Unsung Song

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I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.
Rabindranath Tagore

 

My song resounds within a cloistered chamber. Set free, it might expire, like a fragile bird, on frosted thorns beneath the window.

How shall I cross the gulf between you and me without a Voice? A signature Voice, with a timbre, tone and inflection of its own, forged in grief and guilt, and tempered by the joys and blisses of my moments? A Voice, which, because it is authentic, steels me with hope and courage. I am God's creation. And so are you.

I must learn the art of listening, of crafting sentences for ears tuned into the zeitgeist and assumptions of our present world, our language and distracted themes. I must remember that cadence creates its own dynamic. Which is good. For you have not seen me coming. My word images will project onto the blank screen of your mind and they must be as finely-honed as I can make them, minimalist, many say, but as natural as the rhythm of the sea. Then I shall hope that the strings of your spirit will be touched, and that some vibrant echo will linger when my Voice is no longer a memory.

This is the singer's challenge. And the writer's, profoundly so.We all have gifts. What can we bring?

But when you feel you have no song to sing, perhaps you should examine your life for its abundance of blessings. A bird may sing on winter thorns when there is only ice to slake his thirst.


A few quotes from those who have practised these arts and know how the senses may flow into one stream.


Of course, there are those critics—New York critics as a rule—who say, Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer. Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.
Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings**

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul - and sings the tunes without the words - and never stops at all.
Emily Dickinson

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.
Jalaluddin Rumi

I would like to paint the way a bird sings.
Claude Monet

Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.
Victor Hugo

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.
Rabindranath Tagore

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
Chinese Proverb

Singing is a way of escaping. It's another world. I'm no longer on earth.
Edith Piaf

Sweetest the strain when in the song /The singer has been lost.
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (Ward)

God respects me when I work; but God loves me when I sing.
Rabindranath Tagore

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.
Chinese Proverb

Sing again, with your dear voice revealing/A tone Of some world far from ours, /Where music and moonlight and feeling /Are one.
Percy Bysshe Shelley.

** (Interview: The Paris Review)

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Twelve Days of Christmas--or More

Our Christmas was different, but it was a good one. Our first pre-Christmas guests were Gerry and Vickie and Geri Ann, who had already had their family celebration at College Station. We had a good breakfast with Glasco kin at Cracker Barrell the morning after they arrived around midnight. There was a second Glasco breakfast there a week later when was Jamie Escue was home from Louisiana, but I was at Katherine's the evening before and didn't get to go to that breakfast. Gerry and Geri Ann were giving two softball clinics in this area while here, and Gerald even went along to the second one and was impressed. As well as to be with the Johnson and Glasco family celebrations, Vickie was here to help her mother who was recovering from surgery.

Gerry did not stay as long as the other two.Vickie took Gerry up the Friday before Christmas to catch a 4:30 a.m. plane to south Texas for hunting and bird dog work, which Gerry loves so much that it is more fun than work. We fed him favorite foods that we had stuck in the freezer to save for him since he could not be here for the Thanksgiving feast. On Christmas day, he was texting Vickie trying to get pity for missing the family dinners and claiming to eat from a bag of chips, but I refused to feel even a mite of pity. His hunting work continued through the New Year celebration when Vickie and their three grandsons joined him for the weekend, and he really enjoyed himself then.

Jeannie and Rick with Cecelie came through Woodsong for a brief overnight visit on their way down to Nashville to spend Christmas with Leslie and Mike. With Geri Ann here from Oregon and Sam here from Baylor, and the Taylor kids off school, they made the most of Cecelie's visit. They also made plans then for a second cousins' celebration the day after Christmas when Cecelie would be back through and Elijah also would be driving up after his Nashville visit. In fact, Vickie agreed to stay an extra day just so the six youngest of the cousins could have yet another night together, and Sam's special friend Anna joined them since they consider her one of the cousins. (When I say night together, I am not exaggerating. They started early and left Woodsong for dinner in Carbondale and a movie and I think a bowling alley visit and ended up at Woodsong where the hardiest of them stayed up till 4 a.m. I was told. Since that was about the time Vickie and Geri Ann were gathering up their suitcases and three dogs to drive to College Station, I am not sure Geri Ann ever went to bed.) That same night Jeannie and Rick and I saw the same movie, Fences, in Marion. That was a late night out on the town for me, but I think we were probably home soon after l0, and Jeannie and I did not talk too late since they were also driving home the next day.

Christmas Day itself was a small affair for us, but quite lovely for me since once again Mary Ellen had us over to their farm for dinner. Vickie and Geri Ann enjoyed the Johnson celebration on Saturday, and her mother was up to that gathering.  On Sunday, they attended church at Stonefort with her brothers' families and were very happy to hear Louie and Terry sign together. The Taylors and us worshipped in Marion together and enjoyed beautiful music, the sermon, and seeing friends. While the Taylors went on to the farm and check the ham and last minute meal preparations, we were able to go by Katherine's and give her pills before lunch. Later Mary Ellen and I took her in Christmas dinner, and Mary Ellen fed her, and we all enjoyed the Christmas tree Sam had put up in her bedroom  the night before for the special dinner he prepared and the evening they had together. Geri Ann and Brianna came adding to the afternoon  festivities, and our visit probably wore her out before we finally departed.

