Saturday, December 26, 2015

A happy girl indeed

Gosh, does my family know me or what? Gift I received...

How to Quote Shakespeare in Everyday Life by Michael Denomme, 2015, and Victorian-style pen
How to Quote Shakespeare in Everyday Life
by Michael Denomme, and Victorian-style pen

Back cover of How to Quote Shakespeare in Everyday Life by Michael Denomme, 2015
Back cover of How to Quote Shakespeare
in Everyday Life
by Michael Denomme, 2015

Gushing with Enthusiasm [p.168]
“O, rejoice
Beyond a common joy, and set it down
With gold on lasting pillars.”
—William Shakespeare, The Tempest (V.i.206-208)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Brault at midnight

Perhaps if I go to sleep thinking this, I’ll be able to start living it by morning.

“Long ago I decided that if I get a second life, I will be beautiful and clever and rich, and that has allowed me to focus on this life.” —Robert Brault

Monday, November 16, 2015

Westin’s quoteposal & merry me!

It had been a while since I checked in on Wes Eehn’s YouTube channel to see what new quote videos he’d created, and something made me think of it recently so I headed over there only to sadly discover that he hasn’t posted in quite some time. But as he explained in his most recent upload, real life and the need to make an actual financial living had come calling.

After that video, though, what I discovered just made my day! This brilliant guy proposed to his girlfriend using love quotes. I have to say I’m just blown away. How perfect!

I haven’t thought much about marriage proposals in over twenty years, which is when I got married. But just a few days ago I came across an old book from the late nineteenth century, How Heroes of Fiction Propose and How Heroines Reply, of an anonymous compiler. It has all sorts of excerpts from fine literature, and I excitedly put it aside hoping to be able to read it soon.

And now this totally cool quoteprosal! It’s less than 8 minutes, so if you’re interested in quotes and the heart-stirring emotions that come with young love and marriage proposals, do check it out:

“There comes a moment in the life of almost every man when, his heart beating like a Nasmyth hammer, with faltering voice and his brain in a whirl, he takes fate in his hands, and tremblingly asks one of the gentler sex to be his—wife. Some men there are—but how few!—who go into ‘popping the question’ in a business-like way, that simply leaves romance out in the cold and Cupid freezing to death. But better the young fellows who propose in the red-hot flush of love. The master writers of fiction show us, that even though every girl is aware that her adorer is about the put the fateful question, she is seldom able to control her agitation and that even the ‘wee, sma’ word,’ ‘Yes,’ is very difficult to pronounce. She says ‘Yes’ with all the fervor that one word can convey coming direct from the heart. The noblest offer a man can make a woman is marriage, and woe to those who offer it lightly! The lamp lighted at the fateful moment spell-binds the young, and burns with radiance on into middle life.” ~Introduction to How Heroes of Fiction Propose and How Heroines Reply, 1890, paraphrased and a little altered

Ah, Monsieur Eehn, how you’ve quote-pierced my proverbial heart.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Gout quotes: poetic metre & sore feet

Recently I greatly enlarged my collection of quotations about gout — I now have nearly 150 quotes, which is by far the largest compilation on the Web and from what I’ve found thus far, possibly the largest anywhere. Most sites that do have a few quotes on the subject, I’ve noticed use the same 5 or 6 and that’s just about it, then we hit the end of the internet. So I spent many hours digging through forgotten literature from past centuries and have come away with lots of fantastic excerpts — prose and poetry, medical and personal, educational and entertaining, serious and sarcastic. And there is so much more out there to harvest, but I had to stop somewhere. My eyes are worn out and need a rest. But as soon as my reading vigour returns, I will add more as I find them. Check out the quotes here:

Ellwanger gout quote on Bunbury vintage gout artwork
George H. Ellwanger 1897 gout quotation on
Origin of the Gout by Henry William Bunbury, c.1786
National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland
Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Modified t.g. 2015

“The excruciating agonies which Nature inflicts on men (who break her laws) to be represented as the work of human tormentors; as the gout, by screwing the toes. Thus we might find that worse than the tortures of the Spanish Inquisition are daily suffered without exciting notice.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, journal, 1837

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Baudelaire drunk on poetry

Charles Baudelaire drunk on poetry
Charles Baudelaire, self-portrait, 1848,
in Baudelaire: A Study by Arthur Symons, 1918.
Drawing modified 2015 by Terri Guillemets,
using Cameran Collage iPod touch app.

