“A Prayer for My Daughter” –William Butler Yeats

And now, dear friends, enjoy one of the greatest poets in the English language and one of his most highly regarded poems.

I’ve been dipping into Yeats’ Collected Poems and savoring them for many years, but recently this one  really struck a chord with me and seemed to me a poem just about everyone could appreciate.  Something in the wind, maybe.

Yes, it’s rather long, but every word is priceless and the poem builds to one of the most profound and poignant conclusions you will ever read :)

[Apologies, WordPress won’t let me show stanza breaks for some reason. Am investigating!]

 

    A PRAYER FOR MY DAUGHTER
         by William Butler Yeats
Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory’s Wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.
I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour,
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come
Dancing to a frenzied drum
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
May she be granted beauty, and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass; for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness, and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.
Helen, being chosen, found life flat and dull,
And later had much trouble from a fool;
While that great Queen that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless, could have her way,
Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.
It’s certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.
In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift, but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful.
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty’s very self, has charm made wise;
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
May she become a flourishing hidden tree,
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound;
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
Oh, may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.
My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there’s no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.
An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty’s horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?
Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is heaven’s will,
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.
And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

Originally published in Poetry, November 1919.

Source: Poetry (November 1919).

Originally published in Poetry Magazine in 1919, still the most influential periodical in English in the genre of poetry!

 

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Back from Computer Hell

Friends and followers, I’m back! (haha)

News flash. My computer crashed nearly a week ago.  I’ve been unable to access my online accounts for that period of time.

However, all data was successfully recovered and the computer was essentially “rebuilt” from the ground up. Great back up systems have been put in place to avert any possible future disasters like this, thank heavens.

I’m very fortunate to have top of the line security and really terrific computer gurus watching my back.

All of which is to say, I have a lot of catching up to do at this point, particularly with my editorial services www.MargaretLangstaffEditorial.com

Thank you for hanging in there with me during this infernally aggravating time.  Look for new posts to appear here very soon!

Thanks, guys!

Margaret

 

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Love is the slowest form of suicide–Fiza Pathan

(C) Copyright 2016, Margaret Langstaff, http://www.margaretlangstaffeditorial.com, All Rights Reserved

mumbai-slums

AN INTERVIEW WITH AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR FIZA PATHAN OF MUMBAI, INDIA
 Fiza Pathan, a very young self-published author, recently was awarded three prestigious book prizes, one at the London Book Festival and two at the New England Festival of Books. fiza pic
Her attentive, admiring uncle Blaise reports that “at the New England Book Festival  Amina The Silent One received an award in Regional Literature, and Raman and Sunny: Middle School Blues received two awards in Young Adult, one at the above festival and the other at the London Book Festival.”
Fiza is 26 years old, a middle school teacher in Mumbai, and English is not her native language.  It has been my pleasure and privilege to edit most of her books, and to watch her rapid growth and development, as she agreeably responded to a light editorial hand.  Her skills and imaginative range have exploded almost exponentially with each new book.  She has become more daring, confident and proficient–surprisingly so to this veteran editor.  One rarely encounters a nascent writer as responsive to example, correction and new and greater challenges.
Fiza has written and published nine books and one short story to date.
Except for the short story, all are available in paperback and Kindle format. At this tender stage of her career she has already accumulated 20 awards for her titles.
Let’s listen to what Fiza has to say about all this. Her candor may shock you.  This is not a writer thrilled with her sudden notoriety, nor one in pursuit of literary fame and fortune for selfish reasons or personal gain.

Miss Fiza, as you know, an eternal question readers who are not writers have is “why write?” It is a question that can only be answered individually by any given writer.

I write because I am helpless! Everything that I have been through in my life has caused me pain and being a person who is not very vocal about her feelings, I tend to bring out my anguish in the form of the written word. When I wasn’t a writer, I used to write in my diaries.  Now since I am a published writer, I celebrate my sadness in my books.

My father and his family did not want to look after me because I was a girl, so my mother left her in-laws’ place when I was barely a few months old, to lead the life of a single parent in her mother’s house. I grew up thinking at first that every child lives with a single parent until I realized the truth at age 6…and that hurt.

Since then the lacerations inflicted upon my soul and heart have grown from tiny scratches to open wounds infested with the worms of melancholy, which gnaw at my very being, not wanting me to go on. In such a state, what could I do but write? I had no mouth to speak, for I was told that people go through worse problems, so I must push the pain back. I’ve been pushing ever since.

Writing is my way of pushing the sorrow back. I don’t write my books; I bleed on my books with the blood everyone calls ‘ink.’ I am 26 years old and my writing is my “life support system.” If I don’t write, I will die and I cannot afford to do so because I have to look after my mother and her family, my family who raised me, even though I was not their responsibility. So I have got to go on, no matter how bad the pain is. I’ve got to keep writing. The morbid joke is that, the better the books are that I write, the greater the pain involved at that point in time.

