There’s an interview with me on the Smithsonian’s blog, The Bigger Picture–about my love of Flickr Commons, and my activities therein. (Yes, I’m such an addict that they wanted to figure out who the heck I was.)
Archive for May, 2009
On this date in 1780, the skies suddenly darkened all over New England–from Maine down as far as New Jersey, the darkness was thick enough to require candles in daytime, dark enough that owls came out hours before their nocturnal habits usually allowed. Today it’s pretty clear that the cause was forest fires combined with unusual meteorological conditions; at the time, they didn’t know that, of course (no 24-hour-news channels or satellite photos). Many were in fear, hurrying to churches to hear impromptu sermons citing Bible verses about the plagues of Egypt, prophecies, and the end of days.
In Connecticut, legislator Abraham Davenport was more pragmatic:
“The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause of an adjournment: if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”
He and his committee continued working, drafting regulations of the shad and alewife harvest. Almost a century later, John Greenleaf Whittier celebrated Davenport’s response with a poem, titled “Abraham Davenport,” published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1866.
Oh! Bury me in books when I am dead,
Fair quarto leaves of ivory and gold,
And silk octavos, bound in brown and red,
That tales of love and chivalry unfold.
Heap me in volumes of fine vellum wrought,
Creamed with the close content of silent speech;
Wrap me in sapphire tapestries of thought
From some old epic out of common reach.
I would my shroud were verse-embroidered too—-
Your verse for preference—in starry stitch,
And powdered o’er with rhymes that poets woo,
Breathing dream-lyrics in moon-measures rich.
Night holds me with a horror of the grave
That knows not poetry, nor song, nor you;
Nor leaves of love that down the ages weave
Romance and fire in burnished cloths of blue.
Oh, bury me in books, and I’ll not mind
The cold, slow worms that coil around my head;
Since my lone soul may turn the page and find
The lines you wrote to me, when I am dead.
So every year, after the Eurovision Song Contest is over, it is my guilty pleasure to go looking at the performances on YouTube. Not to see the winners, who are usually pretty uninteresting, but to see the wilder submissions–like Ukraine’s spectacular Verka Serduchka a few years ago. This year’s Eurovision videos are really well organized (for a change), so when I went looking for another extravaganza of accordions, wacky dancers, completely extraneous women on stage, distracting projections, and unique-looking singers, I pretty quickly landed on the Serbian entry. Presenting: Marko Kon & Milan Nikolic performing “Cipela”: