Sunday, August 31, 2014



You’ve made me happier than I’ve ever been
And I just wanted to say thank you
for all the love you give

whenever I need someone in my corner
You’re there to hold my hand,
to love me and comfort me;
You always understand

You know just how to make me smile
even when my world is falling apart
You know exactly how
to bring peace to my heart

So, thank you for all the love you give
You’re all I will ever need;
in you I’ve found my love and my best friend.

So, thank you

How Wang-Fô was saved by Marguerite Yourcenar

Marguerite Yourcenar 1903 - 1987

Marguerite Yourcenar was a Belgian-born French novelist and essayist. Winner of the Prix Femina and the Erasmus Prize,  she was the first woman elected to the Academie francaise,  in 1980, and the seventeenth person to occupy Seat 3.

Yourcenar was born Marguerite Antoinette Jeanne Marie Ghislaine Cleenewerck de Crayencour in Brussels, Belgium, to Michel Cleenewerck de Crayencour, of French bourgeois descent, and a Belgian mother, Fernande de Cartier de Marchienne, of Belgian nobility, who died ten days after her birth. She grew up in the home of her paternal grandmother.

Yourcenar's first novel, Alexis, was published in 1929. She translated Virginia Woolf's ”The Waves”  over a 10-month period in 1937.

In 1939 Yourcenar's intimate companion at the time, the literary scholar and Kansas City native Grace Frick, invited the writer to the United States to escape the outbreak of World War II  in Europe. Yourcenar lectured in comparative literature in New York City and Sarah Lawrence College.

Yourcenar was bisexual;  she and Frick became lovers in 1937 and remained together until Frick's death in 1979. After ten years spent in Hartford, Connecticut, they bought a house in Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine  where they lived for decades.

In 1951, she published, in France, the novel Memoires d'Hadrien, which she had been writing with pauses for a decade. The novel was an immediate success and met with great critical acclaim. In this novel, Yourcenar recreated the life and death of one of the great rulers of the ancient world, the Roman Emperor Hadrian,  who writes a long letter to Marcus Aurelius,  the son and heir of Antoninus Oius, his successor and adoptive son. The Emperor meditates on his past, describing both his triumphs and his failures, his love for Antinous, and his philosophy. The novel has become a modern classic.

In 1980, Yourcenar was the first female member elected to the Academie francaise.  An anecdote tells of how the bathroom labels were then changed in this male-dominated institution: "Messieurs | Marguerite Yourcenar" (Gents / Marguerite Yourcenar). One of the most respected writers in the French language, she published many novels, essays, and poems, as well as three volumes of memoirs.

Yourcenar's house on Mount Desert Island, Petite Plaisance, is now a museum dedicated to her memory. She is buried across the sound in Somesville, Maine.


How Wang-Fô was saved

The old painter, Wang-Fô and his disciple Ling, wandered the roads of the Han Empire.

They advanced slowly since Wang-Fô would stop at night to contemplate the starry firmament and during the day, the dragon flies.  They carried little since Wang-Fô loved the image of things, not things in themselves.  No object in the world seemed to him worthy of possession if it weren’t for brushes, pigments, jars of lacquer and rolls of silk or rice paper.  They were poor; Wang-Fô traded his paintings for a bit of food while despising even small silver coin.

His disciple, Ling, walked heavily under the weight of a bag full of sketches; he doubled his back respectfully as if he carried the firmament of the skies; as that sackto Ling’s eyeswas full of mountains covered in snows, with rivers in spring and the face of the moon in summer.

Ling hadn’t been born to walk along side the old man in whose power was the aurora, was caught the twilight.  His father had been a dealer in gold; his mother the only child of a jade dealer whose estate and legacy he had left her with a curse, at her not having been the son he wanted.  Ling had grown in a house where riches did away with insecurities.  That existence, carefully tended, had turned him timid: he was afraid of insects, of storm and tempest and of the features on the faces of the dead.

When he reached fifteen years his father found him a bride and he chose the greatest beauty since the idea of happiness she could provide his son was a consolation to an age when night had turned to no purpose but sleep.

