Dracula on the Page, Stage, & Screen

Here’s some October reading as we invite Autumn to cross the misty threshold and make itself at home. Honestly though, Bram Stoker was not really a very good writer, but though the means through which he told his most famous tale – via the characters’ diaries and letters – is disjointed and often difficult to follow, there is something positively charming about it. Based partly on a dream and partly on his reading into Eastern European history and legend, “Dracula” does tap into some powerful fears humans have involving death, blood, sex, helplessness, and the fear of innocence corrupted. And herein lies its power.

The novel took six years to complete, and was published in 1897, but the man for whom he had in mind for the title role – his employer Sir Henry Irving who was the most celebrated Shakespearean actor of his day – refused to participate in a proposed stage adaptation. It probably would have been one of his greatest roles. And sadly to this day it has never been accurately produced for the theater or filmed for the screen despite countless productions. Hollywood always decides to rewrite what does not need to be rewritten, and cocks up the most powerful scenes with trivial nonsense and overly dramatic posturing, while completely omitting vital aspects and scenes. For instance, did you know that a dashing Texan named Quincey Morris is one of the primary heroes of the novel?

The book is well worth wading through the rather stiff dialogue – Van Helsing’s pidgin Dutch-inflected English is especially hard to read – simply because the mythos that has gone into virtually every vampire story written since and every movie ever made is all there. If you want to understand why there is so much pop culture material today on vampires, sink your teeth into the original book. Plus McNally and Florescu’s research into vampire legends and the history of Romanian hero Vlad the Impaler makes an excellent companion volume for understanding Stoker’s literary creation. By the way, the final action in the closing pages occurs on 6 November, so October would be an excellent time to begin reading. And the late great Christopher Lee did make a largely forgotten film version in 1970 called “Count Dracula” that is supposed to be the closest to the book, even with a white-mustachioed elderly Dracula who grows younger with the biting of each neck. Sounds tasty.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oxfordshire, England and the American Indian Trade in Blankets

A few years ago I had gone antiquing from where I was living in Oxford to the old market town of Witney, England, where I met a very knowledgeable proprietor of one of the many antique shops in town. Being from the US, I did not know the importance of Witney in the world-wide woolen industry, so I was excited to learn about the town’s leadership in making woolen trade blankets for Native Americans since ca. AD 1700, as British trade with the Creek Indians of Middle Georgia is one aspect of my research. This was the first I heard about the “pointing” (stitching) on one edge of the blankets and its meaning in the Indian trade. Plus I even got to see one of these blankets! I had not realized that this favorite object of many Indians and tribes across North America had such a deep history that stretched back so far on the loom of history.

It seems this trade originated with the French weavers in the mid-17th century, but that the weavers of Witney had become major competitors by the end of the century. Earlier variants of the blanket shown above would have been packed on horses by Charleston’s traders and taken – along with pots & pans, cloth, guns & flints, knives & scissors, glass trade beads, rum, and many other European-manufactured goods – along the many Indian trails like the Lower Creek Trading Path, Thom’s Path, & the Okfuskee Path to trading houses set up near major Indian villages throughout the Southeast. Indian hunters and warriors would have come to these trading posts and traded their deerskins and captured Indian slaves for whatever they wanted. A fascinating topic about which more can be read in the book shown above.

Categories: Artifacts, Colonization, England, Exploration, History, Indian Trails, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Living Speak for the Dead

Stonehenge Burial on Display in the Museum

The story of the recent excavation of the Mycenean Age Griffin Warrior is an amazing one. As an archaeologist, I love reading about such exciting finds, and imagine what it must be like to experience such an event. It must be simply mind-blowing.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/golden-warrior-greek-tomb-exposes-roots-western-civilization-180961441/

But…archaeologists need to be much more careful about their assumptions when excavating any burial. Saying the grave goods are items that belonged to this warrior is a complete and utter assumption. Imagine if his enemies buried him thus in mockery of his non-elite status. This is surely not the case here, but consider it for a moment. Assuming his status based on the presence of these incredible grave goods compounds our assumptions about the grave goods being his own. As Mike Parker Pearson said, we need to think of grave goods as gifts representing the social bond between the living and the dead. After all, who does the burying and the placing of items into a grave – the dead person, or the living human beings who remain to tidy up? And the living may have their own reasons for adding grave goods to a non-elite burial or not adding any at all to an elite burial.

