Thursday, October 11, 2012

Word and Question!

I know I haven't posted in forever, but when I discovered the game of Word and Question (born in the wonderful What Katy Did series by Susan Coolidge) actually happening online at Enbrethiliel's blog I had to join in. Head over there to read the rules and the results of this month's words and questions -- and behold mine.

Word: Wonder
Question: Whose shoe is that?

Whose - whose, I wonder - is that shoe?
Just guessing by the size,
I think that I can answer true
And without telling lies.
It is that famed Old Woman's, who
Had kids in lots gigantic,
And was so lost for what to do
That she was nearly frantic, 
So fed them broth withouten bread,
And beat and sent them all to bed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

At the Créche

This poem was born when I was lighting a candle in front of the Nativity scene after Mass today.

At the Créche

My little Savior, here for Thee

I light this little flame,

That its bright tongue may speak for me,

Whose tongue cannot sing worthily

The praises of Thy name.

Inflame me also, Infant dear,

Here cradled in the straw,

That I may burn with holy fear,

And love of Thee who liest here,

And reverence of Thy law.

Before Thy crib, my Lord Most High

Laid low in humble hay,

O let me live and let me die,

To shine in Heaven's light, as my
Small candle burns today.

- January 10, 2010

Feast of the Holy Family

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A suite of poems

Today, in the usual Thursday-noon recital, a fellow-piano-major and I played Debussy's beautiful Petite Suite for piano, four hands. For the first two movements I played the upper part and he the lower, and for the other two, we switched places. We received a good deal of very flattering praise; it was, by all accounts, a pronounced success.

The suite, and some of the things Mr. Schene has said about it, were still turning over in my head after the recital; and when I got home I wrote down this little "suite" of verses. The music can be found on youtube (I'll put links in the titles). My readers may listen to them, and tell me how accurate my little images are.

Petite Suite
(Hommage á Claude Debussy)

I. En Bateau

The paddles slice the waters silently,
And in the peaceful golden light of noon
We glide along the river easily,
Far from the faintest thought of dark or ruin;
No ripples on the glassy water lie
To mar its softly pointillistic gleam,
And even the breeze sings, as it whispers by,
A tune I half-remember from a dream...

II. Cortége

The fairy-flutes are piping, far and high,
Sweet as the laughter of the elfin crowd,
And as their small procession marches by,
We cannot help but smile at them - so proud,
Tossing their braids, or curly-tops held tall,
Waving the spoil of a successful raid,
Flowers and nuts from some King Squirrel's hall,
Borne in a gay victorious child-parade.

III. Menuet

Cast off that melancholy from your face!
Upheld by an enchanting violin,
The pairs advance with charming ancient grace;
The minuet is going to begin.
The pipe and viol their harmonies unfurl;
Across the sward they sweep unerringly -
Balance together, step and step and twirl,
And we dream on, lulled by the melody.

IV. Ballet

One rich-voiced cello guides the airy tune,
And trippingly the children whirl away,
Carefree small fairy folk, beneath the moon,
Light-footed, lighter-hearted, bright and gay -
Until the waltz, with passionate romance
(That music is inebriety divine!)
Lifts us, who love, aloft into the dance,
Soaring on wings of song, of love and wine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breaking the silence...

I decided to come back to my poor neglected blog to tell a bit about the concert in which I sang on Sunday. The Webster Chorale joined the St. Louis Chamber Chorus to sing a concert which we called "Music of the Fall," referring not only to the season we happen to be in, but to the Fall of Man and death, as well as falling in love!

The Chamber Chorus (some fifty, I believe) took the stage first for a wonderful rendition of the Missa "Durch Adams Fall" by Christoph Bernhard (based on the motet, "Since Adam's Fall".) Then they filed off and the sixteen Chorale members sang our two Hungarian motets: Lajos Bardos' Libera Me, which moved with only a second's pause into Gyorgy Orban's Daemon Irrepit Callidus, a wonderful Latin rhyme about how the devil, the flesh and the world, despite all the fair things they give, are worth less to the heart than Jesus is. The Chamber Chorus joined us for Michael East's beautiful love madrigal, I Fall and Then I Rise Again Aloft, and they finished the first half with Mein Odem ist Schwach, (My Breath is Corrupt), the first of Max Reger's Drei Motetten, op. 110 - a huge work and seldom performed in its entirety. The second half began with the second motet, Ach, Herr, strafe mich nicht (Ah, Lord, strike me not.) The Chamber Chorus performed this and their world premiere of a commissioned piece, Slow Gold by Claire Maclean, alone; then we performed our Funeral Sentences by Henry Purcell, and all together we finished the program with the third motet: O Tod, wie bitter bist du, (O Death, how bitter thou art!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

what a gorgeous Sunday!