Ling’s bride was as fragile as a reed, infantile as milk, sweet as saliva, salty as tears.  After the wedding Ling’s parents took their discretion to the point of dying and their son was left in the house painted with cinnabar, alone with his bride who never left off smiling and the plum tree that flowered pink every spring.

Ling loved that woman of limpid heart just as one might love a mirror never blemished by steam or an amulet that never failed to protect.  He went to the tea houses as was the fashion and favoured, moderately, dancers and acrobats.

One night in one of these fashionable tea houses he found himself accompanied at his table by Wang-Fô.  The old man had drunk in order to put himself in a state that permitted him the ability to capture in paintthe drunk.  His head inclined to one side as if to better judge the distance between his hand and his cup.  The rice wine untied the tongue of that ancient and taciturn artisan; that night, Wang talked as if the silence were a wall and his words destined to spread it with colour.

Thanks’ to him Ling understood the beauty reflected in the faces of the drinkers, blurred by the smoke of the hot drink, the toasted splendour of the skin and meat, licked by the tongue of the fire that lit them.  The exquisite rose stains of spilled wine on the tablecloths like withered flower petals.  A gust of wind blew open a window and the storm penetrated the room.  Wang-Fô quickly ducked down so that Ling could admire the livid beauty in the seam of lightning and Ling, astonished, never again feared the tempest.

Ling paid the old painter’s bill; Wang-Fô had no money nor bed nor dwelling, Ling humbly offered refuge.  They walked together, Ling carried a lantern whose light projected a surprising flash and sparkle in the puddles and that night Ling realized with astonishment that the walls of his house were no longer the red of cinnabar as he believed but rather the colour of an orange that has begun to rot.

In the courtyard Wang-Fô pointed out the shape of a delicate bush that no-one had noticed before and compared it to the silhouette of a young woman drying her hair.  In the hallway he walked slowly with faltering step, as he was distracted from his purpose by the wavering path of an ant along the length of the cracks in the wall; and Ling’s horror of those little creatures vanished.  Then, in that moment, Ling understood Wang-Fô had given him a soul, a new perception.  He put the old man to bed with respect in the room his own parents had died.

Wang-Fô had dreamed for many years of painting a princess of old, playing the lute under a willow.  No woman ever seemed unreal enough to model but Ling could be, since he was not a woman.  Later Wang-Fô talked of painting a young Prince tensing a bow under a tall cedar.  No youth of his time was unreal enough to model but Ling sent his wife to pose with bow and arrow under the plum tree in the garden.  Afterwards Wang-Fô painted her as sprite among clouds and she cried as this was a harbinger of death.

Since Ling preferred Wang-Fô’s portraits of her to herself, her face withered like a flower fighting the wind or the summer rain.  One morning they woke to find her hung by her neck from the plum tree in full rosen bloom: the length of the silken scarf that strangled her mixed in her wind-blown hair and she seemed more svelte than ever, as pure as the beauties sung by poets in times gone, and Ling never again feared the face of death.  Wang-Fô painted her one last time because he admired the greenish tone that dead faces acquire.  His disciple, Ling, ground his paints and the job required such application that he forgot to shed tears.

Ling eventually sold his slaves, his jade and the koi fish of his fountain to provide his master jars of violet paint brought all the way from the Occident.  When the house was emptied they left and Ling closed the doors to his past.  Wang-Fô was tired of the city where the faces could teach him no more secrets of beauty or ugliness and, together, master and apprentice, they roved the walks of the Empire of Han.

Their reputation preceded them in the villages, the verge, the thresholds of the fortified castles and beneath the lintels of the temples where refuged the restless peregrines at the fall of dusk.  It was said Wang-Fô had the power to give life to his paintings thanks’ to a last touch of colour he added to their eyes.  The bumpkins turned up to supplicate he paint them a guardian dog and the lords to ask he paint them soldiers.  The monks honoured him as a wise man while the people feared him like a witch.  Wang was pleased by these differences of opinion that allowed him to study the different expressions of gratitude, fear and veneration.

