The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris #FridayReads

The Lost Words

I bought this large sumptuous book at Christmas as a present for my husband but really it was for me.  Written as a response to the removal of words such as acorn and willow from a children’s dictionary, it laments the loss of these words to our children’s vocabulary and is a book of spells to help the words return accompanied by gorgeous pictures in medieval gold.  The spells are acrostics, filled with kennings like, “colour-giver,” and “ripple-calmer,” to describe the kingfisher and delightful alliteration.  You can guess the next spell poem by seeking out the name from the golden letters or gaze in awe at the wonderful pictures.

Can you guess what is being described in these words?

This shape-shifter’s a sheer breath-taker, a sure heart-stopper but you’ll only ever spot a shadow-flutter, bubble skein.

This swift-swimmer’s a silver-miner. With trout its ore it bores each black pool deep.

If you can find space for this impressive book, search in the children’s section and take it home to share and treasure.

The Lost Words on Amazon UK

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Castles, Customs and Kings edited by Debra Brown #FridayBookShare~ @ShelleyWilson72

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

I have long enjoyed http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.co.uk/ where a talented group of authors of historical fiction share their research.  The book I would like to share with you today, is the first of two anthologies sharing a selection of its blog posts.

My choice of first line and favourite scene are from

The Power of a Red Dress by Anne O’Brien

First Line:  Red, the colour of festivity and enjoyment, the colour of youth and beauty.  Of seduction.  The colour of sin……

Recruit fans by adding the blurb

A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels.

From the first English word to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crime and technology, immerse yourself in the lore of Great Britain. Read the history behind the fiction and discover the true tales surrounding England’s castles, customs, and kings.

Introduce the main character –The Wife of Bath was deceitful, entertaining and successful

Delightful Design

castles

Audience appeal: Those with a natural curiosity about history

Your Favourite Scene

When my fourth husband lay upon his bier,
I wept enough and made but sorry cheer,
As wives must always, for it’s custom’s grace,
And with my kerchief covered up my face,
But since I was provided with a mate
I really wept but little, I may state.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

07-_-10-_-2014-2

#AtoZChallenge Letter Y

Y   is for Yeats

In the following poem written in 1888 William Butler Yeats remembered the deserted island of Innisfree in the middle of Lough Gill in County Sligo which he used to visit as a child.

Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
W.B. Yeats

Lough_Gill._County_Sligo

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers

#AtoZChallenge Letter X

For this letter I have to cheat by using EX

One person you can count on to be depressing is Thomas Hardy.  Here is one of his later poems.

EXPECTATION and EXPERIENCE

“I had a holiday once,” said the woman-

Her name I did not know-

“And I thought that where I’d like to go,

Of all the places for being jolly,

And getting rid of melancholy, Would be to a good big fair;

And I went.  And it rained in torrents, drenching

Every horse, and sheep, and yeoman,

And my shoulders, face and hair;

And I found that I was the single woman,

In the field- and looked quite odd there!

Everything was spirit-quenching:

I crept and stood in the lew of a wall

To think, and could not tell at all

What on earth made me plod there!”

Thomas Hardy

Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh,_Dutch_-_Rain_-_Google_Art_Project

Rain by Vincent Van Gogh

#AtoZChallenge Letter W

W  is for Waterhouse

John William Waterhouse was an artist who painted in the Pre-Raphaelite style, many years after the original  Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had ceased to exist.  Today I am going to concentrate on his portrayal of The Lady of Shalott.

half-sick_of_shadows,

I Am Half Sick of Shadows

Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote the ballad set at the time of King Arthur, based on the medieval story of Elaine of Astolat.

Unable to look directly on Camelot because of a curse, she must content herself with the reflection in a mirror.

