Thursday, December 30, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

Auld lang syne is an old Scottish phrase meaning “old long-since” or “old long-ago.”  It has famously survived in the form of Robert Burns' poem, sung each New Year's Eve to a tune that Burns is said to have transcribed from an old man's singing of it.  Burns' version below is built from songs and poems of similar text dating back as far as an anonymous ballad in the Bannatyne Manuscript of 1568.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gies a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.

Another version, the first that contains a form of the 'auld lang syne' phrase, is attributed to the courtly poet Sir Robert Ayton (1570-1638):

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never thought upon,
The flames of love extinguished,
And freely past and gone?
Is thy kind heart now grown so cold
In that loving breast of thine,
That thou canst never once reflect
On old-long-syne.

With 2010 soon to be “auld lang syne”, Cassandra sends all best wishes to each of her dear followers for the coming new year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Antique Decorative Publishers’ Christmas Book Bindings

“There is nothing quite so important in a book from a commercial standpoint, as the cover. People buy a book largely from the cover. If it is artistic and attractive, they are induced to look at the book, when with a dull and ugly outside they would pass it by.”
~ An anonymous New Yorker quoted in an 1895 New York Times article about book cover art and designers

During the time period bounded by the late 1880s and World War I, book bindings were prized for the impressive beauty and inventiveness of their designs. During this so-called “Golden Age” of bookbinding, modern bookbinding techniques were perfected to a fine art, particularly in the United States. At this time, book covers were considered part of the decorative arts, connected with home furnishings and some architectural designs.

Architects, landscape painters, illustrators and graphic artists alike were drawn to book design and were often associated with well-known publishers such as Harper's, Scribner's, or Houghton Mifflin and designed numerous bindings for many well known writers. Many of these designers believed that a book's physical appearance should reflect its literary content and made an effort to relate decorations to the text. This is especially evident in books with a Christmas theme, which were purposely produced for the Christmas gift market.

Please enjoy ~ from Cassandra’s collection ~ a sampling below of these beautiful works of art…

Be of good cheer!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Christmas Gift to You, My Dear Readers...

What Sweeter Music
(Originally Titled: "A Christmas Caroll, Sung to the King
in the Presence at White-Hall)

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

Awake the voice! Awake the string!
Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter’s morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden?

Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
‘Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven, and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.

Which we will give him; and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who’s our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

~ Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Before listening to this lovely poem put to music by England's John Rutter and sung by Kings College Choir, please turn off Cassandra's Playlist at the bottom of the page by clicking on the large circular button...

Be of Good Cheer!

Beatrix & Friends...

Frolicking Lambs

Cassandra Follows...