Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Year's End by Richard Wilbur

Now winter downs the dying of the year,   
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show   
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,   
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin   
And still allows some stirring down within.

I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell   
And held in ice as dancers in a spell   
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;   
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,   
They seemed their own most perfect monument.

There was perfection in the death of ferns   
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone   
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown   
Composedly have made their long sojourns,   
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii

The little dog lay curled and did not rise   
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze   
The random hands, the loose unready eyes   
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.

These sudden ends of time must give us pause.   
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause   
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Presenting Digital Whispers at Creative Souls New Calendar!

Some of the artists of Digital Whispers / Creative Souls ( including me) have created an absolutely gorgeous calendar in book form - not a wall type. Each artist had 4 pages to create including the calendar pages, a notes page and an artwork page - all pages are beautifully decorated. This is a real treat to the eyes! Please check out the entire calendar at the URL below, just click on it! Enjoy!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Occupying History!

We are all seeing history being made before our eyes in the "Occupy Movement". I find the whole thing thrilling to watch the movement grow and change almost organically. This is the moment! There's no going back!

Above is a recent photo of Occupy Washington DC, just one of many cities having been "occupied" this year. The movement is expanding into many different places - from Congressmen's offices to foreclosed homes. It is exciting to see where it goes next. This makes me proud to be an American! It is thrilling to see my fellow citizens stepping up. That's what "we the people" is all about.

But this isn't the first big occupying movement in our history. The nation's Great Depression in the 1930s had it's own mass movement that spread into many large cities. They were called "Hoovervilles" after President Herbert Hoover who was president at the start of the Depression. These shanty and tent communities were made up of many of the country's countless homeless people who had nowhere else to go. The citizens needed to be near the soup kitchens and other charity sites so that is one reason why so many were drawn to the large cities. 

                                 "Hooverville" Washington DC 1930s

                      Other "Hoovervilles" around the United States

As I said in an earlier post, we've been here before. We can do it again. Thanks for stepping up America!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas dinner in midst of the Depression

We have been through bleak times before in our history. We will get through this misery too and take inspiration from those who came before us and weathered the Great Depression.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ballade Of A Great Weariness by Dorothy Parker

There's little to have but the things I had,
There's little to bear but the things I bore.
There's nothing to carry and naught to add,
And glory to Heaven, I paid the score.

There's little to do but I did before,
There's little to learn but the things I know;
And this is the sum of a lasting lore:
Scratch a lover, and find a foe.

And couldn't it be I was young and mad
If ever my heart on my sleeve I wore?
There's many to claw at a heart unclad,
And little the wonder it ripped and tore.
There's one that'll join in their push and roar,
With stories to jabber, and stones to throw;
He'll fetch you a lesson that costs you sore:
Scratch a lover, and find a foe.

So little I'll offer to you, my lad;
It's little in loving I set my store.
There's many a maid would be flushed and glad,
And better you'll knock at a kindlier door.
I'll dig at my lettuce, and sweep my floor,
Forever, forever I'm done with woe.
And happen I'll whistle about my chore,
"Scratch a lover, and find a foe."


Oh, beggar or prince, no more, no more!
  Be off and away with your strut and show.
The sweeter the apple, the blacker the core:
  Scratch a lover, and find a foe!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Let America Be America Again! by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My November Guest by Robert Frost

My sorrow, when she's here with me,
   Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
   She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
   She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
   Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
   The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
   And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
   The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
   And they are better for her praise.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never- nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then me thought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he
hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!- prophet still, if bird or
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil- prophet still, if bird or
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked,
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Lake by Edgar Allan Poe

In spring of youth it was my lot
To haunt of the wide world a spot
The which I could not love the less -
So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
And the tall pines that towered around.

But when the Night had thrown her pall
Upon that spot, as upon all,
And the mystic wind went by
Murmuring in melody -
Then - ah then I would awake
To the terror of the lone lake.

Yet that terror was not fright,
But a tremulous delight -
A feeling not the jewelled mine
Could teach or bribe me to define -
Nor Love- although the Love were thine.

Death was in that poisonous wave,
And in its gulf a fitting grave
For him who thence could solace bring
To his lone imagining -
Whose solitary soul could make
An Eden of that dim lake.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More Sophie Stories

This post is another Sophie, my cat, story. She turned one - year - old in August, she's no longer a kitten so when she's naughty it's no longer as "cute" as it once was. I've had cats in my life for 50 years, but never one as "challenging" as Sophie. She is very smart, understands a lot of commands and better than most cats, she actually obeys  me - some of the time. She loves to climb everywhere. If she's awake, she's climbing. She is also the clumsiest cat I have ever shared my home with. She will climb up on top of the kitchen cabinets over the refrigerator and frequently curl up in one of my baskets. Occasionally she will get the basket rocking around and several times has come flying off the edge of the cupboard crashing to the kitchen floor. So I've had to pack away my beautiful baskets. Or she loves to walk around on top of the stair railing like a tightrope - but without the gracefulness or balance of most cats. And yes she has fallen from there too. I'm not sure how many of her 9 lives she has exhausted, but I know she has stressed me out many times.

