Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell, Old Year

Farewell, Old Year, we walk no more together,
I catch the sweetness of thy latest sigh;
And, crowned with yellow brake and withered heather,
I see thee stand beneath this cloudy sky.

Here, in the dim light of a gray December,
We part in smiles, and yet we met in tears,
Watching thy chilly dawn, I well remember
I thought thee saddest born of all the years.

I knew not then what precious gifts were hidden
Under the mists that veiled thy path from sight;
I knew not then that joy would come unbidden
To make thy closing hours divinely bright.

I only saw the dreary clouds unbroken,
I only heard the plash of icy rain;
And in that winter gloom, I found no token
To tell me that the sun would shine again.

O dear Old Year, I wronged a Father's kindness;
I would not trust Him with my load of care,
I stumbled on in weariness and blindness,
And lo! He blessed me with an answered prayer.

Good-bye, kind Year! We walk no more together,
But here in quiet happiness we part;
And, from thy wreath of faded fern and heather,
I take some sprays and wear them on my heart.

Sarah Doudney (1841-1926)
found in
1882 The Living Age

Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Til the season comes 'round again

Come and gather 'round at the table
in the spirit of family and friends
and we'll all join hands and remember this moment
'til the season comes 'round again

So let us smile for the picture
and we'll hold it as long as we can
may it carry us through should we ever get lonely
'til the season comes 'round again

One night, holy and bright
shining with love from our hearts
by a warm fire let's lift our hands high
and be thankful we're here 'til this time next year

May the new year be blessed with good tidings
'til the next time I see you again
if we must say goodbye let the spirit go with you
'til the season comes 'round again

One night, holy and bright
shining with love from our hearts
by a warm fire let's lift our hands high
and be thankful we're here 'til this time next year

May this New Year be blessed with good tidings
'til the next time I see you again
we'll all join hands and remember this moment
and we'll love and we'll laugh in the time that we have
'til the season comes 'round again

John Barlow Jarvis & Randy Goodrum

Friday, December 24, 2010

1859 Christmas :: Time-Honored Holiday

This time-honored holiday is again at hand, and many stockings, we opine, will be hung to-night with light hearts and tiny hands for presents rich, which the old man with the reindeer and sledge [sic] has for time out of mind had credit for bringing. 

Christmas, the most widely observed, perhaps, of all holidays, is to the children of Christendom an event fraught with peculiar interest and happiness. In the minds of them it is connected with visions of sugar candy, mince pies, and other sweetmeats too tedious to mention; and in large cities, perhaps, with hopes of a visit to the "Christmas Tree" — an institution which we admire. 

Nor are the "children of a larger growth" indifferent to the advent of Christmas day, as the avidity with which they swallow glasses of egg-nogg abundantly bears witness to. Indeed, in the minds of Americans the idea of Christmas and egg-nogg are utterly inseparable, albeit that of egg-nogg and Christmas are not. 

Our greatest poet has not failed to notice this beautiful trait in our nationality, as may be seen from the following verse:

He that on Christmas day
hath no egg-nogg in himself,
Nor is not moved
by a bowl of this sweet beverage,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;

The motions of his spirits
are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted.

Christmas day to us brings many pleasant recollections. . . . from the YAZOO DEMOCRAT [Yazoo City, MS], December 24, 1859, p. 2, c. 2

Song for a Winter's Night

The lamp is burning low upon my table top
The snow is softly falling
The air is still in the silence of my room
I hear your voice softly calling.

If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
On this winter night with you. . . .

The fire is dying now, my lamp is growing dim
The shades of night are lifting
The morning light steals across my windowpane
Where webs of snow are drifting.

February 2010 Snow at My House 

If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
And to once again be with you
On this winter night with you.

