Categories
German Matters Literature Poetry

New York Fascinates by Rosa AUSLÄNDER

New York fascinates

In the early morning hours when between plaster and the crystal of Heaven the elegant skyscrapers stand like gems on the salmon ground

Beautiful is New York in the morning, most beautiful early Sunday when sirens and wheels sleep, little voices from park trees coo to the Hudson adapting to the ocean

A person comes upon you and you see is really a PERSON and you see it is really NEW YORK; a fable beautifully devised subtle and strong

The eight million sleeping Sunday dreamers have not yet shaken off the nightmare of the week. Too late they seek when already shadows embrace the streets, seek the PEOPLE too late, NEW YORK the azure-dreamed fable New York.

New York faszinert

New York fasziniert in den fruehen Morgenstunden wenn zwischen Pflaster und Himmelskristall die eleganten Wolkenkratzer gemmengleich stehn auf lachsrotem Grund

Schoen ist New York am Morgen am schoensten Sonntag frueh wenn Sirenen und Raeder schlafen kleine Stimmen von Parkbaeumen kollern der Hudson sich anpasst dem Ozean

ein Mensch dir begegnet und du siehst es ist wirklich ein MENSCH und du siehst es ist wirklich NEW YORK ein Maerchen schoen ersonnen subtil und stark

Die acht Millionen schlafenden Sonntagstraeumer haben noch nicht abgeschuettelt den Alpdruck der Woche

Zu spaet suchen sie wenn schon

Schatten die Gassen umarmen den MENSCHEN suchen

zu spaet NEW YORK

das blaugetraeumte Maerchen New York

I really like the sense of place in this poem of a stranger awaking to a new environment and its fairy tale quality. The word “kollern” apparently can mean goobled up – presumably by the flowing Hudson entering the sea. Derek Mahon and of course, W.H.Auden give voice to similar sensations too.

Categories
Book Reviews Literature Poetry

The Poems of Tishani Doshi

I came across my volume of Doshi’s poems, Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, in the Oxfam shop and retired to the Cinema’s attatched bar to peruse it. leaving aside the huge question of how we should finance our poets- surely another test of our degree of civilization- I was delighted to acquaint myself with a new poet whose website may be found at http://www.tishanidoshi.com/

Monsoon Poem

Because this is a monsoon poem

expect to find the words jasmine,

palmyra, Kuruntokai, red; mangoes

in reference to trees or breasts; paddy

fields, peacocks, Kurinji flowers,

flutes; lotus buds guarding love’s

furtive routes. Expect to hear a lot

about erotic consummation inferred

by laburnum gyrations and bamboo

syncopations. Listen to the racket

of wide-mouthed frogs and bent-

legged prawns going about their

business of mating while rain falls

and falls on tiled roofs and verandas,

courtyards, pagodas.

Best places in Munnar to visit to watch Neelakurinji flowers bloom after 12  years | Lifestyle News,The Indian Express

The flood of insistent images together with their sounds strikes the reader as with heavy persistent rain. This type of rainfall seems charged too with eroticism from pendulous mangoes to rutting frogs. Throughout this poem this type of rain is held in contrast to the earth itself. It indicates how in one experience and its associated feeling, another mode of being may be temporarily forgotten. It does this with beauty and subtlety.

It ends by speaking of dreams and old poems we forget that –

led us to believe that men were mountains,

that the beautiful could never remain

heartbroken, that the rains arrive

we should be delighted to be taken

in drowning, in devotion.

Old Vintage Postcard With Seascape And Space For Text Stock Photo, Picture  And Royalty Free Image. Image 20607974.

Here is the start of another Doshi poem which is engaging:-

Jungian Postcard

Dear Carl, the days here are impossible:

all silence, and the sea. Yesterday we saw

the horizon unstitch itself from the sky

so delicately, and further down the beach,

two stray dogs materialised like lost souls

from a genie’s lamp. I just had to cry.

Our anima and animus! My love cried,

being philosophically inclined and impossible

to argue with. But the way those bony animal souls

took ownership of us – one black, one gold, and saw

fit to flex their paws on that deserted beach,

unmoved by the disentangled sky

that had banished all its birds. The sky

that slumped so languidly into the sea. I had to cry

for all my complexes.

