Monday, December 31, 2012

Lyrical Thursdays (ish): Auld Lang Syne

OK, so it's not exactly Thursday...  But between being on Christmas break and getting sick, my days got all jumbled up and I missed last Thursday.  So to make up for it, I'm doing a special New Year's Eve edition of Lyrical Thursdays, featuring the poem Auld Lang Syne.
Auld Lang Syne is generally attributed to Scottish poet Robert Burns, but some accounts say that he didn't compose it, he only wrote it down. Supposedly it had been around long before him, but just passed along orally.  So in 1788 Burns put quill to parchment and wrote out the lyrics to the poem now so often heard sung on New Year's Eve.
Auld Lang Syne translates literally to "Old Long Since," and more generally means "long, long ago," or "days gone by."  I thought I'd include the original Scottish lyrics with the English translation below.  You can decide which version you'll sing after the ball drops (and after your New Year's smooches, of course...!)! 

Auld Lang Syne - Scottish Lyrics
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I'll be mine !
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu'd the gowans fine ;
But we've wander'd mony a weary foot,
sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
sin auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o' thine !
And we'll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.


Auld Lang Syne - English Lyrics
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you'll buy your pint cup !
and surely I'll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there's a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o' thine !
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lyrical Thursdays: Sorrow

Today's poem is sort of the antithesis of the one I posted last week.  I had planned on posting it at some point, but wasn't sure when, since it's a bit of a downer.  However, it's also beautifully written, and phrases from the poem get stuck in my head from time to time, specifically the line: "All my thoughts are slow and brown."  Tired, gloomy days will find me with that line crawling around my sleepy brain!

After the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut last week, this poem seemed the right choice for this Thursday.  Thankfully, few of us have ever or will ever feel sorrow like the families who lost loved ones in such a terrible way, but words can sometimes help us understand even the smallest part of what they are going through.  In this way we can be better prepared to "mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9).

Sorrow can take many forms and be inspired by many different things.  When I was in grad school I lived alone, on the other side of the state from my family, burdened by the stresses of school, work, and church responsibilities, and some days I found it hard to even leave my apartment.  It's silly, really, in comparison to the deep sorrow so many feel, how trivial my own was.  But it was real to me and so I turned, as I often do, to poetry (and scripture) for comfort.

Once again, Edna St. Vincent Millay came to my aid, with this poem that in some ways fit what I was feeling, though is more pertinent to those who feel sorrow to a much deeper degree.  In an effort to express my feelings and thoughts about the poem through art, I created this painting (which was featured in my post a couple of weeks ago):

I collaged the words of the poem onto a board, and then worked over them with paint - rubbing it in with my fingers, or scraping it on with a palette knife.  The line in the poem, "I sit in my chair," was poignant to me, because sometimes that was all I felt I could do - sit in a chair, not having to face the world or the stress or all of the expectations weighing me down.  Getting out of that chair was at times the bravest thing I did that day.  So the chair became my focus, along with the color brown and the overwhelming, cramped, dark feeling we get when we feel sorrow of any kind.

I could go on about the painting, but it's time, I think, for the poem itself.  Here is Sorrow by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Sorrow like a ceaseless rain
      Beats upon my heart.
People twist and scream in pain, —
Dawn will find them still again;
This has neither wax nor wane,
      Neither stop nor start.

People dress and go to town;
      I sit in my chair.
All my thoughts are slow and brown:
Standing up or sitting down
Little matters, or what gown
      Or what shoes I wear.

If this poem leaves you feeling too raw, please go back and reread last week's poem!  It's an instant peace restorer for me.  Or check out this video on my sister's blog of our niece dancing (link).  I'll also include here a quote from one of my favorite book series - the Mitford Series by Jan Karon.  In this particular book in the series, the main character, Father Tim, is suffering from depression, but learns to give thanks in even his darkest hour, referencing 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and saying,

"Father, I don't know why You're causing, or allowing, this hard thing to happen, but I'm going to give thanks in it because You ask me to.  I'm going to trust You to have a purpose for it that I can't know and may never know.  Bottom line, You're God, and that's good enough for me."  I second that emotion.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lyrical Thursdays: Hope

A few weeks ago, I was feeling really frustrated with life.  Just life in general - how things often don't turn out the way you think they will and how it's so hard to be patient and see how things are going to end up.  I was talking to my mother about this, and she offered me words of comfort and then paused and recited a poem to me from memory (clearly I come by my love of poetry naturally).

The poem was "'Hope' Is the Things With Feathers" by Emily Dickinson, and it brought me the comfort I needed.  I used my PhotoShop skills to create a nice copy of the poem which now hangs next to my bed to remind me to have hope, and that hope can give so much without expecting anything in return.  I love the comfort a well-organized group of words can bring!

"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lyrical Thursdays

Last weekend some friends of mine allowed me to turn their apartment into a very awesome gallery space.  I hung around 30 paintings as well as a few old prints and a drawing.  It turned out really well!  My sister took a few panoramic shots as we finished setting things up for the evening:

It was really nice to look at paintings I hadn't looked at in a while - that have been sitting in plastic waiting for me to do something with them.  But really the best part of the evening was being able to talk to people about my work.  

As an artist, there is a process I go through with each painting, and it's different for each one.  Some are simply paintings of a beautiful or familiar thing.  But for many of my paintings, there's more to it: emotions I was feeling at the time, emotional attachments to a place/object/person I am painting, a concept I'm trying to get across, capturing a piece of history, etc.  I know that that is happening in each painting, but the viewer might not.

I truly love to find out what other people are thinking when they look at a painting I've done. While I might have all of the things mentioned above going through my head, knowing my history behind it, other people bring their own experiences into each painting and reflect their lives onto them.  A painting I created to express sadness and melancholy, for example, might evoke completely different emotions in someone else.  The visual language of a painting is translated into words spoken about it, and that enriches me every time!

A lot of my work deals with words in different ways and forms.  Some ways are obvious:

And others are a little more subtle:

This love of words starts in literature, threads through poetry and music and ends up splashed on a canvas (OK, let's be real, it ends up meticulously painted on a canvas) in ways that celebrate language - spoken, written, and visual language.  

In talking to attendees of my exhibit last weekend (titled "Tangentials" - since I had a lot of tangents going there...) about the above painting with the brown chair in it, I got to talking a lot about poetry and how it's influenced me and my work.  The more I talked, the more I wished I had a way to share my favorite poems in ways other than subtly included in a painting.  

And then I realized...I have a blog!

So, today is born the first of (hopefully many) Lyrical Thursdays, where I share with you my favorite poems (and go exploring for new ones!).  I may have something to say about the poem, or I may just share it and leave saying things up to you!  

Since this post is already long, I'll share a very short poem with you by one of my favorite poets, Edna St. Vincent Millay (I may post more about this poem at another time):

First Fig
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light! 

Happy Thursday!