Sunday, April 4, 2021


A song for the day. A friend of mine who is a singer had learned this last year, and I was smitten with it. The composer is an American; he wrote this setting to the Paschal acclamation in the style of an Appalachian folk melody. It's one of those deceptively simple tunes that uses only exactly the notes it needs, if I might describe it that way. I have a great admiration for compositions that can balance a strong melody with extreme simplicity--this one is wonderfully satisfying in that regard. And the choir here seems to me to sing it exactly as it should be sung.

(It seems perhaps a bit unmannerly to post this when the composer and the choir here are Orthodox, and Orthodox Easter is quite a bit later than ours this year, meaning that they are still in fasting season. I hope I might be forgiven for my precipitous enthusiasm in regards to a lovely song.)

Friday, April 2, 2021

In Sorrow

I think Easter week was barely over last year when I discovered the Lebanese hymn "Wa Habibi" (O My Beloved). There are quite a few lovely settings of it to be had from YouTube, some of which have translations. But at the moment, my favorite of them is this, which I have run out of time to track down a thorough translation for. I only know that the song is written as if sung by Our Lady, who is crying out to her Son in his passion:

It's not a far step from that one to one of my oldest favorites, the Irish "Caoineadh Na dTrí Mhuire" (Lament of the Three Marys). Typing that, I'm not entirely certain that I ever knew why the title refers to three Marys; though there is certainly a reference in the Gospel to three Marys being by the cross, the dialogue in this song seems, like "Wa Habibi," to be written entirely from the point of view of Jesus' mother. (If you click on the video and come to its page on YouTube, you will find a transcription and a translation of the lyrics).

Monday, March 22, 2021


 Yes, I didn't post anything for a long time, and then suddenly there was this unexplained file of poems marching by. That all had its beginning in a friend asking me whether I'd happened upon any poetry lately (or words to that effect) a question which reminded me how much of a treat a sudden poem can seem. Thus, sudden poems (regularly scheduled), a custom which will continue until. . . it stops.

Today's was new to me, a piece brought up this week by the same poetry-loving friend whose question initiated the project. I found it a rather unsettling piece to read; maybe in another state of mind I would have found it some of it amusing. At any rate, it has the ability to haunt the imagination long after its conclusion.

Waiting for the Barbarians by C.P. Cavafy

Monday, March 15, 2021

So There

 One evening last week I owned up to the fact that I had been lapping up far too much of my rest and relaxation from a screen, so during dinner I dipped austerely into a book that happened to be sitting by. I was rewarded for my dedication to study with these timeless lines:

 (As far as I can tell, there is/ was no real volume of Mater Anser. The only relation to the poem above that I've been able to track down is a similarly macaronic "Parvus Jacobus Horner.")

Monday, March 8, 2021

Catching at Wonder

We hear that a picture is worth a thousand words, but if that is so, perhaps words are more potent used in smaller quantities. You couldn't get all this in any picture, at any rate. 

 Postscript by Seamus Heaney

Friday, March 5, 2021

Over Seas

This, I am quite convinced, is the sort of thing that journalism exists for. A man saw a ship hovering in the air off of Cornwall. And he took a picture.

Monday, March 1, 2021

An Excellent Recommendation

 Overall, I am not pleased with the stalkerish ways of search engines. For instance, I was very contentedly occupied in watching sean-nós dance videos the other day, and YouTube raised a banner which told me that if I was a single dancer, I could meet other single dancers in my area. Seems a bit presumptuous.

I was, however, not displeased when my "suggested articles" feed on my phone began to assume I was interested in poetry. Well, perhaps I am loathe to give it the satisfaction of being right about me (yes, come to think of it, its being right doesn't make it any less presumptuous), but it has made some actually useful and intriguing suggestions, including a link to Carol Rumens's Poem of the Week in The Guardian. She recently posted this:

A Grey Day by William Vaughn Moody