Through lane it lay – thro’ bramble –
Through clearing and thro’ wood –
Banditti often paassed us
Opon the lonely road.
The wolf came peering curious –
The Owl looked puzzled down –
The serpent’s satin figure
Glid stealthily along,
The tempests touched our garments –
The lightning’s poinards gleamed –
Fierce from the Crag above us
The hungry Vulture screamed –
The Satyrs fingers beckoned –
The Valley murmured “Come” – These were the mates – This was the road
These Children fluttered home.
Written late 1858 and copied into Fascicle 2.
This reminds me of another book I’ve been chewing on – The Pilgrim’s Progress. The Path is not easy, but it is beautiful, Light filled, and ultimately worthwhile; redemptive and sure. Life is filled with trials, but the joy is that much sweeter for them.
Banditti – plural of bandit! I never knew.
Poinards [or poniards] – daggers.
Satyrs – mythological creatures associated with Dionysius, i.e. constantly drunk and roaming the forest in search of a good time.
I read this as an encouragement. Yes, she’s acknowledging the trials that come in life, but it still ends with the children fluttering home. Fluttering. Lightly, sweetly, ease-fully. Let’s flutter.
There is a word
Which bears a sword
Can pierce an armed man –
It hurls it’s barbed syllables
And is mute again –
But where it fell
The saved will tell
On patriotic day,
Some epauletted Brother
Gave his breath away.
Wherever runs ts the breathless sun –
Wherever roams the day,
There is it’s noiseless onset –
There is it’s victory!
Behold the keenest marksman!
The most accomplished shot!
Time’s sublimest target
Is a soul “forgot”!
Written late 1858, bound into Fascicle 2.
Damn. She winds this up so well and packs that punch at the end. At first you think it could be joyful, maybe it’s not bad – the terms victory and all those exclamation marks had me starting to smile as I read it. But then, then she pulls it all out from under you. To be forgotten. Is this really the worst possible thing? Whether you agree with her or not, this begs the question: forgotten by whom? Loved ones? Future generations? God? Hmm.
We’ve entered Fascicle 3! I swear I haven’t skipped around, the poems naturally jump from 1 to 3 this way. We’ll see if 2 comes up later on. Now it’s Fall of 1858, and, of course, she captures the change of season in her language –
The morns are meeker than they were –
The nuts are getting brown –
The berry’s cheek is plumper –
The Rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf –
The field a scarlet gown –
Lest I sh’d be old fashioned
I’ll put a trinket on.
How can one ever hope to keep up with Nature’s everchanging beauty? Simply, one cannot. I’ll tell you a secret – beauty isn’t a contest. It’s not a zero sum game. We can all be abundantly beautiful, and celebrating each other’s beauty intensifies our own. Find beauty in everything and you will find beauty in yourself; we reflect what we see in the world.
This lovely ditty was written in the summer of 1858. Ah, the moments when the heart is so full, it’s all there is –
It’s all I have to bring today
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – sh’d I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
We are so enough. Let’s relish the fullness of life.
Nothing like a little 90s flair, eh? I found this pinstriped dress at a thrift store – originally almost floor length and accompanied by a long matching blazer. It’s heavy polyester – from a classic power suit in its initial form.
The length didn’t quite suit me, so I tore off the bottom. When I tear my dresses and skirts, I often make them too short accidentally. However, there’s no going back, and I couldn’t part with this! So it’s primarily a winter dress – the heavy material suits the cold, and it layers wonderfully with a long sleeve shirt and tights.
The high neckline is classy, but the cut is perfectly body skimming – an excellent balance. I like to make this look a bit funky, often pairing it with a headscarf and a bold lip.
It’s subtle, but still a bit of a statement, so I keep everything around it simple. I like to add other long lines with it, mimicking the pinstripes, whether in the form of a necklace or a scarf.
Boots, loafers, and sneakers all work equally well – a true testament to this dress’s versatility.
I found some fun 90s style dresses similar to this one through ASOS marketplace – one big floral print and one small. You could also have a look on Etsy, and don’t be afraid to comb the racks of your local thrift store – these gems often take a bit of digging.
