Medieval Music

What follow are photographs of a medieval musical manuscript my grandmother bought while in Spain during Franco’s rule. If memory serves, she said that many institutions, specifically religious, were dissolved and/or often forced to sell what they could to survive. She recounted that the manuscripts below came from a chant book whose pages were being torn out and sold to tourists.

I doubt they’re worth anything but, on the off hand that these are the missing pages some musicologist has been searching for since the mid 20th century, I post them on my blog. I don’t speak Latin (I’m guessing it’s Latin rather than some early form of Spanish) but the text appears to be that of the Magnificat.

The daughter of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach) apparently moved to Oklahoma with a cache of her father and grandfather’s manuscripts. Apparently, at some point in Oklahoma, Bach’s manuscript’s were “inadvertently” destroyed. Even if the Oklahoma family didn’t care a wit for the manuscripts (by music’s greatest musical genius) the rest of us weep. My manuscripts aren’t worth a single note of Bach, but at least if they’re inadvertently  destroyed, someone my someday thank me for posting images of them.




From Snow to Snow

Last week I picked up a small book for my little Robert Frost collection:

The first photo is a little blurry. Sorry ’bout that. Found it at an antique store and couldn’t resist. Never even knew it existed. If you, like me, uselessly collect books (like this one) for no reason whatsoever, more copies at a (for now) reasonable price, can be had at Amazon. That old folding rule belonged to my grandfather. He was a Physician rather than a builder, but had a few, little, nice tools that I still use. Makes me think maybe I oughtta’ put together a little collection of my own poems like this.

T.S. Eliot’s Erotica

web-ts-eliot-valerieA new edition of T.S. Eliot’s poetry is going to be published and according to The Guardian it will include at least three heretofore unpublished erotic poems. The poems were written for Eliot’s second wife Valierie Fletcher. She was a tall girl. He was 68. She was 30. And her nipples were just the right height when sitting in his lap:

I love a tall girl. When she sits on my knee
She with nothing on, and I with nothing on
I can just take her nipple in my lips
And stroke it with my tongue. Because she is a tall girl…

The poem closes:

Her breasts are like ripe pears that dangle
Above my mouth
Which reaches up to take them.


In another poem, Eliot – who took a vow of chastity in 1928 after being confirmed into the Church of England – celebrates the “miracle of sleeping together” as he “touch[es] the delicate down beneath her navel”.

And that’s about all that I can squeak out of the Guardian. The various articles are all reporting the upcoming edition with a suitably detached air of scholarly inquisitiveness. Since the poet’s death, his sexuality seems to be a much discussed topic among the poet’s cognoscenti—call it “ivory tower tabloid-ism”. Valerie’s own statement on the matter is admirably direct:

“Valerie, who was 5ft 8in (1.7m) tall, kept control of his estate until her death three years ago when the notebooks came to light. She hinted publicly that their sex life was just fine, after an interviewer asked why his first marriage had failed. “There was nothing wrong with Tom, if that’s your implication,” she said.”

I’ll be buying that edition soon as it comes out.

What $200,000,000 gets you…


So, while I was writing the post immediately preceding this one, Sidney’s Sonnet 47, I visited the Poetry Foundation to see what information they had on the poem and a reliable text. Here’s what you will find (as of today, October 10th 2014):Sindey_Poetry_Foundation


So, there are all kinds of problems with this poem, but the most egregious is the typo. That’s okay. There are all kinds of typos in my own posts; although if someone were nice enough to bequeath $200,000,000 to me, I might hire — oh, I don’t know — an “archive editor” to correct my mistakes? So, I thought I’d “report a problem”:

Problem description:
 The mistakes: 
 "Though" should read "tho'" 
 "Let he go" should read "Let her go" 
Also, according to the best resource I've got, there are no 
exclamation points in the original poem. The poem should read: 
   What, have I thus betrayed my liberty? 
   Can those black beams such burning marks engrave 
   In my free side? or am I born a slave, 
   Whose neck becomes such yoke of tyranny? 
   Or want I sense to feel my misery? 
   Or sprite, disdain of such disdain to have? 
   Who for long faith, tho' daily help I crave, 
   May get no alms but scorn of beggary. 
   Virtue awake, Beauty but beauty is, 
   I may, I must, I can, I will, I do 
   Leave following that which it is gain to miss. 
   Let her go. Soft, but here she comes. Go to, 
   Unkind, I love you not: O me, that eye 
   Doth make my heart give to my tongue the lie. 

The response:

Dear Patrick Gillespie,

The differences in punctuation between our version and the one 
you found is the result of centuries of various editors 
silently altering such aspects. Our version is correct against 
our copy text.


