“Lines for Winter” by Mark Strand Introduced by Garrison Keillor
Read by Mary Louise Parker
Submitted by Joanne Quinn
Joanne Quinn is the Team Leader for Communication & Service Promotion at Falvey Memorial Library. Joanne was kind enough to submit this poem and the story of how she came to find it: “A sleepless night led to a serendipitous discovery of an NYPL produced podcast of a conversation between Jessica Strand and her father, poet laureate Mark Strand. Their familial banter and his humor drew me in, and I chuckled when he oomphed over the hefty pages of his collected works, Collected Poems, published last month. Strand died Thanksgiving weekend at the age of 80.
When I pulled myself out of bed, I Googled Strand and found this poem. I don’t know about you, but in the year-ending swirl of tests and reviews and finals and navel-gazing, it was just what I needed to hear. I wonder, and hope, that at my life’s end, I’ll too be oomphing over the heft of my own collected works.”
You can access the podcast Joanne references here.
Read by Mary Louise Parker:
“Lines for Winter”
By Mark Strand
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.
“‘Twas the Night Before Finals” by Andrew Hund
Read by Sarah Wingo
Submitted by Bob DeVos
Bob DeVos is the Falvey Memorial Library Interim director, and he submitted “’Twas the Night Before Finals,” saying that it was a poem that he regularly sent to students the night before the Big Test. If you were a student of his during the holiday season, it will probably be familiar to you.
Twas the night before finals, and all through the college,
The students were praying for last minute knowledge.
Most were quite sleepy, but none touched their beds,
While visions of essays danced in their heads.
Out in the taverns, a few were still drinking,
And hoping that liquor would loosen up their thinking.
In my own apartment, I had been pacing,
And dreading exams I soon would be facing.
My roommate was speechless, his nose in his books,
And my comments to him drew unfriendly looks.
I drained all the coffee, and brewed a new pot,
No longer caring that my nerves were shot.
I stared at my notes, but my thoughts were muddy,
My eyes went a blur, I just couldn’t study.
“Some pizza might help,” I said with a shiver,
But each place I called refused to deliver.
I’d nearly concluded that life was too cruel,
With futures depending on grades had in school.
When all of a sudden, our door opened wide,
And Patron Saint Put-It-Off ambled inside.
His spirit was careless, his manner was mellow,
When all of a sudden, he started to bellow:
“On Cliff Notes! On Crib Notes! On last year’s exams!
On Wingit and Slingit, and last minute crams!”
His message delivered, he vanished from sight,
But we heard him laughing outside in the night.
“Your teachers have pegged you, so just do your best.
Happy Finals to all, and to all, a Good Test!”
Barbara Quintiliano is the nursing, life sciences, and instructional services librarian at Falvey Memorial Library and submitted this poem by Alice Walker. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday it can be easy to get caught up in the festivities and forget about those less fortunate than us, and children who aren’t hoping for the latest high tech gadget, but proper school supplies.
“And In the Red Box” By Alice Walker
And in the red box
tied with red ribbons
tell me justice lies
and school books for children
tell me there is
for the man
on the corner.
Tell me when Christmas
and a warm fire
comes with it.
“Miss Hooligan’s Christmas Cake”
Sung by Harry Melville and J. M. Gates
Sung by Clinton Ford
Submitted by Joanne Quinn
Joanne Quinn is the team leader for Communication and Service Promotion at Falvey Memorial Library, and she submitted this fun filled Christmas ballad with the comment “I like this one ’cause it reminds me of my own cookin’!” While I’m sure Joanne isn’t quite so bad, it certainly reminds me of her larger-than-life sense of humor.
While looking for information on this ballad I came across this piece from the National Library of Scotland’s digital archive, and decided to share it since it gives a great explanation of the ballad and its origins. You can also view the article and a digital facsimile of the original printing of the ballad here.
“Verse 1: ‘As I sat at my windy one evening, / The letter man brought unto me / A little gilt edged invitation, / Saying, Gilhooly, come over to tea. / Sure I knew that the Hooligans sent it, / So I went just for old friendship’s sake, / And the first thing they gave me to tackle / Was a piece of Miss Hooligan’s cake.’ The text beneath the title reads: ‘Sung by Harry Melville and J.M. Oates with success.’ The song was published by the Poet’s Box, 10 Hunter Street, Dundee, priced one penny.
This comic ballad describes a monstrous Christmas cake that poisons everyone who eats it. Although the broadside was apparently published in Dundee, some surnames and phrases in the ballad suggest that it is about a group of Irish acquaintances. The large number of Irish-themed broadsides found in Scotland reflects the high level of Irish migration to Scotland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As a major urban industrial centre, Dundee become home to a large Irish migrant population.
