Today the world said goodbye to one of our greatest folk musicians and activists, whose songs protested against some if our great injustices. Our song is so often individual & introspective, his passing reminds me again of the power of song to unite, inspire & provoke social change. What a well lived life, rest in peace Pete Seeger.
Category Archives: Dancing words
I absolutely love reading essays, poems, stories by that man called Gilbert Keith Chesterton. He writes in a way that is beautiful, humourous and profound. Each time I read his work I feel a little more alive and more enchanted by the world and what it has to offer.
I love his thoughts on Celebrating Christmas Properly, written in 1907, but for something shorter and just as sweet here is a Christmas Poem by G.K.Chesterton. (My hero)
There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.
For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.
A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.
This world is wild as an old wife’s tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.
To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.
(Gilbert Keith Chesterton)
Merry Christmas! Celebrate well, laugh, eat and love!
Some days are a bit tough, when it seems like all the elements are against you .. or maybe it is that all the little disappointments or niggles seem to kick off at one time.
Anyway, for me, today was one of those days. I found myself inspired by the honest, hopeful, romantic and beautiful words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Maybe best known for her ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’ here are some of her best quotes to amuse, brighten or encourage you in whatever this day has brought for you.
‘God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.’
‘You were made perfectly to be loved – and surely I have loved you, in the idea of you, my whole life long.’
‘At painful times, when composition is impossible and reading is not enough, grammars and dictionaries are excellent for distraction.’
‘Girls blush, sometimes, because they are alive, half wishing they were dead to save the shame. The sudden blush devours them, neck and brow; They have drawn too near the fire of life, like gnats, and flare up bodily, wings and all. What then? Who’s sorry for a gnat or girl?’
“The Greeks said grandly in their tragic phrase, ‘Let no one be called happy till his death;’ to which I would add, ‘Let no one, till his death, be called unhappy.’ “
‘The beautiful seems right by force of beauty and the feeble wrong because of weakness.’
‘God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers, And thrusts the thing we have prayed for in our face, A gauntlet with a gift in it.’
‘For tis not in mere death that men die most.’
‘A woman is always younger than a man at equal years.’
‘What is genius but the power of expressing a new individuality?’
‘But the child’s sob curses deeper in the silence than the strong man in his wrath!’
‘World’s use is cold, world’s love is vain, world’s cruelty is bitter bane; but is not the fruit of pain.’
‘First time he kissed me, he but only kissed The fingers of this hand wherewith I write; And, ever since, it grew more clean and white.’
This week marks the start of a new project for Mr F, which is a huge & terrifying blessing. One in which he gets to do what he was made for, and contribute to music making and community, and one which means over the next year or two he will be travelling frequently to far away places. I have recently started reading ‘Letters to a young poet’ by Rainer Maria Rilke, and as we begin this new season his words resonate and wrap a blanket around me, around us. For those of you who fear love is fragile, may you also find warmth and comfort under them.
“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance
and have faith that in this love there is a strength and blessing
so large you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it”
Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a young poet
This week I have been thinking about the joy of work, I start a new job this week and a few of my friends are on the threshold of new chapters with work and study, so this little post is given over to a blessing for work penned by the late John O Donohue.
May the Light of Your Soul Guide You
May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light, and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration, and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never be a burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities, and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered, and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you
Yesterday I left behind the heavy rain filled skies on London Luton, and arrived to be greeted by a blue skied Belfast. I was reminded it was June, and it was summer. Recently, my heart has been heavy as I have been mindful of friends facing days shaded in the grey of disappointment, loss, pain and bewilderment. Reading this Mary Oliver poem “The Summer Day” reminded me that amid the grey to offer attention to gratitude, my act as a prayer to chase in bluer skies
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Yesterday my lovely friend Chants directed me over to this beautiful blog post by Sarah Bessey:
She talks about taking care of the soul. In me I recognise, that soul shrinking, and how often a poem has caused my soul to swell. For those of you who might also be in need of some words to help you come alive, this new little feature is born, Someone once said that poetry is to prose, what dancing is to walking. Enjoy the dance!
For the first in this little series, I thought I would share one of my absolute favorite poems, by Wendell Berry, a brilliant farmer/conservationist, writer/teacher. As you will recognise, this poem was the inspiration for our little blog title, may the words, move, inspire, challenge and comfort you in the way they have me:
The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.
Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.