Richibi’s Weblog

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Category: saints to ponder

“The Story of Coronis, and Birth of Aesculapius” – Ovid


   “A Saint, from ‘The Jackdaw of Rheims’ (1868) 


           Briton Rivière





             The raven once in snowy plumes was drest, 
             White as the whitest dove’s unsully’d breast, 
             Fair as the guardian of the Capitol, 
             Soft as the swan; a large and lovely fowl; 
             His tongue, his prating tongue had chang’d him quite 
             To sooty blackness, from the purest white. 


the Capitol, the Temple of Jupiter, only 

portions of which remain, on exhibit in

the Capitoline Museums, on the 

Capitoline Hill, one of the Seven Hills 

of Rome


the guardian of the Capitol, the Vestalis

Maxima, or the greatest of the Vestals,

who were charged with ensuring the 

security of the city


the raven was white once, Ovid says, 

[f]air as the guardian of the Capitol, 

[s]oft as the swan, but it seems his 

prating tongue got him in trouble


prating, chattering, tattling


here’s what happened


            In Thessaly there liv’d a nymph of old, 
             Coronis nam’d; a peerless maid she shin’d, 
             Confest the fairest of the fairer kind. 
             Apollo lov’d her, ’till her guilt he knew, 
             While true she was, or whilst he thought her true. 


Thessaly, a region of Greece


contrary to what’s taken place in

these myths till now, Coronis, a 

nymph, in name only, it appears,

was found out to be untrue to 

Apollowho lov’d her


                   his own bird the raven chanc’d to find 
             The false one with a secret rival joyn’d. 
             Coronis begg’d him to suppress the tale, 
             But could not with repeated pray’rs prevail. 


the raven, Apollo‘s own bird, was not 

going to not tell his master about his 

mistress’ indiscretion, despite [t]he 

false one’s pray’rs not to


              His milk-white pinions to the God he ply’d;


pinion, the outer part of a bird’s wing,

including the flight feathers


             [A] busy daw flew with him, side by side, 


daw, jackdaw, a black bird related to 

the crow



             And by a thousand teizing questions drew
             Th’ important secret from him as they 


teizing, teasing

             The daw gave honest counsel, 
tho’ despis’d, 


tho’ despis’d, though the honest

counsel would be unpleasant to 



              And, tedious in her tattle, thus advis’d: 


listen, said the daw, cautioning

the raven 


              “Stay, silly bird, th’ ill-natur’d task refuse, 


silly bird, the raven 


              Nor be the bearer of unwelcome news. 
             Be warn’d by my example: 


pay attention, the daw insists, be 

wary, [b]e warn’d


                                                         you discern 
             What now I am, and what I was shall learn. 
             My foolish honesty was all my crime; 
             Then hear my story.


here’s what happened to me,

says the pitch black bird


                                             Once upon a time, 



to follow



R ! chard


psst: The Jackdaw of Reims, by

            Richard Harris Barham




why I believe in music, or “I Was Born For This” – Austin Wintory


  “Joan of Arc upon Coronation of Charles VII in the Cathedral of Reims (1854) 

        Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres


many years ago, while I was volunteering 
at our hospital’s palliative care unit, nearby, 
recently installed as a response to, among 
other pressing preoccupations, but most 
urgently then, the AIDS crisis, I was asked 
to sit by a lady in profound distress, her 
family, Western Buddhists, would go to 
lunch while I would sit by her to comfort 
her as much as I could

she was dishevelled, of course, completely 
disconcerted, all ajitter, lost, and evidently
confused, in her profound isolation, not to 
mention in the crumpled state of her 
harried bedunable to communicate, or

I found a chair, sat by her with earnest 
concentration, my partner had died 
there, only recently, on that very unit, 
and I was expressing, to all of those 
concerned in his unparalleled care, 
my unlimited appreciation

