A Look at the Bright Side of Life

A Second Celebration of Love

February, for most, is the month that is associated with love between people.  But for me as of late, it has been something a little different.  For me, it is the occasion when I observe my love for myself.  It allows me to exist as a single person without feeling any shame or inadequacy.   This sense of self would not exist without others who have come before me.  What I am talking about in this instance is Black History Month.  As I learned about it, it instilled in me that not all things are fair and sometimes no matter how dire things may seem or how lowly others may think of you, you know that you have worth.  And that is reason enough to celebrate.  I hope that this has been a Happy Black History Month.  If you didn’t get the chance to introduce yourself to a contribution by an African American person this month, below I have some poems.

 

FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER

Bury Me In A Free Land

Make me a grave where’er you will,

In a lowly plain or lofty hill,

Make it among earth’s humblest graves,

But not in a land where men are slaves.

 

I could not rest if around my grave

I heard the steps of a trembling slave:

His shadow above my silent tomb

Would make it a place of fearful gloom.

 

I could not rest if I heard the tread

Of a coffle gang to the shambles led,

And the mother’s shriek of wild despair

Rise like a curse on the trembling air.

 

I could not sleep if I saw the lash

Drinking her blood at each fearful gash,

And I saw her babes torn from her breast,

Like trembling doves from their parent nest.

 

I’d shudder and start if I heard the bay

Of blood-hounds seizing their human prey,

And I heard the captive plead in vain

As they bound afresh his galling chain.

 

If I saw young girls from their mother’s arms

Bartered and sold for their youthful charms,

My eye would flash with mournful flame,

My death-paled cheek grow red with shame.

 

I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated might

Can rob of his dearest right;

My rest shall be calm in any grave

Where none can call his brother a slave.

 

I ask no monument, proud and high

To arrest the gaze of passers-by;

All that my yearning spirit craves,

Is bury me not in a land of slaves.

 

Learning To Read

Very soon the Yankee teachers

Came down and set up school;

But, oh! how the Rebs did hate it-

It was agin’ their rule.

 

Our masters always tried to hide

Book learning from our eyes;

Knowledge didn’t agree with slavery-

‘Twould make us all too wise.

 

But some of us would try to steal

A little from the book,

And put the words together,

And learn by hook or crook.

 

I remember Uncle Caldwell,

Who took pot liquor fat

And greased the pages of his book,

And hid it in his had.

 

And had his master ever seen

The leaves upon his head,

He’d have thought them greasy papers,

But nothing to be read.

 

And there was Mr. Turner’s Ben,

Who heard the children spell,

And picked up the words right up by heart,

And learned to read ’em well.

 

Well, the Northern folks kept sending

The Yankee teachers down;

And they stood right up and helped us,

Though Rebs did sneer and frown.

 

And I longed to read my Bible,

For precious words it said;

But when I begun to learn it,

Folks just shook their heads,

 

And said there is no use trying,

Oh! Chloe, you’re too late;

But as I was rising sixty.

I had no time to wait.

 

So I got a pair of  glasses,

And straight to work I went,

And never stopped till I could read

The hymns and Testament.

 

Then I got a little cabin

A place to call my own-

And I felt as independent

As the queen upon her throne.

 

JAMES DAVID CORROTHERS

An Indignation Dinner

Dey was hard times jes fo’ Christmas round our neighborhood one year;

So we held a secret meetin’, whah de white folds couldn’t hear,

To ‘scuss de situation, an’ to see what could be done

Towa’d a fust-class Christmas dinneh an’ a little Christmas fun.

 

Rufus Green, who called de meetin’ ris an’ said: “In dis here town,

An’ throughout de land, de white folks is a’tryin’ to keep us down.”

S”e: Dey bought us, sold us, beat us; now dey ‘buse us ca’se we’s free;

But when dey tetch my stomach, dey’s done gone too fur foh me!

 

“Is I right?” “You sho is Rufus!” roared a dozen hungry throats.

