Spring Blooms

Though I ended up working past dark (good thing I’m not afraid of the dark!), I completed my garden work this evening. All those tomato and pepper plants are safely ensconced in the soil – surrounded by a generous helping of Miracle-Gro garden soil – and ready to drink in the rain my Beloved tells me is expected overnight.2015-05-05 21.26.35

While I was working in the garden, my Beloved was also busy outdoors, spiffing up the shrub and flower beds around the house’s perimeter. When we next spoke, he surprised me … he had cut a stalk from the azalea bushes on the north side of our house and presented it to me! (See above picture.) Continue reading “Spring Blooms”

Too Beautiful To Hold

On Tuesday, my post referred to a poem (Spring) written by Pulitzer Prize recipient (1923), poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950). According to some literary sources, her sonnets are among the best of the early twentieth century. One particular poem I’ve loved many a year is not a true sonnet but still a top-notch and memorable composition in my opinion. It’s pictured below.

God's World - Millay
FROM: http://tiny.cc/t575wx

From the moment I first read this poem, Vincent’s ecstasy and amazement showcased in this poem made a connection with me. (I think I might have been in high school at the time.) This poem stands in stark contrast to Spring. Whereas Spring gives a contrary and cynical view of Nature, the rapture and pure pleasure expressed in God’s World supplies Vincent’s surprising yang to the yin that infuses Spring. So enraptured is Vincent in God’s World, she suggests her passion would necessarily overflow if something as simple as a bird call sounded on her ears.

Continue reading “Too Beautiful To Hold”

There Will Be God In It

When I recently mentioned Vincent Van Gogh in my post about selfies, I decided to dig a little deeper into his life. I knew some of the usual details about his life … admittedly, most of it garnered from a long-ago viewing of the 1956 movie, Lust for Life, with Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn (as Van Gogh’s friend Paul Gauguin).Vincent-van-Gogh-brabant-etten-leur-zundertThe movie description talks about Van Gogh as the “archetypical tortured artistic genius.” This is not an appealing description (as I see it). Whenever the idea of a “tortured artistic genius” is suggested, I tend to assume the individual so described is likely a petulant child who’s never been taught to restrain him or herself. Though I very much appreciate talented artists, it seems to me they may get tagged with the adjective “tortured” so as to make their life stories more sensational. Continue reading “There Will Be God In It”

Beauty and Deficiencies of Age

When the media were all abuzz earlier this month with the announcement of Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set A Watchman (set for debut this July), I was intrigued. The first story I read was from The Guardian, explaining that this “new” novel was actually intended – alongside the earlier work To Kill A Mockingbird – to represent two-thirds of a trilogy, with a short connecting work between the two. Pictures posted with the article show a smiling but frail little woman, too small for the clothing she’s wearing.GuardianHarperLeeAnother article, this one from The Atlantic, sets a somewhat somber tone with the title Harper Lee: The Sadness of A Sequel. The Atlantic also goes with a more gritty picture of Lee (circa 1962) after Mockingbird had earned critical praise from multiple quarters, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.

FROM:  http://tiny.cc/uqndux
FROM: http://tiny.cc/uqndux

Both articles mention the author’s frailty. Lee suffered a stroke in 2007 and is now 88 years old, struggling with blindness (due to macular degeneration), profound deafness as well as the indignities of short-term memory loss. A close friend characterized her memory (three years ago) as “completely shot.” The author currently lives in an assisted living facility where she’s confined to a wheelchair. Continue reading “Beauty and Deficiencies of Age”


A woman wants to be told she’s beautiful to someone. I don’t think this is simply a 21st (or 20th) century phenomenon. When I read details from Genesis 2:18-24, it’s clear how Adam felt about Eve. Imagine Adam looking at the gift Almighty God had set before him! He was so full of excitement, he couldn’t contain himself! (He might have been doing back-flips.) “Bone of my bone,” he says, “Flesh of my flesh!” In essence, he was saying to Eve, “You’re beautiful!daisyLikewise, Eve surely basked in the admiration Adam showered upon her. Even though she was the only female on the planet, every word of adoration Adam verbalized to her was an intoxicating music to her ears. She didn’t need daisies and the loves-me, loves-me-not method. There was no doubt in her mind that Adam loved her, he adored her. She was everything he could have imagined and the feelings were mutual.

Continue reading “Beastliness”

The Principle of Beauty

keatscharcoalovalOne of the most beloved among English poets is a man who died at the young age of twenty-five. John Keats was an English Romantic poet and despite his tender years, he was a master of imagery. It’s amazing to me that during his short life, he published only fifty-four poems. These weren’t silly, insignificant works (speaking to myself, here) but strong, robust poems of substance.

Keats wrote a series of odes for which he has earned some fame. Among these odes, Ode On A Grecian Urn was published anonymously in 1820. Through his use of classical Greek art, Keats contemplated transcendent concepts like the soul, nature, eternity, and as Ode On A Grecian Urn clearly shows, the curious relationship between Beauty and Truth.

Finding the sonnet form too constrictive for his tastes, Keats turned elsewhere and chose the ode form as his means for poetic expression. Continue reading “The Principle of Beauty”

Beauty Treatment

Anointed by Newsweek as the “most beautiful film actress of all time,” Jacqueline Bisset’s career has spanned almost fifty years. With her fresh-faced appeal and elegant British manner, she enjoyed early film roles opposite Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen. Subsequent roles paired her with many of Hollywood’s leading men. Today at 70 years of age, she remains active in roles on television and in film.jacqueline-bisset-the-deep

She’s also making waves in the news, speaking up about beauty and aging. The actress suggests women today are more obsessed with being “hot” rather than being “charming, romantic or beautiful.” As the actress freely admits, “I never felt beautiful.” Bisset also asserts she has always liked men “… but I didn’t feel that my looks were what they found most attractive in me.

These comments were gratifying to read. It’s also heartening to know Bisset has chosen the path of growing older gracefully, eschewing the surgeries and Botox that have disfigured (my opinion) so many others. Continue reading “Beauty Treatment”

Beauty Is . . .

Our daughter-in-law adopted a young lady this week. (It was only temporary.) The young lady happened to mention to S. that she was entering a beauty competition for Miss Carroll County (AR) which was one of the competitions that launched S.’s beauty pageant experience!

MissCarrollCountyDIL’s shop, Vintage Violet Boutique, sponsored this young lady in the 2014 competition held this week. The young lady earned (today) a 2nd runner up award. S. also posted a picture of herself (on FaceBook) that I’m borrowing here. I think this may have been the official Miss Carroll County picture from the year she won.

One of the reasons S. became involved in pageants was to earn money for her college education. With those earnings, she was able to put herself through school. She continued competing and won many other pageants, including Miss Hawaiian Tropic events. Her experiences in pageant events through the years makes her a great resource for young girls who also want to enter and do well in these competitions. S. loves to engage in this kind of instruction and she’s a great teacher!

That’s my DIL. Then there’s me. I’ve never been involved in a beauty pageant of any kind. (Truthfully, I always thought they were stupid … until I met my daughter-in-law and saw how valuable the experiences had been for her!)

Looking at DIL’s experience through my more-enlightened eyes, I see how the pageants helped her to develop poise, to think on her feet, and to comfortably express her bubbly personality while being scrutinized by beauty pageant judges. I’m pretty sure I’d have hated participating in the glare of those lights, but I see how it makes her the person she is today. She developed the confidence that enables her to take the risk of opening her own store (in a depressed economy) and to make it a successful endeavor! Continue reading “Beauty Is . . .”

Losing Arts?

