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What If

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September 21, 2017 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

International Day of Peace

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September 21, 2017 at 5:25 am Leave a comment

The Battle of Stonington

by Philip Freneau

ON THE SEABOARD OF CONNECTICUT

In an attack upon the town and a small fort of two guns, by the Ramillies, seventy-four gun ship, commanded by Sir Thomas Hardy; the Pactolus, 38 gun ship, Despatch, brig of 22 guns, and a razee, or bomb ship.—August, 1814.

Four gallant ships from England came
Freighted deep with fire and flame,
And other things we need not name,
To have a dash at Stonington.

Now safely moor’d, their work begun;
They thought to make the yankees run,
And have a mighty deal of fun
In stealing sheep at Stonington.

A deacon, then popp’d up his head
And parson Jones’s sermon read,
In which the reverend doctor said
That they must fight for Stonington.

A townsman bade them, next, attend
To sundry resolutions penn’d,
By which they promised to defend
With sword and gun, old Stonington.

The ships advancing different ways,
The britons soon began to blaze,
And put th’ old women in amaze,
Who fear’d the loss of Stonington.

The yankees to their fort repair’d,
And made as though they little cared
For all that came—though very hard
The cannon play’d on Stonington.

The Ramillies began the attack,
Despatch came forward—bold and black—
And none can tell what kept them back
From setting fire to Stonington.

The bombardiers with bomb and ball,
Soon made a farmer’s barrack fall,
And did a cow-house sadly maul
That stood a mile from Stonington.

They kill’d a goose, they kill’d a hen,
Three hogs they wounded in a pen—
They dash’d away, and pray what then?
This was not taking Stonington.

The shells were thrown, the rockets flew,
But not a shell, of all they threw,
Though every house was full in view,
Could burn a house at Stonington.

To have their turn they thought but fair;—
The yankees brought two guns to bear,
And, sir, it would have made you stare,
This smoke of smokes at Stonington.

They bored Pactolus through and through,
And kill’d and wounded of her crew
So many, that she bade adieu
T’ the gallant boys of Stonington.

The brig Despatch was hull’d and torn—
So crippled, riddled, so forlorn,
No more she cast an eye of scorn
On th’ little fort at Stonington.

The Ramillies gave up th’ affray
And, with her comrades, sneak’d away—
Such was the valor, on that day,
Of british tars near Stonington.

But some assert, on certain grounds,
(Besides the damage and the wounds)
It cost the king ten thousand pounds
To have a dash at Stonington.

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September 20, 2017 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

מתנה לראש השנה

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September 20, 2017 at 5:25 am Leave a comment

Stories within Stories

Stories within Stories: From the Jewish Oral Tradition

by Peninnah Schram

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September 19, 2017 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Říkadla


JANÁČEK Říkadla

Ríkadla ‘Nursery Rhymes’

Ríkadla (‘Nursery Rhymes’) is a series of eighteen choral songs with instrumental introduction. Janácek had originally composed eight of the set in 1925, and extended the number to eighteen a year later, adding the introduction at the same time. The instrumentation, which includes that faintly ridiculous but eminently likeable poor relation of the orchestra’s reed instruments, the ocarina, was deliberately intended to complement the risible atmosphere of these engaging ditties.
But it’s all tremendous fun! From the nuptials of the beetroot and the measured hedgerow stealth of the mole, to wind-blown and ripped trousers, and the tragi-comic picture of the cow in the knacker’s yard serenaded by Franta’s grinding string-bass, the world is that of a child distilled through peculiarly Czech folklore and sentiment.

Yet this is not a world spared pain nor the frightening grotesqueries of the imagination—children parade a pet dog whose tail cannot have become entrapped without their assistance, and a dutiful wife ends up in her own soup! And exactly why is Granny crawling amid the concealing foliage of an elder bush? Could there be a mild hint of xenophobia as a ‘German’ beetle fails to own up after breaking some cooking utensils?—‘the cunning German tells such lies!’

The Ríkadla settings owe their origins to the early neglect of Janácek’s first opera Šárka, which remained unperformed until the mid 1920s. Deeply hurt by the rejection of a work based upon one of the most familiar and terrifying subjects of Czech mythology (the libretto was by Julius Zeyer), the composer decided in 1888 to undertake a systematic study of Moravian folk music. The fruits of his discoveries emerged in his choral idiom and, to an extent, are also reflected in the textual content of the Ríkadla series, though as we have seen these were not written until many years after Janácek’s initial exploration of traditional Moravian music. His experiences, in the course of amassing folk music, were broadly parallelled by episodes in the careers of Bartók, Kodály and, on British soil, of Vaughan Williams.

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September 18, 2017 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

The Cat Came Back

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September 17, 2017 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

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