Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Shakespeare for Halloween

Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I [Round about the cauldron go]
by William Shakespeare

The three witches, casting a spell

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

        Double, double toil and trouble;
        Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

         Double, double toil and trouble;
         Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

          Double, double toil and trouble;
          Fire burn and cauldron bubble. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Two poems: Gerard Manley Hopkins and Robert Frost

Pied Beauty

by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Glory be to God for dappled things--
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
       For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
       And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                     Praise Him.

The Pasture

by Robert Frost
I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;  
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away  
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):  
I sha'n't be gone long.—You come too.  
I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young,  
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.  
I sha'n't be gone long.—You come too.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
   "Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
   Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Finds us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
   Learn to labor and to wait.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Te Deum

by Charles Reznikoff

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me

by Mary Oliver

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,

what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again

in a new way
on the earth!
That's what it said
as it dropped,

smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches

and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing

under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,

and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment

my right hand 
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars

and the soft rain--
imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.

Nobody Knows But Mother

   By Mary Morrison

How many buttons are missing today?
   Nobody knows but Mother.
How many playthings are strewn in her way?
   Nobody knows but Mother.
How many thimbles and spools has she missed?
How many burns on each fat little fist?
How many bumps to be cuddled and kissed?
   Nobody knows but Mother.

How many hats has she hunted today?
   Nobody knows but Mother.
Carelessly hiding themselves in the hay---
   Nobody knows but Mother.
How many handkerchiefs willfully strayed?
How many ribbons for each little maid?
How for her care can a mother be paid?
  Nobody knows but Mother.

How many muddy shoes all in a row?
   Nobody knows but Mother.
How many stockings to darn do you know?
   Nobody knows but Mother.
How many little torn aprons to mend?
How many hours of toil must she spend?
What is the time when her day's work shall end?
   Nobody knows but Mother.

How many lunches for Tommy and Sam?
   Nobody knows but Mother.
Cookies and apples and blackberry jam--
   Nobody knows but Mother.
Nourishing dainties for every "sweet tooth,"
Toddling Dottie or dignified Ruth--
How much love sweetens the labor, forsooth?
   Nobody knows but Mother.

How many cares does a mother's heart know?
   Nobody knows but Mother.
How many joys from her mother love flow?
   Nobody knows but Mother.
How many prayers for each little white bed?
How many tears for her babes has she shed?
How many kisses for each curly head?
   Nobody knows but Mother.

We All Know It

by Marianne Moore

That silence is best: that action and re-
Action are equal: that control, discipline, and
Liberation are bywords when spoken by an appraiser, that the
   Accidental sometimes achieves perfection, loath though
     we may be to admit it:

And that the realm of art is the realm in
Which to look for "fishbones in the throat of the gang."  Pin-
Pricks and the unstereotyped embarrassment being the contin-
   Ual diet of artists.   And in spite of it all, poets ask us just what it

Is in them that we cannot subscribe to:
People overbear till told to stop:  no matter through
What sobering process they have gone, some inquire if emotion,
   And stimulated are not the same thing:  promoters request us to
     take our oath

That appearances are not cosmis:  mis-
Fits in the world of achievement want to know what bus-
Iness people have to reserve judgement about undertakings.  It is
   A strange idea that one must say what one thinks in order to
     be understood.

Prayer by Gloria Fuertes

translated from the Spanish by John Haines

You are here on earth, our Father,
for I see you in the pine needle,
in the blue torso of the worker,
in the small girl who embroiders
with bent shoulder, mixing the thread on her finger.
Our Father here on earth,
in the furrow,
in the orchard,
in the mine,
in the seaport,
in the movie house,
in the wine,
in the house of the doctor.
Our Father here on earth,
where you have your glory and your hell,
and your limbo in the cafes
where the rich have their cool drink.
Our Father who sits in school without paying,
you are in the groceryman,
and in the man who is hungry,
and in the poet--never in the usurer!
Our Father here on earth,
reading on a bench of the Prado,
you are the old man feeding breadcrumbs to the birds on the walk.
Our Father here on earth,
in the cigarette, in the kiss,
in the grain of wheat, in the hearts
of all those who are good.
Father who can live anywhere,
God who moves into any loneliness,
You who quiet our anguish, here on earth,
Our Father, yes we see you,
those of us who will see you soon,
wherever you are, or there in heaven.

Keeping Things Whole by Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move to keep things whole.

From A Letter to His Daughter by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit 
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.

This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley


by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,   
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole,   
I thank whatever gods may be   
  For my unconquerable soul.   
In the fell clutch of circumstance 
  I have not winced nor cried aloud.   
Under the bludgeonings of chance   
  My head is bloody, but unbowed.   
Beyond this place of wrath and tears   
  Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years   
  Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.   
It matters not how strait the gate,   
  How charged with punishments the scroll,   
I am the master of my fate:
  I am the captain of my soul.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I Am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I Am Waiting

I am waiting for my case to come up   
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting   
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier   
and I am waiting   
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming   
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona   
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored   
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find   
the right channel   
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth   
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed   
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered   
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did   
to Tom Sawyer   
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting   
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again   
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn   
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting   
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “I Am Waiting” from A Coney Island of the Mind. Copyright © 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When I Am Among the Trees, by Mary Oliver

Dedicated to my tree and nature loving family.


When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
    but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine." 

--Mary Oliver 

Begin by Rumi


This is now.  Now is.  Don't postpone
till then.   Spend the spark of iron
 on stone.  Sit at the head of the table.
Dip your spoon in the bowl.  Seat yourself
 next to your joy and have your awakened soul
pour wine.                                                
                              Branches in the spring wind,
 easy dance of jasmine and cypress.  Cloth
for green robes has been cut from pure
 absence.         You're the tailor, settled
among your shop goods, quietly sewing.