James Sitar
Archive Editor
The Poetry Foundation

Seriously? And that would include the typo? Does it get any more incompetent or bureaucratic? So, the text of the poem is obviously wrong, but by God if that’s what “the copy text” says, then that’s what goes to print.

As to punctuation, the “one I found” is based on Richard Dutton’s edition which is, itself, based on the 1598 Folio of Sidney’s Works. But what matter? I mean, how can Mary, the Countess of Pembroke, Sidney’s sister (and editor of the Folio edition), compare to “centuries of various editors silently altering” Sindey’s original? Obviously, the Poetry Foundation’s loyalty is to all those “altering” editors (centuries of) rather than to the Sidneys. And there you have it. That’s what a $200,000,000 endowment gets you. The take away? Don’t go to the Poetry Foundation if you want a reliable text.

The Frost Place 2014 Summer Poetry Programs



  • The Frost place, an organization based at one of Frost’s New Hampshire houses, offers an annual series of courses and conferences on poetry.  The following are this years offerings with contact information below.

The Frost Place Poetry Programs

The Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching

Dates: June 22 – 26, 2014
Deadline: May 15, 2014

Tuition: $700, plus $120 for meals. Discounts are available.

Description: The Conference on Poetry and Teaching is a unique opportunity for teachers to work closely with both their peers and with a team of illustrious poets who have particular expertise in working with teachers at all levels: K–12, graduate and undergraduate, and nontraditional and community-based instructors. Over the course of 4½ days, faculty poets share specific, hands-on techniques for teaching poetry. The emphasis is on the reading-conversation-writing-revision cycle, and our teaching approach aligns with the Common Core anchor standards for reading and writing. Graduate-level credits are available through Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. Certificate of completion includes 33 hours of Continuing Education credit.


The Frost Place Teachers As Writers Workshop

Dates: June 26 – 27, 2014
Deadline: May 15, 2014

Tuition: $170.00, includes dinner and lunch, no lodging.

Description: The Frost Place Teachers As Writers Workshop is an intensive day-and-a-half session for classroom teachers who want to focus on their own writing and revision practices. The workshop is limited to participants who have already attended the Conference on Poetry and Teaching. Continuing education credits are available. See website for more details.


The Frost Place Conference on Poetry

Dates: Arrival July 13, Departure July 19, 2014
Deadline: June 10, 2014

Tuition: Full Tuition: $1,475, includes all meals and lodging; Commuter Rate: $1,000, includes lunch and dinner; Auditor Rate: $1,035, includes lunch and dinner, no access to the workshop, Day Rate: $145, conference attendance, lunch and dinner.

Discounts are available.

Description: Spend a week at “intensive poetry camp” with writers who are deeply committed to learning more about the craft of writing poetry. The Frost Place Conference on Poetry offers daily workshops, classes, lectures, writing and revising time in a supportive and dynamic environment.


The Frost Place Poetry Seminar

Dates:  August 3-9, 2014
Deadline: July 1, 2014

Tuition: Full Tuition: $1,475, includes all meals and lodging; Commuter Rate: $1,000, includes lunch and dinner; Auditor Rate: $1,035, includes lunch and dinner, no workshop; Day Rate: $145, conference attendance, lunch and dinner. Discounts are available.

Description: The Seminar is a unique opportunity for dedicated poets to delve intensely into the poetic process in a small group setting. Participants will have their poems-in-progress given generous and focused attention in workshops and one-on-one meetings with faculty, and will be invited to think in new ways about what can be accomplished in revision. For an additional fee, the Seminar will offer full-length manuscript review to a limited number of participants.

Sarah Audsley
PO Box 74
Franconia, NH  03580
Phone: 603-823-5510

Email:   •  Website:

another something · le Duck House

My other non-poetry related project, after two summers of disappointment, was the arrival of four ducklings, which is when  I realized I had to build a duck house. Being the scrap collector that I am, I had nearly all of the materials on hand (except for the hardware cloth). Most of the frame is made from pieces of treated lumber that had been sitting (and buried even) around  my house for a decade or more. My prize possession was an old cast iron wheel (probably from an old 19th century wheel barrow?) I scrounged it out of the metal recycling dumpster (junkyard opportunist that I am). What poet and story teller, after all, isn’t a junk collector in some small sense? I was determined to put together a mobile-duck-home. Fortunately, unlike our chickens, ducks aren’t budding sociopaths and psychopaths. Their will not be blood if they don’t have x square feet of inviolable duck-space. I based the dimensions on a book by Eliot Coleman called Four-Season Harvest. I knew Eliot Coleman and his family when he was the farm manager at the Mountain School (then a full-time high school) and I was a student there. Ducks like each other (for the most part), and that means a duck house can be smaller than a house with the same number of chickens (at least if all the literature is to be believed — along with the behavior of my own chickens). So, here’s what I came up with:


this is my duck house·

Note the Minnesota license plate. My daughter scored this old “Thousand Lakes” plate from the same metal recycling bin. Doesn’t it make sense that a duck’s idea of heaven would be the land of a thousand lakes? Anyway, notice the “wheel-barrow” handles. They’re cut from treated decking and eight feet in length. Here’s the duck house with the wheel. The roof extension protects the cast iron wheel and wood tines from rain (and rot):


this is my duck house's wheel



this is my duck house's wheel up close·


To the right is a close up of the wheel.










