Friday, March 05, 2010

Poem for Friday and Mail History

The Plougher
By Padraic Colum

Sunset and silence! A man: around him earth savage, earth broken;
Beside him two horses—a plough!

Earth savage, earth broken, the brutes, the dawn man there in the sunset,
And the Plough that is twin to the Sword, that is founder of cities!

"Brute-tamer, plough-maker, earth-breaker! Can'st hear? There are ages between us.
"Is it praying you are as you stand there alone in the sunset?

"Surely our sky-born gods can be naught to you, earth child and earth master?
"Surely your thoughts are of Pan, or of Wotan, or Dana?

"Yet, why give thought to the gods? Has Pan led your brutes where they stumble?
"Has Dana numbed pain of the child-bed, or Wotan put hands to your plough?

"What matter your foolish reply! O, man, standing lone and bowed earthward,
"Your task is a day near its close. Give thanks to the night-giving God."

Slowly the darkness falls, the broken lands blend with the savage;
The brute-tamer stands by the brutes, a head's breadth only above them.

A head's breadth? Ay, but therein is hell's depth, and the height up to heaven,
And the thrones of the gods and their halls, their chariots, purples, and splendors.


I was half-blind for half the day so I am behind on everything that involves reading, writing and typing. Had an ophthalmologist appointment in the morning -- I love my doctor but his appointments are always running half an hour late, and this Thursday (rescheduled from last month during the week we were all trapped inside due to snow) I didn't get taken back till an hour after my scheduled time. I left with my pupils dilated, took myself to Lebanese Taverna for lunch, stopped in the Container Store, then thought I'd go look at eyeglasses since as I suspected my prescription has changed. On the way into the mall, I ran into my mother and her good friend who were sitting having frozen yogurt and ended up sitting with them.

By the time I got home and got things organized, Adam was home, and an hour later I took him to tennis for the first time in months -- we had missed the fall sessions with scheduling conflicts and then confusion about which level he needed to take. Daniel was downtown all day at the DC regional robotics competition -- he wasn't on the Metro to come home until after 6 p.m. -- he is missing two days of school. We drove back here beneath a glorious pink-and-purple twilight sky, had tofurkey for dinner, and watched the fairly dreadful Next Gen episode "The Quality of Life" which I must review on Friday before taking younger son to his annual checkup. So I'm busy and discombobulated and sleepy, sorry! Here's a last batch of National Postal Museum photos:

The vault door that leads to a room of hundreds of pull-out drawers of international postage stamps.

Ceiling lights decorated with an oversized strip of railway postage stamps.

A historic post office from Pennsylvania.

Official mailboxes from around the world...

...and privately owned American mailboxes shaped like the US Capitol, a mail truck, a biplane, a bird feeder, and an old fashioned camera.

Letters sent home from the wars, part of an exhibit on delivering military mail and how security has changed through the years.

From an exhibit on the development of the envelope, including several patented machines designed to fold and later gum envelopes.

Because Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an avid stamp collector and instrumental in the expansion of postage during the Depression, there is a large exhibit about him, including some illustrations of his influence being mocked.

Jon Stewart's Chatroulette piece with Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Keith Olbermann, Brian Williams, et al is the funniest thing I having seen in weeks and I better post this before I am laughing too hard to hit send!

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