Looking_at_Lancelot

The Lady of Shalott Looking at Lancelot

 

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
       As he rode down from Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
‘Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:’
       Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom
She made three paces thro’ the room
She saw the water-flower bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
       She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
       The Lady of Shalott.
John_William_Waterhouse_The_Lady_of_Shalott
By the water stood the queenly
       Lady of Shalott.
With a steady stony glance—
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Beholding all his own mischance,
Mute, with a glassy countenance—
       She look’d down to Camelot.
It was the closing of the day:
She loos’d the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
       The Lady of Shalott.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

#AtoZChallenge Letter V

V is for Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter of domestic interior scenes of everyday seventeenth century life.  Vermeer worked slowly and with great care, and frequently used very expensive pigments. He is noted for his skillful portrayal of light.  He was a reasonably successful painter in his lifetime, but he left his wife and children in debt at his death.  Nowadays Vermeer is most famous for his painting Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Vermeer

This simple picture of a woman with a milk jug inspired this poem:-

Vermeer

As long as the woman from Rijksmuseum

in painted silence and concentration

day after day pours milk

from the jug to the bowl,

the World does not deserve

the end of the world.

Wislawa Szymborska

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers

 

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge Letter U

ivy-capital-letter-u  is for Untermeyer – Louis Untermeyer

One essential book I used throughout all the years I read poetry with 8 to 12 year olds was The Golden Treasury of Poetry, a superb anthology of poems collected by Louis Untermeyer.

Golden

The anthology contains poems by famous poets such as Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, Lewis Carroll and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  It is divided into 12 themes with titles like, “Good Things in Small Packages.  It is beautifully illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund.

Lear

Louis Untermeyer was born in New York in 1885.  He wrote fiction, poetry and essays but his most successful enterprise was his anthologies which were widely used in schools.  He had 5 wives and one of them, Jean Starr, he married and divorced twice.  In the 1950s he was investigated by the committee of Un-American Activities due to his socialist leanings. He was a close friend of the poet Robert Frost, whose career he promoted.  He became the fourteenth Poet Laureate of the United States.

Louis_Untermeyer

Untmeyer poem

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers

#AtoZChallenge Letter S

Continuing my theme of art inspiring literature:-

S is for Starry Night

starry-night-

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

 

Van Gogh’s Starry Night is a painting which we all know and love.  Inevitably it has inspired verse.

The Starry Night by Anne Sexton

That does not keep me from having a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars. –Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother

The town does not exist

except where one black-haired tree slips

up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.

The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.

Oh starry starry night! This is how

I want to die.

 

It moves. They are all alive.

Even the moon bulges in its orange irons

to push children, like a god, from its eye.

The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.

Oh starry starry night! This is how

I want to die:

 

into that rushing beast of the night,

sucked up by that great dragon, to split

from my life with no flag,

no belly,

no cry.

Anne Sexton‘s poem was written in 1961.  Ten years later Don McLean produced this beautiful song, Starry, Starry Night.

Lyrics

Starry, starry night.

Paint your palette blue and grey,

Look out on a summer’s day,

With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.

Shadows on the hills,

Sketch the trees and the daffodils,

Catch the breeze and the winter chills,

In colors on the snowy linen land. Now I understand what you tried to say to me

 

how you suffered for your sanity

how you tried to set them free.

They would not listen

they did not know how

 

perhaps they’ll listen now.

 

Don McLean

The song on Youtube

Link to the other A to Z Challengers

#AtoZChallenge Letter P

P  is for Pablo Picasso

No-one can deny the impact and influence of the art created by Pablo Picasso.  In the early 20th century, after three years of travels around Spain and France, Picasso entered his Blue period.

guitar

blue

After meeting Fernande Oliver, who became his mistress, his paintings were influenced by his happy relationship with her and she appears in several of them.  During this Rose period his subjects were harlequins and circus folk in shades of orange and pink.

circus

Pierrot_et_Arlequin

Picasso’s African period from 1907-1909 was a blend of stylised figures as in African sculpture with the painting style of post-impressionist Cezanne and Gauguin.  His masterpiece of this period was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

demoiselles

In 1910 he turned to more abstract art.  Working with George Braque he created cubism.

girl

Girl with a Mandolin  1910

In 1935, Pablo stopped painting for a while and began to write poetry.  Some of his poems were clearly the work of a visual artist.

Dawn

The dawn that day rose

Just as the mist of the night

Subsided like a foam descending

To reveal clear water ahead

The Bees in the hive stirred about

To retrieve more honey

It was on that day that I stared into the

Mirror of luck.