The Dundee Poets’ Box was in operation from about 1880 to 1945, though it is possible that some material was printed as early as the 1850s. Most of the time it had premises at various addresses in Overgate. In 1885 the proprietor J.G. Scott (at 182 Overgate) had published a catalogue of 2,000 titles consisting of included humorous recitations, dialogues, temperance songs, medleys, parodies, love songs, Jacobite songs. Another proprietor in the 1880s was William Shepherd, but little is known about him. Poet’s Box was particularly busy on market days and feeing days when country folk were in town in large numbers. Macartney specialised in local songs and bothy ballads. Many Irish songs were published by the Poet’s Box. Many Irishmen worked seasonally harvesting potatoes and also in the jute mills. In 1906 John Lowden Macartney took over as proprietor of the Poet’s Box, initially working from 181 Overgate and later from no. 203 and 207.
It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet’s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other’s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet’s Box. There was also a Poet’s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one at Paisley in the early 1850s, owned by William Anderson.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term ‘ballad’ eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.”
Sung by Clinton Ford:
“Miss Hooligan’s Christmas Cake”
Sung by Harry Melville and J. M. Gates
As I sat at my windy one evening,
The letter man brought unto me
A little gilt edged invitation,
Saying, Gilhooly, come over to tea.
Sure I knew that the Hooligans sent it,
So I went just for old friendship’s sake,
And the first thing they gave me to tackle
Was a piece of Miss Hooligan’s cake.
There was plums and prunes and cherries,
And citron and raisins and cinnamon too,
There was nutmeg, cloves, and berries,
And the crust it was nailed on with glue.
There was carraway seeds in abundance,
Sure ‘twould build up a fine stomach ache,
‘Twould kill a man twice after ‘ating a slice
Of Miss Hooligan’s Christmas cake.
Miss Mulligan wanted to taste it,
But really there wasn’t no use,
They worked at it over an hour,
And they couldn’t get none of it loose.
Till Hooligan went for the hatchet,
And Killy came in with a saw,
That cake was enough, by the powers,
To paralyze any man’s jaw.
Mrs Hooligan, proud as a peacock,
Kept smiling and blinking away,
Till she fell over Flanigan’s brogans,
And spilled a whole brewing of tay.
’Oh, Gilhooly,’ she cried, ‘you’re not ‘ating,
Try a little bit more for my sake,’
’No, Mrs Hooligan,’ sez I,
’But I’d like the resate of that cake.’
Maloney was took with the colic,
M’Nulty complained of his head,
M’Fadden lay down on the sofa,
And swore that he wished he was dead.
Miss Daly fell down in hysterics,
And there she did wriggle and shake,
While every man swore he was poisoned,
Through ‘ating Miss Hooligan’s cake.
The title of the exhibition, “Home Before the Leaves Fall,” comes from a statement attributed to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany during an Aug. 1914 speech addressed to troops being assigned to the front lines.
Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator, has served as editor, project organizer and curator of the online exhibition (HBTLF), and says this exhibition draws from rich holdings, “many little known or used,” of organizations and individuals in the mid-Atlantic region to tell the story of the Great War, World War I. “Home Before the Leaves Fall” commemorates the centennial of the first truly world-wide war. Foight tells us, “Collaborative by design, HBTLF is a multi-institutional project: articles curated by individual scholars and experts guide readers through the many threads that weave materials into a narrative tapestry, while social media spotlight newly digitized content, creative and educational use of materials, and news of other Great War commemorations. … New content will be regularly added.”
In addition to Foight, other curators from Villanova University are Laura Bang, Digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant; Demian Katz, Library Technology Development specialist; Barbara Quintiliano, nursing/life sciences and instructional services librarian; and Alexander Williams, temporary Research Support librarian. Two former Digital Library interns are also curators: Ruth Martin (2014) and Brian McDonald (2012). Other curators are affiliated with Swarthmore College, American Philosophical Society, Athenaeum of Philadelphia and Chemical Heritage Foundation.
The online exhibit includes the following sections: about—contains the “Curator’s Introduction” by Foight and a short video, “Das Lausejagd (The Lousehunter),” a dedication and acknowledgements; articles—written by various specialists; projects—(“Home Before the Leaves Fall News & Blog,” “Mail Call: A Podcast of News and Letters from the Great War”
, “The Fallen of the Great War: The Philadelphia Project [a genealogical research project],” and a list of participating institutions such as Fort Mifflin on the Delaware, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Villanova University and others); and resources—with links to “Letters, Diaries and Autobiographies,” “Materials” and “Works Consulted/Further Reading.” “Home Before the Leaves Fall” is not a static exhibit; new material is added frequently.
Falvey Memorial Library is hosting two corollary exhibits with graphics by Joanne Quinn, graphic designer and team leader of Communication and Service Promotion. On the first floor is “Home Before the Leaves Fall: Lost Memories of the Great War” curated by Laura Bang. This exhibit displays numerous items from Special Collections: two scrapbooks of French photographs, postcards, and books.
