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Monday
Jul232012

The Traveller's Tale

 

The Traveller's Tale

Oil on Canvas, 1896-1939

Fritz Wagner
 

“One Autumn night, in Sudbury town,
Across the meadows bare and brown,
The windows of the wayside inn
Gleamed red with fire-light through the leaves
Of woodbine, hanging from the eaves
Their crimson curtains rent and thin.
As ancient is this hostelry
As any in the land may be,
Built in the old Colonial day,
When men lived in a grander way,
With ampler hospitality;
A kind of old Hobgoblin Hall,
Now somewhat fallen to decay,
With weather-stains upon the wall,
And stairways worn, and crazy doors,
And creaking and uneven floors,
And chimneys huge, and tiled and tall . . .
But from the parlor of the inn
A pleasant murmur smote the ear,
Like water rushing through a weir;
Oft interrupted by the din
Of laughter and of loud applause,
And, in each intervening pause,
The music of a violin.
The fire-light, shedding over all
The splendor of its ruddy glow,
Filled the whole parlor large and low;
It gleamed on wainscot and on wall . . .
Around the fireside at their ease
There sat a group of friends, entranced
With the delicious melodies;
Who from the far-off noisy town
Had to the wayside inn come down,
To rest beneath its old oak-trees.
The fire-light on their faces glanced,
Their shadows on the wainscot danced,
And, though of different lands and speech,
Each had his tale to tell, and each
Was anxious to be pleased and please . . .”

 

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, selections from "Prelude: The Wayside Inn" 

Friday
Jul132012

Journey in a Carriage

 

Journey in a Carriage

Oil on Canvas, 1890

Alfred Wierusz Kowalski

 

“Lo, beyond the River Blapp
The Carriage comes, the Carriage Black
By shadowed steed with shadowed tack
And shadowed driver driving

Child, pray the Maker let you sleep
When comes the Carriage down your street
Lest all your dreams be dreams of teeth
And Carriages arriving

To wrest you from your berth and bower
In deepest night and darkest hour
Across the sea to frozen tower
Where Gnag the Nameless pounds you

At Castle Throg across the span,
A world away from kith and clan
You’ll weep at how your woes began
The night the shadows bound you 

Away, beyond the River Blapp,
The Carriage came, the Carriage Black
By shadowed steed with shadowed tack
The night the Carriage found you.”

 

--Andrew Peterson, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Thursday
Jul122012

Starry Night over the Rhone

 

Starry Night over the Rhone

Oil on Canvas, 1888

Vincent Van Gogh

He remembered unpacking his bags at boarding school while his roommate watched. His roommate had asked him what the helmet was for, and Henry had suddenly had the suspicious sensation that he had been kept in the dark, that the world was off behaving in one way while he, Henry, wore a helmet. He had barely prevented himself from answering his roommate honestly. The words, “It’s a helmet my mom bought me to wear in PE” were replaced with, “It’s for racing. I don’t think I’ll need it here.”

            Whatever was going on inside the wall in his room was much bigger than finding out that other boys didn’t have to wear helmets. If there really were forgotten doors and secret cities, and maps and books to tell you how to find them, then he needed to know. He looked around at the tall, dew-chilly grass and for a moment didn’t see grass. Instead, he saw millions of slender green blades made of sunlight and air, thick on the ground and gently blowing, tickling his now damp feet, and all the while silently pulling life up out of the earth. Each was another kid without a helmet, a kid who knew how things were actually done.

            Above him, the stars twinkled with laughter. Galaxies looked. Nudged each other. Chuckled.

            “He didn’t know about secret cities,” Orion said. “His mother never told him.”

            The Great Bear smiled. “Did his dad tell him about forgotten doors?”

            “Never”

            “Journals?”

            “Only having to do with science projects or bicycle trips.”

            “Maps?”

            “Mostly topographic, or the kind that shade countries in different colors based on gross national product or primary exports.”

            “Nothing with ‘Here be dragons’ on the edges?”

            “Never.”

 

--N.D. Wilson, 100 Cupboards

Thursday
Jun282012

Portrait of an Old Man in Red

  

 

Portrait of an Old Man in Red

Oil on Canvas, 1652-1654

Rembrandt Van Rijn

"He was past the prime of life, but Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigour. With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow's hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life."

 

--Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge

Tuesday
Jun262012

New York Movie

New York Movie

Oil on Canvas, 1939

Edward Hopper

"The tide of the twentieth century was flowing in a different direction altogether. It was the picture palaces, their fronts so brilliantly lighted, inside so mysteriously dark, that provided our true churches and chapels. There we sat, separately or clasped together, in scented darkness (in those days attendants during intervals squirted perfume like Flit over the heads of the patrons in their seats) and worshipped our tribal gods: sex, money and violence as they were projected on to the screen and entered into our own minds and bodies. Thus the new gospel was propounded in the beginning was the Flesh and the Flesh became Word; to be carnally minded is lifedying in the Spirit to be re-born in the Flesh. There was no more ardent acolyte than I, and yet, trudging homewards late at night along the empty tram-lines, a fearful sense of desolation would fall upon me. I strained my ear, but heard only the sound of my own footsteps; I peered ahead, but saw nothing except the tramlines reaching into the distance."

--Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Rediscovered