January 31, 2014

Poetry Friday--Happy Chinese New Year!

Welcome to the Year of the Horse!

At the library where I work, we have a copy of Chinese Mother Goose Rhymes, selected by Robert Wyndham, and illustrated by Ed Young. A note in the book lists, as a source, Chinese Mother Goose Rhymes, translated and illustrated by Isaac Taylor Headland of Peking University, Fleming H. Revell Company, copyright 1900. I headed to one of my favorite websites, Project Gutenberg, where I found a copy of the book.

Headland's introduction tells us that over 600 nursery rhymes had been gathered in China, and that undoubtedly there were many more. He wrote of the translations:
We have tried to reproduce the meaning of the original as nearly as possible; this has not always been an easy task. Let it be understood that these rhymes make no pretentions to literary merit, nor has the translator made any attempt at regularity in the meter, because neither the original nor our own "Mother Goose" is regular. Our desire has been to make a translation which is fairly true to the original, and which will please English-speaking children. The child, not the critic, has always been kept in view.
Here's a typical rhyme:


Does it remind you are any English language nursery rhymes?

How about this one?
LADY-BUG

LADY-BUG, lady-bug,
Fly away, do,
Fly to the mountain,
And feed upon dew,
Feed upon dew
And sleep on a rug,
And then run away
Like a good little bug.
Or this?
THE MOUSE

He climbed up the candlestick,
The little mousey brown,
To steal and eat tallow,
And he couldn't get down.
He called for his grandma,
But his grandma was in town,
So he doubled up into a wheel
And rolled himself down.
This rhyme is accompanied by musical notation, but there is no indication whether the music is traditional (either Chinese or English tunes) or was written by Mr. Headland. Since I have no musical ability I can't even hazard a guess!

There are counting rhymes:
GRAB THE KNEE

One grab silver,
Two grabs gold,
Three, don't laugh
And you'll grow old.
And action rhymes:
PULLING THE SAW

We pull the big saw,
We push the big saw,
To saw up the wood,
To build us a house,
In order that baby
May have a good spouse.
Some of the rhymes, like the following, I hope are no longer recited in China:
OF WHAT USE IS A GIRL?

We keep a dog to watch the house,
A pig is useful, too;
We keep a cat to catch a mouse,
But what can we do
With a girl like you?
Even if spoken in a playful, teasing manner, I fear that hearing such a rhyme over and over again would have some negative effects on a girl's self-esteem. I am not one to judge another cultural group, especially when I live in a country where there seems to be a pervasive culture of rape, and another of bullying. These however, are rants for another time! For today, let's celebrate the good things that are found in all cultures--children, love, laughter, and rhymes! And, let's visit The Miss Rumphius Effect for this week's Round-Up!

January 28, 2014

January 26, 2014

January 24, 2014

Poetry Friday--"The Music of a Hyacinth"

I love the smell and color of hyacinths! Most winters, if I've remembered to purchase bulbs in the fall, I force a hyacinth or two to get me through.

Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading. © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Here's the text alone:
The Music of a Hyacinth

In winter months we force
spring to assuage a
longing for color and scent.
We ask a tunic-wrapped
bulb to perform scales alone.

The orchestration for the
complete vernal symphony
has yet to be arranged, but,
we give our fat lady
plenty of time to practice.

A little bit of explanation: I was working on another poem in the fall and I did a little research on flower bulbs. I found that the crinkly skin around a bulb is called a tunic, and the fleshy inside is called the scales. Is it any wonder how I came up with today's poem?

The bulb I started at Thanksgiving, after nearly two months, only has an inch of growth. This winter is not conducive to forcing bulbs. I keep the thermostat as low as possible and the poor bulb must think it is outdoors! [Did any of you catch the Call the Midwife Christmas special? In it, Sister Monica Joan tried to force hyacinths, with much the same result as I'm having. She came to the conclusion that bulbs will bloom in their own time. I don't think I've mentioned before how much I love that series! If you'd like to watch the Christmas special, click here, but hurry, it's only available until next Tuesday.]

I've written about hyacinths in the past, so if you'd like to read more, click here and here.

Tara at A Teaching Life is hosting the Round-Up today. Stop by and tell her I sent you!

January 21, 2014

January 19, 2014

Happy Haiga Day!


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Eagle-eyed readers may recognize the fairies in the spot illustration, I used the illustration once before here.

January 17, 2014

Poetry Friday--Pie Poetry by Popular Demand...

...okay, maybe not "popular demand," but I did get a request last week for a pie haiga from Jama Rattigan. Jama had a delicious post featuring Kate Lebo's A Commonplace Book of Pie. If you missed it, click here. In response to my comment, Jama wrote, "I’d love to see you do a pie haiga sometime."