Eliot Coleman said that he built in a hardware cloth floor for his duck house (which was also mobile). He used bolts to hold it in place (and to also make it removable)my duck house opens. I made mine removable but didn’t want the complications and extra weight of bolts. I designed mine so that the floor slides out. The floor can be easily hosed off. I put burlap on the hardware cloth for the sake of the duckling’s feet (much softer). Burlap can be bought in roles and is very inexpensive. Also, the ability to slide out the floor made the door a touch more complicated. It meant that I couldn’t hinge the door from the sides without some complicated carpentry Kung Fu. Every little feat of engineering genius was going to add weight. I opted for the simplest solution (which I wasn’t sure I’d like) and that was to hinge the door on the top. As it turns out, I like it. I can swing it up and entirely out of the way when necessary.


it too
loves ducklings. the cat’s

And that’s that. While I was cleaning, photographing and moving their house, the ducklings were doing their best to be invisible — and that’s a poor defense with three girls around. Remember:


We are the ones (Block Print)



~ up in Vermont

A little something different · A Dollhouse Bookshelf


So I’ve been busy carpentering. Thought I’d show off a bookshelf I made for my daughters. The perspective is a little askew. Despite  appearances, it’s not leaning. My daughters painted the roof. The roof is bead board ply. From the top, the roof  has the look of channel drain (something we stumbled on, but kind of cool). My daughters wanted the attic (for their dolls) split into three rooms. They made a ladder (missing in the photo) for the dolls to climb to the attic.






To the left is a doll’s eye view out of one of the windows.








OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe photo at right was taken after the dolls’ moving van had  arrived. The dolls were very, very excited to be moving in. As you can see, the library was already beginning to be stocked. The poetry section will be on the second floor.  You can also see the ladder, now in place.



The materials were all left over bits and pieces, but to buy the materials new would cost roughly $115 dollars (that’s for #2 knotty pine 1×12 boards, 1/2 inch plywood and bead board top), not including paint and polyurethane. I used water based urethane with an oil suspension because it darkens the wood just a touch better than plain water-based finish. I plan on building another one. It took me about  2 days of work (though it was on and off again). It’s not fine finish work (which I can do) but the dolls’ patience was wearing dangerously thin. I plan on building another one for a silent auction (for our school). If you think you’d like one of these, send me an E-Mail. Not sure how I’d get it to you, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. P.S. The tall shelf on the left is for those ridiculously big books – an atlas and a couple of astronomy books.

~ up in Vermont

Unreliability at

A reader, just this morning, informed me that all of my scansions had vanished (404’d).

The affected post was Out, Out, by Robert Frost.

I’ve replaced them but this is a serious matter and indicates that WordPress is temporarily or no longer reliable. The cause may be a bug or storage issues. There’s nothing I can do except to replace the lost, wiped or corrupted images. If you’re reading a post and a link or image is broken, please let me know.

2012 In Review

WordPress has come up with a new gimmick.

I received the following by E-Mail and WordPress offered to transfer the contents to a blog post.  Why not? thought I.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 420,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 8 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

Subverting Early English Poetics

fig2-leninbedeThe title above belongs to a post by the blogger Harper Eliot of the blog (It Girl. Rag Doll). She’s written a beautiful little treatise on Old English poetics. She writes:

“When I was in the upper school I spent a month of each of my four years studying the history of literature. By looking at a variety of texts from Gilgamesh to Oedipus Rex to The Tempest to the Lyrical Ballads to Riddley Walker, I was able to gain a rather comprehensive overview of the evolution of literature, and one of the main things I remember from these classes is writing poetry. Whatever era or subject we were studying, we were encouraged to write poetry in a similar style. So I wrote sonnets and villanelles; I wrote in iambic pentameter and trochees; I wrote quatrains and free-verse; and I often enjoyed the freedom of subject juxtaposed with the structure of the form. I also very much liked the way in which I now, in a contemporary setting, I am free to pick and choose from past forms and find one that will fit whatever poem I would like to write.”

I highly recommend the post: informative and playful. Among other things, she tries her hand at old English verse. (If you need a refresher on the rules of alliterative verse, visit my post The Beautiful Changes.) She what you think. ! Be warned though, Harper’s blog contains erotic content and is intended for grown-ups. If you’re underage, behave yourself. !