Thursday, April 30, 2009

Carl Sandburg - Joy

If you've ever thought about fog as coming in on "little cat feet," chances are, you've read Carl Sandburg's poetry. He won two Pulitzer prizes, and lived in Michigan for a short time with his wife and three children.


Let a joy keep you.
Reach out your hands
And take it when it runs by,
As the Apache dancer
Clutches his woman.
I have seen them
Live long and laugh loud,
Sent on singing, singing,
Smashed to the heart
Under the ribs
With a terrible love.
Joy always,
Joy everywhere—
Let joy kill you!
Keep away from the little deaths.

William Shakespeare - Sonnet CI

For the last day of National Poetry Month, we give you a sonnet by one of the world's most famous poets and playwrights, William Shakespeare.

Sonnet CI

O truant Muse what shall be thy amends
For thy neglect of truth in beauty dy'd?
Both truth and beauty on my love depends;
So dost thou too, and therein dignified.
Make answer Muse: wilt thou not haply say,
"Truth needs no colour, with his colour fix'd;
Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay;
But best is best, if never intermix'd"?
Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?
Excuse not silence so, for't lies in thee
To make him much outlive a gilded tomb
And to be prais'd of ages yet to be.
Then do thy office, Muse; I teach thee how
To make him seem long hence as he shows now.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Henry Lawson - The Things We Dare Not Tell

Henry Lawson is an Australian poet, writer, and balladist, often called Australia's best.

The Things We Dare Not Tell

The fields are fair in autumn yet, and the sun's still shining there,
But we bow our heads and we brood and fret, because of the masks we wear;
Or we nod and smile the social while, and we say we're doing well,
But we break our hearts, oh, we break our hearts! for the things we must not tell.

There's the old love wronged ere the new was won, there's the light of long ago;
There's the cruel lie that we suffer for, and the public must not know.
So we go through life with a ghastly mask, and we're doing fairly well,
While they break our hearts, oh, they kill our hearts! do the things we must not tell.

We see but pride in a selfish breast, while a heart is breaking there;
Oh, the world would be such a kindly world if all men's hearts lay bare!
We live and share the living lie, we are doing very well,
While they eat our hearts as the years go by, do the things we dare not tell.

We bow us down to a dusty shrine, or a temple in the East,
Or we stand and drink to the world-old creed, with the coffins at the feast;
We fight it down, and we live it down, or we bear it bravely well,
But the best men die of a broken heart for the things they cannot tell.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Outside of a Dog, #44

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

Last week, we looked at some great titles about faeries for young adults. This week, we’ll take a peek into some kids’ books about the fanciful flying fae.

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide – Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

A series of five short books for younger readers, The Spiderwick Chronicles follow twin boys Jared and Simon, and their older sister Mallory as they move to a new house after their parents divorce. They find their ancestors’ house to be filled with fairies of all shapes, sizes, and stories, and the woods beyond, as well. There’s an element of danger, though, because there’s a reason why the fairies are tailing the Grace children…

JFic DiTerlizzi WCV WMB WAM

The Fairy Painting – Stacey DuFord

An easy-reader book with hand-painted pictures by local writer DuFord, inspired in part by the Flat Stanley books.

E Dufo WCV

E Duford WDB

The Fairy Rebel – Lynne Reid Banks

While Lynne Reid Banks is more well-known for her “Indian in the Cupboard” trilogy, this is a childhood favorite. Jan and Charlie, a young married couple, wish for a child, and fairy Tiki makes it happen; unfortunately, helping out humans with fairy magic is against the rules of the cruel Fairy Queen. Find out what happens to Jan, Charlie, Tiki, and the Queen when rules are broken.


The Moorchild – Eloise McGraw

Changelings are children who are “swapped” with fairies and taken away to live among the “Folk.” This story tells of a young girl discovering she’s a changeling, and how she tries to find the human child she was switched with.



There’s also the Fairy Realm series, the Disney Fairies series, and the Rainbow Magic series.

Next week: Faerie books for adults!