As a child, one of my friends was killed when a train hit the car he was in. At his funeral, I went to the front of the church with my mother to say my goodbyes and see him for one last time. He looked very peaceful, but not real. He must have had considerable physical injuries that had been disguised. A baseball glove with a baseball inside it had been placed beside one arm and a football on the other . I don’t know if he was actually buried with them or not. If he was, would such grave goods tell future archaeologists his was an elite burial, if he alone of all the burials in that cemetery had such items in his coffin? Or that he excelled in sports (which he did)? Or that these items were symbolically placed there by his family? Or that his injuries coupled with those particular items could tell us something vital about his sex, race, class, status, and the society in which he lived? Were those even his own personal belongings, or were they brand new, purpose-bought to look nice to those intrepid enough to look at a 9 year old child in a coffin?

For instance, my paternal grandmother made her own simple dresses all her life. She was a farmer’s daughter and a farmer’s wife and a seamstress. But when she passed away, one of my aunt’s insisted she be buried in a brand new expensive light blue dress that resembled nothing she ever wore in her entire life. I have always cringed at what she would have said about that dress. But she had no voice in that matter. The living speak for the dead.

My point is that we just don’t know enough about most previous societies to assume we know much of anything, and should remain skeptical and alert to interpretations based on these sorts of assumptions based on theories developed by the rather arrogant New Archaeologists of the 1960s. The Romans had it correct: caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware. And the excavator and interpreter, too.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Musings on and Maxims for Maintaining Liberty on Extraterrestrial Colonies

Still from Star Trek episode Pattterns of Force

Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, & Dr. McCoy Disguised as Nazis in “Patterns of Force” (1968)

A while back a friend shared a link to an article regarding a group devising a bill of rights for the future colonization of the planet Mars (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140709-why-mars-needs-a-bill-of-rights). Thinking of this entertained and distracted me much when I began this essay on a wintry morning in the former British colony of Georgia while watching the free-flying birds at the feeders outside my windows.   And while there are definite comparisons to be made to the concepts of freedom on some of the more interesting colonies depicted in the Star Trek universe, I will attempt to limit myself primarily to more mundane terrestrial and historical musings at first.

der1732-from-hargrett-uga-showing-first-appearance-of-ga

Southeastern North America, 1732 (cartographer unknown)

While individual freedoms are the key to any post-1776 civilization (and many that came before), and I strongly admire the way the folks at the 2nd International Extraterrestrial Liberty Conference (ELC) are thinking about such things at the outset, it is clear from a reading of American history alone that personal liberty is NOT what initially made colonies successful in the past.  In fact, Spanish Florida, French Louisiana, and British Virginia, Carolina, & Georgia – as well as most other successful colonies in North America – had decidedly military, and some might say totalitarian, aspects to them. In fact, all colonists had very specific duties to perform if there was to be any hope of initial survival and later success. “No work, no food” was how John Smith was supposed to have phrased his expectations of the earliest Virginia colonists.

map-of-virginia-john-smith

“A Map of Virginia With a Description of the Country, the Commodities, People, Government and Religion” by John Smith, 1624

Exploration has followed the same disrespect for individual freedoms. The Kingdom of Spain, the British Admiralty, the U.S. space program NASA, and Hollywood’s “The Company” all had a chain of command when Hernando de Soto was exploring the American South for Spain, when Sir John Franklin was seeking the Northwest Passage for Britain, when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the other American astronauts were exploring the Moon, and when Captain Dallas and the crew of the Nostromo went to investigate the distress signal on Acheron (LV-426) in the original Alien movie.

john-hurt-as-kane-in-alien-1979

Kane (played by John Hurt) discovers a new life form on Acheron in Alien (1979)

