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The Original "Getting Real"

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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Royalties of Europe

Several years ago, becoming fascinated by Queen Victoria and her large, extended family, I began compiling a series of card index boxes of the royalties of Europe between around 1850 and 1918, in order to help me remember who was who. The boxes have been sitting there, all carefully labelled for such a long time that I suddenly wondered if they might be of use to anyone else. When the internet first became available, it was hugely helpful to me to be able to continue the research through various site so I just wanted to put a little back by copying out the boxes for anyone else who is interested. As the details are gathered from various sources, some of the names are in the Latin format, some in German/French/Spanish or English versions and in all it is combination of all of them. If anyone is interested, I am gradually copying out the boxes at:

Royalties of Europe 1860-1918

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Good King Wenceslas

According to the carol, "Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen..." The song continues with the story of the king seeing a poor peasant gathering firewood in the snow and bringing him indoors to wait upon him.
It's appropriate that the story took place on 26th December, the Feast of Stephen (the first Christian martyr) as this coincides with 'Boxing Day' - the day when traditionally the alms boxes were emptied and distributed among the poor.
Although the carol little more than legend, King Wenceslas was known to be a 'good' king - or rather, Duke - of 10th century Bohemia, who ruled his people in fairness. As the grandson of a martyr, St. Ludmilla, he was staunchly Christian but, fortunately, when many of his people returning to Paganism, he did not respond with the ferocity displayed by many other so-called Christian leaders of the time. Instead, he responded with tolerance and gentleness.
Unfortunately, as in so many cases 'uneasy lies the head that wears the crown', and Wenceslas became caught up in a power struggle with his brother, which culminated in his murder at the door of the church in Alt-Bunzlau.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the feast of Stephen.
When the snow lay round about,
deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
gathering winter fuel.

Hither page and stand by me
if thou knowst it telling
Yonder peasant, who is he,
where and what his dwelling?
Sire, he lives a good league hence,
underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence,
by Saint Agnes' fountain.

Bring me flesh and bring me wine,
bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
when we bear them thither
Page and monarch forth they went,
forth they went together
Through the rude winds wild lament,
and the bitter weather.

Sire the night is darker now,
and the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart I know now how,
I can go no longer.
Mark my footsteps good my page,
tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
freeze thy blood less coldly.

In his master's steps he trod
where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
which the saint had printed
Therefore Christian men be sure,
wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
shall yourselves find blessing.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Queen Victoria's Christmas Eve

A very short extract taken from Life with Queen Victoria, Marie Mallet's letters from Court Edited by Victor Mallet, describing Queen Victoria giving gifts to her household at Osborne House in 1897.

Christmas Eve at 1/4 to 6, I was present at the ChristmasTree at which the Queen gave her presents to the household. The Princesses were there, and the most handsome presents given all round...When the Princesses left, they fell on the tree and divided the spoil, filling waste paper baskets!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Fifteen Wild Decembers

On a frozen December night, what could be more apt than Emily Bronte's heartfelt 'Remembrance' or 'Fifteen Wild Decembers'? As someone who, to all outward appearances, could not have experienced the sentiments expressed in this poem, Emily Bronte appears to have written it from the mouths of the characters in her imagination but how could she write this unless she knew on some inner level the depths of emotion it expresses? It's endlessly fascinating that so private a person who preferred the company of animals and the freedom of the Moors to being in company (and who became physically ill when deprived of that freedom) had such an incredible power of empathy at the highest level. I think she experienced, on some level, all that wrote not only in her poems but also in one of the most passionate stories of all time, "Wuthering Heights." Nothing is ever as it appears and sometimes those who seem most silent and removed from what passes for depths of emotion, are really experiencing it most deeply. I think Emily Bronte's pen would have thrived on so cold a night as this one!

Cold in the earth, and the deep snow piled above thee!
Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my Only Love, to love thee,
Severed at last by Time's all-wearing wave?

Now, when alone, do my thoughts no longer hover
Over the mountains on Angora's shore;
Resting their wings where heath and fern-leaves cover
That noble heart for ever, ever more?

Cold in the earth, and fifteen wild Decembers
From those brown hills have melted into spring--
Faithful indeed is the spirit that remembers
After such years of change and suffering!

Sweet Love of youth, forgive if I forget thee
While the World's tide is bearing me along:
Sterner desires and darker hopes beset me,
Hopes which obscure but cannot do thee wrong.

No other Sun has lightened up my heaven;
No other Star has ever shone for me:
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given
All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.

