Guillame de Machaut

Guillame de Machut
Guillame de Machut


Guillaume Machaut, a medieval French poet whose work was admired and imitated by Geoffrey Chaucer a century later, was also a composer in the ars nova style. He composed in a wide range of styles and forms, including secular songs, but he is most renowned for the Messe de Nostre Dame, the earliest known complete setting of the Ordinary Mass by a single composer.

Mauchaut was born around 1300 in the Region of Reims, and probably took his surname from the nearby town of Machault. He served in a number of royal households, including that of John I, his daughter Bonne, her sons Jean de Berry and Charles, and Charles II of Navarre.

manuscript of music by Guillame de Machut
manuscript of music by Guillame de Machut



A Birthday

Birthday. Marc Chagall. 1915.
Birthday. Marc Chagall. 1915.


A Birthday

Christina Rossetti


My heart is like a singing bird

Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;

My heart is like an apple-tree

Whose boughs are bent with thickest fruit;

My heart is like a rainbow shell

That paddles in a halcyon sea;

My heart is gladder than all these

Because my love is come to me.


Raise me a dais of silk and down;

Hang it with vair and purple dyes;

Carve it in doves and pomegranates,

And peacocks with a hundred eyes;

Work it in gold and silver grapes,

In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;

Because the birthday of my life

Is come, my love is come to me.


Pérotin and Léonin

Notre Dame
Notre Dame


Graceful spires point to the heavens, flying buttresses leap from the ancient walls, and gargoyles grimace at the bustling streets below. The Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is an icon of French Gothic architecture, and among the most famous buildings in the world.

The cathedral belongs to the age of King Philippe-Auguste, under whose reign the medieval kingdom of France was stabilized. Almost two hundred years passed between the laying of its foundations in 1160 and its completion in 1345. This beautiful cathedral—the embodiment of a new era—inspired an outpouring of new sacred music whose innovations would direct the course of Western musical tradition. Léonin and Pérotin are the leading figures of the ‘Ècole Notre Dame,’ a largely anonymous group of French polyphonic composers under the cathedral’s patronage.

Léonin, the first great Notre Dame composer, was choirmaster at the time the foundations of the cathedral were laid. His works are characterized by an imaginative and free-flowing style that made elaborate use of complex melismata, new melodic patterns, and rhythmic modes.



Pérotin may have been a pupil of Léonin, and flourished as a composer around 1200, after the time of Léonin’s death. The details of Pérotin’s life, including dates of birth and death, are uncertain. It is not even confirmed that he worked at Notre Dame, though he remains closely associated with the cathedral. Pérotin is greatly important to Western music for his contributions towards the development of three and four voice polyphony.



A Chameleon. Ustad Mansur. 1612.
A Chameleon. Ustad Mansur. 1612.



George Herbert


Oh, what a thing is man! how far from power,

From settled peace and rest!

He is some twenty sev’ral men at least

Each sev’ral hour.


One while he counts of heav’n, as of his treasure:

But then a thought creeps in,

And calls him coward, who for fear of sin

Will lose a pleasure.


Now he will fight it out, and to the wars;

Now eat his bread in peace,

And snudge in quiet: now he scorns increase;

Now all day spares.


He builds  a house, which quickly down must go,

As if a whirlwind blew

And crushed the building: and it’s partly true,

His mind is so.


O what a sight were Man if his attires

Did alter with his mind;

And like a Dolphin’s skin, his clothes combin’d

With his desires!


Surely if each one saw another’s heart,

There would be no commerce,

No sale or bargain pass: all would disperse

And live apart.


Lord, mend or rather make us: one creation

Will not suffice our turn:

Except thou make us daily, we shall spurn

Our own salvation.


After the Drought. Eric Forster.
After the Drought. Eric Forster.



George Herbert


My stock lies dead, and no increase

Doth my dull husbandry improve:

O let thy graces without cease

Drop from above!


If still the sun should hide its face,

Thy house would still a dungeon prove,

The works night’s captives: O let grace

Drop from above!


The dew doth ev’ry morning fall;

And shall the dew out-strip thy Dove?

The dew, for which grass cannot call,

Drop from above.

Death is still working like a mole,

And digs my grave at each remove:

Let grace work too, and on my soul

Drop from above.


Sin is still hammering my heart

Unto a hardness, void of love:

Let suppling grace, to cross his art,

Drop from above.