Today we all went to the church early for choir practice, and so that Mom could go get Dad at the airport. Choir practice went smoothly, though I'm still trying to get used to the fact that now I'm the one calling the shots. After High-Mass I practiced a Bach prelude-and-fugue in the choir room, signed the thank-you card for Father Alphonsus, CSSR, who preached us a MARVELOUS mission last week and heard our general confessions, and then we all headed for home. It was a brief stop, as we had open house, but I yanked on a dress I could ride in and Ignacio and I took the Vespa while everyone else went in the car, up to Barnes and Noble. We spent an hour there, then the family dropped Maria at school for volleyball and I flew off to the University.

I practiced on the Precious for a while, printed out the ballad I had written for Colleen, a dear friend and fellow-pianist, (based on a crazy dream she had,) and then raced over to Webster Hall, where I whipped on my concert gown and went into the hall to rehearse my duet with Andy Kenney. It sounded good, and Dr. Carter, our wonderful Department Chair, gave us some good advice for the actual performance. We sat outside and talked with a fellow Chorale member until everyone else showed up at half-past three. The Chorale warmed up in the conference room next to the hall, and then we all found our places in the hall. The Chorale took the back rows, but I went up to the front row with Andy, as our duet would come before the Chorale's performance.

Dr. Carter began the recital with a short speech and then turned it over to a freshman pianist and a trumpeter who gave us a beautiful rendition of two short pieces by Purcell, the Intrada from The Indian Queen, and the Rondo from the Incidental Music for Abdelager. One of our sopranos followed it with a lovely rendition of I Attempt From Love's Sickness to Fly, also by Purcell; another sang Music for a While. Then it was Handel's turn to dominate the program; one of our wonderful young baritones performed Del minacciar del vento, from Ottone, and then Andy and I sang our duet, Thou in thy Mercy from Israel in Egypt. Another soprano sang Mio caro bene, a glorious aria from Rodelinda that I'll have to learn sometime; and the last soloist was another great baritone who gave a spectacular rendition of Arm, arm, ye brave! from Judas Maccabeus. Then the piano was pushed to the back of the stage, and the Chorale filed on, led by Colleen and alternating soprano-tenor-alto-bass from there. We sang Purcell's Funeral Sentences for Queen Mary, which turned out haunting and beautiful, with Dr. Carter himself at the portativ organ and, of course, Dr. Bowers conducting.

Afterward, Colleen and I showed the dream-ballad to her mother, who was highly amused and somewhat shocked (it was a very intense and somewhat violent dream, haha!) While Colleen and her mother talked to Mr. Schene about the outfit Mrs. Johnson (who sews amazing formals) is going to make for his upcoming concert, Rhapsody in Blue, I chatted with Mrs. Johnson's friend Carmen, who happens to be from Guatemala, so we chattered away a mile a minute in Spanish. I walked Colleen to her car, mounted Tesla the Vespa and flew away home. And here I am, enjoying a lull before dinner.

Friday, September 18, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 13

It's been forever since I remembered to do one of these. Life's been crazy. But here we go.

Last Tuesday I acquired a lovely blue Vespa, which has been cause of much admiration and envy among my peers. Pictures can be found on TradCats.

Our grandparents, who have been visiting for the past two weeks with us and our sister Lucia, who is home from New Zealand, (witness the posts below!), left this morning. It was a lovely visit and I'll miss them.

I'm re-reading the memoirs of violinist Albert Spalding. He had the good fortune to live around a lot of awesome composers; he played for (and with) Saint-Saens, Respighi, Dohnanyi, and toured all over the place. Rise to Follow is humorous, charming, and paints a wonderful picture of life both as a child prodigy and a mature artist.

I'm enjoying John Mark Ainsley's rendition of The Trumpet's Loud Clangour, from Handel's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day. What a voice.

Among my many pieces, I'm working on Debussy's Petite Suite, for piano four-hands, with a fellow piano-major. Here is a rendition of the first movement, En Bateau, played by a recently graduated friend, Michael McElvain, with another friend of ours (not a student, though I used to see him often around the music building.) Enjoy... it's gorgeous!!!

