Welcoming in the New Year: Glorious New Year’s Eve Fireworks Displays

Welcoming in the New Year: Glorious New Year’s Eve Fireworks Displays

Revelers around the world welcome 2013, with billions of people greeting the New Year in millions of ways. Fireworks paint the skies, with spectacular displays of glittering fireworks, bright lights and music.

Welcoming in the New Year: Glorious New Year’s Eve Fireworks Displays

Videography by: Pyromil0

Happy New Year 2013 Fireworks

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Happy New Year 2013: Very Joyful!

Happy New Year 2013: Very Joyful!

Happy New Year 2013: Very Joyful!

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W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Biographic Notes

Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) was born in York, England. He moved to Birmingham during childhood and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. At Oxford his precocity as a poet was immediately apparent, and he formed lifelong friendships with two fellow writers, Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood.

As a young man, he traveled through Germany, Iceland, and China, served in the Spanish Civil war and in 1939 moved to the United States, where he met his lover, Chester Kallman, and became an American citizen. A prolific writer, Auden was also a noted playwright, librettist, editor, and essayist. Considered by some to be the greatest English poet of the twentieth century, his work has exerted a major influence on succeeding generations of poets on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dark Night of the Soul

In 1952, Auden and his life-long companion moved to an apartment at 77 St. Marks Place in New York’s East Village. It was, more or less, Auden’s permanent home for the rest of his life. During the initial years, Auden lived, however ambivalently, actively engaged in social and political interests, as well as enjoying his status as an internationally renowned poet. In his later years, Auden became increasingly withdrawn and lonely.

This was profoundly reflected in his writings, through which he deliberately attempted to discard much of his own public dignity, a significant sign that indicated the painful depth of his feelings of personal isolation. Many of his last poems spoke to, rather than about, silent objects and people who were either absent or dead. Ruminations about “night” (the darkness and ending of one’s day/life) dominated his writings in 1972, and particularly in his poem Lullaby that was addressed to himself. In that poem, writing about sleep was framed by the language of finality: “Let your last thinks all be thanks,” anticipating a time of final endings, completions and a state surpassing all feelings of resentment.

On another note, Auden’s life-long anxieties about his seemingly paradoxical wishes to maintain a clear sense of autonomy, versus his strong needs for attachment, were perhaps no more clearly presented than in his book of poems, About the House, inspired by various rooms in his home. Writing about groups of people visiting in the “living room”, Auden’s thoughts turned to the impact of the size of such rooms upon the internal experiences of psychological boundaries versus a lack of boundaries.

If the room was too small, he believed that, “…people can’t forget at will that they’re not alone.” In other words, they can’t remember that while together (or part of a “we”), they are also alone, instead drowning in a sense of enmeshment, lack of personal identity, autonomy and achievement.

At another extreme, if the room was too large, it would encourage people to engage in ever-more strong efforts to make contact with each other, with intensively forceful attempts to achieve a sense of attachment, along with heightened wishes and strivings for nurturing dependency.

Near the very end of his life, Auden’s poem entitled Loneliness purported to convey his prediction that his intense feelings of solitude would be relieved on the following day, when his companion, Chester Kallman, was to return. In fact, the poem only addresses in the first person his own terrifying image of Loneliness itself, the “Gate-crashing ghost, aggressive / invisible visitor.”

Concluding this brief commentary, we return to Auden’s feelings of the dark night of his soul as the end of life approached, best captured in his poem entitled Lullaby

Lullaby

First stanza
W. H. Auden (1907-1973)

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Kenneth Granham Reads W. H. Auden’s Lullaby

W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Tell Me the Truth About Love is a BBC documentary film looking at the poetry of W. H. Auden, revealing how it came not just from inspiration but from a rigorous personal analysis of love itself. When he died in 1973, he left behind some of the greatest love poems of the 20th century. Most of his unpublished material was destroyed, apart from two short journals and a series of jottings, containing diagrams and notes about the nature of love.

W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Photo-Gallery: W. H. Auden Through the Years

(Please Click Image to View Gallery)

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It Was The Night Before Christmas: A Visit from St. Nicholas

It Was The Night Before Christmas: A Visit from St. Nicholas

The Night Before Christmas was originally a 1968 Animated Christmas Television Special, with background music provided by the Norman Luboff Choir.  It was shown regularly for about 10 years as a holiday special, but has since disappeared from television.  The classic holiday animated short film tells the heartwarming true story of how Clement C. Moore came to write the Christmas poem beloved by generations of children, and includes a joyous retelling of the charming A Visit from St. Nicholas.

In the film, Clement Moore goes on a short trip just before Christmas to give a series of lectures at a university, and he promises to get his daughter Charity a storybook about Santa Claus for Christmas while he is away.  Charity develops pneumonia while he’s gone, and the doctor says she might not survive.  When Clement arrives back home, he’s distraught to see his beloved daughter near death.  Making things even worse, he hadn’t found any books about Santa Claus when he went shopping, and even through her fever she’s asking for one.  Feeling that he had broken his promise, he decides to write a story of his own and read it to her; it is the story which became A Visit from St. Nicholas.

The Night Before Christmas: A Visit from St. Nicholas (1968)

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Even Miracles Need a Hand!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Even Miracles Need a Hand!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is a 1974 animated short film, originally a television Christmas special based on Clement Moore’s famous 1823 poem that opens with this line. For some unexplained reason, all the letters sent to Santa Claus are being returned to the children of Junctionville. It seems that some disenchanted resident of the small town has angered Santa, calling Christmas nothing but “a fraudulent myth!” The skeptical resident turns out to be little mouse Albert, who has to be brought to his senses. The way in which Albert is persuaded to change his tune paves the way for Santa’s jolly return to Junctionville and the joyous finale of this charming animated fable.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Even Miracles Need a Hand!

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The Snowman: A Magical Journey of Adventure, Friendship, Death and Loss

The Snowman: A Magical Journey of Adventure, Friendship, Death and Loss

The Snowman is a magical, classic animated short film directed by Dianne Jackson, based on the best-selling children’s story by Raymond Briggs. The film premiered on the United Kingdom’s BBC Channel 4 on Christmas Eve 1982, and has aired every year since then. The Snowman won the 1983 BAFTA TV Award for Best Chilcren’s Program and was nominated for a 1983 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

The Snowman tells the wordless story of a young boy whose snowman comes to life on Christmas Eve and takes him on a series of adventures, only to melt into nothingness by dawn of the next day. It is a beloved holiday tradition; for many children of the 1970s and 1980s it was the first program they ever saw that addressed the issues of death and loss.

The Snowman: A Magical Journey of Adventure, Friendship, Death and Loss

A sequel to the silent Christmas classic The Snowman, titled The Snowman and the Snowdog, is scheduled to air this Monday on BBC’s Channel 4, more than 30 years after the original film’s premiere.

A Sequel to The Snowman: The Snowman and the Snowdog

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The Christmas Bell Ringer: Gimme Yer Darn Money!

The Christmas Bell Ringer: Gimme Yer Darn Money!

The Bell Ringer is a humorously delightful animated short film created by Royale, a motion design and production studio in Los Angeles. The film was launched as part of Royale’s interactive holiday site, raising funds for The American Red Cross Disaster Relief in support of those affected by Superstorm Sandy. At the heart of the 25-day fundraising effort is the animated short about Edith, a sweet old lady who sets up shop on a busy street corner to raise money for charity.

Edith, the altruistic bell ringer, embarks on her holiday mission in a faraway land on a wintry city sidewalk. After many fruitless attempts at ringing in the spirit of giving, Edith becomes so frustrated that she angrily hurls her bell at the next uncaring passerby, which causes a coin to curiously bounce her way. Ignored yet again, she throws her bell at another passerby, this time yielding even more coins. Soon, Edith’s red canister is brimming with wads of paper money and a pile of coins, even a shiny engagement ring. The film’s ending reveals a knockout surprise for a noble cause.

The Christmas Bell Ringer: Gimme Yer Darn Money!

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