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

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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:

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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.

A Common-Place Jotting: Coleridge

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

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge (18th c.) had a “vision in a dream,” as he called it, and immediately upon waking, he wrote down the poem Kubla Khan which he said came to him fully constructed like the dream. He kept it hidden for many years, reading it in private until, at the prompting of Lord Byron, he finally published it in 1816.

Kubla Khan became, of course, one of his most famous and memorable poems. It begins by describing the mythical kingdom of Xanadu where the most fantastic pleasures of natural beauty were enjoyed. By the end of the poem we are left with same longing for Xanadu that the poet experiences, a longing to revive within ourselves such inspiration as that of “a young Abyssinian maid” as she plays on her dulcimer:

A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

 

A Common-Place Jotting: Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2

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

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The Merchant of Venice (2004), Michael Radford, director

Act III, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice enters a new arena of combat, not one of economic or social gain, but that of love, when Bassanio, a Venetian gentleman and suitor to Portia, comes to try his hand at winning her hand. Like all the rest who have already tried, he must choose the correct casket that holds the portrait of the fair Portia, or else lose all further opportunity to wed her (by the terms of her late father’s will).

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But out of fear that he will fail in this endeavor, Portia, who loves him dearly, tries to dissuade him and trust to a future time. But Bassanio will not be kept from the object of his love with any further delay.

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Bassanio: Joseph Fiennes, The Merchant of Venice (2004)

BASSANIO
Promise me life and I’ll confess the truth.
PORTIA
Well, then, confess and live.
BASSANIO
“Confess and love”
Had been the very sum of my confession.
O happy torment, when my torturer
Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
But let me to my fortune and the caskets.

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Portia: Lynn Collins

Continue reading “A Common-Place Jotting: Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2”

A Common-Place Jotting: The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 9

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

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Michael Radford directed The Merchant of Venice (2004), with Antonio Gil as the Prince of Arragon

In this scene from The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare has the Prince of Arragon, one of Portia’s many suitors, guess which of the three caskets (gold, silver, lead) contains her portrait. Leading the prince to them, Portia says:

Behold, there stand the caskets, noble Prince.
If you choose that wherein I am contained,
Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemnized.
But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,
You must be gone from hence immediately.

After contemplating all three, the Prince of Arragon chooses the silver chest:

I will not choose what many men desire
Because I will not jump with common spirits
And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.
Why then, to thee, thou silver treasure house.
Tell me once more what title thou dost bear.
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
And well said too—for who shall go about
To cozen fortune and be honorable
Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume
To wear an undeservèd dignity.
Oh, that estates, degrees and offices
Were not derived corruptly, and that clear honor
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
How many then should cover that stand bare!
How many be commanded that command!
How much low peasantry would then be gleaned
From the true seed of honor! And how much honor
Picked from the chaff and ruin of the times
To be new varnished! Well, but to my choice.
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
I will assume desert.—Give me a key for this,
And instantly unlock my fortunes here.

Opening the casket, he finds not Portia’s portrait, but a picture of a fool’s head and a letter which reads:

“The fire seven times tried this,
Seven times tried that judgment is,
That did never choose amiss.
Some there be that shadows kiss.
Such have but a shadow’s bliss.
There be fools alive, iwis,
Silvered o’er—and so was this.
Take what wife you will to bed,
I will ever be your head.
So be gone. You are sped.
Still more fool I shall appear”
By the time I linger here.
With one fool’s head I came to woo,
But I go away with two.—
Sweet, adieu. I’ll keep my oath
Patiently to bear my wroth.”

— William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 9