Poem for May: Corinna’s going a-maying

by Robert Herrick

GET up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air :
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept and bow’d toward the east
Above an hour since : yet you not dress’d ;
Nay ! not so much as out of bed?
When all the birds have matins said
And sung their thankful hymns, ‘tis sin,
Nay, profanation to keep in,
Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.

Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
And sweet as Flora. Take no care
For jewels for your gown or hair :
Fear not ; the leaves will strew
Gems in abundance upon you :
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept ;
Come and receive them while the light
Hangs on the dew-locks of the night :
And Titan on the eastern hill
Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying :
Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.

Come, my Corinna, come ; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green and trimm’d with trees : see how
Devotion gives each house a bough
Or branch : each porch, each door ere this
An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove ;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street
And open fields and we not see’t ?
Come, we’ll abroad ; and let’s obey
The proclamation made for May :
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying ;
But, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.

There’s not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
Some have despatch’d their cakes and cream
Before that we have left to dream :
And some have wept, and woo’d, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth :
Many a green-gown has been given ;
Many a kiss, both odd and even :
Many a glance too has been sent
From out the eye, love’s firmament ;
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick’d, yet we’re not a-Maying.

Come, let us go while we are in our prime ;
And take the harmless folly of the time.
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun ;
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne’er be found again,
So when or you or I are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drowned with us in endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.

I picked this poem for two reasons. First off, I am the early riser in the relationship and I knew I would enjoy reciting the first stanza to the other household resident early in the morning. And I do. Matt also enjoys being called a slug-a-bed, though he pretends not to. Secondly, this is a poem that manages to capture late adolescence quite nicely and at the same time keeps an eye on death. My favorite lines are: Come, let us go while we are in our prime/And take the harmless folly of the time. I’m also a fan of: So when you and I are made/A fable, song, or fleeting shade.

When I memorized the Walrus and the Carpenter I used my usual technique of start at the top, memorize two lines, keep going until you get to the bottom. The result was that I was thoroughly sick of the first half of the poem by the time I got to the end. To this day, I groan when it is time to review that poem. For this poem, I decided to set up a schedule. Week 1, stanzas one and two. Week 2, stanzas three and four. Week 3, stanza five and integrating. Week 4, joining them together and fully memorizing.

However, I was a bit optimistic in my scheduling. The archaic language slowed me down, as usual. It took more than the first week to get the first stanza. I kept to the plan, though. I would get a stanza into my head and then drop it. By the last days of May I was cramming in the last stanza into my head. Amazingly, I remembered the first ones and the whole thing came together nicely. I will use this approach again when I attempt a longer poem.

I did go a-maying once, when I was of the age to go a-maying. May in Boise, Idaho is particularly seductive. The winds have blown away all the winter and the heat of summer is promised, but mostly not yet realized. In short, the weather is perfect for everything outdoors which makes school slightly less interesting, to say the least. When a certain boy proposed skipping the last two classes to go for a drive, I jumped at the chance. German or springtime spent with a boy I might like? The choice was obvious, sorry Frau Needham.

I recall a sort of daring quality in the invitation, and the implication that I had never skipped a class, which was not true, and I told him that as I was accepting. We piled into his car and drove off toward the foothills. The excitement of doing something a little bit bad and being incredibly happy about it probably needs a German word to fit the moment. Perhaps if I had stayed in class that day I would have one ready.

The foothills were gorgeous, covered with spring wildflowers. It being a weekday afternoon, there was also no one about. We drove and chatted and enjoyed the sun and then he drove me home. Nothing happened, which is what I would have told my parents, had they found out. We really did just drive and chat and enjoy the day. It was a perfect day. There was a promise of something more to come, but neither one of us moved toward it. We simply enjoyed each other’s company. We went a-maying.

Books read in May

My reading style tends to be many books at once. I’ll start something, and if it isn’t a totally compelling narrative, I’ll read a little of that, and then maybe start something else and on and on. Then there tends to be the books I “must” read for one reason or other. This system, informal as it is, hasn’t been working for me lately. In the middle of the month, I decided I would read one book at a time. The thinking was that it would force me to decide earlier that I wasn’t going to finish the book and move onto something I did want to read.

In some ways, it has been a good thing, though I chafe against the restriction when I am working through a “must read” book I’m not enjoying much. I tend to skim then, which for those books, is probably what I should have been doing all along.

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie Ford
The title is how the whole book went. On first glance, it’s a great one. But on second glance it becomes a bit schlocky. So was the plot. However, the relocation of the Japanese was heartbreaking and the book is probably worth reading just for that part.

