sharing my love of books with you

Month: June 2023


Urbane – courteous in manners; polite; suave; elegant or refined

“It is true that Longfellow strove to present an unruffled, humane, urbane face to the world. The motto on his personal bookplate was non clamor, sed armor: not clamor, but love.”

Lawrence Buell, in the introduction to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Selected Poems


Taciturnity – the quality or state of being taciturn (habitually silent; not apt to talk)

“When Longfellow wrote a grief-stricken acquaintance that “there are natures whose native strength and elasticity enable them to endure the worst, and yet live,” he was stating from experience a principle to which he clung in his own way as tenaciously as Hemingway did to his code of masculine taciturnity or Emerson to his self-imposed emotional detachment from all but his immediate family and sometimes even them.”

Lawrence Buell, in the introduction to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Selected Poems


Palatial – of, like, or suitable for a palace; hence, large and ornate; stately; magnificent

“Throughout [Longfellow’s] life, he attached an extremely high value to politeness, common courtesy, dignity, and good citizenship, as well as to domestic comforts of a level of elegance that Ralph Waldo Emerson, on his visits to Cambridge from small-town Concord, found disorientingly palatial.”

Lawrence Buell, in the introduction to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Selected Poems

New Book: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Selected Poems

Last Christmas, I watched a movie called I Heard the Bells based on the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the events that led up to his penning the beloved Christmas poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. Until then, I hadn’t learned much of Longfellow and had read even less. I did know he wrote a lot of long poems, so I didn’t want to invest in a large, expensive volume ’til I knew if I liked his poetry. So I purchased this little paperback from Penguin Classics. Some of the poems included are “Evangeline”, “The Courtship of Miles Standish”, “A Psalm of Life”, and “The Village Blacksmith”.

The introduction is by Lawrence Buell. I’ve only read part of the introduction so far, but I learned so much about Longfellow that I can’t wait to read his poems. Did you know that he was a master of five languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German? And he could read in six more. He taught at Harvard until he decided to write poetry as his profession; he was the first American poet to do so. He lost two wives – the first after a miscarriage in Europe, the second in an accident when her dress caught fire. Longfellow knew deep love and deeper sorrow. I am really looking forward to reading these poems. Though, as with all poetry, I will have to read it slowly. Poetry, you see, should be read in small portions, both so you can take the whole meaning of a poem in to ponder and so you don’t get discouraged by misunderstanding.

Have you read any poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? I would love to know which ones you like so I can read them too.

Saturday, June 10 – Disaster!

Disaster struck on Saturday, June 10. I was in a quiet mood, and wrote the following lines…

Yes, it is Saturday, June 10, 2023. Somehow, almost a full month has passed since I wrote anything on this blog. Never fear, I have written some other things – a few poem drafts and a Journeys for Christ devotional. I haven’t been reading much lately, to my chagrin. As the song so eloquently says, “Swiftly flow the days… swiftly fly the years.”

With that in mind, I realize I need to set some new goals. I need to finish Lion in the White House, the Roosevelt biography I started and so carelessly set aside. I also need to start pursuing more poetry. I started my new Longfellow volume but haven’t finished the introduction. And I need to finish my little “quick read”, Lyddie, which I started a few weeks ago when I only had a few moments to read.

… Then, as I took sip of tea, the cup fell from my fingers. A flood of London Fog Latte covered my laptop, my chair, my floor, even a few of my books. I was devastated! I was angry with myself and with my cup and with my chair. It wasn’t a loud anger. It was a scary, quiet anger. As quickly as I could, once the shock wore off, I rushed for the kitchen sink. Perhaps I could save the laptop by letting it drip into the sink for a few hours. But when twenty-four hours had lapsed, I still could not turn the laptop on.

That’s when it hit me. If I couldn’t turn the laptop on, how would I ever save my writings? My poems and devotionals that weren’t posted on the blog. Had I lost most of my written work from the last year? Like a fool, I haven’t been using a separate backup for saving my works. This is an accident that couldn’t happen to me, right? I won’t be foolish like that again.

For about a week, I moped. I was grateful the blog could autosave my Saturday post. Most of my devotionals were saved on the blog also. But I only have a few poems on a private page, not yet ready to be shared with the world. The rest were saved to my desktop. (In the future, I plan to keep my poems on the blog as well as my computer so they won’t be lost like this again.)

I ordered a new laptop, received it Thursday, and started to set up all my old programs and passwords. A new laptop should be exciting! It should be fun! But the longer I stared into the new screen, the more devastated I felt. Most of the week, I tried to keep an optimistic spirit, but as I stared at the blank desktop, the empty folders, and my failed attempts to retrieve anything from old emails, my spirits sunk. They sunk so much that I even shed a few tears Friday when I was telling a friend what happened.

Then – a miracle! – Friday night, my husband plugged the ruined laptop in to see if anything had changed in the week it had been out of commission. The screen lit up! As quickly as I could, I started a transfer program from the old laptop to the new. The old one died three times from overheating before I had the idea to set it up on its screen and blow a fan at the hard drive to keep it cool. In about thirty minutes, everything from my old laptop was transferred to the new. Joyous occasion! All of my poetry, devotionals, spreadsheets, everything was transferred and saved. How can I describe the flood of relief that washed over me when I started to move the poems to their own folder and the devotionals to theirs? I even had a few years of check register spreadsheets that I use to balance my bank accounts.

As I write this, I wonder if you will think me silly. The spill was my fault. Not using external backups was my fault. And was I truly devastated? That’s such a strong word – one used when a dear friend is airlifted to the hospital or a close family member dies. But a computer? Should I be devastated about a computer? I didn’t like to think so at first, but the longer I thought about my lost writings, the more I felt it was an appropriate word. When I write, I put my whole self – my emotions, thoughts, and feelings – into it. I labor during the writing process and again during editing. I love some of the things I write, and so I reread them and correct them over and over. So, yes, I was devastated. I felt I had lost not only hours of labor and emotion, but also some dear literary friends. And that is why it was such a relief to recover them. To read them again. To think those thoughts and feel those emotions again.

I am not a published author. Sometimes I feel I am barely a writer, much less a poet. But I want to be one day. I am working toward that end. And now I don’t have to start over. I can keep moving forward.

Dear readers, you can see I have had a few weeks of pent up emotions. I needed to write them out, and I have chosen you to be the recipients of my story. This is not my typical Saturday morning post. I know it is very long. I hope you haven’t tired of my story, but if you have, that’s ok. I’ve finished telling it. Except to say I strongly suggest – and will take this suggestion myself as well – if you are a writer, or an artist of any kind, who uses technology, keep a separate backup of all your art. Save it once, then again somewhere else that you can access if your main computer goes down. Don’t lose your art friends, as I nearly did.

Now a short addition for Saturday, June 24, 2023. After enjoying a morning cup of London Fog Latte (the whole thing this time) and Cinnamon Apples, I will be adding a few new words to the blog. I will also be writing my July Journeys for Christ devotional. After that, I plan to tell you about the three audiobooks I listened to over the last month. Whew! That’s a lot of writing if I don’t get distracted! I hope you have a lovely Saturday!