The Dulaney House at Christmas

There is now a grand total of seven stockings hanging… they have outgrown the mantle, so this year one hangs on either side of it as well. There would be nine, but Mum and Dad aren’t much interested in hanging some for themselves. Thus, seven it is–for my older brother, his fiance, my older sister, her husband, myself, my younger brother and my younger sister–all shadowing a dancing fire. The stockings, the fire, the tree–they are all mere spectators of our laughing family at Christmastime.

I’m learning that things like Christmas change as you, and those around you, grow up; but not necessarily for the worse. While some things do slink into the past, like having a the whole family there to decorate the tree, new things begin to emerge, like catching up over a cup of hot tea after the long (and eagerly) awaited arrival of my sister and brother-in-law. I know that things will never return to what they once were, but then, things don’t have to be the same to be marvelous. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year, no matter what.

I rather enjoy laying upside-down on the couch (feet in the air and all) in a Christmas sweater and Santa hat, surrounded by my family, listening and contributing to the endless chatter; most of which is provided by the 5 year old sister, who entertains us all. I love migrating to my Wurlitzer piano to play and sing Christmas hymns in constant anticipation of Dad’s inevitable request for me to “play softly” in light of his headache. I relish an evening devoted to a Hallmark Christmas movie and a cup of hot cocoa. I take great joy in the celebration of Jesus’ birth–the reason for the “Christ” in Christmas.

Times change, and traditions with them, but I will always cherish a Dulaney Family Christmas; may it be past, present, or future… Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to pour myself a hot beverage and check on the progress of the gingerbread houses!

The Merriest of CHRISTmases to you all and the most blessed of New Years.

Much love,

Alyssa Dulaney

 

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Poem: A Blank Page

Hello All!

I jotted this poem down earlier this evening on a piece of scrap paper, and decided to share it with you all. Enjoy, and, as always, feel free to share your opinion on it!

A Blank Page

How could I let this blank paper go to waste

With yet so much potential between its light lines, meant to guide?

Crumpled as it may be; hardly at its best

But still as willing to hold words: powerful, exact, honest

How dare I rob it of the opportunity to hold–

To contain the beauty that is a poem; may it be sonnet, prose, or ode

Or may it be these few simple phrases about a blank page with guiding lines

And its right to bare the ultimate power that is words

Whether rhymed or not rhymed

The Gettysburg Address and Its Influence

Happy Monday!

Yes, it is still Monday, although barely. Enjoy this history-loving side of me!

 

The Gettysburg Address is arguably Abraham Lincoln’s most widely-known speech. More than that, it is among the most influential speeches in history. This renown did not come of its own accord, but of the convictions of its author. Abraham Lincoln believed resolutely in the power of words to shape a nation; to direct it towards its destiny.[1] With this belief in place, he wrote with passion and integrity that was incomparable to other orators of his time. It has been said that Lincoln was “both of his time and unique within it.”[2] The Gettysburg Address, given on November 19, 1863, is not only proof of this statement, but also an affirmation of Lincoln’s theory concerning the capacity of the right words.

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Lincoln’s style of writing is unique, to be sure, which grabs the attention of any reader, making his communication more effective. While some label Lincoln a literary genius, others pessimistically claim that he was no master of the English language; he struggled to put his ideas into explicit words. For this reason, he practiced other tactics that came easier to him: “Lincoln’s art then, is an art of indirection, of finding a way of representing a deeply personal vision indirectly through parable-like stories and jokes, and, we might add, images and symbols.”[3] Here, Hurt addresses Lincoln’s use of imagery and symbolism to carry his message. For example, Lincoln uses the phrase “new birth of freedom” in the Gettysburg Address, not to imply a literalbirth, of course, but rather as a metaphor and an image for what was being represented by the death of thousands.[4] Another critic mentions his “cunning use of repetition” that gives the Gettysburg Address “thematic and linguistic power.”[5] This style permeates the writing of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln made an oratory conquest in writing a speech that united two sides of a war in agreement, if only for two minutes. He addressed a people who, though divided in opinion, were, in that moment, united in purpose. Lincoln did in those two minutes what his companion, Edward Everett, did in two and a half hours—he created a “profound expression of the self-perception of the nation.”[6] One that would not, nor should, be forgotten. He implies that the devotion of the dead led to their consecration of the grounds of Gettysburg, which should, in turn, lead to the devotion and dedication of the living. He does this first by saying that the dead “have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract,” followed soon after by, “we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,” and that “it is for us living, rather, to be dedicated…” Through this sequence—the devotion then consecration of the dead leading to the devotion and dedication of the living—the “dead shall not have died in vain.”[7] It was this sincere content of the Gettysburg Address that touched the grieving hearts of the American people and staked its claim in history.

