THE TWO RED TOWERS
(A Satire against Clericalism)
Das ist ein Abschied mit Standarten
aus Pflaumenblau und Apfelgrün.
Goldlack und Astern flaggt der Garten,
und tausend Königskerzen glühn.
Das ist ein Abschied mit Posaunen,
mit Erntedank und Bauernball.
Kuhglockenläutend ziehn die braunen
und bunten Herden in den Stall.
Das ist ein Abschied mit Gerüchen
aus einer fast vergessenen Welt.
Mus und Gelee kocht in den Küchen.
Kartoffelfeuer qualmt im Feld.
Das ist ein Abschied mit Getümmel,
mit Huhn am Spieß und Bier im Krug.
Luftschaukeln möchten in den Himmel.
Doch sind sie wohl nicht fromm genug.
Die Stare gehen auf die Reise.
Altweibersommer weht im Wind.
Das ist ein Abschied laut und leise.
Die Karussells drehn sich im Kreise.
Und was vorüber schien, beginnt.”
(Aus: Kästner, DIE DREIZEHN MONATE)
Well here is a rough translation by a good friend.
This is a farewell with flags
coloured plum-blue and apple-green.
The garden is flagging wallflowers and asters,
and thousand mulleins glow.
This is a farewell with trombones,
with guldize and farmers´ ball.
Tolling their cowbells the brown
and colourful herds are stable bound.
This is a farewell with scents
of a long forlorn world.
Jams and Jellies simmer in the kitchens.
Potato fire smoulders in the field.
This is a farewell with turmoil,
with chicken on skewer and beer in jug.
Swingboats want to go to heaven
But they might not be piously enough.
The starlings start their journey.
Gossamer waves in the wind.
This is farewell noisy and gentle.
The merry-go-rounds are spinning in circles.
And what seemed past, starts.
Loss is waiting everywhere,
Because I’ve felt the shape it makes
I try to lose it in the crowd,
Taking shortcuts down alleyways,
Wearing black and changing my hair.
I relish the rain because it covers everything,
Only stopping to linger in a stranger’s stare,
I try to keep all my pages blank, then perhaps
Loss will not know that I’m still there.
Leave –a sonnet
Another coast, some late hour, my feet bare.
Someone loved this place,
there are colours everywhere.
I am drifting in a shipwrecked bed,
an exposed room, a worn wooden floor.
The light fell in, still and unbroken, a silent day,
except for the footsteps, that stopped at the door,
now turning, now walking quietly away.
Once my body knew a rough song,
the sound of our staggered breaths.
Since I sighed a hundred little deaths,
rootless, I went the way of the birds.
Empty places I have known, what could’ve been,
once wound tight, an unravelling dream.
Way back around 1960 I went to a course at Oxford at Ruskin College- a conference where I learnt about the flexibility of the labour force; that many people would have to take many jobs in a lifetime. I went on to teach Physics for some 37 years. I went on for a further week in Cambridge where in Heffers I discovered a fascinating book about the life and work of Albert Einstein. (I had previously read snippets from his own “The World as I see it” borrowed from the library of the local Methodist minister.) I recall the book as being full of photographs and diagrams which gave me some insight into aspects of General Relativity.A short seach has revealed this to be Albert Einstein, The Man and his theories by Hilaire Cluny This
ground has been covered on the brilliant DVD, Einstein and Eddington published by the BBC with Andy Serkis and David Tennant taking the leading parts.
Reflecting on this I think that my biographical interest in Science was much influenced by the television series on Louis Pasteur by the brilliant writer/director Nesta Pain. The importance of consistent and painstaking research in the laboratory seemed to be one theme I would have been wise to have retained from this brilliant series which I must have seen around 1958.
Two excellent biographers are George Gamow and Banesh Hoffmann. The latter’s biography of Albert Einstein-Creator and Rebel was written with the assistance of Helen Dukas who was Einstein’s secretary from 1928 and one of his literary trustees.
George Gamow was born in Odessa in 1904 and worked with Neils Bohr in Copenhagen and with Ernest Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory. His expositions are very clear and Thirty Years that Shook Physics covers the development of the Quantum Theory with chapters on the following:- Planck, Bohr, Pauli, De Broglie, Heisenburg, Dirac and Fermi. It closes with an exposition on Yukawa and Mesons.
These books may now be considered somewhat dated but they remain clear on the state of Physics up to around 1950. One physicist who always stands out as particularly exciting for both his work and unconventional personality is Richard Feynman. I can still recall his safe cracking amusements which are so well described in Brighter than a Thousand Suns on the Manhatten Project.
