By Matthew Arnold
Others abide our question. Thou art free.
We ask and ask—Thou smilest and art still,
Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill,
Who to the stars uncrowns his majesty,
Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea,
Making the heaven of heavens his dwelling-place,
Spares but the cloudy border of his base
To the foil'd searching of mortality;
And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know,
Self-school'd, self-scann'd, self-honour'd, self-secure,
Didst tread on earth unguess'd at.—Better so!
All pains the immortal spirit must endure,
All weakness which impairs, all griefs which bow,
Find their sole speech in that victorious brow.
Sunday was even more gorgeous than Saturday. Paul and I had a long list of exhibits we wanted to visit downtown, so after an early lunch, we parked next to the Library of Congress and went first to the Folger Shakespeare Library's wonderful The Life of an Icon exhibit -- seriously, if you love Shakespeare at all (or if you're one of those people like Roland Emmerich who can't tell The Da Vinci Code from actual history and therefore have convinced yourself someone besides William Shakespeare wrote the plays), you should see this exhibit, which consists of original documents from Shakespeare's life and work including the bill of sale for the Blackfriars Playhouse and (not always good) reviews by his contemporaries.
Then we walked to the US Botanic Garden, visiting first the outside gardens, where snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils are all opening and there are ducks, squirrels, and assorted birds playing around the ponds, before going inside for the Orchids in Focus and Flora of the National Parks exhibits, the former of which has a collection of orchids under LED lights for photographers to experiment with plus origami orchids at the front desk. We also visited the azalea display under the rotunda of the National Gallery of Art. And we stopped in the National Museum of the American Indian, which has an exhibit on narrative art of the Plains nations, then walked back to the car around the Capitol and Supreme Court.
We got home in time for Madam Secretary (we had dinner in front of the TV -- we were craving Greek food because the cafe at the National Gallery has Greek food now to go with the exhibit of sculpture of the Hellenistic world currently on display), then we watched the final Downton Abbey, which was about as manipulative as usual but at least it was mostly treacly instead of let's-see-how-we-can-ruin-Anna-and-Edith's-lives-now. I can't say I'll miss it, I certainly was not moved to tears by anything that happened, but I'm glad we stuck out the last season to see how it ended. They should have had Maggie Smith narrate the entire last season from Violet's point of view, making appropriate comments throughout.