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 Historical reference only.)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.