May Offerings – Part XI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Robyn O’Neil

Artist Robyn O’Neil lives and works in Los Angeles.
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A Poem for Today

“From Space”
By Katherine Coles

You are smaller than I remember
And so is the house, set downhill
Afloat in a sea of scrub oak. From up here
It’s an ordinary box with gravel

Spread over its lid, weighting it, but
Inside it’s full of shadows and sky.
Clouds pull themselves over dry
Grass, which, if  I’m not mistaken, will erupt

Any minute in flame. Only
A spark, a sunbeam focused. From up
Here, enjoying the view, I can finally
Take you in. Will you wave back? I keep

Slingshotting around. There’s gravity
For you, but all I ever wanted was to fly.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”
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Died 11 May 1996 – Robert Edwin Hall, a New Zealand mountaineer. In the words of one historian, Hall is “best known for being head guide of a 1996 Mount Everest expedition in which he, a fellow guide, and two clients perished.” Jon Krakauer provides a riveting account of the doomed expedition in his best-selling work ‘Into Thin Air.’
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From the Music Archives: Bob Marley

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” – Bob Marley, Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter and guitarist, who died 11 May 1981.

A Second Poem for Today

“The Education of a Poet”
By Leslie Monsour

Her pencil poised, she’s ready to create,
Then listens to her mind’s perverse debate
On whether what she does serves any use;
And that is all she needs for an excuse
To spend all afternoon and half the night
Enjoying poems other people write.
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“The Theory of Evolution, like the Theory of Gravity, is a scientific fact. Evolution really happened. Accepting our kinship with all life on earth is not only solid science, in my view, it’s also a soaring spiritual experience.”
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American Art – Part II of V: Alfredo Arreguin

Here is one critic describing the background and artistry of Alfredo Arreguin: “Although born in Mexico, Arreguín developed as an artist and consolidated his professional career in Seattle, Washington, where he has lived almost continuously since 1956. His early childhood and adolescence, as well as later experiences that led to his maturity as a genuinely American painter, in the real, hemispheric sense of this term, endow him with a unique perspective on life and the world. Many of the intricate and exuberant elements that stamp a distinctive character on his works are generated by his memories of his country of birth. Mexico’s alternately vibrant and ascetic culture––its exquisite ceramics, textiles, and wood handicrafts; its tumultuous and glorious history, from the cosmogonies and sacred rites of the Tarascan (Purhépecha), Mayan, Aztec, and Olmec civilizations to the wars of conquest and independence; its verdant and torrid nature and landscape––eventually overlaps and blends, dreamlike, with his experiences in this serene and beautiful corner we call the Pacific Northwest of the United States.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The theologian Meric Casaubon argued—in his 1668 book, ‘Of Credulity and Incredulity’—that witches must exist because, after all, everyone believes in them. Anything that a large number of people believe must be true.”
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Nobel Laureate: Camilo Jose Cela

“Literature is the denunciation of the times in which one lives.” – Camilo Jose Cela, Spanish novelist, short story writer, essayist, and recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Literature “for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability,” who was born 11 May 1916.

A few quotes from the work of Camilo Jose Cela:

“There are two kinds of men: the ones who make history and the ones who endure it.”
“Ideas? My head is full of them, one after the other, but they serve no purpose there. They must be put down on paper, one after the other.”
“When debts are not paid because they cannot be paid, the best thing to do is not talk about them, and shuffle the cards again.”

A Third Poem for Today

“The Dancer”
By David Tucker

Class is over, the teacher
and the pianist gone,
but one dancer
in a pale blue
leotard stays
to practice alone without music,
turning grand jetes
through the haze of late afternoon.
Her eyes are focused
on the balancing point
no one else sees
as she spins in this quiet
made of mirrors and light—
a blue rose on a nail—
then stops and lifts
her arms in an oval pause
and leans out
a little more, a little more,
there, in slow motion
upon the air.
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“We are animals evolved to live in the interpenetrating subjectivities of all the life there is, so far as we know, life that coats the rock of earth like moss. We cannot live without connection, both psychic and physical. We begin to die of pointlessness when we are isolated, even if some of us can hang on for a long while connected to nothing beyond our imaginations.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Australian hyper-realistic painter Matthew Doust (1984-2013): “Exhibiting exquisite detail and attention to the minutae of the human landscape, Doust used portraiture to boldly map an intriguing interpretation of external physicality and internal impressions.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“There’s no greater sign of the failure of the American educational system than the extent to which Americans are distracted by the possibility that Earth might end on December 21, 2012. It’s a profound absence of awareness of the laws of physics and how nature works. So they’re missing some science classes in their training in high school or in college that would empower [them] to understand and to judge when someone else is basically just full of it. Science is like an inoculation against charlatans who would have you believe whatever it is they tell you.”
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Died 11 May 1995 – David Avidan, an Israeli poet, painter, filmmaker, and playwright.

“Concerning the Gloomy Love of J. Alfred Prufrock”

One day the sober wisdoms will come to wake us
from our dull and heavy slumber, like cannon balls
on a very bright Saturday morn. Then behind us
Alfred Prufrock’s gloomy love will travel to our towns
across a long and shifting road that will tactfully go round our throats –
and there it will become when the time comes
a well-preserved collection of late recollections
yet our songs will refuse to take and be taken
and this will be a sure sign of our youthful days.

