"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, August 28, 2011

Ferry Connections

A HOUSE WHERE ALL'S ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
Ferry Cross the Mersey with Grandpa ~ Sam, Ron, Ben ~ Summer 1999

Ferry Cross the Mersey by John Haslam
as seen in the Crosby Herald

Ferry Cross the Mersey
(click to hear tune)
Life goes on day after day
Hearts torn in every way
So ferry cross the Mersey
'Cause this land's the place I love
And here I'll stay

People they rush everywhere
Each with their own secret care
So ferry cross the Mersey
And always take me there
The place I love

People around every corner
They seem to smile and say
We don't care what your name is boy
We'll never turn you away

So I'll continue to say
Here I always will stay
So ferry cross the Mersey
'Cause this land's the place I love
And here I'll stay
And here I'll stay
Here I'll stay


1960s hit in the UK & the USA
by Gerry and the Pacemakers
1983 cover by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Needlecraft by Abacus Designs

Almost as enchanting as fairies at bottom of your garden is the adventure of riding a ferry boat, a magical crossing to a new shore of possibility. In addition to the romantic Mersey Ferry in Liverpool, the poets have also found great romance in the Staten Island Ferry and the Brooklyn Ferry.

The Staten Island Ferry is featured in the movie Working Girl, along with Carly Simon's inspiring hit:

Let the River Run
(click to hear tune)

We're coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
let all the dreamers
wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Silver cities rise,
the morning lights
the streets that meet them,
and sirens call them on
with a song.

It's asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We're coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
stand on a star
and blaze a trail of desire
through the dark'ning dawn.

It's asking for the taking.
Come run with me now,
the sky is the color of blue
you've never even seen
in the eyes of your lover.

Oh, my heart is aching.
We're coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

It's asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.
We're coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
let all the dreamers
wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.


Music and lyrics by Carly Simon
American singer, songwriter, musician

Sixty years before Simon's song, American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay captured the charm of the Staten Island Ferry in her poem "Recuerdo," about two light - hearted lovers and a kindly mysterious stranger who enters their life briefly on the ferry:

Recuerdo
(set to music by American composer John Musto)
We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.


by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1901)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923

Recuerdo
-- I remember.

Millay remembers this night of innocent joy and hopeful recklessness. Who needs money! Right? Walt Whitman too remembers -- and foretells. The lyrics of Millay, Simon, and the Pacemakers seem to have been predicted already in Whitman's triumphant description of "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," in 1856:

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose . . .

The similitudes of the past, and those of the future . . .

What is it, then, between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?"


To the passenger crossing the Mersey who sees the "People . . . rush everywhere / each with their own secret care," Whitman says, "Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd." To the "sons and daughters" of Carly Simon's song, the dreamers whose hearts are aching, Whitman says, "I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me." To Millay's lovers, who watched the sun rise, "dripping, a bucketful of gold," Whitman says, "I too many and many a time cross’d the river, the sun half an hour high . . . the glistening yellow."

For Whitman, the ferry boat is a microcosm of all that has been, all that is, all that is yet to come. Reading the twentieth century verses of the writers who have joined with Whitman in praise of the ferry, it seems that he was right: "Fifty years hence . . . A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence . . . Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood."

quoted passages from Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
by Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892
American poet, essayist, journalist, humanist

We gave her all our apples; we gave her all our pears . . .~ Combined McCartney Family Artistic Endeavor ~
acrylic on cardboard, late 1990's ~

Previous Posts Concerning Liverpool
Birds of Pray, August 14, 2009
Liver Building, Cunard Bldg, Port of Liverpool Bldg
(photographed from the Mersey Ferry)

Happy Batday, April 28, 2010
The Overhead Railway

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

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

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ode to Josef: Nine-Lived and Contradictory

A HOUSE WHERE ALL'S ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
Look at Josef! Such a little genius!
One snowy afternoon in December 2000, Ben, Sam,
and their friends Sarah and Ethan,
decorated this box for him and stuck him inside
(just above his head, you can see that it says "Josef's House").
How did he know precisely where to step?
Right in the paw prints that they had drawn for him!

*********************

Taken during the same snowfall, December 2000
Josef appears to be about half the size of Sam at the time!

A year later, as part of a classroom assignment, Ben decided to write a poem about our dear old long - lived (1988 - 2007) Josef:

THE CAT
This cat lies down, not moving.
Contemplating. Why? What? When?
Will the world end today?
Tomorrow, now, then?

The Universe is great.
The cat knows its ways,
lying down, on my bed.
The sun flashes its rays.

