The Water is Wide

The water is wide, I can-not cross o’er.
And neither have I the wings to fly.
Build me a boat that can carry two,
And both shall row, my true love and I.
A ship there is and she sails the seas.
She’s laden deep, as deep can be;
But not so deep as the love I’m in
And I know not if I sink or swim.
I leaned my back up against a young oak
Thinking he were a trusty tree
but first he bended and then he broke
Thus did my love prove false to me.
O love is handsome and love is kind
and loves a jewel while it is new
but when its old love it growth cold
And fades away like the morning dew.

The Water Is Wide” (also called “O Waly, Waly“) is an English folk song that has been sung since the 1600s and has seen considerable popularity through to the 21st century. It is related to Child Ballad 204 (Roud number 87), Jamie Douglas, which in turn refers to the ostensibly unhappy first marriage of James Douglas, 2nd Marquess of Douglas to Lady Barbara Erskine. Cecil Sharp collected this song during his journey to America in World War I.

The inherent challenges of love are made apparent in the narrator’s imagery: “Love is handsome, love is kind” during the novel honeymoon phase of any relationship. However, as time progresses, “love grows old, and waxes cold”. Even true love, the narrator admits, can “fade away like morning dew”

The roots of the song are unclear, with some claiming an English origin and others claiming a Scottish origin, which they support by comparison to the ballad Lord Jamie Douglas. However, it is also similar to the Northern Irish song Carrickfergus, which has the lines but the sea is wide/I cannot swim over/And neither have I wings to fly.

This song is said to be preceded by an Irish language song whose first line A Bhí Bean Uasal (“It was a noble woman”) matches closely the opening line of one known variation of Lord Jamie Douglas: I was a lady of renown. However, the content of the English-language Carrickfergus includes material clearly from the Scots/English songs that is not attested in any known copy of A Bhí Bean Uasal suggesting that there has been considerable interplay between all known traditions.


Obama plays basketball, dines out At “The Sweet Life Cafe”

Michelle Obama takes lunch in Edgartown

Michelle Obama, sans the rest of the Obama family, ate lunch at The Boathouse in Edgartown this afternoon. She was spotting arriving at the private club around 12:30 p.m. and left shortly before 3 p.m.

She waved briefly to the crowd of about 200 people milling around on Main Street before getting into a large, black SUV and was driven off. A portion of Main Street was closed while she was eating lunch and area traffic diverted…


ABC Breaking News: President Obama Says “I’m Having a Great Time” On Vacation

Embattled on So Many Fronts: The Difference a Year Makes

Vineyard Gazette – By MIKE SECCOMBE

When President Obama came to Martha’s Vineyard for a break this time last year, after just eight months in office, there were those who questioned why he was taking time off so soon. Surely, though, a year later few would doubt the man really, really needs a vacation.

By August 2009, the President’s political honeymoon was certainly over, but this time around, the polls point to an electorate contemplating divorce…

A couple of pithy political truisms, one credited to former President Clinton, and one, whose author is unknown, are applicable to the times at hand. Mr. Clinton: “Republicans like to fall in line and Democrats like to fall in love.” Author unknown: “Elections are a democratic process used to decide who will get the blame.”

The second adage is particularly apt because it tacitly conveys the message that the elected win ownership of problems, whether or not they caused them. Was the Obama administration responsible for America’s huge budget deficit? Most experts say only a tiny sliver of it; the rest was down to the Bush administration’s policies and the business cycle. But it doesn’t matter. The impatient electorate wants a quick fix…

As for Republicans falling in line and Democrats falling in love, this manifests in two ways right now. On the Republican front, elected representatives have demonstrably never been so united in saying no to just about anything the Democrats try to do legislatively.

Second, there is the party rank and file, who arguably have never been so prepared to believe ill of a President, even if it means believing untruths. As of this month, according to a CNN poll, 41 per cent of Republicans still doubt Barack Obama’s citizenship. A Pew poll on Thursday this week found the number of Americans who believed Mr. Obama to be Muslim had nearly doubled since March last year. Among Republicans, 34 per cent now think he is.

