"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A House Where All's Accustomed, Ceremonious

ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUSWho wouldn't want to live in Story, Indiana? Sounds like a place
right out of a book . . . or a place where you could read all the time!

Rustic Hoosier Postcard of Stone Head, Brown County
by photographer Darryl Jones
See also The Spirit of the Place: Indiana Hill Country

As you may have heard me say before, my inspiration for designing this blog came from two writers: Goethe, who hopes that each day might include a song, a poem, some fine art, a few wise words; and Yeats who describes "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." This poem, particularly the closing, has been a favorite of mine for many years, decades:

Prayer For My Daughter
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.

William Butler Yeats, 1865 - 1939
Irish poet and dramatist
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1923

The next two poems made their way into my notebook more recently. A few years ago, I discovered Louis Untermeyer's "Prayer For This House" in an poetry anthology that my children brought home from school; and around the same time, a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Family Prayer" was given to me by a neighbor in Philadelphia who told me that her mother read this poem every year before Thanksgiving dinner. Both are similar in tone and purpose to each other, and to Yeats' "Prayer for My Daughter":

Yeats prays for happiness, though "every bellows burst"
Untermeyer - for warmth, "though all the world grow chill"
Stevenson - for loyalty "down to the gates of death"

Yeats invokes "custom" and "ceremony" in the face of howling winds
Untermeyer - faith "to withstand the battering storm"
Stevenson - constancy in "all changes of fortune."

Yeats seeks a refuge from "arrogance and hatred"
Untermeyer - from "the raucous shout" of hate
Stevenson - from peril, tribulation, wrath

Yeats desires reprieve from the scowling face
Untermeyer - from "ill-fortunes," roar and rain
Stevenson - from "the lurking grudge"

Yeats hopes for the triumph of "innocence and beauty"
Untermeyer - for a "shrine" of peace and laughter
Stevenson - for "courage and gaiety and the quiet mind."

May their prayers be answered.

We Give Thanks

Prayer For This House
May nothing evil cross this door.
And may ill-fortunes never pry
about these windows; may the roar
and rains go by.

Strengthened by faith, the rafters will
withstand the battering of the storm.
This hearth, though all the world grow chill
will keep you warm.

Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,
touching your lips with holy wine,
till every casual corner blooms
into a shrine.

Laughter shall drown the raucous shout
and, though the sheltering walls are thin,
may they be strong enough to keep hate out
and hold love in.

Louis Untermeyer, 1885 - 1977
American poet, critic, anthologist
14th United States Poet Laureate, 1961 - 63

Prayers at Breakfast

A Family Prayer
Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank you for this place in which we dwell,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded to us this day,
for the hope with which we expect the morrow;
for the health, the work, the food and the bright skies
that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth.

Let peace abound in our small company.
Purge out of every heart the lurking grudge.
Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere.
Give us the grace to accept and to forgive offenders.
Forgetful ourselves, help us to bear cheerfully
the forgetfulness of others.

Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors.

If it may not, give us the strength to encounter
that which is to come,
that we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation,
temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune,
and, down to the gates of death,
loyal and loving one to another.

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 - 1894
Scottish poet and novelist

Now you can store these poems somewhere safe, then take them out to share around the table next Thanksgiving!

Autumn Leaves

All paintings above by
Jessie Willcox Smith, 1863 - 1935
American illustrator of magazines and children's books

Next Fortnightly Post
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT: www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST: www.kittislist.blogspot.com
my running list of recent reading

1 comment:

  1. I love these poems as I always do of your choices! "Give me a house that has gotten all of its newness out..." etc. "May nothing evil cross this door." What good wishes. Drinking coffee and having just gotten the tree up, these poems refreshed me. Thank you!