Establishing self-care practices can be difficult. Maybe you’ve moved and have to change your habits, or maybe you’re taking the beginning of a new year as a chance to start being kind to yourself – whatever your reason, you’re onto something great. Caring for yourself is always a good idea, so congrats on making such a wise choice. Now – where to begin?
In a society that shuffles us around from one thing to the next, always telling us – women especially – how to care for other people instead of for ourselves, it can be hard to know what self-care would even be. Think of times in your life that you’ve felt most calm. What were you doing? Where were you? Chances are your cell phone was nowhere near you, maybe you were at a spa or on a beach, maybe you were curled up with a good book or going for a drive. Flip through your rolodex of good memories, and grab onto as many as you can. Now, how can you recreate those as a part of your regular life?
You don’t have to go on vacay or be miles away from your real life to feel relaxed. It can happen in the comfort of your own home, on a yoga mat, in a bath tub – anywhere. It’s an internal thing. Here’s a list of my go-tos:
Take a bath – any time I get to lay down, I feel relaxed. And there’s something about getting clean, really taking the time to lay out and scrub your body, appreciating every little finger and freckle. When I had a bathtub I would always use bath tea – a blend of herbs that you steep yourself in. It’s great for your muscles and the aroma is oh-so-relaxing. Try chamomile, peppermint, marshmallow leaf, rose hip, lavender – really any blend you fancy. I don’t have a bathtub anymore here in China, so I’m scrambling for alternatives – I’m looking for a good masseuse.
Draw/paint a picture. I love to put on some music, take a paintbrush or a pen, and just go for it. It’s a blissful state of flow when you’re not even thinking about what you’re doing but, at the same time, it’s all consuming. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself an artist or not, just making shapes and seeing what comes out is freeing and therapeutic – what it looks like doesn’t matter, what matters is that you’re doing it.
Drink a cup of tea. The ritual of boiling water, spooning out your tea leaves, letting them steep, and then holding a warm cup is so cozy and comforting. It forces you to slow down and move in tea time, and the health benefits of tea are myriad. As my former employer, tea from Ku Cha is my favorite – their Ginger Puerh is great for detoxing the body, Vanilla Rooibos is like a warm, creamy hug, and all the herbal blends are A1.
My mind is sometimes too active, and writing helps me untangle all my thoughts, sorting through feelings and realizations so I can make sense of it all. Journaling is the first step and then, who knows, once you’ve sorted through the first level you might try other forms.
Buy yourself some flowers. Yesterday on my way home from work I passed a beautiful flower shop and could not stop myself from going in. I was thrilled to leave with two gorgeous flowers for the equivalent of a single American dollar. I know flowers aren’t this cheap everywhere, but, if you can get your hands on even one, it’s like bringing a ray of sunshine into your home. And every time you look at it, you smile, remembering that you bought it for yourself – it’s like a little love note, a little celebration of who you are.
Take a deep breath. One is never enough for me, so I like to meditate or do yoga. These things keep me calm, intentional, and in touch – with my body, my life, the world, with everything.
Read a book. A nice little escape from reality.
Take a walk. Getting the body moving is always a good way to go, and if you let yourself take your time, just wander around, you never know what you’ll stumble on.
Smile. Instant gratification.
Look in the mirror and say, “I love you. You’re beautiful.” It might feel silly at first, but, I swear, it works wonders.
Take yourself out to dinner. Notice it’s not the eating that is the self-care here, it’s the act of taking yourself out. Maybe you go see a play or a concert – whatever. It’s fun to get dressed up, leave the house, and enjoy something nice.
Play a musical instrument. I go for the piano, and every time I sit down I feel so calmly empty after I play. Like I just left all my emotions in the music. It’s a beautiful thing. Here I don’t have a piano, but there’s a street of music stores behind my apartment, and I stop in and play their pianos when I have a craving.
Cook or bake. Maybe it’s from working in a kitchen or baking a lot growing up, but I find these so relaxing. Something about chopping vegetables or stirring up some batter calms me down.