Sunday, March 23, 2014

OSSA 15 JUDGES: The Books of the Old Testament

15 JUDGES The Books of the Old Testament - KJV

Mnemonic Phrases:

1. God’s Excellent Love Never Dies
2. Joshua Judges Ruth
3. Sally (1, 2) Keeps (1, 2) Cookies (1, 2)
4. Elephant Named Esther’s Job Pays Peanuts Every Saturday
5. I Jog Late Every Day
6. Hungry Joel Ate Oranges
7. Jonah Made Ninevah Heed
8. Zebras Have Zebra Mamas

When I was around 12 years old, my parents, hitherto content to spend Sundays engaged in such heathen rituals as late pancake breakfasts and yard work, had a twinge of doubt as to our family's immortal souls and thereby announced we would now be spending our Sundays going to "Sunday School" and "Church Services" at Park City Baptist Church. This announcement was met with predictable groans from myself and my sister. Regardless, the following Sunday, we were dressed in our finest little outfits and dutifully escorted into the Sunday School section of the church to attend our class.

Park City was a large church in a wealthy part of Dallas. Going to church was very much a social affair. The charismatic Reverend Minister drove a Cadillac, dressed in custom-tailored suits and wore a Rolex watch - all of this remarked in whispers to me by my mother. Most of the congregation was the same. The entrance to parking lot must have been an eye of a needle wide enough to allow the largest luxury automobile. There was a gym where you could roller skate, a game room with pool tables and a small diner with a sour-faced cook that served hamburgers and fries and had a sign that charitably said, "In God we trust, all others pay cash."

Young and deficient as I was in the ways of the Southern Baptist God, I still sensed something was not quite right with Park City Baptist Church. There I sat in my Sunday School classroom with a kitschy poster of a blue-eyed Caucasian Jesus, holding an awkward and frightened lamb, gazing down on me with hazily rendered placidity, my hair crisp with VO5 hairspray, dress shoes too tight, clip-on necktie itching. I felt utterly sick unto my soul with uncomfortableness. Add to this the nascent disapproval of the young spawn of the Dallas social elite and the sickly smell of aftershave and hair-gel emanating from the Sunday School teachers. The sum of it all was that I developed a Pavlovian dislike for church. Once I was even dismissed from class for non-stop sneezing and sniffing my nose. I later told my parents I was becoming allergic to God.

I can remember almost every teacher I have had since first-grade, but I cannot recall a single name of any teacher from any Sunday "education." As a whole, there were all - and this is to put it lightly - horrible teachers. Horrible not due to any overt acts of malevolence. No they were horrible in the mindless simplicity of their belief and the banality of their teaching of it. Having endured an adequate public school education for over half my young life still gave me enough discernment to detect a phony and a fake, a teacher of false authority who had no clue about what he was teaching.

And these sickeningly pious proselytizers of pathetic faith were entrusted to imprint upon my, supposedly tender, impressionable and pious young mind the ways and mysteries of the One True God and His Only Son Who Died for My Sins? I was lucky to have survived with all of my religion intact.

Years later, the old story: the Reverend Cadillac Rolex Minister was caught molesting young boys. I am confident that he moved on to a more lucrative congregation somewhere in the deeper south of Hell. However, Park City Baptist Church still stands as a proud sanctuary for Dallas High Social Christianity, a gleaming Temple of Mammon in a City of the Damned.

All of this as preface to the memorization of the Books of the Old Testament. Why?

One dismal Sunday, one of the nameless revolving roster of Men of Wretched Faith, announced to us, his young uninspired flock, that he had a challenge. If we could memorize all of the books of the Old Testament, he would buy us a case of the soda of our choice. A whole case of soda pop! As if this was what you drink while lounging about for time never ending in Heaven with all your lost pets.

But it was something new in the dead world of Sunday School. Enough to pull my thoughts away from the window and to attend to what was going on. He then proceeded to slowly and monotonously recite all of the books of the Old Testament for our listening pleasure. I do not recall if there was applause. But I do remember his self-satisfied smile.

I suspect much of the genesis of his challenge was rooted in the desire to have an occasion to show off his memory skills. I have slight sympathy here. I am all too aware that no one is ever interested in listening to a recitation of all of the books of the Bible or all of Shakespeare's plays, etc. I begrudge the guy some credit for finding a captive audience of the young, bored and uncomfortable upon which to subject his dubious accomplishment.

The rest of the class, stimulated at the prospect of gaining the unimaginable joy of a case of soda pop, asked him how it did it - with genuine curiosity and hunger to learn. And here is the beauty of it, the epitome of my Sunday School education: he told us we just had to sit down and repeat each of the books over and over until they were fixed in our memory. That's it: "just keep saying them out loud until it sinks in." No discussion of what a mnemonic was and how it might help. No examples using melody and song. No suggestions about visual associations and creating a narrative. There was no relevant instruction regarding the writing of the Old Testament, about history, about religion. Nothing. Just pound it in into your stubborn little brain with brute memorization.

Later in church, while the minister sermonized his usual analogies between the Dallas Cowboys and our eternal salvation, I opened one of the Bibles in the pews to consider the Books of the Old Testament. The list seemed long and forbidding. The names strange and unpronounceable. I could see no way I would be able to memorize all of that.

I told my parents about it and my mother helpfully suggested making it a song. But multi-syllabic words do not a simple song make. I made it to the eighth book, Ruth, assisted as all are by the lovely phrase: Joshua Judges Ruth.

Now, years later, deep into my memory practice, as I am working on the Ossa, the Bones, Systems of Thought, underlying structures, archetypal forms with many lists, I remember the Old Testament Challenge. A quick internet search for classic mnemonics, supplies me with eight memorable phrases:

1. God’s Excellent Love Never Dies
2. Joshua Judges Ruth
3. Sally (1,2) Keeps (1,2) Cookies (1,2)
4. Elephant Named Esther’s Job Pays Peanuts Every Saturday
5. I Jog Late Every Day
6. Hungry Joel Ate Oranges
7. Jonah Made Ninevah Heed
8. Zebras Have Zebra Mamas

Of course, each word stands for a Book - with the simple exception of the third phrase and it's pairs of books all together. In the end, you have all 39 Books of the Old Testament KJV. The phrases are all vivid with imagery and have strong narrative. And there is enough of a link between them to keep them straight: God’s Excellent Love Never Dies however Joshua Judges Ruth because Sally Keeps Cookies and the Elephant Named Esther’s Job Pays Peanuts Every Saturday, etc., etc..

In 15 minutes, I had memorized all of the Books of the Old Testament. It was easy. And it would have been so easy to have taught this method with all of its natural mnemonic charm to a group of Sunday School children, to have made it a fun, a game. And I know the world is full of excellent teachers that instruct their student in this way. These mnemonic phrases have been around for ages.

Unfortunately, there are also bad teachers who fail to educate with even the simplest of learning tools. Sunday School at Park City was, thankfully, not typical of my overall education. I was given an excellent higher education - especially at the Greenhill School in Dallas, extending also to Southern Methodist University, The University of Dallas and the University of Texas. I labor this to make a point: at none of these fine centers of education was I adequately instructed in the development and use of my memory. And if I, who was privileged enough to receive the education that I did, was still not provided with even the rudiments of an adequate training of the memory, I despair to think what most students suffer through in the name of Education these days.

Marshall McLuhan explored the "extensions of man:" the hammer extends the hand, the car extends the feet, writing and books extend our memory. With each extension, we surrender autonomy in exchange for greater efficiency and power. Yet, at the same time, we still use our hands and feet. If we do not have access to a hammer or a car, we are still able to function in the world. However, when the extensions of memory - writing, books, the internet - are unaccessible, we are increasingly at a loss. With the rise of smart phones to place calls - few people actually remember phone numbers these days. Beyond this trivial example, our interior world has become increasingly impoverished and empty.

We no longer know the greatest poems and prose "by heart." We no longer have at hand quotation, reference and theme of the great works of literature that have not only shaped and strengthened our culture but have also defined who and what we are. Instead, our memory theaters - if they can justify that phrase - are filled with trivia about celebrities and sporting events, the lyrics to mindless pop songs and quotes from blockbuster movies. It is tragic and darkening to consider that we have extended our memory into plastic, superficial and meaningless playpens, thereby reduced ourselves to intellectual cripples, with no memory abilities, utterly dependent upon our crutches, doomed to atrophy in our wheelchairs, dead in the mind at age 12, fated to live out a quiet and desperate life in an increasingly diseased and decaying body.

Thus I state my belief in the benefits of Memory Practice. And there is more to say. But not here and not now.

See also:

Introduction: When the Canaries Stop Singing
Three Criteria for the Memorization of a Poem
For this invention will produce forgetfulness

1. Genesis God’s Excellent Love Never Dies
2. Exodus
3. Leviticus
4. Numbers
5. Deuteronomy
6. Joshua Joshua Judges Ruth
7. Judges
8. Ruth
9. 1 Samuel Sally Keeps Cookies
10. 2 Samuel
11. 1 Kings
12. 2 Kings
13. 1 Chronicles
14. 2 Chronicles
15. Ezra Elephant Named Esther’s Job Pays Peanuts Every Saturday
16. Nehemiah
17. Esther
18. Job
19. Psalms
20. Proverbs
21. Ecclesiastes
22. The Song of Solomon
23. Isaiah I Jog Late Every Day
24. Jeremiah
25. Lamentations
26. Ezekiel
27. Daniel
28. Hosea Hungry Joel Ate Oranges
29. Joel
30. Amos
31. Obadiah
32. Jonah Jonah Made Ninevah Heed
33. Micah
34. Nahum
35. Habakkuk
36. Zephaniah Zebras Have Zebra Mamas
37. Haggai
38. Zechariah
39. Malachi

OSSA 14 MARK: The 27 Books of the New Testament

14 MARK: The 27 Books of the New Testament

The 27 Books of the New Testament

4G to the A to the R and C2 the GEP to the C5T and the PHJ then P4J and no Repeats.

For those raised in an atmosphere of casual Christianity, the Books of the New Testament are familiar and easy to memorize. New Testament names are common, as opposed to the Old. I wish it were otherwise. I am always delighted to meet an Ezra, Jeremiah or an Ezekiel. And I will long shake the hand of a man named Micah, Zechariah or Malachi.

In Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States, Bill Bryson writes:

"At first descriptive names were confined to a single virtue: Faith, Hope, Love, Charity, Increase, Continent and the like, but within a generation Puritan parents were giving their children names that positively rang with righteousness: Flie-Fornication, Misericordia-Adulterina, Job-Raked-Out-of-the-Ashes, Small-Hope, Praise-God, Fear-Not, The-Lord-Is-Near. Names began to sound rather like cheerleaders' chants, so that among the early Pilgrims we find Fight-the-Good-Fight-of-Faith Wilson, Be-Courteous Cole, Kill-Sin Pemble, and the memorably euphonious Safely-on-High Snat. Occasionally the desire for biblical fidelity resulted in names of daunting sonorosity: Mahershalalhasbaz, Zaphenathpaneah, Zerubbabel and Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin. And sometimes parents simply closed their eyes and stabbed blindly at the Bible, placing their faith in Providence to direct them to an apposite word, which accounts for the occasional occurrence of such relative inanities as Maybe Barnes and Notwithstanding Griswold."

The most troublesome names in the Books of the New Testament are all grouped conveniently together in the GEP to the C5T sequence. Philemon and Hebrews are slightly more palatable.