Living Oprah
Robyn Okrant
A woman does what Oprah tells her to for an entire year. Sometimes this is repetitive, but other times very funny. It’s a quick read, you might enjoy.

Envoy: Your Personal guide to classroom management
Michael Grinder
This here is the discipline plan at George Middle School. Now that I read it, I understand why the teacher doesn’t move for 30 seconds after giving directions.

Every Last One
Anna Quindlan
Nice descriptions of life with teenagers. This is a hard book to read, subject matter-wise.

Empress of the World
Sara Ryan
Good YA first love fiction, but with two girls. These kind of YA books didn’t exist when I was a YA reader, so I was happy to see this.

Radical Homemakers
Shannon Hayes
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Examines women and men who are taking a different path to modern life. Very well written and interesting. Recommended.

Sing them Home
Stephanie Kallos
Nice, thick novel centered on a Nebraska family whose mother was borne away by a tornado. Great characters. Also, a fun take on “the dead.” This is my favorite type of novel.

Started but did not finish

A Celibate Season
Carol Sheilds & Blanch Howard
It turned out I had read this already.

Perennial Vegetables: From Artichoke to Zuki Taro, a gardeners guide to over 100 delicious, easy-to-grow edibles
Eric Tonesmeir
Good guide to vegetables you don’t have to keep planting every year.

Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution
Richard Bernstein
I can tell you, after reading this, that I don’t want to get diabetes so I don’t have to go on his diet. Interesting story of how the author became a doctor.

The Secrets of Making Wine from Fruits and Berries
Leslie G. Slater
Old fashioned book. Tiny, but packed with information.

The complete Diabetes Prevention Plan
Sandra Woodruff and Christopher Saudek
More commercial discussion of the diabetes topic.

Three sentence movie reviews: The Runaways

Gripping drama about rock-n-roll and being perhaps a little too young for things that come your way. Both Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart are so good you forget that they are Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart. Great costumes too.

Bechdel score: Has two women? Yes. Who talk to each other? Yes. About something besides a man? Yes!

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2010/runaways_xlg.html

Three sentence movie reviews: Raw Faith

A small amount of bias goes into this review, because the subject of this documentary is our former Senior Minister*. Still, I was surprised at how touching this movie was, and very funny in places. This is a good documentary for people in transition.

*you can see me for about three seconds in one scene, standing in the balcony in church. My goal during filming was to NOT be on camera and I almost succeeded. However, if you ask Matt, he will tell you he’s dating a movie star.

poster from: http://www.rawfaith.com/press

A strange coming together of topics

From Powell’s “funny books” display:
At first I thought it was tax tips for chefs or restaurant owners and that made sense to me. But then I read on and found that either the Tax Department has a division of Retarded and Developmentally Disabled workers who created this guide, OR the Tax Department’s Employees (not retarded) made this guide for the Retarded and Developmentally Disabled. But then I’m not sure where the culinary part comes in. Maybe the RDD people work in kitchens? Maybe the Tax Department’s employees are spicing up the title with a fun word like culinary? Like many, many things in life, I will never know the answer.

I can’t tell if they are joking or not.

I made a vat of hummus for our Spindrift trip. The hummus also came with celery and carrots for dipping and, of course, pita bread. After we got home, I happened to look at the label and laughed long and hard when I read the diagrams for the suggested ways to cut the pita bread.

There’s something familiar about the hot dog slice and the diagonal taco cut. I feel like I’ve seen it before somewhere…
Oh yes! Those two cuts are THE EXACT SAME CUT AS the sandwich cut. They are just rotated.

Hmmm, I really want to make the “cold cuts” cut, because I’ve got this delicious roast beef. But what should I do if I’m making tiny roast beef sandwiches for snacks? Which cut should I use?

Oh wait! It turns out that the Hors d’oeuvres/Snack Cut and the Cold Cuts cuts are THE EXACT SAME CUT!

I’m really hoping the graphic designer who created this packaging realizes this and is just having a laugh.

Three sentence movie reviews: Iron Man 2

Continuing the tradition of seeing a superhero movie in celebration of our anniversary, we caught up with Tony Stark. I found this movie to be great fun, especially with the always excellent Don Cheadle replacing the mediocre Terrance Howard. Also, I finally find a movie when I can stand to watch Mickey Rourke and, (plus!) Sam Rockwell was awesome, as usual.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2010/iron_man_two.html