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With the holidays past for a little bit, let’s settle down with some wintery compositions.  This is from the talented William Blake, who was quite the illustrator, too.

O winter! bar thine adamantine doors:

The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark

Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs

Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.

He hears me not, but o’er the yawning deep

Rides heavy; his storms are unchain’d, sheathed

In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes;

For he hath rear’d his sceptre o’er the world.

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings

To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:

He withers all in silence, and in his hand

Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

He takes his seat upon the cliffs, the mariner

Cries in vain. Poor little wretch! that deal’st

With storms, till heaven smiles, and the monster

Is driven yelling to his caves beneath Mount Hecla.

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On Friday, January 7th, we featured author Paul Weiss, whose uplifting book “Touching the Rainbow Ground: 8 Steps to Hope” was discussed.  Weiss has spent three decades among the poorest children in the world, working hard to trying to make them rich in spirit.  We had a marvelous crowd here to hear Paul’s story, so the event was definitely a success!  Thanks for coming out!

A final poem to round out the new year – a fitting piece by Yukon poet Robert W. Service. Have a happy New Year!

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,

My den is all a cosy glow;

And snug before the fire I sit,

And wait to feel the old year go.

I dedicate to solemn thought

Amid my too-unthinking days,

This sober moment, sadly fraught

With much of blame, with little praise.

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time

You stand to bow your last adieu;

A moment, and the prompter’s chime

Will ring the curtain down on you.

Your mien is sad, your step is slow;

You falter as a Sage in pain;

Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,

And face your audience again.

That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,

Let us all read, whate’er the cost:

O Maiden! why that bitter tear?

Is it for dear one you have lost?

Is it for fond illusion gone?

For trusted lover proved untrue?

O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan

What hath the Old Year meant to you?

And you, O neighbour on my right

So sleek, so prosperously clad!

What see you in that aged wight

That makes your smile so gay and glad?

What opportunity unmissed?

What golden gain, what pride of place?

What splendid hope? O Optimist!

What read you in that withered face?

And You, deep shrinking in the gloom,

What find you in that filmy gaze?

What menace of a tragic doom?

What dark, condemning yesterdays?

What urge to crime, what evil done?

What cold, confronting shape of fear?

O haggard, haunted, hidden One

What see you in the dying year?

And so from face to face I flit,

The countless eyes that stare and stare;

Some are with approbation lit,

And some are shadowed with despair.

Some show a smile and some a frown;

Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:

Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!

Old weary year! it’s time to go.

My pipe is out, my glass is dry;

My fire is almost ashes too;

But once again, before you go,

And I prepare to meet the New:

Old Year! a parting word that’s true,

For we’ve been comrades, you and I —

I thank God for each day of you;

There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!

Longfellow has a great poem in store for you this Christmas week – hope you enjoy it!

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Most people think of Thomas Hardy as a prominent author, and with his novels The Return of the Native, Jude the Obscure, Far from the Maddening Crowd and Tess of the d’Urbervilles regarded as masterworks, it’s hard to argue the claim.  However, he was also a poet, and this Christmas-themed piece is a good example of his work.

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.

“Now they are all on their knees,”

An elder said as we sat in a flock

By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where

They dwelt in their strawy pen.

Nor did it occur to one of us there

To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few believe

In these years! Yet, I feel,

If someone said on Christmas Eve

“Come; see the oxen kneel

“In the lonely barton by yonder comb

Our childhood used to know,”

I should go with him in the gloom,

Hoping it might be so.

Enjoy the mastery of one of Ireland’s literary treasures, Willam Butler Yates.

Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye,

In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones

Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky

With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,

And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,

And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,

Being by Calvary’s turbulence unsatisfied,

The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.

We have a five awesome book-related T-Shirts from Out of Print available for purchase!  We have To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Pride and Prejudice, Salughterhouse-5 and Moby Dick shirts, with the art taken from vintage covers.  They’re really cool, and could make great gifts for your book-reading relatives and friends!  They run for $25 each.

We also have restocked on Folkmanis puppets, one of our hottest holiday items this year.  These are perfect gifts for kids or for fans of animals!  Prices vary by puppet.

If you’re into the Vladimir Tod novels, you may be delighted to know that we have the exclusive Tod hoodie available at our shop!  Complete with a built-in earphones in the hood and iPod compatibility, this is ideal for fans of the series!

Bookwise, we now have the National Book Award for Fiction winning Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon in stock.  Just Kids by Patti Smith, which took home the Non-Fiction National Book Award, is also here.  We have plenty of Mark Twain’s Autobiography which has been sweeping the nation on hand, too!  There’s tons to see and peruse inside our shop, so swing by and see what’s new!

