Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Windhover

Gerard Manley Hopkins is probably my favorite poet. (I'm delightfully indecisive when it comes to favorites in books and poems, but Hopkins is consistently one of my favorites, and he's my favorite at the moment.) 

But really. His poems are beautiful and moving. A mixture of spirituality, nature, and philosophy. They just taste good to me. 

I was reciting this one to myself this morning . . . I didn't know I was doing it, it just happened. 

Ah, I love literature. 

The Windhover--To Christ, our Lord 

CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
  dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,        5
  As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion        10
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Hopkins' poetry can be difficult to understand. There's just so much in there, especially in this poem. 

This poem compares Christ to a diving falcon. It reminds me of 1 Nephi 11:16-17: 

"And he [the angel] said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God? 
And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children, nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." 

There is something divinely beautiful about the love that God has for His children, so much that He sent His only Son to descend below all things. There is wonder in Christ's condescension for us; that He would leave His high position to "fall, gall [Himself] and gash gold-vermillion." 

That's how I read the poem, anyway. I could go on and on about the symbolism and what it means to me. But for now I'll just say that this poem has expanded my perception of God's grace and glory.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Writing a paper

. . . but I'm also coveting this dress:

craving pumpkin cake:

and listening to Adele:


[Not] working for me since 1990.

To Autumn

I forgot to update Poesy Thursday last Thursday. So I was going to make up for it yesterday with Keats's "To Autumn," because it was the first day of autumn yesterday (happy autumn, ya'll), but I didn't have time.

But never fear. I'm going to post it now.

"To Autumn" is one of my favorite poems ever. It is one of the most tactile poems I've read--you can just taste the words and smell the fall air.

    SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
            To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
        Until they think warm days will never cease,
            For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
        Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
            Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
            Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
            Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
           And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Sometimes I read it out loud. Try it sometime, outside, in a calm, cool place. I promise you your life will change for the better.

Mmm. Autumn.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hope is the thing with feathers

Poesy Thursdays continue!

Here's a classic:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
                                    ~Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Muffin Girl

I was a conversation piece this morning.

I made muffins for a Writing Center staff meeting breakfast and carried the muffins to work. (I'm on the Happiness Committee. Yes, there is such a committee. And yes, happiness = food. Especially at eight o' clock in the morning.)

But, I had about thirty muffins to carry on two plates. I ended up balancing the uncovered muffin plates on the palms of my hands, walking up to campus.

Did I mention there was a cat who was following me?

Yeah, this odd, stray cat came out of nowhere--no doubt enticed by the delicious-smelling muffins--and followed me for a little while, meowing for a muffin.

As I walked up to campus, I think I made everyone hungry. You know how it is--you have an eight o' clock class, you wake up late, and often you don't get breakfast. But here I was, holding plates of muffins like the goddess of the muffin harvest and torturing poor students with the breakfast they never had.

Poor students.

But happy co-workers.

The Happiness Committee strikes again.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago, I woke up late for my elementary school choir practice.

I remember rushing up the stairs, barely listening to my little sister telling me that two planes had crashed into buildings in New York City.

"Uh-huh," I said, not really believing, too interested in gulping down my cereal.

"No, really," my mom said, tears in her eyes. "This is real."

And my perfect snow globe world shattered.

I remember sitting on the kitchen bar stool, horrified as I listened to my mom and dad describe what just happened, and that America was under attack. I was even more appalled when I saw the T.V. screen--black smoke pouring from the twin towers, announcers unsure of what was happening.

The anxiety and fear catapulted to school, as I talked to others in my class--who had done this? why? how many people had gotten out alive? There was a kind of camaraderie in this fear; we all felt keenly aware of the danger our country was in, and even more aware of the people in New York. I know my fifth-grade heart reached out to them.

But I don't think we ever dreamed there would be more attacks.

I remember sitting in my fifth-grade classroom, T.V. on. We watched in shock and horror as the cameras shifted to Washington, D.C.--the Pentagon, and then to a field in Pennsylvania. And then, back to the Twin Towers.

I didn't realize they were coming down at first--I thought it was just more smoke, until my teacher said, "They're coming down!" It was surreal, watching those beauties of steel and manpower come down like a stack of cards. It was awful to know the people trapped inside there; it makes my soul ache just to think of it.

I remember the heroes of September 11th. Firefighters. Police officers. United 93. Their courage inspired me; it still does.

I also remember the unity after 9/11. The flags on every street corner; in every window. We were a nation in mourning; but we did indeed mourn with those that mourned, and comforted those in need of comfort. There was renewed faith after 9/11. That unity and patriotism defined my childhood as much as the attacks did. I wish there didn't have to be a disaster to compel us to unity and brotherhood. And there doesn't have to be. We can choose to reach out to those in need, whatever the day.

The memorials and T.V. specials today talked about the children affected--whether by losing loved ones, or just losing innocence. September 11th surely was a defining moment for my generation. And even though we were young, it doesn't mean it didn't affect us. It doesn't mean we don't remember.

We'll have to be the ones to remember. For in time, we'll be the only ones who do remember.

My generation needs to remember the fear, the sorrow, the unity, the healing. We need to remember the heroes who lost their lives so that others could live . . . or at least have a chance to live. We need to remember the sacrifice. We need to remember that God does indeed bless America, and will continue to do so. He'll never leave us alone. Like President Thomas S. Monson eloquently stated in his excellent article in the Washington Post, God "softens the winters in our lives, but He also brightens our summers."

I hope that today we remembered. And that we never forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

History Nerd Moment

So if my last post didn't cast me as a nerd, this one takes the cake.

In my History 328 class (Modern German History), we have the coolest assignment EVER.

My professor received a grant that gave him some micro-reels which document the correspondence between the American ambassador in Berlin and Washington. And we get to view these micro-reels, make them into PDFs, and transcribe them!

People, this is cool.

There were people in my class getting dispatches from John Jay in Vienna! And dispatches from the Franco-Prussian War! And from the siege of Paris!

I don't know what mine will have in it yet (my professor didn't tell me), but I am sooo excited to find out.

 That blue thing is the micro-reel from the National Archives. 

 The micro-reel! 

Me being a super-happy nerd. 

Seriously, folks, this is like Christmas for history nerds. I just need 4-5 hours in the library to find out what's in store! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Poesy Thursdays

So, because I'm a total English nerd and love poetry, I've decided to do a new feature on my blog called . . .

Poesy Thursdays!

It's gonna be good.

Basically, I'm just going to post a favorite poem of mine (whether because it's beautiful, interesting, or intellectually stimulating), and tell you why I love it. And if you want, you're more than welcome to post your thoughts in the comments.

Even more basically, it's just a way to get my inner nerd out and rejoice in the beauty of language, imagery, and metaphor. Because it really is something to rejoice in. :)

It's so hard choosing a poem to start with . . . but I chose William Butler Yeats's The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Isn't it beautiful? It just ends with a sigh. I love this poem because of the beauty of its language. "Bee-loud glade," "midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow." Mmm. The language is just delicious. I also love the line, "For peace comes dropping slow." Isn't that how peace does come? It is like a veil, coming slowly over your heart and mind, calming you.

I also love how it connects with me--and with all of us, I feel. Don't we all have some place like Innisfree that we go to when the world is hectic and we stand on "the pavements gray"? Some childhood or favorite place where the memories are too golden to be true, but we know that if we could just go back, we would have simplicity and joy in our lives?

There is certainly an Innisfree for me. And I do "hear it in the deep heart's core."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Connecting the Dots

Last week I got the weekly update from a friend who's on a mission. I love getting letters and e-mails from missionaries: I love hearing about the work, about the people they're meeting and the places they're seeing, but most of all I just love the spirit of their letters. They're so full of faith and hope, and it helps pull me through when I'm having rough days. 

This week, my friend (who's a total Apple techie) quoted Steve Jobs. It's not scripture, but it's exactly what I needed to hear this week: 

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." 

It's so good to know Who I trust in; that the Rock of my salvation is the Son of God. He makes all the difference, and He has a plan specifically for me. I have faith in that. And that faith guides me through. I just need to have faith to step out into the dark, knowing God won't let me fall. 

I might not know where my life will take me in the next year, semester, or week. But I have seen the dots connect in the past, and it's turning out to be an extraordinary picture.