I lay a hand gently upon her arm, to let
her feel, at least, the safety that my 
touch could allow, to let it settle on 
her, however removed might be her 
remaining consciousness, began to 
sing quietly a chant I’d been intoning   
from a creed I’d turned to for comfort 
in my own personal anguish, at the 
loss of my own friend, a call, an 
invocation, the continuous iteration 
of a line that brought solace, Om Nama
Shivaya, I prayed, over and over again, 
with the greatest intention, whatever
that phrase might’ve, I’ve forgotten, 

she relented, found her space, little by
little she became, as though grace had 
descended upon her, calm, by however  
infinitesimal degrees, while I continued, 
now, my hopeful, helpful, it appeared,
manifestly mystical, intervention

she had become restful, I’d 
accomplished essentially, I gathered, 
my primary mission, though I 
continued, with some sense, perhaps
even a glow, of personal pridemy 
soulful incantation

then in a voice not much louder than a 
whisper, but much less distraught than 
a moan, she began to join in with row, 
row, row your boat, tunefully, over and 
over again, accommodating herself,
though, naturally, exceedingly weakly,   
to my rhythm, I felt I was experiencing,  
right there, and then, through the    
power of cadence, a miracle

when I looked back, upon hearing 
behind me a rustle, standing at the 
door was her family, wrapped in 
equal consternation 

here’s something with someone singing 
in several inscrutable languages for 
most of us, mostly, words from historical 
texts, in Greek, Latin, Olde English, 
Japanese, and French, I Was Born For 

that title, of one of the segments of 
longer work, Journey“, by a contemporary 
composer, Austin Wintoryis indeed a 
translation of Joan of Arc‘s words on the 
cross, “Ne me plaignez pas. C’est pour cela 
que je suis née.”, do not pity me, she says, 
I was born for this, Joan of Arc, my own 
personal Jesus

Shostakovich has an entire symphony,
his 14thcomposed of music to 
accompany classic poems, all in a 
variety of foreign, to him, tongues, but
translated back into Russian for his 
purpose in this particular, and not 
uncommon, instance, nevertheless 
pointed reference to music as superior
more direct, communication – note, here, 
the word, communication – it, the 14th,
is profound, extraordinary, read here 
first, then listen

R ! chard

Lizzie Velasquez redefines beauty

Lizzie Velasquez is not only beautiful,
she’s also a saint, there are many, many
things we can all learn here

here is her recommended TED talk,
with even more things to learn


Saint Apollonia

"Saint Apollonia" - Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Apollonia (1636)

Francisco de Zurbarán


who ‘s Saint Apollonia, I asked my dentist
when he suggested I call on her to intercede
in this present mortification, I was sitting in
his chair undergoing treatment for a painful
abscess for which he’d aligned already
several instruments along my lower lip

the patron saint of toothaches, he replied,
as though she were a fairy

who knew, I marvelled, I’d only ever heard
of Saint Jude otherwise, patron saint of
lost causes, memorably

you must’ve been raised Catholic, I
interjected, Protestants don’t have

yes, he stated, suggesting the shared
impact of an, however privately
relinquished, or distant, religion,

he didn’t know about her time or place,
and counseled I should look into it

who wouldn’t

principally she lived in Alexandria, her
name alone could have given that away,
if Greeks had become Christian anywhere
it would’ve been in Alexandria then, 250,
a city close to the Christian source,
Palestine, and teeming with international
attention, though ruled long by Greeks,
you’ll remember Cleopatra had been of
Greek origin

in a wave of atrocities perpetrated by
Alexandrian mobs, unleashed during
commemorative festivities – see, for
instance, the Vancouver hockey game
riots to compare – roused by prophecies
of ill winds towards their city, set upon
Christians to appease their more raucous
gods, among them Apollonia

in Vancouver she was London Drugs
and the Bay

they pulled out her teeth, one by one,
which is why she’s represented with
, that done they threatened to
burn her alive should she not repeat
their profanities

she jumped, instead, herself, onto the

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I exclaimed, quite,
quite uncharacteristically, but only other
too objectionable imprecations could’ve
reflected the extent of my consternation,
after that, I thought, what’s an abscess

later I brought him gratefully a bottle of
fine wine, to the fortified gate, however,
of his impervious secretary, though
serenely be she ever smiling, for having
tended with speed and alacrity to my
distress, however unworthy it may
have been of beatification

a French wine or a Marilyn Merlot, Napa
Valley, I had to ponder, bought both,
couldn’t resist, kept for myself, however,
not to render the choice to the intermediate
secretary, the Marilyn, my more familiar, and
headier, saint