“Be always drunken. Nothing else matters: that is the only question. If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, be drunken continually.

“Drunken with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will. But be drunken.

“And if sometimes, on the stairs of a palace, or on the green side of a ditch, or in the dreary solitude of your own room, you should awaken and the drunkenness be half or wholly slipped away from you, ask of the wind, or of the wave, or of the star, or of the bird, or of the clock, of whatever flies, or sighs, or rocks, or sings, or speaks, ask what hour it is; and the wind, wave, star, bird, clock, will answer you: ‘It is the hour to be drunken! Be drunken, if you would not be martyred slaves of Time; be drunken continually! With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will.’”

—Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), “Be Drunken,” translated from French by Arthur Symons

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sit-down desks and stand-up quotes

Sitting is the new smoking, on vintage photo
Man sits in his library, stamped 1912.
Courtesy: simpleinsomnia on Flickr.
Used under Creative Commons license.
Photo modified & meme'd by TG.
Having just passed the one-year anniversary of changing over from a sitting desk to a standing one, thought I'd showcase my page of quotations about sitting and standing. I love my tall desk so much that I can't imagine ever going back to sitting. Investing in a pair of Dansko shoes has allowed me to work on my feet for hours at a time. Without them, I seem to get sore legs around the two-hour mark. And as a bonus, I've dropped about ten pounds over the past year without changing my diet or exercise habits.

People have been issuing warnings for quite a long time about the dangers of sitting too much. Some of the quotations that I found by digging around in Google Books go back to the 1600s. And there are references to standing desks dating back to the 1700s books. I even picked up a good one from a Benjamin Franklin letter: "my sitting too much at the desk having already almost killed me..."

So what are you waiting for. Untake your seat and head on over to the quotes!

Standing desk, circa 1875
Standing desk, circa 1875. Image digitized by Google Books.
"Of Uncle Max our chief recollections consist in going with our nurse to pay him a little visit every morning after our early breakfast, and before proceeding for our daily walk. This practice continued with little intermission for many years, from the time when we were too small to be trusted alone, until we were fourteen or fifteen years old. I can scarcely remember an occasion on which we did not find dear Uncle Max with a long pipe in his mouth, writing at a high stand-up desk; but the pen was laid down at once, and for half an hour he gave himself up to us. After that there was often a good romp, Uncle Max going down on all-fours and letting us ride round the room on his back, sometimes pretending that he was an elephant, and thereby getting a sly puff to keep alight his long pipe, which did duty as his trunk." ~A.H. Engelbach, Two Campaigns: A Tale of Old Alsace, c.1875

Friday, October 9, 2015

Quotations about October

Quotes about October
image: TuckDB Ephemera [modified t.g.]
“October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book.” ~John Sinor

“Oh, hazy month of glowing trees,—
And colors rich to charm our eyes!
Yet—not less fair than all of these
Are Mother’s fragrant pumpkin pies!”
~L. Bennett Weaver & H. Cowles LeCron

“May God bless us in the year upon which we are just entering! October is our January...” ~Henry Ward Beecher

Happy autumn, everyone! Just a reminder there’s a page of quotations and poetry excerpts about the month of October, at The Quote Garden. I recently added a few more gems from a couple of excellent old books. Click here to read them all!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Study Upon the Proverbial One-Eyed Man

“[I]n the street of the totally blind, the one-eyed man is called clear-sighted, and the infant is called a scholar.” ~Midrash Rabbah, c. 4th–5th century
Source details: translated into English under the editorship of H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, 1939

“Inter cæcos, regnat strabus. In regione cæcorum rex est luscus.” (Among the blind the squinter reigns. In the country of the blind, one-eyed man is king.) ~Proverbs quoted by Desiderius Erasmus, c.1514
Source details: Adagiorum Chiliades, 1514. William Barker, in The Adages of Erasmus, 2001, notes: “Among the blind, the cross-eyed man is king.... Erasmus picked up an uncorrected form of the Greek from Apostolius 7.23.” Another similar from Erasmus: “Among beggars, he who has only a little money is a Croesus.”

