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The Poetry of Sara Teasdale as Read by Ghizela Rowe

I’ve mentioned Sara Teasdale’s simply worded poetry but before (internal link) but not at length. Like A.E. Housman (internal link), no Greek, Latin, or Great Literature is required to understand their poetry.

Much tragedy in her life, own ended by too many sleeping pills. Rest easy and thanks, Sara, we continue unwrapping your writing gifts every day.

The Poetry of Sara Teasdale


Read by Ghizela Rowe, today’s finest female poetry narrator.



“Spend all you have for loveliness.”

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

Advice to a Girl

“Nothing worth possessing can be quite possessed.”

No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed;
Lay that on your heart,
My young angry dear;
This truth, this hard and precious stone,
Lay it on your hot cheek,
Let it hide your tear.
Hold it like a crystal
When you are alone
And gaze in the depths of the icy stone.
Long, look long and you will be blessed:
No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed.


“Unless I learn to look at Grief . . .”

Unless I learn to ask no help
From any other soul but mine,
To seek no strength in waving reeds
Nor shade beneath a straggling pine;
Unless I learn to look at Grief
Unshrinking from her tear-blind eyes,
And take from Pleasure fearlessly
Whatever gifts will make me wise
Unless I learn these things on earth,
Why was I ever given birth?


Diseased. And the Instantly Ephemeral.

Special Note: Thanks to Scott M. for reaching out to me to express sympathy and concern.

Diseased. And the Instantly Ephemeral.

I haven’t written on how I feel these days since my last post on the subject. (internal link)

My present feelings were too difficult to describe and unrelateable.

Fact is, things have always been unrelateable.

PTSD triggered by a paranormal experience? That’s just inherently odd and apart.

Just now I was waking up, eyes closed, wondering when I should roust myself out of bed.

Dreamy, still life images appeared in my mind one by one, as if being shown by a slide projector. Not moving images as if in a dream but like slides, one after another, a PowerPoint presentation in my head. Who experiences that? Have you ever heard of that? A dream composed of still images?

Huxley wrote in The Doors of Perception that his observations under LSD were always written down by a note taker next to him. The best to record the instantly ephemeral.

At times I think I should document what happens at night but in the past that has given the Beast form; by recording I remember and solidify and make more real these fleeting thoughts. Keeping a dream diary gives my nightmares a map to find me; it’s always been best to try to walk them off. I ramble.

During the day I am fine most of the time and it all collapses at night. I feel diseased, poisoned, toxic, covered in mental mud every time I wake up. I’m not right, I’m sick, badly sick.

I have my cat sleeping next to me but, really, each night it’s just me and Satan.

p.s. I truly wish the best for you and I hope that you find peace. At least for a while.

Poetry Thoughts on writing Uncategorized

“How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear!” by Edward Lear

Edward Lear wrote nonsense poetry before Lewis Carrol (internal link) was born.

Carrol, and perhaps the entirety of the literate English people, tremendously enjoyed Lear’s writing and drawings in newspapers and otherwise.

By otherwise I mean he was a professional artist from age 15. He drew birds and produced artwork for the British Museum. He gave art lessons to Queen Victoria.

Lear excelled at the limerick.

It might seem odd that the same readers invested in Keats (internal link) and Shelley (internal link) would deign to read the comic book prose of Lear but that’s not the case. Above all, the British admire wit. Wit and quick thinking, even if a person insults them.

I was very fortunate long ago to take a three week garden tour of England, Scotland, and Wales. Customer service at all restaurants, when they were open, was appalling. No diner in America would succeed with the contempt for the customer I found at every table.

On the last day of my trip I ordered a simple lunch and once again the waiter vanished. After nearly half an hour the waiter reappeared and I greeted him heartily.

“Oh, thank God you are here. I was about to call the police.”

The waiter, very concerned, “Why is that, Sir?”

“To report you missing!”

“Oh, very good sir!”