George Santayana - O World, Thou Choosest Not

Whether you know it or not, you've probably heard of George Santayana - or at least, one of his often-misquoted aphorisms: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

He was a Spanish citizen and American man of letters, as well as a poet and essayist.

O World, thou choosest not

O world, thou choosest not the better part!

It is not wisdom to be only wise,

And on the inward vision close the eyes,

But it is wisdom to believe the heart.

Columbus found a world, and had no chart,

Save one that faith deciphered in the skies;

To trust the soul’s invincible surmise

Was all his science and his only art.

Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine

That lights the pathway but one step ahead

Across a void of mystery and dread.

Bid, then, the tender light of faith to shine

By which alone the mortal heart is led

Unto the thinking of the thought divine.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Percy Bysshe Shelley - Love's Philosophy

A Romantic-era poet and playwright, Percy Bysshe Shelley took Mary Shelley (of Frankenstein fame) as his second wife, after leaving his first wife and child.

Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one another's being mingle—
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain'd its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea—
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oscar Wilde - Italia

Author of plays and poems both sensational and devotional, Oscar Wilde is likely best-known for his novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray," about a vain young man and the lengths he goes to to enjoy the hedonist's life. Dorian Gray is the only published novel by Wilde.


Italia! thou art fallen, though with sheen

Of battle-spears thy clamorous armies stride

From the north Alps to the Sicilian tide!

Ay! fallen, though the nations hail thee Queen

Because rich gold in every town is seen,

And on thy sapphire lake in tossing pride

Of wind-filled vans thy myriad galleys ride

Beneath one flag of red and white and green.

O Fair and Strong! O Strong and Fair in vain!

Look southward where Rome’s desecrated town

Lies mourning for her God-anointed King!

Look heaven-ward! shall God allow this thing?

Nay! but some flame-girt Raphael shall come down,

And smite the Spoiler with the sword of pain.


The Picture of Dorian Gray
Fic Wilde WCV

The works; including poems, novels, plays, essays, fairy tales and dialogues
820.8 W WAM

Poems and fairy tales of Oscar Wilde
820.8 W WDB

Happy Prince; the complete fairy stories of Oscar Wilde
JFic Wilde WMB

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Christina Rossetti - Song

Yesterday we featured pre-Raphaelite artist and poet Dante Rossetti. Today, we're looking at a poem from his sister, Christina Rossetti, known for her love poems and often quoted (in episodes of Doctor Who, the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and Dark Shadows).


When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dante Rossetti - The Sea-Limits

A painter, poet, and illustrator born in London, Dante Gabriel Rossetti is known for his portraits and his famous sister - poet Christina Rossetti.

The Sea-Limits

Consider the sea’s listless chime:
Time’s self it is, made audible,—
The murmur of the earth’s own shell.
Secret continuance sublime
Is the sea’s end: our sight may pass
No furlong farther. Since time was,
This sound hath told the lapse of time.

No quiet, which is death’s,—it hath
The mournfulness of ancient life,
Enduring always at dull strife.
As the world’s heart of rest and wrath,
Its painful pulse is in the sands.
Last utterly, the whole sky stands,
Grey and not known, along its path.

Listen alone beside the sea,
Listen alone among the woods;
Those voices of twin solitudes
Shall have one sound alike to thee:
Hark where the murmurs of thronged men
Surge and sink back and surge again,—
Still the one voice of wave and tree.

Gather a shell from the strown beach
And listen at its lips: they sigh
The same desire and mystery,
The echo of the whole sea’s speech
And all mankind is thus at heart
Not anything but what thou art:
And Earth, Sea, Man, are all in each.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rudyard Kipling - Mowgli's Brothers

Author of famous stories like The Jungle Book and Just So Stories. Here's a poem from the original Jungle Book, where you'll also find the classic story of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

Mowgli's Brothers

Now Chil the Kite brings home the night
That Mang the Bat sets free,
The herds are shut in byre and hut,
For loosed till dawn are we.
This is the hour of pride and power,
Talon and tush and claw.
Oh, hear the call! Good hunting all
That keep the Jungle Law!

