The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday, Christmas Carol, Homestead Farm

By Herman Melville


Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand
I saw a Banner in gladsome air--
Starry, like Berenice's Hair--
Afloat in broadened bravery there;
With undulating long-drawn flow,
As rolled Brazilian billows go
Voluminously o'er the Line.
The Land reposed in peace below;
   The children in their glee
Were folded to the exulting heart
   Of young Maternity.


Later, and it streamed in fight
   When tempest mingled with the fray,
And over the spear-point of the shaft
   I saw the ambiguous lightning play.
Valor with Valor strove, and died:
Fierce was Despair, and cruel was Pride;
And the lorn Mother speechless stood,
Pale at the fury of her brood.


Yet later, and the silk did wind
       Her fair cold for;
Little availed the shining shroud,
   Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm
A watcher looked upon her low, and said--
She sleeps, but sleeps, she is not dead.
   But in that sleep contortion showed
The terror of the vision there--
   A silent vision unavowed,
Revealing earth's foundation bare,
   And Gorgon in her hidden place.
It was a thing of fear to see
   So foul a dream upon so fair a face,
And the dreamer lying in that starry shroud.


But from the trance she sudden broke--
The trance, or death into promoted life;
At her feet a shivered yoke,
And in her aspect turned to heaven
   No trace of passion or of strife--
A clear calm look. It spake of pain,
But such as purifies from stain--
Sharp pangs that never come again--
   And triumph repressed by knowledge meet,
Power delicate, and hope grown wise,
   And youth matured for age's seat--
Law on her brow and empire in her eyes.
   So she, with graver air and lifted flag;
While the shadow, chased by light,
Fled along the far-brawn height,
   And left her on the crag.


I don't have much to report. Late morning, after reading newspaper and various computer chores, was spent folding laundry while watching Disney's A Christmas Carol -- the one in which Jim Carrey does half the voices -- because it was On Demand and therefore readily available. I don't like even excellent versions of A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stewart's, Bill Murray's, etc.) so I may as well simply admit that I watched this one to see Animated Colin Firth and Animated Colin Firth was pretty much what I liked about it, apart from Animated St. Paul's, Animated Big Ben (in a very clean period Animated London), etc.

Adam is taking tennis lessons again now that the cross country season is over, so I spent a lovely hour walking in the woods at Cabin John Park while he was playing. I am bummed that the class is at 5 p.m. meaning that after the clocks go back it will be too dark to walk in the woods during his lesson. Public television was rerunning the first part of Britain's Royal Weddings, so we watched that, then we were going to watch last night's Boardwalk Empire but that isn't on the On Demand schedule yet. Here are some photos from Homestead Farm last weekend:


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