A Noiseless Patient Spider
By Walt Whitman
A Noiseless, patient spider,
I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form'd—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.
The Washington Post Book World this week has put out its annual children's books issue, sadly without a Poet's Choice column, or indeed any review of poetry for children, so I picked a poem often included in anthologies for children that I like a lot.
We were going to go to the Maryland Zoo to see the penguins one last time this year -- it's closed from tomorrow until early March -- and visit some of the Baltimore museums. But the kids had a lot of homework to finish and we're all still on the recovering end of colds, so instead we stuck closer to home and went to see the Pompeii and the Roman Villa exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Unlike the exhibit on Stabiae that we saw a few years ago (see October 4th, 2004 entry), this one focused not only on the artifacts but on the artistic legacy of the affluent Romans who lived in Pompeii and on artistic attempts to recreate that era. Though there are some lovely goddess statues and some gorgeous decorative pieces, my favorite section is at the very end, where the show has brought together a number of items -- some ancient, some reproductions -- all used in a single painting by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, A Sculpture Garden.
The Pompeii exhibit is in the large gallery that spans two floors of the East Building, where the Hopper and Impressionists at Fontainebleau exhibits recently preceded it.
As usual with special exhibits, photography inside the collection was forbidden. This is a modern reproduction of a watercolor from the early 1900s showing how the ancient elite lived...
...and this is a close-up of a wall-sized reproduction of Joseph Wright's Vesuvius from Portici, painted in the 1770s.
The exhibit had a decorative entrance with a Roman "Beware of Dog" mosaic set in the floor.
The National Gallery of Art's West Building courtyards were decorated with poinsettias for the season...
...as was the rotunda with the Mercury Fountain.
And ice skaters were enjoying the rink in the Sculpture Garden. That's Venus glowing above the trees.
We missed most of the Redskins game, which I can only say is surely a good thing, since it sounds like it was embarrassing. We had planned to watch Merlin in the evening but the kids were busy with homework and chores that didn't quite get finished, so that got postponed a few days, since Terminator and Heroes both have their fall finales on Monday. Oh, and I have a bunch of people to thank for holiday cards, gifts and greetings -- I am in receipt of several and most appreciative -- and in the morning I get to see dementordelta, yay!