Comparative religion, spirituality and mysticism are passions of mine. I find that, in the various traditions of Eastern and Western mysticism, dogmat...moreComparative religion, spirituality and mysticism are passions of mine. I find that, in the various traditions of Eastern and Western mysticism, dogmatic differences disappear, leaving an ecstatic, beautiful love for God/spirit, humanity, and non-human animals. These mystics paint a picture of a world filled with compassion and love, a world I hope to be a bit part of making real.
Love Poems from God offers selections of poetry from East and West. Hafiz, St. Teresa of Avila, Kabir, St. Francis of Assisi, and 8 other poets/mystics are included. Daniel Ladinsky, best known for his beautiful translations of the Sufi poet Hafiz, outdoes himself in pulling together this anthology. Simply put, it's awesome.
I use this book often as a reference for sermons and other speaking engagements. Love Poems from God is a great addition to any interfaith, community-building bookshelf.(less)
A true work of art! And out of respect for Rilke's disdain for criticism--"Works of art are of an infinite solitariness, and nothing is less likely to...moreA true work of art! And out of respect for Rilke's disdain for criticism--"Works of art are of an infinite solitariness, and nothing is less likely to bring us near to them than criticism. Only love can apprehend and hold them, and can be just towards them."--I will keep my own thoughts to a minimum and let Rilke speak instead.
On God becoming: "If he is the most perfect, must not the inferior precede him, that he may choose himself out of abundance and profusion?--Must he not be the last, in order to embrace everything within himself, and what sense should we have if he for whom we crave had already been?"
On the necessity of having courage in the face of difficulty: "We have no cause to be mistrustful of our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors they are our terrors; if it has abysses those abysses belong to us, if dangers are there we must strive to love them. And if only we regulate our life according to that principle which advises us always to hold to the difficult, what even now appears most alien to us will become most familiar and loyal."
On solitude: "Going into yourself and meeting no one for hours on end,--that is what you must be able to attain."
On mystery: "Do not search now for the answers which cannot be given you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, one distant day live right into the answer."
Really, the letters are beautiful works, made the more remarkable by the fact that Rilke had never met Herr Kappus. Rilke shows his unknown correspondent (and mediocre aspiring soldier-poet) great respect through his earnest, kind, and immensely complex responses. A thought-provoking, lyrical read for a rainy day.(less)
First a question for Langston Hughes. How in the world do you craft (or channel?) a poem like "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" as a 17-year-old? There's s...moreFirst a question for Langston Hughes. How in the world do you craft (or channel?) a poem like "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" as a 17-year-old? There's so much wisdom and soulfulness here! The young man was blessed, that's for sure.
Next a question for illustrator E.B. Lewis. How's it possible to have captured the depth and gravity of Hughes' "Song of the Harlem Renaissance" with a series of watercolor paintings? Oh, maybe I should have read your note at the end: "I read the poem over and over, and as I visualized the meaning of the words, Hughes' work became as personal as a prayer. More was revealed to me each time I read it, and I began to truly understand the poem's essence." Officially, I'd call that a poet/painter match made in heaven.
Take a close look at each painting. A woman's weathered feet on a dry river bed, a kind elderly face, a golden sunset painting the scene for grandfather and grandson while fishing, mom and baby sleeping in a hammock in the Congo, the prayer of a soul deep like the rivers, all of them. They're beautiful. The combination of languid pace, soul-sourced artwork, and divinely-inspired verse do make for quite the contemplative experience. Recommended for mystics of any age.(less)
Wait, did I really just enjoy a book about flower fairies? It all started with Sigourney's third birthday party. She wanted a fairy tea party, and my...moreWait, did I really just enjoy a book about flower fairies? It all started with Sigourney's third birthday party. She wanted a fairy tea party, and my goodness did she get one. It was fun, and filled with scads of fairy dolls, action figures, and costumes. Sigourney's favorite gift was The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies.
It really is a beautiful book. Barker pairs her colorful drawings with poems about seasonal flowers. The book could be used as a botanical reference, with readers choosing a flower, reading the poems, and looking at the accompanying pictures. I learned a number of interesting tidbits from our read along.
One suggestion. Dont read this book from front to back. Skip around, treat it like an aesthetically pleasing reference work. Otherwise, you might find yourself getting bored as you tackle one flower entry after another. Take your time, study each picture closely with your little one. I suspect you'll be happy you made the read along effort.(less)
Sigourney and I had fun with the variety of illustration styles. And a number of the poems made us giggle. My particular favorite is Dahl's take on "Goldilocks and the Three Bears":
A judge would say without a blink, "Ten years' hard labour in the clink!" But in the book, as you will see, The little beast gets off scot-free, While tiny children near and far Shout, "Goody-good! Hooray! Hurrah! Poor darling Goldilocks!" they say. "Thank goodness that she got away!" Myself, I think I'd rather send Young Goldie to a sticky end.
Dahl rips Goldilocks as a "brazen little crook", "little toad", "thieving little louse", "freak", "little skunk", and other choice labels. It's funny, and the drawings by Lauren Child work well.
What doesn't work well are some of the previously unpublished poems. They're awkward. Granted, it's kind of fun to read works by school-aged Dahl, especially his "A Ballade Against Umpires" where his frustration with Cricket umps inspires the refrain: "I think all umpires should be shot at dawn!" Dramatic little fella!
I recommend Vile Verses for the illustrations. Otherwise, go with the original works for your read alongs.(less)
Listen, my children, and you shall hear / Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, / On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five; / Hardly a man is now alive / Who remembers that famous day and year.
Famous opening lines much? Outside of everything Dr. Suess, "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" is one of the first poems I memorized.
This picture book version has a scrapbook feel with photographs of Revolutionary period artifacts mixed in with the painted gravings of Christopher Bing. Bing's illustrations are beautiful. I could have done without the copies of court documents and letters fastened inside the book covers, however.
Sigourney loved the rhythm of Longfellow's poem. We've read it twice in recent days by toddler request. Yet another successful bedtime read along experience.(less)
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,/ Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,/ Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,/ Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their blossoms.
Longfellow writes beautifully. With illustrations selected from earlier editions of the epic poem, this collector's edition of Evangeline makes for a pleasant easy read.
Some have criticized Longfellow for a lack of depth to his poetry. I understand. Longfellow's no Dylan Thomas or T.S. Eliot. There's not much challenge or subtle artistry in Longfellow's work. But really, I didn't approach Longfellow hoping for a good challenge. I wanted beautiful, picturesque language and a two-ships-passing-in-the-night tragic romance. By those measures, Evangeline's reasonably successful. A nice summer beach read.(less)