Gordon Lightfoot

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Planted on the banks of time

The continuity of life 
is never broken; 
the river flows onward 
and is lost to our sight, 
but under its new horizon 
it carries the same waters 
which it gathered under ours; 
and its unseen valleys 
are made glad by the offerings 
which are borne down to them 
from the Past, flowers, perchance, 
the germs of which its own waves 
had planted on the banks of Time. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Horses' Christmas Tree

Let's give them a rousing Christmas,
The horses, I mean, this year;
Let the big tree in the public square
Be weighted with Yuletide cheer.
Send word to the drivers of Boston
That the date be not forgot;
Bid each bring his beast to the Christmas feast
In the same old well-known spot.

A tree for the work-worn horses,
Tired horses that plod the street;
Who earn their way with no other pay
Than a bed and a bite to eat.

O, give them a royal welcome
To a banquet of warming food;
Let them eat until they have had their fill
Of the things a horse finds good.

A bigger and better Christmas
For the horses of Boston town;
For the big tree there in the public square
Is a star in the city's crown.

The Horses' Christmas Tree
Maude Wood Henry

Originally published
Our Dumb Animals
February 1928

Just an FYI . . . I received a link to this poem via a Google Alert which I keep set up on any variations of my domain name . . . benotforgot . . . 

How will we know it's us without our past?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

P.S. I love you

What is there to write, what is there to say?
Same things happen ev'ry day;
Not a thing to write, not a thing to say,
So I take my pen in hand
and start the same old way. . . .

Dear, I thought I'd drop a line.
The weather's cool. The folks are fine.
I'm in bed each night at nine.
P.S. I love you. . . .

Yesterday we had some rain,
but all in all, I can't complain,
Was it dusty on the train,
P. S. I love you.

I do my best to obey all your wishes.
I put a sign up, think,
now I got to buy us a new set of dishes,
or wash the ones that have piled in the sink.

Nothin' else for me to say,
and so I'll close. Oh, by the way,
everybody's thinkin' of you.
P.S. I love you.

Nothing else to tell you, dear.
Except, each day feels like a year.
Every night I'm dreamin' of you.
P.S. I love you.

P.S. I love you.

Johnny Mercer (1909-1976)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

With Joy

“The soul leaves a body as a school boy jumps through a school door -- suddenly, and with joy. There is no horror in death.” ~ from the movie, A Rumor of Angels

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Family Scribe -- every family has one

My feelings are in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors . . . to put flesh on their bones and make them live again . . . to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

To me . . . doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.

We are the story tellers of the tribe . . . all tribes have one . . . we have been called as it were by our genes . . . those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story . . . so, we do . . . and, in finding them, we somehow find ourselves.

How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors you have a wonderful family you would be proud of us? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do.

It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.

It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today.

It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them.

So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us.

So, as a scribe called I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.

That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

Versions of this piece are found quoted on genealogy sites all over the internet. It is most often attributed to Della M. Cummings Wright.

Friday, November 19, 2010

See You on the Other Side

This is the place. Stand still, my steed,
Let me review the scene,
And summon from the shadowy Past
The forms that once have been.

The Past and Present here unite
Beneath Time's flowing tide,
Like footprints hidden by a brook,
But seen on either side. . . .

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Go Rest High on That Mountain

I know your life
On earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain
You weren't afraid to face the devil
You were no stranger to the rain

Go rest high on that mountain
Son, you work on earth is done
Go to heaven a shoutin'
Love for the Father and Son

Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve
I wish I could see the angels faces
When they hear your sweet voice sing

Go rest high on that mountain
Son, you work on earth is done
Go to heaven a shoutin'
Love for the Father and Son

By Vince Gill

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday :: Seated on an old grave

I now write these lines seated on an old grave (doubtless of a century since at least) on the burial hill of the Whitmans of many generations. 

Fifty and more graves are quite plainly traceable and as many more decay’d out of all form - depress’d mounds, crumbled and broken stones, cover’d with moss - the gray and sterile hill, the clumps of chestnuts outside, the silence, just varied by the soughing wind. 

