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Journey through Advent

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Image: Pixabay

Today I’m recommending my friend Laurel’s blog for your Advent reading.

When her two children with Autism Spectrum Disorder could no longer tolerate the upheaval of Christmas, she knew she would have to find a different way than with decorations, visiting, lavish gifts and meals to celebrate. She tells her story on this video.

This new reality turned her toward the quiet, 25-day-long celebration of Advent, which she chronicles each year on a blog. For the past few years she has asked fellow-travellers to join her. (I’m honored to be one of them this year).

You can follow our Advent journey on her blog Four Parts Hope. (This year we’re doing cinquain, tanka, haiku, psalms, found poems, and Laurel’s main writings will be haibun.)

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Bridget the wise one at wee words for wee ones.

 

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“Of the Father’s Love Begotten”

Though we’re just starting December the First Sunday of Advent is already past and Christmas is in the air. Sarah Arthur’s Light upon Light (a book of readings for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany) recalled the beautiful song “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.”

I first heard “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” sung by the Amadeus Children’s Choir when our daughter was a member of it. At the beginning of the Christmas concert the children entered the auditorium singing it in their clear, pure voices. What a heavenly sound!

Since then it has become one of my favorite Christmas songs. Its beautiful lyrics and plaintive tune make it unforgettable.

The words are from a poem written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-413). The tune is plainsong (a type of old Catholic liturgical music), and from the 13th century. I think the plainsong aspect of it—it is monophonic and has a free (not measured) rhythm—make it so mysterious and exotic.

And then there are the words, translated from the Latin by John M. Neale (1854) and Henry W. Baker (1859). What theology! What praise! I’ve posted some of my favorites of the nine stanzas.

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Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly

Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

 

Roby Furley Davis translated it from the Latin as well. All three versions (Latin, English versions 1 and 2) are here.

And here it is in  song…

 

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To Skin

Happy Thanksgiving to our American neighbors!

In my search for a poem of gratitude today, I came across “To Skin” (which I wrote some years ago but don’t believe I ever made public—at least not here). It reminds us of one thing we have to be grateful for which, though all around us, is easy to take for granted.

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Graphic from Pixabay.com

To Skin

Here’s to you
millimeter-thin layer cake
dermis, epidermis, hypodermis
dyed in the color of my race.

So tidily you enfold
crimson river of blood
yellow fat, pink muscle
grey bone, palette of reds—
burgundy liver to scarlet lung.

Body-sized organ of translucent turf
you possess an intelligence
that knows the difference
between lips and soles
lids and ears,
multi-tasks the switchboard
of smooth and rough, blazing and frigid
thrill and ouch, burn and itch.

Impervious to water
soft armor against malevolent
microbe and virus
yet vulnerable,
you blush
under sun and wind
bleed when cut
shrivel and distort when burned
swell, sweat, weep, toughen
discolor and scar.
Plump and smooth when new
you age into crepe, wrinkles, folds
jowls, doubles, triples and aprons
but still you blanket and protect.

So here’s to you
my lifetime-guaranteed
layer of cling-wrap,
boundary
and, till I reach eternity,
outline of my dust-to-dust
identity.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Carol at Carols Corner.

 
27 Comments

Posted by on November 24, 2016 in Nature, Objects, People, Poetry Friday

 

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Walking in the rain

When the glory of fall has passed, I still walk, often in the rain.

I have heard about how rain affects people in different locations differently; some are downright jubilant about its coming. I wonder if living in the soggy southwest of Canada (/ northwest of the U.S.) would dampen their enthusiasm.

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“mallard couples glide where yesterday / they waddled…” (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Walking in the rain

“… the rain … is pouring down, humming and tapping the floor. … It is getting fragrant. I am barefoot, dancing, jumping and running madly.” – Rizawa F. Syeda-Kazmi

Trees writhe, kowtow to squally air
rain beats tantrum gusts

races down roofline, puddles dance
the forecast—walk later, not now.

I leave between sobs
last tears damp and curl my hair.

Sky is soon weeping again
we are deluged in her woes

my hooded anorak
listens to the wet complaints.

