Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Christendom on the Big Screen

Mike Powell and the Mason brothers have produced their second film and their first full-length feature: a drama titled Chorus which will premiere this Sunday. I'll be going to the premiere at the Royal Oak Theater in Front Royal, and I intend to review the movie on this blog. The official site for the film is here, and you can watch the trailer. I've seen their first film, Discretion, and it was a really excellent effort. Chorus will be their first film to have Explicit Catholic Themes (scandalous!), but although I was an extra in it, I still know very little about the plot. So I am intrigued.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Meeting of Bloggers

On Tuesday I went to Mass at the shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi in (where else?) San Francisco, and afterwards I went to Erik's lecture on Fra Angelico, which was excellent. Patrick of Orthonormal Basis and Deirdre of Give Tongue were also there, and I had a great time talking with them.

Something from Erik's lecture that quite shocked me was the revelation that this fresco is not actually by Fra Angelico. Good grief!

This painting is still definitely by Fra Angelico:

I just love that Turkish carpet that everyone is standing on.

Before I go, one more link: St. Anthony of Padua Institute. Erik is encouraging everyone to join, Bay Area Catholics in particular. The Institute's ultimate goal is to found a Catholic liberal arts college in the Bay Area.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

People to pray for

Please pray for my grandfather, who has cancer. We learned of his illness several weeks ago, but recently it has taken a turn for the worse. St. Peregrine, pray for us.

As many of you know, Regina Doman lost her 5-year old son Joshua in a car accident last month. Danielle Bean has stopped collecting donations to help Regina's family buy a new car, but you can still send checks to Regina's brother-in-law:

Mike Schmiedicke
PO BOX 1963
Front Royal VA 22630

On the website that Regina made for Joshua there is now a dream that Regina's daughter, Marygrace, had about Joshua. The whole site is beautiful and I hope you all have the time to read through it. Regina is very strong in the Faith. And even as you pray for the Schmiedicke family, remember that Joshua is now a saint in heaven. We can pray to him now. An astonishing thought.

I read on Kateri's blog that a Christendom alumnus, Will Davulis, was killed in a motorcycle accident as he was riding to visit his brother in the hospital. Please pray for him, his brother and their family. And please pray also for Anthony Smitha (Christendom '05) who lost his father on June 20th.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Art of Triolets

Your triolet should glimmer
Like a butterfly;
In golden light, or dimmer,
Your triolet should glimmer,
Tremble, turn, and shimmer,
Flash, and flutter by;
Your triolet should glimmer
Like a butterfly.

-Don Marquis

Sheila has announced the results of her triolet contest. The submissions were fantastic, exhibiting wit, color, and metrical grace (which is VERY important. See above poem.) As I read and wrote more triolets, I began to notice more and more complexities in the form, and I started to write a little triolet primer in my head. These are some of my observations.

As forms go, triolets are peachy: easy to write, but capable of depth; more dignified than limericks, but lighter than sonnets. They are ideal for conveying sweet nothings (or somethings...) to one's beloved, but as Sheila's contest has proved, the triolet is afraid of nothing! Though it may be impossible to write a triolet without any humor in it. Once I did write a ghastly triolet which teetered on the edge of nihilism, but I will spare you the sight. Besides, it wasn't a real triolet. Anyhow, when you start a triolet, you are already half done. If I write

The Berkley sunshine rarely smiles,
But my, it's shining bright today!

then I already have the outline of the poem:

The Berkley sunshine rarely smiles,
But my, it's shining bright today!
The Berkeley sunshine rarely smiles
The Berkley sunshine rarely smiles,
But my, it's shining bright today!

I am left with only three spaces. This requires me to be something of a contortionist. The rhyme scheme tightens things further: The first couplet I make up ends ab--and a and b are all I get for the whole poem; 5 a-rhymes and 3 b-rhymes. The first two lines determine your rhyme scheme, and they form your poem's ending. (This is what T.S. Eliot was talking about when he said, "In my beginning is my end." You know how much he loved to write triolets...) Thus, the first two lines of your triolet are the most important, structurally speaking.

But the real fun is in the remaining three lines. This is where you can introduce your Ogden Nash-style rhymes, your pungency or poignancy, and all the various twists and turns of alliteration and internal rhyme and such. The last line before the repetition of the opening can become the triolet's punchline, or it can do something subtler... it is a useful point to center the triolet around. Look at this one of Chesterton's:

If I were a fish I should
Miss occasional luxury
Such as climbing in the wood
(If I were a fish I should)
Church-going is also good
Mostly I should miss the sea
If I were a fish I should
Miss occasional luxury.

"Mostly I should miss the sea." This line is unexpected and funny, yet somehow also sonorous and wistful. It makes the poem. But notice that Chesterton commits an infelicity that is common in triolets: His opening couplet is constructed so that the first line can't do anything logical when it is repeated in the fourth line, and Chesterton can only put it in parentheses as a sort of echo. To avoid this, you can either make the first line a complete statement, or make it a dependent clause capable of connecting with the lines before or after it. Actually, you should always connect it if you can. Here is a good example:

In the school of coquettes
Madam Rose is a scholar.
They fish with all nets
In the school of coquettes:

When her brooch she forgets
Tis to show a new collar.
In the school of coquettes
Madam Rose is a scholar.

Ah, the Rose triolets! They were the first triolets I ever read. Here are two more:

Rose kissed me to-day.
Will she kiss me tomorrow?
Let it be as it may,
Rose kissed me today.
But the pleasure gives way
To a savour of sorrow;-
Rose kissed me to-day,-
Will she kiss me tomorrow?

I intended an Ode,
And it turned to a Sonnet.
It began à la mode,
I intended an Ode;
But Rose cross'd the road
In her latest new bonnet;
I intended an Ode;
And it turned to a Sonnet.

While I was searching for these triolets, I stumbled onto a little exchange on a U. of Chicago mailing list. It involved communism, molecular theory and triolets, and contained this gem:

I love triolets because they are both pleasant and safe to use. Authors of triolets are responsible for fewer than 15% of this year's violent deaths, and have started fewer wars than authors of odes, rondeaus, sonnets and blank verse combined. Other forms (or lacks thereof) are quite different: to paraphrase Thomas Pynchon, the only thing you feel like doing after hearing something of Wallace Stevens' is going out and invading Poland.

In fact, recent archival research has revealed that no less a figure than the anti-scholastic Sir Francis Bacon himself is believed to have authored over a dozen heretofore anonymous triolets. And Francois Hotman attributes Henry of Navarre's early victories over Guises' armies to a flaming triolet that appeared in the sky above the battlements of La Rochelle. "In haec forma, vinces!" Henry is reputed to have said, in French. So before you go about criticizing the triolet, Matt, you ought to do your homework.

So much for the triolet. But before I go, I want to say that Kevin's "The Latin on the keyboard coded" reminded me of Tantum ergo Sacramentum (terrible I know), and that Charlemagne's "The Buzzard" is practically perfect in every way (and reminiscent of The Bad Child's Book of Beasts), and that I'm still in love with "At ChesterCon I met some friends."

And finally: Sheila, I found a triolet by Sara Teasdale that I think you'll like:

Written in a copy of "The Poems of Sappho":

Beyond the dim Hesperides,
The girl who sang them long ago
Could never dream that over seas,
Beyond the dim Hesperides,
The wind would blow such songs as these --
I wonder now if she can know,
Beyond the dim Hesperides,
The girl who sang them long ago?

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