“How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear!”
Edward Lear 1812-1881

“How pleasant to know Mr.Lear!”
Who has written such volumes of stuff!
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few think him pleasant enough.

His mind is concrete and fastidious,
His nose is remarkably big;
His visage is more or less hideous,
His beard it resembles a wig.

He has ears, and two eyes, and ten fingers,
Leastways if you reckon two thumbs;
Long ago he was one of the singers,
But now he is one of the dumbs.

He sits in a beautiful parlour,
With hundreds of books on the wall;
He drinks a great deal of Marsala,
But never gets tipsy at all.

He has many friends, lay men and clerical,
Old Foss is the name of his cat;
His body is perfectly spherical,
He weareth a runcible hat.

When he walks in a waterproof white,
The children run after him so!
Calling out, “He’s gone out in his night-
Gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!”

He weeps by the side of the ocean,
He weeps on the top of the hill;
He purchases pancakes and lotion,
And chocolate shrimps from the mill.

He reads, but he cannot speak, Spanish,
He cannot abide ginger beer:
Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish,
How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!

Above, Lear illustrating himself and his cat. Below, a fine parrot drawing by Lear.

“Study of a Red and Yellow Macaw (Macrocercus aracanga)”; from The Natural History of Edward Lear |© President and Fellows of Harvard College, Harvard University

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A Few Good Lines From a Few Good Men

Thomas Guy Farley Testifies in Court on

LTJG Kaffee: Mr. Farley. Did you build the website

Judge Randolph: You don’t have to answer that question!

Farley: I’ll answer the question. You want answers?

LTJG Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to them.

Farley: You want answers?!

LTJG Kaffee: I want the truth!

Farley: You can’t handle the truth!

Son, we live in a world that has poorly written pages, and those pages have to be revised and edited by men and women with keyboards. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep to pay for content and you curse someone having to edit it. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know — that revising that copy, while costing a few dollars, probably saved your company’s reputation and my existence, while grotesque and expensive to you, saves that public image you’ve built up.

You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that page — you need me on that page.

We use words like “revising,” “SEO,” “editing.” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending literacy and first page ranking on Google. You use them as a punch line.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very keywords and on page SEO that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

I would rather that you just said “thank you” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a keyboard and start revising. Either way, I don’t give a DAMN what you think you’re entitled to!

LTJG Kaffee: Did you build that writing website?

Farley: I did the job —

LTJG Kaffee: — Did you build that writing website!


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The Irrelevance of Writing Assessment Tests to Online Writing

Q: Why aren’t writing assessment tests relevant to online writing?

A. Because it’s far easier and quicker to recast a sentence than to research a problem.

Q. Can you give an example?

A. Sure. Take the title of this post:

“The Irrelevance of Writing Assessment Tests to Online Writing”

I dislike the word “of.” It makes a sentence more passive and less direct.  At first thought, I’d prefer this sentence

“Writing Assessment Tests Irrelevance to Online Writing”

But I have a question with this. Besides sounding funny, “assess” too close to “tests”, I wonder if I need an apostrophe after “Tests.” Not a big wonder but a small one. Enough to leave me with my present choice.

Deciding to recast or retain took about four or five seconds. I can’t imagine the time and research needed to determine whether “Tests” requires an apostrophe. And who do I consult and whose opinion do I take? Nonsense. Recast and move on. (Besides, it still sounds funny.) This is especially important for online business writing editors.

Editors like myself reviewing blog posts and pages are not Fowler and are not working for Prentice Hall or Wiley or McGraw Hill. And we don’t have temperamental, artistic type writers so in love with their work that they debate every aspect of sentence construction.

Q. But what if I really love a sentence with a problem and want to use it?

A. That’s easy, too. Enter into Google Search the sentence with two or three variations and see how they rank. Which is used most? If it’s close, go with either. That choice may not be technically correct to a grammarian but it will be commonly accepted in the real world. Next problem!

Q. Any other problem with assessment tests?


A testing group never mention what style sheet or manual of style they’re using to validate answers. CMOS? AP? Their own? They will never say and, of course, all sheets and manuals differ to some extent. And the tests don’t recognize differences in different fields.

In The Law, we might write like this:

He had apples, oranges, lemons, and limes.

Ordinarily, we’d write like this:

He had apples, oranges, lemons and limes.

But the law is fussy and strict and it likes each item in a list delineated. Hence, that extra comma. It’s called the serial comma or Oxford comma if you want to go down a rabbit hole instead of getting your work done.

And, too often assessments tests resemble something out of an SAT or ACT. We’re not in school anymore nor are we trying to stay in. We’re out in the real world getting work done as quickly and efficiently as we can.

Difficult grammar problems are really the province of the editor and not the writer. The writer needs to get his or her assignment finished in substantial compliance with its requirements by deadline and at or near word count. It’s up to the editor and the people above to deal with what’s next.

Q: Why, then, are assessment tests given so regularly?

A. Most assessment tests are multiple choice which makes it easy for a machine to grade. Essay test are far, far more rare and require real humans to read and judge. My last employer was InFocus, a great company. I was given a writing assignment that took me 11 hours to complete and I was paid for my time. That is very professional and hardly ever seen.

Q. Why is that?

Money. Most companies pay little to begin with, no need to spend upfront when they think they can find somebody anytime they want. This speaks to the much larger problem: the person hiring a writer usually isn’t a writer. They’ve read good copy but they don’t know how the magic happens. That’s why they require unrealistic assessment tests; they themselves have not had to produce quality content with on page SEO under deadline and they haven’t managed writers doing this work.

Doctors should hire doctors, engineers should hire engineers, writers or editors should hire writers. Too many well educated people think anyone can write and this is a deluded fantasy. Same way with photography. Anyone can take a picture. Not professionally. Try producing wedding pictures that someone will pay thousands of dollars for. At a ceremony that cannot happen again and will not accommodate your mistakes.

Anyone can write. Show me. I’ll go first. (internal link)


More writing on this here (internal link)



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Hymn to Intellectual Beauty by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Hymn to Intellectual Beauty

by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Shelley (internal link) once again contemplates beauty and the mercurial and inconstant nature of same. Time flies. Beauty, too, too often, as that beautiful blonde woman who just appeared and then disappeared around the corner. But beauty itself is timeless. Styles go out of fashion. But fashion is always in style. First, Keats.

Keats is more well known on beauty, having penned that glorious line, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” (internal link), and perhaps even better, “Some shape of beauty moves away the pall. (ibid) He also equated it to truth (internal link) which is what Shelley and Keats were driving at when they used all that flowery language to describe flowers – The Truth. Stay with me.

Contemplating beauty and truth is as relevant today as it was with the Romantic Poets as it was with the ancient Greeks. Something about beauty is rooted at our genetic level. Beauty instinctively draws us and nothing will ever change that.

A flowering mountain meadow has always been considered beautiful and always will be. It’s the same with the Venus de Milo or Michelangelo’s David. As those three things would have appealed to our forebears. Just as we admire the Lascaux caves paintings in France from 17,000 years ago.

Picasso loved to draw animals and especially bulls. Picasso excelled at rendering proportions correctly, but, other than that, little separates these images save 17,000 years.

I’d like to write more on truth and beauty, how we instinctively favor “an admirable arrangement of elements,” but, for now, back to this poem by Shelley, whose wife was Mary Shelley who edited and promoted his work. (Oh, and she wrote Frankenstein!)

In titling it a hymn, Shelley gives away his intentions at the start. This is a praise poem to something Divine, later identified as the Spirit of Beauty.

This poem has several well turned rhymes and phrases but I read it as a rumination or a pondering instead of a declaration of Final Thoughts. He doesn’t use the word God but he does use the word Thee. And, as mentioned, Spirit of Beauty. Perhaps this is akin to the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, apart but still part of God.

The first sentence needs explaining. Awful means awesome in a good sense. Also, Shelley uses the phrase intellectual beauty as synonymous with the word Power which he capitalizes. Nims says this is a “reality beyond what the senses can normally perceive.”

Vincent Price reads too theatrically but in his usual fine, distinctive voice. I like his slow pace, letting us look at each word going by.

The awful shadow of some unseen Power
Floats though unseen among us; visiting
This various world with as inconstant wing
As summer winds that creep from flower to flower;
Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower,
It visits with inconstant glance
Each human heart and countenance;
Like hues and harmonies of evening,
Like clouds in starlight widely spread,
Like memory of music fled,
Like aught that for its grace may be
Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery.

Spirit of Beauty, that dost consecrate
With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon
Of human thought or form, where art thou gone?
Why dost thou pass away and leave our state,
This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?
Ask why the sunlight not for ever
Weaves rainbows o’er yon mountain-river,
Why aught should fail and fade that once is shown,
Why fear and dream and death and birth
Cast on the daylight of this earth
Such gloom, why man has such a scope
For love and hate, despondency and hope?

No voice from some sublimer world hath ever
To sage or poet these responses given:
Therefore the names of Demon, Ghost, and Heaven,
Remain the records of their vain endeavour:
Frail spells whose utter’d charm might not avail to sever,
From all we hear and all we see,
Doubt, chance and mutability.
Thy light alone like mist o’er mountains driven,
Or music by the night-wind sent
Through strings of some still instrument,
Or moonlight on a midnight stream,
Gives grace and truth to life’s unquiet dream.

Love, Hope, and Self-esteem, like clouds depart
And come, for some uncertain moments lent.
Man were immortal and omnipotent,
Didst thou, unknown and awful as thou art,
Keep with thy glorious train firm state within his heart.
Thou messenger of sympathies,
That wax and wane in lovers’ eyes;
Thou, that to human thought art nourishment,
Like darkness to a dying flame!
Depart not as thy shadow came,
Depart not—lest the grave should be,
Like life and fear, a dark reality.

While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped
Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin,
And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing
Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
I call’d on poisonous names with which our youth is fed;
I was not heard; I saw them not;
When musing deeply on the lot
Of life, at that sweet time when winds are wooing
All vital things that wake to bring
News of birds and blossoming,
Sudden, thy shadow fell on me;
I shriek’d, and clasp’d my hands in ecstasy!

I vow’d that I would dedicate my powers
To thee and thine: have I not kept the vow?
With beating heart and streaming eyes, even now
I call the phantoms of a thousand hours
Each from his voiceless grave: they have in vision’d bowers
Of studious zeal or love’s delight
Outwatch’d with me the envious night:
They know that never joy illum’d my brow
Unlink’d with hope that thou wouldst free
This world from its dark slavery,
That thou, O awful Loveliness,
Wouldst give whate’er these words cannot express.

The day becomes more solemn and serene
When noon is past; there is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!
Thus let thy power, which like the truth
Of nature on my passive youth
Descended, to my onward life supply
Its calm, to one who worships thee,
And every form containing thee,
Whom, Spirit fair, thy spells did bind
To fear himself, and love all human kind.



American Gothic Updated


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Paudeen by William Butler Yeats

Paudeen was a not so kind word for a shopkeeper, someone below Yeats’ station in life.

A class system in Yeats’ time sharply divided people of the British Empire, with the high too often and too quickly exasperated with the low. That system lingers on today but in an implicit rather than an explicit way.

Yeats (internal link) in Paudeen reasons to understand why people like the poorly educated shopkeeper exist in God’s Universe. The arrogance to even think about why certain people merit life is outrageous. It reminds me of the cartoonish Judge Smails in the movie Caddyshack.

Smails was a caricature of a White Anglo Saxon Protestant or WASP. Upon hearing that his young golf caddy failed to get into college, the good Judge remarked, “Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too.”