And yet, either way, every resistance breaks.
Let us then take the last road
leading to our seashore, to the sands,
into the kingdom of lost precincts where only
we are allowed entry, and the secret password
is to be uttered firmly but softly,
and there’s a door that will open and shut,
and there’s always yet another untried
option, and the day is still wide open.

And there, in underwater housing projects, sea-maidens
will frolic across our knees, on their faces
the appearance of frightened bliss, and the remembrance
of skies too high and too many eyes,
and the incessant question who’s coming who’s coming,
and there, our legs outstretched,
to the distant sound of interlude singing
we’ll suck their lips until we sink.

Below – Melvin Vargas: “Mermaids”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”
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In the words of one critic, “Andrei Belichenko was born in 1974 in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He is a graduate of the Republican Art School (1990). Andrei studied in the Graphic Department of the Academy of Arts. Consumed by the importance of detail, realism, and the individual expression of his subjects, Belichenko’s exceptional talent and excellence in academic standing earned him a Master of Fine Arts within five years instead of the customary six.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“At Twenty-Eight”
By Amy Fleury

It seems I get by on more luck than sense,
not the kind brought on by knuckle to wood,
breath on dice, or pennies found in the mud.
I shimmy and slip by on pure fool chance.
At turns charmed and cursed, a girl knows romance
as coffee, red wine, and books; solitude
she counts as daylight virtue and muted
evenings, the inventory of absence.
But this is no sorry spinster story,
just the way days string together a life.
Sometimes I eat soup right out of the pan.
Sometimes I don’t care if I will marry.
I dance in my kitchen on Friday nights,
singing like only a lucky girl can.
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From the American History Archives: Glacier National Park

11 May 1910 – President William Howard Taft signs a bill that creates Glacier National Park, which had formerly been a forest reserve.

Below – “St. Mary Lake and Wildgoose Island”; “Chief Mountain”; “Two Medicine Lake with Sinopah Mountain”; “Bowman Lake”; “Going-to-the-Sun Road.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“It’s nice to start journeys pleasantly, even when you know they won’t end that way.”
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American Art – Part III of V: Anne Leone

Painter Anne Leone earned a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from the University of Cincinnati.
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Pulitzer Prize: Robert Frost

11 March 1924 – Robert Frost is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the first of four that he would win, for “New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes.”

“Fire and Ice”

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice. – From “New Hampshire”
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American Art – Part IV of V: Yuqi Wang

Artist Yuqi Wang (born 1958) has studied painting both China and the United States and now lives and works in New York City. One critic describes Wang’s canvases thusly: “The influence of Rossetti and Burne-Jones is unmistakable, and in the tradition of the Pre-Raphaelites Yuqi manages to create work which is as sensitive as it is powerful.”
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“We must define some stories about taking care of what we’ve got, which is to say life and our lives. They will be stories in which our home is sacred, stories about making use of the place where we live without ruining it, stories that tell us to stay humane amid our confusions.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“What I Learned From My Mother”
By Julia Kasdorf

I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The Milky Way Galaxy is one of billions, perhaps hundreds of billions of galaxies notable neither in mass nor in brightness nor in how its stars are configured and arrayed. Some modern deep sky photographs show more galaxies beyond the Milky Way than stars within the Milky Way. Every one of them is an island universe containing perhaps a hundred billion suns. Such an image is a profound sermon on humility.”
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American Literary Genius: William Faulkner

11 May 1942 – William Faulkner’s collection of short stories, “Go Down, Moses,” is published. This volume contains “The Bear,” one of the great initiation stories in the history of American letters. In the words of one critic, ‘The thematic patterns of ‘The Bear’ extend beyond the hunting narrative to implicate multiple tensions that have defined American life, including the conflicts between the wilderness and civilization, Native American ethics and European exploitation, freedom and slavery, pagan values and Christian duties, innocence and knowledge of sin.”

Every American should read “The Bear” at least once.

“It was of the wilderness, the big woods, bigger and older than any recorded document:–of white man fatuous enough to believe he had bought any part of it, of Indian ruthless enough to pretend that any fragment of it had been his to convey….” – From “The Bear”

Below – Boyd Saunders: A stone lithograph accompanying William Faulkner’s “The Bear.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Brenda Schwartz (Part II)

In the words of one writer, “Brenda tells us that her novel method of painting watercolors on marine charts began when she was a child and used her parent’s charts for her sketches. She has come a long way from those roots, and is now one of Southeast Alaska’s most famous and admired artists.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “New Eddystone”; “Northbound”; “Northern Voyage”; “Pelican”; “Petersburg Vista”; “Rounding the Point.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Life is like music for its own sake. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to music we are not listening to the past, we are not listening to the future, we are listening to an expanded present.”

A Sixth Poem for Today

“Grasses”
By Heather Allen

So still at heart,
They respond like water
To the slightest breeze,
Rippling as one body,

And, as one mind,
Bend continually
To listen:
The perfect confidants,

They keep to themselves,
A web of trails and nests,
Burrows and hidden entrances—
Do not reveal

Those camouflaged in stillness
From the circling hawks,
Or crouched and breathless
At the passing of the fox.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“So we navigate mostly by dead reckoning, and deduction from what clues we find. I keep a compass in one pocket for overcast days when the sun doesn’t show directions and have the map mounted in a special carrier on top of the gas tank where I can keep track of miles from the last junction and know what to look for. With those tools and a lack of pressure to ‘get somewhere’ it works out fine and we just about have America all to ourselves.”
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American Art – Part V of V: Sarah Williams

Painter Sarah Williams earned a BFA in Studio Art from William Woods University and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of North Texas.
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