Prologue of the Earthly Paradise
By William Morris
Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
Or hope again for aught that I can say,
The idle singer of an empty day.
But rather, when aweary of your mirth,
From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh,
And, feeling kindly unto all the earth,
Grudge every minute as it passes by,
Made the more mindful that the sweet days die—
—Remember me a little then I pray,
The idle singer of an empty day.
The heavy trouble, the bewildering care
That weighs us down who live and earn our bread,
These idle verses have no power to bear;
So let me sing of names remembered,
Because they, living not, can ne’er be dead,
Or long time take their memory quite away
From us poor singers of an empty day.
Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate
To those who in the sleepy region stay,
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.
Folk say, a wizard to a northern king
At Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show,
That through one window men beheld the spring,
And through another saw the summer glow,
And through a third the fruited vines a-row,
While still, unheard, but in its wonted way,
Piped the drear wind of that December day.
So with this Earthly Paradise it is,
If ye will read aright, and pardon me,
Who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss
Midmost the beating of the steely sea,
Where tossed about all hearts of men must be;
Whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay,
Not the poor singer of an empty day.
It was a pretty, cool Tuesday as the cherry blossoms peaked downtown -- not that I was there to see them, I was at home working and doing laundry and various other chores when I wasn't running out to exchange a cosmetic bag. I had a good day with cable TV. My laundry-folding movie was Brainstorm, which I haven't seen in several years, and while I know I am biased because I love Louise Fletcher in absolutely everything and Christopher Walken in almost everything, I really think it has held up amazingly well; the computers look ancient but the sci-fi hook is still relevant, and it's one of the few cinematic life-after-death sequences that actually works for me. In the late afternoon I took Adam to tennis and took an hour-long walk in Cabin John Park, which was delightful with the sun coming through the trees and daffodils everywhere.
Paul made veggie sloppy joes for dinner, then one of the Encore channels had Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein on just after the UConn women beat the Duke women. I haven't seen that in even longer than Brainstorm and enjoyed it enormously: any film with three hams as big as Branagh, De Niro, and Bonham Carter cannot help but be delightful even in an over-the-top ending like this film has, and I don't know where my mind was before, but it never occurred to me how much Tom Hulce is playing Branagh's boyfriend. Because of Mel Brooks, I cannot watch any version of Frankenstein without looking for Frau Blucher and making jokes about Abby Normal's brain, so even though this is a classic of horror and written by a woman I greatly admire, I always end up snickering at inappropriate moments. Here are some more photos of the Brookside Gardens Ikebana show last weekend: