“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.” - Simonides of Ceos

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

“Eldorado” by Edgar Allan Poe

The poem "Eldorado" was first published in 1849 in the Boston-based periodical, The Flag of Our Union, a publication which also printed works from Louisa May Alcott. Incidentally, this poem was published just a little over five months before Edgar Allan Poe would meet his untimely–and still unexplained–death. Poe is, of course, known for his melancholy and dark writings and although there are some gray undertones in "Eldorado", they are far less overt than those in many of his other pieces. The text of the poem has been set to music in its entirety as well as adapted into song by many musical acts over the years.

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: J.D. Sutter
Composer: Conner Savoca
Sound Design & Mixing: Christopher Green with assistance from Roy Allison
Photography: Patrick Neufelder
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for "Eldorado"
Entry on Wikipedia for Edgar Allan Poe
Poe's Bio on the Poetry Foundation
Analysis of "Eldorado" from gradesaver.com
Analysis of "Eldorado" from shadowofiris.com

1849 Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe
Source: Wikimedia

“Eldorado” by Edgar Allan Poe

       Gaily bedight,
       A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,  
       Had journeyed long,  
       Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

       But he grew old—
       This knight so bold—  
And o’er his heart a shadow—  
       Fell as he found
       No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

       And, as his strength  
       Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—  
       “Shadow,” said he,  
       “Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?”

       “Over the Mountains
       Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,  
       Ride, boldly ride,”
       The shade replied,—
“If you seek for Eldorado!”

By William Heath Robinson - books, Public Domain, Link

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Autumn Fires" by Robert Louis Stevenson

"Autumn Fires" was first published in 1885 in a volume titled Penny Whistles which contained over 60 poems, including "My Shadow", "The Lamplighter", and "The Land of Story-books". The collection was later re-titled A Child’s Garden of Verses and has been reprinted many times. Robert Louis Stevenson is, of course, well-known for his short stories and novels, such as the pirate adventure story, Treasure Island, which was published two years prior to the aforementioned poetry collection.

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: Todd Green
Composer: Natasha Green
Sound Design & Mixing: Christopher Green (Some sounds from freeSFX.co.uk and are used in accordance with their EULA.)
Photography: Timothy Meinberg
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson's Bio on the Poetry Foundation
Short Commentary on "Autumn Fires" by the Blog, Pluck That Poem
Blog Post by Christine A. Lindberg About Autumn Poetry

Robert Louis Stevenson, December 1870
Image Credit: Wikimedia

"Autumn Fires" by Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

A high-quality scan of the page containing this poem from a volume of A Child's Garden Of Verses courtesy of The Internet Archive. You can download a copy or view the book in a browser here.

Click the image to enlarge

Sunday, October 15, 2017

“Afternoon” by Emma Lazarus

While she wrote dozens of poems, Emma Lazarus is most known for "The New Colossus" and information about much of her other work is scarce. Indeed, information regarding "Afternoon" is almost nonexistent online. This beautiful, narrative piece is filled with vivid visuals that draw the reader into the scene. It takes very little effort to feel as though one is walking alongside the unnamed "her" in the poem. Whether the woman Lazarus refers to is herself or if it is a more general usage of the pronoun we may never know. Regardless this is a wonderful poem which conveys an emotion that most of us can relate to in some way.

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: Laura Richcreek
Composer: Andrew Boone
Sound Design & Mixing: Christopher Green
Photography: Daniel Maissan
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for Emma Lazarus
Emma Lazarus's Bio on the Poetry Foundation
Basic Analysis of "Afternoon" from KeyToPoetry.com
Commentary on Lazarus' work from the American Verse Project

Emma Lazarus circa December 1871
Image Credit: Wikipedia

“Afternoon” by Emma Lazarus

Small, shapeless drifts of cloud
Sail slowly northward in the soft-hued sky,
With blue half-tints and rolling summits bright,
By the late sun caressed; slight hazes shroud
All things afar; shineth each leaf anigh
With its own warmth and light.

O'erblown by Southland airs,
The summer landscape basks in utter peace:
In lazy streams the lazy clouds are seen;
Low hills, broad meadows, and large, clear-cut squares
Of ripening corn-fields, rippled by the breeze,
With shifting shade and sheen.

Hark! and you may not hear
A sound less soothing than the rustle cool
Of swaying leaves, the steady wiry drone
Of unseen crickets, sudden chirpings clear
Of happy birds, the tinkle of the pool,
Chafed by a single stone.

What vague, delicious dreams,
Born of this golden hour of afternoon,
And air balm-freighted, fill the soul with bliss,
Transpierced like yonder clouds with lustrous gleams,
Fantastic, brief as they, and, like them, spun
Of gilded nothingness!

All things are well with her.
'T is good to be alive, to see the light
That plays upon the grass, to feel (and sigh
With perfect pleasure) the mild breezes stir
Among the garden roses, red and white,
With whiffs of fragrancy.

There is no troublous thought,
No painful memory, no grave regret,
To mar the sweet suggestions of the hour:
The soul, at peace, reflects the peace without,
Forgetting grief as sunset skies forget
The morning's transient shower.

Verses Viewpoint

The team shares their thoughts on this poem
"What I appreciated most about this poem is the inventiveness of the author's vocabulary and turns of phrase--"half-tints," "anigh," "balm-freighted," "transpierced," "fragrancy," and "troublous." At least, I'm assuming these words are invented by Ms. Lazarus--I haven't actually looked them up, but they are lovely! And my two favorite phrases must be, "chafed by a single stone," and "gilded nothingness."  I feel like I can see the world anew (see? she's inspiring me!) or perhaps, newly? after reading her poem." - Laura Richcreek, narrator

"To me, this poem has a feeling of reflection and contemplation, but not in a wistful way. I think she's simply observing the things around her and just stopping to appreciate the littlest things and having gratitude for the season of life she's currently in." - J.D. Sutter, director