The writing and presentation of the Gettysburg Address was Abraham Lincoln’s response to one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The hearts of the American people—whether from the North or the South—were broken by the cry of ghosts on a blood-soaked, tear-stained battlefield. According to Charles A. Kent, in his article “Lincoln and Gettysburg after Fifty Years,” Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg could easily be compared to the funeral orations of ancient times, when a great number of people would gather for the sake of fallen heroes to hear the funeral speech in their honor by a fellow citizen. Abe.jpgIn this context, Lincoln was compared to Pericles and Athene.[8] This is fitting, since Lincoln so obviously cherished the past as it leads to the future. In another article, Jacqueline Laba says that “both Pericles and Lincoln do more than honor war dead; they seize the historical moment in order to inspire their listeners to the task of shaping the future.”[9] One would never say that Gettysburg was not a historical moment, nor that Lincoln’s response to it did not inspire its audience to shape the future of America.

The influence of the Gettysburg Address far outlasted the day of its presentation, the war it represented, and the life of its author. Furthermore, every citizen should hope that its influence continues to outlive each generation. The words in that two-minute speech were too powerful to speak to only one gathering, one generation, or even one war. Just as those standing there that November day were among “the living,” WE THE PEOPLE are among the “the living” today. Just as they were charged to take on the devotion of those who came before them that “the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” so are WE THE PEOPLE charged today.[10] The Gettysburg Address was mistaken in this alone: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here…”[11] The world remembers.

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[1] Ferguson, Robert A. “Hearing Lincoln and the Making of Eloquence.” American Literary History 21, no. 4 (2009): 687-724.

[2] Ibid., 689

[3] Hurt, James. “All the Living and the Dead: Lincoln’s Imagery.” American Literature 52, no. 3 (1980): 351-80.

[4] “Gettysburg Address,” Avalon.law.yale.edu

[5] Laba, Jacqueline. 1995. “Words that change our world — Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America by Garry Wills.” English Journal 84, no. 2: 124-125

[6] Hurt, James. “All the Living and the Dead: Lincoln’s Imagery.” American Literature 52, no. 3 (1980): 351-80.

[7] “Gettysburg Address,” Avalon.law.yale.edu

[8] Kent, C. (1916). Lincoln and Gettysburg after Fifty Years: November 19, 1863-1913. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984), 9(3), 257-278.

[9] Laba, Jacqueline. 1995. “Words that change our world — Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America by Garry Wills.” English Journal 84, no. 2: 124-125

[10] “Gettysburg Address,” Avalon.law.yale.edu

[11] Ibid.

At the Opera: The Barber of Seville

Hello All!

Thursday evening of a couple weeks ago, I went to my first opera, accompanied by my dear friend, Misty. It was, to say the least, among the most marvelous and enchanting experiences thus far in my life. I felt as if I was in a dream-one from which I hardly wanted to wake up.

From the box seats we occupied, we looked down upon a world of musical and theatrical wonder.I was a newcomer, to be sure, but I fell in love with that world in an instant. A world of glamour and evening gowns. It was a world you could enter for an evening and be as sophisticated and cultured as you could manage. You could walk with a head held high and a confident stride, being or pretending to be one of the elite.
img_2945Misty and I feel justified now in referring to ourselves as “opera snobs.” Or perhaps that’s just our theatrical alter egos… Needless to say, it did not take long for me to realize that this would be the first of many operas for me, and by the end of Act I, we were already planning which ones we would attend in the months to come.

I must say: It was rather a shame that I was quite nearly the youngest one there.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia– The Barber of Seville. Figarro charmed me, Count Almaviva entertained me, Rosina amused me; And the orchestra thoroughly delighted me! Upon leaving the performing arts center, we were bid adieu by a brass band of street musicians adding to the enchantment of the evening and satisfied in doing so. The streets of Charlotte felt as alive as the breeze that rustled both our hair and our imaginations.

And that, my friends, was the night I fell in love with opera.

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A(nother) Quick Look at Pride and Prejudice

Hello All!

If you haven’t read enough about Jane Austen on this blog, then today is your lucky day, because I’m at it again! I was given a writing assignment in a Theatre Appreciation class that incorporated noting a work (book, movie, or play) in which two major characters were in conflict with each other and briefly describing the characters, their conflict, and the resolution. My first thought was, obviously, Pride and Prejudice! I mean, what greater, more classic example could there possibly be? It was a no-brainer. Or maybe it’s just me? Either way, I chose to write about something I love, and this was my submission:

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a perfect example of a story in which two major characters are at odds. Many adaptions and knock-offs have been created from this story over the years, but one thing remains constant: the bitter tension between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Despite the opinion of many pessimistic minds, the story is not a petty representation of hate turning to love overnight, but rather the story of gradual transformation; specifically, of learning to let go of first impressions, or even second impressions, and coming to terms with the fact that they might have been drastically distorted.

Elizabeth is a woman whose “lively, playful disposition” leads her to witty conversation and a generally good-natured aversion to those think too highly of themselves to be in good humor. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, is too serious to enjoy himself much of the time and far too self-important to find the company of a witty girl from a middle class family the least bit pleasant, much less find her handsome. At least, that is how he seemed to be on first observation. Behind his proud façade, however, is a protective, dutiful man, whose standards in place for himself are far higher than those he holds for the people around him.

