Saturday, November 27, 2010

Poem for Saturday and DC Downtown

Visiting Pai-an Pavilion
By Hsieh Ling-yun
Translated by Sam Hamill

Beside this dike, I shake off the world's dust,
enjoying walks alone near my brushwood house.

A small stream gurgles down a rocky gorge.
Mountains rise beyond the trees,

kingfisher blue, almost beyond description,
but reminding me of the fisherman's simple life.

From a grassy bank, I listen
as springtime fills my heart.

Finches call and answer in the oaks.
Deer cry out, then return to munching weeds.

I remember men who knew a hundred sorrows,
and the gratitude they felt for gifts.

Joy and sorrow pass, each by each,
failure at one moment, happy success the next.

But not for me. I have chosen freedom
from the world's cares. I chose simplicity.


Everyone in my family had the day off on Black Friday, so after a somewhat lazy morning around the house -- we did no shopping whatsoever, online or in stores -- we went downtown to see the exhibit on the quincentennial of Henry VIII's accession at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the miniature Washington landmarks built out of sustainable plant materials at the U.S. Botanic Garden. The Folger Library had books, prints, and a few handwritten documents from the early Tudor era, including a prayer book that Anne of Cleves gave to her (brief) husband and bound volumes of Henry's acrimonious correspondence with Martin Luther; we also got to stop in the theater, which is currently featuring Shakespeare's Henry VIII. The garden was mobbed, since it was the first day of the annual train exhibit, but we managed to see the conservatory holiday display, the Hawaii and cactus collections, and the central jungle. Because it was chilly, we ended up walking into the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and looking at the exhibits there, then took we took the tunnel through to the Library of Congress and stopped in the gift shop before walking back to the car on the far side of the Folger.

Reindeer dance at the U.S. Botanic Garden's holiday display.

Though there's plenty of holiday color on display, most of the visitors seemed to be there for the miniature trains.

I'm still partial to the orchids.

But we always enjoy seeing the miniature Washington buildings, including the U.S. Capitol.

The actual Capitol Building is right next to the botanic garden, though this is the view from the other side, coming from the Folger.

The sky was beautifully overcast over the Statue of Freedom.

This is a model of the statue displayed inside the Capitol's visitor center.

This 1548 volume is Elizabeth Tudor's translation of Marguerite d'Angouleme's Miroir de l'ame pecheresse, written when the princess was eleven years old and published three years later. There are only three copies in the U.S. The one at the Folger Library came from Horace Walpole's library and contains his notes on the inside cover.

We only caught the very end of Auburn's come-from-behind victory over Alabama, which I was thrilled about until my father pointed out that it might hurt Boise State's chances of getting into the national championship game. I had to root against Oregon against Arizona State for the same reason, for all the good that did -- at least Boise State is beating Nevada at the moment. In between, we had Shabbat dinner (primarily Thanksgiving leftovers) with my parents and nieces, then came home and watched "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith," the season finale of The Sarah Jane Adventures, which made me happy because the whole cast was reunited, but yet again I wished there was more direct interaction between Sarah Jane and the younger castmembers instead of each of them off solving a problem on their own. I know that I should be thinking first about the people of Korea, North and South, but when news about that part of the world comes on, the thing I immediately keep remembering is that when we visited the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin nearly two decades ago, they told us that the extremely endangered white-naped crane and red-crowned crane migrate every year to the Han River Estuary in the demilitarized zone -- which is barely two and a half miles wide -- whose existence has kept them from extinction. And I worry about the birds.

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