Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Father's Day memory for Poetry Friday Round-Up

I hope you had a good Father's Day. Ours was complicated by both house system and car system breakdowns. Oh well... We still got to see most of our family, and we were thankful that everyone is well. And... we met the new puppies!


Evie, above, and Moose, to the right. Both are
Australian sheep dogs.

Grandpuppies!  Aren't they CUTE!!!

Since then I've been thinking about my dad, and about poetry that was shared in our family. A sweet little nursery rhyme/finger play came to mind, and I would like to share it with you.

 My father's side of the family was Norwegian, and Daddy had a little nursery rhyme/finger play that he would play with us in Norwegian.  When I looked for the Norwegian version of this rhyme, it became obvious to me that Daddy was a using  a blend of Norwegian and English. Nonetheless, I loved Daddy's version, especially because the third line sounded so funny to me.

Knocke på dør

Peek in
Snu på knobbin
Gå bayne in

Here's an English version with actions:

Knock at the door (knock on the child's forehead)
Peek in (carefully lift child's eyelid for a peek)
Turn the knob (gentle, playful twist of the nose)
Go inside (walk fingers into the mouth)
(Obviously not up to Covid norms. Historical reference only.)
Here's me next to Daddy.

I was delighted to find an English version of this rhyme in a Nursery Rhyme book some time back, but I have since lost track of it. If you know of any print versions or other oral versions, please share.
Here's one on YouTube with an added verse: Knock at the Door.

As I was searching for information on this Norwegian rhyme, I came across the poem below which Norwegians consider their best poem over the ages.  It speaks of a beautiful dream. I especially like the last line, and thought it a good ending for today's post.

Norwegian state broadcaster NRK recently asked its listeners/viewers to select "Norway's finest poem through the ages".
The winner was the poem "Det er den draumen" ("It was a dream") by the poet Olav H.Hauge (1908-1994) .
Here follows a translation into English of the poem, which was first published in 1966.

It Was a Dream
We all carry with us this dream:
that something wonderful will happen,
that it must happen -
that time will open,
that the heart will open,
that doors will open,
that cliffs will be opened,
that springs will well forth,
that the dream will be opened,
- that we one peaceful morning will glide in -
onto a bay we had not been aware of.
-Author Olav H.Hauge

Translated for The Norway Post by Rolleiv Solholm, Chief Editor. To be honest, I'm confused by this translation. The verb "to be" is used in the present tense in the title, so I would think it should be: It Is a Dream. But.. I dare not override his translation. Maybe he had his reasons.
Thanks for reading a bit about my heritage. I'd love for you to share something of yours in the comment section.

It is my pleasure to host the Poetry Friday gathering today. Please leave your links in the comment section and I will round them up as I can during the day.

1. Little Willow posts an Emily Dickinson poem at

2. Molly Hogan shares some recent poems at

3. Laura Purdy Salas shares her haiku at

4. Michelle Kogan shares her susurrus poem at

5. Janice Scully juxtaposes the ideas of injustice and susurrus at Salt City Verse.

6. Carol Varsalona wrote about a relaxing walk near the ocean at

7. Kathryn Apel loves poetry swaps at

8. Linda Baie updates us and shares some Ogden Nash laughs at

9. Linda Mitchell shares prompts at

10. Check out Matt Forrest Esenwine's video for CLiF at

11. Charles Waters makes a children's poetry submission  announcement at

12. Tricia wrote a triolet that combines both woods and susurrus at

13. Mary Lee Hahn tells history via cottonwood at

14. Irene Latham calls for submissions at

15. Irene shares a poem from her red collection at

16. Margaret Simon shares poetry swaps and two drafts at

17. Elaine Magliari posts a poem by her granddaughter at

18. SaraLewisHolmes shares a mouthwatering poem at

19. Liz Scanlon Garton retells an old favorite at

20. Rose Cappelli writes about a treasure from nature at

21. AmyVanDerwater shares a poem about a concert to plants at

22. Joyce Ray shares her poem of Covid's passing at

23. Ruth posts about the desert of quarantine at

24. Tanita Davis writes of the welcome woods at

25. Carol shares a chartreuse poem at

26. Susan Bruck shares poems and insight into parenting at

27. Fran Haley shares her echo line poem at

28.  Find a poem of summer memories at

Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Rilke poem for your Friday...

A child spends his first week away at camp, and his parents cannot help but notice a change as he returns home. There is a healthy maturing, a gain of self-assurance, a sense of strength. Haven't we all noticed the change in ourselves after we venture out?

This poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, shared by a friend this week, speaks of satisfaction and serenity after stretching wings and facing fears.

English Outbuilding and a DoveCote-Pigeon/Dove House

Dove that ventured outside, flying far from the dovecote:
housed and protected again, one with the day, the night,
knows what serenity is, for she has felt her wings
pass through all distance and fear in the course of her wanderings.
The doves that remained at home, never exposed to loss,
innocent and secure, cannot know tenderness;
only the won-back heart can ever be satisfied: free,
through all it has given up, to rejoice in its mastery.
Being arches itself over the vast abyss.
Ah the ball that we dared, that we hurled into infinite space,
doesn't it fill our hands differently with its return:
heavier by the weight of where it has been.

My best to you for a week of healthy venturing. It's Poetry Friday, so join the gang at Tricia's blog, 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Hope is the Thing that Sings

I know it has been a very very rough week. I have friends and relatives in Minneapolis and lived there myself for 15 years. And now across the country... My prayers are with you all. I hope that my confession below will not add to your load, but offer a glimmer of hope in words and song.

I heard this week that our church services, which have been virtual since mid-March, will continue to be virtual, at least for the next month or so. I can live with that. But then I heard that even when we come back to worship, we will not be singing. Why? Because of the possible spread of pathogens. Because when we sing, we breath deeply and project air from the bottom of our lungs, and that air can be filled with our germs.

I love singing. I've been in choir for many years. I don't really know how many, but probably around 25. It isn't that I'm a good singer, it's that singing is so good for me. I hear the harmonies, I challenge myself with the notes and rhythms, and I internalize the words. To quote St. Augustine:

I've listened to music all during the quarantine, but it does not fill the need to sing in choir. Reading and practicing music requires learning and a sense of beauty and challenge and brain twisting all at the same time. My words cannot fully do it justice. But in choir I hear the beauty. I am part of the beauty. And I love the beauty. And I love the sense of worshipful camaraderie there also. Of all the activities I take part in, choir is the most fulfilling.

So in the midst of the everything else, I think this moment in time, more than many others, needs singing. Maybe others feel as I do. Maybe we can find a way to make this work. Certainly I don't want to spread disease, but I do want singing. There was an attempt early on to make a virtual choir, but it was dropped and quite frankly I was glad. It would not work for me. I need to be with strong voices that buoy me up. Strong voices encourage me, in the truest sense of the word, and I will work toward making that happen.

All this is a very roundabout way of saying that I have hope, and music is part of the reason that I do. The words of the song below express my feelings quite well. This hymn was written by Robert Lowry in 1869.  Here are the original words:

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth's lamentation,
I hear the sweetdagger, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation;
Thro' all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?
What tho' my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it,
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his—
How can I keep from singing?

Here's a virtual choir from NYC singing it...

The words have been modified by many people and for various reasons, so you can find many versions here and there. I first learned it from a Pete Seeger recording years ago. I especially love the first two verses...  perfect for today. 

My life flows on in endless song
Above Earth's lamentation
I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What though the tempest loudly roars
I hear the truth, it liveth
What though the darkness round me close
Songs in the night it giveth
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging
Since love is lord of Heaven and Earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear
And hear their death-knell ringing
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?

My thanks to you for joining me today, and thanks to Ruth Hersey for hosting. Click the link below to read her wonderful blog about hope, and God coming into deep waters. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Spring Delights

Spring is turning to summer and my garden is in full bloom. I am so pleased with it this year. Some years the weather is volatile and the blooms are ruined, or it doesn't rain at all and things don't bloom. This year, in spite of the pandemic problems, my garden has produced one beauty after another.

Even the chives are beautiful now. We love them in scrambled eggs, or cottage cheese.

The colors of these irises really pop in the sunlight. The blue and white reminds me of Memorial Day, which I observed by watching some readings and prayers online, then we took this photo for a friend.

We joined in a Spread the Flag campaign hosted by a young woman friend who is hosting a drive to get photos of people and flags from every state. You can read more here. Please feel free to join in with your photo.

My peonies did not disappoint. I am amazed at their beauty as I ponder their ephemeral nature.

Thanks for visiting today. It's Friday, and every Friday a bunch of us get together to share poems. Join us! This Poetry Friday is hosted by Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading. You'll find links in the comment section.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Generosity of a Poet

Back in November, when life seemed normal, an unusual and wonderful thing happened.  As I was thinking about a blog post before Thanksgiving, I thought of a favorite poem titled "Applesauce" by Ted Kooser.  It gives me a warm feeling of family and kitchen, and I thought it would be perfect for the post I wanted to write.

Cook the Apples

Kooser's poetry is honest and down-to-earth, insightful and surprising. In short, it is some of my favorite. So, with that in mind, I decided to get in touch with him and see if he would give me permission to use his poem on my blog. I figured I had little to lose.

Thinking back on it, I should have known better. Publishing is a business and needs to be respected as such, poets certainly need an income, and it was cheeky of me to ask a favor of someone I've never even met. I suppose I let my optimism overtake all that. Instead, I played my only cards.  Kooser is a life-long Nebraskan and I grew up in Omaha so we share midwestern background, we both are interested in poetry, and I appreciate his work. I e-mailed my request.

Here's the interesting part. Very shortly I received a reply email from Mr. Kooser himself, saying that NO, I could not use the poem in question.... BUT... he offered me a poem of his that had not been published.

Ted Kooser

Can you believe it??? Because I can't. That was in November, and I still can't believe it. Nonetheless it is true, and today I offer you, for its debut in the blogosphere and in the world... a new poem by Ted Kooser!


This leather bag of dimes goes hop by hop 
over the highway, a motion like that of 
a token in a board game, the little purse 
moved forward a square at a time as if 
making a bid, one toad on offer in exchange 
for something of value hidden in weeds 
in the opposite ditch. Could be a puddle 
of silver, or another few days in this world.

© Ted Kooser

A leather bag of dimes...What an unforgettable image! Hop by hop it goes, putting it all on the line. And who knows what the future holds? The toad is fully in the game, we know that much.

In case Ted Kooser is new to you, you should know that he was named the US Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in 2004. Many of his poems feature midwestern themes or scenes that leave me nodding my head and smiling. They ring so true. Read more about Ted here. You can read his Applesauce poem here.

I am most thankful to Mr. Kooser for sharing his poem with me, and I take it as a gesture of midwestern generosity that he did so. Generosity is one reason why I love the midwest, and why you will find me mentioning it again and again.

Head on over to Carol Varsalona's Beyond Literacy Link for the Poetry Friday gathering. She's sharing some of her beautiful collection of Nature Nurtures 2020... words to help us all through this unwieldy time.  Thanks so much for hosting, Carol!

My best to you all for a good Memorial Day Weekend.

Friday, May 8, 2020

A little blue bird notecard poetry

Happy Friday... let's have some poetry fun...

Many thanks to Jone MacCulloch for sending me one of her student's poetry notecards.  What a lovely surprise in my mailbox!  Here it is:

This card really touches my heart as I have a special love for those early grades and their eager students, plus... my mother had a blue parakeet pet. "He flies around the house... he is cute"  Yes, I've been there as a young child also. Thank you, Alex. I can see that you love your Blueberry, and I love your poem notecard. Thank you, Jone, for this lovely project.

Just a little story about our parakeet, whose name was Chipper. He would hop about on the rim of the playpen (yes, we had playpens back then) to entertain my little brother. And... my favorite... when we played cards at the table, he would perch on my dad's mostly bald head and slowly draw the long comb-over hairs through his beak. And once, when he hopped to the table, we put a tissue over him and he hopped around like a little ghost. Hahaha... I laugh just remembering it.

Sharing little stories makes my day. I hope it made yours also.

Hop on over for a visit with Michelle Barnes at Today's Little Ditty for an interview with Nikki Grimes and preview of her beautiful book, Southwest Sunrise.  Just another wonderful Poetry Friday offering.

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

May's Spiritual Journey: Connecting with the Season

Though we are cautioned to keep our distance, New Jersey parks have reopened as of May 2, and  on May 3 we went for a walk. What a glorious spring day...

I am thankful that God is in charge of spring. The sky, the leafing branches, the fresh air, the blossoms. Spring has been a constant comfort, always uplifting and invigorating.You don't see people in this picture, but in fact I had never seen so many people in the park. We felt connected with nature and smiled and nodded to each other. It was a community of sorts.

A Time for Everything: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

I came across this commentary in the Celtic Daily Prayer:

I have observed through the years that most Christians have little understanding of the word "season." Our Lord is a seasonal God; He comes, He departs. His faithfulness never changes, but His seasons do! There are seasons when the tree is green, there are seasons when it is dry, and seasons when, for the life of us, the thing looks dead. Now, does this mean you are serving some capricious God who comes and goes by whim? Or, could it be, that it is only through seasons that true growth may come?

Perhaps this season of Covid offers us time to reconsider, to wrestle with God, to redirect our energies, to reshape our thoughts. The season of Covid surely will be remembered as a time for letting go, for grieving and lamentation. Even in the midst of suffering and grief, I believe that God hears us and is near. And as the season continues, I begin to wonder...perhaps it will also lead to new growth. Perhaps a profusion of new connections will blossom from this time. When I commune with the world outside, I can only be hopeful.

Thanks to Ramona for hosting our Spiritual Journey Thursday group. Find her and the rest of the group at Pleasure from the Page