Isn’t that funny! I am a very simple person, so I can assure you of one elementary fact in my life which holds true: the day I stop writing, I will cease to exist.

Very simply, what made you want to write? All writers encounter failure and discouragement, but you were able to overcome these things. Something kept you going. Was it faith or an inner voice? Did you perhaps find your greatest joy and satisfaction losing yourself in the lives of your challenged characters?

I am a very insignificant person with simple wants and needs. Simple people like me don’t encounter the travails of the regular “writers.” I have never felt discouraged, I have never needed a ‘push’ to write. I have no idea what a “writer’s block” is nor what my inner voice says or doesn’t say. My characters don’t live in me and neither do I live in them. I’m here referring to my fiction books only. The moment I finish bleeding in one book, I go on to the next. If given the freedom to do so, I would have written a book every month, or maybe two in a month, or maybe four.

But I have got my responsibilities. I need to teach to earn money for my family and to fulfill many dreams. I would like to complete my own education, to build a school for the street children of Mumbai, to open a study centre for poor students, to start a circulating library for disadvantaged sections of the Indian society and much more. In order to fulfill these dreams I need to be alive, of course, and the only way I can be alive is to be on my “life support system”…by writing. So therefore I at least can manage to write three books in a year. Amina: The Silent One was written in a month’s time while Raman and Sunny: Middle School Blues took me 50 days exactly.

If I can sit still in Church even for a moment, at least ten ideas for new books come to me with the whole story intact from beginning to end. All the books which I have penned till now have been somehow ‘sent’ to me during mass, especially during the elevation of the Host, the moment of consecration, when the Catholic priest blesses the bread and it is transformed into the body and blood of Christ; that is, during the miracle of transubstantiation.

AMINARAMAN AND SUNNY

I have never been in want of ideas to write, but yes, I had to write. I am just muffling my sobs in the pages of my notebooks, and that’s the blunt truth. I don’t like to be fake, and I dislike people who speak a falsehoods. Maybe that is why I am always getting “hurt.”

Would it be strange to say that I started writing because I have no friends, except the ones I create? Would it be peculiar to say that I wanted to write because I am the butt of all jokes because of my physical looks? Would it be novel to say that my characters are more like someone you may recognize, but whom I find hard to even fathom? I am a very simple person with a mystery within my heart to be unlocked, but you shall never have the key, for who but I know the meaning of that cliché … “love is the slowest form of suicide?”

Social injustice is a recurrent theme in your writing. Would you say the effort to defeat it keeps you writing?

To be truthful, I myself don’t know why I am often inspired to write about social issue topics. Sometimes I don’t realize it is a social issue that I am writing about until the book or story is finally over! Maybe this is because social injustice has become such a part of my life, which I see every day in the world around me. What seems like a serious social issue to some people, seems quite normal and routine to me. I’m now too used to pain to be shocked anymore. That I want to do something about it, yes, it is true, and when I say I’m going to do something about it, I’ll do it, but not in writing. That is to me another form of “witnessing” and we’ve got way too many “witnesses” here on our planet than “people who act.”

Rape, molestation, communalism, terrorism, regionalism, bureaucratic corruption, wars, child abuse, female foeticide, female infanticide, bride burning, poverty, epidemics, famines, environmental destruction, drug abuse.

Yes, Fiza, all themes that wend their way into your novels . . . .

Well, these are everyday affairs in my world, and I seriously want to stop writing about them and start doing something concrete about them. Injustice in any form has been a blood brother to me and not only me, but to hundreds of millions of people all over the world. The world needs to rehabilitate this monster before he lifts up his serpent hydra head and spits out his toxic venom to such an extent that it destroys us all. If my books help in some way towards “action” and “reaction” against this possibility, then I will be indirectly pleased. But if my writing on social issues is read for the sake of “entertainment,” well, that is for the reader to decide, not me.

I’m just a writer… as Samuel Johnson has said:
“A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.”

Many write out of a simple “what if” curiosity about human nature and begin a book with a character or two in mind in a certain situation, desiring to see how he or she will handle the challenge, not having a foregone conclusion for a book at the outset. The writer wants to discover, given the situation and the character of the protagonist (s), how will this all play out. Haha, that’s why I write: I want to discover what people will do in certain situations. Writing is an act of discovery, solving a mystery for me. It’s for me an exercise in learning about human nature and mankind’s on again off again relationship with God. Flannery O’Connor has been a major influence on my work. Many other writers, however, are incapable of writing the first word until they have the book completely outlined, start to finish. John Irving (whom I know, author of the bestseller The World According to Garp ) writes like that.

