A Poem for a Thursday #46

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) "achieved a level of national and international prominence previously unequaled in the literary history of the United States." What American schoolchild has not read "Paul Revere's Ride" or "Hiawatha"? Longfellow also gave us this gem:

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
             When she was good,
             She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

No, that is not your poem for today. Longfellow was one of the few American writers to be honored in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. Longfellow was viewed as "a champion of poetry in an otherwise prosaic society" and he provided encouragement to other poets including Emily Dickinson. His narrative style poems are out of favor these days and, as readers looked for more complexities in their reading, he fell out of popularity. It is a pity because there is something very appealing about much of his work. It may frequently be sentimental and old-fashioned but it is also very readable.

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town,
       And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
but the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
       And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
      And the tide rises, the tide falls. 

The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Here is the poem Reese at Typings shared this week and here is one from Jennifer at Pastry & Purls.

A Day Out//Harkness Memorial State Park

Summer is almost over. Soon the days will be getting cooler and school will be back in session. One more day of walking a beach, collecting sea glass, and listening to the waves seemed necessary. We went to Harkness Memorial Park in Waterford, CT. It is a park we have visited many times over the years but we never tire of it. The park has gardens, a mansion, and a beach on Long Island Sound. No swimming is allowed on the beach but that was fine with us. We were happy to putter around taking photos and paddling in the waves.

We didn't visit all the gardens because Celia was very anxious to get down to the beach. A Tuesday morning is not exactly a prime beach visiting day so we had it pretty much to ourselves. There were a few mothers with their small children happily building sandcastles, some older couples ambling down the shore, and a small group of artists very involved in painting the ocean view but that was it. We were free to imagine that the mansion was ours and we had simply wandered down for a gentle stroll before lunch.

There is something so soothing about a beach. The rhythmic sound of the crashing waves drowns out the worries we all carry around with us. The sun, the sand, and the search for the perfect shell or rock return us to childhood. For a little while, we are happy and at peace.

Eventually, hunger drove us out in search of clam chowder and french fries but we had seashells in our pockets and salt spray in our hair to remind us of one last summer day.

A Poem for a Thursday #45

Four years ago this week I started this blog. Four years of taking photos of books, talking about books, writing rambling posts about my random thoughts, and being constantly surprised that people take the time to read and comment. I've frequently thought I had nothing to say and then found that once I start typing the words are there. I've learned a lot about blogging and photography; just enough to know how much I still have to learn. I've discovered that I actually like poetry and I have expanded my reading horizons by reading other people's blogs.

Most people in my everyday life don't know I have this blog. I don't talk about it, at first because I was self-conscious and now because not  talking about it has become a habit. But this space has become part of who I am. It is a place where I have a voice and where I can talk about things that many people around me don't have an interest in. Like anything online, it only portrays a snapshot of my life but that snapshot, small as it is, is real. That means that, yes, I am just as London, tea, and book obsessed as I seem.

It seems appropriate that this week's poem be connected to books because so much of my blog is about books. Thank you for sticking around and reading my rambling, book-obsessed thoughts.

A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is
To meet an antique book,
In just the dress his century wore;
A privilege, I think,
His venerable hand to take,
And warming in our own,
A passage back, or two, to make
To times when he was young.
His quaint opinions to inspect,
His knowledge to unfold
On what concerns our mutual mind,
The literature of old;
What interested scholars most,
What competitions ran
When Plato was a certainty.
And Sophocles a man;
When Sappho was a living girl,
And Beatrice wore
the gown that Dante deified.
Facts, centuries before,
He traverses familiar,
As one should come to town
And tell you all your dreams were true;
He lived where dreams were sown. 

In a Library
Emily Dickinson

Reese, at Typings, has also shared a poem.

Books I Bought in Scotland

Most unusually, book shopping was not the focus of this trip. I was traveling with my daughter and, much as she loves reading, she did not want to spend all her time in book shops. She wanted to see castles and pandas and museums as well. I suppose that is reasonable. However, I did manage to pop into a few bookshops and I came home with ten new books. I didn't put a lot of thought into my purchases. Since I didn't have much time in bookshops I just bought things when they looked interesting. Or I bought things because the bookseller was nice. The book second from the bottom in the stack was purchased solely because the bookseller spent 20 minutes discussing what route we should take to get to Kelvingrove Park and what we should do along the way. I had to buy something after he had been so nice.