Conflict arises first when Elizabeth feels that Mr. Darcy slights her by refusing to dance with her, but this is something she can look over by simply labeling him a pompous jerk and moving on. It continues to increase, however, when she hears the false tale of a man who has been robbed of his hopes and dreams by this arrogant, selfish Mr. Darcy. It comes to a peak when she discovers that he encouraged his best friend to abandon the relationship he might have had with her dear sister. She soon becomes aware that none of his errors were without explanation; most of which encompassed his loyalty to those he cared about, she being one of them. She believes it to be too late for reconciliation but is fortunately proven wrong. A casual reader and/or watcher would quickly assign the pride to Mr. Darcy and the prejudice to Miss Elizabeth, but I believe Jane Austen intended us to look further and discover that both characters were plagued by both pride and prejudice, and had to overcome the faults in themselves before they were able to see the good in each other.

Image result for pride and prejudice

 

 

Adventures in Quebec

Bonjour!

Recently, I took a trip to the magnificent Quebec City. You may or may not remember my having mentioned it in posts from earlier on. Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled to be going. I was with a group of nearly 70 young people on a missions trip, in which we sang in both English and French, reached out to the community, and assisted the local missionaries in any way possible, but we also were able to do some exploring of our own!

Spending time in Quebec City has been a dream of mine for several years, so last month a dream came true!

There’s something utterly captivating and enrapturing about Quebec City, which is entirely immersed in French culture. When you’re walking in Old Town Quebec, you can’t help but feel as if you’ve stepped entirely out of place and time to a small French Villa some many years ago, where most people will smile and offer a “Bonjour!” in passing by on cobblestone streets, above which loom light posts with hanging, colorful flower baskets. The sounds of horses hooves is not unfamiliar due to the carriages that still roam the city, now carrying tourists rather than locals. You need only glance around, it doesn’t matter which direction, and you will no doubt see some sort of beautiful architecture, whether it be a stone catholic church long closed but still standing, a statue or a fountain, a gate to the wall that still surrounds the city or even the Chateau Frontenac itself.

Quebec is no ordinary place, nor does it have an ordinary feel. In many ways, though indescribable, Quebec City feels like home. Perhaps it’s just that way for me because I have, over the years, developed such an adoration for this place that I had never been to, or perhaps that is the magic of the city, and no one is exempt. When I was finally able to explore it for myself, my fascination and love only grew. As the capital of the province of Quebec, you could expect it to be crowded and busy, but instead it is leisurely and calming, and rather than skyscrapers and concrete, it boasts stone castles and cobblestone, with lush, green grass never far away. It is purely poetic.

Although I have tried to paint a picture with my words, I thought I would be fair and offer you actual pictures as well. You’ll see some local art that I purchased in the Art Alley (An alley lined with art created and sold by local artists). Hanging in front of each painting is a picture of me at the place depicted. Keep in mind, none of these are postcards. They are all pictures that I either took myself or had taken of me. As is obvious, I put words on a couple of them. This was done with one of my favorite apps: “Spark Post.”  I apologize in advance for any poor quality due to the lighting in my room.

 

 

 

The Obscure Poet- Oma Carlyle Anderson

Thursday Greetings!

The other day I picked up a book of poetry entitled “I Hear the Lark Singing” by Oma Carlyle Anderson. I opened it to find a handwritten note from the author herself to a dear friend of hers, and here it was lost in a pile of random books being given away. I was amazed by the beauty and depth of the poems within… They were incredible and spoke with such conviction. I thought that surely Miss Anderson was a well-known poet and I had simply been missing out. Without hesitation, I took the book home with intentions of researching Oma Carlyle Anderson, which I did. I found something on her, eventually. I found out her dates of birth and death from a website that documents grave sites… 1901-2000. Believe me, I searched extensively with no luck. That’s all one can find on Oma Carlyle Anderson, the poetic genius.

The author of these marvelous, meaningful masterpieces is no more than another poet lost in obscurity. It saddens me to know this. I can’t help but feel that she and so many others have been mistreated. Of all the human beings that go down in history for one thing or another, they were somehow left behind. TV stars manage to be remembered, as if being in front of a camera is more difficult or more meaningful than pouring your soul out as ink onto paper and allowing others to feel your own emotions by reading the words that you arranged. I don’t say this to demean those that gain fame or to recklessly claim that they don’t deserve to be remembered… I only want to speak to the habit that we have of failing to appreciate those that came before us and paved the way through written word.

Oma Carlyle Anderson put her heart into a book and shared it with humanity. Although she died, she can never be gone now; But she can be forgotten, and I refuse to allow that to happen. Because I cannot prove otherwise, I am willing to assume that her passion for writing allowed her to be content in being only an obscure poet in her lifetime. This certainly sounds romantic… But I hope that over the years, her name grows into more than one only recognized by her family and the young dreamer who happened to pick up her poetry from a pile of free books. She deserves to be remembered as poet whose words marked the world.

Dreams

From the starting gate of slumber,

by moments and degrees,

what random alchemy determines

the silhouettes of dreams?

What strange omnipotence

of curtained eyes to touch the past;

what borrowed journeys, guilded

and disguised, span in sleep

a hemisphere or universe?

Until awareness of the mind

cancels the racing streams

of imagery, and covers with

diaphanous light the little graves

of restless and unbridled dreams.

~Oma Carlyle Anderson

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