No, Ma’am, before I write a word, I know the ending of all my stories as well as their beginning. I know which characters are going to appear in my story and what they have to do. I have got several ideas for the books which I wish to write. I want to write the Indian version of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita…I wish to write a complete study guide of the famous Indian writer R.K.Narayan’s works as he is my favourite author, and I am currently researching on this very topic. I wish to write a theosophical novel on a Vampire and a lot more.

It just comes to me…everything, but always in a church while meditating. I am an avid reader of books of all genres, yet it is strange that I have never taken literature as a subject either in college, or even now for my masters which I am currently pursuing! My pet subject happens to be History and I’m doing my masters in that subject. The only time I really studied literature was in school and in my teacher’s training college. Political science is another one of my favourite subjects along with Sociology, which I may pursue at a later date.

 

Fiza Pathan has bootstrapped her way into publication and reader and award recognition as a self-published author. Kudos and honors are difficult to acquire from such a vantage point, as we all know.  Talent, motivation and unwavering persistence are key, but then so is luck, sad to say.

Congratulations, Miss Fiza. Godspeed.

mumbai
Posted in Book Reviews, editing, fiction, Literature, novel, novelists, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

BIG NEWS! FIZA PATHAN, One of my clients, took awards at the London Book Festival and …

the New England book Fair!  Kudos! She is barely a child, but has worked very hard at her writing craft, studied the classics intensely, and in the last year has made stellar improvements, writing several great and lasting books!

The full story and, I hope, an interview with this paragon of persistence, determination and huge talent will appear here tomorrow or the next day.

Fiza is a smart, conscientious middle school teacher in Mumbai, India. I have had the pleasure of working with her editorially on many of her books and expect–based on my proffiza pic experience with young writers–great things to issue from her pen.

CONGRATULATIONS, FIZA!  WELL DESERVED!

RAMAN AND SUNNYAMINA

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Gigging a Gig! Journalists, for what it’s worth

 

(As you know if you’ve been hanging around here for a bit, there is almost no kind of writing or editing I haven’t done over the years, with the exception of erotica and other icky or brutalizing stuff.  So this is the deep voice of experience responding to a plea for help.)

THIS IS AN ACTUAL RECENT EXCHANGE ON THE FREELANCERS UNION SITE BETWEEN A NEWBIE AT THE BIZ AND THIS OLD SALT (MYSELF).

Perhaps it will be useful to others too.

Short, but to the point.

It works!

~.~

tortured writer

delete, revise, reprise …

QUERY–

“I am a feature writer for newspapers and magazines and I want to branch out to write for businesses and organizations. I am finding out about skills such as Search Engine Optimization and I’m wondering if anyone has done anyone who has done any PR writing knows of any other skills that would be helpful to acquire? Also, anyone who writes for business/non-profits – how do you reach out to potential clients?”

REPLY–(from moi)

Skills you learn on the job.  If you have a hot story idea and some clips to prove you’re legit, don’t be shy! Pick up the phone and just call editors. CALL THEM! If you exude enough confidence, they’ll put you through. Then you have less than 60 secs to pitch and convince them, so make it good. Do your homework on the mag or journal or newspaper. Prove you know their publication and know what they need to sell copies/get subs etc. I’ve gotten the editors of Forbes, the LA Times Book Review., Vanity Fair and the NYT, etc. on the line this way.

All editors need hot stories, skills (other than brilliant writing ability) can be tapped from staffers.

Not everything pans out, some eds are quirky and want tweets or smoke signals, or referrals, but if your pitch is irresistible (it must be true, do not stretch the facts!), you have introduced yourself and now have a new valuable connection you can call again.

Go for voice communication over texts, tweets or email,  if at all possible.

Sound knowledgeable, intelligent, articulate–and in a hurry.  Other editors are just dying to have a crack at this piece of yours!  No time to spare!

Finally:

Don’t leave a message unless it is so compelling, shocking and newsworthy the editor HAS to call you back.

You can do it, so prep thoroughly and make the calls.  Good luck.

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#shortstory Zoya’s Christmas Eve-a short story from my book S.O.S. Animals And Other Stories

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#shortstory Zoya’s Christmas Eve-from my book S.O.S. Animals And Other Stories

insaneowl

Zoya was a girl living a normal Christian life with her family in a small apartment overlooking the sea. Zoya was a happy child and was thoroughly spoilt by her parents, uncles and aunts because she was the only child in the family. Every day was made special for little Zoya including Christmas.
There would be the beautiful decorations, the elaborate dinner party, the get together and a basketful of Christmas goodies. But little Zoya loved the Christmas season, not for the Christmas Stockings nor for the gifts neatly packed by friends and loved ones but for that Christmas Eve when she would tuck herself up warmly under a little bed cover early, so that Santa would come on his Reindeer driven sleigh and deposit her Christmas gift under her little Christmas Tree. Come Christmas morning she would awaken to clasp her precious gift from her Santa and then go…

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