But since ELC 2 is considering freedom, liberty, and colonization together, I will share the initial thoughts of an historical archaeologist who studies colonies, their impacts on indigenous peoples, and the traces both groups have left behind in the dirty old earth and in dusty old archives.  First of all, I am pleased that they are using the American Constitution’s Bill of Rights as a starting point.  I can think of no better place to begin.  However, it is clear from American history that Americans themselves have had varying ideas of liberty over time. It is also clear that checks and balances on all branches of government down to the lowest of local levels are a necessity for liberty to continue after it is initially won and/or established. Lord Acton’s historical axiom as laid out in his famous Letter to Mandell Creighton on April 5, 1887 clearly supports such suspicion towards authority: “If there is any presumption it is…against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

picture_of_john_dalberg-acton_1st_baron_acton

Lord John Dahlberg Acton (1834-1902)

Because of the manner in which the onerous taxes that gave rise to the American proclamation of independence were instituted, and also because of the way the British government chose to prosecute the subsequent war against self-determination and against American independence, the Founding Fathers of the United States of America simply did not trust any government instituted by men.  And this wisely included their own government as instituted by themselves!  They had read deeply in Greek, Roman, European, British, and Irish history, and had learned from the past how short-lived republics can be.  The American Constitution of 1789 may have been a very imperfect 18th century political compromise between competing regions, but it was amazingly farsighted and gleamed of eruditic statesmanship when we consider how ignorantly shortsighted and poorly-read practically all modern party politicians across the planet appear to be in the 21st century.

george-washington-by-rembrandt-peale-ca-1850

George Washington (1732-1799) by Rembrandt Peale, ca. 1850

For some reason endemic to humans and other animals, tribes and factions develop in all times and in all places – even in nations designed ro eschew them, like the U. S. For this reason the ELC should acknowledge that since human beings are human, factions will develop even on extraterrestrial colonies, and will devolve into established political parties if and when they gain enough followers. Subsequent American history bears out George Washington’s fears concerning factionalism, as explained in his Farewell Address. Standing political parties are much more dangerous than standing armies, since they wield much more power, even if it is only indirectly based on force. In fact, I would assert that political parties are probably the most dangerous threats to human liberty since the Sumerians created the concept of ama-gi, or freedom, in the 2300s BC. If “war is the continuation of politics by other means,” as von Clauswitz stated whilst attempting to explain the rise and fall of Napoleon, then political factionalism has been the primary if not sole factor behind every major war on Earth since at least the early 18th century’s War of the Spanish Succession.

Unfortunately, few listened to Washington in 1796, and even fewer heed him now. Humans seem to have a natural instinct to choose sides based on emotion and self interest, and only a very few make decisions based on reason, philosophy, and what is best for the commonweal as opposed to their own narrow interests. And of those who are capable of putting the commonwealth first, some of these “general secretaries” and “leaders” and “chairmen” have coldly and cruelly put into operation their “final solutions” to forever silence millions of their political opponents or their nation’s “undesirables” – as defined by themselves and their faction, of course. Stalin, Hitler, and Mao are only the most well-known of many heinous examples from Earth’s sordid history, and all are examples of the top-down approach of trusting in governments to solve our problems for us.

Of course, everything can and will go wrong in even the most well-thought-out colony – just look at all the numerous failed European attempts during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries in the Americas. I will point to the Scottish colony at Darien in Central America as the perfect example. But even successful colonies like the English colony at Jamestowne (1607) had times when all was lost until the mother country sent assistance. In fact, the few survivors among the initial wave of colonists were once in the process of abandoning Virginia and heading home to England when supply ships suddenly arrived with necessities and more settlers. So the first maxim I would lay down for any extraterrestrial colony is routine shipments of supplies multiple times per year, and the continual replenishment of the population with young colonists in their child-bearing years.

Next, colonial planners on Earth and potential colonists must study Earth’s prehistoric and historic settlers and colonizers, from Neanderthal and other hunter-gatherer migrations, as well as the European colonization of the New World, Australasia, & Africa. It is vital that they grasp how migrations and emigrations have played out in Earth’s past, but this must not be mere book knowledge. As potential astronauts train for years before they even get the chance to be chosen for space missions, potential colonists need to go through several years of psychological and emotional vetting and practical training in basic medical techniques, primitive skills, agriculture, and animal husbandry to name but a few. Humans have constantly moved into new and unfamiliar environments throughout the prehistoric and historic eras, and studying and understanding the traces and records they left behind are crucial to successful colonists of tomorrow.

