Dec 25, 2014

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.



...

Based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti, and put into music by the great Loreena McKennitt.

Nov 12, 2014

THE CONGO

BY VACHEL LINDSAY

I. THEIR BASIC SAVAGERY

Fat black bucks in a wine-barrel room,
Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable,
Sagged and reeled and pounded on the table,
Pounded on the table,
Beat an empty barrel with the handle of a broom,
Hard as they were able,
Boom, boom, BOOM,
With a silk umbrella and the handle of a broom,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.
THEN I had religion, THEN I had a vision.
I could not turn from their revel in derision.
THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK,
CUTTING THROUGH THE FOREST WITH A GOLDEN TRACK.
Then along that riverbank
A thousand miles
Tattooed cannibals danced in files;
Then I heard the boom of the blood-lust song
And a thigh-bone beating on a tin-pan gong.
And “BLOOD” screamed the whistles and the fifes of the warriors,
“BLOOD” screamed the skull-faced, lean witch-doctors,
“Whirl ye the deadly voo-doo rattle,
Harry the uplands,
Steal all the cattle,
Rattle-rattle, rattle-rattle,
Bing.
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM,”
A roaring, epic, rag-time tune
From the mouth of the Congo
To the Mountains of the Moon.
Death is an Elephant,
Torch-eyed and horrible,
Foam-flanked and terrible.
BOOM, steal the pygmies,
BOOM, kill the Arabs,
BOOM, kill the white men,
HOO, HOO, HOO.
Listen to the yell of Leopold’s ghost
Burning in Hell for his hand-maimed host.
Hear how the demons chuckle and yell
Cutting his hands off, down in Hell.
Listen to the creepy proclamation,
Blown through the lairs of the forest-nation,
Blown past the white-ants’ hill of clay,
Blown past the marsh where the butterflies play: —
“Be careful what you do,
Or Mumbo-Jumbo, God of the Congo,
And all of the other
Gods of the Congo,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.”

Aug 8, 2014

THE KISS OF PEACE

Taken in 1869 by Julia Margaret Cameron.

source: photoseed

Aug 4, 2014

HOUSES

“Houses have their own ways of dying, falling as variously as the generations of men, some with a tragic roar, some quietly, … while from others … the spirit slips before the body perishes.”

(“Howards End”, E. M. Forster, 1910)


source: bing images



Jul 29, 2014

Jul 20, 2014

IT'S PLAYTIME!


SAILING TO BYZANTIUM


That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

Jul 17, 2014

KITE


“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
Anaïs Nin

Jul 14, 2014

ON BROKEN MEN

I was doing a reread of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons simultaneously since Season 4 ended and I have to say that as much as there are several memorable quotes in the book, Septon Meribald's monologue is the very heart of AFFC. It is a very eloquently written passage, beautiful, powerful and thought provoking all at once.

While most chapters are done in the point of view of noblemen and lords, this passage tells the war story from the perspective of the common people who had nothing in their lives to begin with, lured to fight for the war of their high lord, and ended up broken and worse and eventually lost themselves.

**********************

“Ser? My lady?” said Podrick. “Is a broken man an outlaw?”

“More or less,” Brienne answered.

Septon Meribald disagreed. “More less than more. There are many sorts of outlaws, just as there are many sorts of birds. A sandpiper and a sea eagle both have wings, but they are not the same. The singers love to sing of good men forced to go outside the law to fight some wicked lord, but most outlaws are more like this ravening Hound than they are the lightning lord. They are evil men, driven by greed, soured by malice, despising the gods and caring only for themselves. Broken men are more deserving of our pity, though they may be just as dangerous. Almost all are common-born, simple folk who had never been more than a mile from the house where they were born until the day some lord came round to take them off to war. Poorly shod and poorly clad, they march away beneath his banners, ofttimes with no better arms than a sickle or a sharpened hoe, or a maul they made themselves by lashing a stone to a stick with strips of hide. Brothers march with brothers, sons with fathers, friends with friends. They’ve heard the songs and stories, so they go off with eager hearts, dreaming of the wonders they will see, of the wealth and glory they will win. War seems a fine adventure, the greatest most of them will ever know.