But when the days of golden dreams had perished
And even Despair was powerless to destroy,
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
Strengthened and fed without the aid of joy;

Then did I check the tears of useless passion,
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine!

And even yet, I dare not let it languish,
Dare not indulge in Memory's rapturous pain;
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
How could I seek the empty world again?

Friday, 18 December 2009

King Canute and Coperhagen

A long time ago, according to English legend, King Canute stood on a beach and, believing he was some kind of saviour, tried to stop the tide. He was somewhat humiliated when his feet got wet!

Now we hear the voice of the self-appointed gods saying they will control temperature by 2 degrees....I guess the more you try to take on the control of the world the more you believe yourself to be God. It's snowing in Copenhagen, as it is here. It's a typical English winter. Stand on the beach and rail at the snowflakes and tell the weather to become warmer or colder and you will achieve nothing! Why not turn instead from massive ego-trips to caring for creatures and humanity in a way that is sincere?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

I Leant Upon A Coppice Gate

I saw some blackbirds on the snowy grass tonight, pecking their way through the cold and looking so beautiful! Winter is really here and, above the climate-change-babble, it's obvious that the climate changes have nothing whatsoever to do with how we live and everything to do with being attuned to Nature in all her seasons. I guess that's what happens in a world dominated by linear thinking. The earth, like people, has its cycles and seasons and, thinking in a cyclic way, it all makes more sense. Some people have made a fortune from the climate scam and others have run like sheep after the lie, but at the end of the day, the seasons change and we change with them when we drop that need to control everything and everyone.

I find Thomas Hardy's books depressing and verbose (with his obsession with describing the details of architecture!) but his poetry is something else this:

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited ;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

PLEASE Stop These Evil Practices!

It is so important that people are aware of this cruelty going on under our noses that I have posted this link on both blogs. Please be warned that this video is very distressing but, after watching it, anyone with a heart would be so appalled and demand an end to such vile practices to living, sentient, loving creatures.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Albert the Good

On the anniversary of the death of Prince Albert, here are a few lines written in his honour by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Albert 'the good' was surely the 'greatest king we never had' - a man so gifted and with such humanity. What a tragedy for his family and for the country that he died so young!

Or how should England dreaming of his sons
Hope more for these than some inheritance
Of such a life, a heart, a mind as thine,
Thou noble Father of her Kings to be,
Laborious for her people and her poor—
Voice in the rich dawn of an ampler day—
Far-sighted summoner of War and Waste
To fruitful strifes and rivalries of peace—
Sweet nature gilded by the gracious gleam
Of letters, dear to Science, dear to Art,
Dear to thy land and ours, a Prince indeed,
Beyond all titles, and a household name,
Hereafter, through all times, Albert the Good.

And Tennyson's dedication to Albert's daughter, Princess Alice, who died on the anniversary of her father's death.

Dead Princess, living Power, if that which lived
True life live on–and if the fatal kiss,
Born of true life and love, divorce thee not
From earthly love and life–if what we call
The spirit flash not all at once from out
This shadow into Substance–then perhaps
The mellow’d murmur of the people’s praise
From thine own State, and all our breadth of realm,
Where Love and Longing dress thy deeds in light,
Ascends to thee; and this March morn that sees
Thy Soldier-brother’s bridal orange-bloom
Break thro’ the yews and cypress of thy grave,
And thine Imperial mother smile again,
May send one ray to thee! and who can tell–
Thou–England’s England-loving daughter–thou
Dying so English thou wouldst have her flag
Borne on thy coffin–where is he can swear
But that some broken gleam from our poor earth
May touch thee, while, remembering thee, I lay
At thy pale feet this ballad of the deeds
Of England, and her banner in the East?

Saturday, 12 December 2009

It's Cold!

It's not snowing yet but it's so cold that dear Pooh comes to mind!! Thank you A.A. Milne!!!

(Tiddly Pom)
The more it goes
(Tiddly Pom)
The more it goes
(Tiddly Pom)
On snowing.

And nobody knows
(Tiddly Pom)
How cold my toes
(Tiddly Pom)
How cold my toes
(Tiddly Pom)
Are growing.

The more it snows
(Tiddly Pom)
The more it goes
(Tiddly Pom)
The more it goes
(Tiddly Pom)
On snowing.

And nobody knows
(Tiddly Pom)
How gold my toes
(Tiddly Pom)
How cold my toes
(Tiddly Pom)
Are growing.