Sunday, December 28, 2008

Poem for Sunday

The Feast of Lights
By Emma Lazarus


Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening's forehead o'er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Blow the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn;
Chant psalms of victory till the heart takes fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born.

Remember how from wintry dawn till night,
Such songs were sung in Zion, when again
On the high altar flamed the sacred light,
And, purified from every Syrian stain,
The foam-white walls with golden shields were hung,
With crowns and silken spoils, and at the shrine,
Stood, midst their conqueror-tribe, five chieftains sprung
From one heroic stock, one seed divine.

Five branches grown from Mattathias' stem,
The Blessed John, the Keen-Eyed Jonathan,
Simon the fair, the Burst-of Spring, the Gem,
Eleazar, Help of-God; o'er all his clan
Judas the Lion-Prince, the Avenging Rod,
Towered in warrior-beauty, uncrowned king,
Armed with the breastplate and the sword of God,
Whose praise is: "He received the perishing."

They who had camped within the mountain-pass,
Couched on the rock, and tented neath the sky,
Who saw from Mizpah's heights the tangled grass
Choke the wide Temple-courts, the altar lie
Disfigured and polluted--who had flung
Their faces on the stones, and mourned aloud
And rent their garments, wailing with one tongue,
Crushed as a wind-swept bed of reeds is bowed,

Even they by one voice fired, one heart of flame,
Though broken reeds, had risen, and were men,
They rushed upon the spoiler and o'ercame,
Each arm for freedom had the strength of ten.
Now is their mourning into dancing turned,
Their sackcloth doffed for garments of delight,
Week-long the festive torches shall be burned,
Music and revelry wed day with night.

Still ours the dance, the feast, the glorious Psalm,
The mystic lights of emblem, and the Word.
Where is our Judas? Where our five-branched palm?
Where are the lion-warriors of the Lord?
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Sound the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn,
Chant hymns of victory till the heart take fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born!

--------

We had a relatively quiet Saturday -- chores, unpacking, taking care of poor neglected cats who only got wet food once while we were away. It was very warm, nearly 60 degrees, ridiculous for December but since we didn't have a white Christmas, this is an acceptable substitute as far as I'm concerned. In the afternoon we went to Great Falls, where the C&O Canal had been drained but the river was very high -- huge waves, no herons, a couple of ducks in the rainwater collected in the canal -- and it was quite crowded in spots.


The Potomac River seen from Olmsted Island at Great Falls National Park, where it separates Maryland and Virginia.


The water was high as well where the water comes across the island...


...particularly at the first bridge from the C&O Canal towpath.


It was a fairly gray afternoon, but unseasonably warm.


The water was surging where we hiked down...


...to the lower falls where the river has washed up many shells...


...and the kids climbed up the boulders above the smoother water.


The ducks seemed to be enjoying the weather, though I wonder if they can find enough food with the canal so low.


Yesterday's The Friday Five: Books!
1. Do you enjoy reading?
Since I was a very young child.
2. What is the first book you remember reading? Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeline, though to be fair, my mother had read it to me so many times that I may have been able to recite it before I could read it.
3. Who is your favourite author? William Shakespeare.
4. What is your favourite book? Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time is probably the one I've reread the most in my life.
5. What is the last book you read and the first you'll read next? As soon as I finish Richard Zimler's Guardian of the Dawn, I'm going to read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen, which my in-laws got me for Chanukah.

Yesterday's Fannish5: Name your 5 favorite families, from any fandom.
1. The Murray-O'Keefes
from Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet and subsequent books.
2. The Drews from Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series.
3. The Next-Parke-Laines from Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series.
4. The Smiths from The Sarah Jane Adventures.
5. The Bennets from Heroes.

Which Torchwood Character Are You?
Your Result: Gwen Cooper
 

You most resemble the team's second-in-command and ex-police officer. Empathetic and stubborn, you tend to grab the bull by its horns and have difficulty admitting when you're wrong, though you always mean well. You are inconsistent in your relationships, wanting stability but also craving drama, and sometimes end up putting yourself first.

Ianto Jones
 
Captain Jack Harkness
 
Toshiko Sato
 
Owen Harper
 
Which Torchwood Character Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


My parents came over for dinner -- we had fondue, as has become a Chanukah tradition since it's Adam's favorite meal, though now that he's been to the Melting Pot, he thinks it should include a cheese and a chocolate course as well as the poultry-and-seafood course. We had lots of leftover desserts from being at my in-laws' house. Daniel insisted on showing them the Colbert Christmas special, though I don't think they were as impressed by it as he is. They brought him the latest Futurama special and brought Adam a penguin sleeping bag. I got my father the Mel Brooks DVD box set and my mom a glass-and-brass dreidel and some books. After they went home, we watched The Poseidon Adventure -- hey, it's a holiday season movie!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice poem, great pics

littlereview said...

Thank you!