 

Successful colonists need to learn every primitive skill they can – especially flint-knapping to make their own stone tools, making cordage from plants and plant fibers in order to bind things together, and making pottery for cooking and storage purposes in case things go badly wrong and fresh supplies are late or not forthcoming.  They should also be experienced in the care and raising of livestock – especially chickens and cows, since they not only provide protein when harvested, but also provide eggs and milk. Successful colonists need to be omnivores who are able to eat anything, so I will add that I don’t see food snobs, vegetarians, vegans, or anyone with any kind of food hang-up at all surviving long in an extraterrestrial landscape. For example, European settlers in America had to learn from the Native Americans how to eat plants and animals they had never even heard of or seen before, and if they hadn’t learned to hunt and gather them, they would not have survived, pure and simple.

This is of course one of the best reasons not to colonize or settle a place, land, continent, or planet: if there is no water, no plants to gather, and no animal life to hunt and harvest. If there are no other life forms living there already, there might be a good reason for this, so I would also encourage our planners to  consider the difficulties of planting colonies on barren worlds like Mars, and to look for “Class M” planets instead.  Despite the utopian ideas of some space enthusiasts for inhabiting barren worlds and until we develop an actual Genesis Device as seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, abundant natural resources and breathable air must remain the most important variables for establishing extraterrestrial colonies just as they have been for all terrestrial ones.  Eadem sunt omnia semper.

genesis-cave-star-trek-ii-1982

The Genesis Cave, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

True liberty must begin in the hearts and minds of individuals habituated to thinking and living independently of others, while giving of themselves and partaking of the mutual benefits of the social contract binding us together with our families, neighbors, bands, clans, tribes, chiefdoms, nations, and yes, our future extra-terrestrial colonies.  Even at lunar bases, on starships exploring the galaxy, and on frontier outposts on different worlds as well as on Earth’s farthest flung colonies, we must constantly be on guard against both factionalism as well as “the man on the white horse” seeking to rescue us from those factions and the upheavals they always generate.  Furthermore, colonial Martians, Venusians, Europaeans, etc. should be prepared to fight for their freedom and independence just like the former European colonies all over the world have done since 1776.  And they must never forget the “tyranny of the majority,” as Alexis de Tocqueville so aptly described the concept of simple majority rule and the bullying of minority populations in his brilliant 1835 classic Democracy in America.  

alexis-de-tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

There will be many challenges, failures, celebrations, tragedies,  wrongs, and beautiful success stories as the peoples of Earth spread themselves and their progeny across the universe.  The history of our own past colonial endeavors shows us this truth, and we would do well to learn these lessons well and never begin to think that we are wiser, stronger, smarter, or harder-working than our own frontier forebears.  In a word, we are not.  Anyone who believes that future human societies will evolve to be more morally advanced, more peaceful, and more generous, and less selfish, less rapacious, and less acquisitive has an exceedingly thin grasp on human history over the last 15,000 years, and practical examples from the past should be used to educate them out of their extreme idealistic ignorance.

If humans over the last 15 millennia have not changed their modus operandi – approaching every situation first and foremost from a position of self-interest – then they are not going to magically evolve into some kind of superior being in the next 15 millennia, either.  There are always willing fools who assist would-be dictators either actively, by marching in line with whatever might be the politically correct ideology of the day, whether it comes from the right or the left, while even more allow terrible events to transpire by passively sitting on their hands and doing nothing.  We must be constantly vigilant of our hard-won freedoms and cognizant of how they were won and lost and won again – whether our society is of this world or another.  Most importantly, our children must be historically-minded and educated in the principles of extreme skepticism towards every new faction and party that arises and promises to solve our problems if only we will trust them and be  willing to give up just a little bit more of our precious freedoms.

“These are the ones who, having good minds of their own, have further trained them by studying and learning. Even if liberty had entirely perished from the earth, such men would invent it.”

