’er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

–Thomas Gray.

Friendship

john-everett-millais-spring-apple-blossoms
Apple Blossoms by John Everett Millais

Ah, friend, let us be true
To one another! For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain,
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

–Matthew Arnold.

 

Holiday Gratitude: Chestnut Trees

The Village Blacksmith

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling,–rejoicing,–sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

LINKS:

 A GIANT AMERICAN CHESTNUT MAY BRING BACK THE SPECIES

REVIVAL OF THE AMERICAN CHESTNUT TREE

Holiday Gratitude: Husbands with Chainsaws

How nice it is to mention going sledding and having a husband who drops what he’s doing to sharpen his chainsaw the day before a snowstorm. Down came a few “ironwood”  saplings (to be used for winter heating) and up we climbed the next day to have some fun.

You’re never too old to coast down a hill. The goats were not impressed.

WINTER IN STRATHEARN
by John Davidson

The twinkling Earn, like a blade in the snow,
The low hills scalloped against the high, 
The high hills leaping upon the low, 
And the amber wine in the cup of the sky, 
With the white world creaming over the rim, 
She watched; and a keen aroma rose, 
Embodied, a star above the snows; 
For when the west sky-edge grows dim, 
When lights are silver and shades are brown, 
Behind Torlum the sun goes down; 
And from Glenartney, night by night; 
The full fair star of evening creeps; 
Though spectral branches clasp it tight, 
Like magic from their hold it leaps. 
And reaches heaven at once. Her sight 
Gathers the star, and in her eyes 
She meekly wears heaven's fairest prize.

Holiday Gratitude: Blue Christmas

In The Bleak MidWinter

by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart

LINK: The science of sad Christmas songs: Psychologist reveals why feeling bad sometimes feels good

Time To Rise

A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon my window sill,
Cocked his shining eye and said:
“Ain’t you ‘shamed, you sleepy-head!”

Robert Louis Stevenson

chip2

We now believe Chip is a girl . . . any ideas for a name? Somehow she’s discovered my second story bedroom window and talks to me each morning (impatiently begging for treats). In the evenings she hovers above my head as I feed the sheep (it’s kinda weird being stalked by a duck!).

Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar

220px-Paul_Laurence_Dunbar_circa_1890

He Had His Dream

He had his dream, and all through life,
Worked up to it through toil and strife.
Afloat fore’er before his eyes,
It colored for him all his skies:
The storm-cloud dark
Above his bark,
The calm and listless vault of blue
Took on its hopeful hue,
It tinctured every passing beam –
He had his dream.

He labored hard and failed at last,
His sails too weak to bear the blast,
The raging tempests tore away
And sent his beating bark astray.
But what cared he
For wind or sea!
He said, ‘The tempest will be short,
My bark will come to port.’
He saw through every cloud a gleam –
He had his dream.

 

Paul’s mother had a dream too. An ex-slave, she taught herself to read just so she could teach young Paul. Paul was a stellar student and popular at his all-white high school in Ohio where he was elected president of the high school literary society. Mother’s dream was to send Paul to law school but lack of funds prevented it.   (My son really wanted to live on campus at NYU and assumed he’d go to Columbia Law School–we all have our dreams, don’t we?). Finances are a pain.

Paul ended up an elevator operator and though a good poet, he wasn’t very good with money and always ended up in debt. People liked his work, but poetry can’t always pay the bills.

Paul met a nice girl and married, but sadly three years later was diagnosed with tuberculosis. The doctor recommended whiskey to alleviate  the symptoms of the disease. We all know how this ends, don’t we? His depression and growing dependence on alcohol caused trouble between him and wifey. She left him and Paul died a destitute alcoholic.