Kipling: A selection of his stories and poems 820.8 K WCV WMB WDB WAM

The Jungle Book JFic Kipling WMB WAM

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Robert Browning - Meeting at Night

While we presented this poet's wife - Elizabeth Barrett Browning - earlier this month, we now offer one of Robert Browning's love poems. Known more for dramatic monologues than for poetry during his life, we now know him as being partially responsible for/the subject of his wife's sonnet number 43, included in the "Sonnets from the Portuguese" collection.

Meeting at Night


The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed in the slushy sand.


Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Outside of a Dog, #43

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

We featured realistic YA fiction last week, and this week, we’re making quite a jump – to YA books about the fabled creatures called faeries (or fairies, or fey.)

Few fantastical beings are so good at being heroes and villains – sometimes even at the same time. Here are a few of our favorites:

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale – Holly Black

The first in a loosely-related trilogy, Tithe introduces the reader to Kaye, a 16-year old girl who travels with her mother’s rock band. Until, of course, Kaye discovers that she’s a pixie, and a pawn in between the two faerie Courts, one of which holds control of the Knight Roiben, with whom Kaye has a connection with. There are two other novels in the Modern Faerie Tales set – Valiant, and Ironside. Check out the author’s website, and see some fan art of Kaye, Roiben, and others.

YA Fic Black WCV WAM

The Blue Girl – Charles de Lint

Another novel about growing up and away from your past is The Blue Girl, by Great Lakes Great Books Award winner Charles de Lint. Imogene has just moved the to town of Newford, hoping to escape and reinvent herself from the gang girl to someone who gets into a little less trouble, and maybe tries a little harder at school. She makes friends – and enemies – both real and incorporeal (the school’s resident ghost has a crush on her), all while the faeries of the shadow world are trying to rebel. De Lint has written over 60 books, many of them from his Newford series. Check out his website for more information.

YA Fic De Lint WCV

Wicked Lovely – Melissa Marr

We’ve profiled this book before – the story of Aislinn, who can see faeries, and her entrance into the fight between the winter and summer courts of Faerie. There’s also a sequel – Ink Exchange – and an upcoming third book about Aislinn, called Fragile Eternity, which just came out today.



(Also available in downloadable e-audiobook format)

Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett

Pratchett, who writes about Discworld and the Wee Free Men, revisits witch-in-training Tiffany Aching in this novel. Tiffany, unfortunately, interrupts the Dance of the Seasons, and finds herself a target of the elemental spirit of Winter. She’ll need all the help she can get in this third story.

YA Fic Pratchett WMB ROG CHE FRA

Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer

Now numbering six books (the sixth is The Time Paradox, released last year), the adventures of boy-genius and millionaire Artemis Fowl, started here, in 2001. The boy has lost his father, and his mother stays in bed all day, paying no mind to little “Arty.” So what else should an heir to a fortune with time to spare and a personal bodyguard do? Travel the world looking for the secrets of the fairies, of course! This book has also been made into a graphic novel, with plans for the other books to follow.


YA Fic Colfer WCV

Join us next week when we profile fairy books for children!

Elizabeth Stoddard - A Summer Night

A poet, writer, and something of freedom fighter, Elizabeth Stoddard was certainly prolific. While her novels tended to mesh romance with the quest for equality between a woman's needs, desires, and social standing and taboos, her poetry was almost always lyrical.

A Summer Night

I FEEL the breath of the summer night,
Aromatic fire:
The trees, the vines, the flowers are astir
With tender desire.

The white moths flutter about the lamp,
Enamoured with light;
And a thousand creatures softly sing
A song to the night!

But I am alone, and how can I sing
Praises to thee?
Come, Night! unveil the beautiful soul
That waiteth for me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Anne Brontë /Acton Bell - A Reminiscence

Finally, a poem by the youngest of least known of the Brontë sisters, Anne, who wrote poetry under the pen name "Acton Bell."

