First Class Quotations #Shakespeare #quotes #theatre #plays #stamps #StGeorge #Passover

The 23rd April is a very busy date. 

Firstly we must commemorate Mr William Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon who died on 23rd April 1616, 400 years ago today.  

Shakespeare was also born on the 23rd April 1564.

The 23rd April happens to be St George’s Day; St George is the patron saint of England, often depicted slaying a dragon to rescue the fair maiden.

 “Love is a smoke made with the fumes of sighs” from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

This quote seems to tie the two together perfectly.

Royal Mail has issued 10 Shakespeare quotes as 1st class stamps. You could have issued a 100 stamps going by the popularity and love of a Shakespeare line:

“To thine own self be true…” A quote for this day of all days, and everyday thereafter.

‘The fair and the mighty, such characters enthral

Indulge all our senses, give rowdy applause

To rousing great speeches, the lines well rehearsed

The sonnets and quotes, perfect prose of sweet verse…’

From The Bard by K.Barnwell

Today is also The First Day of Passover (Pesach = Hebrew ‘to pass over’) – the freedom of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery by the Pharaohs (rulers over the kingdom of Egypt, considered half man, half god, but not King).  

Only unleavened bread called Matzo is eaten. The festival lasts 15 days.
A Great weekend to come…

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Pleasure, Pain & Poetry #Kipling #poetry #OnThisDay #January 

On the 18th January, 1891, poet Rudyard Kipling married American Carrie Balestier.
On the 18th January, 1936, 45 years later & 80 years ago today Rudyard Kipling died aged only 70.

“Kipling, though short, was lithe and slim, with beautifully balanced movements. His most arresting feature was his heavy eyebrows, which shot up and down with his talk: under them twinkled bright blue eyes.”

To learn poetry by heart (a short piece, a verse, a line) means we take a gift with us wherever we go; whether we travel alone or we share the poetry of our hearts, it can be a constant source of companionship.  

In grief, poetry can provide refuge and recovery and may be a helpful source of peace and understanding, especially when we struggle to find the words ourselves.  

Sometimes someone else, perhaps from another era or of a different gender, can speak for us.

Pull down that dusty poetry book from the shelf, or google a poem; read the lines and read between the lines and maybe you’ll realise that there’s a poet talking to you, writing for you; reach and you will find…

‘There is pleasure in the wet, wet clay,

When the artist’s hand is potting it.

There is pleasure in the wet, wet lay,

When the poet’s pad is blotting it…’

 Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)


Having a blast! A rhyme for a reason… #BonfireNight #GuyFawkes #OnThisDay

‘Remember, remember 

The 5th of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot

I see no reason, 

Why gunpowder, treason

Should ever be forgot!’

In 1605 (410 years ago today) a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, His Majesty James I and Their Lordships was very narrowly avoided. It was hatched by a conspiratorial group of Catholics, headed by Robert Catesby, in protest at the increasingly oppressive treatment by the King and his ministers. 

The date was the 5th November: the State Opening of Parliament.

The plot was foiled.

It is Guido (Guy) Fawkes (a 35 year old Yorkshireman) who was discovered in the tunnels under Parliament with piles of wood hiding 36 barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes, noted for his coolness and bravery, was consequently stretched and tortured on the rack, then hung, drawn and quartered in Westminster Yard on 31st January 1606.

He is sometimes toasted as ‘the last man to enter Parliament with good intentions!’

Traditional Bonfires and Fireworks are lit all across the country on 5th November, and a good old ‘guy’ (‘a penny for the guy’) is made and burned to rapturous delight!
Lights, fire, explosions and danger all for a plan that never succeeded…how the course of history ignites us!