“His Latin tongue doth hobbyl
He doth but clout and cobbel
In Tullis facultie
Called humanitie
Yet proudly he dare pretend
How no man can him amend
But haue ye not heard this
How an one eyed man is
Wel sighted, when
He is among blynd men.”
~John Skelton, 1522
Source details: “Why come ye not to Court,” in Pithy, Pleasaunt, and Profitable Workes of Maister Skelton, Poete Laureate, to King Henry the VIIIth, 1736

“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” ~English proverb, early 16th century
Source details: A Dictionary of the Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries by Morris Palmer Tilley, 1950, and The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, 1970

“Entre los ciegos el tuerto es Rey...” (Among the blind a one-eyed man is king.) ~F. Pedro de Vega, 1606
Source details: Declaracion de los Siete Psalmos Penitenciales — “...santos que resplandece como Estrellas, otros como la Luna, otros como el Sol pero es esta la diferencia...” Often quoted as Spanish proverb as well: En pais de los ciegas el tuerto es rey.

“In the kingdom of blind men, the one eyed is king.” ~Proverb quoted by George Herbert, 1640
Source details: Jacula Prudentum; or, Outlandish Proverbs, Sentences, etc.

“Among the blind the one-eye'd blinkard reigns,
So rules among the drownèd he that drains.”
~Andrew Marvell, 1665
Source details: Character of Holland

“The Egyptians seem to have verified the Proverb, That he that has but one Eye, is a Prince among those that have none.” ~William Wotton, 1694
Source details: “Of the History and Mathematicks of the Ancient Egyptians,” Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning

“Unoculus inter cæcos.” (A one-eyed man among the blind.) ~Latin phrase, c.1780
Source details: “A man whose very slender abilities are perceptible only when among the grossly ignorant.” ~A Dictionary of Select and Popular Quotations, Which are in Daily Use; Taken from the Latin, French, Greek, Spanish, and Italian Languages; translated into English, with Illustrations, Historical and Idiomatic, by D.E. MacDonnel, third edition, 1818. This Latin phrase has been in use since at least 1780, as quoted by James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., 1791.

“The blind of an eye is a king among the blind.” ~Gaelic proverb, c.1785
Source details: Mackintosh’s Collection of Gaelic Proverbs, and Familiar Phrases; Englished A-new, 1819, first published 1785. Name is published today as Donald Macintosh.

“[F]or, in a nation of blind people, a one-eyed man would be king.” ~William Mudford, 1809
Source details: Nubilia in Search of a Husband

“‘Parmi les aveugles un borgne est roi,’ says the French proverb...” ~Walter Scott, 1814 (Among the blind a one-eyed man is king.)
Source details: Waverley; or, ’Tis Sixty Years Since. Alternate French wording: “En la terre des aveugles celui qui n'a qu'un ceil y est roi.”

“‘A one eyed man is a king amongst the blind,’ says an old French proverb, so were you in your time, but kings and lights, capitals and candles are very different in our enlightened age...” ~E.M., 1824
Source details: “Answer from a Gas Light to an Old Lamp,” The European Magazine and London ReviewNovember 1824

“A one-eyed man is a king among the blind.” ~Oriental proverb, c.1824
Source details: “Oriental Proverbs: Part II,” A Collection of Proverbs, and Proverbial Phrases, in the Persian and Hindoostanee Languages, compiled and translated, chiefly, by the late Thomas Roebuck, 1824

“[H]e repeated very frequently and always with a profounder note of derision that exploded proverb: ‘In the Country of the Blind the One-eyed Man is King....’ Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds... either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh.... But he heeded these things no longer, but lay quite still there, smiling as if he were content now merely to have escaped from the valley of the Blind, in which he had thought to be King.” ~H.G. Wells & Plato mash‑up quotation
Source details: Wells’ “The Country of the Blind,” 1904 and 1939, and Plato’s narration of Socrates in the allegory of the cave, from The Republic, Book VII, c. 380 BCE

“But, in the land of the blind,
where the one-eyed man is king,
when he wears the emperor’s new clothes,
he can get away with it.”
~David R. Slavitt, c.1999
Source details: "Exception," Falling from Silence: Poems, 2001

“If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.” ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922–2007)
Source details: unconfirmed

Monoculus miscellany — literary luscus, tuerto truisms, borgne bon mots, purblind proverbs, monops meditations, monophthalmic mottoes:

“Tut, tut, here is a mannerly forbearance:
The truth appears so naked on my side
That any purblind eye may find it out.”
~William Shakespeare, c.1592
Source details: Henry VI, Part I [II, 4], Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester)

“Better to have one eye than be blind altogether.” ~English Proverb, c.1670
Source details: A Collection of English Proverbs by John Ray, 1670

“Let him that hath but one eye keepe it well...” (Qui n’a qu’un oeil bien le garde.) ~French proverb, c.1611
Source Details: A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues compiled by Randle Cotgrave, 1611

“He that has but one Eye, had need look well to That.” ~Proverb, restated
Source details: Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British collected by Thomas Fuller, 1732

“A one-eyed man, who has not a film over the eye, conceals any sort of villany.” ~Spanish proverb, c.1609
Source details: Translated by John Collins, 1823. (Tuerto, y no de nube, sola piel gran mal encubre. Or, Tuerto y no de nube, no hay maldad que no encubre.) Refranes o Proverbios Castellanos Traduzidos en Lengua Francesa por César Oudin, 1609.

“He that winketh with one eye, and seeth with the other,
I would not trust him, though he were my brother.”
~English Proverb, c.1670
Source details: A Collection of English Proverbs by John Ray, 1670

“To learn about eye protection, ask someone who has one.”
~Author unknown

Thank you to Bob for the inspiration to do this research.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

You have to believe in happiness

“You have to believe in happiness,
Or happiness never comes.
I know that a bird chirps none the less
When all that he finds is crumbs.

You have to believe the buds will blow,
Believe in the grass in the days of snow.
Ah, that’s the reason a bird can sing,
On his darkest day he believes in Spring.

You have to believe in happiness—
It isn’t an outward thing.
The Spring never makes the song, I guess,
As much as the song the Spring.

Aye, many a heart could find content
If it saw the joy on the road it went,
The joy ahead when it had to grieve,
For the joy is there—but you have to believe.”

—Douglas Malloch (1877–1938)

My mom had memorized this poem as a child and can still recite it to this day. We were talking memories recently, and that's how I came to know about it. After looking up to find the original source, I am a bit hesitant to quote, showcase, or celebrate this author because of his involvement with and poetic tributes to the lumbering industry; however, that time has passed and a good poem is a good poem. May the birds of happiness forever have a tree to chirp from!

The image and poem are both from the same time period, approximately 1928. My mom grew up in the 1950s, so clearly it was still in circulation around then, although it seems to have dropped off since the mid-'60s.

Birds of Happiness
image: TuckDB Ephemera [modified t.g.]

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

She is too fond of books

“In the attic Christie was discovered lying dressed upon her bed, asleep or suffocated by the smoke that filled the room. A book had slipped from her hand, and in falling had upset the candle on a chair beside her.... ‘I forbade her to keep the gas lighted so late, and see what the deceitful creature has done with her private candle!’ cried Mrs. Stuart.... ‘Look at her!... She has been at the wine, or lost her wits.... She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.’”