Two articles from The New York Times came to my attention over the weekend. The first, Poetry:  Who Needs It? arrived via email from my brother-in-law. He knows my love for poetry; he’s also a voracious reader … during those moments when he absolutely must take time out from golf! (I’m honored he includes wiseblooding.com as part of his reading.)KeepCalm

The author (William Logan) of Poetry: Who Needs it? expresses thoughts I advanced in an April post. Logan’s essay states the perceived problem well and seems to hope for a more poetry-friendly (my words) approach in education. His tongue-in-cheek suggestions for elementary-school curriculum (before the age of 12) resembles the movement that advocates for educating children in a free-range setting.

For my part, I remember a time when poetry readings were common … not just the coffee-house, drug-induced ramblings of hippies (though I do remember those). I’m talking about poetic readings as one aspect of a school program or as part of a social gathering. Even in school classes, we were required to memorize certain poems, and subsequently recite them in front of our class members. Children who didn’t have a father like mine (see yesterday’s post relating his recitations) could be certain to have minimal exposure to poetic and dramatic delivery on a semi-regular basis.

Logan’s “blue-sky proposal … making them read poetry” isn’t likely to resolve the public’s general attitude in favor of poetry. However, I’m inclined to believe print publications (where published poetry often appeared) declining over time to continue publishing poetry resulted from negative editorial attitudes toward poetry and the public gradually adopted an identical mindset. (Rhetorical question:  Was this the the first shoe to drop in coarsening our culture?)

Schools have followed suit; whenever education dollars have been reduced or education belts even lightly tightened, dollars devoted to the humanities are usually the first to feel it; oftentimes programs are discontinued entirely. (While this devaluation of humanities predates Common Core, a perusal of the CC standards doesn’t foster my optimism. I’ll address CC concerns in a future post.) Continue reading “Losing Arts?”

On the Way to One Hundred

Several of my previous posts deal in some way with Beauty. In his superb book Restoring BeautyLouis Markos offers a striking paradox:  “… we are often more afraid of beauty than of ugliness.”

If beauty elicits fear, aging terrifies. As long ago as 1513, explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon searched for life-sustaining water, a legendary Fountain of Youth. An elixir to ward off aging is (to borrow a song lyric from Beauty and the Beast) a “tale as old as time.” Genesis 3:22-24 refers to a Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, certainly predating Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth.

Maybe it’s inborn, but most of us don’t like aging … granted, some people handle it better than others. Young people think they’re immortal; older people generally know they’re not, but that knowledge doesn’t set in with comfortability. Why else do people post selfies on Twitter with comments like:  Seventy is the new fifty? Focused as it is on youth, our culture rejects the reality of aging, believing a nip here and a tuck there will somehow nullify the effects of aging.

I like what Proverbs 20:29 says:  “Young people take pride in their strength, but the gray hairs of wisdom are even more beautiful.” (This quote comes from the Contemporary English Version.) Tying together the two concepts, aging (i.e. “gray hairs of wisdom”) with beauty, probably seems counterintuitive to many in today’s youth-oriented culture. But the verse says those “gray hairs of wisdom are even more beautiful” than a young person’s strength. Ponder that, if you will.

My poem below, Turning Fifty, speaks less about beauty than about aging, a sense one has that the sands in the hourglass of life are dwindling at an ever more rapid rate. Others who write may identify with the dilemma I present, but I think the poem is as well understood by non-writers, because the concept of aging is universal.

Turning-Fifty, distractions, aging, self-discovery, sonnet, poem, poetry, goals
Sonnet: Turning Fifty

Turning FIfty is a Shakespearean sonnet. As mentioned in another post, I’ve set a goal to write 100 sonnets − in hopes of gaining some mastery of the form. The Bard managed to write 154 sonnets; to date, I’ve got 56, and probably another 20 in process.

I’ve also got the gray hairs … I hope they’re indicative of wisdom, but that’s for others to assess. I often tell people I’m on my way to 100 (not just sonnets), but to celebrate a century of living. Think I’ll make it?