Friday, November 15, 2013


JOHN BETJEMAN - Poet, essayist and broadcaster was born on 28th August 1906 near Highgate, London. He had a great love for all things Victorian and during his life did much to encourage interest in the preservation of fine architecture.  In 1969 he was knighted and he became Poet Laureate in 1972.

It appears that his childhood was a lonely one - in fact his only friend seems to have been his teddy bear Archibald.

This is a short extract from his blank verse autobiography "Summoned by  Bells"  (In the first line, the reference is to the 1914-18 war)

Safe were those evenings of the pre-war world
When firelight shone on green linoleum;
I heard the church bells hollowing out the sky,
Deep beyond deep, like never-ending stars,
And turned to Archibald, my safe old bear,
Whose woollen eyes looked sad or glad at me,
Whose ample forehead I could wet with tears,
Whose half-moon ears received my confidence,
Who made me laugh, who never let me down.
I used to wait for hours to see him move,
Convinced that he could breathe. One dreadful day
They hid him from me as a punishment:
Sometimes the desolation of that loss
Comes back to me and I must go upstairs
To see him in the sawdust, so to speak,
Safe and returned to his idolator.

John Betjeman died on 19th May 1984 at his home in Trebetheric, Cornwall and was buried at nearby St.Enodoc's Church.

"Summoned by Bells" was published in 1960 by John Murray and a later edition with illustrations by Hugh Casson was published by Murray in 1989


The Kiyomizu-dera temple at Kyoto in Japan is a wooden structure built on the side of a mountain. It has its origins in the year 798, but the present building dates from 1633. The Japanese have a saying “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” - the English equivalent is “to take the plunge.” It appears that at one time certain brave (or foolish) people would jump from the stage there, a 13m jump, and those who survived would have their wish granted.


Langston Hughes 1902-67

It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun -
My dream.

And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky -
The wall.

I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.

Only the shadow.
My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun!

Langston Hughes was a famous American poet, social activist, novelist and playwright


"Pokarekare Ana" is a traditional Maori song which dates from the time of the First World War. The singer here is Hayley Westenra the New Zealand classical crossover artist and song writer. She serves as a UNICEF Ambassador. The video, which provides an English translation, was uploaded by AedeusLeonora


is updated every Friday


Friday, November 8, 2013

Thanks to for the picture


When I started to learn, I thought I was smart.
The more I learned, the smarter I thought I was.
Then, one day, I realized that the more I learn,
the more I know, the more I know that I do not know.

I stopped thinking that I was smart.
In fact, I began to realize that I was a fool.
The more I learned, the more foolish I realized I was.
One day, I realized how complete my foolishness was.
On that day, I felt liberated.

Those lines were written by Chade-Meng Tan, a software engineer and motivator at Google. It's worth having a quick look at his website



The famous writer of children's books was born into a wealthy Unitarian family on 28th July 1866.

Her parents were both artistic and had a keen interest in nature and the countryside. Beatrix and her young brother Walter had many small animals as pets and they would happily spend hours drawing them.
She was educated by governesses and had a private tutor for art lessons.

In 1893 she wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit for the five-year old son of one of her governesses and with her illustrations the book was published in 1901.

Once upon a time there were four little rabbits, and their names were - Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter. They lived with their mother in a sandbank, underneath the root of a very big fir tree.

“Now, my dears,” said Mrs. Rabbit one morning, “You may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden;  your father had an accident there; he was put into a pie by Mrs. McGregor.”


In 1913, when she was 47, Beatrix married William Heelis a local solicitor.

Apart from her writing - she published more than twenty-three books - she was a successful farmer and a breeder of prize Herdwick sheep.

Beatrix died on 22nd December 1943, leaving most of her property to the National Trust. This was the largest gift the Trust had received at that time, and it included more than 4,000 acres of land, 16 farms, cottages, cattle and sheep.

More information can be found at the Peter Rabbit website


"The Mirror"

Frank Dicksee 1853-1928


MELISSA VENEMA age 17 plays Nino Rosso's trumpet piece "Il Silenzio" accompanied by the Metropolitan Orchestra at Carre Amsterdam. Uploaded by Trompet8310


JOHN'S QUIET CORNER will be updated every Friday


Monday, May 9, 2011

Cherry Ripe, by John Everett Millais


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Come to me, O ye children,
For I hear you at your play,
And the questions that perplexed me
Have vanished quite away.

Ye open the eastern windows,
That look towards the sun,
Where thoughts are singing swallows
And the brooks of morning run.

In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
In your thoughts the brooklet's flow,
But in mine is the wind of Autumn
And the first fall of the snow.

Ah! what would the world be to us
If the children were no more?
We should dread the desert behind us
Worse than the dark before.

What the leaves are to the forest,
With light and air for food,
Ere their sweet and tender juices
Have been hardened into wood,

That to the world are children;
Through them it feels the glow
Of a brighter and sunnier climate
Than reaches the trunks below.

