The Duke of Glenn’s Creek

It has now been two years since we first moved to Florida. It was a bittersweet move, considering that my giant, 200-pound English Mastiff, Duke of Glenn’s Creek (Duke) passed away in the hours right after we closed on our new beach house. He had been eleven-and-a-half years old – according to the vet, the oldest Mastiff he had ever met – and his stomach spontaneously flipped. It was one of the saddest days of my life.

Duke was not just a dog. He was an institution. He was the size of a cow, and you could not walk him down the street without attracting a crowd. I can still remember the day we drove him home from a breeder in Indiana, and I would carry him around and listen to the sweet puppy sounds he would make in my ear. In many ways, he was my first baby. I miss him so much, every single day.


Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.
My big dog sang with me so purely,
puckering her ruffled lips into an O,
beginning with small, swallowing sounds
like Coltrane musing, then rising to power
and resonance, gulping air to continue—
her passion and sense of flawless form—
singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.
We joined in many fine songs—”Stardust,”
“Naima,” “The Trout,” “My Rosary,” “Perdido.”
She was a great master and died young,
leaving me with unrelieved grief,
her talents known to only a few.

Now I have a small dog who does not sing,
but listens with discernment, requiring
skill and spirit in my falsetto voice.
I sing her name and words of love
andante, con brio, vivace, adagio.
Sometimes she is so moved she turns
to place a paw across her snout,
closes her eyes, sighing like a girl
I held and danced with years ago.

But I am a pretender to dog music.
The true strains rise only from
the rich, red chambers of a canine heart,
these melodies best when the moon is up,
listeners and singers together or
apart, beyond friendship and anger,
far from any human imposter—
ballads of long nights lifting
to starlight, songs of bones, turds,
conquests, hunts, smells, rankings,
things settled long before our birth.

“Dog Music,” Paul Zimmer

I loved my friend.
He went away from me.
There’s nothing more to say.
The poem ends,
Soft as it began—
I loved my friend.

“Poem,” Langston Hughes

A prayer for my daughter

I’m finding it easy to relate to Yeats in this poem (yes, I spent the pre-dawn hours today watching futures trading and reading poetry), written a couple days after his daughter’s birth during the Irish War for Independence.

Feminists (irrationally, in my opinion) loathe this poem because in it Yeats is begging that his daughter experiences domestic tranquility. They accuse him of erasing her womanhood or whatever with his hope that she becomes a “flourishing hidden tree.” They, of course, miss the entire point of the poem, which is hardly about their identity-politics obsessions, but about the ability to survive the chaos of the modern world with your basic impulse to be happy intact.

His asking her to turn away from “intellectual hatred” and politics is about his complicated views about Irish nationalism balanced by his desire that his daughter’s generation not be victimized by the same very real violence and discord he was observing in the world around him. My favorite lines are: Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned / By those that are not entirely beautiful. That’s not entirely an observation about physical appearance.

A Prayer for My Daughter, William Butler Yeats

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-leveling wind
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-legged smith for man.
It’s certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty’s very self, has charm made wise,
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there’s no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.

An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty’s horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?

Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

Ash Wednesday

You remember too much,
my mother said to me recently.

Why hold onto all that? And I said,
Where can I put it down?

Anne Carson, The Glass Essay

This is one of my favorite poems, with a line that has pretty much become my mantra: “Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still.”

Ash Wednesday

T.S. Eliot

I

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is
nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care

Teach us to sit still

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

II
Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to sateity
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been
contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each
other,
Under a tree in the cool of day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.

III

At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jaggèd, like an old man’s mouth drivelling, beyond
repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an agèd shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs’s fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind
over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy

but speak the word only.

IV
Who walked between the violet and the violet
Whe walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary’s colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary’s colour,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke
no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile

V
If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny
the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season,
time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

VI
Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit
of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Poems about parenthood

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5

In honor the annual March for Life, here is some poetry about the most important, sacred journey we take as human beings – bringing someone new into this world.

Blessing of an Expectant Mother (Medieval Catholic Rite)

In the Middle Ages it was customary for a pastor to announce from the pulpit on Sundays the names of women whose time of childbirth was close at hand, and to ask the people’s prayers for them. But his solicitude did not stop there. He also visited the homes of such women, first said prayers outside the home, and then entered and administered the sacraments and the sacramentals of the Church.

A Child is Something Else Again

BY YEHUDA AMICHAI

TRANSLATED BY CHANA BLOCH

A child is something else again. Wakes up
in the afternoon and in an instant he’s full of words,
in an instant he’s humming, in an instant warm,
instant light, instant darkness.

A child is Job. They’ve already placed their bets on him
but he doesn’t know it. He scratches his body
for pleasure. Nothing hurts yet.
They’re training him to be a polite Job,
to say “Thank you” when the Lord has given,
to say “You’re welcome” when the Lord has taken away.

