Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Poetry Post "Leafen Wrought"

Here is another poetry post from my 9th & 10th grade journal. I like it, but am not sure it makes 100% sense. Nevertheless, the imagery is still ok. I'll blame it on the fact that this one was written under slightly unusual circumstances...
If any of you watched PBS back in the 80's, you may remember seeing the occasional poem scrolled from top to bottom on your screen with a scenic picture and soft music in the background. I was in South Carolina so I was watching SCETV. Sometimes the poems were pretty cheesy or sappy. Some may also recall the Saturday Night Live "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey. These had me laughing like crazy then and now. I think I had been watching both of these things close to the same time and, as a result, this poem was created. I was dreaming of a poem being scrolled on the TV....and very slowly.

Here's a YouTube example of the hilarity in "Deep Thoughts"

It took me a second, but in my dream, I remember telling myself that I had better write this down. I ended up waking up and trying to recall the poem I had just seen. This is that poem. So, it's kind of cool that I was able to compose in my sleep......sort of (I'm sure I finished it once awake, but at least 3/4 of it was done while in some level of sleep.) I've decided to leave the poem as it is here and make no changes.

Leafen Wrought
In the sun where Autumn stains,
The twisted leaflet still remains.
The Summer having taken toll
Of green wonders without disdain.
The Wind, the sway of Time, it comes
Ere a chance to stall and stay
Arrives upon that leaf, that day.
If we leave the leafen wrought,
Securing hidden trail
We just might find our refuge fought,
Cool freedom to inhale.
We will remember savage Time
Who steals away our youth
Envisioned as an aged Leaf
Within our lives refined
Upon its Tree, sublime.
Photo credit: Free HD Wallpaper

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Elizabethan Sonnet

Recent adventures in spring cleaning produced my old high school composition book from part of 9th & 10th grades. I used to keep journals and a few composition books so I could write fairly often. Some of my writing ended up as poetry. I'm going to post the poems I found here on this blogspot as a place to hold them online. Some are pretty decent and some aren't :-) Then, sometime after I've posted the few from the HS years, I'll share my silly poems written in recent years.
I'll start with an Elizabethan sonnet. My mother, Mary W. Carson, the real writer (award-winning poetry and prose) helped me with the assignment. I think this help is why it won some award and I ended up reading it at a Piccolo Spoleto event.....long ago and far away.


When summer storms come rolling in to shore
Their darkened clouds send people dashing home,
While those within prepare for what's in store
And watch the wild birds wheel above the foam.
The hearth is cleared and driftwood set alight
And hot drinks served to warm away the chill
Of those who witness all of Nature's might
As lightning flashes just beyond the sill.
Outside, the trees are bowed before the wind,
The rain, in sheets, comes slanting in the squall.
Its fury slackens right before the end
As clouds break up and night begins to fall.
The moonlight shows the bleached white sands as day
And all the signs of storm have gone away.

The Music of 1,000 Paper Cranes

On a warm Thursday night at St. Paul's Episcopal, I hosted the pre-concert for the New Orleans Crescent City Choral Festival. Three children's choirs performed: Contra Costa Children's Chorus from California, Encore Youth Choir from Illinois, and the Mississippi Boychoir. They were all terrific and the main concert of the festival will be Monday, June 25th, 2012 at 7:30 at St. Louis Cathedral. Several pieces stayed in my memory, but a simple, yet beautiful one called "Song of Peace", written by Tom Vos and performed by the Encore Youth choir, had such a moving story that I thought I'd share it here.The piece is about the legend of the 1,000 cranes and the story of Sadako Sasaki (1943-1955).
The story of the 1,000 origami cranes comes from ancient Japanese tradition and is called the Senbazuru (also Zenbazuru). It is thought that origami officially began as early as the 8th century and the first book about it was published as "The Secret to Folding 1,000 Cranes". Senbazuru means 1,000 paper cranes lined together on a string. The legend is that a person who folds 1,000 paper cranes will please the gods and be granted a wish. Today, Senbazuru are sometimes assembled and given as a wish for recovery from illness or given as good luck wishes for new births, weddings, or new homes, etc.
Cranes are revered in the mythology of several cultures and thought to be holy birds. They are beautiful, noble, and protected in many places around our world. I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit Cheorwon, S. Korea in 2010 and saw tons of cranes in a protected wildlife area on the way to the DMZ. They are HUGE! Here is a picture that I took of some in the snow.
The 1,000 folded cranes have become a powerful symbol for world peace as a result of a young girl named Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was a Japanese girl who became ill with Leukemia due to radiation poisoning from the bombing of Hiroshima in WWII on August 6, 1945. Conservative estimates of those who died in Hiroshima are 150,000 and in Nagasaki 75,000. Sadako and her family had survived, but breathing the radioactive dust and ash along with living in the area, caused Sadako to develop Leukemia later in her young life. She went from being the fastest runner on her track team and highly energetic, to being extremely sick and dying at the age of twelve. Sadako was inspired by the Thousand Origami Cranes after the community of Nagoya gave her a gift and she began to fold her own in hopes of recovering. One account says that after folding 644, she died before she could finish them all. Her friends and classmates folded the rest and set them with her when she was buried. According to several links, she actually did finish the 1,000 cranes and continued making them when she did not recover. Either way, it is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching. The composer calls for the folding of the paper cranes during the piece so you hear the soft crinkling of the paper in the background of the singing. At the end of the song, the children held the birds gently in their hands and walked out into the audience to surround us with sound and then to give us the cranes. I had never heard this story before, nor the choral piece. I was very moved. As far as I can tell, there is no YouTube recording available yet, but I will post it here when I find it. I think that even though the piece is written for children's choir, it's simple beauty is effective on any level. Here's a picture of the Encore Youth Choir holding their sheets of colored paper, ready to begin the song.
If you'd like to learn how to fold a paper crane, there are LOTS of How to and YouTube links out there. Here's one for printed and video instructions:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Faerie Rings, Stone Henges, and Solstices - Oh My!