We did have one day when we visited a few bookshops. Katrina, from Pining for the West, and her husband offered to meet us in Edinburgh and give us a tour of the city including stops at a few bookshops. It was very, very kind of them and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Celia had been nervous about spending time with people we didn't know but about ten minutes after we met up with them she dropped back to walk with me and whispered: "they are really, really nice." She was right.

I could easily have bought so many more books but I was limited by what would fit in my carry-on suitcase. Such a pity. I will have to go back. Celia enjoyed rummaging around in the bookshops. She ended up buying a small dinosaur encyclopedia and an old copy of The Swiss Family Robinson. She wanted a complete set of The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton but there was no way we were going to get that home.

Celia and I also visited a couple of bookshops in Glasgow but the only one I have photos of is Caledonia Books. It was charming and the owner was friendly but we were both very jetlagged at that point and I am sure I missed some treasures.

Of course, I managed to visit Waterstones a number of times since it was just around the corner from our hotel. So, all in all, book shopping may not have been the focus of this trip but I did manage to squeeze quite a bit of it in.

A Poem for a Thursday #44

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Sylvia Plath was an American poet and novelist. Her poems are autobiographical and focus on her own emotions and sense of despair. Joyce Carol Oates wrote of her poems that "many of them written during the final, turbulent weeks of her life, read as if they have been chiseled, with a fine surgical instrument, out of arctic ice." Plath took her own life when she was thirty.

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks--
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me
To the hills' northern face, and the face is orange rock
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths
Beating and beating at an intractable metal. 

Sylvia Plath

Brona is also sharing a poem this week.

Scotland, We Loved You

Here are a few totally uniformed opinions about Scotland based on my one week visit.

It is very pretty. Apparently, the Highlands are even prettier than the area we visited. I will be happy to return and test that theory.

The people are unbelievably friendly. Everyone talked to us. Everyone was helpful. It was lovely.

Scones with cream and jam are the food of the gods.

You can spend a lot of time at the Edinburgh Zoo before the panda decides to emerge. For a whole 2.5 minutes. But that was enough to make Celia's day.

Glasgow is a bit rough around the edges and not quite what I expected but we loved it and would happily live there.

Edinburgh was objectively prettier but it was so crowded because of the festival going on. We will have to go back. Of course.

There are a lot of castles. Celia would happily visit all of them.

I bought some books.

There was a Waterstones around the corner from our hotel. A couple of mornings Celia slept in a bit and I went to the cafe for tea and cake and some book browsing. It was the perfect way to start a day.

We walked over 60 miles in a week. It balanced out all the cake and scones. I wish we lived in a place where we didn't have to drive everywhere.

Trains are very affordable. We went to Edinburgh twice, Stirling, and Loch Lomond. The most we paid was about 13 pounds. For both of us. Round trip. That is amazing. Celia is under 16 so her ticket was 1 pound every time.

Bagpipes are best enjoyed from a distance.

Walled gardens make me happy.

Our flight home was canceled and we got an extra 24 hours in Scotland. Once we knew we had a bed for the night we had absolutely no complaints about that.

British Airways then decided to check our bags for free. If only I had known before I had arrived at the airport I could have bought more books.

Celia has decided she is going to grow up and move to Scotland. I don't have the heart to explain the impossibilities of moving to the U.K. so I am just joining her in unrealistic dreams.

Yes, Scotland, we loved you.

One more thing; Simon, at Stuck in a Book, has brought back his My Life in Books series. I am one of the two bloggers featured today. If you want to read the post it is here.

A Poem for a Thursday #43

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
John Donne was an English writer and Anglican cleric born in 1572. His poetry was very well-known during his lifetime and for some years after but then went out of favor for several centuries. He is considered one of the great metaphysical poets. Most people are familiar with No Man is an Island because of studying it in school. Today's poem is a love poem. It appeals to us because "it speaks to us as directly and urgently as if we overhear a present confidence."

I wonder by my troth, what thou and I 
Did, till we loved? were we not wean'd till then?
But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den?
'Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be;
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got 'twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown;
Let us possess one world; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mix'd equally;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die. 

The Good-Morrow
John Donne