—Louisa May Alcott, “Servant,” Work: A Story of Experience, 1873 (pp. 31–33)

Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888)
public domain image modified with Aviary

Monday, July 6, 2015

To be new while repeating the old...

“In poetry and in eloquence the beautiful and grand must spring from the commonplace.... All that remains for us is to be new while repeating the old, and to be ourselves in becoming the echo of the whole world.” ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)

Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847) photo Université de Lausanne Archive, modified by Terri Guillemets
Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
Université de Lausanne Archive
[modified t.g.]

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thus danced Nietzsche

“I desire to have goblins round me, for I am brave. Courage that dispelleth ghosts createth goblins for itself,—courage desireth to laugh....

Which of you can at the same time laugh and be exalted?

He who strideth across the highest mountains laugheth at all tragedies whether of the stage or of life....

Ye say unto me: ‘Life is hard to bear.’ But for what purpose have ye got in the morning your pride and in the evening your submission?

Life is hard to bear. But do not pretend to be so frail! We are all good he-asses and she-asses of burden.

What have we in common with the rose-bud that trembleth because a drop of dew lieth on its body?

It is true: we love life, not because we are accustomed to life, but because we are accustomed to love.

There is always a madness in love. There is however also always a reason in madness.

Friedrich Nietzsche c.1869 (Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv, modified TG)
And to my thinking as a lover of life, butterflies, soap-bubbles, and whatever is of their kind among men, know most of happiness.

To see these light, foolish, delicate, mobile little souls flitting about—that moveth Zarathustra to tears and to song.

I could believe only in a God who would know how to dance.

And when I saw my devil, I found him earnest, thorough, deep, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity,—through him all things fall.

Not through wrath but through laughter one slayeth. Arise! let us slay the spirit of gravity!

I learned to walk: now I let myself run. I learned to fly: now I need no pushing to move me from the spot.

Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself, now a God danceth through me.”

Thus spake Zarathustra.

—Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), “Of Reading and Writing,” Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, translated from the German by Alexander Tille, 1896

{photo: Friedrich Nietzsche, c.1869; public domain; courtesy Klassik Stiftung Weimar/Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv; modified 2015 by Terri Guillemets}

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A simple definition of life

Robert Brault "a simple definition of life" photo quote

A simple definition of life:
The chance you’ve been waiting for.”
—Robert Brault—

Thursday, June 25, 2015

And be a friend to man...

The House by the Side of the Road

“He was a friend to man, and lived in a house by the side of the road.” —Homer

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
    In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
    In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
    Where highways never ran;—
But let me live by the side of the road
    And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
    Where the race of men go by—
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
    As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat,
    Or hurl the cynic's ban;—
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
    And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road,
    By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
    The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears—
    Both parts of an infinite plan;—
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
    And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead
    And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
    And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travellers rejoice,
    And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
    Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
    Where the race of men go by—
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
    Wise, foolish—so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat
    Or hurl the cynic's ban?—
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
    And be a friend to man.

—Sam Walter Foss (1858–1911), “The House by the Side of the Road,” c.1896, originally published in The Independent then later in Foss’ own collection titled Dreams in Homespun, in 1897. According to The Alumnæ News of The Normal College, City of New York, September 1897, the sentiments of this poem were inspired by the Roadside Settlement in Des Moines, Iowa. The wording was inspired by Homer, as seen in the quotation preface to this beautiful poem. I’m not the best of Greek scholars, but I believe the excerpt would be:
          Axylus: in Arisba fair he dwelt
          With riches blest, near to the public way
          His dwelling: thus a general friend to man
          He lov’d them all, and all their wants reliev’d...
And as if Foss' poetry weren't enough to give me joy, get this — he was also a librarian! {swoon}

Sam Walter Foss
Sam Walter Foss (1858–1911)
photo modified from "A Poet of the Common Life:
Editorial Sketch of Sam Walter Foss,"
The Coming Age, October 1899

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

There's a quotemark in my lunch!