Hours passed by just

As flies whizzed under a scorchy sun

The foam above the crystal water rose again

The mist of the dusk rose high above me

shattering the mirror to grits

I plunged down from a mountain

Into the depths of dreariness

It was then that I acknowledged

What I’ve been through

It was then that I screamed

‘HEY, day! It was now that I crystallized

your power in the mirror of my mind’

And thence I sat in the chair of dreariness

Waiting for the gleams of gold and silver

To shine on once more upon the mirror.

Pablo Picasso

But most dealt strongly with his feelings.

Oranges from the south of Spain

  Oranges from the south of Spain

stars hang out at night

linen left to dry

 

red geraniums along the balconies

nodding, nodding

willing to agree to anything

just to keep their colour

 

a gang of kids running through the streets

faceless pranksters

the moon a plate held before each face

who am I? saying who am I

running through the streets saying who am I?

 

the shadows of the buildings

becoming cats that move away

the trees immobilized

left to stand alone in the dark

rubbing their bark from regret

like cicadas

 

oranges have more delicacy

softly falling, falling

in the groves

on the hills

softly eaten, eaten

by the earth

swallowed whole

as if by a snake

not earth

as if by millions

slithering in the groves at night

millions

stalking the oranges that fall softly

softly to the earth

 

hunting there in the groves

that form a ring around each town

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers here

#AtoZChallenge Letter N

N   is for Not my Best Side by U A Fanthorpe

It is a poem about a painting of St George and the Dragon by Paulo Uccello

Saint_George_and_the_Dragon_by_Paolo_Uccello

Not my Best Side

Not my best side, I’m afraid.
The artist didn’t give me a chance to
Pose properly, and as you can see,
Poor chap, he had this obsession with
Triangles, so he left off two of my
Feet. I didn’t comment at the time
(What, after all, are two feet
To a monster?) but afterwards
I was sorry for the bad publicity.
Why, I said to myself, should my conqueror
Be so ostentatiously beardless, and ride
A horse with a deformed neck and square hoofs?
Why should my victim be so
Unattractive as to be inedible,
And why should she have me literally
On a string? I don’t mind dying
Ritually, since I always rise again,
But I should have liked a little more blood
To show they were taking me seriously.

It’s hard for a girl to be sure if
She wants to be rescued. I mean, I quite
Took to the dragon. It’s nice to be
Liked, if you know what I mean. He was
So nicely physical, with his claws
And lovely green skin, and that sexy tail,
And the way he looked at me,
He made me feel he was all ready to
Eat me. And any girl enjoys that.
So when this boy turned up, wearing machinery,
On a really dangerous horse, to be honest
I didn’t much fancy him. I mean,
What was he like underneath the hardware?
He might have acne, blackheads or even
Bad breath for all I could tell, but the dragon–
Well, you could see all his equipment
At a glance. Still, what could I do?
The dragon got himself beaten by the boy,
And a girl’s got to think of her future.

I have diplomas in Dragon
Management and Virgin Reclamation.
My horse is the latest model, with
Automatic transmission and built-in
Obsolescence. My spear is custom-built,
And my prototype armour
Still on the secret list. You can’t
Do better than me at the moment.
I’m qualified and equipped to the
Eyebrow. So why be difficult?
Don’t you want to be killed and/or rescued
In the most contemporary way? Don’t
You want to carry out the roles
That sociology and myth have designed for you?
Don’t you realize that, by being choosy,
You are endangering job prospects
In the spear- and horse-building industries?
What, in any case, does it matter what
You want? You’re in my way.

U A Fanthorpe

Born in 1929, Ursula Askham Fanthorpe was Head of English at Cheltenham Ladies’ College until her mid forties, when she left the teaching profession.  Working as a Receptionist in a hospital gave her time to submit poetry to magazines.  She never used her first name in print, since W H Auden and T S Eliot had succeeded with initials.  By the time she died in 2009 she had published 12 volumes of poetry.

Link to a list of the other A to Z Challengers