There are mnemonic sentences such as those listed below. However, I found a mnemonic letter number code, which has a slight rhyme to it and use that as my guide. Like most of the lists in the OSSA: Bones, after a week of solid memory work, with occasional refreshes, the sequence becomes "second nature" and the mnemonic remains only as a incidental index.

 4G to the A to the R and C... 2 .... the GEP ... to the C5T ... and the PHJ ... then P4J ... and no Repeats.

Everyone is familiar with the first four (4G): Matthew Mark Luke and John

Than the A to the R to the C, then the 2 clueing in both books of Corinthians.

Acts, Romans, Corinthians one and two

There is a some narrative flow here the Acts of the Romans against the Corinthians.

This is my first cluster or memory chunk. Kick-starts the rest.

Then, the GEP to the C5T

This is a sticking point at first. Note the 5 applies to the T, not the C. It is helpful that all the Ts follow alphabetically: Thess, Tim, Tit.

Galatians Ephesians Philippians

Perhaps it is helpful to think of homophonic terms here:  Gal-Lays-Ian If-He-Is-In a Flip-Peeing

After a few times, this helpful nonsense will fade.

Then the C5T:

Colossians Thessalonians one and two Timothy one and two and Titus

This is my second memory cluster.

Next is the P sequence:

and the PHJ then the P4J and no Repeats.

Think of a PBJ sandwich with is made for Jay only once: The P B(H) J is made (P) for(H) (J)ay with no Repeats.

You know the final book is Revelations/ Repeats. So that is easy.

The PHJ is tag as the weird one because of Philemon and Hebrews, which is followed by the normal P4J: Peter, John and Jude.

More nonsense mnemonic: Fill Amen He Bruised James.

Philemon Hebrews James

P4J is unusual however because you have to remember there are two Peters, followed by three Johns and then Jude - and there is always a mnemonic reward here for me to associate it with the song "Hey Jude" and hear chime of the melody, which, if I didn't already know it, associates Revelations with "Revolution Number 9."

So first and second Peter, John one two three (like the count-in to the song), Hey Jude, then all will be revealed in Revelations.

1. Matthew My Mother loves Jesus a lot
2. Mark
3. Luke
4. John
5. Acts
6. Romans Roosters Can Crow
7. 1 Corinthians
8. 2 Corinthians
9. Galatians Geese Eat Pop Corn
10. Ephesians
11. Philippians
12. Colossians
13. 1 Thessalonians Turkeys Trot
14. 2 Thessalonians
15. 1 Timothy
16. 2 Timothy
17. Titus Telephone Poles Have Jaybirds
18. Philemon
19. Hebrews
20. James
21. 1 Peter  Peacock Pier’s Jingling Jeans just joined rhinoceros
22. 2 Peter
23. 1 John
24. 2 John
25. 3 John
26. Jude
27. Revelation

OSSA 13 MUSE: 9 Muses, 3 Graces, 3 Fates, 3 Furies


13. MUSE - 9muse 3grace 3fate 3furies - 9M3GFF

Exploring connections between the Muses, Graces, Fates and Furies. Inquires in the mythological ground out of which these figures emerge. What archetypal forms dwelled within the ocean blue consciousness of the Greek Mind?

In the chapter, "The Anaximander Fragment," in the book Early Greek Thinking by Heidegger, he writes of what it would be like to penetrate through the veils of time and translation to actually hear the Anaximander Fragment (translated by Nietzsche as: Whence things have their origin, there they must also pass away according to necessity; for they must pay penalty and be judged for their injustice, according to the ordinance of time). Our understanding of the essence of Anaximander's thought is necessarily bound to our language. Translation, at best, replaces the clothes and coverings on the naked thoughts with garments from its own language. At worst, there is no prior uncovering and new clothes are fitted over and over upon the thing itself until it is lost under the layers. The act of uncovering the original thought is a poetic and violent process, "Thinking of Being is the original way of poetizing." According to Heidegger - and I agree wholeheartedly - this poetic process of uncovering, revealing, is the only method by which the Truth of Being might be preserved. Only by honoring the Naked Presence of the thought itself, is there any hope of an accurate translation. There is a certain and necessary violence here: "Because it poetizes as it thinks, the translation which wishes to let the oldest fragment of thinking itself speak necessarily appears violent."

"If only once we could hear the fragment it would no longer sound like an assertion historically long past. Nor would we be seduced by vain hopes of calculating historically, i.e. philologically and psychologically, what was at one time really present to that man called Anaximander of Miletus which may have served as the condition for his way of representing the world. But presuming we do hear what his saying says, what binds us in our attempt to translate it? How do we get to what is said in the saying, so that it might rescue the translation from arbitrariness? 
"We are bound to the language of the saying. We are bound to our mother tongue. In both cases we are essentially bound to language and to the experience of its essence. This bond is broader and stronger, but far less apparent, than the standards of all philological and historical facts—which can only borrow their factuality from it. So long as we do not experience this binding, every translation of the fragment must seem wholly arbitrary. Yet even when we are bound to what is said in the saying, not only the translation but also the binding retain the appearance of violence, as though what is to be heard and said here necessarily suffers violence. 
"Only in thoughtful dialogue with what it says can this fragment of thinking be translated. However, thinking is poetizing, and indeed more than one kind of poetizing, more than poetry and song. Thinking of Being is the original way of poetizing. Language first comes to language, i.e. into its essence, in thinking. Thinking says what the truth of Being dictates; it is the original diet are. Thinking is primordial poetry, prior to all poesy, but also prior to the poetics of art, since art shapes its work within the realm of language. All poetizing, in this broader sense, and also in the narrower sense of the poetic, is in its ground a thinking. The poetizing essence of thinking preserves the sway of the truth of Being. Because it poetizes as it thinks, the translation which wishes to let the oldest fragment of thinking itself speak necessarily appears violent."


Where to the gods come from? What gives birth, name, feature and power to the gods? At the dawn of our culture, what strange mysteries emerged into the light? Here and now in my exploration of memory, I sense a primordial reckoning with these beings. As indicated by Heidegger, the language fissures and collapses inwards under the pressure of these archetypal depths. Poetic consciousness rearranges the morphemes and phonemes of the words, chanting Indo-European roots, glossolalia, speaking in tongues, Babel....

The Muses, offspring of Memory, Graces, associated with the Ocean, Fates, born from Divine Law and the Furies, risen from the blood of the sky.

I believe that in order to understand not only the foundations of Western Culture but to be well acquainted with the rich tradition of literary and poetic reference, it is necessary to, at the very least, know the names of the Muses, Graces, Fates and Furies. Such knowledge allows the Pulse to move through you and galvanizes the beauty of the threads that run through the culture. Example: If you know Ovid, you know Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, thereby illuminating the language to an unprecedented degree.

From Ovid's Metamorphoses, Bk IV:464-511 Tisiphone maddens Athamas and Ino

      "After Saturnia had looked grimly, glancing fiercely, at all these, and at Ixion above all, looking back from him to Sisyphus, she asks the Furies ‘Why does this son of Aeolus, suffer perpetual torment, while his brother Athamas, who, with his wife, scorns me, lives, in his pride, in a rich palace?’ And she expounds the causes of her hatred, her journey, and what it is she wishes. What she wished was that the House of Cadmus should no longer stand, and that the Sisters should drive Athamas mad.  She urged the goddesses help, mingling promises, commands and prayers together. When Juno had finished speaking, Tisiphone, grey-haired as she was, shook her locks, flinging back the snakes that concealed her face, and said ‘It does not need all these words: consider it done, whatever you have ordered. Leave this unlovely kingdom, and go back to heaven with its sweeter air.’ Juno returned happily, and Iris, her messenger, the daughter of Thaumus, purified her, as she was about to enter heaven, with drops of dew. 
      "Without delay, Tisiphone, the troubler, grasped a torch soaked with blood, put on a dripping red robe, coiled a writhing serpent round her waist, and left the spot. Grief went as her companion, and Panic, and Terror, and Madness with agitated face. She took up her position on the threshold, and they say the pillars of the doorway of Aeolus’s palace shook, the doors of maple-wood were tainted with whiteness, and the sun fled the place. Athamas and his wife, Ino, were terrified at these portents of doom, and they tried to escape the palace. The baleful Erinys obstructed them, and blocked the way. Stretching out her arms, wreathed with knots of vipers, she flailed her hair, and the snakes hissed at her movements. Some coiled over her shoulders, some slid over her breast, giving out whistling noises, vomiting blood, and flickering their tongues. 
      "Then she pulls two serpents from the midst of her hair, and hurls what she has snatched with a deadly aim. They slither over Ino and Athamas, and blow their oppressive breath into them. Their limbs are not wounded: it is the mind that feels the dreadful stroke. She had brought foul poisonous liquids too, spume from the jaws of Cerberus, Echidna’s venom, those that cause vague delusions, dark oblivions of the mind, wickedness and weeping, rage and love of murder, all seethed together. She had boiled them, mixed with fresh blood, in hollow bronze, stirred with a stalk of green hemlock. 
      "While they stood trembling, she poured this venom of the Furies over the breasts of the two of them, and sent it into the depths of their minds. Then, brandishing her torch, encircled them with fire, by fire’s swift movement, whirling it round in repeated orbit. So having conquered them, and carried out her orders, she returned to the wide kingdom of mighty Dis, and unloosed the serpent she had wrapped around her."

There are Nine Muses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who represent the arts and sciences. The Father of Gods and Men and the Personification of Memory created the Muses.

"In Hesiod's Theogony, kings and poets receive their powers of authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne and their special relationship with the Muses. 
"Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for nine consecutive nights, thus birthing the nine Muses. Mnemosyne also presided over a pool in Hades, counterpart to the river Lethe, according to a series of 4th century BC Greek funerary inscriptions in dactylic hexameter. 
"Dead souls drank from Lethe so they would not remember their past lives when reincarnated. Initiates were encouraged to drink from the river Mnemosyne when they died, instead of Lethe. These inscriptions may have been connected with Orphic poetry (see Zuntz, 1971)." - Wikipedia: Mnemosyne

Mnemonic nonsense phrases follow. However, it doesn't take long for these vivid mythological archetypes to body forth into vivid and unforgettable imagery.

The Nine Muses

Calliope (epic poetry)

Muse of Eloquence and heroic Poetry. Her name means fine voice and she is depicted with stylus and tablets.

Calliope by Augustin Pajou, c. 1763

The mnemonic association of the austere tradition of epic poetry with the lighthearted carnivalesque musical calliope is, perhaps, not the most appropriate. But I see a Professor Marvel type from the Wizard of Oz, a new American epic poet, riding through the West on a calliope performing his poetry in Boom Towns and Indian Camps, composing with the eagle, the buffalo and the bear.

"Calliope, the wonderful operonicon 
or steam car of the muses" – advertising poster, 1874

The pronunciation of the word 'calliope' has long been disputed. The Greek muse by the same name is pronounced /kəˈlaɪ.əpiː/ kə-ly-ə-pee, but the instrument was generally pronounced /ˈkæli.oʊp/ kal-ee-ohp. A nineteenth century magazine, Reedy's Mirror, attempted to settle the dispute by publishing this rhyme: 
Proud folk stare after me,
Call me Calliope;
Tooting joy, tooting hope,
I am the calliope. 
This, in turn, came from a poem by Vachel Lindsay, called "The Kallyope Yell," [sic][3] in which Lindsay uses both pronunciations. 
However, in the song Blinded by the light, written in 1972, Bruce Springsteen used the four syllable (/kəˈlaɪ.əpiː/) pronunciation when referring to a fairground organ, and this was repeated by Manfred Mann in their (better-known) 1976 cover, suggesting that this is a common modern pronunciation in both the US and the UK. - Wikipedia: Calliope

Clio (history)

Muse of History, her name derives from the Greek kleos (glory) or kleiein (to celebrate). She is depicted as a virgin with a laurel wreath, a trumpet in one hand and a volume in the other one.