The poem sets up an intuition of homelessness and alienation which only can be overcome by an inner resolution with the poet’s lover.

Categories
Literature Poetry

Found Prose Poem from the LRB

The London Review of Books is a wonderful fortnightly pleasure. I am particularly drawn to articles that have maps and also to any item which elucidates the background to a problem in the world which has escaped my previous attempts to understand it. The problem in this case being the distressing war in Nagorno~Karabbakh. However, in reading this article by Abdul~Ahad, I came across a few lines which I found deeply poetic.

Nagorno~Karabakh Nagorny is Russian for ‘mountainous’;Karabakh Turkish for ‘black garden’~is a region in the South Caucasus with a predominantly Armenian population. It was a province of ancient Armenian kingdoms before coming under the successive suzerainty of Sassanids, Muslim Arabs, Turkmen tribes and the Persian Safavids with pockets controlled by Armenian meliks, prices who used outside powers to bolster their claims to authority. In the mid~18th centuary following the decline of the meliks, a khanate was established with Persian support by the Javanshirs, a Turkic Karabakh clan, who built the city of Shusha. The region was absorbed into the Russian Empire in 1813 after the first Prussian war, and Persia ceded the rest of the Transcaucasus to Russia a decade or so later.

Karabakh maintained a strong Armenian religious and cultural identity through the centuries, but like all frontier regions it was a place where cultures and peoples converged. Armenian, Persian, Arabic and Turkic influences produced a unique cultural heritage, manifest in food, music. art and architecture. Armenian churches and monasteries dotted the hills while Azerbaijani composers and writers flourished in Shusha. Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Kurds both Yazidi and Muslim, lived side by side in towns and villages set among pine and birch forests, orchards, vineyards and highland pastures, Mulberry groves supported thriving silk industries.

Having just typed it in maybe it is not exactly a poem but it reads very elegantly to my ear. This appeared in an article entitled Each rock has two names in the London Review of Books 17th June 2021. You can read more about this prize winning journalist at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghaith_Abdul-Ahad

and besides this informative article the tragic situation is outlined at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU2v38hRRbg&t=331s

The poet/photographer/journalist talks movingly below:~

Categories
Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews Literature Poetry

The Charming Paintings of Pietro Antonio Rotari(1707-1762)

Next to my laptop propped against the now never used printer is a postcard which I bought at the remarkable Musée JacquemartAndré. This lovely gallery is grandly situated in the Boulevard Haussman in the 8th Arrondissment (huitieme). The postcard shows what a Scotsman might have called a fair bonny lassie.

Pietro Rotari

This Italian Baroque painter was born in Verona and died in St Petersburg. His paintings are remarkable for both their astonishing beauty but also for their realism as can be judged from the following clip.

Looking at these lovely paintings gives me the same feeling as reading this-

BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

Categories
Art and Photographic History Literature Poetry

Housman on The First of May

THE FIRST. O F ΜΑΥ

The orchards half the way
From home to Ludlow fair
Flowered on the first of May
In Mays when I was there;
And seen from stile or turning
The plume of smoke would show
Where fires were burning
That went out long ago.

The plum broke forth in green,
The pear stood high and snowed,
My friends and I between
Would take the Ludlow road;
Dressed to the nines and drinking
And light in heart and limb,
And each chap thinking
The fair was held for him.

Between the trees in flower
New friends at fairtime tread
The way where Ludlow tower
Stands planted on the dead.
Our thoughts, a long while after,
They think, our words they say;
Theirs now’s the laughter,
The fair, the first of May.

Ay, yonder lads are yet
The fools that we were then;
For oh, the sons we get
Are still the sons of men.
The sumless tale of sorrow
Is all unrolled in vain:
May comes to-morrow
And Ludlow fair again.