 Her most challenging behavior is her absolute obsession with knocking things down from shelves, tables, wherever anything is set down even for a minute. I used to have a pleasant, enjoyable art studio downstairs with all my bits and baubles for art making displayed in a multitude of clear mason jars on shelves. Then as she grew, while relaxing upstairs I would suddenly be startled by huge crashes downstairs. Time after time I would venture down there to find a jar (or what was once a jar) exploded on the floor with beads or little glass tiles and broken mason jars spread all over the floor. After six glass jars were destroyed, I had to pack everything up in order to preserve my treasures. So subsequently there wouldn't be any more inspiration coming from seeing all the pretty colors and baubles in the clear glass jars. Even though all of my favorite things are packed away, Sophie will still find something to knock down every day. She will often push things with her nose to the top of the stairs and joyously give it the last nudge to savor watching whatever it is noisily bounce down the stairs.

That brings me to her playing fetch. Like the retrievers I grew up with I have always taught my cats to fetch. Usually it was a piece of crinkly paper, but Sophie has enjoyed the game so immensely that we have refined the catch to using the nylon balls meant for playing in swimming pools. We graduated to those balls because they are so lightweight yet can be quite large for her little mouth. She discovered she could sink her teeth into them and carry them all over the house until she finds the most intriguing, difficult place to drop it and challenge herself to dig it out again. Her most favorite thing is for me to throw them down the stairs so she can run and retrieve it, bring it back and drop it at my feet. Often if I get up from bed during the night, I'll find her sitting at my bedroom door with her ball ready to play. These are just some of the quirky, sometimes entertaining, often nerve rattling, and always endearing feats she provides for me on a daily basis. I'm just grateful she hasn't injured herself yet. Or me.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

From the Genius of Dr. Seuss

"I know, 
up on top
you are seeing great sights,
but down at the bottom
We, too, 
should have rights.”

Dr. Seuss


Monday, October 10, 2011

It's Domestic Violence Month Again - and Topeka, Kansas Honors It By Decrimalizing Domestic Violence

Yes that headline is correct! In order to save money, Topeka, Kansas has chosen to decriminalize domestic violence!  With the US economy stagnant and so many more families suffering, domestic violence has increased dramatically. This is the worst environment in which to decide to stop protecting women and children in the home. A woman is abused every 15 seconds in this country, one in four women are abused at some time. And now their abusers have been given a free hand, and their victims no recourse. How abandoned those women must now feel. Their abusers have tried repeatedly to convince them they were worthless, of no value, and now those who have sworn to serve and protect have validated their abusers. Things have deteriorated so badly in this country I hardly recognize it anymore. The welfare of it's citizens, especailly the most vulnerable among us, no longer seems to be a priority. Power and the bottom line seem to be all that matters to the elites and those who do their bidding in this country anymore. What happened to ..."with liberty and justice for all."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Village Mystery by Elinor Wylie

The woman in the pointed hood 
And cloak blue-gray like a pigeon's wing, 
Whose orchard climbs to the balsam-wood, 
Has done a cruel thing.

To her back door-step came a ghost, 
A girl who had been ten years dead, 
She stood by the granite hitching-post 
And begged for a piece of bread.

Now why should I, who walk alone, 
Who am ironical and proud, 
Turn, when a woman casts a stone 
At a beggar in a shroud?

I saw the dead girl cringe and whine, 
And cower in the weeping air-- 
But, oh, she was no kin of mine, 
And so I did not care!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Artist of Today Reflects on the WPA of Yesterday

This economy has been debillitating this country and the world for at least 5 years.  If you are wealthy, you are not feeling the effects much if at all - while many others are worrying about food for their children.  Among many folks, their jobs disappear in an instant - others have to watch helplessly as they dissolve slowly. As an artist I know what I produce is at the bottom of the list for most Americans when they can barely afford groceries, gas and housing every month. Art is not a necessity, you won't starve without it - but one's soul might hunger for it silently. It's enough to make an artist yearn for a new WPA!