I'm not one to turn down a challenge, but I realized I already had several pie haiga in my files:


1899 photo courtesy Library of Congress.


1921 pie eating contest photo courtesy Library of Congress.

So as not to feel like I was cheating, I wanted to create a new haiga for Jama, but as my mother was always fond of saying, "the best laid plans of mice and men do oft go awry." This poem, not a haiku, came almost unbidden, and who am I to say, "no, I need a haiku today"?

Painting by Carl Eduard Schuch courtesy The Athenaeum, cropped to fit the poem.

All poems above © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Head down Mississippi way to visit with Keri at Keri Recommends for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

January 14, 2014

Haiku Sticky #236

A tanka for today, because it is Poetry at Work Day, and I need more than three lines to celebrate! Thanks to Violet Nesdoly for the heads-up!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

January 12, 2014

Happy Haiga Day!


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. "Trees under the Snow" by Caspar David Friedrich, courtesy The Athenaeum enhanced with an old illustration in the public domain.

January 10, 2014

Poetry Friday--"Seasonally Affected"


Link on the poem for a clearer look. © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. "After the Snowfall" by Jonas Lie (1908), courtesy The Athenaeum.

A little bit of background: last month I was fortunate enough to be the winner of a copy of O, What a Luxury by Garrison Keillor at Keri Recommends. I commented on one of Keri Collins Lewis's posts when she was running a give-away and my name was selected. Keri and I had a little back-and-forth correspondence as a result. Here in NH we were in the middle of a snowstorm and Keri comes from snowless Mississippi, so I wrote a poem for her, which I posted here. Keri also said, "Make a snow angel for me!" To which I replied that if ever I got down, I'd never be able to get up. She wrote back, "I can see you so clearly, casting about in the snow after making an angel, looking for a different kind of angel to come and help you up!" I only wish that image had been the one that took over, but it didn't, as you can see from the results above. So, although Keri should have this poem dedicated to her, I won't because the poem is a wee bit depressing!

I don't stay blue for long--I think creativity takes the blues and changes them into colors with which to paint, at least it does for me.

Donna at Mainely Write is this Friday's Round-Up host. Dress warmly before heading out!

January 7, 2014

Haiku Sticky #235


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Did you watch the first episode of season 4 on Sunday? The Library staff did!

January 5, 2014

Happy Haiga Day!


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Woodcut print by Koson courtesy Library of Congress.

The word "first" is a kigo (seasonal word) indicating the new year, so, this poem is about the first snow of the new year.

The haiku poet shouldn't personify nature, however, if you've ever walked under a tree which has a crow, then you know that the crow definitely has an opinion about you being there!

January 3, 2014

Poetry Friday--Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu! (Happy New Year!)

Happy New Year! This is the fifth year I'm partaking in a New Year's postcard exchange, known as a Nengayjou. It's also the fifth time I'm writing about it. To see prior years' posts, and to learn more about the Nengayjou, click here, here, here, and here.

There are only 23 poets who signed up this year. I don't know if it's because of the economy, general busy-ness, or if people have simply lost interest. Whatever the reason, there still are two poets participating in Canada, one in Ireland, one in the U.K., and the rest who come from a dozen states, and, if I count myself, the single entry from New Hampshire, it makes a baker's dozen, plus Washington, DC. I received my first postcard, from CA, on December 20, and they continue to arrive daily!

The year 2014 is the Year of the Horse. This is the card I put together, and sent to the participants:

Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading. © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. The star map illustration is by Johannes Hevelius from 1690, and is courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Here's the haiku, in case it is not readable on your screen:
first wish...
without even thinking
she whispers "a pony"

I had some difficulty putting together a design I liked, and, more importantly, would reproduce well in print. Here are a few rejected designs:

OMG! Too bright! I couldn't even finish this one.


This spot illustration from the 1800s is a little too blah.


I really like the goat cart, but holy cow, the color's all wrong.


I was pleased with this one, but the resolution is too poor to print. The illustration, which I altered a bit, is from A Horse Book by Mary Tourtel (1901).

There were a few other attempts, too horrible to share. You can see I was undecided about the postcard size, too. Nothing seemed to click for me this year.

Maybe next year will be better, but, 2015 is the Year of the Sheep, and for some reason, I don't find sheep to be particularly inspiring. Except maybe these dapper guys from the Big E in 2012:


Since I have a few left over (postcards, not sheep), if you'd like one sent to you, please email me privately with your address dDOTmayrATcomcastDOTnet. I'll send them while supply lasts.

The first Round-Up of the New Year is being held at at I Think in Poems. Have fun and have a great year!