Ling begged their daily food, watched over the sleep of his teacher and took advantage of his euphoria to massage his feet.  As the morning threatened and his master still slept he would go out to look for timid landscape behind the thicket or reed.  At night when the master, disconsolate or disappointed, threw his brushes to the ground Ling picked them up and put them away carefully till the inspiration recaptured Wang-Fô’s soul.  When he was sad and talked of his old age Ling would smile and point to the robust trunk of an old Oak.  When he was happy and spoke with light-hearted silliness, Ling would pretend to listen with humility.

One day, as evening set in, they arrived at the outskirts of at the Imperial city and Ling looked for accommodation to pass the night.  The old man wrapped himself in his rags and Ling lay down beside him to offer the heat of his body; springtime had just arrived and the clay floor was still frozen.  As dawn broke heavy footsteps resonated in the hall of the inn, the fearful whispers of the inn-keeper were answered in a barbarous shout.  Ling stretched and thought of the rice cake he had stolen for his master’s alimentation the day before and didn’t doubt they came to arrest him and he wondered, who would feed Wang-Fô on the morrow ? Who would help him ford the next river ?

The soldiers entered lanterns first; the light filtered by the coloured paper threw red and blue patterns over their leather helmets.  The string of a bow vibrated on a shoulder, and, suddenly, the most ferocious growled without any reason at all.  One put his heavy hand on the nape of Wang-Fô’s neck who couldn’t avoid noting how the colour of his sleeve didn’t go well with the colour of his jacket.

Helped by his disciple Wang-Fô followed the soldiers, faltering over the uneven ground.  The tight group moved forward and the soldiers laughed at those who would, most likely, soon be decapitated.   At Wang’s questions only wild and threatening faces offered response, his tied hands hurt and Ling, desperate, looked to his master with a smilea mannerism that was to him, more gentle than crying.

They arrived at the doors of the Imperial palace whose violet walls stood in the plain light-of-day like a piece of twilight.  The soldiers obliged Wang-Fô to cross innumerable square or circular rooms each a symbol of the seasons, the cardinal points, the masculine and the feminine, their length the prerogative of power.  The doors turned on their hinges emitting a musical note, their disposition such that one could traverse them all from the rise of the sun in the east to its fall in the west; everything concerted to imply a super-human power and subtlety; one could perceive the appalling orders given, and one knew their terrible content was as definitive as was the wisdom of the past. 
Finally the air became more rare, more scarce, the silence became so profound that not even the tortured would have dared shout under its weight.  A eunuch lifted a curtain, the soldiers trembled like girls, and the small group entered where the Son of the Sky sat on his throne.

It was a hall without walls upheld by columns of blue stone.  A garden flowered at the other side of the pillars and each little copse was made of rare species brought from over the seas but none was perfumed for fear their aroma might disturb the meditation of the Dragon of the Skies.  Out of respect for the silence that bathed his thoughts no bird was admitted to the interior of the quarter, indeed, even the bees had been expulsed.   A tall wall closed off the garden from the world with the purpose of keeping the wind that passes over the burst corpses of dogs and the cadavers on the field of battle, from brushing even the sleeve of the emperor.

The Master of the Sky was seated on a throne of jade and his hands were wrinkled like those of an old man though he couldn’t have been more than twenty.  His clothes were blue to simulate winter and green to remember spring.  His mien was comely but inscrutable like a mirror set so high it only reflected spaceimplacable and inexorable sky.

To his right was his Minister of perfect pleasures and to his left his adviser of just torment.  As his courtiers, lined up by the columns, stretched their hearing to catch the least of the Emperor’s utterances he had acquired the habit of speaking always in the lowest of voices.

Oh Dragon of the Sky, addressed Wang-Fô, prostrating himself: I am old, I am poor, I am weak.  You are the summer I the winter.  You have ten thousand lives while I have only one and soon it will be over.  What have I done to you? They have tied hands that have never done you harm.
You ask what you have done to me old Wang-Fô? Said the Emperor.

