Gwyneth Lewis-Sea Virus

Sea Virus

I knew I should never have gone below
but I did, and the fug of bilges and wood
caught me aback. The sheets of my heart
snapped taut to breaking, as a gale
stronger than longing filled the sail
inside me. To be shot of land
and its wood smoke! To feel the keel
cold in a current! To see the mast
inscribing water like a restless pen
writing a fading wake! It’s true,
I’m ruined. Not even peace will do
to keep me ashore now. Not even you.

I was first attracted to Gwyneth Lewis’s work by a poem in Ruth Padel’s collection, 60 Poems for the Journey of Life where her attractive poem, The Flaggy Shore may be found. Clearly she is much interested in marine matters.

The poem has a tension and an elegance about it. It will appeal to anyone interested in messing about in boats but has an edge about it too. Much of the imagery is erotic even sexual. The word fug strikes and catches you back as she says in the next line. It is overpowering and yet speeds you along with considerable force like a dangerous attraction. The word “shot” adds to this general sense of menace and yet also implies the freedom experienced as the liberation of inspiration. The image of the pen as a sail-a simile- reminds of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khyyam –

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

It also reminds of the words written on Keat’s Grave-

The best-known use of a similar phrase is on the gravestone of John Keats: Here lies one whose name was writ in water. (‘Writ‘ is a poetic form of ‘written‘.) This means his fame was transient; it passed away quickly. Then there is Catullus-

1 Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle My woman says that she prefers to be married to no one
2 quam mihi, non si se Iuppiter ipse petat. but me, not even if Jupiter himself should seek her.
3 dicit: sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, she says: but what a woman says to her passionate lover,
4 in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua. she ought to write on the wind and swift-flowing water.

The poem then is about the possible effects of being driven along by the poetic imagination. The last line has an awesome direct remark to the reader. For some poets their trade requires passion even to the point of not counting the cost. Shelley in his boat springs to mind!

The past uncovered- an aircraft in the sands

Extract from the Daily Mirror

The emergence of this wrecked Beaufighter after more than 75 years struck me as interesting for a variety of reasons. Rather as memories emerge from traumatic periods in the past. It seems to me that much of the current political debate over Brexit and other matters is connected with unresolved conflicts from the past. Also there is the contrast or juxtaposition between the terrible last moments in the cockpit, as the engines failed, and the discovery of the wreck by the arrival of the dog bounding across the sands so many years later.

Thinking of the variety of persons lost from Leslie Howard, the Film-star in 1943, Antoine St Expupery in July 1944 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_de_Saint-Exup%C3%A9ry) and the disappearance of Jazz Band leader Glenn Miller in December 1944, I came across this famous poem by W.B.Yeats.

An Irish Airman Forsees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

This  great poem exposes what sometimes is forgotten – the treatment of the Irish in the shady forgotten history of British imperialism. Kiltartan by the way is not far from Galway.

Martin Lewis-The man who mentored Edward Hopper

More detailed information can be found at https://boomers-daily.com/2020/03/22/painters-of-the-1930s-moonlight-ballad-the-art-of-martin-lewis-2020/

These lovely etchings go well with Auden’s  wonderful poem “As I Walked Out One Evening”

As I walked out one evening,
   Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
   Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
   I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
   ‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
   Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
   And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
   Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
   Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
   For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
   And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
   Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
   You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
   Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
   And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
   Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
   To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
   Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
   And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
   Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
   And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
   The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
   A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
   And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
   And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
   Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
   As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
   With your crooked heart.’

It was late, late in the evening,
   The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
   And the deep river ran on.

2 – Detail aus meinen Gedanken – Zinie – Zeichnung von Susanne Haun

Lovely detailed sketch! Thanks!