A Reminiscence

Yes, thou art gone ! and never more
Thy sunny smile shall gladden me ;
But I may pass the old church door,
And pace the floor that covers thee.

May stand upon the cold, damp stone,
And think that, frozen, lies below
The lightest heart that I have known,
The kindest I shall ever know.

Yet, though I cannot see thee more,
'Tis still a comfort to have seen ;
And though thy transient life is o'er,
'Tis sweet to think that thou hast been ;

To think a soul so near divine,
Within a form so angel fair,
United to a heart like thine,
Has gladdened once our humble sphere.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Charlotte Brontë - Speak of the North!

Continuing from Saturday's poem by Emily Brontë, here is a selection by her sister, Charlotte.

Speak of the North!

Speak of the North! A lonely moor
Silent and dark and tractless swells,
The waves of some wild streamlet pour
Hurriedly through its ferny dells.

Profoundly still the twilight air,
Lifeless the landscape; so we deem
Till like a phantom gliding near
A stag bends down to drink the stream.

And far away a mountain zone,
A cold, white waste of snow-drifts lies,
And one star, large and soft and lone,
Silently lights the unclouded skies.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Emily Brontë - 'Tis Moonlight

The Brontë sisters are best known for their now-classic novels, like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. All three sisters wrote as poets first, but found little success writing under pseudonyms, and so, returned to prose.

'Tis Moonlight

'Tis moonlight, summer moonlight,
All soft and still and fair;
The solemn hour of midnight
Breathes sweet thoughts everywhere,

But most where trees are sending
Their breezy boughs on high,
Or stooping low are lending
A shelter from the sky.

And there in those wild bowers
A lovely form is laid;
Green grass and dew-steeped flowers
Wave gently round her head.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Author Profile: Jim Butcher

Writer of the gritty and fantastic wizard-noir novels The Dresden Files, author Jim Butcher is currently on tour to promote the eleventh book in the series – Turn Coat. Also upcoming is the sixth (and final) Codex Alera novel, First Lord’s Fury, a series he wrote after being inspired by high-fantasy greats like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. If you enjoy humor, hard-boiled noir mystery, (modern) damsels in distress, and settings both familiar and bizarre, try one of these novels!

Storm Front: A Novel of the Dresden Files

Harry Dresden, Wizard. The only wizard in the Chicago phone books, in fact. No love potions, endless purses, or other entertainments. The first book in the series, this novel throws the reader into the adventure of a wizard-for-hire, who crosses paths with beasts human and not-so-human on a nightly basis.

Sci Butcher WCV

Fic Butcher ROG

Turn Coat: A Novel of the Dresden Files

Just released is this 11th novel in the Dresden Files series. Harry, no longer the single, sort of anarchic wizard of Chicago, is actually in a position of power – both for the White Council and for his own Paranet group of the magically gifted. Of course, in Dresden’s life, nothing stays calm and in control for very long. If you’ve never read the Dresden Files, this can be a great book to throw you head over heels into the series – though you should read the other ten first.

Sci Butcher WCV

Fic Butcher FRA

Mean Streets

Several of the books that Butcher is credited with writing are because he’s written a short story included in the anthology. All of these short stories, so far, are about Harry Dresden, and while some, like “The Warrior” in 2009’s Mean Streets, have a place in between the books, many can be read out of order and out of context, to give you an idea of the style of writing. Mean Streets features short stories by other noir writers, like Thomas Sniegoski, author of the Remy Chandler series.

Fic Butcher WCV FRA

NFic Fic SCS

Furies of Calderon

Spies, legions of soldiers, and elemental spirits of magic add flavor to the first of six Codex Alera novels. Butcher builds an unknown world with some hints of ancient Rome, and pulls the reader in with him, with intrigues, politics, and mystical mysteries. If you’ve read the Dresden books and want more, or if you’re a fan of high fantasy, try this series.


