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Literary Calligraphy by Susan Loy

Lewis Carroll

For, you see, so many out of the way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.

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Fra Giovanni

Christmas Eve. Anno Domini 1513. "There is nothing I can give you, which you have not got; but there is much, very much that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it to-day. Take Heaven! No Peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take Peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.... Life is so generous a giver; but we, judging its gifts by their coverings, cast them away as ugly,or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the Angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty; believe me that Angel’s hand is there; the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Our joys, too; be not content with them as joys; they too conceal divine gifts. Life is so full of meaning and of purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find that earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then, to claim it, that is all! The courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown countries, home. And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you.."

Fra Giovanni

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"Now you will feel no rain for each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies but there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth."

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"Article. I. Section. 1"

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress....No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay. Constitution of the United States. 1. Changed by section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment. 2. Changed by the Seventeenth Amendment. 3. Changed by the Seventeenth Amendment. 4. Changed by section 2 of the Twentieth Amendment. 5. See Sixteenth Amendment.

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Robert Browning

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

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Hanna Arendt

Mental activities, invisible themselves and occupied with the invisible, become manifest only through speech....It is not our soul but our mind that demands speech....(p. 98)

The sheer naming of things, the creation of words, is the human way of appropriating and, as it were, disalienating the world into which, after all, each of us is born as a newcomer and a stranger. These observations on the interconnection of language & thought, which make us suspect that no speechless thought can exist, obviously do not apply to civilizations where the written sign rather than the spoken word is decisive and where, consequently, thinking itself is not soundless speech but mental dealing with images. This is notably true of China...where "the power of words is supported by the power of the written sign, the image," and not the other way round, as in the alphabetic languages, where script is thought of as secondary, no more than an agreed-upon set of symbols....(p. 100)

In other words, what for us is "abstract" and invisible, is for the Chinese emblematically concrete and visibly given in their script....These differences between concrete thinking in images and our abstract dealing with verbal concepts are...perhaps all the more disquieting because amid them we can clearly perceive one assumption we share with the Chinese: the unquestioned priority of vision for mental activities. This priority...(p. 101)

remains absolutely decisive throughout the history of Western metaphysics and its notion of truth. What distinguishes us from them is not NOUS but LOGOS, our necessity to give account of and JUSTIFY in words. All strictly logical processes, such as the deducing if inferences from the general to the particular or inductive reasoning from particulars to some general rule, represent such justifications, and this can be done only in words. Only Wittgenstein, as far as I know, ever became aware of the fact that hieroglyphic writing corresponded to a notion of truth understood in the metaphor of vision. He writes: "In order to understand the essence of a proposition, we should consider hieroglyphic script, which depicts the facts that it describes. And alphabetic script developed out of it without losing what was essential to depiction." This last remark is of course highly doubtful. What is less doubtful is that philosophy, as we know it, would hardly have come into existence without the Greeks' early reception and adaptation of the alphabet from Phoenician sources. Yet language, the only medium through which mental activities can be manifest not only to the outside world but also to the mental ego itself, is by no means as evidently adequate for the thinking activity as vision is for its business of seeing. No language has a ready-make vocabulary for the needs of mental activity; they all borrow their vocabulary from words originally meant to correspond either to sense experience or to other experiences of ordinary life. This borrowing, however, is never haphazard or arbitrarily symbolic (like mathematical signs) or emblematic; all philosophic and most poetic language is metaphorical....(p. 102)

The metaphor, bridging the abyss between inward and invisible mental activities and the world of appearances, was certainly the greatest gift language could bestow on thinking and hence on philosophy...(p. 105)

Analogies, metaphors, and emblems are the threads by which the mind holds on to the world even when, absent-mindedly, it has lost direct contact with it, and they guarantee the unity of human experience....(p. 109)

the chief difficulty here seems to be that for thinking itself--whose language is entirely metaphorical and whose conceptual framework depends entirely on the gift of the metaphor...there exists no metaphor that could plausibly illuminate this special activity of the mind, in which something invisible within us deals with the invisibles of the world...The only possible metaphor one may conceive of for the life of the mind is the sensation of being alive.(p.123)