Clio by Charles Meynier - 1798

"Clio, sometimes referred to as "the Proclaimer", is often represented with an open scroll of parchment scroll or a set of tablets. The name is etymologically derived from the Greek root κλέω/κλείω (meaning "to recount," "to make famous,"or "to celebrate"). 
'Clio' represents history in some coined words: cliometrics, cliodynamics." - Wikipedia: Clio

Erato (lyric poetry)

Muse of lyric Poetry and Anacreontic Poetry, her name derives from the Greek Eros (love). She is represented as a nymph crowned with myrtle and roses, holding a lyre and a bow.

The muse Erato and Her Lyre, 1895 - John Wiiliam Godward

"Erato is the Muse of lyric poetry, especially love and erotic poetry. In the Orphic hymn to the Muses, it is Erato who charms the sight. Since the Renaissance she is often shown with a wreath of myrtle and roses, holding a lyre, or a small kithara, a musical instrument that Apollo or she herself invented. In Simon Vouet's representations, two turtle-doves are eating seeds at her feet. Other representations may show her holding a golden arrow, reminding one of the "eros", the feeling that she inspires in everybody, and at times she is accompanied by the god Eros, holding a torch." - Wikipedia: Erato

Euterpe (music)

Muse of Music. Her name means she who makes herself loved and she is usually represented as a maid crowned with a flower garland, playing the instrument she invented, the flute.

Euterpe by Egide Godfried Guffens - 1823-1901

"Called the "Giver of delight", when later poets assigned roles to each of the Muses, she was the muse of music. In late Classical times she was named muse of lyric poetry and depicted holding a flute. A few say she invented the aulos or double-flute, though most mythographers credit Marsyas with its invention." - Wikipedia: Euterpe

Melpomene (tragedy)

Muse of Tragedy. Her name comes from the Greek melpein (to sing). She is represented as a woman in buskins, holding a sceptre and a dagger covered in blood.

Detail from mural depicting the muse Melpomene (Tragedy) by Edward Simmons - 1896

Melpomene, Muse of tragedy. Marble, Roman artwork from the 2nd century CE.

A Curious Historical Item about the name Melpomene:
"Painting of the Muse Melpomene by Edward Simmons, 1891; Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. According to certain modern Olympic historians and journalists, Melpomene and Revithi are the same person, and the Greek woman was attributed the name of the Muse."
"In March 1896, a French-language newspaper in Athens (the Messager d'Athènes) reported that there was "talk of a woman who had enrolled as a participant in the Marathon race. In the test run which she completed on her own [...] she took 4½ hours to run the distance of 42 [sic] kilometres which separates Marathon from Athens." Later that year, Franz Kémény, a founding International Olympic Committee member from Hungary, wrote in German that, "indeed a lady, Miss Melpomene, completed the 40 kilometres marathon in 4½ hours and requested an entry into the Olympic Games competition. This was reportedly denied by the commission." According to Martin and Gynn, "a peculiarity here is why there is no first name for Melpomene". The Messager report faded into obscurity for about 30 years before it was revived in 1927 in an issue of Der Leichtathlet. 
Olympic historian Karl Lennartz contends that two women ran the marathon in 1896, and that the name "Melpomene" was confirmed by both Kémény and Alfréd Hajós, two-time Olympic swim champion of 1896. Lennartz presents the following account: a young woman named Melpomene wanted to run the race and completed the distance in 4½ hours at the end of February or the beginning of March. The organizing committee, however, did not allow her to run, and the newspaper Akropolis criticized the committee for its decision. The Olympic Marathon took place on 10 April [O.S. 29 March] 1896, and another female runner, Stamata Revithi, took 5½ hours to run the course on 11 April [O.S. 30 March] 1896. The newspapers Asti, New Aristophanes and Atlantida reported this on 12 April [O.S. 31 March] 1896. 
However, Tarasouleas argues that no contemporary press reports in Greek newspapers mention Melpomene by name, while the name Revithi appears many times; Tarasouleas suggests that Melpomene and Revithi are the same person, and Martin and Green argue that "a contemporary account referring to Revithi as a well-known marathon runner could explain the earlier run by a woman over the marathon course—this was by Revithi herself, not Melpomene". The daily Athens newspaper Estia of 4 April [O.S. 23 March] 1896 refers to "the strange woman, who, having run a few days ago in the Marathon as a try-out, intends to compete the day after tomorrow. Today she came to our offices and said 'should my shoes hinder me, I will remove them on the way and continue barefoot'." Moreover, Tarasouleas notes that on 13 March [O.S. 1 March] 1896, another local newspaper indicated that a woman and her baby had registered to run the marathon, but again her name is not mentioned. Trying to resolve the mystery, Tarasouleas asserts that "perhaps Revithi had two names, or perhaps for reasons unknown she was attributed the name of the Muse Melpomene". Wikipedia: Stamata Revithi

Polyhymnia (sacred poetry)

Muse of Rhetoric and of vocal Music, her name comes from the Greek poly (many) and hymnos (hymn), or from mnasthai (to remember). She is depicted with a flower or pearl crown, dressed in white, her right arm in the act of haranguing, her left hand holding a sceptre.

Postcard of a Statue of Polyhymnia

Polyhymnia by Hendrick Goltziusca. 1592

"Polyhymnia (/pɒliˈhɪmniə/; Greek: Πολυύμνια, Πολύμνια; "the one of many hymns"), was in Greek mythology the Muse of sacred poetry, sacred hymn, dance, and eloquence as well as agriculture and pantomime. She is depicted as very serious, pensive and meditative, and often holding a finger to her mouth, dressed in a long cloak and veil and resting her elbow on a pillar. Polyhymnia is also sometimes credited as being the Muse of geometry and meditation. 
"In Bibliotheca historica, Diodorus Siculus wrote, "Polyhymnia, because by her great (polle) praises (humnesis) she brings distinction to writers whose works have won for them immortal fame...". She appears in Dante's Divine Comedy: Paradiso. Canto XXIII, line 56, and is referenced in modern works of fiction." Wikipedia: Polyhymnia
If all those tongues should sound to aid me now
Which Polyhymnia and her sister muses
Made all the richer with their sweetest milk,

It would not touch a thousandth of the truth
In singing of her saintly smile and how
It lighted up her saintly countenance.
 Paradiso. Canto XXIII,

Terpsichore (dance)

Muse of Dance. Her name means she who loves dance. She is depicted as a young woman, crowned with flower garlands, who dances and plays the harp.


"In Greek mythology, Terpsichore (/tərpˈsɪkəriː/; Τερψιχόρη) "delight in dancing" was one of the nine Muses, ruling over ballet and the dramatic chorus. She lends her name to the word "terpsichorean" which means "of or relating to dance". She is usually depicted sitting down, holding a lyre, accompanying the ballerinas' choirs with her music. Her name comes from the Greek words τέρπω ("delight") and χoρός ("dance")."  
In the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers feature film Swing Time (1936), Lucky (Astaire), when asked by Mr. Gordon, why he wishes to learn to dance, answers: "To flirt with terpsichory". He then proceeds to take a dance lesson with Penny (Rogers), culminating in a paired tap routine." - Wikipedia: Terpsichore


Thalia (comedy)

Muse of Comedy, her name derives from the Greek thallein (to bloom). She is depicted as a young woman crowned with an ivy garland, holding a mask and wearing ankle boots.

Thalia, Muse of Comedy, 1739 by Jean-Marc Nattier 

"Thalia (/θəˈlaɪə/; Ancient Greek: Θάλεια, Θαλία; "the joyous, the flourishing", from Ancient Greek: θάλλειν, thállein; "to flourish, to be verdant") was the Muse who presided over comedy and idyllic poetry. In this context her name means "flourishing", because the praises in her songs flourish through time.She was the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the eighth-born of the nine Muses. 
According to pseudo-Apollodorus, she and Apollo were the parents of the Corybantes. Other ancient sources, however, gave the Corybantes different parents. 
She was portrayed as a young woman with a joyous air, crowned with ivy, wearing boots and holding a comic mask in her hand. Many of her statues also hold a bugle and a trumpet (both used to support the actors' voices in ancient comedy), or occasionally a shepherd’s staff or a wreath of ivy." - Wikipedia: Thalia

Urania (astronomy)

Muse of Astronomy. Her name comes from the Greek ouranos (sky) and she is represented as a virgin holding a globe and a bar.

Flammarion, N.C. L'astronomia popolare, [1885].

"Urania (/jʊˈreɪniə/; Ancient Greek: Οὐρανία; meaning 'heavenly' or 'of heaven') was, in Greek mythology, the muse of astronomy and a daughter of Zeus by Mnemosyne and also a great granddaughter of Uranus. Some accounts list her as the mother of the musician Linus by Apollo, and Hymenaeus also is said to have been a son of Urania. She is often associated with Universal Love and the Holy Spirit. Eldest of the divine sisters, Urania inherited Zeus' majesty and power and the beauty and grace of her mother Mnemosyne."
"Those who are most concerned with philosophy and the heavens are dearest to her. Those who have been instructed by her she raises aloft to heaven, for it is a fact that imagination and the power of thought lift men's souls to heavenly heights." - Wikipedia: Urania

Calliope (epic poetry)
Clio (history)
Erato (lyric poetry)
Euterpe (music)
Melpomene (tragedy)
Polyhymnia (sacred poetry)
Terpsichore (dance)
Thalia (comedy)
Urania (astronomy)

California’s Climate Eradicates Euthanasia,
Melting Political Terrors, Thawing Uranium.

The wandering Epic Poet riding atop a CalliopeKalliope, literally "beautiful-voiced," from kalli-, combining form of kallos "beauty" + opos (genitive of *ops) "voice"
Clio from kleiein, to celebrate, proclaim in History
Erato the erotic as in love and lyric poetry
Euterpe associates the root terpein "to delight, please" Eu is "good, well" = music
Melpomene from melpein "to sing." Tragedy as the song sung at the sacrifice of a goat
Polyhymnia meaning "much song or singing" Possibly a variant of hymenaios "wedding song," from Hymen, Greek god of marriage
Terpsichore from terpein "to delight" (from PIE root *terp- "to satisfy;" cf. Sanskrit trpyati "takes one's fill," Lithuanian tarpstu "to thrive, prosper") + khoros "dance, chorus"
Thalia from Greek Thaleia, "the joyful Muse," presiding over comedy and idyllic poetry, literally "the blooming one," fem. proper name from adjective meaning "blooming, luxuriant, bounteous," from thallein "to bloom," related to thalia "abundance," thallos "young shoot"
Urania from Greek Ourania, fem. of ouranios, literally "heavenly," from ouranos

The three Graces. Roman copy of the Imperial Era (2nd century AD?) after a Hellenistic original.
Restored for a large part in 1609 by Nicolas Cordier (1565-1612) for Cardinal Borghese.