Plans are beginning to heat up for the next Jam Session, over New-Year's. I can't wait. This one will be all the way up in New York! Some snow, for a change! I hope our voices survive the chill!

Telemann's woodwind concertos are amazing... right now, having watched O Brother, Where Art Thou?, we're enjoying his Oboe Concerto in E minor. Good stuff...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My new profile picture (my confirmation patroness)

Monday, September 14, 2009


I'm posting this as a kind of follow-up to the Viking's talk, though I wrote it long ago (when I was trying to persuade him to give the talk).

One of the first philosophical facts I learned about love, from something my mom said, is that love is to the will what a "light bulb moment" is to the intellect, because the good and the truth are both from God. The truth is correspondence with what is, and good is correspondence with He who Is. They are the ultimate focus of the intellect and the will, respectively, which is why St. Augustine says that we are restless until we rest in Him who is truth and goodness itself.

One implication that I drew from this correspondence of love with a "lightbulb moment," or understanding, is that, though love is a movement of the will, it is often involuntary--we can no more help loving something we perceive as good than we can help that moment of delight when we grasp a concept for the first time. Our will is made to seek the good, so on finding something good it turns towards it automatically, as for example most people's reaction to ice cream.

This applies to all or most meanings of the word love; one of the things you can learn from Tolkien the philologist is that when the same or a related word is used for concepts that seem different to us, it usually means that at some distant time and place they were connected in meaning as well as in name. Thus loving ice cream, loving your husband, and loving your enemy are all at bottom the same thing, though they work in different ways. When you taste ice cream, for example, your taste buds tell you "this is good," and your will says, "well, then I want it," and that is loving ice cream. You love a person when your will is moved towards the good you find in them.

The difference between the different types of love lies in the degrees of goodness in the object and the clarity of our perception of this goodness. God can have perfect love for even an imperfect creature, seeing all the good in it because He is the source of all good, but the kind of love anyone, even God, can have for ice cream is limited by the nature of ice cream, which is good in only a very limited way--in creaminess, sweetness, freshness--as opposed to a person who can be good by heroic faith, hope, and charity.

Another limit in our capacity to love is that we can only love what we know, and often our knowledge of a thing or person is limited or faulty, as happens to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. Her prejudice blinds her to Darcy's good qualities and hinders her from loving him, even though they are the very qualities that she loves best. The difficulty of loving your enemies is that you have to move your will (often almost by force) towards the good God sees in them, for the very fact that He made them who can make no evil, rather than for any good that you personally can see in them.

In the case of "falling in love," on the other hand, the outstanding thing is that you perceive great good in the person without much effort in looking for it--and the movement of the will is instantaneous and effortless. For example, I easily recognize the good of a keen intellect and a certain type of humor, and would be likely to fall in love with someone who has these qualities, whereas other people might notice more someone's humility, mechanical skill, or other good characteristics. Your "soulmate" is the one who most incarnates the goods that you most clearly perceive, and vice versa--someone in whom you can always discover, and help to polish, new facets of good, reflections of different aspects of the infinite goodness of God.

Of course, love can also be a voluntary act in the ordinary sense. You can look for and love the good in anyone, and it would be easier to find it in a spouse because of the shared life of marriage, which places you in the best position to look for it--this is why arranged marriages can work. But I think it is ALSO possible for true love at first sight to happen--a person's face, voice, and gestures can tell us a lot about them, even enough to move a true and lasting love. The most important thing to remember, I guess, is that God is love, and ultimate love can only be found with and through Him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Dream of the Rood

Someone compared the Vexilla Regis to the Dream of the Rood in a comment awhile back, and when teaching them both for English class last Lent I decided to try to make an alliterative translation of the former--not directly from Anglo-Saxon, which I can't read, but from a literal translation. Also, there are sections left out where I got lazy; I might add them in someday.

The Dream of the Rood
Cynewulf, 770-840

Lo! I will tell of the best of dreams
What I dreamed in my bed at darkest midnight
When speakers were silent, all asleep.
It seemed I saw a wondrous tree
Rising aloft and wrapped in light,
Brightest of trees. That beacon was all
Covered with gold. Colored gems crusted
The ground it grew in, and five most flaming
Were set at its center. The saints in glory
Looked on the Lord's sign, light from heaven.
No grim wrongdoer's gallows this!
All holy spirits and heroes on earth
God's glorious works on Him all gazed.
Though stained with sins I saw it too--
For all my faults I knew its glory--
gloriously garbed and gleaming with joy
the Lord's tree lovely with gold and jewels.

