Secret Ministry of Frost

frost

image courtesy of The Teacup Chronicles

On this lovely, sunny frigid day in the north country of New York State, I thought it fitting to share this poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It’s one of my very favorites from the Romantic Age, for its gorgeous imagery, moods, and textures…beginning quietly peaceful and reflective before shifting to bittersweet contemplation of memories and hopes for the future, and finally, ending with a heartfelt and lush appreciation of Nature’s majesty in all her moods and seasons.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Frost At Midnight, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet’s cry
Came loud–and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
’Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man’s only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor’s face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger’s face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent ’mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

bird in snow

How Important Are Reviews?

article-new-ds-photo-getty-article-129-37-92826390_XS-ehowAuthors write for many reasons, but one big reason (presumably) is because we want others to read our novels, stories, poems, or essays.

 

gatekeepersThe publishing world has changed significantly since the days when I was first writing. Back then (and at the risk of aging myself, we’re talking about the first half of the 1990’s, LOL) there was one path to having your work available to readers: traditional publishers. They were the gatekeepers, the “golden ticket” to a tangible, beautiful book on a shelf, distribution, and ultimately, readers.

The publisher handled things like galleys, and securing reviews from reputable reviewers who would then print those reviews in publications or later, online, to entice (provided the review was good), readers to give the story a try. Continue Reading…

Flowers in First Snow

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First snow, picture taken this morning, mid-November 2014, with dark purple pansies peeking through

(Excerpted from “Snow-Flakes”)

“Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent and soft and slow
Descends the snow.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Pumpkin Farm Stand

 

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Pumpkin farm stand on a gray autumn day

 

“No Spring, nor Summer beauty
hath such grace
As I have seen
in one Autumnal face.”

                               ~John Donne

Beautiful colors of pumpkin to choose from this year…we picked a couple of larger, dark orange pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, and I chose several of the smaller ones with interesting hues for our front steps.

With (American)Thanksgiving in November, we get lots of enjoyment (and decorating power!) out of the pumpkins…and as you can see from the photo, they are reasonably-priced. Even the big orange ones along the top were only $5.00.

Anyone else love visiting the pumpkin farm (or autumn stand?) I love seeing pictures of all the different ways the produce and items are displayed. Even with the season winding down, there is still so much to see and enjoy, and Nature sheds her colors in preparation for her long Winter’s sleep.

Rainy Day

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Misty rain outside my window this morning

“The rain to the wind said,
‘You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged–though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.

                                                        ~Robert Frost

While poetry is not my usual choice of writing form (I tend to write too “long” to craft any good poems, LOL), I enjoy reading it…especially poems that evoke images, both sensory and emotional. Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets because he combines that with another of my great loves: Nature.

This poem seemed fitting to me today. I, too, know how the flowers felt, and yet there is something beautiful in that.

Without the more violent “pushing and pelting” in life, we would never fully appreciate our moments of sun-dappled peace.

Without the bitter we would never taste the sweet.

The Persistence of Love

charming

Artwork from Teresa Medeiros’s Charming the Prince

My Lief is Faren in Londe                                 

 My lief is faren in londe                         (My love has gone away)

 Allas, why is she so

And I am so sore bonde                        (strictly bound)

I may nat come her to

She hath myn herte in holde                 (she has possession of my heart)

Wherever she ride or go

With trewe love a thousand fold.

                                                               ~Anonymous, 14th century

So, here is my thought for the night: Society, fashions, expectations, hobbies, habits, food preferences, occupations, geography, social statuses, and even life expectancies change from age to age, but love, is love, is love…has been since human beings uttered the first love poem or song, and will be beyond the future we can see. This is in part, at least, why I enjoy writing – and reading – medieval romances, and why they’ve never seemed “too long ago” or “too strange and far removed” for my sensibilities as they are for some.

Love, with all of its sweet tension, its yearning, its agony and its glory, is always new and intoxicating for those who first taste of it, though centuries may come and go.

Now, isn’t that a beautiful thought? 🙂