As for the Democrats, they did fall in love a couple of years ago. But, like the old folk song says, love grows old and waxes cold. Many were underwhelmed by the hard-fought changes to health care, the failure to close Guantanamo, the perceived inadequacy of new financial regulation, the targeted killing and increased drone strikes in Afghanistan.

And those independent voters, who also fell a little in love at the last Presidential election, are still sitting in homes that are worth vastly less, if indeed, they are still in their homes at all. They continue to earn less for working harder, if indeed they work at all. The deficit continues to balloon…

In the year since the President was last here, the Tea Party has grown bigger. The Democrats have lost control of the Senate. Massachusetts, of all places, replaced a Democratic lion, Sen. Edward Kennedy, with a Republican ex-centerfold, Scott Brown. Wall Street has taken to sending a much higher proportion of its considerable political donations to the other side, and the Jewish lobby, a mainstay of Democratic support, also has grown disenchanted. The Supreme Court, in a moment of right-wing wisdom, has opened the floodgates for corporate political donations.

Foreign policy problems are worse: Israel has contrived to make new enemies of old friends. America is leaving Iraq with no government and a broken infrastructure; the war in Afghanistan goes ever worse and public opinion has turned against it; Wikileaks has exposed the details of Pakistani perfidy.

At home, the worst oil spill in U.S. history has finally been plugged but the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Coast remain polluted with vast quantities of goop. The oil industry and environmental groups remain equally cranky at proposed new regulation. Economists are talking of a double-dip recession. There has been no significant decline in unemployment and foreclosures continue to go up…

Showing the View from Inside on Loneliest Job in the World

Obama and daughters visit bookstore

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen

LA Times – By David L. Ulin

Jonathan Franzen begins his fourth novel, “Freedom,” with an extended set piece introducing Walter and Patty Berglund, urban homesteaders who, back in the 1980s, moved to the crumbling core of St. Paul, Minn., and became “the young pioneers of Ramsey Hill.” It’s an interesting choice since, as Franzen makes clear from the book’s first sentence, the Berglunds have abandoned the Twin Cities for Washington, D.C., and “mean nothing to St. Paul now.” Still, their memory, or their influence, lingers like an afterimage: the perfect couple that somehow wasn’t, whose love was shattered by some ineradicable taint. As the chapter unfurls, Franzen draws in broad strokes the terms of their unraveling, which in all the large and small ways resembles the unraveling of the culture that surrounds them, culminating in “the great national tragedy” of Sept. 11…

Such material has become Franzen’s bread-and-butter, his dark materials, as it were. In his last novel, the National Book Award-winning “The Corrections,” he dissected the small hurts and unresolved cruelties of the middle-class family with savage acuity, and in “Freedom,” he sharpens the focus of his investigations, avoiding the excesses of the earlier novel (its post-Cold War satire, its postmodern references to Aslan and William Gaddis) in favor of a more sober point of view.

Partly, that’s a result of all that’s happened since “The Corrections,” which was published barely a week before the Twin Towers fell. If that book was a reaction to the 1990s, “Freedom” is a response to the brutal decade that has followed, in which the illusion of a post-ideological world in which the vagaries of history have been rendered moot by market forces was revealed as the most self-serving sort of lie…

What makes Walter compelling is his complicated nature; he is, after his own fashion, a good man (whatever that means) for whom life keeps getting in the way.

The same is true of everyone else in the novel, including Joey, who responds to his father’s self-justifications by embracing the fatuous self-delusions of the neocons, and Katz, whose unexpected success leads him to give up music and become a contractor for the wealthy, whose children pepper him with questions about how it was to be a star.

“Katz felt very, very tired,” Franzen writes of one such encounter. “To be unable to bring himself to play for even ten seconds the game that Caitlyn was interested in playing with him was to understand the allure of death.”

That’s maybe the best line in the novel, and it’s impossible to read it without thinking of Franzen’s own tortured dance in the wake of “The Corrections,” when he embraced and then rejected Oprah Winfrey, unwilling (or unable) to play the role of artist as celebrity. But Katz is not Franzen, any more than Walter or Patty are. Rather, he is a person in his own right, three-dimensional and self-motivated, less a reflection of the author than a reflection of the world.