“Ef you’d keep a mule a-wo’kin’ don’t you tamper wid his oats.

Dat’s sense,” continued Rufus.  “But dese white folks nowadays

Has done got so close and stingy you can’t live on what dey pays.

 

“Here ’tis Christmas-time, an’ folkses, I’s indignant ‘nough to choke.

Whah’s our Christmas dinneh comin’ when we’s mos’ completely broke?

I can’t hahdly fo’d a toothpick an’ a glass o’ water.  Mad?

Say, I’m desp’ret! Dey jes better treat me nice, dese white folks had!”

 

Well, dey ‘bused de white folks scan’lous, till old Pappy Simmons ris,

Leanin’ on his cane to s’pote him, on account his rheumatis’,

An’ s”e: “Chilun, whut’s dat wintry wind a-sighin’ th’ough de street

‘Bout yo wasted summeh wages?  But, no matter, we mus’ eat.

 

“Now, I seed a beau’ful tuhkey on a certain gemmun’s fahm.

He’s a-growin’ fat an’ sassy, an’ a-struttin’to a chahm.

Chickens, sheeps, hogs, sweet pertaters-all de craps is fine dis year;

All we need is a committee foh to tote de goodies here.”

 

Well, we lit right in an’ voted dat it was a gran’ idee,

An’ de dinneh we had Christmas was worth trabblin’ miles to see;

An’ we eat a full an’ plenty, big an’little, great an’ small,

Not beca’se we was dishonest, but indignant, sah.  Dat’s all.

 

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

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heart-roses

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Yes…

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Christmastime has arrived.  And with it the stories of Christmases past and present, both real and fiction come to mind.  One of the most famous stories about this holiday is the one about the little girl who questioned if indeed Santa Claus did exist.  The little girl was an eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon who wrote a letter to the editor of the New York’s Sun.  Despite my frequent reading, this story had evaded me until 2013, when I read it in the December 26th edition of the Eatonton Messenger.  Below is a reprint of the newspaper editorial that was originally printed on September 21, 1897.

Yes, Virginia…

Dear editor:  I am 8 years old.  Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.  Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’  Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

 Virginia O’Hanlon, 115 W. 59th St.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong.  They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.  They do not believe except they see.  They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.  All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little.  In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.  He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.  Alas!  How dreary would be the world if there no Santa Claus.  It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.  There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. …

Not believe in Santa Claus!  You might as well not believe in fairies!  You might get your papa to hire men to watch in  all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?  Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.  The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.  Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn?  Of course no, but that’s no proof that they are not there.  Nobody can can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.  Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond.  Is it all real?  Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus!  Thank God!  he lives, and he lives forever.  A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

And with that I would like to say…

Merry-Christmas

 

A Break in the Routine

Doing the same old thing you’re used to will not produce any new results.  Or at least that is what I have come to believe.  A Sunday morning several weeks ago, I found myself doing something that I never do.  I turned my radio on and listened to a sermon.  The preacher said that when people are mean to you they are lost.  It instantly put a smile on my face.  There are times when I wonder why people are mean to me and who better to provide an explanation than a preacher.

 

What have you done to venture away from your norm to find good and unexpected results?

Happy Valentine’s Day

If I could have given these to you in person, I would’ve.

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While we’re on this topic…

How much do you know about this little guy?

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Most people like myself recognize that this image is Cupid. He is an angel and he makes people fall in love.  But, that is about all I knew.  That was until I read the February 3, 2015 edition of the Buyer’s Guide.  Here I will share most of the article, “What is Cupid’s connection to love?”,  with you.

God of love and desire

Ancient Greeks and Romans were prolific storytellers and used mythology to explain many of the mysteries of life.  Certain feelings and happenings on Earth were attributed to the moods and actions of gods who presided over the people.