Susanne Haun

Detail aus meinen Gedanken, 76 x 56 cm, Tusche auf Hahnemuehle Leonardo Büttenpapier, Zeichnung von Susanne Haun (c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020Detail aus meinen Gedanken, 76 x 56 cm, Tusche auf Hahnemuehle Leonardo Büttenpapier, Zeichnung von Susanne Haun (c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020

In den nächsten Tagen zeige ich euch jeweils ein Detail aus der Zeichnung Aus meinen Gedanken.

Die 76 x 56 cm große Zeichnung ist gerade auf Hahnmühle Leonardo Büttenpapier am Entstehen.

Für mehr Text fehlt mir gerade die Energie.

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“Mine Alone is the Country in my Soul”: A Poem by Marc Chagall

Just watched a great You Tube talk on Chagall-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz2f8xBWxD0

The Mitchell Gallery

20070507235911chagall_iandthevillage Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Russian-French. I and the Village. 1911.

Seul est Mien
by Marc Chagall

Mine alone
Is the country in my soul
I enter there without a passport
As if it is my home.
It sees my sadness
And my solitude
It lulls me to sleep
And covers me with a heavy perfume.
In me gardens bloom.
The flowers are my creations
The streets belong to me
But there are no houses,
They were destroyed in their infancy.
The inhabitants roam the air
In search of a home;
They dwell in my soul.
For this reason I smile
When my sun barely shines
Or cry
Like a light rain
In the night.
There was a time when I had two heads.
There was a time when these two faces
Covered themselves in an amorous dew
And dissolved into the perfume of a rose.

At present it seems to me

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Nanki-Poo in the Rose Garden

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.

So writes T.S. Eliot in Burnt Norton, the first of the Four Quartets. It makes one wonder what memories can be recalled of this particular Rose Garden. A slightly strange venue to choose surely? Maybe the door ought not to have been opened? Most will recall the unfortunate and strange meeting that heralded the unfortunate Coalition  Indeed, it was another Special Adviser, Julia Goldsworthy who was to finally conclude, “Many Liberal Democrat activists would have found the Rose Garden love-in between David Cameron and Nick Clegg “sick-inducing”. Perhaps it was to give a green tinge to distract from 260 miles or more of carbon emissions.

It is not just the receding hairline of Cummings that brings G and S’s Mikado character of Nanki-Poo to mind. This histrionic and grumpy individual needs a trickster or Jungian alter ego. Remember it is Nanki-Poo who sings-

The flowers that bloom in the spring,
Tra la,
Breathe promise of merry sunshine —
As we merrily dance and we sing,
Tra la,
We welcome the hope that they bring,
Tra la,
Of a summer of roses and wine,
Of a summer of roses and wine.
And that’s what we mean when we say that a thing
Is welcome as flowers that bloom in the spring.
Tra la la la la,
Tra la la la la,
The flowers that bloom in the spring.

This indeed is the Topsy-Turvy World where the Rose Garden becomes the stage for attic antics. Incidentally, Topsy-Turvy is an excellent film directed by the redoubtable Mike Leigh about the making of the Mikado.

The Mikado is relevant here too in more serious ways- it is about a fiercely autocratic society. There is the haughty nobleman, Pooh-Bah.There is making the punishment fit the crime. In Leigh’s film there is drug addiction- there is social distancing and the overwhelming distance brtween performance and the dark and stark reality. In both there is meiosis, a drastic understatement of the situation. Which brings us back to today’s performance attempting to come up smelling of roses.

Durward Lely as Nanki-Poo

 

 

A micro-anthology of Imagist poems by non-Imagist poets

Interesting poems- attempting to penetrate Ezra Pound soon!

It's only chemo

  1. In the desert, Stephen Crane, ‘In the desert/I saw a creature, naked, bestial…’
  2. A Wish, Christina Rossetti, ‘Or shadow of a lily stirred/By wind upon the floor’
  3. The Embankment, T.E. Hulme, ‘The old star-eaten blanket of the sky’
  4. Follow thy fair sun, Thomas Campion, ‘Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow’
  5. Early haiku translations in English
  6. The Frog, Francis Ponge, ‘Let her flee with her nervousness. Her legs are pretty.’
  7. On the Metro, C.K.Williams, ‘how literally golden young women can look at the end of summer.’
  8. This Moment, Eavan Bolard, ‘Stars rise./Moths flutter./Apples sweeten the dark.’
  9. One Girl, Sappho, ‘Like the wild hyacinth flower which on the hills is found,/Which the passing feet of the shepherds for ever tear and wound,/Until the purple blossom is trodden in the ground.’

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Guest article: ‘Slim Gaillard’s Avocado Seed Soup and other Vout-O-Reeny delicacies’ by Sam Berlin

tashtastic

We’re going to cook up a fine dish, real groovy. Wrap up some fine grape leaves and chip up a little lamboroonie. Sprinkle on a little fine riceorootie and a little pepporoonie, a little peppovoutie. And sprinkle on a little saltoroonie to put the seasoning in there, that makes it really mellow. Then you take and you nail an avocado seed up in the ceiling and let it vout for a while.

Introduction to ‘Gaillard Special’, Jan 1946.

Of all the great songs written about food, and there have been many, few are like those of Bulee ‘Slim’ Gaillard. Often disregarded in mainstream histories of jazz, Gaillard is probably best remembered for inventing his own idiosyncratic ‘slanguage’, Vout (or Vout-O-Reenee). More of an approach to talking than a strict language as such, it largely consisted of adding nonsensical suffixes like oroonee or macvootee or even skoodlivootimo to words…

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Eavan Boland -Woman in Kitchen

Breakfast over, islanded by noise,

she watches the machines go fast and slow.

She stands among them as they shake the house.

They move. Their destination is specific.

She has nowhere definite to go:

she might be a pedestrian in traffic.

 

White surfaces retract. White

sideboards light the white of walls.

Cups wink white in their saucers.

The light of day bleaches as it falls

on cups and sideboards. She could use the room

to tap with if she lost her sight.

 

Machines jigsaw everything she knows.

And she is everywhere among their furor:

the tropic of the dryer tumbling clothes.

The round lunar window of the washer.

The kettle in the toaster is a kingfisher

swooping for trout above the river’s mirror.

 

The wash done, the kettle boiled, the sheets

spun and clean, the dryer stops dead.

The silence is a death. It starts to bury

the room in white spaces. She turns to spread

a cloth on the board and irons sheets

in a room white and quiet as a mortuary.

When I started looking at this poem today I soon discovered that the poet sadly passed away just last month and there is an obituary which may be found at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/books/eavan-boland-dead.html

This seems to me to be a poem which expresses considerable ambivalence to what at first seem comfortable domestic surroundings. In current circumstances it might seem to have some special appeal. The poet feels herself to be marooned and isolated with domestic noises in the background from perhaps a washing machine or spin-drier. Unlike these machines which may perhaps be seen as having some resemblances to male characteristics she lacks a sense of direction. The element of threat appears in the second verse where the interesting verb “tap” introduces the suggestion of blindness. ‘Tapping’ might be seen as a very quiet noise in contrast with the loud machinery. It carries the possibility of tap dancing too. It also carries meanings of connection.

The tranquil security of something like a Dutch interior becomes still more alien in the third stanza. The jigsaw might well imply cutting up or puzzlement. Although the images of a lunar moonlander and the reflection of a swooping kingfisher are at the same time threatening, bizarre but also carry a strange delight. They seem to suggest the distracted nature of the woman and her longing.

In the final lines a sudden stillness suddenly reigns. All is clean and silent but also overcoming. She at last starts to move but the sheet she irons might almost be a shroud. There seem to be elements of boredom and domestic imprisonment but all recorded with a deceptively light touch. This poem comes from a collection called Night Feed  1982. An Irishwoman and feminist her collection is published by Carcanet Press and very well worth attention.