November 11, 2015

and the night shall be filled with music

(I wrote this blog last night, but since I am up at 4:30 am (why?why?why?) it seems extra fitting--it won't be light for at least another hour!  I am thankful for many things, but right now I would have been extra thankful for a few more hours of sleep...).  Also---I couldn't fix all my formatting problems with this post!  No matter how many times I adjusted line spacing and text size some of the post was just not cooperating, so my motto for today is progress, not perfection..

As we continue working our way through the poems on the thankful banner in my dining room, the letter "f" today is offering not one but two poems which seem pretty darn appropriate at the moment.  While I might enjoy a little more sunshine as I get ready for work in the morning, I'll confess I don't find much to revel in as I exit my work garage at the end of the day only to meet darkness. The clock may read 5:15 pm, but my inner clock is clamoring for comfort food (meatloaf and mashed potatoes, anyone?), comfy pajamas and a book to crawl into bed with!  But if the night comes too quickly, at least having Longfellow around makes it a little easier!

Henry's first poem (I've read his work for so many years that surely we're on a first name basis by now!), Day is Done, was written in 1844 as a preface to an anthology of poems called The Waif.  Longfellow selected his favorite poems by other writers and compiled them into this book, adding this particular poem as an introduction.  I think one of the things I love most about Longfellow's work is that he wanted poetry to be part of our everyday lives--poems don't have to be so complex and fraught with meanings that the average reader can't figure out what they mean.  He wrote poems that you could memorize because of the lovely language and rhythm, poems that could bring you comfort at the end of the day.  Poems that could lighten the heaviness of the world.

Day is Done
The day is done, and the darkness
      Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
      From an eagle in his flight. 

I see the lights of the village
      Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
      That my soul cannot resist:
A feeling of sadness and longing,
      That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
      As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
      Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
      And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters,
      Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
      Through the corridors of Time. 

For, like strains of martial music,
      Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
      And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet,
      Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
      Or tears from the eyelids start; 

Who, through long days of labor,
      And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
      Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
      The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
      That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume

      The poem of thy choice,

And lend to the rhyme of the poet

      The beauty of thy voice. 

And the night shall be filled with music,

      And the cares, that infest the day,

Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,

      And as silently steal away.

    Over the weekend I had the chance to see the 75th anniversary movie of Disney's Fantasia on big screen.  It was so enjoyable listening to some of my very favorite pieces, with the remarkable and visionary animation that brings the music to life. I found it astonishing to think how all that art work was created 75 years ago...long before computers!  Every time I watch the last segment of the movie where the pulsing, whirling music of Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain gives way to Schubert's plaintive Ave Maria, I always think of the last lines of Day is Done.  ...and the cares that infest the day...(shall) silently steal away.

New Orleans Botanical Garden, November 2014--a grand setting for Longfellow's  
Hymn to the Night

Aspasie, trillistos.
I heard the trailing garments of the Night
      Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
      From the celestial walls!
I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
      Stoop o'er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
      As of the one I love.
I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
      The manifold, soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,
      Like some old poet's rhymes.
From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
      My spirit drank repose;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there, —
      From those deep cisterns flows.
O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
      What man has borne before!
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
      And they complain no more.
Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!
      Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
      The best-beloved Night!

All other photos from Door County camping trips

But at the moment, we can't revel in the night music but must greet the day!  I hope your day is blessed with the simple things that bring you comfort and make you smile, and remember..

Today is a good day for a good day! 


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