(The childhood of Saint Cecily – by Marie Spartali Stillman)

Finally… Friday. Heck of a week. Life takes it twist and turns, but somehow it works out. There are a few nice twist and turns contained here-in…

On The Menu:

Godfrey Reggio, Philip Glass – Anima Mundi excerpt

Butter – Lady Gregory

Poetry: Fariduddin Attar

Biography: Marie Spartali Stillman

Flaming Desire – Bill Nelson

Have a good one! More, soon, I promise



Godfrey Reggio, Philip Glass – Anima Mundi excerpt


(Jolie Couer – by Marie Spartali Stillman)


Butter – Lady Gregory

I have been told:

Butter, that’s a thing that’s very much meddled with. On the first of May before sunrise it’s very apt to be all taken away out of the milk. And if ever you lend your churn or your dishes to your neighbour, she’ll be able to wish away your butter after that There was a woman used to lend a drop of milk to the woman that lived next door, and one day she was churning, churning, and no butter came. And at last some person came into the house and said, “It’s hard for you to have butter here, and if you want to know where it is, look into the next house.” So she went in and there was her neighbour letting on to be churning in a quart bottle, and rolls of butter beside her. So she made as if to choke her, and the woman run out into the garden and picked some mullein leaves, and said, “Put these leaves in under your churn, and you’ll find your butter come back again.” And so she did. And she found it all in the churn after.

To sprinkle a few drops of holy water about the churn, and to put a coal of fire under it, that you should always do–as was always done in the old time–and the others will never touch it.

There was a woman in the town was churning, and when the butter came she went out of the house to bring some water for to wash it and to make it up. And there was a tailor sitting sewing on the table. And the woman from next door came in and asked the loan of a coal of fire, and that’s a thing that’s never refused from one poor person to another in the morning. So he bid her take it. And presently she came in again and said that the coal of fire had gone out, and asked another, and this she did the third time. But the tailor knew well what she was doing, and that every coal of fire she brought away, there was a roll of butter out of the chum went with it. So whatever prayers he said is not known, but he brought the butter all back again, and into a can on the floor, and no hands ever touched it So when the woman of the house came back, “There’s your butter in the can,” said he. And she wondered how it came out of the churn to be in three rolls in the can. And then he told her all that had happened.

There was a man was churning, churning, every day and no butter would come only froth. So some wise woman told him to go before sunrise to a running stream and bring a bottle of the water from it. And so he did before sunrise, and had to go near four miles to it And from that day he had rolls and rolls of butter coming every time he churned.

There was one Burke, he knew how to bring it back out of some old Irish book that has disappeared since he died. There was a woman, a herd’s wife, lived beyond, and one time Burke had his own butter taken, and he said he knew a way to find who had done it, and he brought in the coulter of the plough and put it in the fire. And when it began to get red hot, this woman came running, and fell on her knees, for it was she did it. And after that he never lost his butter again. But she took to her bed and was there for years until her death. And she couldn’t turn from one side to another without some person to lift her. Her son is now living in Dublin, and is the President of some Association.

If a woman in Aran is milking a cow and the milk is spilled, she says, “There’s some are the better for it,” and I think it a very nice thought, that they don’t grudge it if there is any one it does good to.

There was a man, one Finnegan, had the knowledge how to bring it back. And one time Lanigan that lives below at Kilgarvan had all his butter taken and the milk nothing but froth rising to the top of the pail like barm. So he went to Finnegan and he bid him get the coulter of the plough, and a shoe of the wickedest horse that could be found and some other thing, I forget what. So he brought in the coulter of the plough, and his brother-in-law chanced to have a horse that was so wicked it took three men to hold him, and no one could get on his back. So he got a shoe off of him. But just at that time, Lanigan’s wife went to confession, and what did she do but to tell the priest what they were doing to get back the butter. So the priest was mad with them, and bid them to leave such things alone. And when Finnegan heard it he said, “What call had she to go and confess that? Let her get back her own butter for herself any more, for I’ll do nothing to help her.”

Grass makes a difference? So it may, but believe me that’s not all. I’ve been myself in the County Limerick, where the grass is that rich you could grease your boots in it, and I heard them say there, one quart of cream ought to bring one pound of butter. And it never does. And where does the rest go to?


Poetry: Fariduddin Attar

The Triumph of the Soul

Joy! Joy! I triumph! Now no more I know

Myself as simply me. I burn with love

Unto myself, and bury me in love.

The centre is within me and its wonder

Lies as a circle everywhere about me.

Joy! Joy! No mortal thought can fathom me.

I am the merchant and the pearl at once.

Lo, Time and Space lie crouching at my feet.

Joy! Joy! When I would reveal in a rapture.

I plunge into myself and all things know.

Intoxicated by the Wine of Love

Intoxicated by the Wine of Love.

From each a mystic silence Love demands.

What do all seek so earnestly? ‘Tis Love.

What do they whisper to each other? Love.

Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts.

In Love no longer ‘thou’ and ‘I’ exist,

For Self has passed away in the Beloved.

Now will I draw aside the veil from Love,

And in the temple of mine inmost soul,

Behold the Friend; Incomparable Love.

He who would know the secret of both worlds,

Will find the secret of them both, is Love.

All Pervading Consciousness

And as His Essence all the world pervades

Naught in Creation is, save this alone.

Upon the waters has He fixed His Throne,

This earth suspended in the starry space,

Yet what are seas and what is air? For all

Is God, and but a talisman are heaven and earth

To veil Divinity. For heaven and earth,

Did He not permeate them, were but names;

Know then, that both this visible world and that

Which unseen is, alike are God Himself,

Naught is, save God: and all that is, is God.