There is always the deepest eloquence of sermon or poem in any of these ancient graveyards of which Long Island has so many; so what must this one have been to me? 

My whole family history with its successions of links, from the first settlements down to date, told here - three centuries concentrated on this sterile acre.” -- Walt Whitman (1819-1892) from Specimen Days

Until I see you again

I read a note my grandma wrote back in nineteen twenty-three.
Grandpa kept it in his coat, and he showed it once to me. He said,
"Boy, you might not understand, but a long, long time ago,
Grandma's daddy didn't like me none, but I loved your Grandma so."

We had this crazy plan to meet and run away together.
Get married in the first town we came to, and live forever.
But nailed to the tree where we were supposed to meet, instead
Of her, I found this letter, and this is what it said:

If you get there before I do, don't give up on me.
I'll meet you when my chores are through;
I don't know how long I'll be.
But I'm not gonna let you down, darling wait and see.
And between now and then, till I see you again,
I'll be loving you. Love, me.

I read those words just hours before my Grandma passed away,
In the doorway of a church where me and Grandpa stopped to pray.
I know I'd never seen him cry in all my fifteen years;
But as he said these words to her, his eyes filled up with tears.

If you get there before I do, don't give up on me.
I'll meet you when my chores are through;
I don't know how long I'll be.
But I'm not gonna let you down, darling wait and see.
And between now and then, till I see you again,
I'll be loving you. Love, me.
Between now and then, till I see you again,
I'll be loving you. Love, me.

Performed by Collin Raye

Skip Ewing & Max T. Barnes

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Making memories of what was today

Hold tight to the sound of the music of living

Happy songs from the laughter of children at play;

Hold my hand as we run through the sweet fragrant meadows,

Making mem'ries of what was today.

Tender words, gentle touch, and a good cup of coffee,

And someone that loves me and wants me to stay;

Hold them near while they're here, and don't wait for tomorrow

To look back and wish for today.

Take the blue of the sky and the green of the forest,

The gold and the brown of the freshly-mown hay,

Add the pale shades of spring and the circus of autumn,

And weave you a lovely today.

For we have this moment to hold in our hands,

And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;

Yesterday's gone, and tomorrow may never come,

But we have this moment, today.

Lyrics by Gloria Gaither.

Music by William J. Gaither.

© 1975 William J. Gaither.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

If I Had Not Been Born

"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't exactly want to make people KNOW more . . . though I know that IS the noblest ambition . . . but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me . . . to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born." — L.M. Montgomery

Monday, November 1, 2010

November twilights just begun

As the afternoons grow shorter, and the early evening drives us home to complete our chores, we are reminded of the shortness of life, and become more pensive, at least in the twilight of the year. We are prompted to make haste and finish our work before the night comes. I leaned over a rail in the twilight on the Walden road, waited for the evening mail to be distributed, when such thoughts visited me. I seemed to recognize the November evening as a familiar thing come round again, and yet I could hardly tell whether I had ever known it or only divined it. The November twilight's just begun! . . . Thoreau's Journal . . . 1st November 1858 . . .

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time that is gone

I am leaving behind me fifty years of memory.

Memory . . . Who shall say what is real and what is not? 

Can I believe my friends all gone when their voices are a glory in my ears? 


And I will stand to say no and no again, for they remain a living truth within my mind. 

There is no fence nor hedge around time that is gone. 

You can go back and have what you like of it . . . 

So I can close my eyes on my valley as it was . . . 

from Huw's opening monologue in the movie, How Green Was My Valley

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The blue dream of sky

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.

e. e. cummings
b. 14 Oct 1894
d. 03 Sept 1962

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday :: To be at peace

To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. 

To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. 

To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace. 

Oscar Wilde

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Barefoot Boy

In memory of my Dad . . .

Blessings on thee, little man,

Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!

With thy turned-up pantaloons,

And thy merry whistled tunes;

With thy red lip, redder still

Kissed by strawberries on the hill;

With the sunshine on thy face,

Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace;

From my heart I give thee joy,

I was once a barefoot boy!

Prince thou art, - the grown-up man

Only is republican.

Let the million-dollared ride!

Barefoot, trudging at his side,

Thou hast more than he can buy

In the reach of ear and eye,

Outward sunshine, inward joy:

Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood's painless play,

Sleep that wakes in laughing day,

Health that mocks the doctor's rules,

Knowledge never learned of schools,

Of the wild bee's morning chase,

Of the wild-flower's time and place,

Flight of fowl and habitude

Of the tenants of the wood;

How the tortoise bears his shell,

How the woodchuck digs his cell,

And the ground-mole sinks his well;

How the robin feeds her young,

How the oriole's nest is hung;

Where the whitest lilies blow,

Where the freshest berries grow,

Where the ground-nut trails its vine,

Where the wood-grape's clusters shine;

Of the black wasp's cunning way,

Mason of his walls of clay,

And the architectural plans

Of gray hornet artisans!

For, eschewing books and tasks,

Nature answers all he asks;

Hand in hand with her he walks,

Face to face with her he talks,

Part and parcel of her joy,

Blessings on the barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood's time of June,

Crowding years in one brief moon,

When all things I heard or saw,

Me, their master, waited for.

I was rich in flowers and trees,

Humming-birds and honey-bees;

For my sport the squirrel played,

Plied the snouted mole his spade;

For my taste the blackberry cone

Purpled over hedge and stone;

Laughed the brook for my delight

Through the day and through the night,

Whispering at the garden wall,

Talked with me from fall to fall;

Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,

Mine the walnut slopes beyond,

Mine, on bending orchard trees,

Apples of Hesperides!

Still as my horizon grew,

Larger grew my riches too;

All the world I saw or knew

Seemed a complex Chinese toy,

Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

Oh for festal dainties spread,

Like my bowl of milk and bread;

Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,

On the door-stone, gray and rude!

O'er me, like a regal tent,

Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,

Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,

Looped in many a wind-swung fold;

While for music came the play

Of the pied frogs' orchestra;

And, to light the noisy choir,

Lit the fly his lamp of fire.

I was monarch: pomp and joy

Waited on the barefoot boy!

Cheerily, then, my little man,

Live and laugh, as boyhood can!

Though the flinty slopes be hard,

Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,

Every morn shall lead thee through

Fresh baptisms of the dew;

Every evening from thy feet

Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:

All too soon these feet must hide

In the prison cells of pride,

Lose the freedom of the sod,

Like a colt's for work be shod,

Made to tread the mills of toil,

Up and down in ceaseless moil:

Happy if their track be found

Never on forbidden ground;

Happy if they sink not in

Quick and treacherous sands of sin.

Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,

Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

John Greenleaf Whittier

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Precious Memories

Precious mem'ries, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfold.

Precious mem'ries, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Precious father, loving mother
Fly across the lonely years
And old home scenes of my childhood
In fond memory appear.

In the stillness of the midnight
Echoes from the past I hear
Old-time singing, gladness bringing
From that lovely land somewhere.

I remember mother praying
Father, too, on bended knee
Sun is sinking, shadows falling
But their pray'rs still follow me.

As I travel on life's pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder, hope grows fonder
Precious mem'ries flood my soul.

J.B.F. Wright (1923)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Sure Miss You

If life could only bring again,

the days I took for granted when

To hear your voice was just a call away

Oh what I'd give for just some time,

to say the things that slipped my mind

There's so much now I'd really like to say

But I can never go back when

we did the things we did back then

I'll store those precious memories in my mind

I'll take what you've instilled in me;

I'll try to be all I can be

And walk the path that you have left behind.

I sure miss you;

life will never be the same with you not here

Each passing day has brought much pain

But with God's grace my strength remains

I sure miss you,

but Heaven's sweeter with you there.

