• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Notable Quotables

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "‘Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences."
    English architect CFA Voysey (1857-1941)

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Poetry Friday: A good example

The mercury has finally moved out of the bottom of the bulb and we’re enjoying a relatively balmy, sunny, and snowy -24 C today.

I have to admit the week has been rather like Christmas, minus all the baking and gifts, which is fine by me. Yesterday afternoon’s art lessons and evening’s rehearsal were canceled, too, and the kids and I spent the week nibbling away at the last homemade fruitcake (discovered in the freezer) while finishing up one readaloud, The Indian in the Cupboard, and beginning another, My Side of the Mountain, which has sparked a number of whispered plans I don’t think I was meant to hear about running away to the other end of the property come Spring. The kids also made yet more snow by spending time outdoors flinging cups and buckets of very hot water into the air.

The boys, to celebrate Lego’s 50th birthday and rather put off by the price of some City kit in the most recent magazine, are putting together their own Lego city complete with (K’Nex) jail, accompanied by, I kid you not, a Doris Day CD. Soothing music to build by, I suppose. Laura put the finishing touches on the 4H speech she wrote last week and has started to memorize it; she’s also using the quilling calendar she found under the tree to make a birthday/Valentine’s card for a friend.

All of which, well, except for maybe the fruitcake, has put me in mind of W.H. Davies, he who wrote Leisure and, as Louis Untermeyer wrote, “regarded with an air of continual surprise the objects which everyone takes for granted.”

The Example
by W.H. Davies (1871-1940)

Here’s an example from
A Butterfly;
That on a rough, hard rock
Happy can lie;
Friendless and all alone
On this unsweetened stone.

Now let my bed be hard,
No care take I;
I’ll make my joy like this
Small Butterfly,
Whose happy heart has power
To make a stone a flower.

William Henry Davies was born in Newport, Wales, in 1871. His father, an ironmonger, died when the boy was two years old; when his mother remarried, she abandoned her three children to the care of their grandparents. According to his biographer, Barbara Hooper, despite his “rackety” childhood, “he developed a love of poetry at school… He had read Burns, Wordsworth and Blake and had a definite feel for poetry and a love for the theatre. He also had itchy feet and after leaving Newport embarked on a cattle boat for Baltimore in the USA in 1893” which a small inheritance, after the death of aunt, helped finance.

He spent the next six years living as a hobo — picking berries, working with cattle, and occasionally begging — sailing between North America and Britain, and riding the rails across Canada and the United States. In Ontario in 1899, he was dragged under the wheels of an express train he had tried to jump, and lost much of his right leg. He had it replaced with a wooden leg.

Davies returned to England, and unable to continue with physical work, turned to writing. He published his first book of poetry in 1905, and followed it up three years later with his account of hobo life, The Autobiography of a Supertramp (from which the English band of the seventies took its name, by the way), its preface written by George Bernard Shaw. Davies would write more than another dozen volumes of poetry and prose.

In 1923, at the age of 52, he married Helen Payne, a former prostitute 30 years his junior. His account of their meeting and marriage, Young Emma, was not published until 1980, one year after Helen’s death. Davies himself died in 1940, at the age of 69; he left his estate to a stranger, a retired university librarian.

This portrait of Davies, a 1913 collotype by Alvin Langdon Coburn in London’s National Portrait Gallery, certainly gives the idea that this man who well knew the unsweetened stone also knew how to make, and appreciate, his own joy.

Karen Edmisten is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today. Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Groundhog Day, Karen, and thanks for hosting!

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6 Responses

  1. Not only talented but dapper.

  2. I love Davies, Becky. Thanks.

  3. From one who is poetry-challenged, thanks for the primer on Davies!

    And from one who just got around to seeing Farm School’s new digs, well done!

  4. Mrs. G., most of the drawings, photos, and paintings of him seem to show both the hat and pipe. He was *consistently* dapper.

    Karen, me too. Thanks again for a great round up.

    Chris, you’re very welcome, and thanks for stopping by the new digs!

  5. The Davies I knew sported a magnificent pompadour. Pity you show him wearing a cap.

  6. Thanks for this appreciation of a local hero. Probably the most famous person to hale from my hometown (from the same area as my great grandparents) and one of my favourite poets, I constantly quote ‘leisure’ at my exam stressed teen!

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