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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

“A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



This popular poem by American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was first published in the literary magazine, The Knickerbocker, in 1838. The following year, this poem was collected with several other early Longfellow works and published in a volume titled Voices of the Night. Longfellow revisits the idea of likening poems to psalms as well as other themes from “A Psalm of Life" in subsequent works on several other occasions, including one entitled "The Reaper and the Flowers" which was originally subtitled "A Psalm of Death".

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: Todd Green
Composer: Conner Savoca
Sound Design & Mixing: Christopher Green
Photography: Alex Wigan
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for "A Psalm of Life"
Entry on Wikipedia for Longfellow
Longfellow's Bio on The Poetry Foundation
Detailed Line-by-Line Analysis of "A Psalm of Life" by Jayanta K. Maity

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Image credit: Wikimedia

“A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
   Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
   Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
   Learn to labor and to wait.


Verses Viewpoint

The team shares their thoughts on this poem

Narrator, Todd Green, shares his thoughts on "A Psalm of Life".


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson



Written and published in the winter of 1854, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" memorializes the story of the British soldiers who fought in the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. The battle, in which the Russian forces had soundly defeated the British, had just taken place less than two months prior when Tennyson wrote this poem. One survivor of the defeated cavalry regiment, the 11th Hussars, Private Thomas Williams, remarked later in a letter to his parents, “I could see what would be the result of it, and so could all of us; but of course, as we had got the order, it was our duty to obey. I do not wish to boast too much; but I can safely say that there was not a man in the Light Brigade that day but what did his duty to his Queen and Country.”[1] Tennyson later edited the poem and included the new version in a volume of works published in 1855. The revisions were not well received so he restored the text back to its previous iteration for subsequent printings. We have chosen to produce the original and more well-known version of this poem.

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: B.J. Harrison
Composer: Andrew Boone
Sound Design & Mixing: Andrew Riffenburgh
Artwork: Richard Caton Woodville, Jr.
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for "The Charge of the Light Brigade"
Entry on Wikipedia for Tennyson
Tennyson's Bio at The Poetry Foundation
Wikipedia entry for the Battle of Balaclava
Alternative version of "The Charge of the Light Brigade" published in 1855

Carbon Print of Tennyson, 1869
Credit: Wikipedia

"The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.

VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!


[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/10776275/New-accounts-emerge-of-Charge-of-the-Light-Brigade.html

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"The Long Hill" by Sara Teasdale



American lyric poet, Sara Teasdale, was born in 1884 in Missouri. She published her first poem in a newspaper in 1907 followed by a volume of her poetry later that year. In 1950, science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury published a short story which contained Teasdale's poem, "There Will Come Soft Rains" and Bradbury also used that as his story's title. Many of her poems have been put to music over the years, including "The Long Hill" which was recorded by the band Clifford Grooms in 2013.

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: Laura Richcreek
Composer: Conner Savoca
Sound Design & Mixing: Christopher Green
Photography: Cagatay Orhan
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for Sara Teasdale
Sara Teasdale's Bio at Poetry Foundation
Comparison of "The Long Hill" and "Up-Hill" by Christina Rossetti
Scanned image of an early printing of the poem courtesy of Google Books

Sara Teasdale, portrait taken July 11, 1919
Photo credit: Wikimedia

"The Long Hill" by Sara Teasdale

I must have passed the crest a while ago
   And now I am going down —
Strange to have crossed the crest and not to know,
   But the brambles were always catching the hem
         of my gown.

All the morning I thought how proud I should be
   To stand there straight as a queen,
Wrapped in the wind and the sun with the world
         under me —
   But the air was dull, there was little I could
         have seen.

It was nearly level along the beaten track
   And the brambles caught in my gown —
But it's no use now to think of turning back,
   The rest of the way will be only going down.


Verses Viewpoint

The team shares their thoughts on this poem
"I found myself looking back at the last 7-13 years and felt that longing, but also a certain relaxed (resigned?) sense of self as I head into the upcoming years. It wasn't a negative feeling, but more of an, 'Ah, so this is it! Okay. I'm alright with this!'" - Laura Richcreek, narrator

"I think it has a feeling of bittersweetness. Sort of a bit of longing for days gone by, but at the same time realizing that the past is gone and one must look ahead. Then there's also a hint of apprehension about what is to come. I suppose it could also be interpreted as a look at aging and maturity too. I think it has so many layers to it despite how short it is. It really is quite a beautiful piece." - J.D. Sutter, director