It's days such as today that prove me to be an absolute menace to society while driving. No, I wasn't texting. Perhaps it's the distraction of the lovely and gentle breeze blowing the New Orleans crape myrtles (also spelled crepe) in the soft sunlight, flirting their lavender colors and making me look......or maybe the way the growing cumulonimbus clouds are piling up in the southwest of the city; their ominous and silent blue-grey monstrosities puffing along slowly, as if by their pace, they cannot be seen. I saw them. I felt them....and a beat of excitement that my plants and I might get to enjoy some afternoon rain (foiled again, it's super sunny now!) I actually think what started it was seeing the two fairy rings that I passed on the Elysian Fields avenue neutral ground while driving home. Below is a random internetz image of a fairy ring.
Seeing the first one made me smile and the other ring surrounded a small tree perfectly - making me say "wow!" and also smile. Why in the world should I smile? especially when I generally hate mushrooms!? For those of you who don't already know, a fairy (faerie) ring is a slightly unusual growth of mushrooms in a circle. They happen more often after heavy rains and when the soil is too rich...such as in a forest. It happens because underground, below the sprouting 'shrooms, lies a network of threadlike fungal growth that grows in arcs, pushing up mushrooms (the "fruit" part of the fungus) above. As a child, I learned that these rings were supposed to be where fairies (or elves) came out into our world during the night. They would stay for a few days and wait for the fairies to return. When the ring was gone, it meant that the fairies were gone and I could stop performing my daily backyard spy activities in hopes of catching a glimpse of them. There were also lilac rings where fairies danced at night, attracting the fae with their sweet scent and reflecting the moonlight with drops of dew. I can remember straining to see out of the window in my parents' bedroom when I was very young and believing that I saw the lights of a tiny ring of dancing fairies within the circle of lilacs. I'm glad I still have that memory.
As I was driving down the road, well-past the ring of mushrooms, I wondered if anyone else had noticed them today. They do not last very long and I was having trouble resisting the urge to drive back down toward the university and photograph the rings. Working through it in my mind and knowing the only view that my iPhone could handle of the full ring was from above, I aborted the idea and gave the car some gas as I had slowed down, surely annoying other drivers. Still, I wondered if many these days even knew of the origins of fairy rings or cared very much. Then, I wondered if one day no one would know to google the term fairy ring or even notice them at all. It struck me that they were once believed to be magical and that the community at large has no time for such things. Society as a whole just doesn't believe in magic any longer......or does it?

My thoughts surfaced to the fact that today is the Summer Solstice (the solstice will occur at 7:09 EST, June 20, 2012, tonight) and that I had only seen one picture flitting around Twitter and Facebook today of Stonehenge in the sunrise or sunset of a solstice......and it was from 2008! I've posted it below this blog post - it's from the Astronomy Picture of the Day archive (APOD).
Stonehenge has a number of legends associated with it. One is that sun-worshipping people could communicate with the sun and built Stonehenge out of sacred stones to help them. Another is that there was a race of giants upon the Earth long before men and places such a Stonehenge and Easter Island show evidence of structures built by these giants.
There are Arthurian legends as well. Then, there are the more common myths surrounding the ancient Britons' group of philosopher/poets called the Druids. According to JStor excerpts from Stuart Piggot's "The Druids and Stonehenge", there was an actual Celtic priesthood of Druids that believed in some sort of immortality and the transmigration of souls. They had rituals fairly often. Druids did also practice human sacrifice in some cases and they performed ceremonies of all kinds outside in circles of standing stones, the largest and most important of which was Stonehenge.

"Archaeologists have found four, or possibly five, large Mesolithic postholes (one may have been a natural tree throw), which date to around 8000 BC, beneath the nearby modern tourist car-park" (wiki)

Ok that's just cool.  Anyway, the that many people barely consider legends anymore. How often do you think of fairy rings, solstice magic, sacred rituals, other worlds and souls transforming? How often do we feel the magic of the sun? More often, we feel the heat of it here in NOLA.

I will go ahead and say it now: I much prefer a world with elements of magical things and occasional fantastic ideas that transcend what we can academically understand. I love the superstitions, legends, and myths they create. I also love sci-fi movies :-) Since I often notice unusual things and am distracted by them, taking time to ponder their significance has become a joy. I can remember in undergraduate college when I was walking across campus at night with a group of chattering friends on the way to the old McMaster Music Bldg at USC (THE USC, 1801), I made the whole group stop and look at the clouds passing across the full moon. They were in awe......for about five seconds. For me, however, the image has always stayed and I am perpetually in awe of the full moon. I look up at the sky.....and I do it often. I encourage you to do it as well. "Don't forget to stop and smell the roses" as they say. Perhaps it's the inner amateur photographer in me that captures images and holds them for ponderance and perhaps too, it is the romantic in me. Long live romanticism!

Not to discount facts and figures......after all, I am a nerd, I saw a fantastic Google plus blog by the Solar Dymanics Observatory's Camilla Corona (the most awesome chicken you'll ever meet!) that was full of information to help us understand today's reasons for the season and what a solstice actually is. Check it out here and learn about today's solstice LINK HERE

Enougth rambling for now I suppose. It's time for a spinach salad. But first, here's that fantastic summer solstice image to which I referred earlier:

Sunrise Solstice at Stonehenge
Credit & Copyright:
Max Alexander, STFC, SPL