The circular quotation is as follows:

We have names for what we see, for instance, the name "circle" for something round; this name can be explained in speech (logos) in sentences "composed of nouns and verbs," and we say the circle is a "thing which has everywhere equal distances between its extremities and its center." These sentences can lead to the making of circles, of images (eidolon) that can be "drawn and erased, turned out and destroyed," processes of course that do not affect THE circle as such, which is different from all these circles. Knowledge and mind (nous) grasp the essential circle, that is, what all circles have in common, something that "lies neither in the sounds (of speech) nor in the shapes of bodies but in the soul," and this circle is clearly "different from the real circle," perceived first in nature by the eyes of the body, and different, too from circles drawn according to verbal explanation. This circle in the soul is perceived by the mind (nous), which "is closest to it in affinity and likeness." And this inner intuition alone can be called truth. (p. 117)

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"Flowers of the Month"

Between the acres of the rye, with a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino, these pretty country folk would lie, in spring time…
This carol they began that hour, with a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino, how that a life was but a flower.
William Shakespeare, As You Like It

A something in a summert’s day as slow her flambeau burn away, which solemnizes me.
A something in a summer’s noon, an Azure depth, a wordless tune, transcending ecstasy.
And still within a summer’s night a something so transporting bright, I clap my hands to see.
Emily Dickinson

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
and you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkeycock…
They’s something kind o’ harty-like about the atmusfere,
when the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here.
James Whitcomb Riley

That grand old poem called Winter is round again…. It was summer, and now again it is winter.
Nature loves this rhyme so well that she never tires of repeating it. So sweet and wholesome is the winter, so simple…
Henry David Thoreau, Journal, Sunday, December 7, 1856

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Blessed child! a lovely wonder to me, and which makes the Universe look friendly to me."

Journal, October 31, 1836.

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Psalms 90:17

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

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Gaius Petronius

Littera: a letter, acquainted with letters; literate; educated. Thesaurus: a treasure, treasury of knowledge, as a dictionary. Education is a treasure. Literae thesaurum est.

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Maurice Maeterlinck

"All things touch, all things go hand to hand; all things obey the same  invisible principles, the identical exigencies; all things share in the same  spirit, in the same substance, in the terrifying and wonderful problem;  and the most modest victory gained in the matter of a flower may  one day disclose to us an infinity of the untold. Because of these things  I love the chrysanthemum."

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Revised Standard Version

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends; as for prophecy, it will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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2008 Literary Calligraphy Calendar

January... William Shakespeare, Flowers of Winter"

...there's rosemary and rue; these keep seeming and savour all the winter long: grace and remembrance be to you..." The Winter's Tale

February... Walt Whitman, We Two

We two, how long we were fool'd, now transmuted, we swiftly escape as nature escapes, we are nature, long have we been absent, but now we return, we become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark, we are bedded in the ground, we are rocks, we are oaks, we grow in the openings side by side, we browse, we are two among the wild herds spontaneous as any, we are two fishes swimming in the sea together, we are what locust blossoms are, we drop scent around lanes mornings and evenings, we are also the course smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals, we are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down. We are two resplendent suns, we it is who balance ourselves orbic and stellar, we are as two comets, we prowl fang'd and four-footed in the woods, we spring on prey, we are two clouds forenoons and afternoons driving overhead, we are seas mingling, we are two of those cheerful waves rolling over each other and interwetting each other, we are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, previous, impervious,we are snow, rain, cold, darkness, we are each product and influence of the globe, we have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two, we have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.

March... William Wordsworth, To My Sister

It is the first mild day of March: each minute sweeter than before, the redbreast sings from the tall larch that stands beside our door....One moment now may give us more than years of toiling reason: our minds shall drink at every pore the spirit of the season. Some silent laws our hearts will make, which they shall long obey: we for the year to come may take our temper of today. And from the blessed power that rolls about, below, above, we'll frame the measure of our souls: they shall be tuned to love.