Inquiry:  What is unfinished for me to give?   What is unfinished for me to heal?  What is unfinished for me to learn?  What is unfinished for me to experience?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Clarissa Pinkola Estes A Prayer

A Prayer

Refuse to fall down.

If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down,
lift your heart toward heaven,
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled,
and it will be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you
from lifting your heart
toward heaven---
only you.
It is in the middle of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this,
is not yet listening.


©Copyright 1980, 2007, Dr. C.P. Estes, All Rights Reserved.
From La Pasionaria, Collected Works, Poetry of Clarissa Pinkola Estes,
forthcoming from Alfred A. Knopf.

Wendell Berry Vision

Somewhat reminiscent of John Lennon's  Imagine

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it...
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides...
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it...
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields...
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.

The Peace of Wild Things Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry poem I Go Among Trees

Wendell Berry

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When We Win, It’s With Small Things
   By Rainier Maria Rilke

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without a friend,
I can't love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it's with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestler's sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Things to Think, by Robert Bly

Think in ways you've never thought before
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you've ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged: or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he's carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you've never seen.

When someone knocks on the door, think that he's about
To give you something large: tell you you're forgiven,
Or that it's not necessary to work all the time, or that it's
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.

Questions for reflection:
What are some habitual thoughts that roll around your mind without your control?
What would you rather be thinking?  Practice those thoughts.
What is the most outrageous idea you could make up?
Ponder a metaphorical child you've never seen, perhaps something/someone small that needs your attention or nurturing?  What part of your inner child needs attention and nurturing?
**If someone knocks on your door, or rings your phone, what really LARGE message would heal a wound in your emotional soul?  What do you need to hear?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome To Your New/Old Life 2012

Hello, New Friends and Old (meaning long term, not as in aging),
As a new year begins, I am setting aside some things that are not longer useful, or that not longer hold passion for me.   My old blog was about trying to connect with my family far away so they would get to know their Grandma.   I see now, that was an artificial premise, since the only way to really know someone is to live inside their skin with their memories, emotions,  and life experiences.  I also see that there was some ego need that made the blog inauthentic.  So I'm bidding farewell to Grandma's Dyeing Pursuits.   I think I will delete it from the blog-o-sphere by Spring.
        I've spent my life trying on different characters and personalities, always coming up with "That's Not Me."   So now I have 65 years of knowing what is "not me", and I'm running out of time trying to find what IS.  (That is a loaded term in so many ways.)  The ONE THING (think Jack Palance in City Slickers), that I do know is I AM a teacher, and so are you.  I remain passionate about teaching.....anything and everything.   It brings me joy to understand something well enough to be able to teach it to someone else.
     I stand on the shoulders of greatness:   everything I know, I learned from someone else who has touched my life, either in the flesh or in a historical context, through books or music, through blogs, essays, biographies, classes, friendships both personal and online.   I know I have been touched by strangers in elevators or grocery lines who gave only a smile when I needed it.   I have overheard conversations which held answers I've been seeking.
     I have learned  tremendously painful lessons through terribly painful choices I've made, or words I said that inadvertently hurt others.  I've tried to learn the underlying lessons when others' words have cut me to the bone.   Trying to keep an open heart through all of that pain is one of the most difficult lessons I'm trying to learn these days;   how do I remain open-hearted and compassionate when I'm the one who is hurting?   It's a lifelong practice, and I don't know how long my life is going to be, so I don't know when that lesson will be complete.
     Here is the premise of the new blog.   I love quotes and poetry.  I love to collect, compile, and share them.   I want to combine that idea with my passion for teaching, and have this be a blog for self-reflection.   I want to embody as well as encourage and inspire others to follow the dictate to KNOW THYSELF.  

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

I will add some of my favorite poems, with questions for self-inquiry and introspection.
The "teaching" will be only about self-discovery, since we're all on that journey through this life.   The comment section will be for you to add some insight you've gained on your own personal path to conscious awareness.   My hope is that we will all have new insights for each other, not continue to think the same things we've already thought a million times, but to remain open-hearted, open-minded, compassionate, and most of all SELF-ACCEPTING. 

"New Year's Day is every man's birthday."   Charles Lamb

  This is the Day 

This is the year for making changes
This is the year for moving on
This is the year of overcoming
This is the year for growing strong.

This is the year for a new way of thinking
This is the year for making plans
This is the year for reaching out and
This is the year for joining hands.

Gone are the lonely nights of yearning
Gone all the dark and cloudy skies
All the unsteady bridges burning
All the doubt and all the lies

This is the chance to recapture the power
This is the time to abandon the fear
This is the moment, the finest hour
This is the year, this is the year.

This is the year that I put into action
All my desires and all of my means
This is the year I follow my passion
This is the year of my dreams.

This is the year I'm letting go of
Trying to change the ones that I love
This is the year I turn it over
This is the year I look above

This is the year I take my intention
Turn it away from distraction and talk
This is the year I take the step and
     This is the year I walk the walk.


This is the year I make it happen
This is the year I follow through
This is the year I move ahead on
All of the things I want to do.

This is the chance to renew my commitment
This is the time to be conscious and clear
This is the moment for living fully
This is the year, this is the year. 

So, you can use this song for journaling, or discussion with your partner, or meditation, and the best part is, it is for your personal use....or not.
Main question:  What is this the year for in your life?   Shoot for the stars.  
Happy New Life to all of my teachers "out there."   You live inside my heart.

This poem/song is from David Roth, one of my favorite teachers.
It can be found on his Nights at the Chez CD, and is downloadable.  Please respect his copyright and give him credit if you use this.  We're all standing on each other's shoulders to reach greater heights.
And if you're so inclined, leave a comment.