“Then they get a taste of battle.

“For some, that one taste is enough to break them. Others go on for years, until they lose count of all the battles they have fought in, but even a man who has survived a hundred fights can break in his hundred-and-first. Brothers watch their brothers die, fathers lose their sons, friends see their friends trying to hold their entrails in after they’ve been gutted by an axe.

“They see the lord who led them there cut down, and some other lord shouts that they are his now. They take a wound, and when that’s still half-healed they take another. There is never enough to eat, their shoes fall to pieces from the marching, their clothes are torn and rotting, and half of them are shitting in their breeches from drinking bad water.

“If they want new boots or a warmer cloak or maybe a rusted iron halfhelm, they need to take them from a corpse, and before long they are stealing from the living too, from the smallfolk whose lands they’re fighting in, men very like the men they used to be. They slaughter their sheep and steal their chickens, and from there it’s just a short step to carrying off their daughters too. And one day they look around and realize all their friends and kin are gone, that they are fighting beside strangers beneath a banner that they hardly recognize. They don’t know where they are or how to get back home and the lord they’re fighting for does not know their names, yet here he comes, shouting for them to form up, to make a line with their spears and scythes and sharpened hoes, to stand their ground. And the knights come down on them, faceless men clad all in steel, and the iron thunder of their charge seems to fill the world…

“And the man breaks.

“He turns and runs, or crawls off afterward over the corpses of the slain, or steals away in the black of night, and he finds someplace to hide. All thought of home is gone by then, and kings and lords and gods mean less to him than a haunch of spoiled meat that will let him live another day, or a skin of bad wine that might drown his fear for a few hours. The broken man lives from day to day, from meal to meal, more beast than man. Lady Brienne is not wrong. In times like these, the traveler must beware of broken men, and fear them…but he should pity them as well.”

When Meribald was finished a profound silence fell upon their little band. Brienne could hear the wind rustling through a clump of pussywillows, and farther off the faint cry of a loon. She could hear Dog panting softly as he loped along beside the septon and his donkey, tongue lolling from his mouth. The quiet stretched and stretched, until finally she said, “How old were you when they marched you off to war?”

“Why, no older than your boy,” Meribald replied. “Too young for such, in truth, but my brothers were all going, and I would not be left behind. Willam said I could be his squire, though Will was no knight, only a potboy armed with a kitchen knife he’d stolen from the inn. He died upon the Stepstones, and never struck a blow. It was fever did for him, and for my brother Robin. Owen died from a mace that split his head apart, and his friend Jon Pox was hanged for rape.”

“The War of the Ninepenny Kings?” asked Hyle Hunt.

“So they called it, though I never saw a king, nor earned a penny. It was a war, though. That it was.”

**********************

Jul 10, 2014

BOOKS


“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

Jul 7, 2014

THE LADY OF THE LAKE

by Sir Walter Scott


Harp of the North! that mouldering long hast hung
   On the witch-elm that shades Saint Fillan's spring
And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
   Till envious ivy did around thee cling,
Muffling with verdant ringlet every string,--
   O Minstrel Harp, still must thine accents sleep?
Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring,
   Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep,
Nor bid a warrior smile, nor teach a maid to weep?

An annotated version by William J. Rolfe can be found here.

Jul 4, 2014

BADASS WOMEN


Female snipers of the 3rd Shock Army, 1st Belorussian Front.


Jun 30, 2014

THE PEACH


“I bet this is a brothel,” she whispered to Gendry.

“You don’t even know what a brothel is.”
“I do so,” she insisted. “It’s like an inn, with girls.”

A Storm of Swords - GRRM


I am apparently not done with Game of Thrones yet. 
I love these depiction of The Peach chapter by mustamirri. It was one of my favorite Arya chapters in A Storm of Swords.

Jun 27, 2014

CHILDHOOD

The bestest time of your life 
When you feel very, very good
What is that time called? 
Oh Yes! Its childhood! 


It’s the only time you remember
When you were in your best mood
What is that time called? 
Oh Yes! Its childhood! 

It’s the time you don’t need to study
And have lots of time to play in house and woods
What is that time called? 
Oh Yes! Its childhood! 

It’s the only time when
Your mother herself feeds you food
What is that time called? 
Oh Yes! Its childhood! 

It’s the only time in life
For which the most willing must be you 
Which can never return again once gone
It is called childhood!

BY ASHMITA SAHA

Jun 22, 2014

WOMEN OF THE REALM



The production team for Game of Thrones series certainly did not hold back in everything they do for the show making it one of the many reasons I am a huge fan. 

Take these closeups of the costumes the female characters wore for example on how intricately detailed everything is from the fabric down to the smallest ornament.

Jun 20, 2014

A PSALM OF LIFE


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
   Find 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.

Jun 18, 2014

AND NOW MY WAIT BEGINS

art print from here

TEN years, yeah years till the next season for Game of Thrones.

Jun 16, 2014

FORCED CONFRONTATION


captioned: "German prisoners of war in American camps watch the documentary/presentation about German concentration camps.”

Read here for full article.

Jun 6, 2014

SALUTE

A salute to all the brave generation who risked their lives 70 years ago today to end one of the world's greatest conflict.
Paratrooper Jim 'Pee Wee' Martin was only 23 when they landed in Normandy just prior to the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.

Paratroopers drop into Normandy, France on or near D-Day, June 6, 1944

 World War II veterans gather to remember the fallen.

source: Dailymail

Jun 4, 2014

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

by Robert Frost

photo from pinterest

Jun 1, 2014

DOWN IN THE VALLEY


Down in the valley, the valley so low
Hang your head over, hear the wind blow
Hear the wind blow, dear, hear the wind blow;
Hang your head over, hear the wind blow.

sheet music here

May 22, 2014

MOSCOW

Behold the hustle and bustle in the streets of Moscow circa 1900's.


May 21, 2014

THE WALTZ WE WERE BORN FOR


I never knew them all, just hummed
and thrummed my fingers with the radio,
driving five hundred miles to Austin.
Her arms held all the songs I needed.
Our boots kept time with fiddles
and the charming sobs of blondes,

the whine of steel guitars
sliding us down in deer-hide chairs
when jukebox music was over.
Sad music’s on my mind tonight
in a jet high over Dallas, earphones
on channel five. A lonely singer,

dead, comes back to beg me,
swearing in my ears she’s mine,
rhymes set to music that make
her lies seem true. She’s gone
and others like her, leaving their songs
to haunt us. Letting down through clouds

I know who I’ll find waiting at the gate,
the same woman faithful to my arms
as she was those nights in Austin
when the world seemed like a jukebox,
our boots able to dance forever,
our pockets full of coins.

By Walt McDonald, 1934

May 18, 2014

WE'LL JOIN OUR HOUSES


My featherbed is deep and soft, and there I’ll lay you down,
I’ll dress you all in yellow silk, and on your head a crown.
For you shall be my lady love, and I shall be your lord.
I’ll always keep you warm and safe, and guard you with my sword.

And how she smiled and how she laughed, the maiden of the tree.
She spun away and said to him, no featherbed for me.
I’ll wear a gown of golden leaves, and bind my hair with grass,
But you can be my forest love, and me your forest lass.

taken from Arya's chapter on A Storm of Swords

Despite the fate of a lot of our most beloved characters, I'm still hopeful for this two to meet again in the future. Plus it will make true the statement above by King Robert that once was referring to Sansa and Joffrey.