What a quotatious day I had. First there was lunch at a salad buffet where my radishes were shaped like quotation marks or speech bubbles! And after work I settled down for a half-hour's distraction by watching—quite serendipitously—an episode of The Middle (S3,E6) in which Brick repeatedly quotes Shakespeare. Ahhh, some days are just better than others.

Quote radish!

Quote radish in my salad!

“I do remember him... like a man made after supper of a cheese-paring. When ’a was naked, he was for all the world like a fork’d radish, with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife.” ~William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II [III, 2, Falstaff]

“My salad days,
When I was green in judgment: cold in blood,
To say as I said then! But, come, away;
Get me ink and paper...”
~William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra [I, 5, Cleopatra]

“’Twas a good lady, ’twas a good lady: we may pick a thousand salads ere we light on such another herb.” ~William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well [IV, 5, Lafeu]

And, get this. As if life couldn't get much sweeter, while trying to find an appropriate quotation for this blog entry I happened upon a book from the 1800s The Plant-lore and Garden-craft of Shakespeare by H.N. Ellacombe in which the quotes are all related to gardening, plants, and flowers. What a find!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Introducing Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

A few months ago I began posting to The Quote Garden excerpts from the poetry of Gertrude Tooley Buckingham. Before I did, I researched to see what was already out there on the Web. There is not a single website featuring her poetry or biographical information. The only items are a no‑preview entry for her 1948 book Poems at Random in Google Books and a poem in a few local New York newspapers from the mid-1900s on There is no mention of her, that I can find online, since the 1960s.

Ms Buckingham was a friend of my family from a few generations ago in New York. My parents inherited an inscribed copy of Poems at Random when my grandmother passed away about eight years ago, but I had not heard of her until then. I was also fortunate enough to receive several unpublished poems, both typewritten and handwritten, as well as some journal entries.

I am attempting to locate any surviving family for permissions as well as more complete biographical information and photographs. In the meantime, I’d like to share what I do know for those of you who are interested.

Gertrude was born on June 26th 1880. I’m assuming that her maiden name was Tooley and that she was an only child, to very loving and hard-working parents. When she was 17 she studied for one year at the Conservatory of Music in Detroit while staying at the home of her cousin. She and her husband were both engaged to other people when they fell in love. She married Samuel L. Buckingham (birth c.1875) on October 21st 1903. They had two daughters, Doris (c.1910) and Lorraine (c.1913). All were born in New York, and they lived on Northern Avenue which in 1938 was renamed to Cabrini Boulevard. Gertrude’s special interest was music, Sam liked sports and games, and Lorraine was a secretary at a bank. Gertrude and Sam had three grandchildren: two girls and a boy.

Around 1939, the family sustained a great loss when Doris was taken from them through an accident. A few months later, Gertrude received from Spirit the gift of poetic talent. She became what we could call a medium poet, as she heard the words spoken in her head and saw them pass in front of her eyes, sensing what she was to write. She was about age sixty at the time. Poems at Random is dedicated to Doris. See photos below.

Gertrude, a homemaker, and Sam, an undertaker, were married for 54 years before he passed away. She refers to them in her journal as soul mates, and six years after his death writes “My great love for Sam will never die as I’m sure his love for me will always live.” I know that Gertrude lived until at least 1964, but I’m not sure how long after that.

Here are the names with which she is associated: Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, Gertrude A. Buckingham, Gertrude T. Buckingham, Gertrude Buckingham, Gertrude A. Tooley, Gertrude Tooley, Mrs. Sam Buckingham, Mrs. Samuel Buckingham, Mrs. Sam (Gertrude) Buckingham, and Gertie Buckingham.

I am hopeful that her family will be receptive to my posting of Gertrude’s lovely words on The Quote Garden and that they will be pleased knowing that her writing can live on, along with the memory of beautiful Doris and all the family as well.

