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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Christina Georgina Rossetti: Who has seen the wind? (A Poetry Comic by Nora Sawyer)


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Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894): Who has seen the wind? from Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book (1872): Poetry Comic by Nora Sawyer, from Nora Sawyer, 17 June 2013

11 comments:

TC said...

Leave it our ever so talented friend Nora to contribute a midsummer delight that may be the ideal calmative for whatever alien strain of germ it is that has turned this place into a Medieval Cough Factory.

"Last night, as we were getting ready for bed, someone was launching sky lanterns from a nearby marina. Brian and I watched for several minutes through our binoculars, and I decided to scrap the illustrations I’d made for this poem." -- Nora

Portrait of Christina Georgina Rossetti, by her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), 1868

Arthur Hughes illustration for Christina Georgina Rossetti: Who has seen the wind? in Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book (1872)

Another selection from this same wonderful book of children's verses: Christina Georgina Rossetti: A House of Cards

Is it a reasonable test of poetry to ask if it is singable? That once may have been the case, in happier times. But now... catch yourself humming along and tapping a foot to the tune of much "Conceptual Poetry", lately?

Christina Rossetti's poetry for children has been enjoyed, recited, performed and set to music by so many different people, from toddlers on up to presumably mature adults, it's impossible to give more than a token selection. But just for the heck of it, a few versions of this small classic.

Geneva, a kindergartener. Don't you always love to feel no one but you has ever stumbled over something innocent, sweet and nice? If you click on this, you will have been the third person on planet Earth ever to do so. (A bit disappointing really that Geneva's parents haven't shown much support on this one... unless, that is, one of them has clicked once, making me the second true buddy of Geneva. A kid needs all the friends she can get, in times like these.)

A children's chorus in Sao Paulo. These kids may not know a word of English, but would that really matter?

Still, maybe my favourite...

... and finally, from a lyricist of another time, the ultimate non-conceptual musical question:

If you can't see the wind, how on earth can you ever hope to catch it?

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Something of a Medieval Cough Factory here too,
approaching summer solstice, all this wind. . .


6.20

light coming into sky above still black
ridge, birds beginning to call in field
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

“ground of thing,” seems to
have been “this wind”

which is itself, resistance,
figure fixed in place

silver edge of sun in cloud above ridge,
fog on horizon to the left of the point

Wooden Boy said...

Very glad those lanterns passed by. That solitary light reflected...

She's made for setting in song, Rossetti.

TC said...

Those lanterns put me in mind of these.

'Tis the season. Or perhaps it's a dream. Lasting but the single enchanted magic-lantern night.

Nora said...

Thanks Tom! I actually first learned this poem when I sang it in the children's choir as a young Episcopalian.

And on the subject of glow worms...

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Geneva has now passed the lucky seven mark.

VINCENT FARNSWORTH said...

Oh this was on a B-side of a 45 that we had hanging around when I was a kid, sung by Yoko Ono! on the other side of Instant Karma by her husband. Seemed pretty conceptual to me at the time

TC said...

Vassilis, We may be the best thing to have hit Geneva since John Calvin.

Nora, those Nagoya fireflies are seriously astonishing. Almost enough to make one a convert to Episcopalian Conceptualism, or to throw it all away, unmoor and sail one's barge across the dark Pacific in search of such luminous green beauty.

(Wouldn't John Calvin do that, if he had a houseboat and a very large Kon Tiki style oar?)

Best fireflies ever, bar none, I reckon.

As it happens, some time ago I disappeared from the planet in quest of the famous glowworms of the north island of NZ. Aranui rainforest and Waitomo Caves are the principal sites of interest. Most of the videos are chancey hand-held affairs with lots of scarified tourist squealing, ooh it's so spooky & c.

Gradually one gathers that these NZ glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa) are actually "just going through a phase", kind of like teenagers I guess. They're actually the larval stage of a fungus gnat. Very glittery nonetheless, and so attractive to insects that... well, let's say, if you're a bug with a hormone overload, these little babies are probably best avoided. One Dutch tourist spent so long wiggling into her wet suit before entering the cold clammy cave that the whole video became distracted by the fact that her breasts seemed to have vanished (well, not really, just flattened out, but still -- the poor dear girl, she'd obviously have been better off back home in Amsterdam with a slim volume of Christina Rossetti's children's verse and whatever else they have in Amsterdam -- wooden shoes full of tulips?). Our intrepid friend Richard Attenborough of course spelunked his way among the glowworms of the caves, no hazard too great for our Richard when it comes to satisfying our curiosity re the wonders of the natural world. He helpfully explains that the glowworm is a bit of a femme fatale, though of course it isn't even a femme quite. But still. "The light shines out of its backside -- a lure for attracting insects. They are irresistibly drawn, then get trapped in sticky glowworm-tail goo... once stuck there's no escape, the victim is slowly reeled in, it's just a matter of time..." Is Richard reminded of some personal experiences of his own, one almost wondered?

Reel me in now, or I'll report you to UbuWeb!

TC said...

Oh and Vincent, that Yoko Ono version of this lovely little children's song was one of the versions I had posted, but wisdom (somebody else's of course, I have none of my own) prevailed, and the Big Editor won out. Bye bye Yoko.

But in the interests of Consensual Conceptualism I have now gone back and audited the several posted versions of that -- the French single, the Japanese release & c. -- unfortunately the raging fevers are making these searches weird enough as it is, and something about Yoko's hideous fey screeching intensifies the hallucinatory pain of reality -- how perfectly awful to be born and live in a world in which her "music" also exists -- but lost in the random shuffle there have been some quite apt comments -- my favourite was: "She makes me ears bleed, stop me before she kills again". Couldn't agree more with that. Give me a predatory glow-worm over Yoko any time!

Yoko destroys

Actually, Yoko's version puts me in mind, just a bit, of one of the most brilliant performances of a singular artiste who gets my vote for Conceptual Artist of whatever millennium it was hatched her -- the previous I believe.

Wing: Don't Cry for Me, Argentina.

The truly incomparable genius of Wing, indescribable, nonpareil, shattering, the tears flow very time I drift off into the lounge with the mere thought of her.

A crosscultural collision that can be as gentle as a very delicate flower wrapped inside a trainwreck.

Yoko could learn a trick or two.

TC said...

Oh and Vincent, that Yoko Ono version of this lovely little children's song was one of the versions I had posted, but wisdom (somebody else's of course, I have none of my own) prevailed, and the Big Editor won out. Bye bye Yoko.

But in the interests of Consensual Conceptualism I have now gone back and audited the several posted versions of that -- the French single, the Japanese release & c. -- unfortunately the raging fevers are making these searches weird enough as it is, and something about Yoko's hideous fey screeching intensifies the hallucinatory pain of reality -- how perfectly awful to be born and live in a world in which her "music" also exists -- but lost in the random shuffle there have been some quite apt comments -- my favourite was: "She makes me ears bleed, stop me before she kills again". Couldn't agree more with that. Give me a predatory glow-worm over Yoko any time!

Yoko destroys

Actually, Yoko's version puts me in mind, just a bit, of one of the most brilliant performances of a singular artiste who gets my vote for Conceptual Artist of whatever millennium it was hatched her -- the previous I believe.

Wing: Don't Cry for Me, Argentina

The truly incomparable genius of Wing, indescribable, nonpareil, shattering, the tears flow every time I drift off into the lounge with the mere thought of her.

A crosscultural collision that can be as gentle as a very delicate flower wrapped inside a trainwreck.

Yoko could learn a trick or two.

Nora said...

Rosetti poem spotted in the wild!