His voice was so melodious that upon hearing it one wanted to cry.  He raised his right hand and the reflection of the floor of jade turned it to a moss of the sea.  Wang-Fô marvelled at those long thin fingers and tried to remember if at some time he had done a portrait so mediocre he merited execution.  But not only couldn’t remember such a crime but thought it highly improbable as he had hardly stepped into the environs of the court, always preferring the huts of farmers or, in the cities, the hovels of prostitutes or the taverns of the piers where the longshoremen fight.

You ask what you have done to me old Wang-Fô ? Pursued the Emperor, inclining his thin neck toward the old man who listened to him: I will tell you.  But like poison that cannot enter us but by our nine orifices, to put you in the presence of your guilt I will have to trod the halls of my memory and tell you of my whole life.  My father reunited a collection of your paintings in the most secret rooms of the palace because he felt the paintings must be protected from profane stares from which they are not able to lower their eyes.  In those rooms they educated me old Wang-Fô, disposing of a great solitude in which I was permitted to grow, with the object of avoiding splashing my candour with the agitated waves of my future subjects.

No-one was allowed to pass before my doors for fear their shadows might extend until they grazed my person. The few servants that were allowed me, showed themselves as little as possible; the hours turned in an interminable circle.  The colours in your paintings resuscitated with the dawn and paled in the dusk.  At night I contemplated them when I couldn’t sleep.  During ten long years of consecutive nights I looked at them… and looked at them…

During the day, sat on a rug whose design I knew by heart, resting my empty hands on the yellow silk of my knees I dreamt of the pleasures my future promised.  I imagined the world with the Empire of Han at its centre similar to the plain of my palm cut by the fatal lines of the five rivers.  Around it the five seas where the monsters are born and further still the mountains that sustain the sky.

To help me imagine all this I had your paintings.  You made me believe the sea looked like the vast layer of water in your paintingsso blue that a stone that fell into its depths couldn’t but turn to sapphire.  That women didn’t but open and close like flowers similar to the creatures that advance, pushed by the breeze along the walks of your gardens and that the young warriors of slim waist that watch over the borders in our fortified castles were like arrows that could pierce our heart.

At sixteen I saw opened the doors that separated me from the world, I went up to the terraces to see the clouds but they were less beautiful than your twilights.  I called for my litter and along the roads was shaken by the rocks and dust I hadn’t foreseen.  I travelled my provinces without finding your gardens filled with women like lightning bugsthose women you painted whose bodies were themselves gardens.  At the ocean’s rim I was disgusted by the sharp rocks and forgotten shells.  The blood of the executed was less red than the painted pomegranate of your sketches.  The parasites in the villages impeded my ability to enjoy the beauty of the rice paddies and the live meat of women revolted me as much as the dead meat hung on hooks at the butcher’s while the uncouth laughter of my soldiers made me feel nausea.

You lied to me old impostor: the world is no more than a mass of confused stains thrown to the void by a foolish artist, erased without cease by our tears.

The Han Empire is not the most beautiful and I am not an Emperor.  The only Empire worth the ruling is the one you penetrate, old Wang-Fô, by the walk of a thousand turns and the ten thousand colours.  Only you rule over mountains whose snows never melt, over fields whose narcissi never wither.

With this, Wang-Fô, I have found the torment of your curse, am disgusted by all I own and wish for all I cannot have.  To lock you in the only cell from which you cannot escape I have decided to burn your eyes since they are the magic doors to your realm.  And since your hands are the two roads with their ten bifurcations that lead you to the heart of your kingdom I will have them cut off.  Do you understand me old Wang-Fô ?

Upon hearing the sentence the disciple Ling pulled a gap-toothed blade from his belt and threw himself on the Emperor, but long before his lunge reached the Son of the Sky two guards caught him up and the Dragon-king smiled as he added in a whisper: I hate you also old Wang-Fô because you have been lovedkill the dog !

