Eldest Son, Second Daughter, and I watched the movie Gladiator tonight. It wasn’t too bad even though it was rated R. Very bloody, of course. And there was an incest theme that my children thought was “gross.” The main character, Maximus, was somewhat heroic, motivated by love of family and by desire for revenge–in about equal parts I would say. The bad guys were really bad, and the good guys were mostly good. Maximus believed that he would rejoin his family after death in Elysium, but that belief had no basis that I could see. His “faith” reminded me of that of most secular Americans. “God loves everybody, and so everybody except for Hitler and Osama Bin Laden will probably make it to heaven where we’ll all be happy forever.” I wouldn’t add this one to my list of 100 Best Movies, but as I said at the beginning it was not bad. (By the way, it’s rated R for graphic violence, not for sex or language.) Braveheart was better.
Here’s another spring poem, this one by A.E. Houseman whose birthday is also today.
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
Today is the birthday of one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost. I was reading some of his poems here, and I came across this one:
A Prayer in Spring
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
I found this article by Chris Schlect at Credenda Agenda while blog browsing tonight. I think I’ll teach Z (2 years) and Bee (5 years) this prayer:
You are good,
We are sinful
because of Adam
of what we have done.
Thank you for Jesus,
who gave to us
and took from us
Thank you for the saints,
for the bread and the cup,
and for all good things.
In Jesus’ name,
I looked up Lady Anne Fanshawe since she was in my birthday book for today and found that she was married to a royalist diplomat, lived during the Restoration (Charles II), and had fourteen children. She wrote a memoir which was published a century or two after her death. I tried to read some of the memoir online here , however, I’m fairly sure that books are going to be around for a long time. Reading a blog or a column online is one thing, but trying to read a book online is miserable. I’m not sure why. I didn’t even make it through the introduction. Give me a paperback (or a hardback) that I can take with me where ever I go. I think I’ll go to bed and read P.G. Wodehouse. I’ll wait for Lady Fanshawe’s memoirs to come out in paperback.
(This was written by Eldest Daughter for a college class–based loosely on parts of Petrarch’s Secretum.)
Dear Diary, Monday
I?ve been really depressed for a while now, so today I decided to go see a shrink. Normally I think that psychologists make people worse than they are in the first place, but I?m kind of desperate. I mean, I?ve been miserable for quite a while, and I don?t seem to be getting better, despite my efforts to get myself out of this rut. So this morning I picked up the phone book, flipped to the P?s, and picked a name at random ? Dr. Vera Veritas. I dialed the number and set up an appointment for tomorrow afternoon at three. I don?t have much hope for the interview, but we?ll see how it goes.
Dear Diary, Tuesday
When I got to her office, Dr. Veritas showed me into a small room, and asked me to wait for a few minutes. When she came back, she brought an old man with her, introduced him to me as St. Augustine, and explained that he was better qualified to talk me through my problems. This was clearly some kind of joke, but I decided to suspend my disbelief and go along with it. This was our dialogue:
Augustine: What seems to be the problem?
Frankie: Well, you know, I?m depressed.
A: Not nearly depressed enough.
William Morris (born March 24, 1834) was a prominent and vocal socialist in his day, and I suspect FlyLady of psychobabble tendencies, but they have something in common.
FlyLady says, “If you don’t use it and it doesn’t make you smile, fling it!”
Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Same sentiment, good advice even from a socialist.
Here’s somefree desktop wallpaper based on William Morris designs (works on a PC but not on my Mac as far as I can tell). Morris was multi-faceted–interested in textile designs, stained glass, poetry, crafts, furniture design, and home decoration in general.
After wishing yesterday that I could write a decent nursery rhyme, full of sound and fury signifying something, I find out that good old G.K. Chesterton did. At least, acccording to Jack at Moteworthy, he wrote parodies of nursery rhymes. Oh, well, I already knew that I wasn’t in the same class with Chesterton. And Eldest Daughter tells me that she’s going to write a paper for her Great Texts class in which Augustine “psychoanalyzes” a modern-day seeker after self-esteem. Apparently, according to same daughter, Petrarch managed to call Augustine back from the dead and have him spout Petrarch’s ideas about death–which seem rather morbid to me when I hear them from Eldest Daughter third hand–or is it fourth hand? Anyway, the question is: why can’t I be creative like Petrarch and G.K. Chesterton and P. G. Wodehouse and Eldest Daughter? Is it because I go by Sherry instead of S.D.?
This illustration is from English illustrator Randolph Caldecott for whom the Caldecott Medal for Illustrators is named. His birthday is today. . The Caldecott Society in England has this information about the nursery rhyme on its website:
When Randolph Caldecott produced this book, the Nursery Rhyme on which it was based seemed to be just a children’s song. But, only 60 years previously, when the rhyme about “four and twenty black birds” first appeared, it was full of political significance, based on the “Cato Street Conspiracy” (1820) in which 24 men (one of whom was black) plotted to murder the entire Cabinet at dinner one night. When they were discovered, many of them began to tell about the others in the hope of saving their own lives – hence “the birds began to sing”.
I wish I could make up a seemingly innocent poem full of political significance.