And yet, alas! by how few is He seen,

Blind are men’s eyes, though all resplendent shines

The world by Deity’s own light illumined,

0 Thou whom man perceiveth not, although

To him Thou deignest to make known Thyself;

Thou all Creation art, all we behold, but Thou,

The soul within the body lies concealed,

And Thou dost hide Thyself within the soul,

0 soul in soul! Myst’ry in myst’ry hid!

Before all wert Thou, and are more than all!


Biography: Marie Spartali Stillman 1843 – 1927

Pre-Raphaelite Stunner, Muse, and Painter. Marie Spartali was born into the wealthy, cultured, and sophisticated Greek community of London. As a young women she was trained by Maddox Brown, and modeled for Rossetti, whose influence was apparent in her own pictures, though it was later superseded by that of Burne-Jones.

Marie Stillman was widely known as the ‘other’ great Pre-Raphaelite beauty, the comparison being with Jane Morris. W Graham Robertson in his wonderful book, ‘Time Was,’ wittily described her as ‘Mrs Morris for beginners!’ Maria Spartali married the American journalist William J Stillman in 1871. Stillman was, incidentally, the model for Merlin in the famous Burne-Jones painting ‘ The Beguiling of Merlin.’ After their marriage the Stillmans lived in Florence, and then Rome. These absences abroad did not prevent Marie Stillman from exhibiting regularly at the Grosvenor Gallery.

She often painted in watercolour, and her pictures are detailed, highly accomplished, and jewel-like, with a naive flat perspective. Many of her paintings are just quite simply beautiful. A remarkable woman.

Obituary – Times March 8th 1927

The death of Mrs Stillman occurred on Tuesday, within a few days of the completion of her 84th year removes from amongst us the last of a generation. She was the single survivor since the death of Lady Burne-Jones seven years ago of a group of women remarkable alike for beauty and ability, for gifts and character. They belonged to that circle of artists in which Rossetti, Burne-Jones, and Morris were the most distinguished names, and had no little share in creating the influence which, half a century ago, the circle exercised over the whole art and life of the age. With the great triad of those early and now remote days, Mrs Rossetti, Lady Burne-Jones, and Mrs Morris, she was almost a fourth, and of the two latter was a lifelong friend.

Her father Michael Spartali was a wealthy merchant, one of the naturalized Anglo-Greek colony who counted among them some of the earliest admirers and most enthusiastic supporters of the later Pre-Raphaelite movement. He was for many years the Greek Consul-General in London. In the country house at Clapham to which they removed not long after Marie’s birth, he and his wife (born Euphrosyne Varsami), gathered round them a large and varied cosmopolitan group of artists, musicians, and exiled Cretan and Italian nationalists. Here Marie Spartali, a lovely and high-spirited girl, grew up in an atmosphere of international culture. She early showed artistic promise; she worked at drawing and painting under Ford Madox Brown, and became intimate with the other painters of that school.

In 1871 she married William James Stillman (well known afterwards for his long connection with The Times), then a widower with three young children. Mr and Mrs Stillman lived in England for the next six years, and thereafter for 11 years more divided their life between England and Italy, where Mr Stillman was correspondent for The Times at Rome. When he retired from the post in 1898, they settled down in Surrey, and since her husband’s death in 1902 Mrs Stillman had lived in London with her step-daughter, Mrs J H Middleton.

In such leisure as was afforded to her by a strenuous and arduous life, she went on painting steadily, and pictures of hers, showing the strong influence of Burne-Jones were exhibited for a good many years at the Grosvenor and New Galleries. As an artist she had taste, industry, and considerable imagination; it can hardly be said that she had high creative power, and her mastery over the technique of art was never very complete. Nor did her circumstances with household exigencies of a family of small means and the care of her stepdaughters and her own children, allow of her the pursuit of art wholeheartedly. But in that circle of artist she was not only loved as a friend but accepted as a colleague; and the close intimacy between her and the households of Burne-Jones, Morris, and W B Richmond was thus doubled. At one or other of those houses she was a guest no less frequent than welcome; welcome as an appreciator of their art and an artist herself, but even more, and pre-eminently for herself.

(Cloister Lillies – Marie Spartali Stillman)

It would be difficult to convey to anyone who did not know her, the charm of her person and character. Of her incomparable and faultless beauty, which she retained in an extraordinary degree to the end of her long life, no adequate record exists; for she did not photograph well, and though she sat much both to Rossetti and to Burne-Jones, this was not so much for express portraits as for idealised figures inspired by and more or less resembling her. Perhaps the Danae of Burne-Jones’s ‘Brazen Tower,’ now in the Municipal Art Gallery at Glasgow, is what gives the nearest impression of her form and features-not of her colouring for she was dark-haired, and with it may be coupled-though here the mannerism of the artist detracts from the fidelity of the portraiture-the figure standing at the head of Beatrice in Rossetti’s ‘Dante’s Dream.’ Her wonderful beauty was enhanced by a wonderful lack of self-consciousness; it was combined with an indomitable spirit. Affectionate, and yet subtly malicious, and radiating rather than exerting an indefinable though insuperable charm, she retained throughout her life a delightful girlishness. Not only her children, and her grandchildren, but those of her friends found her almost a contemporary of their own, and one whom they could be and were immediately and spontaneously intimate.

Of her own three children, one did not survive infancy; a daughter Mrs Ritchie died leaving a young family in 1911, the only survivor is her son Michael who has lived in the United States for many years. Her two stepdaughters Miss Lisa Stillman and Mrs Middleton were all but blood true daughters to her, and were with her to the last.


(Flaming Desire – Bill Nelson) A very early, and very rough work, but evocative. A disciple of Jean Cocteau, his work has illuminated many of our nights over the last 30 or so years… a nice homage to his master…

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