Ling quickly jumped backward so as not to offend his master with the splashing of his blood, and one of the guards lifted his sabre and Ling’s head was separated from his body like a plucked flower.  The soldiers picked up the pieces of his body and Wang-Fô, though desperate, couldn’t none-the-less, avoid admiring the gorgeous scarlet stain juxtaposed against the green jade floor.

The Emperor made a slight sign and two eunuchs cleaned his eyes.

Listen to me old Wang-Fô, said the Emperor, dry your tears, it is not the moment to cry.  Your eyes must remain clear for the purpose that the little light left to them must be put to, a use that mustn’t be ruined by the mist of sorrow.  I do not want your death because of rancour, nor for cruelty do I want to see you suffer.  I have another project, old Wang-Fô.  Among my collection of your paintings I own an admirable but unfinished sketch in which is reflected the mountains in the river’s estuary, infinitely reduced it is true but with an evidence of their truth that overwhelms the thing in itself, like figures looking at themselves through a glass sphere.  But this work is unfinished Wang-Fô, your masterpiece no more than an outline.  Probably you were distracted in the moment you sat in a solitary valley by a bird that flew by, or the boy who chased it or the bird’s beak, or the child’s cheek, made you forget the blinking purple waves of the sea.  You did not finish the shawl of the sea, nor the hair of the algae on the rocks.

I want you to use the hours left to you finishing this painting that will lock the accumulated secrets of your long life in its beauty.  I do not doubt your hands, so near to being separated from you, will tremble on the silk and the infinite will penetrate your work.  Nor do I doubt your eyes so near being annihilated, will discover relationships at the limit of human sensibility.  Think that this last desire of mine is a benevolence on my part as I know the cloth is the only lover you have ever caressed; think of my offering you some brushes and pigment as akin to a charitable offering of a lover to a man about to die.

At the lifting of the small finger of the Emperor’s hand two eunuchs brought the unfinished painting where Wang-Fô had sketched the sea and sky.  Wang-Fô dried his tears and smiled at the sight of the old sketch that brought back memories of his youth.  Everything about the few lines drawn on silk testified to a freshness of soul old Wang-Fô could no longer aspire to, but at the same time it spoke of something essential that was missingat the time of its execution Wang-Fô had not contemplated duly the mountains, nor the rocks that made up its naked flanks nor the water of the sea that wet them.  Nor had he been soaked sufficiently by the sadness of twilight.

He chose a brush among those offered by a slave and began painting some broad strokes of blue over the water while a eunuch squatted at his feet and ground colours for him, a task he did rather badly and Wang-Fô missed Ling more than before.

He began adding a tiny point of rose to a cloud that rested on the mountain, then added some wrinkles to the surface of the sea which did no more than accentuate its serenity.  The jade floor on which he stood began to become distinctly humid but Wang-Fô, absorbed in his work, did not notice.

The fragile boat in the foreground now filled the whole first plane of the silk scroll and the sound of oars splashing in the water could be heard in the distance but came closer and closer and grew louder and louder, till it filled the hall of the Son of the Sky.  Then it stopped and only the melancholy dripping of the raised oars broke the imperturbable silence.  It had been some time since the red irons heated to close old Wang-Fô’s eyes had gone out and become cold in the hot coals of the executioner’s brass bowl.  The courtiers, immobilised by the etiquette of the court, stood on tip-toe reaching for breath above the waters that filled the room without walls.

The water finally reached the Imperial chest and Ling, for it was Ling who rowed the boat, a tear in one sleeve still un-darned since it had been ripped that very morning by the soldiers at the inn, wore around his neck a strange red scarf.  Wang-Fô said to him with sweetness as he continued to paint: I thought you were dead.  While thou lives, how could I die ?

He helped his master into the boat.  The green jade ceiling reflected in the still waters and the braids of the courtiers floated beside their heads like serpents while the pale head of the Emperor floated like a lotus above the wetness.

Look my disciple, said Wang-Fô with melancholy, these poor unfortunates will drown if they haven’t already, I didn’t know there was enough water in the sea to drown an Emperor, what can we do ?
Don’t worry master, they will soon be left without even a memory of having been wet, only the Emperor will retain a bit of marine bitterness in his heart as memory of this moment.   These people weren’t made to lose themselves in a painting.