Sir Walter Scott is best known for his Waverly novels and Idylls of the King, but the knighted British author was also an competent poet, as evidenced by this fantastic holiday piece.  Enjoy!

Heap on more wood! — the wind is chill;

But let it whistle as it will,

We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.

Each age has deemed the new born year

The fittest time for festal cheer.

And well our Christian sires of old.

Loved when the year its course had rolled,

And brought blithe Christmas back again,

With all his hospitable train.

Domestic and religious rite

Gave honour to the holy night:

On Christmas eve the bells were rung;

On Christmas eve the mass was sung;

That only night, in all the year,

Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.

The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;

The hail was dressed with holly green;

Forth to the wood did merry men go,

To gather in the mistletoe,

Then opened wide the baron’s hail

To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;

Power laid his rod of rule aside,

And ceremony doff’d his pride.

The heir, with roses in his shoes,

That night might village partner choose.

The lord, underogating, share

The vulgar game of “post and pair!”

All hailed with uncontroll’d delight

And general voice, the happy night

That to the cottage, as the crown,

Brought tidings of salvation down.

The fire with well dried logs supplied,

Went roaring up the chimney wide;

The huge hail table’s oaken face,

Scrubb’d till it shone, the day to grace,

Bore then upon: its massive board

No mark to part the squire and lord.

Then was brought in the lusty brawn,

By old, blue-coated serving-man;

Then the grim boar’s head frowned on high,

Crested with bays and rosemary.

Well can the green-garbed ranger tell,

How, when, and where, the monster fell;

What dogs before his death he tore,

And all the baiting of the boar.

The wassail round in good brown bowls,

Garnished with ribbon, blithely trowls.

There the huge sirloin reeked: hard by

Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;

Nor failed old Scotland to produce

At such high tide her savoury goose.

Then came the merry masquers in,

And carols roar’d with blithesome din;

If unmelodious was the song,

It was a hearty note, and strong.

Who lists may in their mumming see

Traces of ancient mystery;

White shirts supplied the masquerade,

And smutted cheeks the visor made

But oh! what masquers, richly dight,

Can boast of bosoms half so light!

England was merry England when

Old Christmas brought his sports again.

’Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale,

’Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;

A Christmas gambol oft would cheer

A poor man’s heart through half the year.

Thanks to everyone who came for our celebration!  We had a great time reading to children, and hope that they took something precious out of their time in the bookstore!

Bookstores hold a place in the hearts and times of our community. They are places to discover an author, a story, a life. Nothing affords the conversation and interaction among books and book lovers that a bookstore does. In the future, whether you download your story or pluck a volume off a shelf, a bookstore will be able to accommodate. But in order for bookstores to flourish and thrive, we must expose future generations to the unique pleasures they offer. On December 4th, 2010, take the child in your life to a bookstore. Watch his face light up as you give him free access, not just to a new book, but to tomorrow.

Please join us in this celebration!  We will be offering a fantastic 20% discount off all of our children’s books, and will be featuring two book readings Saturday afternoon – Robn Desandres reading for ages 8 – 12 from 3 – 4 PM, and Phyliss Becker reading for ages 2 – 7 from 4 – 5 PM.  It should be a wonderful event!

Occassionally I’ll pull from texts outside of dramatic scripts, like the subject of this month, the classic horror novel Frankenstein.  Happy Halloween!

THE CREATURE: I expected this reception. All men hate the wretched. How, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty toward me, and I will do mine toward you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace, but if you refuse I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends. Have I not suffered enough that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself. My height is superior to thine, my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king, if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature, I ought to by thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered here many days. The caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not grudge. These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me than your fellow beings. If the multitude of mankind knew of my existence, they would do as you do and arm themselves for my destruction. Shall I not then hate them who abhor me? I will keep no terms with my enemies. I am miserable and they shall share my wretchedness. Yet it is in your power to recompense me, and deliver them from an evil which it only remains for you to make so great that not only you and your family, but thousands of others, shall be swallowed up in the whirlwinds of its rage. Let your compassion be moved and do not disdain me. I was benevolent and good. Misery made me a fiend. Make me happy and I shall again be virtuous. I have wandered through these mountains, I have ranged through their immense recesses, consumed by a burning passion which you alone can gratify. We may not part until you have promised to comply with my request. I am alone and miserable. Man will not associate with me, but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. A female. This being you must create.