There are many books on Feynman including an engaging comic book but the classic biography is Genius, Richard Feynman and modern physics by James Gleick.
Finally, I would like to commend this recent historical account-
Faust In Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics and the Birth of the Nuclear by Gino Segrè
Perusing the London Illustrated News from early 1933, is to immerse oneself in a world which seems remote from our own yet the events shape our modern attitudes. The Empire appears secure with photographs of Imperial India, the Viceroy and his family surrounded by flunkies. Trouble is afoot in Moscow where staff from the British Embassy have been arrested and there are sketches of the process of interrogation where the accused stands and the commissar slouches at his desk. There are photographs of new pontoons in Venice, new aircraft -flying boats with generous accommodation and strange giro-copters whose instability proves as unsurprising as their appearance. Compared with the same publication twenty years before there are regular pages on the “kinema” and engravings are no longer to be seen. Platinum blondes are much in vogue as the photographs of beauty queens clearly portray and the permanent wave has arrived everywhere. The photographs of the rise of the Nazis and their integration with members of the German ruling class made more and more obvious. Marches stream through Potsdam and already in New York 20 000 people assemble and crowd in a square to protest at the persecution of Jews. Street signs are being changed near the Tiergarten in Berlin to celebrate the German “victory” at Jutland.
The desperate state of the unemployed and the slum conditions in South London are a constant theme. A conference on the world depression is held with representatives from 66 countries is held in London at the Geology museum then in Jermyn Street- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Economic_Conference. It will be torpedoed by the American President-the dispute relates to the exchange rates between the dollar and other currencies. This all bespeaks a world portrayed by the artist George Grosz whose sketchbooks can be seen at the V and A just across from the Natural History Museum, where the Geological museum now resides. However, the Illustrated News had its own artists and illustrators who like Grosz captured the atmosphere of the times.
Prominent on these pages is the work of Steven Spurrier RA (13 July 1878 – 11 March 1961) whose work may be glimpsed at the Tate. He was educated at Heatherley’s, an independent Art School off Baker Street which specialised in portraiture. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heatherley_School_of_Fine_Art
The next artist whose work proliferates on the pages in 1933 was a brilliant caricaturist and lithographer whoc came from the Channel Isles. He has been called the English Daumier and at the age of 19 was employed by the Daily Chronicle – this was Edmund Blampied (30 March 1886 – 26 August 1966). Blampied was particularly fine at depicting the social conditions at this period of poverty and dire exigence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Blampied Ink and sepia wash being particularly suited to this subject. There is an interesting interview with Blampied at https://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/Edmund_Blampied_-_an_interview
The third artist who worked for the London Illustrated News and made sketches at the London Economic Conference was Werner Knoth(1895-1981) who was a trained businessman and a draftsman, at first self-taught, then studied from 1934 to 1938 in Paris. He was an art dealer in Spain, later a press artist in Hamburg and exhibition organizer. During the Second World War he was taken prisoner of war; his works were destroyed in the bombing. Returning to Hamburg, he drew portraits, theatre and opera sketches. A German citizen employed by the Illustrated News in 1933 and educated at https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hochschule_f%C3%BCr_bildende_K%C3%BCnste_Hamburg
The portrait on the right is of Ulrich Erfurth (1910–1986) who was a German film director.
Auf einmal ist aus allem Grün im Park
man weiß nicht was, ein Etwas fortgenommen;
man fühlt ihn näher an die Fenster kommen
und schweigsam sein. Inständig nur und stark
ertönt aus dem Gehölz der Regenpfeifer,
man denkt an einen Hieronymus:
so sehr steigt irgend Einsamkeit und Eifer
aus dieser einen Stimme, die der Guß
erhören wird. Des Saales Wände sind
mit ihren Bildern von uns fortgetreten,
als dürften sie nicht hören was wir sagen.
Es spiegeln die verblichenen Tapeten
das ungewisse Licht von Nachmittagen,
in denen man sich fürchtete als Kind.
Before the Summer Rain
Suddenly, from all the green around you,
something-you don’t know what-has disappeared;
you feel it creeping closer to the window,
in total silence. From the nearby wood
you hear the urgent whistling of a plover,
reminding you of someone’s Saint Jerome:
so much solitude and passion come
from that one voice, whose fierce request the downpour
will grant. The walls, with their ancient portraits, glide
away from us, cautiously, as though
they weren’t supposed to hear what we are saying.
And reflected on the faded tapestries now;
the chill, uncertain sunlight of those long
childhood hours when you were so afraid.
More analysis of this poem in German may be found at http://www.rilke.de/forum/viewtopic.php?t=137
I want you to know
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.
if each day,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.