And he added: The sea is tranquil and the wind favourable.  The marine birds are making their nests; shall we be underway Master, to a country the other side of the waves ?

Let’s embark, said the old painter.  Wang-Fô took the tiller and Ling bent over the oars, their cadence filled once again the room without walls, firm and regular as a heartbeat.  The water’s level lowered around the majestic vertical rocks that turned back into pillars and very soon only puddles on the floor remained and a little sea foam on the Emperor’s sleeve.

The roll of painted silk sat on the low table and the boat that filled its foreground receded slowly in the sea of blue jade invented by Wang-Fô, until it became so small only Ling’s red scarf and the Master’s long beard could be divined.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

DREAM OF A SUMMER LAND by Martha Lavinia Hoffman


by  Martha Lavinia Hoffman
(1865 - 1900)

I dream  of a land where no thunder-cloud gathers,
Where across the calm waters no tempest may sweep
And where, while we chill in our bleak wintry weather,
The vales in perpetual Summer-time sleep.


I dream of a city across whose bright portals
The sunbeams are rolling in waves of delight,
Where brightness and gladness and joy are immortal,
Where there is no darkness, no winter, no night.


I dream of a meadow where lilies are growing
And fairer than Solomon's glory arrayed,
I dream of a garden where roses are glowing
And never a rose or a lily shall fade.


I dream of a clime where the palm tree is waving
O'er rivers of crystal and pavements of gold,
And seraphs amid the bright waters are laving--
A realm more serene than the Eden of old.


I dream of a song that is ever ascending
O, oft of that anthem of joy have I dreamed!
To Him who hath loved us be praises unending
To Him who from sin unto God hath redeemed.


O Summer, bright Summer ! my thoughts still are roaming
Through thy beautiful day that so lately was mine
And now in the gathering shades of thy gloaming
I dream of a Summer that knows no decline.


'Till yonder rude tempest of desolate seeming
Is melting before the more real unseen
And only the mystery wrought with my dreaming
Like a thin veil of gossamer lieth between.

Thursday, August 28, 2014




Angel of God's light, whom God sends as a companion for me on earth, protect me from the snares of the devil, and help me to walk always as a child of God, my Creator.

Angel of God's truth, whose perfect knowledge  serves what is true, protect me from deceits and temptations. Help me to know the truth, and always to live the truth.

Angel of God's love, who praises Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who sacrificed His
life  for love of us, sustain me as I learn the ways of Divine love, of sacrificial generosity, of meekness and lowliness of heart.

Thank You, my heavenly friend, for your watchfull care.

 At the moment of my death, bring me to heaven, where the one true God, Who is light, Truth  and Love, lives and reigns forever and ever.


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Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant’s garden.
It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass.  Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit.  The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them.  “How happy we are here !” they cried to each other.


One day the Giant came back.  He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years.  After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle.  When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden.

“What are you doing here ?” he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.


“My own garden is my own garden,” said the Giant; “any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.”  So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.



He was a very selfish Giant.

The poor children had now nowhere to play.  They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it.  They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside.  “How happy we were there,” they said to each other.
Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds.  Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still winter.  The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom.  Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep.

 The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost.  “Spring has forgotten this garden,” they cried, “so we will live here all the year round.”  The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver.  Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came.  He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down.  “This is a delightful spot,” he said, “we must ask the Hail on a visit.”  So the Hail came.  Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go.  He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.

“I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming,” said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden; “I hope there will be a change in the weather.”

But the Spring never came, nor the Summer.  The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant’s garden she gave none.  “He is too selfish,” she said.  So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.

One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music.  It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King’s musicians passing by.  It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but it was so long since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed to him to be the most beautiful music in the world.  Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement.  “I believe the Spring has come at last,” said the Giant; and he jumped out of bed and looked out.


What did he see ?

He saw a most wonderful sight.  Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees.  In every tree that he could see there was a little child.  And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children’s heads.  The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing.  It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still winter.  It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy.  He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly.  The poor tree was still quite covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it.  “Climb up! little boy,” said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too tiny.

And the Giant’s heart melted as he looked out.  “How selfish I have been!” he said; “now I know why the Spring would not come here.  I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children’s playground for ever and ever.”  He was really very sorry for what he had done.

So he crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden.  But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again.  Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming.  And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree.  And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant’s neck, and kissed him. 


And the other children, when they saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, came running back, and with them came the Spring.  “It is your garden now, little children,” said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall.  And when the people were going to market at twelve o’clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.
All day long they played, and in the evening they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye.

“But where is your little companion ?” he said: “the boy I put into the tree.”  The Giant loved him the best because he had kissed him.

“We don’t know,” answered the children; “he has gone away.”

“You must tell him to be sure and come here tomorrow,” said the Giant.  But the children said that they did not know where he lived, and had never seen him before; and the Giant felt very sad.

Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant.  But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again.  The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his first little friend, and often spoke of him.  “How I would like to see him!” he used to say.

Years went over, and the Giant grew very old and feeble.  He could not play about any more, so he sat in a huge armchair, and watched the children at their games, and admired his garden.  “I have many beautiful flowers,” he said; “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.”

One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing.  He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.

Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, and looked and looked.  It certainly was a marvellous sight.  In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms.  Its branches were all golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.

Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden.  He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child.  And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, “Who hath dared to wound thee?”  For on the palms of the child’s hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet.

“Who hath dared to wound thee?” cried the Giant; “tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.”

“Nay!” answered the child; “but these are the wounds of Love.”

“Who art thou?” said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, “You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.”

And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.






When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up a mountain and sat down. His disciples came to him,  and he began to teach them:

“Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless.
    The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

 Blessed are those who mourn.
    They will be comforted.

 Blessed are those who are gentle.
    They will inherit the earth.

 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God’s approval.
    They will be satisfied.

 Blessed are those who show mercy.
    They will be treated mercifully.

 Blessed are those whose thoughts are pure.
    They will see God.

 Blessed are those who make peace.
    They will be called God’s children.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of.
    The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

 Blessed are you when people insult you,
    persecute you,
        lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me.
 Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven !

    The prophets who lived before you were persecuted in these ways.

God’s People Make a Difference in the World

 “You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again ? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.

 “You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill.  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house.  In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures

 “Don’t ever think that I came to set aside Moses’ Teachings or the Prophets. I didn’t come to set them aside but to make them come true.  I can guarantee this truth: Until the earth and the heavens disappear, neither a period nor a comma will disappear from the Scriptures before everything has come true.  So whoever sets aside any command that seems unimportant and teaches others to do the same will be unimportant in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches what the commands say will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

I can guarantee that unless you live a life that has God’s approval and do it more faithfully than the experts in Moses’ Teachings and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus Talks about Anger

You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Never murder. Whoever murders will answer for it in court.’  But I can guarantee that whoever is angry with another believer will answer for it in court.

Whoever calls another believer an insulting name will answer for it in the highest court. Whoever calls another believer a fool will answer for it in hellfire.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember there that another believer has something against you, leave your gift at the altar. First go away and make peace with that person. Then come back and offer your gift.
Make peace quickly with your opponent while you are on the way to court with him. Otherwise, he will hand you over to the judge. Then the judge will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison.  I can guarantee this truth: You will never get out until you pay every penny of your fine.

About Sexual Sin

You have heard that it was said, ‘Never commit adultery.’  But I can guarantee that whoever looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery in his heart.
So if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have all of it thrown into hell. And if your right hand leads you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have all of it go into hell.
It has also been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice.’  But I can guarantee that any man who divorces his wife for any reason other than unfaithfulness makes her look as though she has committed adultery. Whoever marries a woman divorced in this way makes himself look as though he has committed adultery.