A child is vengeance.
A child is a missile into the coming generations.
I launched him: I’m still trembling.

A child is something else again: on a rainy spring day
glimpsing the Garden of Eden through the fence,
kissing him in his sleep,
hearing footsteps in the wet pine needles.
A child delivers you from death.
Child, Garden, Rain, Fate.

The Visitor 

BY IDRA NOVEY

Does no dishes, dribbles sauce
across the floor. Is more dragon
than spaniel, more flammable
than fluid. Is the loosening
in the knit of me, the mixed-fruit
marmalade in the kitchen of me.
Wakes my disco and inner hibiscus,
the Hector in the ever-mess of my Troy.
All wet mattress to my analysis,
he’s stayed the loudest and longest
of any houseguest, is calling now
as I write this, tiny B who brings the joy.

Maternal

BY GAIL MAZUR

On the telephone, friends mistake us now
when we first say hello—not after.
And that oddly optimistic lilt
we share nourishes my hopes:
we do sound happy. . . .

Last night, in my dream’s crib,
a one-day infant girl.
I wasn’t totally unprepared—
there was the crib, and cotton kimonos,
not just a padded dresser drawer.

And then, I knew I could drive
to the store for the tiny, funny
clothes my daughter wears.

I was in a familiar room
and leaned over the rail, crooning
Hello, and the smiling baby—
she’d be too young for speech,
I know, or smiles—
gurgled back at me, Hullo.

—If I could begin again,
I’d hold her longer, closer!
Maybe that way, when night opens
into morning, and all my windows
gape at the heartbreaking street,
my dreams wouldn’t pierce so,

I wouldn’t hold my breath
at the parts of my life still in hiding,
my childhood’s white house
where I lunged toward the flowers of love
as if I were courting death. . . .

Over the crib, a mobile was spinning,
bright birds going nowhere,
primary colors, primary
as mothering once seemed. . . .

Later, I wonder why I dreamt
that dream, yearning for what I’ve had,
and have

why it was my mother’s room,
the blonde moderne bedroom set
hidden under years of junk—a spare room’s
the nicest way to put it,

though now all
her crowded rooms are spare—

You’re

BY SYLVIA PLATH

Clownlike, happiest on your hands,   
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,   
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense   
Thumbs-down on the dodo’s mode.   
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,   
Trawling your dark as owls do.   
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth   
Of July to All Fools’ Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.   
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.   
Snug as a bud and at home   
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.   
A creel of eels, all ripples.   
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.   
Right, like a well-done sum.   
A clean slate, with your own face on.

Marshlands

A thin wet sky, that yellows at the rim,
And meets with sun-lost lip the marsh’s brim.

The pools low lying, dank with moss and mould,
Glint through their mildews like large cups of gold.

Among the wild rice in the still lagoon,
In monotone the lizard shrills his tune.

The wild goose, homing, seeks a sheltering,
Where rushes grow, and oozing lichens cling.

Late cranes with heavy wing, and lazy flight,
Sail up the silence with the nearing night.

And like a spirit, swathed in some soft veil,
Steals twilight and its shadows o’er the swale.

Hushed lie the sedges, and the vapours creep,
Thick, grey and humid, while the marshes sleep.

“Marshlands,” Emily Pauline Johnson

Aristotle’s Ethics in the Poetry of Joy Harjo

I like serendipity, especially serendipity in ideas. Today I was reading Prufrock, an email newsletter of sorts on arts and letters (I look forward to seeing it land in my inbox every morning – highly recommend subscribing.) The author, Micah Mattix, was talking about how he has finished a series of lectures on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. I tend to frame the world as Aristotle did, so I will probably listen to the lectures too when I can find the time.

Anyhow, it was Mattix’s take on friendship in Aristotle’s ethics that intrigued me:

The final two [lectures] treat friendship and action. Friendship according to Aristotle is the “most necessary” virtue. I won’t go into Aristotle’s types of friendship (those founded on utility, pleasure, and virtue), but I appreciated his view that friendship is one of the foundations of civilization. It is what binds a city together. We see this idea in classical and modern literature, too. Friendship and hospitality (which is welcoming a stranger as a friend) are quintessentially human attributes in The Odyssey, for example, which are not shared by the gods or the sub-human cyclops. These two ideas—that friendship is the basis of civilization and a touchstone of humanity—are also found in Francis Bacon’s short essay “Of Friendship,” which is obviously drawn from classical sources. Whatever “delights in solitude,” Bacon writes, “is either a wild beast or a god. For it is most true, that a natural and secret hatred, and aversation towards society, in any man, hath somewhat of the savage beast.” It’s not that solitude is bad or unnecessary. It is that to live only in solitude is to live a sub-human life. Without friends, Bacon continues, the “world is but a wilderness.”

