Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Sunday, July 27, 2014



My mother gave birth to me on this day, and this pop song by Joni Mitchell resonates:

But for incomparable beauty and affirmation of life, despite its tragedies, I always return to Mahler.


Poetry and classical music soothe one's heart and tell us more about ourselves and the world we struggle to make sense of than anything else I know.

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves. 
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 
Meanwhile the world goes on. 
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers. 
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again. 
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -- 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

Wow!  I was surprised with this:

Birthday dinner HERE tonight!  Can't wait!!!


FreeThinke said...


If I'd had a bit of advance warning, I'd have written you a commemorative birthday sonnet. Instead, I'll have to make do with this offering from the personal archives. I hope you enjoy the message it tries to convey.

____ Breakfast at the Old Auto Dealership ____

Rapture at radiance shining through plate glass ––
Earlier an automobile showroom ––
Gives power to dispel the thoughts of Doom
Overwhelming that so rarely pass.

Realizing petty things consume
Needlessly our very precious time ––
Edging timidly from the sublime ––
Hurtling inevitably towards the Tomb.

The inventive use of common space, like rhyme,
Enlivens as the sun glows in the hedges
Framing the old showroom with green ledges.
Elegant umbrellas red and lime ––

Romantic looking –– ensconced on the pavement ––
Transcend the nagging feelings of bereavement.

~ FreeThinke

Shaw Kenawe said...

Very nice. Thank you for your wishes and your poem.

Infidel753 said...

Happy birthday!

It's startling what a range of moods the Mahler piece goes through in a single piece of music. I never quite realized that all those passages were part of a single work.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves

And yet so many people are obsessed with not letting us do that. They want everyone wandering in the desert.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Infidel753, The reason I always return to Mahler is because of exactly what you wrote, the range of moods in his symphonies.

Mahler once said a symphony should be like the world, it must embrace everything.

Thanks you for your wishes.

Rational Nation USA said...

Happy Birthday Shaw. May it be a memorable one with many more to come.

Jerry Critter said...

Happy Birthday, Shaw!

okjimm said...

goodness....when I was young I would want two birthdays every year. ThAT'S how I got to be 120 years old.

Best you not try to catch up with me. All the best.

ps. you can save me a piece of cake, iffen there is any left

Shaw Kenawe said...

okjimm, I have a place saved for you here always!

Come taste the wine,
Come hear the band.
Come blow your horn,
Start celebrating;
Right this way,
Your table's waiting

Your table at Chez Shaw!

Shaw Kenawe said...

Thank you all for your wonderful wishes.

I had a great day with friends, family and incredible food!

Music too.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

A belated Happy Edible Birthday from the cephalopod.

Just returned from a month long road trip; sorry I missed meeting up with you and RN (just too many miles and stops along the way).

FreeThinke said...

So how WAS dinner? Aren't you going to give us a blow by blow description? At least one person out here is dying to hear all about it. ;-)

BTW, I love that song by Joni Mitchell. Always have, but had forgotten about it. She had (has?) a unique timbre to her voice and a way of articulating her lyrics that's most appealing.

One criticism, however. I wonder if I'm alone in thinking her guitar accompaniment is a little too present? I suppose she's playing her own accompaniment, is that right? If so, her guitar playing is nowhere near as fine as her vocal skills.

Would you agree that she and Judy Collins have a great deal in common? I still favor Judy's version of Send in the Clowns over most of the others.

Both those gals have what I could only describe as a haunting, mesmeric, infinitely gentle sound.

I've spared everyone my thoughts on Mahler, because I know you are already well aware of what I feel about him. I do love the last movement of the Fourth Symphony best, but that's probably because I heard the incomparable Elisabeth Schwarzkopf sing it in Carnegie Hall decades ago -- a most memorable occasion, even though she was in her late fifties, and, therefore, past her vocal prime.

I remember it as a poignant evocation of sheer loveliness –– a perfect combination of ideal Sound and Sight for she chose to dress her regal blonde presence in a shimmering white gown magnificently set off by a blood red cloak draped about her shoulders.

I went backstage to see her, and have to admit i was disillusioned, for this fabled beauty was heavily made up and clearly showing signs of advancing age including a healthy start on substantial dowager's hump. I was stunned to learn too that she had a large diastoma between her two front teeth, and that her roots were showing. (!)

Her graciousness soon made up for all that, however, and the beauty of her performance is the thing I shall always treasure about that magical evening as long as I live.

FreeThinke said...

Excuse me, please. I made a spelling error. Elizabeth Schwarzkopf was a great beauty, but she had a very large DIAST(E)MA between her two front teeth, not a DIAST(O)MA, which is a kind of mollusk.

Once I became aware of her diastema -- the only flaw in her otherwise perfect Aryan beauty -- I could not understand why she never went through cosmetic dental surgery to correct the problem.

An inverted sort of vanity, perhaps? Alas! we'll never know. But all these years later it still seems odd, because she obviously took considerable pains with her costumes and hairstyles, etc., and she must have known that much of her appeal depended in her appearance.

Anyway, HAPPY BIRtHDAY! once again, Miss Shaw. I'm glad it went so well.