Come to me, O ye children,
And whisper in my ear
What the birds and the winds are singing
In your sunny atmosphere.

For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books,
When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks?

Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said,
For ye are living poems,
And all the rest are dead.


Bubbles, by John Everett Millais


Last week's post was the one hundredth to John's Quiet Corner and today's post brings the series to an end.
Perhaps regular followers of Quiet Corner will find things of interest in some of my other blogs.


Monday, May 2, 2011

The Garden at Bayou Bend, Houston, Texas

If it's drama that you sigh for, plant a garden and you'll get it.
You will know the thrill of battle, fighting foes that will beset it.
If you long for entertainment and for pageantry most glowing,
Plant a garden and this summer spend your time with green things growing. (Edward A. Guest)


What is so sweet and dear
As a prosperous morn in May,
The confident prime of the day,
And the dauntless youth of the year,
When nothing that asks for bliss,
Asking aright, is denied,
And half of the world a bridegroom is,
And half of the world a bride? (William Watson)


The Garden at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

The world's favourite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May. (Edwin Way Teale)


'Tis like the birthday of the world,
When earth was born in bloom;
The light is made of many dyes,
The air is all perfume:
There's crimson buds, and white and blue,
The very rainbow showers
Have turned to blossoms where they fell,
And sown the earth with flowers. (Thomas Hood)


The Japanese Garden at the Devonian Botanical Gardens, Edmonton, Alberta

Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun. (Kahlil Gibran)


Thanks to "Public Domain Photos and Images" for the photographs


Now online "Let's Hear That Song Again!" -
and starting on Wednesday
"That Was Another Good Read!" (Great Moments from Classic Fiction)

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Bird on a Branch"
12th century silk painting by Li Anzhong


Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, “I love and I love!”
In the winter they’re silent - the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don’t know, but it sings a loud song,
But green leaves and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing and loving - all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
Then he sings and he sings, and for ever sings he -
“I love my Love, and my Love loves me.”
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834)


Down in the forest something stirred
So faint that I scarcely heard,
But the forest leapt at the sound,
Like a good ship homeward bound.
Down in the forest something stirred,
It was only the song of a bird.
(Harold Simpson ?)


All through the night there’s a little brown bird singing,
Singing in the hush of the darkness and the dew.
Would that his song through the stillness could go winging
To you.

All through the night-time my lonely heart is singing
Sweeter songs of love than the brown bird ever knew.
Would that the song of my heart could go winging
To you.
(Harry Rodney Bennett 1890-1948 , under the pseudonym Royden Barrie)


Finally, this little video lasts only 28 seconds. When I found it, I kept playing it again and again.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Here are two verses from “A Garden Song” by Henry Austin Dobson

Here, in this sequestered close,
Bloom the hyacinth and rose;
Here beside the modest stock
Flaunts the flaring hollyhock;
Here, without a pang, one sees
Ranks, conditions, and degrees.

Here, in alleys cool and green,
Far ahead the thrush is seen;
Here along the southern wall
Keeps the bee his festival;
All is quiet else-afar
Sounds of toil and turmoil are.


Dove Cottage, Grasmere where William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived.


Wordsworth wrote this poem just before they were leaving home for a few months.


Sweet Garden-orchard! of all spots that are
The loveliest surely man hath ever found.
Farewell! we leave thee to heaven's peaceful care.
Thee and the cottage which thou dost surround -

Dear Spot! whom we have watched with tender heed,
Bringing thee chosen plants and blossoms blown
Among the distant mountains, flower and weed
Which thou hast taken to thee as thy own -

O happy Garden! loved for hours of sleep,
O quiet Garden! loved for waking hours.
For soft half-slumbers that did gently steep
Our spirits, carrying with them dreams of flowers -


This photo was taken some years ago in the gardens of Brodick Castle


Because of continued interest being shown in my JOHN'S GALLERY blog, I intend to add more paintings to the site beginning this Saturday.
The address is -


Monday, April 11, 2011

One day a friend called on Michelangelo and found him busy at the final stages of a statue he had been working on.

A week or so later he returned and, finding the sculptor at the same task, said “It appears that you have been idle since I was last here.”

“Indeed, no,” was the answer, “I’ve retouched this part, I’ve polished that part, I’ve softened this feature, I’ve brought out that muscle and I’ve given more expression to the lower lip.”

“But surely all these things are just trifles?” said his friend.

“Perhaps so,” Michelangelo replied, “But trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle.”


This short slide show "Victorian Ladies" is a compilation old photographs and paintings.


Finally, some good advice from Sam Levinson -

For attractive lips,
Speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes,
Seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure,
Share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair,
Let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise,
Walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things,
Have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed,
And redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
You will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;
One for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.