It seems to me that we’ve lost this high view of friendship as an aspect of human identity, which we now regularly confuse with personality or view as a discrete construction of the autonomous will rather than as something that is composed of universal attributes. So, it is no surprise that our lives increasingly look like those of the cyclops. We live in caves, in fenced-in back yards, and “consume” each other—on television, in movies, on Facebook and Twitter. And because our lives (I’m speaking generally here about American culture) are ordered around maximizing physical pleasure, not virtue, they must end in suicide when the body’s capacity for physical pleasure wanes. The opioid crisis starts with this low view of human nature and won’t end until a grander view is recaptured, which I don’t see happening any time soon.  

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. I was talking to my brother yesterday about how shocking the brawl at a Little League game in Lakewood, Colorado – not far at all from where I used to live when I lived in Colorado – was. Suburban Denver has become something of a poster child for a specific sort of violence, and it’s ultimately a collective undoing of friendship in the Aristotelian sense. (Though this malaise is wrecking havoc on our country and world in general.)

Aristotle would be intrigued by how often this undoing is centered around educational institutions and ordinary family life. These are what he identifies as the foundation, or building blocks, of society. Dysfunction in them necessarily scales.

Anyhow, I moved on to reading poems by the absolutely sublime Joy Harjo, who is the first Native American poet laureate. (Though some might argue that honor belongs to William Jay Smith. Harjo is a member of the Creek.) It had never occurred to me how Aristotelian in spirit some Native American tribes are, but that sense of things shines in Harjo’s poetry.

On the topic of friendship, consider this poem, Once the World Was Perfect:

Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head.
And once Doubt ruptured the web,
All manner of demon thoughts
Jumped through—
We destroyed the world we had been given
For inspiration, for life—
Each stone of jealousy, each stone
Of fear, greed, envy, and hatred, put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were,
Right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other
In the dark.
And now we had no place to live, since we didn’t know
How to live with each other.
Then one of the stumbling ones took pity on another
And shared a blanket.
A spark of kindness made a light.
The light made an opening in the darkness.
Everyone worked together to make a ladder.
A Wind Clan person climbed out first into the next world,
And then the other clans, the children of those clans, their children,
And their children, all the way through time—
To now, into this morning light to you.

One of the central themes in Aristotle’s ethics is that the flourishing of a society begins at the household/family level, builds to the community, and then to the nation. Thus, it is impossible to have a sound democratic society without first having stable and flourishing families.

Now consider this poem, Perhaps the World Ends Here:

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

I love that so much: “It is here” – at the kitchen table – “that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.” Have you ever seen someone summarize so neatly why people behave like monsters in the age of social media, smart phones, and binge-watching dystopian garbage on Netflix? We’ve stopped making families, stopped gathering in love and goodwill, and thus have stopped teaching future generations what it means to be fully human.

And this poem, Remember, on the importance of family and friendship, also very Aristotelian:

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

High Tea, Sherlock Sports a Bow Tie

I have encountered other homeschoolers who have a ritual of enjoying afternoon tea and reading poetry aloud for their children. We prefer to read novels and nonfiction books as a family in the evenings (when we aren’t playing board games or Dungeons and Dragons). It has evolved into a sort of family literary society, where we take turns reading and discussing what we’ve covered. It’s amazing how quickly this builds both literacy and critical thinking skills in children.

This afternoon we decided to give tea and poetry a chance. We went all out, however. We set the table with E’s great-grandmother’s bone china and silver. We made parfaits in her great-great-grandmother’s crystal. It was an opportunity to explain to her how to arrange a formal table setting and to talk about traditions. The first rule of pulling out the fine china and crystal: Be gentle and respectful, because it ultimately belongs to future generations.

The table set for tea.

And we put a bow tie on our rough coat Jack Russell terrier, Sherlock.

A proper English dog. Yes, he will sit politely at the table.

I think reading poetry is a fantastic way to help young children build an aesthetic sense. E is very similar to me in her reading habits – she loves nonfiction, and particularly books about nature, science, and history. But there’s something about poetry that just works for our personalities. The poet loves detail as much as the scientist.

Excellent collections of poems for young children include: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young, Gyo Fujikawa’s A Child’s Book of Poems, Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses (with gorgeous illustrations by Tasha Tudor), Eric Carle’s Animals Animals, Margaret Wise Brown’s Give Yourself to the Rain, Arnold Lobel’s The Frogs and Toads All Sang, Emily Dickinson’s Poetry for Young People, Mary O’Neill’s Hailstones and Halibut Bones, and of course, everything by Shel Silverstein. Michael Bedard wrote an excellent book, Emily, which covers the life and quirks of Emily Dickinson.

E having a good afternoon.

What’s the difference between afternoon tea and high tea?