You Have Been Good to Me, LORD

I’m loving the Psalms this morning, especially those whose words have sunk deep into my heart. Of them, Psalm 121 always comes to mind. And how it causes me to say, in the words of Psalm 13: 6, “I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121 (ESV)
Audrey Assad, “Good To Me” (lyrics below)

Good To Me (Audrey Assad)

I put all my hope on the truth of Your promise
And I steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness
When I’m bowed down with sorrow I will lift up Your name
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me

And I lift my eyes to the hills where my help is found
Your voice fills the night – raise my head up to hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me I will praise You, my God
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me, yeah

Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise

Yeah, Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I trust in Your promise

Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise

Because You’ re good (You are good to me, good to me)
So good (You are good to me, good to me)
You are good to me

A Common-Place Jotting: “A low dishonest decade”

Auden in 1939

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

Anglo-American poet W. H. Auden wrote “September 1, 1939” at the outbreak of World War II in Europe. It’s a poem that’s often quoted during times of crises such as ours, and only seems to highlight the recurring cycles of political dissimulation and media exacerbated fury that escalates into tragedy. While battling a virus, we’ve “cancelled” each other and branded each other racists and bigots. We’ve listened to politicians and oligopolies wildly denounce opponents of their agendas as terrorists. We’ve been witness to unchecked brutality this past year as our cities burned with mob violence during which thirty people were murdered, and neighborhoods and livelihoods went up in smoke while governors and mayors watched.

Auden began the poem with these words:

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

In the penultimate stanza he cautions: “We must love one another or die.” The same holds true today.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

excerpt from W. H. Auden’s September 1, 1939

Read the complete poem at poets.org. And hear the poet Dylan Thomas read it below.

A Common-Place Jotting: “Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (1874-1963)
For Cee's FOTD Challenge 

Creekside Reflections

Taking time out to reflect on the natural beauty around us is a gift that photography, if it’s done right (like Cee’s) gets you up out of your chair and outdoors exploring. Hope this weekend there are colorful spots like this in the woods or fields or gardens around you and moments of pleasant reflection.

Peaceful reflections
"I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees." -- Henry David Thoreau 
Stillness
For Cee's Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge. Be sure to visit Cee's Photo Challenges for amazing photography and fun challenges.

Common-Place Jotting: Rosetti Rhymes

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

Christina_Rossetti_3
Portrait of Christina Rosetti by Dante Gabriel Rosetti

Christina Rosetti (1830-1894) is famous for  “Goblin Market” and “Remember” and known for her many romantic and devotional poems. “In the Bleak Midwinter” was later set to music by Gustave Holst as was Rosetti’s “Love Came Down at Christmas” by Harold Darke.

I never knew she also wrote some children’s poetry and it was a pleasant surprise to encounter this little rhyme to teach children their colors. From The Golden Book of Poetry (1947):

Color
 
What is pink? a rose is pink
By a fountain’s brink.
What is red? a poppy’s red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro’.
What is white? a swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? the grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!
 

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On a different tack: if only it made a difference to quarrelsome children to point out the bonds of family ought not be treated shabbily! It’s a wisdom they attain when they grow to maturity, as Rosetti writes in this little excerpt from “Goblin Market” on the strong bond between sisters:

1280px-auguste_renoir_-_young_girls_at_the_piano_-_google_art_project
Auguste Renoir – Young Girls at the Piano (oil on canvas)

For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.

Common-Place Jotting: “Unto the hert’s forest”

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) died before he reached forty: a man of double lives, he was an English courtier and diplomat during the reign of Henry VIII, by whom he was imprisoned twice in the Tower of London but managed to escape execution both times. He was infamous as a rumored lover of one of the king’s many wives (Anne Boleyn) but also famous for introducing the sonnet form into English literature.

The following sonnet could be interpreted in two different ways: either the speaker must renounce his love out of fealty to his wife (Wyatt was married) or he must flee his love out of fear of the king. Either way, unattainable love is the cause of the poet’s lasting pain and his heart must go into hiding.

Portrait of Sir Thomas Wyatt by Hans Holbein the Younger

The Long Love that in my Thought doth Harbour            Sir Thomas Wyatt

The longë love that in my thought doth harbour
And in mine hert doth keep his residence,
Into my face presseth with bold pretence
And therein campeth, spreading his banner.
She that me learneth to love and suffer
And will that my trust and lustës negligence
Be rayned by reason, shame, and reverence,
With his hardiness taketh displeasure.
Wherewithall unto the hert’s forest he fleeth,
Leaving his enterprise with pain and cry,
And there him hideth and not appeareth.
What may I do when my master feareth
But in the field with him to live and die?
For good is the life ending faithfully.