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

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

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus

American born, Jewish poet, Emma Lazarus wrote this now famous sonnet in 1883 for the purpose of aiding the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty as Lazarus notes on the original manuscript of the poem (pictured below). Unfortunately, she never saw the poem enshrined on Liberty Island as the plaque bearing the poem's text was not affixed to the pedestal wall until 1903; over a decade and a half after Lazarus' death in 1887. The title of the poem is a reference to the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the Greek sun-god, which was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: Nicole Rodrigues
Composer: Conner Savoca
Sound Design & Mixing: Andrew Riffenburgh
Photography: Kevin Connors
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for "The New Colossus"
Entry on Wikipedia for Emma Lazarus
Emma Lazarus's Bio on the Poetry Foundation
Summary, Analysis, & Historical Context of "The New Colossus"
Shorter Analysis from InterestingLiterature.com
A Brief History of Liberty State Park

Emma Lazarus circa December 1871
Image Credit: Wikipedia

"The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

New Colossus manuscript Lazarus.jpg
By Emma Lazarus (1883 manuscript) - http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/haventohome/images/hh0041s.jpg Library of Congress, Public Domain, Link