Monday, April 22, 2013

The Cloud (Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792-1822)--Happy Earth Day!

Photo: NASA
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning, my pilot, sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in Heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead;
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.
And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardors of rest and of love,

And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of Heaven above,

With wings folded I rest, on mine airy nest,
As still as a brooding dove.

That orbed maiden with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof,
The stars peep behind her and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.

I bind the Sun's throne with a burning zone,
And the Moon's with a girdle of pearl;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,--
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-colored bow;
The sphere-fire above its soft colors wove,
While the moist Earth was laughing below.

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.

Happy Birthday, Jerry!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Story for a Child (Bayard Taylor, 1825 - 1878)

Little one, come to my knee!
Hark, how the rain is pouring
Over the roof, in the pitch-black night,
And the wind in the woods a-roaring!

Hush, my darling, and listen,
Then pay for the story with kisses;
Father was lost in the pitch-black night,
In just such a storm as this is!

High up on the lonely mountains,
Where the wild men watched and waited;
Wolves in the forest, and bears in the bush,
And I on my path belated.

The rain and the night together
Came down and the wind came after,
Bending the props of the pine-tree roof,
And snapping many a rafter.

I crept along in the darkness,
Stunned, and bruised, and blinded, -
Crept to a fir with thick-set boughs,
And a sheltering rock behind it.

There, from the blowing and raining,
Crouching, I sought to hide me:
Something rustled, two green eyes shone,
And a wolf lay down beside me.

Little one, be not frightened;
I and the wolf together,
Side by side, through the long, long night,
Hid from the awful weather.

His wet fur pressed against me;
Each of us warmed the other;
Each of us felt, in the stormy dark,
That beast and man was brother.

And when the falling forest
No longer crashed in warning,
Each of us went from our hiding-place
Forth in the wild, wet morning.

Darling, kiss me payment!
Hark, how the wind is roaring;
Father's house is a better place
When the stormy rain is pouring!
The Political Works of Bayard Taylor, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1883.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Highwayman (Alfred Noyes, 1880-1958)



The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.


He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gipsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!
Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.


Alfred Noyes, 1906

Alfred Noyes. Collected Poems, Vol 1. Frederick A. Stokes, New York, 1913.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818-1895)

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

"The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate;
He made them High and lowly
He ordered their estate."

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

The purple headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.


The past few days have been horrendous--the Boston Marathon bombings and ricin incidents have shocked and dismayed us.

I thought we could use a little sentimentality.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fake Memoirs About Childhood Sexual Abuse (Complete with Graphic Details)

I'm all for Indie books, but, the thing is, it is true that such books are not vetted for content.

So one can expect uneven quality. I can accept that; it's fairly easy to wade through Amazon's "Look Inside" feature and book reviews; most of the the time, I am not disappointed by what I select for my reading pleasure.

In fact, I have discovered some gems, wonderful books that make me wonder where the New York agents, editors, and publishers are hiding.

And one of my worst reads was a traditional publication that had been praised by Time Magazine; it was awful, poorly written and edited, disorganized, and egocentric (the writer was supposed to be telling someone else's story but kept inserting herself in the narrative), but that's another issue...

Still, for the most part, traditional publishers vet their books and weed out the truly awful. Most of them would not want to be associated with books depicting graphic details of sexual assaults against children when such gritty details are the main focus of the memoir.

Traditional editors seem to ask their memoirists to walk a fine line between detailed descriptions and moderation. Also, bonafide memoirs about childhood sexual abuse also offer some insight into how the abuse has impacted the adult writer's life. While some descriptions may be graphic, the memoir as a whole is not.

Moreover, it's the psychological and physical impact of the sexual abuse that's important--detailed descriptions in a memoir are less so.

Many Indie memoirs seem to walk this fine line just fine.

But there are some evil (at worst) and misguided (at best) opportunists out there who are writing "Fake Sexual Abuse Memoirs," filled with ugly details and few or no insights.

I got snookered by one of these rotten books.

Believing it was a real memoir, I downloaded it and read it, hoping that the author would eventually offer some insights, but that never happened. It offered page after page of "events" but no real understanding of them.

I was going to post my Amazon review of the specific book here, but I have no wish to give this asshat any more publicity. Still, I would like to offer some tips for avoiding and dealing with such books:
1. The author adds a "warning," such as: "Adult language and graphic content. Not suitable for children." Not all books with this kind of label are fake memoirs, but it could be a sign that you might be downloading one of these graphic books. I suspect that such warnings could be a "code" by and for pedophiles.

2. Don't be fooled by stellar reviews; these books often have 4 and 5 star ratings. I suspect that some of these may have been posted by child predators, others by clueless and/or immature readers. You would do well to read the 1-3 star reviews as well and really consider what they are saying. In fact, you should do this for any book you are considering purchasing.

3. Read ALL of the "Inside the Book" feature before buying and downloading. If the sample doesn't offer some insights and/or ring true, then it's unlikely the rest of the book will.

4. Read the book description. However, in my case, that would not have helped because the description itself was deceptive, promising some insights into the signs of child sexual abuse, when, in fact, it did not.

5. If you have snagged one of these dogs, don't be afraid to write a negative review for it.

6. Don't be afraid to return such books to Amazon, even if you have finished the book. I usually don't return books that I have read to the end, but this should be an exception, so back it went. From my drop-down menu, I gave my reason: "offensive content." As readers, we don't have to support these types of writers.
7. ADDED (17 April 2013): These fake memoir writers tend to write under fake names and take special care to cover their tracks. An alias in of itself is not necessarily a definitive sign of a fake memoir--there are many valid reasons to write a memoir under another name--but when added to other hinky details (numbers 1-4), it's a red flag.
I'm not sure what Amazon can do about such books; they seem to be hiding in plain sight, disguised as memoirs about childhood sexual abuse, but Amazon does not vet Indie books and they are not likely to start doing so.

So it's caveat emptor!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Books Available on Kindle and in Paperback

Are You EVER Going to be Thin? (and other stories), 2nd edition

“Kindle and Fire”: A Short Story

Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment

The Trash Can of L.A.: A Reality Play
Jennifer Semple Siegel’s Amazon Page:
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