Parnassian Moments 10 September: Mary Oliver

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Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

 

Poet: Mary Oliver

Dates: 10 September 1935

Nationality: American

Title of Poem: Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things. 

Brief Biography: Oliver is a poet. She has been awarded the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Literary Memories 9 September: Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

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Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

 

Author: Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Dates: 9 September 1828 – 20 November 1910

Nationality: Russian

Title of Book: Anna Karenina

When Levin went into the restaurant with Oblonsky, he could not help noticing a certain peculiarity of expression, as it were, a restrained radiance, about the face and whole figure of Stepan Arkadyevitch. Oblonsky took off his overcoat, and with his hat over one ear walked into the dining room, giving directions to the Tatar waiters, who were clustered about him in evening coats, bearing napkins. Bowing to right and left to the people he met, and here as everywhere joyously greeting acquaintances, he went up to the sideboard for a preliminary appetizer of fish and vodka, and said to the painted Frenchwoman decked in ribbons, lace, and ringlets, behind the counter, something so amusing that even that Frenchwoman was moved to genuine laughter. Levin for his part refrained from taking any vodka simply because he felt such a loathing of that Frenchwoman, all made up, it seemed, of false hair, poudre de riz, and vinaigre de toilette. He made haste to move away from her, as from a dirty place. His whole soul was filled with memories of Kitty, and there was a smile of triumph and happiness shining in his eyes.

“This way, your excellency, please. Your excellency won’t be disturbed here,” said a particularly pertinacious, white-headed old Tatar with immense hips and coattails gaping widely behind. “Walk in, your excellency,” he said to Levin; by way of showing his respect to Stepan Arkadyevitch, being attentive to his guest as well.

Instantly flinging a fresh cloth over the round table under the bronze chandelier, though it already had a table cloth on it, he pushed up velvet chairs, and came to a standstill before Stepan Arkadyevitch with a napkin and a bill of fare in his hands, awaiting his commands.

“If you prefer it, your excellency, a private room will be free directly; Prince Golistin with a lady. Fresh oysters have come in.”

“Ah! oysters.”

Stepan Arkadyevitch became thoughtful.

“How if we were to change our program, Levin?” he said keeping his finger on the bill of fare. And his face expressed serious hesitation. “Are the oysters good? Mind now.”

“They’re Flensburg, your excellency. We’ve no Ostend.”

“Flensburg will do, but are they fresh?”

“Only arrived yesterday.”

“Well, then, how if we were to begin with oysters, and so change the whole program? Eh?”

“It’s all the same to me. I should like cabbage soup and porridge better than anything; but of course there’s nothing like that here.”

“Porridge a la Russe, your honor would like?” said the Tatar, bending down to Levin, like a nurse speaking to a child.

“No, joking apart, whatever you choose is sure to be good. I’ve been skating, and I’m hungry. And don’t imagine,” he added, detecting a look of dissatisfaction on Oblonsky’s face, “that I shan’t appreciate your choice. I am fond of good things.”

Brief Biography: Tolstoy was a writer, philosopher and political thinker. He was a master of realistic fiction.

Classical Memories 8 September; Richard Georg Strauss

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Richard Georg Strauss

Richard Georg Strauss

 

Composer: Richard Georg Strauss

Dates: 11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949

Nationality: German

Title of Piece: Concerto for Violin in D minor

Brief Biography: Strauss was a composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He was known for his operas and orchestral works. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.

Classical Memories 8 September: Peter Maxwell Davies

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Peter Maxwell Davies

Peter Maxwell Davies

 

Composer: Peter Maxwell Davies

Dates: 8 September 1939

Nationality: English

Title of Piece: A Spell for Green Corn

Brief Biography: Davies is a composer and conductor. He was Master of the Queen’s Music from 2004 until 2014.

Classical Memories 8 September: Antonín Leopold Dvořák

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Antonín Leopold Dvořák

Antonín Leopold Dvořák

 

Composer: Antonín Leopold Dvořák

Dates: 8 September 1841 – 1 May 1904

Nationality: Czech

Title of Piece: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor

Brief Biography: Dvořák was a composer. He frequently featured folk music of Moravia and Bohemia in his compositions.

Parnassian Moments 7 September: Elinor Morton Wylie

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Elinor Morton Wylie

Elinor Morton Wylie

 

Poet: Elinor Morton Wylie

Dates: 7 September 1885 – 16 December 1928

Nationality: American

Title of Poem: Village Mystery

The woman in the pointed hood
And cloak blue-gray like a pigeon’s wing,
Whose orchard climbs to the balsam-wood,
Has done a cruel thing.

To her back door-step came a ghost,
A girl who had been ten years dead,
She stood by the granite hitching-post
And begged for a piece of bread.

Now why should I, who walk alone,
Who am ironical and proud,
Turn, when a woman casts a stone
At a beggar in a shroud?

I saw the dead girl cringe and whine,
And cower in the weeping air–
But, oh, she was no kin of mine,
And so I did not care!

