Wednesday’s Words to Ponder… Phillis Wheatley

This post is dedicated to Hamba Kahle* uMama Agnes “Aunty Aggie” Msimang. Rest peacefully dear Aunty Aggie.   https://afzalmoolla.wordpress.com/2018/10/19/hamba-kahle-umama-agnes-aunty-aggie-msimang/comment-page-1/#comment-12598

 

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”  –  William Wilberforce 

 

Phillis Wheatly

PHILLIS WHEATLEY – 

 

On Imagination

 

Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,

How bright their forms! How deck’d with pomp

By thee!

Thy wond’rous acts in beauteous order stand,

And all attest how potent is thine hand.

From Helicon’s refulgent heights attend,

Ye sacred choir and my attempts befriend:

To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,

Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.

Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,

Till some lov’d object strikes her wand’ring eyes

Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,

And soft captivity involves the mind.

Imagination! Who can sing thy force?

Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?

Soaring through air to find the bright abode,

Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God,

We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,

And leave the rolling universe behind:

From star to star the mental optics rove,

Measure the skies, and range the realms above.

There in one view, we grasp the mighty whole,

Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul.

Though winter frowns to Fancy’s raptur’d eyes

The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise;

The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,

And bid their waters murmur o’er the sands.

Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign,

And with her flow’ry riches deck the plain;

Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round,

And all the forest may with leaves be crown’d:

Show’rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose,

And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.

Such is thy pow’r, nor are thine orders vain,

O thou the leader of the mental train:

In full perfection, all thy works are wrought,

And thine the scepter o’er the realms of thought.

Before thy throne the subject-passions bow,

Of subject-passions sov’reign ruler thou;

At thy command joy rushes on the heart,

And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.

Fancy might now her silken pinions try

To rise from earth, and sweep th’ expanse on high:

From Tithon’s bed now might Aurora rise,

Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies,

While a pure stream of light o’erflows the skies.

The monarch of the day I might behold,

And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold,

But I reluctant leave the pleasing views,

Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse;

Winter austere forbids me to aspire

And northern tempests damp the rising fire;

They chill the tides of Fancy’s flowing sea,

Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.

                                                                             –

Born in the Gambia and sold as a slave at age seven, Phillis Wheatley was the first published African-American woman. Her writing was one which helped create the African-American genre of literature. Purchased by the Wheatley family, she was taught to read and write. Furthermore, they encouraged her poetry.

Her first collection of poems was published in 1773. With her subjects of Morality and Religion, she became well know and was praised by prominent figures including George Washington and fellow African-American poet, Jupiter Hammon. She toured England and was emancipated by her owners after her poetic success. In March 1776, she appeared before General George Washington. A strong supporter of independence is reflected in her poetry and in plays, she wrote during the Revolutionary War.

Miss Wheatley married a free black grocer, John Peters, and bore him two children who died in infancy. Mr. Peters abandoned her leaving her penniless and pregnant. In an effort to support herself, she completed the second volume of poems. Alas, she could not find a publisher who was interested.

She died of complications in childbirth at the age of 31. The child died shortly afterward. She had been living in poverty in a boarding house.

Miss Wheatley wrote “To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty” in honor of George III repealing the Stamp Act. During the American Revolution, her sympathies and her work turned to the view of the colonists.

Phillis Wheatley’s grave lies unmarked. Few of her poems refer to slavery.

At that time, for the most part, white Americans thought it unlikely that a woman from Africa, and a former slave, could write poetry and Miss Wheatley was forced to defend herself in court in 1772. The men assembled to judge her included John Hancock, John Erving, Reverend Charles Chauncey, Thomas Hutchinson,  the governor of Massachusettes, and his lieutenant governor, Andrew Oliver. She was adjudged to be the author of the works ascribed to her and the resulting attestation was published and included in the preface to her book. Due to the prejudice of American publishers, the book was published in London with the aid of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon and the Earl of Dartmouth.

Miss Wheatley’s works are credited with helping to found African-American literature.

The highly regarded poet, Jupiter Hammon wrote an ode to Miss Wheatley in 1778.

Bisous,

Léa

 

 

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One-Liner Wednesday — Home of the Brave

This, That, and The Other

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“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

Reporter and Peabody Award Recipient
Elmer Davis

I found out about this quote from fellow blogger Léa at Found In France. I’d never heard of Elmer Davis, so I googled him and learned that he was a news reporter, author, the Director of the United States Office of War Information during World War II, as well as a Peabody Award recipient.

