Posts Tagged ‘Lord Byron’

Of course, there are those critics – New York critics as a rule – who say, ‘Well Maya Anglou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer.’ Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.” – Maya Angelou

Words That Sing

If I remember right, Treasure Island was the first book I read from my grandfather's book cabinet.

If I remember right, Treasure Island was the first book I read from my grandfather’s book cabinet.

“Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

This quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” sang to me when I was a young girl who had claimed her dead grandfather’s stuffed book cabinet.  As did the final words of Lord Byron’s “Prisoner of Chillon:”

These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage – and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watch’d them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill – yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learn’d to dwell;
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are: – even I
Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.

Jack London's books encourage my love of animals; and it was a big thrill when I got to see his Yukon cabin.

Jack London’s books encouraged my love of animals; and it was a big thrill when I got to see his cabin in the Yukon.

Even as a 10-year-old girl, I understood the words of Lord Byron’s sonnet, and even memorized it. It was simply something this girl did growing up, and occasionally still does although the memorizing doesn’t come as easy.

I also memorized Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky:” which I didn’t understand, but whose language enchanted me; “ and Alfred Noyes’ “The Admiral’s Ghost,” whose opening lines “I tell you a tale tonight, which a seaman told to me, with eyes that gleamed in the lantern light, and a voice as low as the sea”  gave me goose bumps.

            I can still recite Jabberwocky from memory, and much of the other two pieces. Their words sang to me. Also in my grandfather’s book cabinet were the works of Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Jack London and many other classic authors, along with some not so classic.  But not having television, video games or a cell phone, I read them all at a very young age.

While Jack London’s books encouraged my friendship with animals as a young girl,  I didn’t know I was meant to be a writer until I was 25. I wonder if I ever would have known if it hadn’t been for my dead grandfather’s book cabinet.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Get Your Own Coffee http://tinyurl.com/o7spuxw As a woman fighting for job equality back when females were breaking into good-old-boy worker conclaves, I was fortunate to never be asked by a male colleague, or a boss, to get them coffee, or I might have responded much the same. But just to emphasize my equality, I never brought home-baked goodies to the office, as some of the other women did, or volunteer to be the social organizer for office events. Perhaps this is why I really liked this blog

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One of the books I loved growing up was a literature textbook that belonged to my mother. She told me her parents had bought it for her after she had flunked her English course so she could study it before she had to take the class over again.

I must have been only about seven years old, but already reading extremely well, when I discovered it. I fell in love with the book, and especially the poetry it contained. I memorized many of the pieces, including the lengthy “Prisoner of Chillon” by Lord Byron. The poem’s chilling closing lingers with me still: “My very chains and I grew friends/So much a long communion tends.”

But my favorite of all the poems, which I also memorized although at the time I understood it less than Byron’s narrative, was “In Flanders Fields.” I simply liked the rhythm and music of the words.

Today I understand it well. Sadly it’s as timely now as it was at the end of World War I, when John McCrae wrote it.

Field of poppies -- Wikipedia photo

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short years ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

NaNoWriMo Update – 21,497 words

Lot of backtracking during my writing today. What time did that restaurant open? What was the name of the Bed and Breakfast on the beach? What was Jeff’s last name? Etc., etc, etc. Thankfully I was able to find what I wanted through a word search.

I added the information I needed to my character/time frame/place-name notes. It would have been nice if I had jotted that information down when I originally wrote it but how was I to know I would need that information again.

I’m learning, however, and that was what this challenge for me is all about.

And among the things I’ve learned is that I work best if I start my writing at 5 a.m., especially since most of the rest of the world – including my daughter and her husband who got back from their cruise yesterday – are still asleep. The secret to doing this is to get to bed early.

And despite my flipping back and forth through what I had already written, today’s writing went speedily, more so than any day. I had my 2,000 words finished by 9 a.m., despite trying to remember and get up every half hour and stretch my neck and back. .

The “Force” was with me today. Hope it’s with all you other NaNos out there, too.

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Freshly sprouted blossoms shout out their spring song. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. A year impairs, a luster obliterates. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment – but who can be sure the Imagination is not the torch-bearer? Lord Byron

Travels With Maggie

Spring is bursting out all over!”

The song lyrics played joyously through my head this morning as I took my dog, Maggie, outside to do her business. The trees were budding, the dandelions were sprouting, a cool breeze stirred my hair, the squirrels were chattering and the birds were twittering.

Back at my desk in front of my computer, I was curious as to what musical from my past had been the inspiration for the song. I suspected it was “Oklahoma “but wasn’t quite sure.

Will I remember that it was a yellow-eyed great-tailed grackle I saw this morning, or will memory rename the bird a Brewer's blackbird? -- Photo by Pat Bean

I Binged, which is what I do instead of Googling, and discovered my memory had tricked me twice. The actually lyrics are “June is bursting out all over,” and the musical in which the song was featured is “Carousel.”

Memory is such an unreliable source.

This fact was made extremely plain to me when my children, now all grown and most with children of their own, began recalling past incidents in their childhood. Although all five of them may have experienced the same thing at the same time, each of their stories were different. More startling was that none of the tales fit my own memories of the events.

How could this possibly be? I still don’t know the answer, although I’ve learned a lot about human nature since the differing stories began being shared.

These memory quirks we all seem to share, however, have increased my appreciation for being a writer. Blogging daily in a public forum, which I have been doing since the first of the year, has become a way of making my life more tangible, to the point that sometimes things don’t seem real until I write them down.

And what was real this morning was that spring, not June, was bursting out all over.

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