Where did they come from?
Humans, I think they are called.
Interesting what they have done
with this planet, what they’ve hauled.

Well, they feed me, not what I want,
but they give me enough.
Sometimes it’s fun and entertaining.
Sometimes it’s boring and tough.

They give me a box of cardboard.
They give me a queen-sized bed.
They give me my own curtain.
They put me at their head.

But still I contemplate
The Universe. I know
they want to: tough!
They give me food and go.


by Ben McCartney, age 11
29 January 2002, 6th grade

And a few months later, Sam followed suit:

MY CAT
My cat is lazy and loving.

That is my cat, loves meat,

so sleepy but adventurous.

But no matter what,

my cat I love.

No not a thing --

he can scratch,

he can bite,

he can reject his meat.

I love him!


by Sam McCartney
August 2002, 4th grade


As I have a mentioned before (No One With A Nose / Wise Fool), when Ben and Sam attended St. Peter's School in Philadelphia, they were required to memorize and recite a poem every month. They became quite adept at managing increasingly long works, and I often urged them to choose from among my old favorites, such as these two, which I used to enjoy teaching as a Freshman English exercise in comparison and contrast:

CURIOSITY
may have killed the cat; more likely
the cat was just unlucky, or else curious
to see what death was like, having no cause
to go on licking paws, or fathering
litter on litter of kittens, predictably.

Nevertheless, to be curious
is dangerous enough. To distrust
what is always said, what seems,
to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams,
leave home, smell rats, have hunches,
do not endear cats to those doggy circles
where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches
are the order of things, and where prevails
much wagging of incurious heads and tails.

Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die--
only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country
where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.
Only the curious
have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.

Dogs say cats love too much, are irresponsible,
are changeable, marry too many wives,
desert their children, chill all dinner tables
with tales of their nine lives.
Well, they are lucky. Let them be
nine-lived and contradictory,
curious enough to change, prepared to pay
the cat price, which is to die
and die again and again,
each time with no less pain.
A cat minority of one
is all that can be counted on
to tell the truth. And what cats have to tell
on each return from hell
is this: that dying is what the living do,
that dying is what the loving do,
and that dead dogs are those who do not know
that dying is what, to live, each has to do
.

by Scottish Poet Alastair Reid, b. 1926

more about Alastair Reid
(additional blog post)


Both the dog and the cat are admirable characters, rising above discouragement, discounting the naysayers, embracing their personal and political freedom. They have tales worth telling. The independent cat tells the truth about his nine lives, his near - death experiences, and the cost of curiosity -- the "cat price." The dog trots freely and fearlessly, facing reality: "a real realist / with a real tale to tell / and a real tail to tell it with." What excellent role models they are!

DOG
The dog trots freely in the street
and sees reality
and the things he sees
are bigger than himself
and the things he sees
are his reality
Drunks in doorways
Moons on trees
The dog trots freely thru the street
and the things he sees
are smaller than himself
Fish on newsprint
Ants in holes
Chickens in Chinatown windows
their heads a block away
The dog trots freely in the street
and the things he smells
smell something like himself
The dog trots freely in the street
past puddles and babies
cats and cigars
poolrooms and policemen
He doesn't hate cops
He merely has no use for them
and he goes past them
and past the dead cows hung up whole
in front of the San Francisco Meat Market
He would rather eat a tender cow
than a tough policeman
though either might do
And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory
and past Coit's Tower
and past Congressman Doyle of the Unamerican Committee
He's afraid of Coit's Tower
but he's not afraid of Congressman Doyle
although what he hears is very discouraging
very depressing
very absurd
to a sad young dog like himself
to a serious dog like himself
But he has his own free world to live in
His own fleas to eat
He will not be muzzled
Congressman Doyle is just another
fire hydrant
to him
The dog trots freely in the street
and has his own dog's life to live
and to think about
and to reflect upon
touching and tasting and testing everything
investigating everything
without benefit of perjury
a real realist
with a real tale to tell
and a real tail to tell it with
a real live
barking
democratic dog
engaged in real
free enterprise
with something to say
about ontology
something to say
about reality
and how to see it
and how to hear it
with his head cocked sideways
at streetcorners
as if he is just about to have
his picture taken
for Victor Records
listening for
His Master's Voice
and looking
like a living questionmark
into the
great gramophone
of puzzling existence
with its wondrous hollow horn
which always seems
just about to spout forth
some Victorious answer
to everything


by American Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, b. 1919

more about Ferlinghetti
(additional blog post)

Little Nipper, the RCA Victor Dog

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Sunday, August 28, 2011

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

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