A.E.Housman

See also https://hokku.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/till-ludlow-tower-is-down-housmans-recruit/

knight, dame laura - Penzance Fair | Knight art, Art, Knight
Corpus Christi Fair by Dame Laura Knight


Categories
Classics Literature Poetry

The Mad Pomegranate Tree

I had recently been perusing Cavafy – particularly reading the essay on him written by that doyen of Dons, Maurice Bowra in his book, The Creative Experiment. Bowra, of whom it has been said, ” …..either the most distinguished or the most notorious Oxford don of the early twentieth century. Classicist, poet, wit, raconteur extraordinary, and Warden of Wadham College for over thirty years, he met nearly everyone of consequence in the worlds of literature and politics” He remarks of Cavafy’s abilility to find pathos in quite simple situations and quotes, The Melancholy of Jason  poet in Kommagini, a.D. 595

The aging of my body and my beauty
is a wound from a merciless knife.
I’m not resigned to it at all.
I turn to you, Art of Poetry,

For the whole poem please see https://www.poetryinternational.org/pi/poem/2516/auto/0/0/Constantine-Cavafy/MELANCHOLY-OF-JASON-KLEANDER-POET-IN-KOMMAGINI-AD-595/en/tile

Then having lost my copy of Four Greek Poets (Penguin Modern European Poets) read a lovely poem by Odesseus Eyletis https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/odysseus-elytis

Odysseas Elytis - IMDb

I

A view of a pomegranate tree | Download Scientific Diagram

THE MAD POMEGRANATE TREE

Inquisitive matinal high spirits
à perdre haleine

n these all-white courtyards where the south wind blows
Whistling through vaulted arcades, tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That leaps in the light, scattering its fruitful laughter
With windy wilfulness and whispering, tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That quivers with foliage newly born at dawn
Raising high its colors in a shiver of triumph?

On plains where the naked girls awake,
When they harvest clover with their light brown arms
Roaming round the borders of their dreams — tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree,
Unsuspecting, that puts the lights in their verdant baskets
That floods their names with the singing of birds — tell me
Is it the mad pomegranate tree that combats the cloudy skies of the world?

For the whole poem please see http://thestockholmshelf.com/2011/12/the-mad-pomegranate-tree-odysseus-elytis-aegean-surrealist/

Categories
Art and Photographic History German Matters Literature Poetry

Fernsucht nach Berlin

Fernsucht ist das Gegenteil von Heimweh. Die Krankheit ist auch unter den Synonymen Fernweh, Reisefieber und Travel Bug bekannt.

With thanks to https://berlinischegalerie.de/en/berlinische-galerie/the-museum/
Categories
Book Reviews Classics Literature

Two somewhat neglected 18th Cent Philosophers

The most accessible introduction to great philosophers, for me anyway, are the You-Tube programmes made by Bryan Magee maybe some 30 years ago. Particularly interesting was Iris Murdoch talking about Philosophy and Literature. Then there was the lucid conversation with Anthony Quinton on Spinoza and Leibnitz. The clearest philosophy book I managed to grasp however, was Language, Truth and Logic by A.J.Ayer. Freddie Ayer used to appear on the Brains Trust on Sunday afternoons -such excellent stimulating elevating television as we seem to see but rarely nowadays. True conversation seemingly in short supply.

However, skimming through Herman’s delightful book on The Scottish Enlightenment, I came across the intriguing philosopher, Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746). Here is how Herman concludes upon him…”He challenged other forms of oppression, which Locke and even Shaftesbury had ignored…….One was the legal subjection of women. Hutcheson defined rights as universal, and did not recognise any distinction based on gender. The other, even more important was slavery. ‘Nothing’, he said, ‘can change a rational creature into a piece of goods void of all rights.’ In fact Hutcheson’s lectures, published after his death under the title A System of Moral Philosophy, were ‘an attack on all forms of slavery as well as denial of any right to govern solely on superior abilities or riches.’ They would inspire anti-slavery abolitionists, not only in Scotland but from London to Philadelphia.