The little things that seemed so small

are now gold in a memory vault

I cherish every one I have of you

Now I can see and recognize

the part you played to shape my life

I often see you in the things I do

In God's design and master plan

He saw the hurting hearts of man

As we would say goodbye to those so dear

So with our family and friends

we'll be together once again

We'll view all Heaven's splendor hand in hand.

I sure miss you;

life will never be the same with you not here

Each passing day has brought much pain

But with God's grace my strength remains

I sure miss you,

but Heaven's sweeter with you there.

Words and Music


Gerald Crabb

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

As I grow older . . .

Quoting H.I. Brackett . . . I have observed that old people live much in the past. As I grow older I find myself turning oftener to the days in the old home. I hear the patter and the prattle of childish feet and voice; light step of youth and maid; sober footfall and serious word of man and matron; the slowing step and failing voice of age. All, all are gone! I alone am left of . . .

The dear home faces whereupon

The fitful firelight paled and shown.

Hence forward, listen as I will

The voices of that hearth are still.

How strange it seems with so much gone

Of life and love to still live on.

Mrs. Silence J. Soule.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Easy to Go Home

The other day I passed a place
you always liked to go,
And I picked up the phone because
I thought you'd want to know;

But I forgot that you weren't there,
Oh, I miss you so these days,
But I'm reminded of your smile
and the funny things you'd say.

You left a grieving family,
and friends who love you, too,
Though I have felt you many times,
And know you saw me through;

I always long to feel your arms
and look into your eyes,
And talk forever me and you
somewhere in Paradise.

Knowing we can spend a lifetime
reminiscing on the past,
Knowing I will see your face again
where tender moments last;

It makes me want to be there
knowing I won't be alone,
Knowing you'll be there
makes it easy to go Home.

Guy Penrod

Monday, September 6, 2010

We are here to speak your names

We are here to speak your names
because of the way you made for us.
Because of the prayers you prayed for us.
We are the ones you conjured up,
hoping we would have strength enough,
and discipline enough,
and talent enough,
and nerve enough
to step into the light
when it turned in our direction,
and just smile awhile.

Pearl Cleage

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: An Old Clipping From Reader's Digest

This was shared at Genealojournal by Lisa Wallen Logsdon . . .

Where one of my favorite quotes came from, as seen on my blog
'Old Stones Undeciphered" and on my Facebook Profile and on my Find A Grave Bio
 Quote by:  Mavis Fruge 

Friday, July 2, 2010

A hundred years ago

. . . Who peopled all the city streets,
A hundred years ago?
Who tilled the church with faces meek
A hundred years ago?
The sneering tale
Of sister frail,
The plot that work'd
A brother's hurt—
Where, O where, are plots and sneers.
The poor man's hopes, the rich man's fears,
That lived so long ago ?
Where are the graves where dead men slept,
A hundred years ago ?
Who when they were living, wept
A hundred years ago ?
By other men that knew not them
Their lands are tilled, their graves are filled
Yet nature then was just as gay,
And bright the sunshine as to-day,
A hundred years ago.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Picture of Me Without You

Imagine a world where no music was playing
And think of a church with nobody praying
Have you ever looked up at a sky with no blue?
Then you've seen a picture of me without you

Have you walked in a garden where nothing was growing
Or stood by a river where nothing was flowing
If you've seen a red rose unkissed by the dew
Then you've seen a picture of me without you

Can you picture heaven with no angels singing
Or a quiet Sunday morning with no church bells ringing
If you've watched as the heart of a child breaks in two
Then you've seen a picture of me without you

Norris Wilson / George Richey

Friday, June 18, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day 1917

This postcard from my private collection is postmarked June 20, 1917. On June 14, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson gave the following speech in honor of Flag Day.

This flag, which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours.

It floats in majestic silence above the hosts that execute those choices, whether in peace or in war. And yet, though silent, it speaks to us, speaks to us of the past, of the men and women who went before us, and of the records they wrote upon it.

We celebrate the day of its birth; and from its birth until now it has witnessed a great history, has floated on high the symbol of great events, of a great plan of life worked out by a great people.

Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way in this day of high resolution when every principle we hold dearest is to be vindicated and made secure for the salvation of the nation.

We are ready to plead at the bar of history, and our flag shall wear a new luster. Once more we shall make good with our lives and fortunes the great faith to which we were born, and a new glory shall shine in the face of our people.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Today I visited yesterday . . .

Today I visited yesterday
And walked among the graves
Of family and friends from long ago
Whose memory had begun to fade.

The graves were unattended
As were my thoughts of them
When a vision of the ages past
Brought back my sense of kin.

The vision showed the church lawn
On a crisp summer day
The table spread, the food prepared
And friends who would break bread.

All my relatives were there
both young and old
Grandma and I walked hand and hand
Sharing stories never told.

We laughed and cried
And shared our thoughts
And I found the friend
I thought I'd lost.

As the sun began to fade . . .
The church bell rang out clear
Grandma and the others
slowly disappeared . . .

Today I visited yesterday
And now the memory is strong
Of the family from which I came . . .
and now belong . . .

by Pat Conner Rice

Friday, February 5, 2010

An Arundel Tomb

These are the tombs of Earl Richard Fitzalan (1306-1376) and Countess Eleanor de Lancaster (1318-1372), who are currently believed to be my 22nd (via Richard) & 23rd (via Alice) & 24th (via Joan) great-grandparents. Today, the 5th day of February, is the anniversary of the day they married . . . in 1345 . . . at Ditton Church in Buckinghamshire, England.

An Arundel Tomb

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd -
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor's sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly, they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

Phillip Larkin

Friday, January 22, 2010

How Green Was My Valley

I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me, those who are to come. 

I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front, to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond. 

And their eyes were my eyes.

As I felt, so they had felt, and were to feel, as then, so now, as tomorrow and forever. 

Then I was not afraid, for I was in a long line that had no beginning, and no end, and the hand of his father grasped my father's hand, and his hand was in mine, and my unborn son took my right hand, and all, up and down the line that stretched from Time That Was, to Time That Is, and Is Not Yet, raised their hands to show the link, and we found that we were one . . .

written by Richard Llewellyn
How Green Was My Valley

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

1901 :: Thoughts on the New Year

The following was written by a 21-year-old Lillie May Stulting concerning the advent of the 20th Century. May was a first cousin to Caroline Maude Stulting, who was the mother of Pearl Buck.

Sunday, January 6, 1901

... And so we have come at last to a new era -- to that wonderful twentieth century toward which the eyes of the world have so long and so hopefully been turned. Within a few weeks at most, we shall have looked our last upon the century that gave us birth and not us only, but millions of others, of whom the majority have passed away.

Most likely, we shall have ceased even to remember it, for our eyes being bent on the future, we shall have but little thought to spare for the past, for in the progressing rapidly-turning modern world, in which we live and move and have our being the What-has-been counts for very little in comparison with the all-important What-is-to-be. And yet, if justice be done to this century that is passing away, what an illustrious century it has been!

Let the twentieth bring us what-so-ever wonders it may. It can scarcely surpass the achievements of which it's predecessor has been witness. A hundred years ago, the world was a very simple-minded old world indeed. It knew nothing of steam, or of gas, or of electricity.

It did most of its work and took most of its pleasure by daylight, and when artificial illumination was required a farthing rush-light or a tallow dip supplied it, while torches or flambeaus served to render darkness visible in the streets. It did its cooking by wood, igniting its fires by means of a tinderbox, or the still more ancient flint and steel.

And its draughty old houses were heated by huge logs, the same primitive fuel, burning on wide hearths through whose capacious chimneys one could catch glimpses of the wintry sky.

So looking forward into the century that is coming, it is difficult to conceive that it can be greater, more wonderful, than that which is passing away. The good resolutions which always figure so prominently among the New Year observances and which unfortunately are generally predestined to die of neglect while still in their infancy, will doubtless come to the fore in greater numbers than ever in this year of years.

So let us not fail to take our New Year resolutions according to our want, even though there be those who scoff at us for our manifest inability to keep them; let us take them in all honesty in all seriousness of intent, and standing firm in the determination not to let one failure or many swerve us from our purpose.

While the shops are still filled with holiday presents it is worthwhile to observe if one have the leisure, how more extravagant are the tastes of the present generation than were those of its predecessors.

Twenty years ago, the average youngster thought himself lucky if his Christmas acquisitions included a modest express wagon, a train of little cars of a drum of moderate dimensions; but now-a-days these simple gifts are regarded with high disdain by all except the very smallest children -- those who are too young, indeed, to have had their powers of discrimination very much developed.

The small boy of today is satisfied with nothing less costly than a gold watch and chain, a golfing outfit, a gymnasium with appliances and other expensive items; while his little sister demands a doll as big as herself with a phonograph attachment, a doll's wardrobe of the completest and costliest description; a wicker work go-cart in which the doll may take her airing; doll's furniture that is almost as expensive as real furniture; and in addition, sundry items of personal adornments for herself.

As for grown-ups, their tastes in Christmas presents seem to embrace everything from a grand piano to a silken sofa pillow. Years ago, it was the custom to give dainty trifles of one's own manufacture for Christmas presents, but the times have changed since then.

The age is an extravagant one; simplicity, though ever on our lips, is practically a dead letter, so far as our lives are concerned; and our children, as well as ourselves, have left the happy world of Sweet Illusions far behind them. It is fervently to be hoped that, among the many blessings which the dawning century is to bring us, a revivification of the every-living, but often languishing principles of Truth and Justice and Honor may be the first.

When the children perceive that it is not necessary to do violence (to) one's finer instincts in order to achieve social or commercial success, they will accustom themselves readily enough to the changed conditions. When they see that the path of integrity leads to prosperity as well as to happiness, they will need no incentive to pursue it.

But no amount of oral teaching, no amount of persuasion, be it ever so eloquent, will avail to inspire them with respect for pure and holy things so long as their eyes and their intelligence convince them that honor comes not to whom honor is due, but to him who aggressively fights for it -- that social prominence is not a matter of personal worth, but of well directed wealth -- that everything under the sun, including the respect of one's fellowmen, can be bought with a price and it is not to be procured without it.

It is getting so dark I can't see the lines. I'm sitting on the gallery, so good-bye.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Blogger's Poem

I asked the Lord to tell me
why my house is such a mess.
He asked if I'd been blogging,
and I had to answer yes.

He told me to get off my fanny
and tidy up the house.
And so I started cleaning up...
the smudges off my mouse.

I wiped and shined the topside.
That really did the trick...
I was just admiring my good work
I didn't mean to "click."

But click, I did, and oops - I found
A real absorbing site
That I got SO way into it -
I was into it all night.

Nothing's changed except my mouse.
It is very, very shiny.
I guess my house will stay a mess...
While I sit here on my hiney.

Doggy 2004

To Bring the Dead to Life

Robert Graves

To bring the dead to life
Is no great magic.
Few are wholly dead:
Blow on a dead man's embers
And a live flame will start.

Let his forgotten griefs be now,
And now his withered hopes;
Subdue your pen to his handwriting
Until it prove as natural
To sign his name as yours.

Limp as he limped,
Swear by the oaths he swore;
If he wore black, affect the same;
If he had gouty fingers,
Be yours gouty too.

Assemble tokens intimate of him --
A ring, a hood, a desk:
Around these elements then build
A home familiar to
The greedy revenant.

So grant him life, but reckon
That the grave which housed him
May not be empty now:
You in his spotted garments
Shall yourself lie wrapped.

Terry Thornton's
Hill Country HOGS Blog