 Brief Biography: Wylie was a poet. She was the poetry editor of Vanity Fair from 1923 -1925.

Parnassian Moments 5 September: Charles Péguy

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Poet: 

Charles Péguy

Charles Péguy

Dates: 7 January 1873 – 5 September 1914

Nationality: French

Title of Poem: The Passion of Our Lady

For the past three days she had been wandering, and following.
She followed the people.
She followed the events.
She seemed to be following a funeral.
But it was a living man’s funeral.—
She followed like a follower.
Like a servant.
Like a weeper at a Roman funeral.—
As if it had been her only occupation.
To weep.—
That is what he had done to his mother.
Since the day when he had begun his mission.—
You saw her everywhere.
With the people and a little apart from the people.
Under the porticoes, under the arcades, in drafty places.
In the temples, in the palaces.
In the streets.
In the yards and in the back-yards.
And she had also gone up to Calvary.
She too had climbed up Calvary.
A very steep hill.
And she did not even feel that she was walking.
She did not even feel that her feet were carrying her.—
She too had gone up her Calvary.
She too had gone up and up
In the general confusion, lagging a little behind …
She wept and wept under a big linen veil.
A big blue veil…
A little faded.—
She wept as it will never be granted to a woman to weep.
As it will never be asked
Of a woman to weep on this earth.
Never at any time.—
What was very strange was that everyone respected her.
People greatly respect the parents of the condemned.
They even said: Poor woman.
And at the same time they struck at her son.
Because man is like that.—
The world is like that.
Men are what they are and you never can change them.
She did not know that, on the contrary, he had come to change man.
That he had come to change the world.
She followed and wept.
Everybody respected her.
Everybody pitied her.
They said: Poor woman.
Because they weren’t perhaps really bad.
They weren’t bad at heart.
They fulfilled the Scriptures.—
They honored, respected and admired her grief.
They didn’t make her go away, they pushed her back only a little with special attentions
Because she was the mother of the condemned.
They thought: It’s the family of the condemned.
They even said so in a low voice.
They said it among themselves
With a secret admiration.—
She followed and wept, and didn’t understand very well.
But she understood quite well that the government was against her boy.
And that is a very bad business.—
She understood that all the governments were together against her boy.
The government of the Jews and the government of the Romans.
The government of judges and the government of priests.
The government of soldiers and the government of parsons.
He could never get out of it.
Certainly not.—
What was strange was that all derision was heaped on him.
Not on her at all.—
There was only respect for her.
For her grief.—
They didn’t insult her.
On the contrary.
People even refrained from looking at her too much.
All the more to respect her.
So she too had gone up.
Gone up with everybody else.
Up to the very top of the hill.
Without even being aware of it.
Her legs had carried her and she did not even know it.
She too had made the Way of the Cross.
The fourteen stations of the Way of the Cross.
Were there fourteen stations?
Were there really fourteen stations?—
She didn’t know for sure.
She couldn’t remember.
Yet she had not missed one.
She was sure of that.
But you can always make a mistake.
In moments like that your head swims.
Everybody was against him.
Everybody wanted him to die.
It is strange.
People who are not usually together.
The government and the people.
That was awful luck.
When you have someone for you and someone against you, sometimes you can get out of it.
You can scramble out of it.
But he wouldn’t.
Certainly he wouldn’t.
When you have everyone against you.
But what had he done to everyone?

I’ll tell you.
He had saved the world.

 

Brief Biography: Péguy was a socialist and is said to have inspired Vichy’s National Revolution ideology. Nationalism and socialism were strong influences on Péguy’s work as was his devoted Roman Catholic faith. He was the editor and main contributor to Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine, a literary magazine with socialist leanings. He died in battle during WW1in Villeroy, Seine-et-Marne

Flashbacks of Rock and Pop 5 September: Freddie Mercury

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Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury

 

Artist: Freddie Mercury

Dates: 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991

Nationality: British

Title of Song: The Show Must Go On

Brief Biography: Born Farrokh Bulsara, Mercury was a singer-songwriter and producer. He was known for his flamboyant style as the lead singer of Queen. Mercury had powerful vocals ranging over four octaves.

Classical Memories 4 September: Anton Bruckner

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Anton Bruckne

Anton Bruckne

 

Composer: Anton Bruckner

Dates: 4 September 1824 – 11 October 1896

Nationality: Austrian

Title of Piece: Symphony No. 1

Brief Biography: Bruckner was a composer. He was known for his symphonies, masses and motets.

Classical Memories 4 September: Edvard Hagerup Grieg

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Edvard Hagerup Grieg

Edvard Hagerup Grieg

 

Composer: Edvard Hagerup Grieg

Dates: 15 June 1843 – 4 September 1907

Nationality: Norwegian

Title of Piece: Piano Concerto in A minor

Brief Biography: Grieg was a composer and pianist. He was considered to be one of the leading composers of the Romantic era. Grieg’s use of Norwegian folk music in his compositions put the music of Norway in the international spectrum.

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