Yet, from Yeats condescension a nice poem results.

Yeats wrote a book 0f autobiographical reminisces called “The Stirring of the Bones. ” In it, John Fredrick Nims says that Yeats describes a dream from which he woke to hear a voice saying, “The love of God is infinite for every human soul because every human soul is unique, no other can satisfy the same need in God.”

I wish I could wake up with a quote like that.


by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Indignant at the fumbling wits, the obscure spite
Of our old paudeen in his shop, I stumbled blind
Among the stones and thorn-trees, under morning light;
Until a curlew cried and in the luminous wind
A curlew answered; and suddenly thereupon I thought
That on the lonely height where all are in God’s eye,
There cannot be, confusion of our sound forgot,
A single soul that lacks a sweet crystalline cry.

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Cassandra by Louise Bogan

Louise Bogan was The New Yorker poetry reviewer for 37 years. She wrote a book detailing her struggles to support herself and her child in the New York literary world called What the Women Lived. I have not read it but I understand it is a fine work.

Apollo gave the Trojan princess Cassandra the gift of prophecy, only to cruelly twist that ability after she rejected his advancements. He made it so that her prophecies would never be believed. Agamemnon later brought her back home to Troy where she was murdered at the same time he was.


by Louise Bogan (1897-1970)

To me, one silly task is like another.
I bare the shambling tricks of lust and pride.
This flesh will never give a child its mother,—
Song, like a wing, tears through my breast, my side,
And madness chooses out my voice again,
Again. I am the chosen no hand saves:
The shrieking heaven lifted over men,
Not the dumb earth, wherein they set their graves.

Unusual reading, with the author’s voice lip-synched to another person.


The Incompetence, Idiocy, and the Inhumanity of Tractor Supply Hardware

I’m angry.

Ten days ago I burned down my eyes for almost an hour to fill out an online job application on a website that doesn’t work. It’s the job portal for Tractor Supply Hardware, of which I have been a customer for years and have spent thousands of dollars in many of their stores. @TractorSupply

This morning I followed up on my job application only to find that an A/I powered bot answered all questions. No human to talk with. The two phone numbers I did find refered me back to their broken website. And then the phone system disconnected my call.@TractorSupply

The A/I bo had told me that no jobs were open at the Pahrump store. Despite three open positions still listed on their website. Yes, three positions open and their website still asking people to fill out their hour long form. And that idiot bot saying otherwise. @TractorSupply

When I was hiring in the landscape trade I did invite people to fill out an app even if a position wasn’t open. But I always said their application was for future reference. No such language @TractorSupply

I tried finding out the phone number for TSH corporate but these are all hidden. Who does that? Have you ever worked for a company that kept their office numbers private?

I then went to Twitter and got an almost immediate response from some powerless troll who told me to look up my hiring status under my account at the hiring portal website. Duh! I already tried that several times and the login was hopelessly broken. For a website that controls record access for 55,000 employees and God knows how many applicants.

Incompetence. For @TractorSupply running a website that puts up job descriptions for openings that do not exist

Idiocy: For burning a loyal customer who will never shop @TractorSupply again because they were too stupid to look up my spending record, never considering that a job applicant might have spent huge amounts of money on them in the past

Inhumanity: For the Nazi-like disregard of a person’s worth as a human being. They wasted my time in filling out a form no one ever read, ignored my plea to talk with someone, and disregarded the despair and anger every job seeker finds when they realize they have been had by another soulless corporation whose attention can only be gotten by going on Twitter.

I was eager to talk to someone by the end of the day. I knew corporate @TractorSupply would be hurrying home for the weekend, where they could retreat into their plush, comfortable houses, a chance to turn off whatever conscience they had left which still reminds them that people have worth and dignity.

Don’t worry, @TractorSuppy. The Nazis got over listening to their conscience and actually began enjoying doing so. Sounds like @TractorSupply is starting to as well.

A pox on them and the misery they bring to the world.