Today’s cultural moment

January 12, 2023

Softly falls the morning snow,
Whispers to the sleeping world below:
“Wintertide awakes.”
Dawning breaks and sets the earth aglow.

In gentle tones of warmest white,
Proclaim the glory of Aurora’s light.
Sparrow sings in a clear, clean voice,
A sweet, silver carol for the season born.
Radiant wings as the skies rejoice,
Arise and illuminate the morn.

Softly falls the morning snow,
Whispers to the sleeping world below:
“Glow!”


Today’s cultural moment

December 28, 2022


Happy Columbus Day

October 10, 2022

Once upon a time there was an Italian,
And some people thought he was a rapscallion,
But he wasn’t offended,
Because other people thought he was splendid,
And he said the world was round,
And everybody made an uncomplimentary sound,
But he went and tried to borrow some money from Ferdinand
But Ferdinand said America was a bird in the bush and he’d rather have a berdinand,
But Columbus’ brain was fertile, it wasn’t arid,
And he remembered that Ferdinand was married,
And he thought, there is no wife like a misunderstood one,
Because if her husband thinks something is a terrible idea she is bound to think it a good one,
So he perfumed his handkerchief with bay rum and citronella,
And he went to see Isabella,
And he looked wonderful but he had never felt sillier,
And she said, I can’t place the face but the aroma is familiar,
And Columbus didn’t say a word,
All he said was, I am Columbus, the fifteenth-century Admiral Byrd,
And, just as he thought, her disposition was very malleable,
And she said, Here are my jewels, and she wasn’t penurious like Cornelia the mother of the Gracchi, she wasn’t referring to her children, no, she was referring to her jewels, which were very very valuable,
So Columbus said, Somebody show me the sunset and somebody did and he set sail for it,
And he discovered America and they put him in jail for it,
And the fetters gave him welts,
And they named America after somebody else,
So the sad fate of Columbus ought to be pointed out to every child and every voter,
Because it has a very important moral, which is, Don’t be a discoverer, be a promoter.

–Ogden Nash (1902-1971)


Happy birthday, Ogden

August 19, 2022

Here’s a poem in honor of Ogden Nash (1902-1971), whose birthday is today.

❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧

No Doctors Today, Thank You

They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful, well, today I feel euphorian,
Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetite of a Victorian.
Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,
Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle any swashes?
This is my euphorian day,
I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.
I will tame me a caribou
And bedeck it with marabou.
I will pen me my memoirs.
Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!
I wasn’t much of a hand for the boudoirs,
I was generally to be found where the food was.
Does anybody want any flotsam?
I’ve gotsam.
Does anybody want any jetsam?
I can getsam.
I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,
I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.
I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because I am wearing moccasins,
And I practically know the difference between serums and anti-toccasins.
Kind people, don’t think me purse-proud, don’t set me down as vainglorious,
I’m just a little euphorious.


Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2022

More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That’s how much I love you.

I love you more than a duck can swim,
And more than a grapefruit squirts,
I love you more than gin rummy is a bore,
And more than a toothache hurts.

As a shipwrecked sailor hates the sea,
Or a juggler hates a shove,
As a hostess detests uninvited guests,
That’s how much you I love.

I love you more than a wasp can sting,
And more than the subway jerks,
I love you as much as a cripple needs a crutch,
And more than a hangnail irks.

I swear to you by the stars above,
And below, if such there be,
As the High Court loathes perjurious oaths,
That’s how much you’re loved by me.

–Ogden Nash (1902-1971)


Out with the old, in with the new

December 31, 2021


Musical offering for the winter solstice

December 21, 2021

Randall Thompson‘s choral setting of a poem by Robert Frost.


Happy birthday, Sara

August 8, 2021

In honor of the birthday of American poet Sara Teasdale (1884-1933), here is a choral setting by Susan LaBarr of her poem “Grace Before Sleep.”

How can our minds and bodies be
Grateful enough that we have spent
Here in this generous room
This evening of content?
Each one of us has walked through storm
And fled the wolves along the road;
But here the hearth is wide and warm,
And for this shelter and this light
Accept, O Lord, our thanks tonight.


Happy birthday, Percy

August 4, 2021

In honor of the birthday of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822).


Today’s cultural moment

March 26, 2021

It’s the birthday of English poet Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936) and American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963). In addition to sharing a birthday, they also share the distinction of having written some exceptionally lovely poems about springtime, and heaven knows we could use a little spring right about now.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

— A. E. Houseman 

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

— Robert Frost 

Today is also the anniversary of the arrival in Washington, DC of three thousand Japanese cherry trees — a gift from the mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki — in 1912. First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two of the trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin on March 27, 1912. The rest of the trees were eventually planted around the Tidal Basin and in other parts of the city. The first Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 1935, and it became an annual event that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

Many of Tokyo’s cherry trees were destroyed in allied bombing raids during World War II. After the war ended, cuttings were taken from the Japanese cherry trees in Washington and sent to Tokyo to replace the trees that had been lost.


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