Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

new year invocation December 31, 2011

Filed under: Rotary invocations — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:59 am
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A new year is a time for new beginnings, as well as a time to reflect on the past.  It is a chance for us to celebrate our successes, and plan to have a wonderful year.  As a new year dawns, let us consider how we can use the next 365 days to make a difference on the planet.  Let us be thankful for what we have achieved, and mindful of our responsibility to continue the good works.  Our commitment to service can make the world a better place.

Free use within Rotary.  Please credit Shawn Bird, Rotary Club of Salmon Arm (Shuswap), and record in the comment space below where and when you used the invocation.

library ghosts December 30, 2011

Filed under: OUTLANDERishness,Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:31 am
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Still less could I be afraid of those ghosts who touch my thoughts in passing.  Any library is filled with them.  I can take a book from dusty shelves, and be haunted by the thoughts of one long dead, still lively as ever in their winding sheet of words.

Diana Gabaldon.  The Fiery Cross


allusion December 29, 2011

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:14 am
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In Edge of Reason, Bridget Jones comments to her diary, “Wonder what Mark Darcy would be like as a father. Father to his children I mean, not to me. That would be  a weird Oedipus-like thought.”

Ha.  I love Bridget Jones.  I think there is far too much Bridget Jones inside each of us.  There is always something that makes us feel somewhat inadequate and afraid.

I like this quote, though, because of the allusion.  When I teach allusion to my high school students, I tell them that it is all around us, but that kids often miss it, simply because they don’t know the work alluded to.  To be well educated, is to have an understanding of the breadth of literary heritage, so you can recognise allusion!

Here it is in action. Bridget Jones refers to Oedipus.  There’s a lot of meaning encapsulated in this reference, if you know to what she is alluding.

The story of Oedipus Rex is an ancient Greek play written by Sophacles some 2500 years ago.  The summary is that a king is told that he will be killed by his son, so when his son is born, he maims him and tells the wife to kill him.  The wife gives the baby to a servant who tells her he’s killed it, but in fact sends it to be raised far away.  Meanwhile young Oedipus wonders if he’s adopted.  He goes to the Oracle to clear it up, and instead of a straight answer, is told he’s going to bed his mother.  He presumes that means he’s not adopted, and runs away to escape that fate.  The king, his birth father, comes across young Oedipus on the road, they have an altercation, Oedipus kills his father (not knowing it’s him of course) and thus one prophecy is fulfilled.  Then he ends up marrying his mother and becoming king.  When he eventually finds out, he tears out his eyes in torment.  There is an underlying message here about the inevitability of destiny, etc.

Obviously, a 2,400 year old play is in public domain.  You can read it here:

Now, lets come back to Bridget.  What layers of meaning are there in her side-comment about Mark Darcy being her father in an Oedipus-like way…  Hmmm

Allusion makes everything far more intriguing.

PS.  In my classroom, when I’m teaching Senior English, there is an “Allusion board” for students to post examples of allusion that they find in literature, movies, and news sources.  One reason that I teach 1984, despite students’ horror of it, because it is a book that is alluded to constantly.


Trembling December 28, 2011

Filed under: Friendship — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:34 pm
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Today’s offering, a musical interlude by my harp friend and teacher Sharlene Wallace of Toronto. Enjoy!


truth and memory December 27, 2011

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Mythology,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:40 am
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One of the values of learning another language, is the enlightenment it provides to your own language.  I have links to an article about this in a previous blog post.

While I’ve been working with Mnemosyne and Lethe this week, I’ve discovered an interesting thing.

In English, the opposite of memory is forgetfulness.  In Greek lethe (forgetfulness) is opposed with aletheia (prefix ‘a-‘ making some thing the opposite, remember). Aletheia doesn’t mean memory, it means truth.

I find that very profound.  It’s not the concept of a lie that is the opposite of truth in Greek, it’s forgetfulness.

It begs pondering.