Through ancient enmity of wicked men
its right side began to be red and bleeding.
Then feared I, for all its fulgent glory
for sometimes it seemed to be red with rubies
and sometimes soaked with the flow of blood.
Nonetheless, lying a long time there
troubled I gazed at the Savior's tree
until the tree began its tale.
So spoke the tree all trees excelling:
It was years ago, I yet remember
I was felled not far from the forest edge,
severed from rootstock. Strong foes seized me
set me as a spectacle, a gallows for grim ones;
high on a hill I was set and secured.

Then the Lord of all living came hasting here
afire with zeal to climb upon me.
I obeyed and bowed not down nor broke
when I saw earth's surface tear and tremble.
I stood firm and fell not to crush his foes.
The young hero, child of God almighty
stood strong and steadfast, stripped for the fight.
Willfully went he upon the gallows,
bold before many to liberate men.
I trembled when the man embraced me
but dared not bow down to the earth;
fall flat on earth's face. As ordered, I stood fast.
Climbing on high I lifted the King:
the King of the skies, and I could not bow.
They pierced me with nails. You can see my scars,
these wicked wounds, yet I would not harm them,
though they scoffed and scorned us both together.
Dripping I was, drenched with dark blood
from his speared side after he sent forth his spirit.
Many cruel sights on that hill I saw.
The Lord of hosts stretched out severely;
darkness draping the bright radiance
of His corpse with clouds. Creation in shadow
under dark skies wept for its King.
Though Christ was dead on the cross, there came
eager friends from afar to the prince, as I saw.
In bitter sorrow I bowed to their hands,
humble and zealous they haled God almighty
down from my torments; they took Him away.
The warriors left me, and wounded I stood
Pierced very deeply and drenched in His blood.
They laid him down there, weary-limbed;
gazed on the Lord as he lay awhile weary
resting from battle. But still in my sight
they carved a sepulcher from living rock
and laid the Lord of Victories within.
A song of sorrow then they sang,
but evening came and they wanted to go
leaving the glorious Lord alone.
We stood weeping, still for a while;
the corpse cooled, and we were cut down to the earth.
Oh dreadful event! In a pit we lay.
But disciples discovered us, friends of the Lord
decked and adorned me with gold and with silver.
Now you can hear, my beloved hero,
what wrongdoers on me have wrought.

Formerly, I was the fiercest of torments
hated of men, till I opened the heavens,
the path of life for all speakers of words.
Lo, the prince of glory, the guardian of heaven
honored me over all trees of the forest!
Just as he honored, over all mankind,
Mary his Mother, over all women
chosen to bring forth God almighty.
Now I lay it upon you, beloved warrior
See that you speak of what you have seen:
tell all men the tale of the Tree of Glory;
how upon it all-powerful God in his Passion
suffered for mankind's many sins
and the deed Adam did of old.

I still have to do the part about the Resurrection and Ascension!

Based on Mary Rambaran-Olm's parallel translation at
Thanks to Paul Deane, the author of "Linking Letters: a Poet's Guide to Alliterative Verse" at

Hymn to Saint Philomena

Translated and adapted from one to St. Catherine; #77 in the Oxford Anthology of Medieval Latin Verse

Daughter of a Grecian king
Now your household to you sing
Veneration, impetration
That your prayers for us may bring,
Us, sin-laden,
O pure maiden,
To the joys of heaven's King.

Sprung of noble stock and bright
With the virtues' heavenly might
Soon you said that you would wed
None but Christ, the King of Light.
O pure virgin
Make us burgeon
Soon in Heaven's joy and light.

Even in your tenderest years
You desired heaven's spheres
More than treasures or earth's pleasures
Eyes on heaven, despising fears.
Maiden, heed us
Martyr, lead us
Upward from this vale of tears.

Catholic faith in you withstood
Lashes' sting and waters' flood
Stood unbending, prayer upsending
Staunch in faith though shedding blood.
Martyr, heed us
Maiden, lead us
To enjoy the perfect Good.

Then the lictor's sharpened spear
After days of torments drear
Crowned your ending, all wounds mending
With the sight of Christ, your dear.
O pure maiden
Lead us to eternal cheer.