Wallie on Words | Wallie’s Wentletrap

After my half year of blogging, my fellow bloggers have made me appreciate anew how many words are “set free” to reveal inner worlds, many of which have enhanced mine. Thanks to those like WalliesWentletrap.com who have made 2014 a memorable year with their “words” – pressed or wrinkled! And a Happy New Year of blogging!

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Wallie on Words

If words go in one ear and out
With all the meaning left without
How sad it is for little words
To know they are not ever heard.
How sad for letters black on white
To know their only hope is sight
And yet it’s lovely too, that we
Can speak the words, and set them free.

via Wallie on Words | Wallie’s Wentletrap

Fall Fest

Sweet the leaves that fall in golden autumn’s light

As sun-soaked taste of chill winds blow through glowing hills of red.

The fragrant earth receives her gain from laden trees o’erhead

As breezes flow from branch to branch and round each swirling bough.

And everywhere the gaze alights an artist’s touch describes

A canopy of praise to Him who makes earth’s laughter bright.

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Bernhard Gutmann, “Gardens, Silvermine” (c. 1910)

Renoir and Dickens: Two Quotes

 

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Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859):

 It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …

 

 

363px-Auguste_Renoir_-_Young_Girls_at_the_Piano_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe great French artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, suffered so much from rheumatoid arthritis that it was difficult for him to paint due to progressive deformities in his hands and shoulders. The painting on the left, “Young Girls at the Piano” (1892), was done when he first developed the disease.

Yet when a friend said, “You have done enough. Why do you torture yourself?” Renoir replied, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

 

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From William Blake’s Press: “The Clod and the Pebble”

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The Clod and the Pebble   (William Blake, 1794)

“Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”
So sung a little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle’s feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:
“Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.”

William Blake, writing in the eighteenth century, was an unusual fellow (take a close gander at  his drawing above), a printer by trade and a great poet by vocation. He quite unaffectedly combined in his person and poetry a certain childlikeness that can catch you off guard with its pointedness, like a child’s penetrating stare, a sharp goad to the smug and self-righteous. The above poem is an instance of this.

 For starters, “The Clod and the Pebble” makes you wonder at the order of the stanzas, whether they weren’t inverted accidentally in the printer’s press. Why, after all, let the Pebble have the last word? Why not the inglorious Clod? But that wouldn’t be Blakean at all! Imagine a child fed at Sunday School the sweet word of God by one in the robe of authority who sees that same one later in the week intemperately cursing the day an incorrigible brother was born. Which impression is the lasting one? Which would it be to you? It was hardly random that Blake chose to include this poem in his Songs of Innocence and Experience collection under Songs of Experience.

The deceptively simple verse leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, like the world usually does, like worldliness in ourselves when we catch ourselves at it.

It makes me wonder too, as I walk the road of sanctification as we all must as Christians, how far down the road have I come? Am I still more of the Pebble than the Clod?

And one last thought. Doesn’t the last word of the poem resonate with a particularly fine invocation of Satan’s response to God’s creation of Eden?

Job’s Wife Speaks

Inspired by the Georges de La Tour painting below, the following poem attempts to give an added voice to the expressive eloquence of Tour’s work by “unmuting” Job’s wife. As a character in the book of Job, his wife is not prominent but, perhaps, delivers the most bitter blow to Job. Through her, we hear the voice of Satan speaking most directly to Job when she asks,  “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). In the midst of his sufferings, I believe Job’s greatest challenge was to withstand this voice and choose to trust God.

Job Mocked by his Wife Georges de La Tour (17th c.)
Job Mocked by his Wife
Georges de La Tour (17th c.)

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Leave-takings

 

Savannah Church Door

It is no wonder that Virginia Woolf entitled a collection of essays on writing “A Room of One’s Own” since not only does a writer’s room occupy a space all its own, like a creative work or an individual’s life, but it maintains the boundaries of that space with enclosing walls formed at its conception. Only a doorway admits entrance or exit both to the occupant and visitor. And whatever that “room” may be, however modest or grand, private or public, man-made or natural, we leave one room only to enter another which in turn we leave for another. It is this sense of leave-taking that we see played out in our lives and in our occupations, but also in the interior spaces of the imagination as artists and storytellers, scholars, and critics.

In our lives, we pass through places, events, times, and histories, our own history intersecting with others’, passing from one day to the next until time stops. As writers we leave the “real” world with its ready-made structures and demands into a self-created world which may or may not bear a resemblance to any we have known.

But leave-taking in its many forms is not an easy job, and the dynamics of its interplay between the leaving of one room for another creates an uneasy tension.

There is an entrance that must be made and, more often than not, what we see is a closed door. Maybe even locked. Perhaps only slammed shut by an unceremoniously hostile exit echoing with the finality of rejection. It doesn’t matter that you yourself may have slammed it shut, stung by criticism or scorn or frustration at fruitless effort. The closed door dares you to approach it once more and make your entrance.

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Where are the Gargoyles of Yesteryear?

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 Gargoyles and chimeras of Notre-Dame de Paris

Our culture glorifies man, not God. It has turned the Gospel to a social do-gooder’s tool so that we turn all our God-given creative energy to social tasks and neglect to glorify God with our offerings of beauty, not just in church architecture but also music, literature, drama and art. Secular educators and media have succeeded in making us feel guilty if we “waste” our money or time by spending it on buying or creating works that attempt to magnify the Father we love, to show forth His glory to the world in gratitude for all we have received. This manipulative guilt has crippled us, so that there is hardly a church on earth that will spend a penny on supporting their own artist, novelist, screenplay writer, classical musician, or architect, and if they do, I suspect they gut the work of its guts, so to speak, so that a Shakespeare (uses bad words), a Michelangelo (nudity) or a Bach (is that really praise music?) is shamed into submission or flight. So the truth we see in beauty belongs to another age, when a Notre Dame (with the gargolyles) was built, a place where people, when they walk in, gasp in astonishment at what man labored to make, only to glorify His maker!