Finding poetry

I’ve been wanting to expand the blog into other media beside the printed word for some time, and I managed that a bit in the past with a post about a song that became a book, a cool video about language, and a short film. Today I am compelled to post about The King is Dead, the new album by The Decemberists. I simply can’t stop listening to it.

One slight hiccup is that the opening of “Calamity Song” is so reminiscent of REM’s “Seven Chinese Brothers”, that I actually thought my iTunes was accidentally on shuffle. To add to the confusion, Peter Buck even plays on the track, though the song is all Colin Meloy’s, and once I got over the sense of deja vu I realized it’s a great piece with some amazing lyrics, such as:

Hettie Green
Queen of supply-side bonhomie bone-drab
(Know what I mean?)

Well, no, I have no idea, but I’d like to hug Meloy for using the word “bonhomie” in a song.

This is my favorite:

The thrushes bleating battle with the wrens
Disrupts my reverie again

It took me a while to figure out why I liked that phrase so much from the song “June Hymn”. Was it that it has a gorgeous melody behind it? That it has a little alliteration? It feels almost like a tongue twister? I thought and listened and listened and thought some more. And then I figured it out. It was so obvious, I couldn’t believe it took me a week and a half for this word to even cross my mind. It’s poetry.

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Best laid plans

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~ E.M. Forster

Particularly poignant as a new year begins, but easier said than done.

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So you had a bad day.

“…the world has a way of slipping through your fingers.”
~ George Bernard Shaw, Heartbreak House

Or, sometimes, it’s not so much the whole world as it is your own personal little world at a given moment. Take the work day, for example. Today, my work world slipped through my fingers, plummeted to the floor, and shattered into a million razor sharp pieces which were so wide spread it seemed impossible not to step on them.

That is a gross exaggeration, of course. It was just a bad day. A really bad day. But so what? We’ve all had them. We get through them. We come back and try again. Sometimes we fail again, sometimes we fail better, to paraphrase Samuel Beckett, and sometimes we even succeed. How tolerable this cycle is depends so much on the work at hand. What one does for eight or more hours a day — time that we wish could be spent in so many other ways — makes all the difference in a world that has a way of slipping through your fingers. Even loving your job doesn’t guarantee a sturdy grip, but it sure does make it easier to get out of bed on Monday.

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Henry James on Work

We work in the dark, we do what we can, we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art. ~ Henry James

I spend much of my work day writing. By the time I get home, words come slowly. If this blog is to survive, I think I need to let these great writers speak for themselves. So, unless I am wildly inspired, forthcoming posts will feature more quote and less commentary. I do what I can, I give what I have. Lately, it’s not so much.

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Screw you, BP

Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish caught will we realize that we cannot eat money.
~ Old Cree proverb

Dear BP America,

In a previous post on this blog, I quoted Robert Louis Stevenson: “Sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.” Well you’re hosting that dinner now it seems, except you have a lot of guests at your poisonous table who would rather not be there: everyone who lives on the Gulf Coast, the families of those who perished in the rig explosion, countless animals who are covered in your oil, and every American tax payer who will foot the bill when the U.S. Government (rightfully) brings criminal charges against you. You are a vile corporation, and it is my great hope that you are forced into bankruptcy and that your greedy and ignorant executives never work again. You are the worst of the worst.

Sincerely,

Me and everyone I know

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A lost mind in need of a thought.

But the truth inevitably found me, as important truths do, like a lost thought in need of a mind. ~ Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

This is the last line of the first page of this novel. It’s as far as I got tonight as I rushed home from work, having left late, to wolf down a couple of frozen waffles and pieces of veggie sausage. It was the best I could do in the fifteen minutes I had to spare before heading to the last night of my knitting class. While I ate my breakfast-for-dinner, I started this novel — a gift from ScottE and J-Lo who loved it so much they got it for me for my birthday. In my frenzied rush home to eat and run I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind to begin a new book, and I found myself distractedly rushing through page one. That is, until I got to this line. It made me slow down and reflect, like a lost mind in need of a thought. And then I carried on and got to class on time where I knitted that most pedestrian of garments: a sock.

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Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Eat food, not too much,┬ámostly plants. ~ Michael Pollan, from In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Earth Day is right around the corner, and in my opinion, Pollan’s advice is one of the best rules you can follow to make every day Earth Day. Other important steps to take: get your fruits and veggies through community shared agriculture (CSA) and make sure that if you’re not ready to give up meat entirely that you know where it comes from. The food you buy can make as big or little an impact on the environment as you choose, so choose wisely.

Share your favorite eco-friendly tip in the comments section!

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