Rabbit Trails: First Monday in August

Rabbit Trails emerges from hibernation with some delightful music, beautiful words and thought provoking articles.  

First –  This WONDERFUL Circe Institute post, Summons to the Sacred: On Palestrina’s “Kyrie,” inaugurates what will be a most welcome monthly series of reflections on important works of music.  Of course, author Lindsey Brigham had me at Palestrina, but I found this quote about the use of polyphony true to my experience, and I love the concluding question and what it implies.

But consider the unique beauty that polyphony plays in this Kyrie. What does the sound of six distinct, individual voices—singing their own songs out of their own lives, sorrows, hopes—singing in slow, drawn-out lines that express the yearning built into this prayer—yet singing the same words and sublimely interweaving their melodies—what does that do for your understanding of what happens and what God hears when His church prays?

Please listen to the full Missa Papae Marcelli. It is glorious.

Second –   We KEEP Commonplace Books, and while I try to select the portion that best distills the essence of a passage, I rarely pare my entries to one sentence. But, in a society plagued with a short attention span, I can see the attraction and necessity of admiring brevity. 50 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature, while relentlessly contemporary, probably because it was a survey, places the craft and creative force of the sentence on full display.

The Daughter and I have been treated to a great many beautiful sentences through the classic literature we have been reading this year.  I like this one by Charles Dickens from Great Expectations“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.” I am easily moved and frequently dabbing the corners of my eyes, so I like this bit of reassurance.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetic works are bursting with beautiful sentences. One can hardly separate one strand of beautiful thought from the next, but this quote from Evangeline: A Tale of the Acadie is one that grabbed me: “Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”  We sit out back and watch the stars appear and the thought of them blooming is delightful. And from the poem The Fire of Driftwood, is this quote:  “The leaves of memory seemed to make A mournful rustling in the dark.”  Who doesn’t have a few leaves of regret?  James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans reminds us that real men cry, in this beautiful sentence: “Chingachgook grasped the hand that, in the warmth of feeling, the scout had stretched across the fresh earth, and in that attitude of friendship these intrepid woodsmen bowed their heads together, while scalding tears fell to their feet, watering the grave of Uncas like drops of falling rain.”  Nathaniel Hawthorne in “The Scarlet Letter” pens this beautiful observation about love: “Love, whether newly born or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.”  Sigh.  With this start, I think I will begin my own 50 sentences list.  🙂  

Third –   What a difference a CENTURY makes! The Daughter read James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer and The Last of the Mohicans this year as part of her ninth grade American Literature.  She will be reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens in the fall.  According to this article, in 1892, those books were on the reading list for fourth through sixth grades.

Fourth –  OF COURSE,  The Garner Girls love our Jane Austen, but that love was most emphatically not shared by the Garner Guys until I came across Why Men should Read Jane Austen.  It seems the author discovered that Austen has rather vastly more to offer than Rom-Com fodder:

When it came to selecting the 26 writers who have been the most important and influential in shaping culture in the West, eminent literary critic Harold Bloom picked Austen as part of the “Western Canon – The Books and School of the Ages.” Why? Her use of irony, natural and realistic dialogue, as well as inner-dialogue, helped shape the course of literature. She also hit on the big ideas of love, virtue, and self-knowledge, and her works are referenced in numerous works of psychology, sociology, and philosophy.

Fifth –  Who can’t identify with the pain of being outside CLOSED CIRCLES? Elizabeth Foss writes about girls and friendship in her post When You’re Standing Outside the Circle.  No matter the age, it’s good to be reminded that women need to keep looking for those circles with open edges, and remember to keep our circles open as well.

As you sit there feeling left out, let the feeling settle deep into your bones. Don’t forget the way it hurts. Now, resolve today to be the girl who only speaks life.

Sixth –  Two recent CONVERSATIONS and a social media EXCHANGE regarding sin, social drinking and drunkenness, using this article as an authoritative source, inspired me to hunt for a carefully considered discussion on the topic. Did Jesus Turn Water into Wine or Grape Juice? more rigorously examines the text, the language, and Jewish social customs. I don’t expect to convince anyone who takes pride in their abstention, but there is enough Biblical evidence to warrant a more nuanced approach towards committed Christians who enjoy a nice Cabernet or a local craft beer with dinner. Further, this article Where Did Evangelical Objections to Smoking and Drinking Come From offers insight.


Today begins the month of AUGUST!  Go outside, find a patch of dark sky and LOOK UP! We are in the midst of the summer trifecta of meteor showers: the Delta Aquariids and the Capricornids, and the Perseids.  Learn more here. And have a listen to a favorite piece on my Spotify Summer Playlist, conveniently available on YouTube:

Thank you for stopping by Garner Goings On ~   Do you have a favorite sentence from literature?


2 thoughts on “Rabbit Trails: First Monday in August

  1. “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”

    Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, #1)

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