Categories
Penwith Poetry West Cornwall (and local history)

In memory of J.M.

A tall donnish schoolmaster enters the gate

only a little late, dismounts

with a certain characteristic style

steering between the other master’s cars

He holds both bars and stomps,

observed by some third form boys, behind

the staffroom, past the prefect’s den

and parks his velociped in the cycle shed.

Allons enfants! We foregather before him

in serried desks- pupils in pupitres.

and listen to his high voice entreating us

to sing a folk song about a peasant soup.

Pacing the long dias by the grand piano

he encouraged us to belt ’em out. Pronunciation

rather than grammar was his choice forte.

We embraced “Auprès de ma blonde

Qu’il fait bon, fait bon, fait bon.“, the

Marseillaise and Sous le pont d’avignon

The lyrics he swiftly chalked above

the staves on the board in the Music Room.

Thinking back, he may have been batered

by the War and tough times along

with the Chinese Inland Mission.

Appearing himself like a cross between Ho Chi Min

and Ezra Pound.

Even then I thought he may not

have fitted in with the other masters

being deemed eccentric he would not have minded

entirely blinded to such bourgeois mores.

“China Reconstructs” tucked under his arm

and head full of ideograms, I wonder

just what I might still learn from him now.

Humphry Davy School - Marnick Builders

https://studycli.org/chinese-characters/types-of-chinese-characters/

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 Poetry

Thoughts about René Magritte – The blank signature, 1965

May be an image of 1 person, horse, tree and outdoors

I don’t understand why I like this painting so much on first glance. The most disturbing element, I suppose is the strip where the horse has simply disappeared giving it the appearance of being a light transparent trunk itself. This, I think adds a joking quality to the overall work which I find a kind of magical forest. The sort that you might well find in a fairy tale or an adventure. The rider does not seem discombobulated by this wooded environment. Indeed she seems to have a sense of purpose and direction quite at variance to the seeming dissolution of her means of transport beneath her. The colours or palette seem to add to a jolly effect and the canopy of branches seems protective.

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
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.