In the early days of the Great Depression (1929-1943) with unemployment at 32%  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration or WPA to provide work and relief to citizens. Several months later in the Spring of 1935, he started the subdivision of the WPA, the Federal Art Project (FAP). A number of U.S. politicians had proposed a combining of art and patriotism which inspired FDR to create the program. The purpose was not just to supplement artists incomes but to rally the sinking spirits of the American citizens. For an artist to be considered for the FAP, they had to apply for Home Relief to prove they were impoverished, and then submit samples of their work to show they were actively creating art at the time. Once accepted into the program an artist's stipend was $24 per week. By 1936 there were 6000 artists employed by the WPA.

During the Depression, the federal  government paid writers, photographers, painters, and scupltors to chronicle life in America and at the same time beautify public buildings across the country. The WPA was much larger than the art project, WPA workers built state parks, roads, bridges, dams and other vital contributions to our infrastructure and more. They cooked and served lunches to schoolchildren, and taught adults to read. But the art project, particularly the murals, left a real legacy depicting men and women at work reflecting the time and place and the values of Americans as the world changed into the modern era. And they remain so today in many places.

Many artists created posters for public health programs, tourism, and educational purposes. At the time Social Realism was the favored style and the WPA preferred figurative work rather than the newly developing genre of Abstract art. It was a challenge to some artists who were working in abstract art but the program also helped those artists develop and later to define the Abstract Expressionist era following WWII such as Jackson Pollock, Diego Rivera and Willem de Kooning.

Murals are probably the most recognized survivng results from the WPA program. Artists had to submit sketches and compete against eachother for the work. There were an estimated 2,566 murals commissioned by the federal government  mostly for post offices, but also schools and other government buildings around the country where they could be appreciated by everyone. Many of the murals were actually oil on canvas paintings afixed to the wall. One of the best known post office wall murals is "Woodsman in the Woods of Maine" by Waldo Peirce originally installed in the post office in Westbrook, Maine.

The painting, the whole wall - door and all - was removed from the Westbrook post office in 1980 when the building was demolished and is now residing in the Portland Museum of Art on loan from the U.S.Postal Service.

                    Another Maine mural in a school in Portland.

                              Mural in a library in Queens, NY

The FAP disbanded on June 30th, 1943. In December of that year the federal government auctioned off thousands of WPA funded artworks in a warehouse in Queens, NY. Paintings were sold by the pound, not individually. It is reported that a plumber purchased large quantities of the canvases in bulk for the purpose of insulating pipes but discovered when the pipes got hot the paint let off bad smells. Framers  also bought in quantity paying about $3.00 per canvas and acquiring some works by artists who later became famous after WWII such as Jackson Pollock.

Roosevelt's WPA put about 8.5 million people to work - about 1/5 of the nation's adults between 1935 and 1943. The FAP created over 100,000 paintings and 18,000 sculptures. These works of art are now turning 75 years old. For many years this work had been virtually ignored, not maintained very well, and even destroyed. The living history of this work is dying out leaving the artwork on it's own to speak for itself. Thankfully people are starting to realize what they have in their communities and are working to restore and preserve this work. If you are lucky enough to have a WPA mural in your community, go visit it and spend a few moments appreciating the artists who left the legacy for you and the governmental leaders who had the foresight  to give them the opportunity to create it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Autumn Daybreak by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Cold wind of autumn, blowing loud
At dawn, a fortnight overdue,

Jostling the doors, and tearing through
My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,
I know—for I can hear the hiss
And scrape of leaves along the floor—
How may boughs, lashed bare by this,
Will rake the cluttered sky once more.
Tardy, and somewhat south of east,
The sun will rise at length, made known
More by the meagre light increased
Than by a disk in splendour shown;
When, having but to turn my head,
Through the stripped maple I shall see,
Bleak and remembered, patched with red,
The hill all summer hid from me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Will Never Forget

Personally when I say "never forget" - I will never forget all the heroic souls taken from us that day in that demonic act. I will never forget all the families that lost their loved ones as they watched on the television screen, as some spoke to them on their cell phones. How helpless they must have felt. I will never forget the heroes including the police, EMTs and firefighters - to see the firefighters pouring into ground zero, company after company, even after the first tower fell they came - ready to go in knowing the second tower could also fall.

Sadly, abhorently, there's another awareness, a consciousness, that will never be forgotten either.  The lies we were told by our leaders - lies that cost too many more deaths and wounded warriors, countless more heroes hewn from the best and the bravest from all over this country who made us all proud ... and other truths that have left many of us with an acknowledgment of shame as well as an understanding of the debasement of this our beloved country. And a deep grief that goes far beyond the sorrow for the victims of 9/11. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Late Walk by Robert Frost

When I go up through the mowing field,
  The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
  Half closes the garden path.