This, of course, is the purpose of the novel — not to be an implicit portrait of the artist but to function as a vehicle of empathy. For Franzen, such a motivation allows him to portray his characters in all their irreconcilable glory, sympathetic and unsympathetic by turns.

That’s especially the case with Patty, who is both a loving mother and inappropriately overbearing, self-assured and depressive, someone who destroys her family in order to save it and then must face the more daunting challenge of trying to save herself. Late in the novel, in a section written in her voice, she describes her reconciliation with her mother, a New Yorker ashamed of everything from her Jewish heritage to her daughter’s ordinariness. Standing in the kitchen, Patty’s mother acknowledges: “I guess my life hasn’t always been happy, or easy, or exactly what I wanted. At a certain point, I just have to try not to think too much about certain things, or else they’ll break my heart.”

Here, Franzen gets to the essence of the matter, revealing the flawed nature of our interactions not as something to be lamented so much as something to be loved. It’s a connective notion, and it applies to all his characters, who have no choice but to play out the same old dramas and conflicts across the generations, world without end, amen…

Busted! – Obama’s Revolution

The Irish Examiner – By Alicia Colon

There’s a fascinating YouTube video that explains exactly how Barack Obama was elected. It’s titled “Obama voters-Brainwashed with Change.” None of those interviewed in this video can articulate exactly what they think Obama stands for other than change.

The voters are black, white, young and old but they all believe that Obama as president will bring a change to the government. By now after a year and a half in office, many are now disappointed that the change is hardly what they were expecting but astute observers of Obama know that the he’s done exactly what he was groomed to do as a revolutionary protégé of Saul Alinsky.

I don’t normally watch the Glenn beck show but I do know that he speaks frequently about the connection between the president and Alinsky. What brought clarity to the connection was a big surprise since it came from a most unexpected source.

A fellow artist whom I had rarely discussed politics with and whom I had assumed was a diehard Democrat joined me in a conversation about the economy. He knew I was a conservative writer and had been following my online columns. I had always seen signs on his lawn for Democrat candidates so avoided broaching political issues.

Although he did not confide whether he had voted for Obama, he made no bones now about what he thought about the direction we are headed for. He then showed me a pamphlet written by David Horowitz titled, “Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution-The Alinsky Model.”

Although Barack Obama claimed to be a moderate in the 2008 presidential campaign, once he knew the election was in the bag he crowed, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

…What many do not know is that as a Wellesley student Hillary Rodham interviewed Alinsky for her thesis “There is Only the Fight: An Analysis of the Alinsky Model.” She concluded that the cause – whether inner city blacks or women – is never the real cause, but only an occasion to advance the real cause which is the accumulation of power to make the revolution.

She also identified Alinsky with Eugene Debs, Walt Whitman and Martin Luther King whom she said were equally feared. While First Lady Clinton, she lent support to projects endorsed by the Industrial Areas Foundation, an Alinsky group. She also made sure that she would be identified as a progressive rather than the word, “liberal.”

David Horowitz is a former radical son of communist parents who knows exactly what a radical believes in and writes, “In my experience conservatives are generally too decent and too civilized to match up adequately with their radical adversaries, at least in the initial stages of the battle. They are too prone to give them the benefit of the doubt, to believe that there is goodness and good sense in them which will outweigh their determination to change the world.”

Have we reached that stage where the real battle of the ideologies will begin? I certainly hope so. It was illuminating to see the frustration and anger on the face of my artist friend who expressed his frustration living in the nanny state of New York City.

He blurted out, “They’re going to tell me what light bulbs to buy and they’re going too far with this recycling.” In certain communities, residents are being forced to buy recycling cans or face fines. NYC is pondering charging for sanitation. “What are my taxes paying for?” he fumed…

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The Dog Days Of Summer: Stray “Blue” Dogs, A Summer Breeze, And Painting With Your Eyes

Obama Vineyard Blues: The Thrill Is Gone Baby, The Thrill Is Gone Away