Etienne de la Boetie (1530-1563), The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, 1577

Categories: Archaeology, Colonization, Exploration, History, Liberty, Primitive Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At the Twelve Pins

Twelve Pins Pub, Islington

Taxis and tourists, ice cream girl

waiting to cross with flowers in hand, crying,

while Daddy chases daughter in pink cap exploring, learning

Islington’s ways; working class guys and foreigners

walk with Irishmen, Arabs, and Africans; the quiet American

smoking his pipe at a table on the pub sidewalk –

first a Guinness then a Strongbow while he watches and waits – for what?

The Ginger Beauty? The Ice Cream Girl?  He exchanges

knowing looks with the daddy, baby daughter imprisoned

again in her pram; buses of red roaring down

Seven Sisters Road where Blackstock turns

downhill.  Just sit and watch and London

passes for the price of a pint or two at the Twelve Pins.

Categories: England, Exploration, Food & Drink, Poetry, Pubs, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Historic Preservation, Community Identity, & the Gospel of Progress in Britain and America

IMG_2783

Washington Square Park in New York City

This excellent article from the National Trust for Historic Preservation came to my attention today: https://savingplaces.org/stories/a-tale-of-two-planners-jane-jacobs-and-robert-moses#.VyMoSjArKCg. It describes the 1960’s struggle to save Greenwich Village and other parts of lower Manhattan from the threat brought about by a developer’s plan to build a massive elevated highway that would have destroyed Washington Square Park, as well as parts of Little Italy and SoHo. Having attended NYU as an undergraduate, and spent a lot of time in and around that park playing chess, eating lunch, spending time with other students, chatting to little old ladies, and listening many times in silent admiration to a talented homeless blues singer named Jimmy play the guitar and sing, I cannot imagine my time there without it.

P1020374

Looking up 5th Avenue through the Washington Arch

We clearly need more people like the amazing Jane Jacobs, the preservationist detailed in the article above. Having consulted and worked with architectural historians, developers, and planners on a number of archaeological and historical projects over the last couple decades, I can say that these kind of struggles have only intensified since the Jacobs v. Moses era. Savannah, Georgia is another wonderful example of how 7 determined ladies fought and saved it from being turned into just “another soulless city” (http://www.myhsf.org/about-us/the-story-of-preservation-in-savannah/). Thanks to them and their successors, Savannah is now one of the most beautiful historic cities in the U.S.

P1010704

Savannah, Georgia street scene

But it’s an unending battle to retain community and identity and hold off those with the money and the power, who are usually championed by the local Chamber of Commerce zombies and their monosyllabic grunts of “Jobs, Roads, Development!” Since the 1950’s thousands of unique structures have been demolished across America so that developers could “pave paradise and [sometimes literally] put up a parking lot.” And usually the long-term heritage and unique needs of the community (think centuries) are scoffed at in favor of the short-term benefits (think years or at best a couple decades) of the latest schemers, who are usually benefiting financially in the process somehow.

Unfortunately our European cousins are not exempt from the myth of “progress” either, though they generally have more respect for their surviving architectural heritage than Americans do for theirs. One major exception is beautiful Oxford, England, which has so many incredible examples of truly historic buildings. It even has its own wonderful story of victory over the demolishers of tradition and history in the fight to preserve the quaint area called Jericho. Unfortunately, Oxford also has a tremendous amount of the ugliest architecture anywhere. Just walk the grounds of St. Johns College, for example, to see numerous dorms with giant glass windows looking out over 500 year old buildings. There is even one that looks a bit like a bee hive. And the Oxford County Council continually overrules the concerns of citizens and local preservationists, since the university almost always gets whatever it wants, from ugly buildings being plopped down onto beautiful college quads to disastrous student housing ideas that were never properly reviewed for environmental or visual impacts to historic green spaces (for more on Oxford’s complete lack of concern in preserving its unique architectural identity, take a look at this blog: https://timmyatt.com/tag/oxford-architecture/).

