A Visit to Mirkwood Mere

A few weeks ago, I finished reading Waverley, the 1814 novel written by Sir Walter Scott that launched the historical novel genre.

As I posted earlier, I learned a lot of new words and encountered a many an allusion and literary reference while reading this novel.

Now that I have read Waverley and Guy Mannering, and have just commenced reading The Antiquary, I can say with confidence that Sir Walter liked to drop a lot of poems and poetical excerpts into his narratives.

Fairly early in the novel Waverley, the reader encounters this poem, which is supposed to have been written by our young hero, Edward Waverley, when he finds that he is to join the military and leave his home in England to go to Scotland.

I was pleasantly surprised by the encounter and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this poem.

Mirkwood Mere
by Sir Walter Scott

Late, when the autumn evening fell
On Mirkwood Mere’s romantic dell
The lake returned, in chasten’d gleam
The purple cloud, the golden beam.
Reflected in the crystal pool
Headland and bank lay fair and cool;
The weather-tinted rock and tower,
Each drooping tree, each fairy flower,
So true, so soft, the mirror gave,
As if there lay beneath the wave,
Secure from trouble, toil and care
A world than earthly world more fair.

But distant winds began to wake,
And roused the Genius of the Lake!
He heard the groaning of the oak,
And donn’d at once his sable cloak,
As warrior, at the battle cry,
Invests him with his panoply.
Then, as the whirlwind nearer press’d,
He ‘gan to shake his foamy crest
O’er furrowed brow and blackened cheek,
And bade his surge in thunder speak.
In wild and broken eddies whirl’d,
Flitted that fond ideal world,
And to the shore in tumult tost
The realms of fairy bliss were lost.

Yet, with a stern delight and strange,
I saw the spirit-stirring change.
As warr’d the wind with wave and wood,
Upon the ruin’d tower I stood,
And felt my heart more strongly bound,
Responsive to the lofty sound,
While, joying in the mighty roar,
I mourn’d that tranquil scene no more.

So, on the idle dreams of youth,
Breaks the loud trumpet-call of Truth,
Bids each fair vision pass away
Like landscape on the lake that lay,
As fair, as flitting, and as frail
As that which fled the autumn gale.
Forever dead to fancy’s eye
Be each gay form that glided by,
While dreams of love and lady’s charms
Give place to honor and to arms!

An Economical Substitute

I recently crocheted this sweater as a birthday gift for a family member and I’m fairly pleased with the way it turned out.

"Berme" crocheted sweater

(The pattern is called Berme, it has an “Easy” rating, and you can download it from the Berroco website.)

Someday, when I can afford to spend about $120 on really nice yarn, I would like to try making this sweater using the Berroco Borealis yarn recommended in the pattern.

However, in this case, I took the extreme economical route and used Lion Brand Homespun yarn as a substitute chunky yarn.

Because the Lion Brand Homespun yarn happened to be on sale after Christmas at my local JoAnn store, I ended up spending only $20 for the 5 skeins of yarn it took me to complete this project. The four buttons cost about $5, so the total cost of materials for this sweater was about $25.

As an added bonus, the gauge of the test swatch I made with the Lion Brand Homespun yarn matched the pattern’s gauge perfectly and required no adjustment in crochet hook size.

Good Things and Hard Things—And a Poem for the New Year

For me, the year 2013 was filled with change and an unusual mix of good and not-so-good happenings.

Because of the change and the not-so-good happenings, I’m glad to bid farewell to 2013 and turn my face toward good things in 2014.

However, if all things are not good in 2014—and surely they won’t be—then this poem reminds me that I can benefit and learn even from the hard things that 2014 might bring.

Sindhi Woman
by Jon Stallworthy

Barefoot through the bazaar,
and with the same undulant grace
as the cloth blown back from her face,
she glides with a stone jar
high on her head
and not a ripple in her tread.

Watching her cross erect
stones, garbage, excrement, and crumbs
of glass in the Karachi slums,
I, with my stoop, reflect
they stand most straight
who learn to walk beneath a weight.