O come! for thou dost know the way:

Or if to me thou wilt not move,

Remove me, where I need not say,

Drop from above.

Clasping of Hands

Hand. Tribute to Ingres, Abidin Dino. 1980.
Hand. Tribute to Ingres, Abidin Dino. 1980.


Clasping of Hands

George Herbert


Lord, thou art mine, and I am thine,

If mine I am: and thine much more,

Then I or ought, or can be mine.

Yet to be thine, doth me restore;

So that again I now am mine,

And with advantage mine the more

Since this being mine, brings with it thine,

And thou with me dost thee restore.

If I without thee would me mine,

I neither should me mine nor thine.


Lord, I am thine, and thou art mine:

So mine thou art, that something more

I may presume thee mine, then thine.

For thou didst suffer to restore

Not thee, but me, and to be mine,

And with advantage mine the more,

Since thou in death wast none of thine,

Yet then as mine didst me restore.

O be mine still! still make me thine!

Or rather make no Thine and Mine!

To a Child Who Inquires

Maggie and Her Mother. Robert Duncan.
Maggie and Her Mother. Robert Duncan.


To a Child Who Inquires

Olga Petrova


How did you come to me, my sweet?

From the land that no man knows?

Did Mr. Stork bring you here on his wings.?

Were you born in the heart of the rose?


Did an angel fly with you down from the sky?

Were you found in a gooseberry path?

Did a fairy bring you from fairyland

To my door—that was left on a latch?

No—my darling was born of a wonderful love,

A love that was Daddy’s and mine.

A love that was human but deep and profound,

A love that was almost divine.

Do you remember, sweetheart, when we went to the zoo,

And we saw the big bear with a grouch?

And the tigers and the lions, and that tall kangaroo

That carried her babe in a pouch?


Do you remember I told you she kept them there safe

From the cold and the wind, till they grew

Big enough to take care of themselves? And, dear heart,

That’s just how I first cared for you.


I carried you under my heart, my sweet,

And I sheltered you safe from alarms;

The one wonderful day the dear God looked down,

And I snuggled you tight in my arms.

Red Geraniums

Geraniums. Childe Hassam. 1888.
Geraniums. Childe Hassam. 1888.


Red Geraniums

Martha Haskell Clark


Life did not bring me silken gowns,

Nor jewels for my hair,

Nor signs of gabled foreign towns

In distant countries fair,

But I can glimpse, beyond my pane, a green and friendly hill,

And red geraniums aflame upon my windowsill.


The brambled cares of everyday,

The tiny humdrum things,

May bind my feet when they would stray,

But still my heart has wings

While red geraniums are bloomed against my window glass,

And low above my green-sweet hill the gypsy wind-clouds pass.


And if my dreamings ne’er come true,

The brightest and the best,

But leave me lone my journey through,

I’ll set my heart at rest,

And thank God for home-sweet things, a green and friendly hill,

And red geraniums aflame upon my windowsill.

The Little Home

Diane's Cottage, Beaumont le Roger. Louis Aston Knight.
Diane’s Cottage, Beaumont le Roger. Louis Aston Knight.


The Little Home

Edgar Albert Guest


The little house is not too small

To shelter friends who come to call.

Though low the roof and small its space

It holds the Lord’s abounding grace,

And every single room may be

Endowed with  happy memory.


The little house, severely plain,

A wealth of beauty may contain.

Within it those who dwell may find

High faith which makes for peace of mind,

And that sweet understanding which

Can make the poorest cottage rich.


The little house can hold all things

From which the soul’s contentment springs.

‘Tis not too small for love to grow,

For all the joys that mortals know,

For mirth and song and that delight

Which makes the humblest dwelling bright.


Even the plainest house can be beautiful, and the tiniest home can have a very big heart. Even  if your rooms are small, keep the doors open wide! Love and happiness can find plenty of space to grow and flourish.

Results or Roses

Choosing. George Frederick Watts.
Choosing. George Frederick Watts.


Results or Roses

Edgar Albert Guest

The man who was a garden fair,

Or small or very big,

With flowers growing here or there,

Must bend his back and dig.


The things are mighty few on earth

That wishes can attain.

Whate’er we want of any worth

We’ve got to work to gain.


It matters not what goal you seek,

Its secret here reposes:

You’ve got to dig from week to week

To get Results or Roses.


This poem by Edgar Albert Guest is a reminder of the connection between work and wonderful. Nothing in this world worth having comes easily, but requires hard and diligent work.