Category Archives: Memory Box

“The Woman Clothed with the Sun”

Woman Clothed with the Sun. Rachael Olek.


Revelations 12

Apostle John


And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused the, before our God day and night.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time.

And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

To a Waterfowl

William Cullen Bryant


To a Waterfowl

William Cullen Bryant, 1815


Wither, ‘midst falling dew,

While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,

Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue

Thy solitary way?


Vainly the fowler’s eye

Might Mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,

As, darkly seen against the crimson sky,

Thy figure floats along.


Seeks’st thou the plashy brink

Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,

Or where the rocking billows rise and sink

On the chaféd ocean-side?


There is a Power whose care

Teaches thy way along that pathless coast—

The desert and illimitable air—

Lone-wandering, but not lost.


All day thy wings have fanned

At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,

Yet stop not weary to the welcome land,

Though the dark night is near.


And soon that toil shall end,

Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,

And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend

Soon, o’er thy sheltered nest.


Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven

Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart

Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,

And shall not soon depart.


He who, from zone to zone,

Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,

In the long way that I mmust tread alone,

Will lead my steps aright.


Today is the birthday of American poet William Cullen Bryant, who was born November 3, 1794.

To the Skylark

Song of the Lark (In the Field). Winslow Homer.


To the Skylark

William Wordsworth


Ethereal minstrel! pilgrim of the sky!

Dost thou despise the earth where cares abound?

Or, while thy wings aspire, are heart and eye

Both with thy nest on the dewy ground?

Thy nest which thou canst drop into at will,

Those quivering wings composed, that music still!


To the last point of vision, and beyond

Mount, daring warbler!—that love-prompted strain

—Twixt thee and thine a never-failing bond—

Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain:

Yet might’st thou seem, proud privilege! to sing

All independent of the leafy Spring.


Leave to the nightingale her shady wood;

A privacy of glorious light is thine;

When thou dost pour upon the world a flood

Of harmony, with instinct more divine;

Type of the wise who soar but never roam;

True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home!


A Little Poetry—If you enjoyed this poem by Wordsworth, you may want to compare it with a similar poem (“Song”) by William Wadsworth Longfellow.

A Fine Picture—Although the lark does not appear in Winslow Homer’s painting, clearly its song has thrilled the “bosom of the plain.”

My Orchard in Linden Lea

Under the Apple Trees. Sir Walter Westley Rusell.


My Orchard in Linden Lea

William Barnes (Common English version)


Within the woodlands, flow’ry gladed,

By the oak tree’s mossy root,

The shining grass-blades, timber-shaded,

Now do quiver under foot.

And birds do whistle overhead,

And water’s bubbling in its bed,

And there for me the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


When leaves that lately were a-springing

Now do fade within the copse,

And painted birds do hush their singing

Up upon the timber tops,

And brown-leav’d fruit’s a-turning red

In cloudless sunshine overhead,

With fruit for me the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


Let other folk make money faster

In the air of dark-roomed towns—

I don’t dread a peevish master,

Though no man do heed my frowns.

I be free to go abroad

Or take again my homeward road

To where for me the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


A Little Poetry—The original poem, “My Orcha’d in Linden Lea,” by William Barnes was written in the Dorset dialect. It begins “‘Ithin the woodlands, flow’ry gleaded;/ By the woak tree’s mossy moot,/ The sheenan grass bleads, timber sheaded,/ Now do quiver under voot.”

A Little Music—The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams set to music this poem in common English and another by Barnes—”In the Spring.” You can listen to a beautiful choral recording of the song “Linden Lea” at You Tube. <>

The Cloud

About the Picturesque Storm in the Mountains. Thomas Locker.


The Cloud

Percy Bysshe Shelley


I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,

From the mountains and the sea;

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 around 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 grown agast;

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 plume 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 mountain may breathe from the lit sea beneath

Its ardours 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 aery nest,

As still as a brooding dove.


That orbéd 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 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 banners 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-coloured bow;

The sphere-fire above its soft-colours 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.


A Little Poetry—The opening lines from Shelley’s poem “The Cloud” caused me to write it down on my memorization list before I even finished reading it. I loved the first-person narration, the beautiful imagery, the internal rhyme, and the gentle rhythm.

Weeks later, on a whim (because I thought the title was interesting), I borrowed from the library a book called The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies. It tells the story of how a modest, little-known Quaker exploded into scientific fame with his lecture on “The Modifications of Clouds.” It was Luke Howard who captured those fanciful vapors with the names we still use today; and I was fascinated when I discovered that Shelley’s poem, though Romantic, was also clearly informed by Howard’s scientific observations. (This little coincidence reminded me of Laura Wood’s suspicion that “angels have specific intellectual interests and like to interfere with our reading.”)

A Fine Picture—Locker is an artist of the second-generation Hudson River School, and his natural landscapes are exceptionally beautiful. He is masterful in his depictions of clouds, which made me immediately think of him when deciding on today’s artwork.

The Oak and the Ash

Haymaking. Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 1565.


The Oak and the Ash


A north country maid up to London had strayed,

Although with her nature it did not agree.

So she wept and she sighed, and bitterly she cried,

“Oh! I wish once again in the north I could be!

Oh! the oak and the ash and the bonnie ivy tree,

They all grow so green in my own country.”


“While sadly I roam I regret my dear home

“Where the lads and young lasses are making the hay,

“Where the birds sweetly sing and the merry bells do ring,

“And the maidens and meadows are pleasant and gay.

“O! the oak and the ash and the bonnie ivy tree,

They all grow so green in my own country.”


“No doubt, did I please, I could marry with ease;

“Where maidens are fair, many lovers will come.

“But he whom I wed must be north-country bred

“And must carry me back to my north-country home.

“O! the oak and the ash and the bonnie ivy tree,

“They all grow so green in my own country.”


In this wistful English ballad, a country-maid who has gone to London longs to return to the northern home where flourishes “the oak and the ash and the bonnie ivy tree.” The above is one of several versions known as the “North Country Maid.” One of the earliest of these would have her hail from the Dalby Forest in the northern Yorkshire moors (today a popular location for cyclists). The oak and the ash still flourish there, as do cherry, birch, larch, and Scots pine.

I always find interesting when researching folksong the many variations in the lyrics (a consequence of the dynamic oral tradition). The full version of the song extend the maiden’s reminiscences of her home and her resolve to mary only a lad that is North Countrie bred.” <>

The chorus that gives the song its name is attributed to Martin Parker, a prolific writer of ballads whose work was often borrowed. Others (and especially the Scots) appropriated these two lines in numerous poems and songs. While the oak and the ash seem to be permanent fixtures, the third “bonnie” tree might be an ivy, elum (elm), rowan, willow, or birken (birch).

The north-country versions of the sung are sung to the tune “Quodling’s Delight,” which has been traced as far back as 1608, and is perhaps older.

You can listen to folk and pop singer Marianne Faithfull sing “North County Maid” at YouTube. <>

Prologue from Evangeline

Dark Forest. Ivan Shishkin. 1890.



from Evangeline, 1847

Henry Wordsworth Longfellow


This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,

Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,

Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,

Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean

Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.


This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it

Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?

Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,—

Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,

Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?

Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!

Scattered like dust and leaves when the mighty blasts of October

Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o’er the ocean.

Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.


Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,

Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman’s devotion,

List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;

List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.


The Lacemaker. Johannes Vermeer. 1671.


Henry van Dyke


Let me but do my work from day to day,

In field or forest, at the desk or loom

In roaring market-place or tranquil room;

Let me but find it in my heart to say,

When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,

“This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;

Of all who live I am the one by whom

This work can best be done in the right way.”

Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,

To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;

Then shall I cheerful greet the laboring hours,

And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall

At eventide, to play and love and rest,

Because I know for me my work is best.

Psalm 23

The Beeches. Asher Durand. 1845.


Psalm 23

David (Scottish metrical version)


The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want:

He makes me down to lie

In pastures green; he leadeth me

The quiet waters by.


My soul he doth restore again,

And me to walk doth make

Within the paths of righteousness,

E’en for his own name’s sake.


Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,

Yet will I fear no ills,

For though art with me, and thy rod

And staff me comfort still.


My table thou hast furnished

In presence of my foes.

My head thou dost with oil anoint,

And my cup overflows.


Goodness and mercy all my life

Shall surely follow me,

And in thy house forevermore

My dwelling place shall be.

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

The Starry Night. Vincent van Gogh. 1889.


When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

Walter Whitman, 1865


When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


“I repeated it quietly, pacing around the room, while my little brother worked addition problems. I supposed I was quiet, and I supposed the poem dull and incomprehensible to a five year old, but, when I paused for a breath, he asked with quiet urgency, ‘Why did he run away?’

“I laughed with delighted surprise, and he smiled at me gravely and expectantly. How had he understood that an escape had been made? How we persist in underestimating children!

“‘Well, he was at school, and he was learning about stars,’ I explained, ‘but the teacher talked and talked and showed him numbers and more numbers and charts and diagrams, and he had to add…’

“My brother nodded sympathetically.

“‘He had to add, divide, and measure everything. Finally, he was so sick and tired, he just got up and left and went outside to look quietly at the stars.’

“My brother sighed, relieved and thoughtful.

“‘Sometimes,’ I continued, surrendering once more to my pedagogic tendencies, ‘we should stop talkking about beautiful things, and just enjoy them.’

“‘Yeah,’ he agreed.

“Chastened, I returned to my recitation, and he to his sums.”

—”Why He Ran Away.” Cabbages and Kings. January 2011.