And when I come to the garden ground,
  The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
  Is sadder than any words.

A tree beside the wall stands bare,
  But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
  Comes softly rattling down.

I end not far from my going forth
  By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
  To carry again to you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dark August by Derek Walcott

So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky 
of this black August. My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won't come out.

Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume
like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,
she will not rise and turn off the rain.

She is in her room, fondling old things,
my poems, turning her album. Even if thunder falls
like a crash of plates from the sky,

she does not come out.
Don't you know I love you but am hopeless
at fixing the rain ? But I am learning slowly

to love the dark days, the steaming hills,
the air with gossiping mosquitoes,
and to sip the medicine of bitterness,

so that when you emerge, my sister,
parting the beads of the rain,
with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness,

all will not be as it was, but it will be true
(you see they will not let me love
as I want), because, my sister, then

I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,
The black rain, the white hills, when once
I loved only my happiness and you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The House of Dreams by Sara Teasdale

I built a little House of Dreams
And fenced it all about,
But still I heard the Wind of Truth
That roared without.

I laid a fire of Memories
And sat before the glow,
But through the chinks and round the door
The wind would blow.

I left the House, for all the night
I heard the Wind of Truth;
I followed where it seemed to lead
Through all my youth.

But when I sought the House of Dreams,
To creep within and die,
The Wind of Truth had levelled it,
And passed it by.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Olive Thomas, My Latest le Belle Epoque Beauty

Olive Thomas was born October 20, 1894 into a working class Irish-American family in the Pittsburgh area steel town of Charleroi, Pennsylvania. When her father a steelworker died, 15 year old Olive was forced to leave school to earn a living and support her mother and 2 brothers. She worked in several department stores as a clerk. She married at age 16, living and working in a small mill town for 2 years when she divorced. At that time, Olive moved to New York City and found a job in a Harlem department store. A year later she answered an ad in the local newspaper and subsequently won, "The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City." She was soon modeling for well known commercial artists which landed her on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. All of that exposure brought her to the attention of Flo Ziegfeld and she became a member of the Ziegfeld Follies where she danced in the more risque Midnight Frolic, an after hours show staged in the rooftop garden of the New Amsterdam Theatre. Dancers in those shows were often clad only in balloons where the male patrons could burst the balloons with their cigars. The Midnight Frolics were staged mainly for famous male patrons with plenty of money to dole out to the beautiful performers! It wasn't long before Olive was the center of attention in those shows and frequently bestowed with expensive gifts.

Soon Olive was signed with the International Film Company as a leading lady. She appeared in over 20 Hollywood films in the next 4 years. Olive met the actor Jack Pickford, brother of the very famous and powerful actress, Mary Pickford, and they were soon wed to the consternation of the Pickford family.

In 1918, Olive signed with Selznick Pictures Company where her husband was also signed. She soon became Selznick's first movie star. In 1920 Olive starred in the film, The Flapper. She became the first actress to be called a "flapper" and soon became defined by the flapper role.  The formula worked since she was soon earning $3000.00 a week.

Olive and her husband Jack Pickford were known for their wild parties where alcohol became and ever increasing part. She had 3 automobile accidents in 2 years possibly with alcohol as a cause. Olive and Jack were much more interested in playing and partying so much so that the two together were known to be trouble. They eloped in October 1916 with none of their family members present.

By all accounts, Olive was the love of Pickford's life; however the two of them together led a stormy, conflict charged, drama fueled relationship which in the end always involved lavish making up sessions.

Because the couple were frequently separated with their conflicting movie work schedules, they decided to take a trip, a second honeymoon it was called. In August 1920 the pair headed for Paris. On the night of September 5, 1920 the couple went out for a night of partying at the famous Paris bistros. Events of that night have always been questionable due to alcohol and drug ingestion. The two returned to their room at the Hotel Ritz about 3:00 A.M. Pickford was either asleep or outside the room. Cocaine might have been an element in the tragedy. An intoxicated and exhausted Olive Thomas accidentally ingested a large dose of mercury bichloride liquid solution. It had been prescribed for Jack as a topical ointment but it was kept in a flask and the label was in French. Olive may have confused it for something to drink. When she realized what she had done she screamed "Oh my God!" and Jack ran to her side but it was too late. She had already ingested a lethal dose. Measures were taken to induce vomitting and her stomach was pumped 3 times to no avail. She was taken to the American Hospital in Paris where with Jack at her side Olive succumbed to the poison a week later. There were rumors of suicide and murder but an investigation ruled her death an accident. The truth of her death would never be known, except that it was too soon and too horrid!

Thanks to Wikipedia for the history of Olive Thomas.
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