The Great Hall of a castle was where large banquets and entertainments were held, for dozens or sometimes hundreds of guests. These were large, drafty rooms, often with several huge fireplaces, meant to mitigate the damp cold that made castle life uncomfortable, particularly in the colder months of the year. Some were decked with a gallery or balcony above the main floor, where guests could sit and watch pageants and masques performed below in the Hall. Minstrels, choirs, or other musical offerings might also emanate from the upper level, and it was sometimes referred to as the "minstrel's gallery". Kinloch Castle, Isle of Rum, Scotland
Examples of medieval dress for women. Long, flowing gowns were the order of the day, though royal women and women of noble or aristocratic birth often wore more revealing styles than are shown here, with a good portion of the upper breasts revealed. The fashions left are more everyday wear and were also worn for traveling, which was an arduous process in those days.
An example of dance in the medieval era, this one appears to be taking place in the courtyard. It is this type of dance, requiring long lines of partners, that was so well suited to the huge Great Halls. The music would be heavy with percussion, such as bells and tambourines . Other instruments commonly used were the virginals, a type of keyboard instrument, as well as harp, flute, lute and other stringed instruments.
Some Favorite Poems:
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee
Speaking of Cows
Speaking of cows,
(which no one was doing),
Why are they always staring and chewing?
Staring at people, chewing at clover,
Doing the same things over and over.
Once in a while you see a cow mooing
Or swishing her tail at a fly that needs shooing.
Most of the time, though, what are cows doing?
Staring and looking, munching and chewing,
Eyes never blinking, jaws always moving.
What are cows thinking? What are cows proving?!
Cows must not care for new ways of doing.
That's what they stare for. That's why they're chewing.
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.
(excerpt: Two Tramps in Mud Time) Robert Frost
And what are you that, wanting you,
I should be kept awake
As many nights as there are days
With weeping for your sake?
And what are you that, missing you,
As many days as crawl
I should be listening to the wind
And looking at the wall?
I know a man that's a braver man
And twenty men as kind,
And what are you, that you should be
The one man in my mind?
Yet women's ways are witless ways,
As any sage will tell, __
And what am I, that I should love
So wisely and so well?
Edna St. Vincent Millay
And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
To A Waterfowl
Whither, midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong
As, darkly seen against the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sing
On the chafed ocean side?
There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast—
The desert and illimitable air—
Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply has sunk the lesson thou hast given,
And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.
William Cullen Bryant
I have scarcely left you
When you go in me, crystalline,
Or uneasy, wounded by me
Or overwhelmed with love, as
when your eyes
Close upon the gift of life
That without cease I give you.
We have found each other
Thirsty and we have
Drunk up all the water and the
We found each other
And we bit each other
As fire bites,
Leaving wounds in us.
But wait for me,
Keep for me your sweetness.
I will give you too
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Lines and Squares
Whenever I walk in a London street,
I'm ever so careful to watch my feet;
And I keep in the squares,
And the masses of bears,
Who wait at the corners all ready to eat
The sillies who tread on the lines of the street
Go back to their lairs,
And I say to them, "Bears,
Just look how I'm walking in all the squares!"
And the little bears growl to each other, "He's mine,
As soon as he's silly and steps on a line."
And some of the bigger bears try to pretend
That they came round the corner to look for a friend;
And they try to pretend that nobody cares
Whether you walk on the lines or squares.
But only the sillies believe their talk;
It's ever so portant how you walk.
And it's ever so jolly to call out, "Bears,
Just watch me walking in all the squares!"
Alan Alexander Milne
I Thought of You
I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.
Around me were the echoing dunes, beyond me
The cold and sparkling silver of the sea --
We two will pass through death and ages
Before you hear that sound again with me.
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
Robert Louis Stevenson
Children Chapter IV
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), French Impressionist
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.