Thursday, February 28, 2013


I start a new job on Monday, for which I am thankful. Meanwhile today, after sleeping long, I have thought about what I need to do and determined to make a list. I have made a list and, rather than doing the items on it, have been reading and browsing the internet.

Just now I went to my "media library" at Amazon. There I can see the passages I've highlighted on my Kindle. I recently read Annie Dillard's novel The Maytrees and had highlighted a number of passages; however, they were not online. I realized that is because I have the wireless turned off on my Kindle. I do that to spare the battery.

So I scrolled down through what I did have and happened across this passage by Edith Wharton in her memoir, A Backward Glance (I believe my sister once paraphrased it to me):

...but in our individual lives, though the years are sad, the days have a way of being jubilant. Life is the saddest thing there is, next to death; yet there are always new countries to see, new books to read (and, I hope, to write), a thousand little daily wonders to marvel at and rejoice in, and those magical moments when the mere discovery that “the woodspurge has a cup of three” brings not despair but delight. 

I wondered what "the woodspurge has a cup of three" meant, so I googled it, and it is the last line of a poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti called "The Woodspurge," so I wondered just what "woodspurge" is and googled that. It is a plant scientifically (or Latinally) known as Euphorbia amygdaloides. Woodspurge is easier to pronounce. Here is a picture of it from Wikipedia:

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(Bogdan, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, Euphorbia amygdaloides 2 bgiu)

And here is Rossetti's poem:

The Woodspurge 
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

The wind flapp'd loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walk'd on at the wind's will,—
I sat now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was,—
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flower'd, three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me,—
The woodspurge has a cup of three.

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