The second philosopher who had a more psychological interest and lived a little later and for the same number of years was David Hartley (1705-1757). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hartley_(philosopher)

His thoughts on what he terms variolation are certainly pertinent to our contemporary discussions on vaccination. However, his interest in an early study of the philosophy interface with psychology also makes for a certain claim to fame on behalf of this doctor from Yorkshire. According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, Hartley wrote a significant treatise. “The Observations gained dedicated advocates in Britain, America, and Continental Europe, who appreciated it both for its science and its spirituality. As science, the work grounds consciousness in neuro-physiology, mind in brain. On this basis, the central concept of “association,” much discussed by other British philosophers and psychologists, receives distinctive treatment: the term first  names the physiological process that generates “ideas,” and then the psychological processes by which perceptions, thoughts, and emotions either link and fuse or break apart. In keeping with this physiological approach, Hartley offers a conceptually novel account of how we learn and perform skilled actions, a dimension of human nature often left unexplored in works of philosophy. Such actions include those involved in speech—and, by extension, the conduct of scientific inquiry.”

Although difficult perhaps to penetrate his writings in detail it seems to me that in relation to certain aspects of volition, memory, sensation and associations are a significant forerunner of Freud and psychoanalysis. It is often stated that Nietzsche’s thought have such an influence but Hartley should be recognised for his insights at much earlier period.

Categories
Literature Poetry

Lawrence Durrell and his Coconuts

Many people will have seen the excellent portrayal of Larry Durrell by Josh O’Connor in the TV Series “Meet the Durrells“. However, my personal encounter with this fellow was at least 50 years ago when I read “The Alexandria Quartet“. I probably was not sufficiently well read at the time to make much sense of these books but much enjoyed their exotic atmosphere. A few years later I saw the film of the first volume, “Justine” (1969 with

Recently searching for a Penguin Poetry book on Cavafy and three other Greek Poets I came across Volume 1 of the Penguin Modern Poets first published in 1962 -price 2/6 (12 and a half New Pence!!) and at an initial glance enjoyed reading a poem by Lawrence Durrell called “Green Coconuts”– then I looked more closely. The first stanza commences:-

At insular café tables under awnings

Bemused benighted half-castes pause

To stretch upon a table jawning

Ten yellow claws and

Order green coconuts to drink with straws.

I had coconut water every day and THIS is what happened - Times of India

I gather from perusal of the net that this poem was inspired by his own visit to Rio with his wife, Eve who tasted the coconuts. Here however, it is the “be-mused benighted half-castes” which sounds more than a little racist to me. Peter Porter has written of Durrell’s poetry  “Always beautiful as sound and syntax. Its innovation lies in its refusal to be more high-minded than the things it records, together with its handling of the whole lexicon of language.”

Picante and picturesque perhaps but bypassing the infantile fantasy of a “great tree of breasts” we arrive at the third verse-

Lips that are curved to taste this albumen,

To taste with some blue spoon among the curds

Which drying on tongue or moustache are tasteless

As droppings of bats or birds.

Now this general tastelessness suggests in association with beastmilk might suggest all kinds of projections going on here. Does one generally taste with the lips or moustache? Perhaps I am being pedantic but the final verse that returns to yellow mandibles and suggests, it seems to me, that the half-castes have become via reference to Darwin and ends with the lines-

Green coconuts, green

Coconuts, patrimony of the ape.

Well, at least in this poem, Durrell has exceeded Kipling in a sort of distasteful and racist bombast.

Categories
Book Reviews Literature Uncategorized

British Journals investigate China

I think that it was Gavin Ewart who said that well informed persons “Take their clues from the Weekly Reviews”. In the past few weeks I have been interested in the latest viewpoints on China in the World today. I grew up knowing very well a Methodist Minister who had been part of the Chinese Inland Mission and well remember seeing a journal amongst the sermons and stamp albums on his desk entitled China Reconstructs. Even at that time China was able to grant 4.7 million dollars to Egypt at a time when Britain, France and Israel were attacking during the Suez Crisis.

The TLS has recently been looking at how the climate emergency and it’s relation to superpower rivalry. In an interesting review of two books, China goes Green and The New Map, Kate Brown looks at what might be termed green colonialism. The first book, by Li and Shapiro she finds reminiscent of Cold War reportage. Kate Brown mentions how China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) mimics the Marshall plan and costs some 60 Billion dollars. She also mentions that in the past 40 years some 400 million Chinese people have planted some 70.5 Billion trees. “Many of these trees were planted on grass savannahs. Drinking up scarce water, they have caused erosion, and the majority of the poplars and evergreens have died” she writes. In reviewing the second book by Yergin she concludes….”….the big winners in the first decades of the twenty first century have been the oil and gas interests. In 2020, just as 30 years ago, 80 per cent of the world’s energy derives from these two resources.” This TLS article from No 6152 February 26 th 2021 is well worth study.