Welcome to the Jungle

A Dresden prequel of sorts, “Welcome to the Jungle” features the wizard in a short graphic novel that comes before the events of “Storm Front.” With art by newcomer Ardian Syaf, this gives a face to Harry and his cohorts.

YA Graphic Butcher FRA

Amy Lowell - Solitaire

Amy Lowell was an Imagist poet of the late 19th century, and the early 1900s. A socialite who was not permitted to attend college, she read, wrote, and collected books to make up for her lack of formal education.


WHEN night drifts along the streets of the city,
And sifts down between the uneven roofs,
My mind begins to peek and peer.
It plays at ball in old, blue Chinese gardens,
And shakes wrought dice-cups in Pagan temples,
Amid the broken flutings of white pillars.
It dances with purple and yellow crocuses in its hair,
And its feet shine as they flutter over drenched grasses.
How light and laughing my mind is,
When all the good folk have put out their bed-room candles,
And the city is still!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Langston Hughes - The Weary Blues

There are very few Langston Hughes poems in the public domain, as the poet only passed away in 1967. This is one of the few - written during the Harlem Renaissance. Try listening to some jazz music in the background while you read - After all, it's also Jazz Appreciation Month!

The Weary Blues

Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
He did a lazy sway...
He did a lazy sway...
To the tune o’ those Weary Blues.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
Sweet Blues!
Coming from a black man’s soul.
O Blues!
In a deep song voice with a melancholy tone
I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan—
"Ain’t got nobody in all this world,
Ain’t got nobody but ma self.
I’s gwine to quit ma frownin’
And put ma troubles on the shelf."

Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.
He played a few chords then he sang some more—
"I got the Weary Blues
And I can’t be satisfied.
Got the Weary Blues
And can’t be satisfied—
I ain’t happy no mo’
And I wish that I had died."
And far into the night he crooned that tune.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed
While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
He slept like a rock or a man that’s dead.

More Langston Hughes poetry is available:
An African Treasury: articles, essays, stories, poems

The dream keeper and other poems
Juv 811.52 H WDB

The poems, 1921-1940
811 H WMB

And on CD audio, try "Rhapsodies in Black: music and words from the Harlem Renaissance"
CD Voc-Pop: Rhapsodies (4-disc set) WCV

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ambrose Bierce - The Bride

Ambrose Bierce is best known for his short stories, nearly all of which took place during the American Civil War.
He was also given the nickname "Bitter Bierce" due to his biting, critical wit and satirical sense of humor that led to the publication of "The Devil's Dictionary," featuring definitions like: "ADDER, n. A species of snake. So called from its habit of adding funeral outlays to the other expenses of living."

The Bride

“YOU know, my friends, with what a brave carouse
I made a second marriage in my house,—
Divorced old barren Reason from my bed
And took the Daughter of the Vine to spouse.”

So sang the Lord of Poets. In a gleam
Of light that made her like an angel seem,
The Daughter of the Vine said: “I myself
Am Reason, and the Other was a Dream.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Outside of a Dog, #42

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

While we’ve previously covered realistic, romance, and advice books for adults, this week, we’re focusing on books usually targeted towards the Young Adults in the community. Lots of what’s being written now deals with serious issues that young adults and their families face – and often, these books are great for adults and parents to read, too!

Ten Cents a Dance – Christine Fletcher

Set in the early 1940s in Chicago, Ten Cents a Dance tells about oldest daughter Ruby, and what she does to keep her family on their feet. Ruby Jacinski’s mother has rheumatoid arthritis, and that means she can’t work in the meat-packing factory anymore. Ruby has to quit school and go to work to keep the money coming in. She hates the smell of the place, and hates the work, too, so when local gangster Paulie Suelze tells her about a dance hall, she can’t help but go check it out. What follows is Ruby’s life dancing, and the lies she has to tell to keep her dream going.

YA Fic Fletcher WCV ROG SHL

Wintergirls – Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia and her best friend Cassie, made a pact to get skinny together, by any means necessary. Even after Cassie dies (as a side effect of her bulimia), Lia keeps going, lying to and fooling her parents into thinking she’s fine. As her weight plummets, and she sees Cassie in hallucinations, her story gets more and more haunting.