April... William Shakespeare, Flowers of Spring

When daffodils begin to peer, with heigh! the doxy over the dale, why, then comes in the sweet o' the year..." The Winter's Tale

May... Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Iris

Thou art the Iris, fair among the fairest, who, armed with golden rod and winged with the celestial azure, bearest the message of some God. Thou art the muse, who, far from crowded cities hauntest the sylvan streams,playing on pipes of reed the artless ditties that come to us as dreams. O flower-de-luce, bloom on, and let the river linger to kiss thy feet! O flower of song, bloom on, and make forever the world more fair and sweet.

June... John Burroughs, Magnolia: Love of Nature

In the language of flowers, magnolia means love of nature. "If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature; and the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature. Nature we have always with us, an inexhaustible storehouse of that which moves the heart, appeals to the mind, and fires the imagination, - health to the body, a stimulus to the intellect, and joy to the soul." Leaf and Tendril

July... Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Language of Garden Flowers

These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones, they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied and it satisfies nature in all moments alike. "Self-Reliance"

August... The Flowers of Keats

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness; but still will keep a bower quiet for us, and a sleep full of sweet dreams, and healthy, and quiet breathing. Therefore, on every morrow are we wreathing a flowery band to bind us to earth. "Endymion"

Sept The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Song of Solomon, Chapter 2

October... Henry David Thoreau, Purple Finch

A little girl has just brought me a purple finch or American linnet. These birds are now moving south. It reminds me of the pine and spruce, and the juniper and cedar on whose berries it feeds. It has the crimson hues of the October evenings, and its plumage still shines as if it had caught some of their tints (beams?). We know it chiefly as a traveller. It reminds me of many things I had forgotten. Many a serene evening lies snugly packed under its wing. Journal, Oct. 7, 1842

November... Emily Dickinson's Autumn Flowers

The morns are meeker than they were ­ The nuts are getting brown ­ The berry's cheek is plumper ­ The Rose is out of town. The Maple wears a gayer scarf ­ the field a scarlet gown ­ Lest I should be old fashioned I'll put a trinket on.

December... Robert Southey, "The Holly Tree"

I... in this wisdom of the holly tree can emblems see. In the language of flowers the holly means foresight.

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2007 Literary Calligraphy Calendar

January 2007 ... "Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8"
    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
    Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

February 2007 ... "Love is Patient"
    Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends... So faith, hope, love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.
    1 Corinthians 13

March 2007 ... Traditional Irish Blessing
    May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall gently upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

April 2007 ... Emily Dickinson, "Flowers of Spring"
    A Light exists in Spring not present on the Year at any other period -- when March is scarcely here. A Color stands abroad on Solitary Fields that Science cannot overtake but Human Nature feels.

May 2007 ... "Pansy: Thoughts"
    Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
    Philippians 4: 8

June 2007 ... "Shakespeare's Flowers of Summer"
    What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...
    Romeo and Juliet

July 2007 ... Henry David Thoreau, "The Language of Wildflowers"
    "The scenery, when it is truly seen, reacts on the life of the seer. How to get the most of life... How to extract its honey from the flower of the world." September 7, 1851, Journal of Henry David Thoreau. "Where the most beautiful wild-flowers grow; there one's spirit is fed and poets grow." June 15, 1852, Journal. "In Wildness is the preservation of the World.... Nature has a place for the wild clematis as well as for the cabbage." Walking

August 2007 ... "Mint: Virtue"
    In the language of flowers, mint means virtue. "The flowers of the earth do not grudge at one another, though one be more beautiful and fuller of virtue than another; but they stand kindly one by another, and enjoy one another's virtue."
    Jakob Boeme, c. 1600

September 2007 ... Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"
    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth; then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear; though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same, and both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
    Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

October 2007 ... "Autumn Crocus: Growing Old"
    Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"
    Robert Browning. 
In the language of flowers, the autumn means growing old.

November 2007 ... "Ivy: Friendship"
    "I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Friendship."
In the language of flowers, ivy means friendship.

December 2007 ... "Priestly Blessing"
    The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; The Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
    Numbers 6: 24

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