Three Graces or Charities - the daughters of the nymph Eurynome and Zeus.

"AGLAIA (or Aglaea) was the goddess of beauty, splendour, glory, magnificence and adornment. She was one of the three Kharites (Graces) who often appears dancing in a circle with her sisters. Aglaia was the wife of the god Hephaistos and the mother of the four younger Kharites named Good-Repute, Praise, Eloquence and Welcome. She was also named Kharis (the Grace) and Kale (Beauty). 
"EUPHROSYNE was the goddess of good cheer, joy, mirth and merriment. She was one of the three Kharites (Graces). Her name derives from the Greek word euphrosynos "merriment". Usually, however, she appears dancing in a circle with her triplet sisters. 
"THALIA was the goddess of festivity and rich, luxurious banquets. She was one of the three Kharites (Graces) who usually appears with her sisters dancing in a circle.
Thalia's comes from the Greek word thalia, an adjectival term used to describe banquets as rich, plentiful, luxuriant and abundant. In this sense she was probably the same as Pandaisia (Banquet), a Kharis who accompanies Aphrodite in Athenian vase painting. Thalia's name also means "the blooming" in the sense of springtime greenery and blossoms (cf. the Hora Thallo)." From Theoi Greek Mythology

Aglaia (beauty, splendor, brilliant, “shining one”)
Euphrosyne (joy, mirth, merriment)
Thalia (abundance, festivity, feast)

Aglow, Euphoric, Thanks!

Francesco de' Rossi (1510–1563)  The Three Fates, 1550

The three Fates, Clotho at left spins, Lachesis winds in the centre
and Atropos tests tensility at right. 1558 Engraving

Three Fates or Moirae (“apportioners”)

Clotho (spinner of the thread of life)
Lachesis (drawer of lots)
Atropos (cutter of the thread of life)

Clothes Lachrymose, Atrocious!

Wenceslaus Hollar (1607–1677) The three furies.


The Remorse of Orestes (1862) by William Frederic Bouguereau (1825–1905). 
The three Furies "furiously" pursue Orestes who has just stabbed his mother.

Three Furies (Erinyes), the Eumenides, or “kindly ones.”  

The Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus and threw his genitals into the sea. The Furies arose from the drops of blood, and the goddess of love, Aphrodite, from the sea foam.

Alecto (relentless pursuit - unnameable)
Megaera (jealousy, grudging)
Tisiphone (blood vengeance, vengeful destruction)

Alexander’s Mega T-shirts.

"According to Hesiod's Theogony, when the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus and threw his genitalia into the sea, the Erinyes as well as the Meliae emerged from the drops of blood when it fell on the earth (Gaia), while Aphrodite was born from the crests of sea foam. According to variant accounts, they emerged from an even more primordial level—from Nyx, "Night", or from a union between air and mother earth. Their number is usually left indeterminate. Virgil, probably working from an Alexandrian source, recognized three: Alecto ("unnameable"), Megaera ("grudging"), and Tisiphone ("vengeful destruction"), all of whom appear in the Aeneid. Dante followed Virgil in depicting the same three-character triptych of Erinyes; in Canto IX of the Inferno they confront the poets at the gates of the city of Dis." Wikipedia: Erinyes

OSSA 12 APOSTLES: The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles

This is the way the disciples run:
Peter, Andrew, James and John;
Phillip and Bartholomew;
 Thomas next, and Matthew, too.
James the less and Judas the greater
Simon the zealot and Judas the traitor

Simon, who is called Peter
Andrew, his brother
John, brother of James
James, son of Alphaeus
Thaddaeus, Jude
Simon the Zealot
Judas Isacariot, son of James

OSSA 11 VIGILANTE: The Seven Canonical Hours


The Seven Canonical Hours
Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Vigils Lauds Terce Sext None Vespers Compline

4:00 A.M. - Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about one hour.

5:45 A.M. - Lauds (in church) lasts about thirty minutes, followed by Mass.

Breakfast for guests in the Guest Breakfast Room from 7:00 - 7:45 A.M.

8:45 A.M. - Terce (in church) lasts about ten minutes.

9:00 A.M. - Work meeting for guests outside the Gift Shop. Work for All.

12:40 P.M. - End of work period.

1:00 P.M. - Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Main Meal in the monastic refectory.

3:30 P.M. - None (in church) lasts about ten minutes.

5:20 P.M. - Exposition and Eucharistic Adoration (in Church).

5:50 P.M. - Vespers (in church) lasts about thirty minutes.

6:20 P.M. - Light Meal until 6:50 P.M. in the monastic refectory.

7:30 P.M. - Compline (in church) lasts about fifteen minutes, followed by Nightly Silence.

OSSA 10 FOOL: Major Arcana of the Tarot

The Major Arcana of the Tarot

0 Fool
1 Magician
2 High Priestess
3 Empress
4 Emperor
5 Hierophant
6 Lovers
7 Chariot
8 Strength
9 Hermit
10 Wheel of Fortune
11 Justice
12 Hanged Man
13 Death
14 Temperance
15 Devil
16 Tower
17 Star
18 Moon
19 Sun
20 Judgement
21 World

OSSA 9 SOPHIA: The Five Intellectual Virtues



The Five Intellectual Virtues
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics


1. Sophia - wisdom
2. Episteme - scientific knowledge, empirical knowledge
3. Nous - reason


4. Phronesis - practical wisdom/prudence


5. Techne - craft knowledge, art, skill

Subjacent intellectual virtues in Aristotle:

Euboulia - deliberating well, deliberative excellence; thinking properly about the right end.
Sunesis - understanding, sagacity, astuteness, consciousness of why something is as it is. For example, the understanding you have of why a situation is as it is, prior to having phronesis.
Gnomê - judgement and consideration; allowing us to make equitable or fair decisions.
Deinotes - cleverness; the ability to carry out actions so as to achieve a goal.

EaSy GoD

OSSA 8 MUSIC: The Quadrivium

The Quadrivium - AGMA

The Quadrivium is the second half of the 7 Liberal Arts.

It consists of 4 elements: Arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.

The overarching topic of the Quadrivium is the study of number and its relation to space and time.

Arithmetic: Number - as such number is a pure abstraction outside of time and space. This aspect of the Quadrivium deals with the different characteristics of each number

Geometry: Number in space - specific shapes can have a deeper meaning. This aspect relates symbolism and it is frequently used in architecture.

Music: Number in time - covers music in general and particularly the topic of natural harmonics

Astronomy: Number in time and space - covers the movement of planets in space and the natural harmonics between the planets when looking at the aspect of time (harmony of the spheres). This is the first time aspects of time and space meet with the abstraction of number thus it builds the foundation for science.

OSSA 7 THE NUMBER 3: The Trivium

The Trivium - GLR

The Trivium is the first half of the 7 Liberal Arts. Sister Miriam Joseph described the three parts of the Trivium thus:

Grammar is the art of inventing symbols and combining them
to express thought

Logic is the art of thinking

Rhetoric is the art of communicating thought from one mind to another, the adaptation of language to circumstance.

Another description is:

Grammar is concerned with the thing as-it-is-symbolized
Logic is concerned with the thing as-it-is-known
Rhetoric is concerned with the thing as-it-is-communicated.


Morphology - is the identification, analysis and description of the
structure of a given language’s morphemes and other linguistic units. In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest grammatical unit in a language.

Phonology - is a branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in languages. The phoneme can be described as “The smallest contrastive linguistic unit which may bring about a change of meaning”.

Syntax - In linguistics, syntax is “the study of the principles and
processes by which sentences are constructed in particular languages”

Semantics - Semantics is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, like words, phrases, signs, and symbols, and what they stand for, their denotation.

Syntax has to do with the form and order of words within the sentence.

Semantics has to do with the meaning.

CANTICUM 15 BEER: Let This Not Be a Love Song

[C] Left your house this morning
[F] Couldn’t wake you up
[C] Rode home in the rain and early morning light
[G] Trying to figure love

My shirts smelled like cigarettes and beer
Like I was wearing all of last night
My soul feels as empty as these morning streets
Trying to understand why we fight


[F] But let this not be a love song
[C] Cause according to you I’d get it all wrong
[G] Just let this be a memory
[C] Of what once was [C7] between you and me

[F] O let this not be a love song
[C] Even I can’t bear to sing another one
[G] Just let this be a memory
[C] Of what once was [G] between you and [C] me

Tried to call you after I got up
Left a message on your machine
I don’t know why, didn’t mean to make you cry
Can’t you understand what I mean

Remember the Spanish Steps
Two bottles of wine and a loaf of bread
Running all night through our dreams
I loved every single word you said


Went by your place this evening
After one too many beers
Knew everything I was supposed to say
It was all so goddamned clear

But you weren’t home and I kept drinking
Kept thinking about how good it once was
More good times than could fit in my mind
You’re the only one I’ll ever love

CANTICUM 14 CROSS: Cross in the Field

[Em] There’s a cross in the [D] field
[C] A sign on the door for [Em] me
[Em] Bones at the bottom of the [D] well
[C] You told me that you’d never [Em] tell

There’s a broken man covered in tears
An empty book full of all of his fears
Bones at the bottom of the well
You told me that you’d never tell

[Refrain 1]

[D] Write down all my prayers in blood
[C] I don’t ever sing of love
[G] Bind my soul to ancient bones
[D] And walk amongst you all [Em] alone

There’s a cross in the field
A sign on the door for me
Bones at the bottom of the well
You told me that you’d never tell

There’s a woman with a ring in her hand
Without a single memory of me
There’s a moment always caught in my mind
There was a time, there was a time

[Refrain 2]

[D] Stare into the ring of fire
[C] Lose my mind in all desire
[G] Write down all my prayers in blood
[D] I don’t ever sing of [Em] love

There’s a cross in the field
And the gods stand before you revealed
There’s a moment always caught in my mind
There was a time, there was a time

[Refrain 2]

CANTICUM 13 DUST: Dust is Dreaming in the Rose

See the burning face above me
Feel the burning fires below
Hand of God marking off each hour
Cutting deep down into the bone

Every day is getting longer
Every word is said so slow
Time is sleeping on the crosses
Dust is dreaming in the rose

You with your ring of judgement
Around the flesh and around the bone
You never told me where your soul went
I saw it creeping back into its hole

CANTICUM 12 MIRROR: Childhood Lost

Childhood Lost

In the corner of a window
In a shack out in the woods
There's a mirror in a spiderweb
A time we called childhood

Sliding out of the darkness
Is an old man called Regret
He sits beside that window
Just waiting until we forget

When we do he's ready
To wrap us in his words
To tell us dreams of easier things
How the world was so absurd

Slowly sliding his web around
To hold us tight in time
To wrap us up in innocence
Like there never was a crime

Silent desperation
Throws lies across those years
And every single nightmare
Is floating on our tears

That face we see in the mirror
Just couldn’t be our own
Through a crack in the window
The wind begins to blow

A childhood lost in ignorance
Is every old man's dream
Shadows fade to emptiness
In every old man's dream

About his life.