029

St. Cross College, Rear Quad, Oxford, 2013 – notice Pusey House, a 100 year old chapel and focus of the Anglican Church’s Oxford Movement, behind students

20160202_100526 (3)

St. Cross College, Plans for New Building, 2016 – notice dramatic visual impact to Pusey House

20160429_204943

St. Cross College, New Building under construction next to 100-year old Pusey House, 2016

Although I do not see the point of monarchy (bloody Americans and 1776 and all that), and I doubt I have anything remotely in common with him, I do think Prince Charles was very brave and spot on when he addressed post-World War II London architecture by asking: “When did we lose our sense of vision? How could those in control become so out of step with so many Londoners who felt powerless to resist the destruction of their city…?” (for a short video clip of his excellent critique of modern big box architecture, click this link – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9502425.stm).

But for the best quote on British architecture over the last 70 years we must return to Matthew Arnold’s “sweet city with her dreaming spires” – Oxford – and put ourselves into the minds of those with the power and determination to say yea or nay:

“You know, we’ve been putting up handsome buildings since 1264; let’s have an ugly one for a change.’ Then the planning authorities had to say, “Well, why not? Plenty worse in Basildon”….Then…the whole of the city -students, dons, shopkeepers, office workers, members of the Oxford Preservation Trust – had to acquiesce and not kick up a fuss. Multiply this by, say, 200 or 300 and 400 and you have modern Oxford. And you tell me that it is one of the most beautiful, well-preserved cities in the world? I’m afraid not. It is a beautiful city that has been treated with gross indifference and lamentable incompetence for far too long, and every living person in Oxford should feel a little bit ashamed.”

Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island, 1995

Categories: Architecture, Churches, England, Historic Preservation, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Real Meaning of Education

image

The French essayist Montaigne’s words of wisdom regarding educating children cannot be lessened by the fact that it was intended as advice to a noble woman on making a gentleman of her son.  After all, he educated his own daughter so well that, unless her father was there, she invariably outshone everyone as the best educated person in any room.

For many years I have thought that cramming 20-30 children together inside our modern schoolrooms too easily leads them to overvalue the opinions of their peers and underappreciate the knowledge (and perhaps the wisdom) of their teachers.  We would do well to heed the advice of thinkers, particularly when they exhibit a singular amount of common sense as Montaigne always does, and jettison all of the fads, experimental cliques, and popular theories regarding something so vital as the education of our children.  Educating my own sons is not a game or a social experiment, nor is it anyone else’s responsibilty.  I have striven to live up to Montaigne’s ideals, and will continue to do so, for my boys’ sakes, for as long as I live.

“…the greatest and most important difficulty of human effort is the training and education of children….Upon the choice of a tutor you shall provide for your son depends the whole success of his education and bringing up.  A gentleman born of noble parentage and heir of a house which aims at true learning should be  disciplined not so much for the practical use he could make of it – so abject an end is unworthy the grace and favour of the Muses, and, besides, bids for the regard of others – not for external use and ornament, but to adorn and enrich his inward mind, desiring rather to form an able and efficient man than a learned man….I would have the tutor make the child examine and thoroughly sift all things,  and harbour nothing by mere authority or upon trust….Study should make us wiser….To know by heart only is not to know at all….A mere bookish knowledge is useless….the society of men, the visiting of foreign countries,  observing people and strange customs, are very necessary….they should be able to give an account of the ideas, manners, customs, and laws of nations they have visited….Let him examine every one’s talent – that of a herdsman,  a mason, a stranger,  or a traveller.  A man may learn something from every one of these which he can use at some time or another.  Even the folly and weakness of others will contribute to his instruction.   By observing the graces and manners of others,  he will acquire for himself the emulation of the good and a contempt for the bad.  Let an honest curiosity be awakened in him to search out the nature and design of all things.  Let him investigate whatever is singular and rare about him – a fine building, a fountain, an eminent man, the place where a battle was anciently fought, the passage of Caesar or of Charlemagne….In this acquaintance of men,  my purpose is that he should give his chief attention to those who live in the records of history.   He shall by the aid of books inform himself of the worthiest minds of the best ages.  History is an idle study to those who choose to make it so,  but of inestimable value to such as can make use of it….It is not the mind, it is not the body we are training: it is the man, and we must not divide him into two parts….”

image

Michel de Montaigne, Of the Education of Children, 1575

Categories: Education, Literature, Palaces | Leave a comment

Dance of Death

Melencolia I, Albrecht Durer, 1514

Melencolia I, by Albrecht Durer, 1514

Death the white goddess
whirled with Grace, Reason, and Wit
tripping night away –
Love rebuked her with a prayer
while Bard sang and Beauty smiled

Categories: Literature, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Hargreaves Haiku

220px-a_young_hare_albrect_durer.jpg.jpeg

Feldhase (Field Hare), painted by Albrecht Durer in 1502

The hare jumps to hide
within the creekside thicket –
I sit on a stone

Waiting here alone
the icy wind blows my hair –
without her I’m lost

Zipping up my coat
I hike on through Burgess Field –
too damn cold for tears

Categories: Art, England, Exploration, Literature, Love, Nature, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lonely Magpie

Magpie

The famous Scottish folk duo called the Corries, whose music I first discovered on my first visit to Culloden Battlefield before the turn of the century, have recorded many, many great songs.  Perhaps the most beautiful , though, is ” Turn Ye Tae Me.”  It was written in the 19th century by a friend of Scott, Wordsworth, & Coleridge named  John Wilson, who was a Scottish writer and academic.  Here is a link to that song as sung by the Corries, if you are interested in hearing the tune I played over and again while writing the following lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTctF1s3dsk  And here is another page with those original lyrics: http://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.com/2011/09/turn-ye-to-me.html.

——–

For Rowena Wherever She May Be

A Lonely Magpie

(Tune: Turn Ye Tae Me)

A lonely magpie haunts my dreams and sorrow is his only song

He’s missing his mate, his joy, his true love, and calls for her to come along

When will you come to me, why are we parted?

How will I live so brokenhearted?

Sweet was our song, its echoes I hear

Come home and sing again, my dear.

—-

The woods were dark and I was alone in them, then you were there and you smiled at me

Taking my hand you brought me to life again, and when I kissed you it set me free

Our hearts sang but one song and danced but to one tune

And the bright spear of joy was ours for a while;

Never a thought that we’d ever be parted,

And the music of happiness made us smile.

—-

Then in the dark I let go of your hand, and awoke without you like all was a dream

Deep in the woods I struggled to find you, but the moment had passed – not a trace could I see

White were the blossoms I placed in your hair

Smiling I saw Love in your eyes

Kisses as gentle as dew on a Rowan leaf

Forever I’ll love you – true love never dies

—-

A lonely magpie haunts my dreams and sorrow is his only song

He’s missing his mate, his joy, his true love, and calls for her to come along

When will you come to me, why are we parted?

How will I live so brokenhearted?

Sweet was our song, its echoes I hear

Come home and sing again, my dear.

————————————-

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret,

Never to be told.

One for Sorrow, traditional English nursery rhyme spoken every time one sees a magpie

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Manufactured Bodies

The Impact of Industrialisation on Health in London

Ontario Camper

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Klint Janulis: Stone Age Student

Wild Food, Photography and Stone Age Archaeology

The human past

archaeology, history, humans, science

leslinetmd

Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry, Parental Alienation

Public Lies

Parental Alienation Blog, supported by Parental Rights Preservation NJ

Southeast Native Food

Sharing Traditional Knowledge of Southeast Native American Food

WILDCHOW

Recipes for food, lake-life, and fun -with love, from Wisconsin

One Man's Meat

Multi-award winning food blog, written in Dublin, Ireland.

Ruination Scotland

Derelict Mansions from the Borders to the Highlands

Bespoke Traveler

Immersive Tales for the Curious Explorer

Zygoma

Adventures in natural history collections

Better Know A Child Ballad

A 305 part series

lateglacial

Exploring Late Glacial Archaeology

Adventures in Cemetery Hopping

A blog by Traci Rylands

Bones Don't Lie

Current News in Mortuary Archaeology and Bioarchaeology

Archaeo𝔡𝔢𝔞𝔱𝔥

Death & Memory - Past & Present

The Byron Herbert Reece Society

Devoted to the legacy of the Appalachian poet Byron Herbert Reece

Visions Of The Past

Irish history, Irish ruins, Ireland history, Ireland ruins, Abandoned Ireland

%d bloggers like this: