Acquainted with the Night: A Painting and a Poem

“A Yorkshire Lane in November 1873,” by John Atkinson Grimshaw

Lanai Views | #WordlessWednesday

Lanai

“In the Mountains,” Li Bai (Chinese Poet, 701-762)

You ask me what my idea is, staying in the green mountains?
I smile but have no reply, my heart at peace in itself.

As the peach blossom on the flowing water goes into the unknown,
there is another heaven and earth, not among people.

Trans. William P. Coleman


About the images: Photos from a trip to Maui, Hawaii many moons ago. The photos were shot from a yacht early one evening.

A Woman’s Place

I had a series of “love posts” planned for this week, but my students warned me not to write/post them because–from their youthful perspective–it might seem insensitive to those who don’t have a Valentine.

I laughed. Do people really take Valentine’s Day that seriously? No matter. I won’t risk it. 😀

Instead, I’m dropping in with a favorite postcard from my “vintage” collection of postcards, acquired when I was a teen (I think)–before email, swap-bot, and Love Notes–when my friends and I regularly sent newsy letters and postcards to each other.

This postcard, printed by Hallmark, echoes the end of today’s [class] discussion of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew: the very words used to demonstrate Petruchio’s successful “taming” of “Kate” can also be used to prove that Katherina really is the boss lady of the joint.

The Bunyip, Magic Pudding, and Maxicards from Australia

I’m back with two more children’s book illustration (CBI) postcards. These come from Yvonne and Jeana [MelbourneGirl on swap-bot], mother-daughter swappers who hail from Australia. I love receiving children’s book illustrations from other countries, and Yvonne and Jeana do not disappoint. The characters and books illustrated were new to me, so I was over the moon when I received these cards.

The first card was sent several months ago for Book Lovers Congregate (BLC) CBI Swap #33; it features an illustration from The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek (1973) written by Jenny Wagner and illustrated by Ron Brooks:

One night something very large and muddy heaved itself on to the bank of Berkeley’s Creek. ‘What am I ?’ it murmured. ‘What do I look like ?’ A platypus told him he was a bunyip. But what is a bunyip? Although everyone had an opinion, no one really knew. So the bunyip set off to find out for himself.  —Google Books

The Bunyip of Berkeley Creek. Illustration by Ron Brooks.

Of course, I had to do a bit of exploring to learn more about the book, and Google did not disappoint. Here’s a book trailer with more wonderful illustrations:

And here are detailed reviews of the book with more images: We Read It Like This or Dad Reads: Stories for Grown-ups About Stories for Children.

The second card, received for BLC CBI Swap #43 just days ago, features an illustration from another classic Australian children’s book, The Magic Pudding, written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay. The postcard celebrates 100 years since the book’s publication in 1918.

The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay. First published in 1918.

I “found” the illustrated book on Gutenberg. Happy dance! I’ll get my guys to read it with me during the Thanksgiving holiday. Hubby is a storyteller, so he’s always “game” for a good tale. In his “tweendom,” the not-so-little-one eschews anything “babyish,” but he’ll go for it if it’s a family activity.

The Guardian features a cute gallery of pictures in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the book. I learned that Lindsay wrote the book “reportedly to settle an argument with his friend Bertram Stevens, claiming children preferred to read about food than fairies.” I wonder who won???

Did you notice the postage stamp and postmark on the front of the cards? Those aren’t machine errors. They’re intentional. The cards are called maxicards; the coveted postcards feature the “first day of issue” postmark and stamps related to or identical to the images on the front of the cards. You can learn more about them via the Postcrossing blog.

These cards are just so delightful! Thanks, Yvonne and Jeana for introducing me to classics in Australian children’s literature. I’m looking forward to reading both books!

Quotes Challenge Day 3: Ride the Horse

Photo by my son, Vaughan M.

Behind one pain, there is another. Sorrow is a wave without end. But the horse mustn’t ride you, you must ride it. 

The final quote for the three-day challenge comes from one of my favorite books, Simone Schwarz-Bart’s Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle (published as The Bridge of Beyond in English). I feel I must provide a little context–without giving away too much of the plot, of course.

In Part 2 of the novel, Télumée, the primary character, is so profoundly grieved by her husband’s desertion that she sits on a stone in her grandmother’s backyard for several weeks, speechless and unmovable, reduced to a shade of her former self. Her trauma is understandable. After being obviously head-over-heels in love with her since they were children, Elie, her husband, suddenly and inexplicably becomes cruel and abusive and kicks her out of the house in favor of another woman. The events of her life become incongruous with the reality she’s crafted and the people she and her husband are and Télumée is so broken by this unfathomable turn of events that she “loses her mind” and can no longer function.

Télumée eventually “rises,” nurtured by her community and the steady wisdom of Toussine, her grandmother –“Queen without a Name”–who had suffered and survived many griefs herself.  I’m convinced it is the words Toussine instills at an earlier point in the novel that compel her to get up:

Behind one pain, there is another. Sorrow is a wave without end. But the horse mustn’t ride you, you must ride it.

As suddenly as she falls apart, Télumée stands up to live a life different from the one she originally imagined–one that is authentic and communal and necessary.

I have always loved this quote. When I first read it, I put the book down to pause and consider it for a while. And still, several reads later, I am blown away by the tenacity Toussine suggests we must conjure up to survive wild waves of pain and sorrow–the grit it takes to position ourselves so that deep sorrow doesn’t shape our lives, define us, or guide us and the creative prowess it takes to use that sorrow to re-plot the direction of our lives.

Sometimes when the crises come one right after another and literally knock us off our feet, it seems easier to just lie down and wallow in sadness and misery. There can be healing in (temporarily) shutting down, in resting, but at some point we (have to) decide whether we will ride the horse–our circumstances–or let the horse ride us.

There is way more to say about this quote and way, way, way more to say about The Bridge of Beyond. I hope you’ll pick it up and read it. I also hope that when life becomes too much, you’ll choose to ride.

Today’s nominees are [see a previous post for rules]:

Have a restful, fun, and safe weekend!

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Note about the photo: The photo above was shot by my son when he was eight-years-old. He is quite the photographer. I’m working on getting him to share more of his work. #proudmom