CANTICUM 11 BOOK: God Won't Leave Me Alone

O I've been drinking
All night again

O I've been thinking
About dying again

You won't forgive me
For my sins

You won't forget me
Again and again

God won't leave me alone
Even though he's broken all my bones

O I've been writing
A book of blood

O I've been fighting
Almost everyone

God won't leave me alone
Even though he's broken all my bones

MUSIC 6 AIRPLANE: Poème, Op. 25 by Ernest Chausson, 1896

Wikipedia: Poème (Chausson)

Poème, Op. 25, is a work for violin and orchestra written by Ernest Chausson in 1896. It is a staple of the violinist's repertoire, has very often been recorded and performed, and is generally considered Chausson's best-known and most-loved composition. 
Poème was written in response to a request from Eugène Ysaÿe for a violin concerto. Chausson felt unequal to the task of a concerto, writing to Ysaÿe: I hardly know where to begin with a concerto, which is a huge undertaking, the devil's own task. But I can cope with a shorter work. It will be in very free form with several passages in which the violin plays alone. 
It was commenced in April 1896 and finished on 29 June, and was written while Chausson was holidaying in Florence, Italy. 
He wrote three different versions of Poème: with orchestra; with piano accompaniment (later rewritten by other hands); and a recently discovered version for violin, string quartet and piano, a companion to his Concert in D for piano, violin and string quartet, Op. 21 (1892). The solo violin parts of these versions are identical except for one minor detail. The work is notionally in the key of E-flat, and lasts about 16 minutes. It was dedicated to Ysaÿe, who gave its early performances.
Genesis of the title 
Chausson initially called it Le Chant de l'amour triomphant, then changed it to Poème symphonique, and finally to simply Poème. The first two rejected titles are crossed out on the extant manuscripts. 
The original title came from the 1881 romantic novella The Song of Love Triumphant (Le Chant de l'amour triomphant; Песнь торжествующей любви) by the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev, who lived on the estate of the famed mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot and her husband near Paris; all three were acquaintances of Chausson's. The Viardots' daughter Marianne was engaged for some time to Gabriel Fauré, but broke it off and instead married Alphonse Duvernoy. Turgenev's novella seems to mirror this set of relationships, and it may be that Chausson initially attempted to portray it in music. However, it is clear his final intention was to create a work without extra-musical associations. 
Early performances 
In the autumn of 1896, Eugène Ysaÿe, Ernest Chausson and their wives were holidaying at Sitges on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. At a party hosted by the Catalan painter Santiago Rusiñol, Ysaÿe and Chausson's wife on piano gave an impromptu sight-read performance of Poème; local townspeople who overheard it demanded it be encored three times. Present at the party were Enrique Granados and possibly Isaac Albéniz.
Poème's formal premiere was at the Nancy Conservatoire on 27 December 1896,[3][4] conducted by Guy Ropartz, with Ysaÿe as soloist. But it was not really noticed until Ysaÿe gave the Paris premiere, at a Colonne Concert on 4 April 1897. Chausson was overcome by the sustained applause, something he had not experienced in his career to that point.
Ysaÿe also gave the first London performance of Poème, a week after Chausson's untimely death in 1899. 
Poème was published in May 1897, but not at Chausson's own instigation. His friend Isaac Albéniz submitted the score to Breitkopf & Härtel while he was in Leipzig on a concert tour. They were reluctant to publish the work, considering it "vague and bizarre" and of "extraordinary difficulty", and consequently would have "few adherents" (letter to Albéniz of 27 April 1897). They agreed to publish only when Albéniz undertook to pay for the costs of publication himself. He also gave Breitkopf 300 marks, which they were to send Chausson under the pretence of a royalty. Chausson never knew of Albéniz’s role in this episode, which was done solely to boost his confidence in his compositional skills (he did not need the money, as he had financial security through wealth inherited from his father). It was also a way for Albéniz to repay Chausson's support and encouragement of him when he was a struggling student in Paris. 
The orchestration of Poème is solo violin, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, harp and strings. 
The work starts Lento e misterioso. Subsequent tempo indications are Molto animato, Animato, Poco lento, Poco meno lento, Allegro, Tempo I and the work ends Tranquillo.
It does not follow any formal model but is rhapsodic and moody, with rising and falling tensions and an advanced harmonic style. It strongly reflects the melancholy and introspection with which Chausson was imbued from an early age. (He once wrote to his godmother about his childhood: "I was sad without knowing why, but firmly convinced that I had the best reason in the world for it".) 
Joseph Szigeti always believed "the typically Ysaÿean sinuous double-stop passages" in the exposition could not have been written without the inspiration - or, indeed, the direct involvement - of Ysaÿe himself. This was later confirmed by Ysaÿe, who acknowledged he wrote the double-stopping "over Chausson's framework".

MUSICA 5 SUNSET: The Trio in E-flat, Opus 100, D. 929 by Franz Schubert, 1827

From Wikipedia: Piano Trio No. 2 (Schubert)

The Trio No. 2 in E-flat major for piano, violin, and violoncello, D. 929, was one of the last compositions completed by Franz Schubert, dated November 1827. It was published by Probst as opus 100 in late 1828, shortly before the composer's death and first performed at a private party in January 1828 to celebrate the engagement of Schubert's school-friend Josef von Spaun. The Trio was among the few of his late compositions Schubert heard performed before his death.[1] It was given its first private performance by Carl Maria von Bocklet on the piano, Ignaz Schuppanzigh playing the violin, and Josef Linke playing cello. 
Like Schubert's other piano trio, in B-flat major, this is a comparatively larger work than most piano trios of the time, taking almost 50 minutes to perform. The second theme of the first movement is based loosely on the opening theme of the Minuet and Trio of Schubert's G major sonata (D. 894). 
The main theme of the second movement was used as one of the central musical themes in Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. It has also been used in a number of other films, including The Hunger, Crimson Tide, The Piano Teacher, L'Homme de sa vie, Land of the Blind, the HBO miniseries John Adams and The Mechanic. It is supposedly based on a Swedish folk song "se solen sjunker" ("See, the sun is sinking") by Berg.
The piano trio contains four movements: 
1. Allegro 
The first movement is in sonata form. There is disagreement over the break-up of thematic material with one source claiming six separate units of thematic material while another source divides them into three themes each with two periods. There is to an extent extra thematic material during the recapitulation. At least one of the thematic units is based closely on a theme in an earlier piano sonata. The development section focuses mainly on the final theme of the exposition. 
2. Andante con moto 
The second movement takes the form of an asymetrical-double-ternary form. The opening theme has been used extensively in popular culture.

Principal theme in the second movement 
3. Scherzando. Allegro moderato 
The scherzo is an animated piece in standard double ternary form. 
4. Allegro moderato 
The finale is in an uncommon form where Schubert layers the sonata form with the outline of rondo form. Schubert also includes in two interludes the opening theme of the second movement in an altered version. 

MUSICA 4 STRIPPER: Air on the G String: Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068 BY Johann Sebastian Bach, 1723

Wikipedia: Air on the G String

Air on the G String is August Wilhelmj's arrangement of the second movement in Johann Sebastian Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068. 
The original orchestral suite was written by Bach for his patron Prince Leopold of Anhalt some time between the years 1717 and 1723. 
The title comes from violinist August Wilhelmj's late 19th century arrangement of the piece for violin and piano. By transposing the key of the piece from its original D major to C major and transposing the melody down an octave, Wilhelm was able to play the piece on only one string of his violin, the G string. 
Later, a spurious story was put about that the melody was always intended to be played on the G string alone. 
The Air on the G String was the first work by Bach ever to be recorded. This was by the Russian cellist Aleksandr Verzhbilovich and an unknown pianist, in 1902 (as the Air from the Overture No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068).  
Part of Air on the G String's melody was incorporated into Procol Harum's celebrated 1967 Worldwide hit, A Whiter Shade of Pale.

From Revision: J S Bach: Orchestral Suite in no.3 in d major, bwv 1068

The suite as a whole is perhaps most famous today for its second movement, the Air. In the 19th-century arrangement by August Wilhelmj in C major, it is widely known as the 'Air on the G-string' as the melody line can be played wholly on the lowest string of the violin, the G-string. This is often played in a highly Romantic style, with much vibrato. There have been other versions; French jazz pianist Jacques Loussier’s version was used in a cigar advert. 
Its lyrical melody acts as Baroque version of a wordless, instrumental aria, which unfolds slowly, almost infinitely so. The air’s long opening semibreve, as a rhythmic device, can give the impression of eternity. But it is the walking bass that provides the forward momentum; the C# and A in bar 1 act as passing notes in the bass. The incessant quaver movement acts to unify the piece as well as to provide momentum, giving great balance of mood throughout the piece. The texture is not nearly as dense as the preceding overture, but it retains much of its polyphonic texture; the second violin and viola both have melodic fragments that answer the phrases in the main melody, creating an effect of antiphony. 

The melodic construction makes great use of suspensions, which provide moments of harmonic tension within the air. The first one comes as bar 1 gives way to bar 2; the F# becomes dissonant with the changed harmony in bar 21, but is resolved by bar 23. However, in the intervening beat the melody is decorated by semiquavers on B, G, and an appoggiatura on F# just before the resolution of this 7-6 suspension to the E. There are many such highly decorated suspensions in the music – the viola has ones in bars 3 and 4; the second violin in bars 5 and 6. The decoration also extends into ornamentation, some of which Bach has written out and prescribed, but much of which can be added by the players in line with Baroque performance practice.
The air is structured within a binary movement framework: 
section A: bars 1-6
section B: bars 7-18
But its tonal plan allows it to maintain great interest:
bar 1 - D major
bar 2 - A major (hinted at via dominant; the E major chord acts more like the tonic’s secondary dominant, as the bass G# is quickly cancelled by G in bar 2)
bar 3 - E minor
bar 4 - D major (the chord of E minor acts a pivot chord to return to the tonic)
bar 5 - A major (establishing the binary form; the G before the repeat changes the A major to an A dominant 7th to lead back to the D major)
bar 7 - E minor
bar 9 - B minor (establishing the relative minor)
bar 11 - A major
bar 13 - G major (via the A dominant 7th chord acting as secondary dominant; starts sequence)
bar 13 - A major (sequence continues, increasing tension)
bar 14 - B minor (sequence continues, further tension)
bar 14 - E minor (final stop of the sequence)
bar 15 - G major (a typical move of Bach to refer to the subdominant before returning via the dominant chord to…)
bar 17 - D major 
The melodic sequence of bars 13-14 serves as a modulating sequence, and increases tension via its chromaticism, progressing from the dominant in first inversion to the tonic in each key. It also marks some contrast, as the sequence is ascending, whilst much of the rest of the piece uses descending melodies and bass lines. Again, the walking bass shares these features with the texture as a whole, acting as a microcosm; however, its constant quaver movement provides some continuity, despite the rate of harmonic change increasing from a steady 2-chords-per-bar to a 4-chords-per-bar in the sequence.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

SONNETS 1 ROSE: From fairest creatures we desire increase

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's Rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
    Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
    To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.


Mnemonic Image: ROSE

Idiosyncratic Abstract: The Archetypal Rose of the Highest Aesthetic Beauty, The Alchemical Rose of Conjunction, Dante's White Rose, the Lotus of Tibetan Buddhism.

Couplet Imagery: The eugenic superman / beauty is urged to take pity on poor humanity, to not allow his seed to go to waste.

Notes 4/1/2017

Because it is first, I have recited this sonnet more times from memory than any other. It strikes me now as a heraldic blazon hung over the entrance to the Sonnets as a whole. A Shakespearian inversion of the inscription above the Gates of Hell. Within these 14 lines are embedded rich thematic content that will be unfolded not only in the following 16, but in the sequence as a whole.

This sonnet can be seen, in sum, as an index to the rest of the sonnets, or as a diapason of the notes of the sequence. - Vendler

The sunlit and shadow themes of eugenics, breeding, Neo-Platonic imperatives of Beauty, the unraveling of the world through forgetfulness and death. The perils of Narcissistic in-foldings and sexual solipsisms. Reflections on the the nature of self in the world, how much of us is defined by the gaze of the other. The non-secular but sacred duties of those who possess Beauty to bestow upon the world, this sacred red ribbon of beauty's blood that must be handed off to the one who waits ahead of us, to carry on the race. Shadows of sexual shame haunt this sonnet's theme but there is also a lusty shameless prurience in the language itself.

In Reading Shakespeare's Sonnets, Paterson writes:

Look at Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel, and the way WS consolidated his meaning by making the line complicit in its own song, here composed of lots of ls and fs and nasals. The line itself feeds its own flame: say it aloud, and listen to how it's almost licking itself in self-admiration.

I agree with that critical crowd this sonnet feels as if it were composed later, perhaps after the Procreation Sequence was complete. So much of the unfolding theme is embedded here.

Following my current Mnemonic Approach, key imagery is derived from the couplet: gluttony, self-gluttony, feeding on one's self, results in a famine for the rest of the world. The eugenic superman / beauty is urged to take pity on poor humanity, to not allow his seed to go to waste.

Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
    To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

Published by: Hieronymus Cock
Print made by: Pieter van der Heyden

Gluttony (Gula); an allegorical figure of a woman in sixteenth-century dress and a fifteenth-century head-dress sits on top of her attribute, a pig, guzzling from a pitcher; around her at the table several demons and nude women eat and drink to excess; behind them to the l a man vomits over a bridge into a river; on far l a giant man imprisoned in a building from which only his head emerges at top; in r background a windmill in the shape of a man's head being force-fed; various monsters eating and drinking throughout. 1558 Engraving

Invidia/ Gula (Envy and Gluttony) – “A half-cat, half-human creature on left, its left leg attached to its left shoulder, a lobster on its torso; on right a pig’s head sticking out from a barrel to which various types of meat on a pike are attached; landscape background.”

Seated on a pig; a hedgehog on the flag, a cat on the escutcheon and an owl as crest; from a series of WL female personifications of the vices riding animals and with their respective attributes on banners and shields. 1552 Engraving

Gustave Doré - The Divine Comedy 
Inferno, Canto VI

In the third circle, the gluttonous wallow in a vile, putrid slush produced by a ceaseless, foul, icy rain – "a great storm of putrefaction" – as punishment for subjecting their reason to a voracious appetite. Cerberus (described as "il gran vermo", literally "the great worm", line 22), the monstrous three-headed beast of Hell, ravenously guards the gluttons lying in the freezing mire, mauling and flaying them with his claws as they howl like dogs. Virgil obtains safe passage past the monster by filling its three mouths with mud.

Dorothy L. Sayers writes that "the surrender to sin which began with mutual indulgence leads by an imperceptible degradation to solitary self-indulgence." The gluttons grovel in the mud by themselves, sightless and heedless of their neighbors, symbolizing the cold, selfish, and empty sensuality of their lives. Just as lust has revealed its true nature in the winds of the previous circle, here the slush reveals the true nature of sensuality – which includes not only overindulgence in food and drink, but also other kinds of addiction. 

Wood engraving, 1873, after Gustave Doré for 'Gargantua and Pantagruel' by François Rabelais.

Imagine the Glutton. A Godlike, super-human sort of Glutton. But not merely the glutton of food, but as a glutton of their own transcendent and terrible beauty, a gluttony of over-indulgence of self, deriving pleasure from "feeding" upon one's own being, Narcissus feasting his eyes upon his image while his body wastes away.

Note the moral imperative in world's due - the superman owes it to the world to procreate. Beauty has its own imperative which cancels out any selfish concerns. Something like: once beauty appears in the world, it is owned by the world, is the world's due, and the temporary container of that Beauty has a duty to pour the contents of that Beauty into another container before it is cracked by Death and it's contents lost. Death also as the ultimate ravenous glutton constantly eating everything the lives, it's mouth the grave, the black maw that chews all flesh and bone to dust.

There are two key Mnemonic Images for Sonnet 1 from the couplet: the Glutton and Death.


The overarching theme of the Procreation Sequence is announced plainly in the first line:

From fairest creatures we desire increase

The eugenic imperative for that which is fair and beautiful to breed combined with our desire. We desire increase of beautiful creatures. Of any beautiful creature. The created Creature and creation standing against invention. Within the Cosmos of the Sonnets, we are creations, not inventions.

There seems to be— every step here is of the most tentative, provisional order— an absence from “creation” of precisely the penumbra of falsehood, of contrivance inseparable from the linguistics and speech-acts of “invention.” Said to a child (or even an adult): n’invente pas signifies “do not lie, don’t tell fibs.” To enjoin: ne crée pas, would, in every respect, be a nonsense phrase. In another register, however, that of the iconoclastic, prohibitions on “creation” can be cardinal. I have already cited the taboo on the “making of images” in Judaism and Islam. To create such images is to “invent,” it is to “fictionalize” in the cause of a virtual reality, scenes, real presences beyond human perception or rivalry (“ I know not ‘seeming,’” says Hamlet in his rage for truth). Time and again, we will meet up with the artist’s sense of himself as “counter-creator,” as competing with the primal fiat or “let there be” on ground at once exultant and blasphemous. Is the lack of humour, so marked in the Hebraic-Christian delineations of a revealed God, instinct with the seriousness of creation? Invention is often thoroughly humorous. It surprises. Whereas creation, in the sense of the Greek term which generates all philosophy, thaumazein, amazes, astonishes us as does thunder or the blaze of northern lights.

 - Grammars of Creation, George Steiner

The second line authorizes the first with what is the transcendent archetype of the Sonnets: Beauty's Rose.

That thereby beauty's Rose might never die

This transcendent Rose is the archetype of beauty. I search endlessly for images of it, for the most emblematic image, all in vain. It is a Rose of the mind. A Flower of the Mind. It is the Lotus Flower from Tibetan Buddhism, the Padme from the Great Mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum.

Gustave Doré Illustration

Dante sees an enormous rose, symbolizing divine love, the petals of which are the enthroned souls of the faithful (both those of the Old Testament and those of the New). All the souls he has met in Heaven, including Beatrice, have their home in this rose. Angels fly around the rose like bees, distributing peace and love. Beatrice now returns to her place in the rose, signifying that Dante has passed beyond theology in directly contemplating God, and St. Bernard, as a mystical contemplative, now guides Dante further (Canto XXXI).

In the surrounding circle, directly above, is the Buddha Amitabha, red in colour, peaceful, with one face and two hands held to the heart. The right holds the stem of a lotus flower blossoming over the right shoulder and the left a gold bell to the heart. Wearing elaborate sambhogakaya vestments he sits in vajra posture. At the right is the consort Pandara Vasini, white, similar in appearance; holding to the heart a lotus handled curved knife and a skullcup. At the right is Buddha Akshobhya, blue, similar in appearance; holding to the heart a gold vajra and bell. Below is the consort Mamaki, blue, similar in appearance; holding to the heart a vajra handled curved knife and a skullcup, seated in a relaxed posture. Below is Buddha Vairochana, white, holding a wheel to the heart and a bell at the side. At the left is the consort Vajradhatvishvari, white, similar in appearance, holding to the heart a wheel handled curved knife and a skullcup, seated in a relaxed posture. At the left is Buddha Ratnasambhava, yellow, holding to the heart a jewel and bell. Above is the consort Buddha-Locani, yellow, holding to the heart a jewel handled curved knife and a white skullcup, seated in a relaxed posture. Each is seated on a moon disc and the inner ring of pink lotus petals, surrounded by variously coloured spheres of light creating the shape of an eight-petalled lotus encircled by a blue ring. -

The lotus, of course, is a common Buddhist symbol from early times. While it is a popular pan-Indian symbol for birth, its meaning in Buddhism is best given by a passage frequently recurring in the suttas (e.g., S.III. 140):

"Just as, monks, a lotus, blue, red, or white, though born in tne water, grown up in the water, when it reaches the surface stands unsoiled by the water; just so, monks, though born in the world, grown up in the world, having overcome the world, a Tathagata abides unsoiled by the world."

Just as the beautiful lotus blossom grows up from the mud and water, so one with an enlightened mind, a Buddha, develops out of the ranks of ordinary beings, by maturing, over many lives, the spiritual potential latent in all. He thus stands out above the greed, hatred and delusion of the world, not attached to anything, as a lotus flower stands above the water, unsoiled by it. The lotus, then, symbolizes the potential for spiritual growth latent in all beings, and the complete non-attachment of the enlightened mind, which stands beyond all defilements.  -

The lotus is the symbol of spiritual unfoldment, of the holy, the pure.

The Buddha-legend reports that when the newly born infant Siddhartha, who later became the Buddha, touched the ground and made his first seven steps, seven lotus-blossoms grew up from the earth. Thus each step of the Bodhisattva is an act of spiritual unfoldment. Meditating Buddhas are represented as sitting on lotus-flowers, and the unfoldment of spiritual vision in meditation (4I944) is symbolized by fully opened lotus-blossoms, whose centre and whole petals many the images, attributes or mantras ol various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, according to their relative position and mutual

In the same way the centres of consciousness in the human body (which we shall discus later on) are represented as lotus-flowers, whose colours correspond to their individual character, while the number of their petal corresponds to their functions.

The original meaning of this symbolism may be seen from the following simile: just as the lotus grows up from the darkness of the mud to the surface of the water, opening its blossom only after it has raised itself beyond the surface, and remaining unsullied from both earth and water, which nourished it - in the same way the mind, born the human body, unfolds its true qualities (“petals”) after it has raised itself beyond the turbid floods of passions and ignorance, and transforms the dark powers of the depths into the radiantly pure nectar of Enlightenment-consciousness (bod-cotta), the incomparable jewel (magi) in the lotus-blosom (padme). Thus the saint grows beyond this world and surpasses it. Though his roots are in the dark depths of this world, his head is raised into the fullness of light. He is the living synthesis of the deepest and the highest, of darkness and light, the material and the immaterial, the limitations of individuality and the boundlessness of universality, the formed and the formless, Samsara and Nirvana. Nagarjuna, therefore, said of the perfectly Enlightened One: Neither being nor not-being can be attributed to the Enlightened One. The Holy One is beyond all opposites.

If the urge towards light were not dormant in the germ that in hidden deep down in the darkness of the earth, the lotus would not turn towards the light. If the urge towards a higher consciousness and knowledge were not dormant even in a state of deepest ignorance, nay, even in a state of complete unconsciousness, Enlightened Ones could never arise from the darkness of samara. 

- Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism, Lama Govinda

In the third line,

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's Rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:

Death is first introduced in the Sonnets. Time and Death, are the two great antagonists in the Sonnet Sequence. Shakespeare's language wages a constant war against them. The word riper gives rise to vegetable and fruit images, squash ripening upon the vine, apples ripening upon the tree.

The forth line announces the means by which Time and Death can be defeated: memory. By passing on beauty to a new generation, to the new flesh,  before we ourselves are ripened and rotting away in death, our "memory" is carried forth beyond the ephemeral instance of our being. Carried as a burden, also carried as a seed in a womb and born anew into the world as a tender green shoot of life rising upwards from the dust of the earth, the over-ripened fruit having fallen, broken open, spilled its seed which found purchase in the soil, to be reborn, to extend the memory of beauty.