Rain’s ally, the muddy Nicomekl
has claimed the flood plain

mallard couples glide where yesterday
they waddled through squishy grass.

I press on, blurry-eyed
needing wipers for my glasses.

Front steps glisten. Shake the misery
off leaden coat, hang it by the fire

and recall, incredulous
desert story of rain celebrations

where men drive to ditches, jump in
dance crazy, open-armed when sky drops water.

© 2013 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)
First published in Time of Singing – Volume 40 Intermezzo, Fall 2013

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the one-and-only Jama, at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

 
22 Comments

Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Nature, Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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What is this light?

We have a beautiful paperbark maple in the back yard. It is one of the last trees to green up in spring and to redden in the fall. We see it from our kitchen window. When it is in full color, it’s almost as if  there is a glowing presence outside, looking in at us. It’s coming into its full beauty right now!

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What is this light

that window-watches
with a molten glance
all the burnt-orange shades
of lingering Autumn’s dance?

That stains the cool
November afternoon
with pear-gold burnished joy
and flapping goose’s tune?

In windy rain the flakes
of sunlight falling fast.
Drink in this wine
before fall bloom is past!

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

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This poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Laura Salas at Writing the World for Kids.

 
29 Comments

Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Nature, Poetry Friday

 

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Fall Collection

This is another poem inspired by a walk and the autumn leaves, which are particularly spectacular this year.

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Fall Collection

I’m collecting fashion pixels
leaves so stunning, dyed and pressed.
With this season’s stylish outfits
Autumn’s golden runways dressed.

Slender sleeves of limey yellow
ric rac trim of flaming blush
bouffant skirt of lacy sun rays
scarlet gloves with seams of buff.

Stand of trees is wearing scarlet
there’s rain-polished burgundy
trunk shows off a brooch of coral
vivid shawls of tangerine.

Crinkled, dappled, smooth and spotted
late October’s costume ball
though some dither—can’t decide:
Come as summer, or as fall?

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Linda at her blog Teacher Dance.

 
18 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2016 in Nature, Poetry Friday

 

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Just an ordinary walk


In the last few weeks my walking partner, dear hubby, has been finding it more and more painful to walk. Then the doctor told him, no more long walks until you’re better. So for now I am walking on my own.

When I took solitary walks in the past I experienced a wonderful loosening of words and ideas. And it’s happening again, if I’m alert to it.

To help with that, I carry a little notebook and pen to write down words, turns of phrase, and images that I don’t want to forget. Or I hold them in my head. That’s what I did for the poem below. When I got home I free-wrote like crazy to capture everything in prose. Later I worked some of my ideas into …

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“I am a long skinny shadow now, walking down a golden street” (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Just an ordinary walk

On this cold morning I am soft wax
feeling intimidated by impatient cars
swishing, swooshing
swirling beside me.

One turns right in front
of my WALK light, almost clips my toes.
Even in moments of still, distant traffic hums
a far off siren screams.

City birds above me chirp, warble
sing their own bustle, swoop down (peck, peck),
flutter away. They are nonchalant, daring,
savvy to the rhythm of feet and tires (hop, hop).

My nose tests wind gusts, smells
gasoline, diesel, vanilla, a passerby’s peppery
perfume,  chocolate, cinnamon
(something good is baking at Safeway).

I am a long  skinny shadow now walking down a golden street
past a lady in a taupe coat with her silky dog in red
and a grey couple smoking on a bench.
They pull their Lhasa Apso close so I can pass.

I can’t find the book drop at the library.
The security guard points me to it’s green-light lips
“You scan it.” He shows me which bar-code
and the slot sucks the book from my hand.

As I turn toward home, the sun stares
into my eyes, brash. I shade them
with hands balled into gloves, fingers
squeezing warmth from palms.

A kid with a black-and-white backpack strides by
black arms bare under short black sleeves
black jeans, white shoes—so cool
but how can he not feel so cold?

I climb stairs, twist key in the lock—
happy to be home.
It was just an ordinary walk
but forever engraved in this poem.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the queen of poetic forms, Tricia at her blog Miss Rumphius Effect.

 
32 Comments

Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Objects, People, Personal, Poetry Friday, Writing

 

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