Poems at Random, 1948, by Gertrude Tooley Buckingham
Poems at Random, 1948,
by Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

Inscription in Poems at Random book, by Gertrude Buckingham, 1948
Inscription in Poems at Random
by Gertrude Buckingham, 1948

Doris Buckingham dedication in Poems at Random by Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, published 1948
Doris Buckingham dedication in Poems at Random
by Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, published 1948

“[M]y prayer is that many of the poems in this book may help to bring joy and peace and understanding to those souls who may be grieving for loved ones whom they call ‘dead’ but who, in reality, are still living in a real world of beauty, being able to manifest to their dear ones of earth when the door is opened for them to come in.” ~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Preface,” Poems at Random, 1948

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You got it right, Mr Katz

A prediction about quotes from 16 years ago — back when quotation sites on the Web were few and the modern option was using collections on CD‑ROM — has come true. How exciting the possibilities for and realities of sharing brilliant words on the internet, and at the same time how sad that we are more and more abandoning real books! Coincidentally, the year this book was published was the same year I put The Quote Garden online. Here is Mr Katz’s forecast:

“The one promise of the digital data base is that eventually all quotations will be available online.... The problems are numerous, from copyright clearance to authentication of quotations, but it is possible, even probable that in a short time it will no longer be necessary to go from quotation book to quotation book in quest of the lost words of a great or near great. A few key words at a computer keyboard will bring the ubiquitous needle in the quotation haystack to the monitor. Obviously more efficient; yet something will be lost. Gone will be the days of the delights of wending through quote after quote, the thoughtful pause, the joy of discovery.” ~Bill Katz, “Commonplace Books to Books of Quotations,” Cuneiform to Computer: A History of Reference Sources, 1998

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy poetess Melcena Burns Denny

The Book of Baby Mine was an advertisement-based baby record and advice book first published in 1915, continuing until 1981. It was published by the Baby Mine Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan and the Denny-White Advertising Company of Chicago, Illinois. American companies were offered full-page advertisement space on the first page, and further advertisements could be added to a pocket in the back of the book. They were then distributed to new mothers in that business’ local community, and the publishing and distribution company would supply the advertiser with a certified list of the names and addresses of those who received the book.

The verses and artwork in The Book of Baby Mine were by Melcena Burns Denny (1876–1974). Mrs. Denny was a writer and a happy mother and grandmother. Born in California, she was a graduate of San José State Teachers College and later moved to Seattle with her husband Robert Roy Denny, the first Vice President of Rotary International, who passed away in 1954. She wrote short stories, poems, song lyrics, and plays. Before marriage she wrote under the name L.M. Burns and sold her first story at age 22.

Below is a photo of Mrs. Denny and a few pages from the 1915 version of The Book of Baby Mine, including a poem titled “The Sleepsin Garden” and an illustration of birth stones and birth flowers by month. I am so pleased to revive this poem after its publication a century ago because I’ve searched mightily, and although a single verse of it is quoted (pictorially only) on two websites, in the text of a book from the 1990s and an old 1940s newspaper archived online, in none of those four places is it properly attributed to Melcena Burns Denny. As well, there is scattered and extremely sparse biographical information on the Web. I am honored to now provide the full poem as well as give the proper credit and a more complete bio, in her memory.

Melcena Burns Denny, The Rotarian, June 1973
Melcena Burns Denny, age 96
Photo credit: The Rotarian, June 1973, p.4
 The Book of Baby Mine, 1915

 The Sleepsin Garden, page 1

 The Sleepsin Garden, page 2

 The Sleepsin Garden, page 3

 The Sleepsin Garden, page 4

 The Sleepsin Garden, page 5

“The Sleepsin Garden”
by Melcena Burns Denny
The Book of Baby Mine, 1915

“What fragrant garden of far away,”
I heard the ones who love me say,
“What garden gave its blooms to you?
O blossom-baby, tell us true!”

In the Sleepsin Garden behind the Moon,
That drowsy garden with poppies strewn,
We babies wait till we come to earth,
And the moon flowers shape us for our birth.

The tulip molds our cheek so round,
The sweetpea gives us an ear for sound.
The lily smoothes our forehead fair,
And the milkweed silk is our baby hair.