YA Fic Anderson WCV SBL UPL

Little Brother – Cory Doctorow

We reviewed this book at the beginning of the year (see link). It’s a great modern novel about technology, books and government – from a teenage guy’s point of view.

YA Fic Doctorow WCV WDB WAM

13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson

17-year-old Ginny finds herself on an adventure set up by her fun-loving and flighty Aunt Peg, after her graduation and her aunt’s death. Aunt Peg has left 13 little blue envelopes with people she knew and in places she loved all over the world, and she’s sent Ginny on a quest to find them – and herself.

YA Fic Johnson WCV

So Yesterday – Scott Westerfeld

While you probably know Australian author Westerfeld for his “Uglies” novels, or the Midnighters series, this standalone novel is a great read, too. Told from the point of view of Hunter, whose job it is to find the next cool thing, he accidentally finds a mystery many layers deep.

YA Fic Westerfeld WCV SHL RSV ROG

BKD YA Fic Westerfeld WCV

William Carlos Williams - The Shadow

An American poet who was also a pediatrician, William Carlos Williams was well known for his poems in the Imagism and modernism styles.

The Shadow

SOFT as the bed in the earth
Where a stone has lain—
So soft, so smooth and so cool,
Spring closes me in
With her arms and her hands.

Rich as the smell
Of new earth on a stone,
That has lain, breathing
The damp through its pores—
Spring closes me in
With her blossomy hair;
Brings dark to my eyes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

William Cullen Bryant - I Broke the Spell That Held Me Long

While William Cullen Bryant is not immediately known by name, he was an American Romantic poet and the longtime editor of the New York Evening Post.

I Broke the Spell That Held Me Long

I broke the spell that held me long,
The dear, dear witchery of song.
I said, the poet's idle lore
Shall waste my prime of years no more,
For Poetry, though heavenly born,
Consorts with poverty and scorn.

I broke the spell, nor deemed its power
Could fetter me another hour.
Ah, thoughtless! how could I forget
Its causes were around me yet?
For wheresoe'er I looked, the while,
Was nature's everlasting smile.

Still came and lingered on my sight
Of flowers and streams the bloom and light,
And glory of the stars and sun;
And these and poetry are one.
They, ere the world had held me long,
Recalled me to the love of song.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Robert Herrick was a London poet, best known for the opening stanza of "To the Virgins, to Make Much of the Time:"

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

Today, we present his poem "Ceremonies for Candlemas Eve," in honor of the holiday.

Ceremonies for Candlemas Eve - Robert Herrick

Down with the rosemary and bays,
Down with the misletoe;
Instead of holly, now up-raise
The greener box, for show.

The holly hitherto did sway;
Let box now domineer,
Until the dancing Easter-day,
Or Easter's eve appear.

Then youthful box, which now hath grace
Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped yew.

When yew is out, then birch comes in,
And many flowers beside,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,
To honour Whitsuntide.

Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
With cooler oaken boughs,
Come in for comely ornaments,
To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

William Blake - To the Evening Star

William Blake was a British poet and artist of the Romantic Age. While he was mostly unknown during his lifetime (and only traveled outside of London once), he's now become one of the best-known poets of the time period.

To the Evening Star

Thou fair-haired angel of the evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!
Smile on our loves, and while thou drawest the
Blue curtains of the sky, scatter thy silver dew
On every flower that shuts its sweet eyes
In timely sleep. Let thy west wing sleep on
The lake; speak silence with thy glimmering eyes,
And wash the dusk with silver. Soon, full soon,
Dost thou withdraw; then the wolf rages wide,
And the lion glares through the dun forest.
The fleeces of our flocks are covered with
Thy sacred dew; protect with them with thine influence.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ernest Thayer ("Phin") - Casey at the Bat

Very few people know the name of the Lampoon author who wrote the now-famous "Casey at the Bat." Published under the pen name "Phin" in 1888, most people recognize the famous last lines more than the author.

Casey at the Bat

The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they'd a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Alfred Lord Tennyson - Prophecy

British Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson, is responsible for many clichés and sayings we use still today (like "better to have loved and lost" and "theirs not to question why/ theirs but to do or die). In his lifetime, he published more than one hundred poems, and occasional artwork and sketches.


For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heaven fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and the rained a ghastly dew
From the nation’s airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the people plunging thro’ the thunderstorm;

Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of men, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Willa Cather - Spanish Johnny

If you've read "My Antonia" or "O Pioneers!," then you're already familiar with novelist Willa Cather. Known for her Great Plains novels, here is one of the few poems she'd written in her lifetime:

Spanish Johnny

The Old West, the old time,
The old wind singing through
The red, red grass a thousand miles—
And, Spanish Johnny, you!
He’d sit beside the water ditch
When all his herd was in,
And never mind a child, but sing
To his mandolin.

The big stars, the blue night,
The moon-enchanted lane;
The olive man who never spoke,
But sang the songs of Spain.
His speech with men was wicked talk—
To hear it was a sin;
But those were golden things he said
To his mandolin.

The gold songs, the gold stars,
The word so golden then;
And the hand so tender to a child—
Had killed so many men.
He died a hard death long ago
Before the Road came in—
The night before he swung, he sang
To his mandolin.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Outside of a Dog, #41

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

April 7th is the birthday of Major League Baseball players Adrián Beltré (Seattle Mariners), Ronnie Belliard (Washington Nationals), and Brett Tomko (New York Yankees), and Good Friday (this upcoming Friday the 10th of April) is Tigers’ Opening Day! Whether or not you were lucky enough to get tickets to this once-a-year event (or if you’re hardy enough to brave the wild April snow), here are some great baseball books to read on the car trip there:

The Story of the Detroit Tigers – Sara Gilbert

This history of our hometown team tells how it was founded, and details some of the earliest and best-known players.

Juv 796.357 G WCV WAM

All My Octobers: My memories of twelve World Series when the Yankees ruled baseball – Mickey Mantle

For many baseball fans, Mickey Mantle is synonymous with the golden age of baseball in the 1950s. Along with two other autobiographies, Mick and My Favorite Summer, this book is all about the winning spirit of the Yankees.

796.357 M WCV / Bio Mantle WMB

Free Baseball – Sue Corbett

Felix is an 11-year-old baseball fan and player in his heart. His father was famous, too, before he left Felix and his mom alone. Now, Felix joins a minor league baseball team as their bat boy, hoping that it will bring him closer to his long-lost dad.

JFic Corbett WCV WDB

Baseball Fever: Early baseball in Michigan – Peter Morris

Did you know that baseball was played in Michigan as early as 1830? If you didn’t, then this book is for you. Historian Morris tells about 1830-1870, using personal accounts and archived newspapers to tell the tales of baseball fever.

796.357 M WCV WDB

Babe & Me: A baseball card adventure – Dan Gutman

13-year-old Joe Stoshack can travel through time using his baseball card collection in this series by Gutman, who also writes the My Weird School Days books. In this short novel, Joe takes his father with him to see if Babe Ruth really called his home run in the 1932 World Series.

JFic Gutman WCV WAM

Ernie Harwell: My sixty years in baseball – Ernie Harwell

The voice of Tigers’ baseball, Ernie Harwell has his own exhibit at the Detroit Public Library, and is famous not only for his voice, but for naming the original Tiger Stadium “the corner of Michigan and Trumbull” or, just “the corner.” Harwell is still working with the city of Detroit to try to save and preserve that precious piece of sports history (

Bio Harwell WCV WDB WAM

William Wordsworth - Daffodils

Born April 7th, 1770, William Wordsworth is often quoted for the following poem. Even was we see the snow pile up outside (in April!), remember that the daffodils will eventually bloom golden.


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
The thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.