In the reference area of the second floor Learning Commons is a small exhibit, “WWI 100 Years: Lessons to be Learned,” designed by Joanne Quinn. This exhibit consists of books from Falvey’s collections selected by Sarah Wingo, subject librarian for English and theatre; Jutta Seibert, subject librarian for history; Merrill Stein, subject librarian for geography and political science; Linda Hauck, subject librarian for business; and Alice Bampton, an art historian. On the wall beside the exhibit are a large poster for “Home Before the Leaves Fall,” with the URL for the online exhibit and an arrow directing visitors to Special Collections. Also featured are reproductions of World War I posters, a world map showing the opposing nations and an illustrated timeline of the war.
Luisa Cywinski, Falvey Memorial Library’s team leader for Access Services, submitted this poem saying “Here is a poem I think of every winter. It’s by Billy Collins, who was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-03 and whom I saw read and discuss his work at the Agnes Irwin school a few blocks from Villanova. I love how this poem is playful yet thoughtful and serene.”
In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.
Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.
Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?
But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.
This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.
He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.
All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.
After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?
Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.
Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.
“God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Read by Jeremy Northam
Submitted by Judy Olsen
Judy Olsen, who retired in 2013 as Falvey Memorial Library’s humanities librarian and Communication and Publications team leader, has recently returned to Falvey to provide part-time support for communication and psychology while Falvey is short-staffed.
“God’s Grandeur” is an Italian sonnet—it contains fourteen lines divided into an octave and a sestet, which are separated by a shift in the argumentative direction of the poem. Reverend Father Gerard Manley Hopkins (28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889) was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert, and Jesuit priest. He became famous after his death as one of the leading Victorian poets. He is known for his experimental explorations in prosody, particularly his use of sprung rhythm, and his use of imagery which was extremely innovative for a period of time in which traditional verse was still very much in vogue.
If you’re interested in learning more about Gerard Manley Hopkins or his poetry you may wish to check out “The Columbia Granger’s index to poetry in anthologies” here.
Read by Jeremy Northam:
By Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs–
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
“Letters To A Young Poet” by Lisa Sewell Read by Sarah Wingo (who begs forgiveness of Ms. Sewell if she listens to the recording)
Submitted by Lisa Sewell
When it was announced that we would be doing a poetry advent calendar, Becky Whidden, an Access Services Specialist at Falvey, suggested that we ask if Lisa Sewell, PhD, would like to submit one of her poems from her upcoming book Impossible Object, for which Dr. Sewell recently was awarded the first annual Tenth Gate Prize. The Tenth Gate Prize is consists of $1,000 and publication by the Word Works, The prize will be given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. poet who has published two or more books.
Dr. Sewell is an associate professor of English, director of programming for Gender and Women’s Studies at Villanova, and an active participant in many of Falvey Memorial Library’s events throughout the year. When we reached out to her, she very kindly provided us with not only a poem for our advent calendar but also the description of her book provided below.
“The poems in Impossible Object trace the experience of the self as reader, treating books as formative, a central part of life — as important to the construction of identity and memory as events or experiences. The poems interact with a wide range of books, from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods to Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, investigating the formation of the lyric self in relationship to reading along several trajectories: as an event, as the background to world events, and as the background to significant events in my own life.”
Falvey will have a copy of Impossible Object in 2015, once it has been published, and if you’re interested in other work by Dr. Sewell you can view Falvey’s current holdings here.
Out of our arguments with ourselves, what is lost
in translation is news that stays news, a small (or large)
machine made of words that makes nothing
happen, comes nearer to vital truth than history
and must go in fear, be as new as foam, as old
as the rock, have something in it that is barbaric
vast and wild, a way of taking life by the throat.
And out of this turning within, out of this immersion
in your own world, as if the top of my head were taken off
for lack of what is found there or in the journal
of a sea animal living on land wanting to fly in the sky
in the best words, in the best order, put things before
his eyes: imaginary gardens with real toads that spring
from genuine feeling that the mind is dangerous
and my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me—
“The Wicked Fairy At The Manger” by U.A. Fanthorpe
Read by John Warner Submitted by Barbara Quintiliano
Barbara Quintiliano is the nursing, life sciences, and instructional services librarian at Falvey Memorial Library, and she submitted this cheeky little poem, which has fun with the story of Jesus’s birth and life. In Fanthorpe’s poem she sends a wicked fairy with a “gift” to baby Jesus, like Maleficent to Aurora in sleeping beauty.
“The Wicked Fairy At The Manger”
by U.A. Fanthorpe
My gift for the child:
No wife, kids, home;
No money sense. Unemployable.
Friends, yes. But the wrong sort —
The workshy, women, wogs,
Petty infringers of the law, persons
With notifiable diseases,
Poll tax collectors, tarts;
The bottom rung.
I think we’ll make it
Public, prolonged, painful.
Right, said the baby. That was roughly
What we had in mind.
Darren Poley is the Scholarly Outreach and Theology librarian at Falvey Memorial Library. “If” was first published in 1920 in Kipling’s collection Rewards and Fairies, series of historical fiction short stories with linking contemporary narratives.
In his posthumously published autobiography Something of Myself, Kipling claimed that his poetic inspiration for the poem was based the military service of Leander Starr Jameson, who lead the failed Jameson Raid (December 1895 – January 1896) against South Africa to overthrow the Boer Government.