I think I can do something with the concept

.  I’m not sure what, at this point, but it fits with Ben’s reality, doesn’t it?  Lethe has robbed Grace of memory, and it keeps her from knowing the truth.

I suppose this means I’m about to be introduced to the goddess Aletheia.  I wonder what she’ll be like?   Writing is fascinating business.


Mnemosyne & Ben December 26, 2011

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Mythology,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:59 pm
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Here is a snippet of ‘something yet to be.’ I think it will end up in Grace Awakening Myth, but it will tell me for certain in its own time. The author has very little say in these matters.  Characters have their own agendas.   Lethe is the river of forgetfulness from which humans drink before they pass into the underworld. The personification of the river is the goddess Lethe herself.  ‘She’  is Mnemosyne, goddess of memory.  ‘He’ is… uh…well.  Ben.  Sort of.


She remembers all, of course. She must. It is her talent and her obligation. It is her blessing and her curse. Everything is in balance, an essential paradox poised on the point of a pin.

He doesn’t remember everything.  Whatever he sees in those longing backward glances, Mnemosyne knows the two sided blade. She has gifted him with the joy of them, but she has blessed him with Lethe’s touch as well. Of course, he has no memory of that.

He senses the tragedies though, despite the lack of memory.  He feels the ephemeral pain of loss, rejection, disdain and disgust.  He clings to the fear of them, to fuel his pursuit, but they threaten to overwhelm him at times.  It was doing so now.  She could feel the force of her presence stirring memories in him.

A faint hum stirred the air along with a cool, gentle scent.  Mnemosyne reached behind her to a goblet that had materialized there.  She touched his shoulder, “Here, son.  Drink.”

He smiled vaguely, sipping down the draught.  He nodded gratefully, and she felt the tension leave him  as he gazed beyond the room.  “I must go.”

She nodded.  “I will do what I can from here.”

“Thank you.”

As he turned into the ether, she smiled to herself.  “Thank you, Lethe,” she said to the empty room, and heard the distant  melodious chuckle in response.

Paradox indeed.


day December 25, 2011

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:01 pm
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It’s a day

Just a day.

The sun rises.

Fog clears to clouds

Or the sky is blue.

Snow falls on empty streets.

Stores are dark.

When you meet someone,

they nod and say,

Merry Christmas.

You smile and repeat it.

It’s just a day,

like every other,

but you have to observe

the niceties.


slow December 24, 2011

What I’ve learned about the publishing industry:

It’s slow.

Everything about it moves like a comatose tortoise. True, like the tortoise, sure and steady gets there eventually, but it can be ridiculously frustrating watching from the sidelines.

If an agent or publisher says they’ll get back to you in a week, s/he means a month. If they say it’ll be a month, expect to hear around four months later. Four seems to be the number to multiply by.

Ironically, I was also told that from completion of novel to publication the average book takes 4.5 years. Coincidence?

Is patience a virtue?

Perhaps. Electronic publishing speeds up many aspects of the process, but the most important one, the editing and proof-reading will still take just as long as ever.

I’m counting the days until Grace Awakening Power gets back from the editor, I can make the required changes, and it can be released by Lintusen to the world!  I was expecting it initially in November, four months after it went to the editor.  If my multiplication scenario holds, I will see it in 16 months, or perhaps 4 months after November, which puts arrival in March.


The watch-word for the author waiting for a book.

It’s a slow process.


bad memory December 23, 2011

Filed under: Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:15 pm
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The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

I laughed when I read this.  I can report that it is completely true, as I enjoy books and music for the first time, though I have read them many times previously.  Sometimes I feel like I can’t hold a thought in my head.  It’s not really as bad as all that, but I feel often that memory is like an apple barrel.  The old memories are down deep in the barrel, still there, although perhaps not as pristine as they once were.  The memories on the top of the barrel, however, are balanced a trifle precariously, and are prone to rolling down the pile and off under a counter.


Solstice haiku December 22, 2011

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:21 pm
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Finally the days

are growing longer again

inching to summer.


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