Mary Ellen's house was decorated inside and out this year; and when we drove by, we had already been enjoying Brian's white star on the barn—the same star the Rix family put up there for years. As we stepped into their large kitchen and were greeted by Fifi, our eyes were delighted with her lovely colorful table with its many candles and places waiting for the nine of us. Our noses were delighted with the wonderful smells, and soon our mouths were rewarded with all the good food they had waiting for us. Sam arrived from going to church with Anna and Vickie and Geri Ann were there.  Like Gerry, Fifi wanted us to feel sorry for her not having the yummy food; but remembering her vet's warning after she got sick on human food, I did not give her a mite of pity either. After we had indulged in the dessert table with its colorful fruit, pies, Brianna's angel food cake and the chocolate covered peanut butter drops she had also made, we all gathered by the tree in the living room to exchange gifts and stories. (I love the stories about the pinball machine decorating one back corner of their living room.) We were all having so much fun and laughter that Trent almost forgot that he was supposed to be at work by 2, but he wasn't very late.  Sam was able to go on and help his little niece celebrate her first birthday at his brother Davie and Krissy"s house.

The day after Christmas I enjoyed visiting with family still at the farm, but I was saddened to attend the funeral of a writer friend.  Jari Jackson had asked for a "journalist funeral."  The funeral director and her pastor were not sure what that meant, but Mayor Bob Butler, Jon Musgrave, and  Pastor Bob Dickerson did an excellent job of creating one for a long time journalist who wrote for big city papers and then retired in her hometown and continued writing pro bono promoting good things here.

Gerald and I celebrated New Year's Eve by driving into Marion and having our evening meal at the new I-HOP, which we had not yet visited. Waitresses with bright clothing and bright smiles greeted us warmly as we entered, the food was delicious, and everything was so new and clean. We were surprised at how large it was, which will be great next summer for the baseball crowds.

Altogether it was a very nice Christmas season despite our no longer all being together on one day and despite the horror of multiple sclerosis. Our one tree is still up and quite beautiful to me. I usually leave a tree up until New Year's Day because that is what we did at our house when I was a child in Jonesboro. Once or twice, however, when the weather was so bad the kids had school cancelled, I left a tree up till Old Christmas that I learned about from Jesse Stuart, a day some English immigrants continued down in Kentucky and which some Amish still do.  Tomorrow is Old Christmas or Epiphany and our tree will be there to help us celebrate. The truth is I am leaving it up till I get around to it, maybe during the weekend or maybe afterward. Taking off all the ornaments and putting them away in their proper box and then pulling the tree apart takes up a large part of a day, and the family room will be a jumble until the job is finally finished. So my twelve days of Christmas may stretch out to fourteen or so.  

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To the New Year

Make no promise.

Fill the heart.

Fill with time

For friends and art.

Fill with hope

In place of fear.

Fill with light

by which to steer.

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For the Old to Fertilise the New

Get a large, strong bag.

Clean your home.

Wash the floors,

Polish the wood,

Dust the shelves,

Scrub the sink.

Then drop all the dirt into the large, strong bag.

Walk around your home

And collect from the air and from under the furniture

All the hurtful words,

All the tears,

All the despair,

All the dead-end habits.

Then stuff these cobwebs into the large, strong bag.

Open your address book –

The paper one, the electronic one and the one in your phone.

Pick out, one by one, the names

Of all those you have forgotten,

All those who have forgotten you,

All those who have accepted, yet not thanked,

All those who have talked but not listened,

All those who have rushed to support you in your sadness,

Yet not been able to rejoice in your gladness.

Then empty all these heavy names into the large, strong bag.

Run a bath –

Hot water for strength,

Sea salt for purity,

Rosemary for clear thought,

Frankincense for inspiration

And oil of Rose Otto for joy.

Let the water wash away

All fear,

All anger,

All indecision.

Let the steam draw out the word impossible from your pores.

Then drain all this grime into the large, strong bag.

Dig a hole and bury the large, strong bag –

That the Old Year may fertilise the New Year

And help it sprout, blossom and grow into a year of Happiness, Perfect Health, Abundant Wealth, and Golden Brightness!

Scribe Doll

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Latest Comments

Rosy Cole Unsung Song
15 January 2017
Thanks for your kind comment, Katia. I hope it didn't seem so, but it was hard to write. It's always...
Rosy Cole Unsung Song
15 January 2017
Yes, indeed, Ken, and the older I get, the more mindful I am of that. The quote you cite is probably...
Katherine Gregor Unsung Song
12 January 2017
Beautiful, as ever.
Ken Hartke Unsung Song
10 January 2017
Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come. -- Chinese Proverb Blessings...
Rosy Cole Unsung Song
09 January 2017
I think we've all been there, Steve. Hope you can take some inspiration from this post. One of the g...

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