In Roman mythology, Cupid was the god of desire, erotic love, attraction, and affection.  His Greek counterpart was Eros, while in Latin Cupid was known as Amor.  According to myth, Cupid was the son of the winged messenger Mercury and Venus, the goddess of love.  Cupid’s machinations were often guided by his mother’s hand, and matchmaking remained his most well-known trait.

As time went on and Christian influences pushed out ancient Greek and Roman beliefs, Cupid was seen as angel of heavenly and earthly love.  Cupid could easily be mistaken for many other angelic cherubim portrayed in artwork during the Renaissance period.  Eventually Cupid became a popular icon of Valentine’s Day.

Cupid’s Appearance

Cupid has appeared in different ways in illustrations and other artwork throughout history.  Sometimes he is depicted as a winged, chubby infant carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows.

Classical Greek art depicts Cupid as a slender, winged youth.

The reason Cupid has wings is because lovers are known to be flighty and change their moods and minds with some frequency.  He is boyish because love is irrational, and he carries arrows and a torch because love can both wound but also inflame the heart.

Cupid has traditionally been portrayed as benevolent, if not mischievous.  After all, his goal is to bring two lovers together.  His arsenal was equipped with two different kinds of arrows.  People pierced by gold tipped arrows would succumb to uncontrollable desire.  Those afflicted by an arrow with a blunt tip of lead desired only to flee.

“Cupid and Psyche”

Cupid may have been responsible for bringing many people together with his special arrows, but he was also granted the opportunity to experience love himself.  According to the myth of “Cupid and Psyche,” Psyche was a beautiful woman whose appearance rivaled even that of Venus.  People grew enchanted by her beauty and started to neglect the worship of Venus.  Jealous of this attention, Venus asked Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a monster.  But when Cupid saw how beautiful Psyche was, he accidentally dropped the arrow meant for her and pricked himself instead.  The immediately became enamored with her.

Psyche who had not been able to marry like her other sisters, feared she had been cursed by the gods in some way.  She was sent away to avoid the premonition of marrying a monster, but Cupid hidden from sight, ended up visiting Psyche and gaining her trust and affection.  The pair them married, although Psyche had never seen her husband in the light of the day because he forbade her to look up him.  After all, he was a god and she was a mortal.

One night Psyche disobeyed Cupid’s edict and snuck a peek by candlelight.  She was amazed by his beauty and became startled, wounding herself on one of his arrows.  Psyche ended up dropping hot wax on Cupid, which woke him up and he ran off.

Psyche wandered endlessly trying to find her lost husband and had to go through trials established by a still-jealous Venus.  In one of her trials, she ended up getting put to sleep, but Cupid revived her and pleaded with Jupiter to make Psyche immortal and let her be his true love.  Jupiter ultimately granted that wish.

Well, there you have it.  I hope you enjoyed that article as much as I did.

Oprah Strikes Again

Why does Oprah keep hitting white men?

This is the question that ran through my mind after reading an article in a recent issue of Rolling Stone.  If you don’t know which one I’m talking about, then it is the one with Nicki Minaj on the cover.  I’m sure that most of you can remember her image on the front, especially you guys.  Anyway, as expressed by the article written by Peter Travers the movie Selma is slated to be a pivotal one given the timeliness of it.  Just as the movie itself I’m sure will be memorable the performances of the actors who portray people at a very turbulent time in America’s history will stake their claim at the forefront of our minds.  Now, I will get back to my question.  Oprah is one of those actors and she portrays Annie Lee Cooper.  Annie Lee Cooper as the article states decked a white sheriff for denying her right to vote.  Did you just get deja vu like I did?  Although, Oprah has made a name for herself as an actress, the role that she is most known for is the one in the movie The Color Purple.  Her character, Sofia, when she felt that she was being mistreated assaulted a white man and paid dearly for doing so.  So what do you think?

Water Rings

I thought it was pretty.

This photo was taken at Centennial Olympic Park.  If it had been an aerial photo, you could have seen that these are actually the Olympic rings.

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