Q1 establishes Death (and Time) as the enemy which fair creatures may defeat by giving birth to tender heirs.

But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.

The Young Man, embodiment of Beauty (Rose) enters, immediately a problem, But thou, in Q2. We acknowledge the truth of the first quatrain, but YOU do not. Why not? Because you are reduced and wedded only to your own internal vision. Again: Narcissus lost in a self-recursive vision of his own reflection. The enlightenment that you believe you have found is involuted, in-turned upon itself, gluttonously feasting upon it's own super abundant beauty. Image here of the Buddha starving to death in asceticism, skeletal, death-like, feeding burning with the gem-like flame within, but lost and fading from the world, his flesh like a gossamer. Dickinson's "The Dews drew quivering and Chill — For only Gossamer, my Gown".

Your beauty (body, mind, spirit) is your own worst enemy: it has seduced you. You, like a Glutton, have seduced yourself with your hunger for abundance for your own beauty. What will remain are only forgotten bones. By turning away from the flesh, you deny life to memory.

There is also a prurient reading here, which is helpful mnemonically, of the Young Man masturbating himself to death while gazing lustfully upon his own image in a mirror, sustaining himself only be feeding upon his own semen, which only fans the flames his sexual desire for more of himself.

From Golding's Ovid when Narcissus spies his own reflection:

And if I smile thou smilest too: and when that from mine eyes 
The teares doe drop, I well perceyve the water stands in thine. 
Like gesture also dost thou make to everie becke of mine. 
And as by moving of thy sweete and lovely lippes I weene, 
Thou speakest words although mine eares conceive not what they beene, 
It is my selfe I well perceyve, it is mine Image sure, 
That in this sort deluding me, this furie doth procure. 
I am inamored of my selfe, I doe both set on fire, 
And am the same that swelteth too, through impotent desire. 
What shall I doe? be woode or woo? whome shall I woo therefore? 
The thing I seeke is in my selfe, my plentie makes me poore. 
I would to God I for a while might from my bodie part.

Q1 states:

Individual beauty transcends Death through one's children. As a ripened fruit spills its seed upon the ground to give birth to the next generation. 

Q2 sets up the problem:

But you are so in love with yourself, you are gluttonously hoarding away your own beauty from the world. (Note the implicit imperative of what the world is due.) You are feeding upon your own seed. 

Q3 attempts to shift the Young Man's inward gaze, outwards to the world:

Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.

Your beauty is such that it is an ornament to the world. Although it is anachronistic, there is the image of the evergreen tree of Christmas, symbol of endurance through the winter, it's green never fading, now topped with a star-like ornament, symbol of hope and rebirth. This conflates with those flowering trees such as the Japanese Magnolia and Dogwood whose flowers unfold as ornaments announcing Spring, Booth's "gaudy-green" optimum here. Those in-folded buds must unfold into flowers or the tree will die. There is a teleology here. The acorn is an oak tree. The rebirth of the world is heralded by the unfolding green of leaf and flower. It is against the order of things (shadow teleology) to bury the beauty that is contained within the vessel (bud) of your being. Your happiness (contentment) will be buried (eaten / devoured ) with your beauty (contents), the essence of your being which your are so in love with will be wasted if it ends up being buried like a ripe fruit entombed away from the the fertile soil. Your tender flesh should create a tender heir, a fair creature, an increase of yourself, a celebration of the flowering of the roseate beauty within you.

Source echoes of churl and niggard from the Geneva Bible, Isaiah 32:5-6:

5 A niggard shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl rich.

6 But the niggard will speak of niggardness, and his heart will work iniquity, and do wickedly, and speak falsely against the Lord, to make empty the hungry soul, and to cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. 

(Kerrigan notes Shakespeare's use of niggard as a verb and gerund is original with him. OED source.)

The couplet now as a pleading curse: 

Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
    To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

That "pity" sounds slight apology for the brutal observations of Q2 and Q3. But nothing will come of the selfish gluttony that feeds upon itself even as the grave feeds upon it.

Kerrigan directs to this illustrative passage from Venus and Adonis:

Therefore, despite of fruitless chastity, 
Love-lacking vestals and self-loving nuns, 
That on the earth would breed a scarcity 
And barren dearth of daughters and of sons,   
Be prodigal: the lamp that burns by night  
Dries up his oil to lend the world his light. 

What is thy body but a swallowing grave, 
Seeming to bury that posterity 
Which by the rights of time thou needs must have, 
If thou destroy them not in dark obscurity? 
If so, the world will hold thee in disdain,  
Sith in thy pride so fair a hope is slain.


NOTES from 3/20/2014

Several themes immediately assert themselves:

1. Procreation - The value of Beauty is ensured through reproduction. The genetic seminal "fuel" that serves to transmit memory is wasted in masturbatory acts of self-love.

2. The Irony of Absence - by taking away, there is now a presence: by not sharing beauty - as in acts of self-love, self-reflection - one is wasting, making a famine, by withholding something precious; being selfish (gluttonous) by not allowing anyone to share in your beauty and talent (food). Esp. not marrying and producing heirs to pass on "beauty's pattern." Finally, it is the empty grave that will be full when it eats you.

3. One's Duty to Share Beauty / Food / One's Self.  The first four lines assert that beauty is meant to be shared and celebrated and passed on. Consuming as a social act, responsibility. Self-love does not share its food.  "Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel," "Making a famine." The couplet implores the young man to "Pity the world, or else this glutton be, / To eat the world's due."

4. Wasting Beauty. Related to the other two, that by not giving of one's self to to others, one is wasting it. Beauty and talent should be given to the world and shared like food. To not give the world its due is be miserly with riches. "makest waste in niggarding."


From fairest creatures we desire increase, 

The first line is obvious enough and easy to commit to memory. Right off the bat, there is the lovely ambiguous thematic image of creatures increasing through progeny but also increasing their own size through gluttony. Sexually, the "fair creature" increases desire. The mysteries of the erotic, the shape of the face, wicked curve of lip, upturned gaze of the bright eye. The half-concealed fullness of breast, the soft point of the nipple pressing through fabric. The delicious arch of a foot, revelations of the ankle, calf and opening pillow of a thigh. The elements of the erotic.

That thereby beauty's rose might never die,

The follow-through from the first line. Note the simile "Beauty's Rose." Emblematic. A rose which is relatively transient, its growth from bud to bloom remarking another theme in the sonnet. However, "Beauty's Rose" is enduring, a symbol of the condition all creative effort aspires to. Platonic images. Metaphysical poetry and conceits hinted at. Also, the flower form of the vagina, the womb into which increase (penis) releases desire (semen)  and out of which increase is made (children). 

But as the riper should by time decease, 

Problematic line. Takes a few scans to get that it refers back to the rose. The riper rose will die. Succulent layering of images of a ripe fruit (to which the word ripe is commonly applied) to that of a rose (to which it is not). A riper rose, over-redolent, pulpy red. Almost decadent. The flaccid penis sliding out of the Chthonic womb of female mystery, dying in the tomb.

His tender heir might bear his memory:

The transience of the life of the rose is redeemed by its progeny. The children, tender heirs, of the fairest creatures remind us of their beauty. The Eternal, Platonic, Rose of Beauty is sustained in an act of memory. Note internal rhyme: heir / bear. Following from above, the tender heir as the sexual organs, the penis full of semen or the uterus which will actually bear the child.

But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,

The first instance of the subject of the sonnets, this "thou." Contracted with the dual meanings of a marriage contract and diminished - as in the contraction of the pupil of the eye when exposed to light, emphasized in the "bright eyes." Theme of self-love reducing / contracting / diminishing the self - turning what should be directed outwards for / given to the pleasure of society inwards /  for its own esoteric sense of happiness. Hoarding the self. Being miserly with one's Beauty. Inward imaginings as the source for masturbatory fantasies.

Feeds't thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,

Building upon the self as illumination and the theme of eating, consumption. The dominant image is the candle, which "eats itself" as it burns. Mark the irony of the action of feeding, nourishing, growing fat, upon nothing, nothing external, upon one's own reflection. Echoes of the Narcissus myth here "contracted" to his reflection in the mirror, feeding upon his own beauty until he fades away to become a flower. The decomposing body a parody of the "fairest creature" which now "feeds" and nourishes the plant and subsequent flower. Also, sexual desire is directed inward, being stimulated only towards selfish ends, the ejaculation as the "fuel" which feeds further desire.

Making a famine where abundance lies,

The typical Shakespearean twist. Presence in absence. Here employed to amplify that this Narcissus, through his self-love is "wasting" the abundance, the plentitude, of his Beauty. Economic aspects of Beauty is to be shared with the society and not kept only for oneself. And the abundance of semen produced in masturbation serves no procreative purpose.

Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.

Self-love, masturbation,  makes the subject his own worst enemy. His beauty excites him sexually to the exclusion of anyone else. Slang resonance with beating one's self, choking, cranking, jerking, etc. in "to thy sweet self too cruel."

Then another note sounding the theme of feeding upon the self: "the sweet self." Cartoonish wolf images here: the society like a pack of wolves gathered around the beautiful light of this fair creature, salivating with hunger, licking their chops, wanting to devour the "sweet self." Also faintly here, but surprisingly apt, are tones of the Eucharist: the fair creature, Beauty's Rose, as Christ, of whose flesh and blood are given to the disciples.

"This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me". (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

The theme remains intact: do not withhold the food, the self, which should be given to the community.

Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament

I detect a slight resentment in this line. The adjective "fresh," in the context what precedes it, carries an undertone of "soon to be rotten." Ornament also has a sense of a pretty little bauble, an accessory used to adorn, to enhance a greater beauty. Sexual overtones explicit. Note internal rhyme: thou / now.

And only herald to the gaudy spring,

A sense of efflorescence, as of society as a whole blooming forth. Herald as harbinger. Gaudy as radiant rather than cheap or tastelessly showy as it is understood today. Note the flower theme picked back up. The slight resentment in ornament is ameliorated by this more natural context. The ornament is the flower ready to bloom:

Within thine own bud buriest thy content

The harping note of self-love and masturbation here. "Thine own bud" has explicit sexual connotation. The verb "buriest" is beautiful here. The image of the bud burying itself in the "content" (read: cunt). But also, slightly less obvious, returning back in such an utterly inward manner that it returns to the soil which gave it birth,  tunneling through the soil like a worm or a blind mole seeking its own seed. Beyond the vulgar pun, "content" plays two meanings: happiness and what one is composed of, the contents. And finally, the contents of a grave are what has been buried - just slight note of death here that will be fully sounded in the couplet.

And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.

Note the symmetry with "tender heir" above. "Churl" meaning miser or fool here. And with regards "niggarding;" the word is a sore red wound these days, even though it is etymologically distinct from the racial slur. Still, the acoustic resonance is powerful enough to have essentially prohibited its usage. [ cf Wikipedia: Controversies about the word "niggardly" and Google's NGram Graph of Word Usage ]

Both words have a distinct Anglo-Saxon gutturality. Churl is softened by "tender." But the line overall has a cursing quality to it. The upbraiding of a friend with harsh language. Not so much to insult, but to tease but with a seriousness intact.

Note the content bud now grows riper as a "tender churl." And then again the Shakespearian Irony: to make waste, to use up a valuable commodity, by NOT using it, by not sharing it with others, by holding it within only for self-pleasure.