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Ps These dashing men dressed in hats, leather and exhibiting masterful beards are not Musketeers but Conspirateurs


Going hoarse for a Horse! From Car park to Cathedral. #onthisday #RichardIII #history

On the 22nd August, 1485 (530 years ago today) on Redmore Plain in Leicestershire (now known as Bosworth Field) the 32 year old King of England, Richard III (King for less than 2 years) lay slain, beaten and betrayed.
‘Pity the man who waves the white boar’

It was Shakespeare’s play, written with enormous Tudor biase, ‘Richard III’ (1592) that coined the desperately-pleading phrase: “a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”
This was not officially recorded as truth but it’s a most likely understated request.
His remains were only recovered and confirmed, after a great deal of forensic analysis, in a Leicester council car park under the letter R in 2012 and he was respectfully and ceremoniously laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015.
He was the first King to have died in battle since the Norman Conquest (1066) and the last since; he was the first to be found under a car park and the most historically misunderstood and misrepresented King. His death marked the end of The Plantagenet dynasty and the War of The Roses: the Yorkist White & the Lancastrian Red. Henry Tudor (Henry VII) united the two sides with his Tudor rose (red & white combined, NOT pink) both the House of Lancaster and the House of York were very closely related.

The life and times of King Richard III are a fascinating subject.
Today we must picture him on a valiant stead, with his banner of St George and his emblem, The White Boar flying high on a windy plain,
‘this glorious son of York.’

On This DAY: 4th August… #onthisday

Sometimes, when flicking through poetry books, we may come across a line or a couplet or a verse of a poem, that was written in one time but can be respectfully and thoughtfully applied to the events of another.

Here is an example for today…

The 4th August, 1914, marks the outbreak of World War One.

On the 4th August, 1792, Percy Bysshe Shelley was born.

Combine the lines of Shelley’s ‘Prometheus Unbound’ with the knowledge of WWI

“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;

To forgive wrongs darker than death or nights…”

From the horrors of WWI emerged a large group of War poets whose first hand accounts were vividly captured by their head and hearts and scribbled into descriptive, explosive poems.  

Isaac Rosenberg was one such determined soldier who said, “this war, with all its powers for devastation, shall not master my poeting…I will not leave a corner of my consciousness covered up, but saturate myself with the strange and extraordinary new condition of this life, and it will refine itself into poetry later on.”

From Returning We Hear The Larks by Issac Rosenberg

“Sombre the night is.

And though we have our lives, we know

What sinister threat lurks there.”

Conclusion… The 4th August 2015, you have Life, you have Hope and you are Free. Find the poetry in your life.

Dead or Alive? Rescued by Poetry #OnThisDay

Poet Robert Graves was born on 24th July 1895 (120 years ago today) and died on 7th December 1985 (30 years ago this year).  On his 21st birthday in 1916 he opened The Times newspaper only to read his obituary, having supposedly been killed in action at Somme, during the First World War. A nasty shock…the horror of this war would colour his autobiography ‘Goodbye to all that’.

It was not until 1963 and in his second marriage he wrote: “I have never been so happy in all my life as now…I wrote a poem…which is one of the few poems of utter happiness ever written…this is mine, and may it excuse all the dark ones.”

‘Not to sleep all night long, for pure joy,

Counting no sheep and careless of no chimes…

This is given to few but at last to me,

So that when I laugh and stretch and leap from bed

I shall glide downstairs, my feet brushing the carpet…’

He kept his life, yet lost his youth (as a result of fighting in WWI) however it resurfaced again in his late sixties with energy and passion.  

“Poets remain in love for the rest of their lives,” said Graves; he lived to a happy 90years! “..watching the world with a detachment unknown to lawyers, politicians and financiers…”  

The poet’s world is a world like no other; it has no one channel…no one path…no one destination…it is everything and everywhere.  

The poetry a poet writes is given over to everyone.

P. for #Poet, Y. for #Yeats!

Irish poet, playwright, journalist and political activist, William Butler Yeats, was born today 13th June,1865. Here he is captured in charcoal on paper, by the wonderfully real and evocative artist John Singer Sargent. Yeats is wearing a velvet coat and a bow tie, and quite clearly an established, confident young writer. The drawing was commissioned as a frontispiece to the first volume of his ‘Collected Poems’ 1908. He found the portrait ‘flattering’.

With such a likeness as this, it feels as if he might walk into the room any minute and recite his words to eager listeners. Every breath of work, from the Irish fairy folklore: ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ to love: O Do Not Love Too Long’ to history: ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ to old age: ‘Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad’…captures a different side to Yeats.

There is always a surprising new line, verse or poem to discover, whatever the context of our moods…

“I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”