Fascinating Facts and Trivia.

In this week’s tour of the world, we’ve got a poem by cummings, a painting by Gaguin, and news about war and the $20 bill. And some other delightful things.

Articles of the Week

Sentence of the Week

“The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes

Poem of the Week

The poem this week, an excellent choice for spring break, comes to us from e.e. cummings

Art Work of the Week

“The Painter of Sunflowers” is a portrait of Vincent van Gogh by Paul Gauguin in December 1888. The portrait was painted when Gauguin visited in Arles. Van Gogh had asked him to come to Arles, because he wanted to start an art-colony there. Gauguin however only stayed for two months, because the painters argued.



This week we’ve got art by Caravaggio, news stories about satire and breakfast cereal, a sentence by John Irving, and more. Enjoy!

Sentence of the Week

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice — not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God.”– John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

Poem of the Week: A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“Now his breath goes,” and some say, “No.”

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears ;
Men reckon what it did, and meant ;

But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, ’cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.
–John Donne

Art of the Week

Judith Beheading Holofernes is a work by Caravaggio, painted in 1598-99. The widow Judith first charms the Assyrian general Holofernes, then decapitates him in his tent. The Book of Judith tells how Judith saved her people by seducing and killing Holofernes, the Assyrian general. Judith gets Holofernes drunk, then seizes his sword and decapitates him.


This week, we’ve got the coolest/creepiest sculpture in the Louvre, stories about George Washington and morality, a sentence by , and more. Enjoy!

Weekly Reads

Sentence of the Week

“A throng of bearded men, in sad colored garments, and grey steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Poem of the Week

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up — for you the flag is flung — for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths — for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
–Walt Whitman

Art of the Week

This week’s piece comes to us from the Louvre in Paris and is one of the most interesting sculptures I’ve seen. Named the Femme Voilée, it was created by Antonio Corradini, a Venetian Rococo sculptor, sometime during the 1700s.



This week, we’ve got takes on Al Qaeda, the vaccine debate, guaranteed incomes, the poetry of Walt Whitman, a painting by Renoir, and more. Enjoy.

Weekly Reads

Sentence of the Week

“Sometimes, though, there is a ghostly rumble among the drums, an asthmatic whisper in the trombones that swings me back into the early twenties when we drank wood alcohol and every day in every way grew better and better, and there was a first abortive shortening of the skirts, and girls all looked alike in sweater dresses, and people you didn’t want to know said ‘Yes, we have no bananas,’ and it seemed only a question of a few years before the older people would step aside and let the world be run by those who saw things as they were — and it all seems rosy and romantic to us who were young then, because we will never feel quite so intensely about our surroundings any more.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Jazz Age

Poem of the Week

Among the Multitude by Walt Whitman
Among the men and women, the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else—not parent, wife, husband, brother, child,
any nearer than I am;
Some are baffled—But that one is not—that one knows me.
Ah, lover and perfect equal!
I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint indirections;
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the like in you.

Art of the Week

This week’s art piece is another housed at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, Dance at Le moulin de la Galette (1876)  by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.  Nicholas Pioch describes the painting’s description of the lively people of Paris: “Renoir delighted in `the people’s Paris’, of which the Moulin de la Galette near the top of Montmartre was a characteristic place of entertainment, and his picture of the Sunday afternoon dance in its acacia-shaded courtyard is one of his happiest compositions. In still-rural Montmartre, the Moulin, called `de la Galette’ from the pancake which was its speciality, had a local clientèle, especially of working girls and their young men together with a sprinkling of artists who, as Renoir did, enjoyed the spectacle and also found unprofessional models. The dapple of light is an Impressionist feature but Renoir after his bout of plein-air landscape at Argenteuil seems especially to have welcomed the opportunity to make human beings, and especially women, the main components of picture.”


Dance at Le moulin de la Galette (1876)

Dance at Le moulin de la Galette (1876)



This week we’ll roll out a new set of features for the weekly reads. In addition to interesting news articles, I’ll be including a poem, interesting piece of art, and one spectacular sentence. If you’d like to suggest something for a future post, let me know.

Weekly Reads

Poem of the Week

Poem For My 43rd Birthday by Charles Bukowski

To end up alone
in a tomb of a room
without cigarettes
or wine–
just a lightbulb
and a potbelly,
and glad to have
the room.
…in the morning
they’re out there
making money:
judges, carpenters,
plumbers, doctors,
newsboys, policemen,
barbers, carwashers,
dentists, florists,
waitresses, cooks,
and you turn over
to your left side
to get the sun
o­n your back
and out
of your eyes.

Sentence of the Week

“It was in the books while it was still in the air.” –John Updike, describing the home run Ted Williams hit in his last at-bat.

Artwork of the Week

This piece, Romans in the Decadence of the Empire (1847) by French painter Thomas Couture , was one of the most striking large paintings I saw in the Musee d’Orsay, a depiction of the excesses of the Roman Empire. My favorite details include the philosophers or visitors on the right and the statues of notable Roman leaders looking down disapprovingly on the revelers.