And long I dreamed in the leafy bower,
My pillow a sweet magnolia flower.
That’s why my neck is waxy and white,
And fragrant and pure for your delight.

I found a bud on a small rose tree,
And loved it so much that it grew to me.
This sweet little trifle you call a nose,
Is really the bud of a little pink rose.

I’ve never really found out yet
Whether brown heart’s-ease or violet
Gave these bright eyes to your little tot,
Or was it the sweet forget-me-not?

I drank my dew in little sips
From wild rose petals: they gave me lips.
Some dew spilled over into my eyes,
And I’m saving it up for future cries.

I wonder what wonderful beautiful flower
Gave me my fingers? I think by the hour.
But my soft little comical playful toes
Are pussy willows, I suppose.

Of course I laugh at “tick-tick, tick-tock,”
For it makes me think of my four-o’clock.
She loved to hold her wee watch to my ear,
In the Sleepsin Garden, for me to hear.

I slept so long in an apple tree,
That the buds made dents all over me.
Dimples, you call them, so pink and small,
If you counted an hour, you couldn’t count all.

One day, laughing, I hid my head
In lily-of-the-valley’s bed.
She whispered, “Not a toothie yet!
I’ll have to blossom for the pet!”

And once I woke from a pansy nap,
And put on a bud for a thinking cap.
The sweet little thoughts that come to me,
The pansies whispered them, you see.

The poppy taught me how to sleep,
The violet taught me how to creep.
The stately lily took my hand,
And breathed, “Come, darling, try to stand!”

But none of the flowers knew how to walk,
And none of them could really talk.
And I longed so much for parents dear,
God gave me a soul and sent me here.

Melcena Burns Denny, 1915, birth stones and birth flowers

As is the generation of leaves

Apparently quotation collecting is genetic. In 2004 (eighteen years after I had already become obsessed with quotes), I found out that my great-grandmother Amy kept a notebook of inspirational quotations. She was born in 1896 and died before I was born. My grandmother found the book and that is how it came to me. Based on the dates of the first items, it appears to be about 100 years old. The first item that is dated is from June 1919, and the last entry with a date is from 1969. I’ve held onto it during these ten years with my old books, but now I’m going to start photographing some of the pages and adding a few of the entries to blog posts, Flickr, and Tumblr. Below is a picture of the notebook as well as one of the handwritten quotes.

My great-grandmother Amy's notebook of inspirational quotations, c.1919
John Ruskin quotation in Amy's notebook

This excerpt is from John Ruskin’s The Seven Lamps of Architecture, “The Lamp of Life,” 1849. The extended quotation is: “But, at all events, one thing we have in our power — the doing without machine ornament and cast-iron work. All the stamped metals, and artificial stones, and imitation woods and bronzes, over the invention of which we hear daily exultation — all the short, and cheap, and easy ways of doing that whose difficulty is its honour — are just so many new obstacles in our already encumbered road. They will not make one of us happier or wiser — they will extend neither the pride of judgment nor the privilege of enjoyment. They will only make us shallower in our understandings, colder in our hearts, and feebler in our wits. And most justly. For we are not sent into this world to do any thing into which we cannot put our hearts. We have certain work to do for our bread, and that is to be done strenuously; other work to do for our delight, and that is to be done heartily: neither is to be done by halves and shifts, but with a will; and what is not worth this effort is not to be done at all.”

Stay tuned for further entries and photographs from Amy’s notebook.

“It is one of natures ways that we often feel closer to distant generations than to the generation immediately preceding us. ~Igor Stravinsky

“As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
Burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another dies.”

“Fewer and fewer Americans possess objects that have a patina, old furniture, grandparents’ pots and pans, the used things, warm with generations of human touch, essential to a human landscape.  Instead, we have our paper phantoms, transistorized landscapes.  A featherweight portable museum.” ~Susan Sontag

“Some men so dislike the dust kicked up by the generation they belong to, that, being unable to pass, they lag behind it.” ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare