Il giardino autunnale di Dino Campana

Giardino autunnale

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Al giardino spettrale al lauro muto
de le verdi ghirlande
a la terra autunnale
un ultimo saluto!
A l’aride pendici
aspre arrossate nell’estremo sole
confusa di rumori rauchi grida la lontana vita:
grida al morente sole
che insanguina le aiole.
S’intende una fanfara
che straziante sale: il fiume spare
ne le arene dorate; nel silenzio
stanno le bianche statue a capo i ponti
volte: e le cose già non sono più.
E dal fondo silenzio come un coro
tenero e grandioso
sorge ed anela in alto al mio balcone:
e in aroma d’alloro,
in aroma d’alloro acre languente,
tra le statue immortali nel tramonto
ella m’appar, presente.


Autumn garden

A last salute to the spooky garden to the silent laurel
of the green garlands
and the autumn land!

At the arid
rugged slopes reddened in the extreme sun,
confused with raucous noises, the distant life
cries : shouts to the dying sun
that bloody the flowerbeds.
It is meant a fanfare
that is excruciating salt: the river spare
and its golden arenas; in silence
are the white statues at the head of the bridges
sometimes: and things are no longer there.
And from the background, silence like a
tender and grandiose chorus
arises and longs up at my balcony:
and in the aroma of laurel,
in the aroma of bitter, acrid laurel,
among the immortal statues in the sunset
she appeared to me, present.

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Dino Campana, (born Aug. 20, 1885, Marradi, Italy—died March 1, 1932, Florence), innovative Italian lyric poet who is almost as well known for his tragic, flamboyant personality as for his controversial writings.

Recommended:-  The Penguin Book of Italian Verse


Sarah Crossan’s “Die Sprache des Wassers”

I am finding this an excellent read and an interesting and moving cultural experience. Having just seen “Ladybird” which moved me to both tears and laughter, this story is broadly a similar coming of age story. I suppose it could be termed a Bildungsroman but that is a weighty term for the evocative and indeed provocative text which is ideal for someone wanting to learn German. Essentially it is a prose poem in German about a 13 year old girl coming from Poland to Coventry.


A coffee break in Kings Cross during Jewish Book Week 2017

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The trains depart for Letchworth, Edinburgh and Peterborough

-looks like you might have to change at Letchworth

For a bus; two lectures at J.B.W.

and we have been in Paris between ’38 and 1942 and maybe a little after too

A terrible time for both Jews and for women; the Wehrmacht collection point is in the

Gendarmarie-left for two days without bread, without water or any other facilities.

Men wearing yellow stars –

Having to give proof of gentile forbears for five generations

Paris-an island of compromise and collaboration.

Escapees conveyed by passeurs, some notably brave

-others giving away the Jewish escapees –for a few pieces of silver.

There and then the world of Louis Malle, his Au Revoir les Enfants, Irène Némirovsky and Coco Chanel,

who it seems survived quite well between the satin sheets with her German officer.

Afterwards the rough justice – hair shaved off and ten years of “National humiliation”.

According to De Gaulle, who was the French state-only a small- a very small number collaborated

as he disarmed the communist resistance, told them to return to being

bakers, butchers and the rest……


What language do we dream in?” asks the writer in the next session


“Security officers tour this station twenty-four hours a day”


Born in Russia-life begins amongst dark cherry trees-there are two names for cherry trees in Russian.

Still today she recalls the deep, dusky black variety that tastes like velvet to her tongue

And she recalls in the background, that relation who was tall and wispy in a light-yellow dress,

Willowy to the eye of this two-and-a-half-year-old child.

Then to Prague where she learns Czech with its subtle ability to carry shades of irony.

Later to Hamburg where she adds German to her vocabulary …. then it is another speaker’s turn

whose voice seems gentle talking about the pains of exile, the stranger’s distanced view and

The slip between the idea conceived in the brain and the words which later

reach the tongue.

She talks of Istanbul and night time – of a transvestite in her

shimmering dress holding one shoe-a broken high heel-

wearing the other and cursing loudly walking up

the cobbled hill at midnight. Cursing men and the

society unable to accept differences.

“This is a security announcement………or text…….”


Discovering Michael Longley

Though the partition opens at a touch
She makes a pin-hole and watches people
Watching the sky where a heavy bomber
Journeys to her mirror and jar of rouge.

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Obwohl die Partition öffnet sich auf einen Hauch
Sie macht ein PinLoch und sehen Menschen an
Beobachten den Himmel, wo ein schwerer Bomber
Reisen zu ihrem Spiegel und einem Topf Rouge.
Another friend to whomI am indebted alternatively translates:-
Obwohl die Trennwand sich auf Berührung öffnet, macht sie ein stecknadelgroßes Loch und beobachtet den Himmel, wo sich ein schwerer Bomber auf ihren Spiegel und einen Topf Rouge zubewegt..
More information on this great poet, whom I have sadly only recently discovered, can be found at
Image result for Michael Longley
Geisha (芸者) geiko (芸子), or geigi (芸妓) are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses. Their wide skills include performing various arts such as Japanese classical music and traditional dance, witty games and conversation, traditionally to entertain male customers, but also female customers today.

Modryb Marya, or Aunt Mary

We always had a holly tree at Christmas decorated with fairy lights in little copper lanterns made by my Father. These contained rice paper to diffuse the light and the same rice paper was used as a base for the coconut macaroons that my Mother made as part of the preparations for Christmas.

The Holly Tree is referred to in this beautiful poem by R.S.Hawker.

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There is a little more information at

“Refugees”by Louis MacNeice


With prune-dark eyes, thick lips, jostling each other
These, disinterred from Europe, throng the deck
To watch their hope heave up in steel and concrete
Powerful but delicate as a swan’s neck,

Thinking, each of them, the worst is over
And we do not want any more to be prominent or rich,
Only to be ourselves, to be unmolested
And make ends meet–an ideal surely which

Here if anywhere is feasible. Their glances
Like wavering antennae feel
Around the sliding limber towers of Wall Street
And count the numbered docks and gingerly steal

Into the hinterland of their own future
Behind this excessive annunciation of towers,
Tracking their future selves through a continent of strangeness.
The liner moves to the magnet; the quay flowers

With faces of people’s friends. But these are mostly
Friendless and all they look to meet
Is a secretary who holds his levée among ledgers,
Tells them to take a chair and wait…

And meanwhile the city will go on, regardless
Of any new arrival, trains like prayers
Radiating from stations haughty as cathedrals,
Tableaux of spring in milliners’ windows, great affairs

Being endorsed on a vulcanite table, lines of washing
Feebly garish among grimy brick and dour
Iron fire-escapes; barrows of cement are rumbling
Up airy planks; a florist adds a flower

To a bouquet that is bound for somebody’s beloved
Or for someone ill; in a sombre board-room great
Problems wait to be solved or shelved. The city
Goes on but you, you will probably find, must wait

Till something or other turns up. Something-or-Other
Becomes an unexpected angel from the sky;
But do not trust the sky, that blue that looks so candid
Is non-committal, frigid as a harlot’s eye.

Gangways – the handclasp of the land. The resurrected,
The brisk or resigned Lazaruses, who want
Another chance, go trooping ashore. But chances
Are dubious. Fate is stingy, recalcitrant.

And officialdom greets them blankly as they fumble
Their foreign-looking baggage; they still feel
The movement of the ship while through their imagination
The known and the unheard-of constellations wheel.

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This poem appeared just about a year after MacNeice visited America where he met Auden and Isherwood amongst other prominent figures during a short lecture tour. It appeared at a time of extreme danger for Britain:- Dunkirk was a recent event and The Blitz too was starting. I am of the opinion that Auden and Isherwood need little justification for having left the country. They had worked bravely on “Journey to War” in Manchuria and Isherwood’s novels gave a clear insight into the rise of the Nazis and the persecution of leftists, Jewish people and so on. That is by the way, since although this poem could be considered in some ways slight, it has interesting parallels with the comparable plight of refugees today. Given Trump, entering America has become extremely difficult in the past year. In addition, it gives an insight into the New York seascape and skyline which I seem to remember has been written about movingly by two Jewish exiles, Rose Ausländer (Januar in New York) and I think, Mischa Kalako.

The poem itself is obviously of it’s time and the first line is rather brutal on facial characteristics. There are some interesting words like ‘milliner’ and ‘vulcanite’ that have dropped out of common parlance rather. I particularly like-‘Into the hinterland of their own future’ which suggests the confusion of trying to find in a new environment some reference to the land left behind. It also contains, I think, perhaps unconsciously, reference to  MacNeice’s hinterland as an Irish born poet as well as much effective and ambivalent use of religious imagery. His father became a bishop of the Anglican Church of Ireland.

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Tobago Fruits by Roger Robinson

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There was the pink firm flesh of the watermelons.

There were julie mangos that smelled like honey,

yellow bananas with black spots,

rare seasonal caimats weeping milk at their stems,

rows of white yellow pawpaws. I was in transit

in Tobago and had a few hours to kill

before I flew back to England.

I bought green oranges and sliced pineapple

salted and peppered in a clear plastic bag.

She offered me some water and asked Where you from?

From right here. She shook her head You’re not from here lately

She had her hair tied in a bright white headtie

and her army green shirt was buttoned to the top.

If you’re looking for a wife I could cook and clean, maybe?

I ent have no children I doh cause no trouble

I real quiet and lovin’. I looked at her for a minute

and told her that I don’t deserve a woman sweet like her.

She gave me a free extra mango and I kissed her cheek

and on the plane I thought where is home now,

and what will become of my Tobago fruit wife.

(From “In their own words” by Ivory and Szirtes)