About Oaths

You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Never break your oath, but give to the Lord what you swore in an oath to give him.’  But I tell you don’t swear an oath at all. Don’t swear an oath by heaven, which is God’s throne,  or by the earth, which is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, which is the city of the great King.  And don’t swear an oath by your head. After all, you cannot make one hair black or white. Simply say yes or no. Anything more than that comes from the evil one.

Love Your Enemies

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to oppose an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn your other cheek to him as well.  If someone wants to sue you in order to take your shirt, let him have your coat too.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him.  Give to everyone who asks you for something. Don’t turn anyone away who wants to borrow something from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I tell you this: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.  In this way you show that you are children of your Father in heaven. He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust.  If you love those who love you, do you deserve a reward ? Even the tax collectors do that !  Are you doing anything remarkable if you welcome only your friends ? Everyone does that ! That is why you must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

THE OLD LOVE-LETTERS by Constance Naden



by Constance Naden

Today I've discovered a treasure
Tied up with a ribbon of blue;
That record of pain and of pleasure,
A packet of old billets-doux.

The note-paper, quite out of fashion,
The date of ten summers ago,
Recall the unreasoning passion
Of juvenile rapture and woe.

No face was so lovely as Minnie's,
I praised it in prose and in verse;
Her curls were like piles of new guineas,
Alas, she had none in her purse!

I loved her for beauty and kindness,
I grieved when I fancied her cold,
But Cupid, quite cured of his blindness,
Now takes a good aim at the gold.

To fair Lady Flora, the heiress,
I've offered my love and my life;
Repenting of ancient vagaries,
I'll settle to wealth and a wife.

The heat of my boyhood is banished
Alike from my heart and my head;
The comet for ever has vanished,
But fireworks will answer instead.

I've kept all my ardent effusions,
Appeal, protestation, and vow:
I'm cured of my youthful delusions,
And can't write such love-letters now.

The thing was excessively silly,
But then we were only eighteen,
And she was all rose-bud and lily,
And I was uncommonly green.

I'm happy to say she was fickle,
She blighted my love with a frown;
It withered, ere Time with his sickle
Could cut the first blossoming down.

We parted, how well I remember
That gloomy yet fortunate day !
It seemed like the ghost of December,
Aroused by the frolics of May.

I shook myself loose from her fetters,
(I did not express it so then);
'Twas well she returned me the letters,
For now I can use them again.

I am not afraid of detection,
I cast all my scruples away;
The embers of former affection
Shall kindle the fire of today.

The Old Love-Letters

TO-DAY I've discovered a treasure
Tied up with a ribbon of blue;
That record of pain and of pleasure,
A packet of old billets-doux.

The note-paper, quite out of fashion,
The date of ten summers ago,
Recall the unreasoning passion
Of juvenile rapture and woe.

No face was so lovely as Minnie's,
I praised it in prose and in verse;
Her curls were like piles of new guineas--
Alas, she had none in her purse!

I loved her for beauty and kindness,
I grieved when I fancied her cold,
But Cupid, quite cured of his blindness,
Now takes a good aim at the gold.

To fair Lady Flora, the heiress,
I've offered my love and my life;
Repenting of ancient vagaries,
I'll settle to wealth and a wife.

The heat of my boyhood is banished
Alike from my heart and my head;
The comet for ever has vanished,
But fireworks will answer instead.

I've kept all my ardent effusions,
Appeal, protestation, and vow:
I'm cured of my youthful delusions,
And can't write such love-letters now.

The thing was excessively silly,
But then we were only eighteen,
And she was all rose-bud and lily,
And I was uncommonly green.

I'm happy to say she was fickle,
She blighted my love with a frown;
It withered, ere Time with his sickle
Could cut the first blossoming down.

We parted--how well I remember
That gloomy yet fortunate day!
It seemed like the ghost of December,
Aroused by the frolics of May.

I shook myself loose from her fetters--
(I did not express it so then);
'Twas well she returned me the letters,
For now I can use them again.

I am not afraid of detection,
I cast all my scruples away;
The embers of former affection
Shall kindle the fire of to-day.
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