Pinsk Marshes - Wikipedia

The TLS article mentions that the Pripyat Marshes situated in Poland, Ukraine and Belarus appears to be in the BRI plan – sustainainability? Or the search for global markets?

Oliver Wainwright in the Guardian in the Guardian 24th March has written a fascinating article on China’s rural revolution. He quotes the architectural acupuncture strategy of Xu Tiantian of DnA in Songyang in Zhejang province:-

“We have tried to make something to restore the villagers’ pride in their local identity, as well as bringing visitors and creating a local economic network” Wainwright writes that new facilities will include; a brown sugar factory, a camellia oil workshop, a rice wine distillery and a pottery. This well illustrated article goes on to mention community centres and museums all to be discovered in The Songyang Story published by Park Books.

The Spectator has endeavoured to engage in a thoroughgoing and persistent manner with Chineese issues. The tone is often right wing but nevertheless well written and informative. Overall I find it more engaging to read than the New Statesman, which otherwise accords with my sympathises. On 16th Jan Chris Patten writes about “Lessons from Hong Kong” He speaks out strongly and sensibly about the genocidal policies against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and concludes saying “It is also absurd to think China will implement international labour standards, as French and German governments claim. Our European leaders might also notice how many heads of the Jewish community have drawn attention to the similarities between the Holocaust and ethnic genocide against the Uyghurs”.

In the Spectator on the 24th January 2021 Harald Maass raised the question as to who profits from Uyghur labour camps. He quotes one source as mentioning that some half a million Uyghurs are being forced under very harsh conditions to pick cotton in Xinjiang province mostly by hand. He mentions too, the fashion industry:-

“Brands including Hugo Boss, Adidas, Muji, Uniqlo, Costco, Caterpillar, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger have been named in reports tying them to Xinjiang factories or materials. One in five cotton products world wide is made with Xinjiang cotton, though Marks &Spencer last week signed a call to action regarding Xinjiang and pledged to stop using any cotton from the region” According to the BBC just today images of clothes and trainers are being deliberately obscured for domestic viewing. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-56658455

Frnces Pike https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Pike again in The Spectator 20th February raises the question of how the China’s containment of India-it sees it as a long-term geopolitical rival- should be countered by Biden, Blinken and the D10. Besides the Chinese influence in Burma and Bangladesh, Pike mentions the lease of 99 years for the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka protest over Chinese investment turns ugly - BBC News

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D10_club_of_countries

So the coverage of by The Spectator of China has been intensive and is perhaps summarised by James Forsyth in last week’s copy (3rd April}. Forsyth is, one assumes, fairly close to Downing Street. He mentions that in the previous week, “..the U.S., the E.U., the U.K. and Canada imposed sanctions on China over human rights abuses in Xinjiang” China’s response which included sanctioning five M.E.Ps may lead to the European Parliament failing to ratify the E.U.-China investment Agreement. Forsyth mentions the need for solidarity and refers to this:-

” When Bejing turned on Australia for suggesting there should be an independent inquiry into the origins of coronavirus, there was a shocking lack of solidarity from New Zealand.”

Forsyth appears to support the proposal being made to the American China Research Group to develop a kind of Nato for trade. He concludes by advocating that such collective economic defence be on the agenda for the G7 in Carbis Bay.

To conclude with two interesting items –

I knew nothing about bitcoins or their importance. This link not only gives an indication of their production but it also explains their considerable contribution in China of producing Carbon Dioxide-

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/apr/07/china-bitcoin-mining-climate-targets-nature-study?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

Secondly, a useful book on this topic has been written by Jonathan E Hillman published by Yale The Emperor’s New Road:China and the Project of the Century. There is an excellent review and tour d’horizon by Laleh Khali in The London Review of Books 18th March 2021

https://www.qmul.ac.uk/politics/staff/profiles/khalililaleh.html