Davis had been a reporter and editorial writer for The New York Times before joining CBS radio as a newscaster. In 1942, Davis was appointed to head the Office of War Information, where he won respect for his handling of official news. His liberal stance, however, especially his opposition to military censorship, generated controversy. In 1945 he resumed his career as a news broadcaster, this time with ABC, until 1953…

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History, learn or repeat it

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana (1863-1952)

MARTIN NIEMOLLER (1892-1984)

 

A well known and respected Lutheran minister who made the choice to speak out against the foe, Adolf Hitler. He would spend the final seven years of Nazi dictatorship in a concentration camp for having the courage of his convictions. For finally speaking out

 

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Socialist .

 

And then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Trade Unionist

 

And then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Jew

 

Then they came for me – and there was no one

Left to speak for me.”

 

In the early days of the Nazi regime, this Lutheran minister supported Hitler. Later, he was to oppose the regime and imprisoned for seven years.

 

He frequently lectured in the Post War years extemporaneously and this how there came to be varying versions of the above poem.

 

Much controversy has surrounded the poem due to the long list of diverse groups in the many versions. His viewpoint was that Germans – in particular, he believed, the leaders of the Protestant churches, had been complicit through their silence in the Nazi imprisonment, persecution and murder of millions of people.

 

During a West German television interview in 1963 Niemoller finally spoke about himself. He acknowledged his own earlier antisemitism. He made a statement of regret for the burden he would carry for the rest of his life. Regardless, he was one of the earliest Germans to speak publicly about the broader complicity in the Holocaust and for what happened to the Jews.

 

In his book, Of Guilt and Hope (English Translation) published in 1946, He wrote: “Thus, whenever I chance to meet a Jew known to me before, then, as a Christian, I cannot but tell him: ‘Dear Friend, I stand in front of you, but we can not get together, for there is guilt between us. I have sinned and my people has sinned against thy people and against thyself.”

Life, we are all in this together. If we choose to remain silent, yes, it is a choice, we are complicit. 

Acceptance, Love and Peace,

Léa

Old books: paper or ebook

“I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to “I hate to read new books,” and I hollered “Comrade” to whoever owned it before me.”                                                                  – Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road

              –

Old books: paper or ebook

 

  

I like meeting

And old paperback

Like an illicit lover

No fresh from printer’s glare

No stiff cover

 

So comfortable the invitation

Easily pages turn

Consummate host for this reader

With scant euros to burn

 

Each book that I discover

A long awaited friend

Its secrets I’ll uncover

Its binding I shall bend

 

Not disrespectful

au contraire, mon cher

Treasure in my hands

Riches beyond compare

 

 

I’ll treasure every syllable

That twists about my tongue

Cautious of each coffee spill

A drop of wine or two

Read, read, read – take your fill

 

 

Bisous,

 

Léa

My apologies for the rhyming, something I rarely do and never intentionally.

Be a cat

 

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”  – Ernest Hemingway 

 

BE A CAT

 

We do not have nine

Only one – allocated

Much shorter than you think

Racing – a comet in the night

Be a cat

 

Think of the graceful feline

Encountering something new

The nose begins to twitch

Whiskers poised and ready

Be a cat

 

Curiosity in all things

Absorb all you can

Touch it, feel it,

Make love to it

Be a cat

 

Take pleasure in your body

It’s keeping you together

Treat it kindly

Any shortcomings are cerebral

Be a cat

 

Drink this life in

Champagne – tickles, savor it

Take a lesson from felines

Relish it all, retrace pleasure

Head first, into the new

Be a cat

 

Rejoice in the night

Solitude, darkness, peace

Wondrous world to explore

All, different – alive

Be a cat

 

Don’t waste it

No feline ever would

Satisfy your urges

Le chat never postpones

Sharing pleasure –

Makes the world go around

Be a cat

 

Only the feline

Curls up

Relives her pleasures

Then rises to do them

Again, again and again

Be a cat

 

 

Bisous,

 

Léa

stay soft

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”                                                       – Kurt Vonnegut

*

stay soft

stay soft

be a sieve

to bitterness

let it run off you

like water

on glass

stay soft

turn away

from the pains

that harden

a mind so swayed

reach out to

hold a kitten

hear its mews

as a call to peace

stay soft

tread your footsteps

gently on the earth

les oiseaux

sing eternal truths

listen, listen, listen

you can still learn 

open yourself, let love in

whistling in the wind

secrets softly whisper

bisous,

lea