Always, the sexual undertone, the dangers of self-love, masturbation - which is, on the most obvious level, about marriage and having children as the natural and proper expression of self. Makest waste of semen all over the place instead of in the womb to make children.

Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
    To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

Shakespeare's couplets always give me some trouble. Perhaps I grant to them too much gnomic wisdom when they are actually the weakest part of the sonnet.  I find that I often must memorize the couplet as a single unity. Separating the lines only leads to confusion. Not so much with the body of the sonnet.

"Pity the world" is the poet addressing the subject of the sonnet. I am happy - contra some commentators - to understand this as Shakespeare speaking to the Young Man. Shakespeare is telling him to take pity on the world, as you would to someone who had less food than you and was hungry. Have some pity, some compassion, sympathy for those less fortunate. Give them something to eat. Find a woman, impregnate her with your semen, food, fuel.

"or else this glutton be," and if do not give them anything to eat, you choose instead to eat all the food yourself - even if it be a feast that would feed many, you greedily, spitefully, eat it, not allowing anyone else to even have a bite. Quickly, an element of homoerotic and homosexual eating of semen - faintly, but there. Note how it plays into the next line. 

"To eat the world's due," but as the lines above have illustrated, this is not good for you or for the world. Beauty, like food, especially when there is Plenty, is meant to be shared, to be celebrated, with others. It is meant to be given away to enrich the world, through children, deeds, art and language. The sonnet itself stands as testimony to that which could have never been published but was. ( Note a larger ontological problem with the publication of the Sonnets here.)

"by the grave and thee." If you cannot take pity on the world and become the glutton that devours what belongs to the world and you, in turn, and all of your precious beauty and talents, will be eaten by the grave, by Death. You will become food for the grave. Food for worms.


Notes 4/23/2017:

Reading William Gass' Reading Rilke, I encounter right there at the first these remarkable passages which point back - in my mind - to Sonnet 1 with such clear vision. The synchronistic Aha! rising up from the long forgotten. Note the interplay of the roses, eyes, unfoldings, blushings and bloomings of the erotic, petals falling, the rose as fruit (riper), self-containing - "if self-containing means: to transform the world." 

Open-eyed, Rainer Maria Rilke died in the arms of his doctor on December 29, 1926. The leukemia which killed him had been almost reluctantly diagnosed, and had struck like a storm, after a period of gathering clouds. Ulcerous sores appeared in his mouth, pain troubled his stomach and intestines, he slept a lot when his body let him, his spirit was weighed down by depression, while physically he became as thin and fluttery as a leaf. Since, according to the gloom that naturally descended on him, Rilke’s creative life was over, he undertook translations during his last months: of Valéry in particular—“Eupalinos,” “The Cemetery by the Sea”—and composed his epitaph, too, invoking the flower he so devotedly tended.


The myth concerning the onset of his illness was, even among his myths, the most remarkable. To honor a visitor, the Egyptian beauty Nimet Eloui, Rilke gathered some roses from his garden. While doing so, he pricked his hand on a thorn. This small wound failed to heal, grew rapidly worse, soon his entire arm was swollen, and his other arm became affected as well.  According to the preferred story, this was the way Rilke’s disease announced itself, although Ralph Freedman, his judicious and most recent biographer, puts that melancholy event more than a year earlier.

Roses climb his life as if he were their trellis. Turn the clock back twenty-four years to 1900. Rilke is a guest at Worpswede, an artists’ colony near Bremen, and it is there he has made the acquaintance of the painter Paula Becker and his future wife, Clara Westhoff. One bright Sunday morning, in a romantic mood, Rilke brings his new friends a few flowers, and writes about the gesture in his diary:

"I invented a new form of caress: placing a rose gently on a closed eye until its coolness can no longer be felt; only the gentle petal will continue to rest on the eyelid like sleep just before dawn."


The rose is a distilling eye. It gathers light and filters it until the concentration is powerful and pure, until its stamens become erect. If the rose is not a poem, the poem is surely a rose.

And the movement in the roses, look:

gestures which make such minute vibrations
they’d remain invisible if their rays
did not resolutely ripple out into the wide world.

Look at that white one which has blissfully unfolded
to stand amidst its splay of petals
like Venus boldly balanced on her shell;
look too at the bloom that blushes, bends
toward the one with more composure,
and see how the pale one aloofly withdraws;
and how the cold one stands, closed upon itself,
among those open roses, shedding all.

And what they shed: how it can be light or heavy,
a cloak, a burden, a wing, a mask—it just depends—
and how they let it fall: as if disrobing for a lover.


The poet collects the world inside himself as the rose gathers the light of the skies, and there he intensifies it until the phallic element of the flower dominates the symbol. Eventually the rose bestrews itself. Petals, like poems, leave their tree. The beautiful unity the rose once was now becomes a fall of discoloring shards; yet these petals can help us see to another part of the world as through a stained-glass window.

“What can’t they be? Was that yellow one,
lying there hollow and open, not the rind
of a fruit in which the very same yellow
was its more intense and darkening juice?
And was this other undone by its opening,
since, so exposed, its ineffable pink
has picked up lilac’s bitter aftertaste?
And the cambric, is it not a dress
to which a chemise, light and warm as breath,
still clings, though both were abandoned
amid morning shadows near the old woodland pool?
And this of opalescent porcelain
is a shallow fragile china cup
full of tiny shining butterflies—
and there—that one’s holding nothing but itself.”

Later, in the August of an emptied Paris, Rilke will compose a poem about the interior of the rose: it is first an Inside awaiting its Outside, then a bandaged wound, at last a lake full of the sky’s reflection. When the rose is blown and the petals part, they fill, as if fueling for the journey, with inner space, finally overflowing into the August days, until summer becomes ein Zimmer in einem Traum—a room in a dream. But it is “The Bowl of Roses” which remains Rilke’s great rose-poem.

"And aren’t they all that way? just self-containing,
if self-containing means: to transform the world
with its wind and rain and springtime’s patience
and guilt and restlessness and obscure fate
and the darkness of evening earth and even
the changing clouds, coming and going,
even the vague intercession of distant stars,
into a handful of inner life.

It now lies free of care in these open roses.”

- From: William H. Gass, Reading Rilke


From Wikipedia: Day of the Dead [ emphasis mine ]

People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed. 
Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the three-day period families usually clean and decorate graves; most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas (offerings), which often include orange Mexican marigolds (Tagetes erecta) called cempasúchil (originally named cempoaxochitl, Nahuatl for "twenty flowers").
In modern Mexico this name is sometimes replaced with the term Flor de Muerto (Flower of Dead). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings.

Mixtec ofrenda of Day of the Dead

Mexican cempasúchitl (marigold) is the traditional flower used at honor to the dead
Toys are brought for dead children (los angelitos, or "the little angels"), and bottles of tequila, mezcal or pulque or jars of atole for adults. Families will also offer trinkets or the deceased's favorite candies on the grave. Ofrendas are also put in homes, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto ("bread of dead"), and sugar skulls and beverages such as atole. The ofrendas are left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the deceased. Some people believe the spirits of the dead eat the "spiritual essence" of the ofrendas food, so though the celebrators eat the food after the festivities, they believe it lacks nutritional value. Pillows and blankets are left out so the deceased can rest after their long journey. In some parts of Mexico such as the towns of Mixquic, Pátzcuaro and Janitzio, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives. In many places people have picnics at the grave site, as well.


Notes 4/8/2017

I sometimes amuse myself by imaging highly memorable scenes from the Sonnets. There are two identical oak great chairs, carved with images of birds and snakes, sitting on either side of the an elaborately carved oak table which depicts scenes from Ovid's Metamorphosis.. The table is in the center of a room with one window looking out onto a cultivated Garden.

The Mother of the Young Man, knowing how much he adores the work of Shakespeare, has just introduced them to each other and left them alone to talk. Sonnets 1 to 126 are a record of their conversations and mark developments in their relationship.

Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southhampton

The Young Man is dressed in an pearlescent jerkin over which is a similarly toned doublet. There is a richly embroidered hanging ruff around his neck. The bottom his doublet is a patterned gold, with gold upper hose and beige nether hose. He has removed his gloves and shoes and sits askew in a chair, one leg draped over the arm, his legs apart, slumped down, lasciviously gazing upon Shakespeare with parted lips. Shakespeare is standing before him with a crooked smile, dressed plainly in black with a white collar. There is gold ring in his left ear. He seems hesitant to sit down. There is a pale white greyhound asleep on the floor.

Upon the table is a

Red Rose is a crystal vase
A black bowl of dried Rose Petals
A white bowl of unopened Rose Buds
A Silver Hand Mirror with a Narcissus molded upon the reverse.
A thick flesh colored beeswax Candle

Shakespeare explains to the Young Man the necessity for him to breed, to procreate. This is not merely to establish an heir for his family's fortunes, but to also honor and extend that Beauty the Young Man was born with.

Shakespeare pets the dog, the fine product of many generations of breeding.

From fairest creatures we desire increase

At the word "increase" the Young Man raises and eyebrow and openly caresses his crotch.

Shakespeare lifts the Rose and gives it to the Young Man, who puts it in his mouth and eats it, all the while holding Shakespeare's gaze.

That thereby beauty's rose might never die,

Shakespeare laughs sardonically and throws the bowl of dried rose petals at the Young Man. The petals collect beautifully in his long red hair.

But as the riper should by time decease,

Now Shakespeare takes one of the green Rose Buds and places it on his tongue. He approaches the Young Man, lowers to his mouth and tenderly slips the Rose Bud into it.

His tender heir might bear his memory:

Shakespeare pulls the Young Man up and kneeling down between his legs places the Hand Mirror in the Young Man's crotch.

But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,

Now looking into the Mirror to catch the Young Man's eyes inside of it, Shakespeare places the thick flesh colored Candle upon the mirror so that it rises up like a burning cock.

Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,

Shakespeare takes the Young Man's hand and wraps it around the Candle, holds his own over it as he strokes the Candle up and down.

Making a famine where abundance lies,

Shakespeare removes his hand from the Young Man's and tilts the Candle until it spills creamy white wax over the Young Man's breeches. The Young Man gives a slight cry as the heat touches through the fabric. Shakespeare blows out the Candle.

Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:

He places his hand around the Young Man's cock and suddenly clenches tight upon the hardening member. Like a dog on a leash, he pulls the Young Man up and leads him across the room to the window. Never releasing his hold in the hard cock, he turns the Young Man so that his back is to the window. Shakespeare kneels down with his face inches from the Young Man's cock. With a pull, the releases the Young Man's breeches and liberates the cock. It is huge, pulsing with lust.

Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,

Outside in the Garden, the birds begin to sing in chorus, a beautiful melancholy song. Shakespeare takes the Young Man's cock into his mouth.

And only herald to the gaudy spring,

With his hands, Shakespeare is spreading apart the Young Man's ass and begins to insert the tightly folded Rose Buds into the Young Man's asshole. He takes his mouth off of the cock to say:

Within thine own bud buriest thy content,

The Young Man cannot take it anymore and shoots great arcs of pearly cum across the room, splattering the floor and walls.

Shakespeare shakes his head sadly and chides him:

And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding:

But then he tenderly begins to lick and eat the cum as it continues to ooze from the Young Man's cock.

Pity the world, or else this glutton be,

He stands up, his mouth full of cum, and places the rich load into the Young Man's mouth,

To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.