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More Lowell and some recommended reading

Sailing Home from Rapallo
BY ROBERT LOWELL
[February 1954]

Your nurse could only speak Italian,
but after twenty minutes I could imagine your final week,
and tears ran down my cheeks….

When I embarked from Italy with my Mother’s body,
the whole shoreline of the Golfo di Genova
was breaking into fiery flower.
The crazy yellow and azure sea-sleds
blasting like jack-hammers across
the spumante-bubbling wake of our liner,
recalled the clashing colors of my Ford.
Mother traveled first-class in the hold;
her Risorgimento black and gold casket
was like Napoleon’s at the Invalides….

While the passengers were tanning
on the Mediterranean in deck-chairs,
our family cemetery in Dunbarton
lay under the White Mountains
in the sub-zero weather.
The graveyard’s soil was changing to stone—
so many of its deaths had been midwinter.
Dour and dark against the blinding snowdrifts,
its black brook and fir trunks were as smooth as masts.
A fence of iron spear-hafts
black-bordered its mostly Colonial grave-slates.
The only “unhistoric” soul to come here
was Father, now buried beneath his recent
unweathered pink-veined slice of marble.
Even the Latin of his Lowell motto:
Occasionem cognosce,

seemed too businesslike and pushing here,
where the burning cold illuminated
the hewn inscriptions of Mother’s relatives:
twenty or thirty Winslows and Starks.
Frost had given their names a diamond edge….

In the grandiloquent lettering on Mother’s coffin,
Lowell had been misspelled LOVEL.
The corpse
was wrapped like panettone in Italian tinfoil.

 

There is a truly fascinating analysis of this poem in one of my favourite books. That is to say -The Secret Life of Poems by Tom Paulin. This useful book gives an excellent insight into the way poetry works. That may sound a cliche but in Paulin’s review of this poem you can see just how the critic discovers the levels of meaning within the poem and finally expresses his open appreciation of it. There are a number of introductions to poetry that I have found helpful – Ruth Padel has done this for me in her two anthologies-

52 Ways Of Looking At A Poem: or How Reading Modern Poetry Can Change Your Life

and

The Poem and the Journey: 60 Poems for the Journey of Life

Poetry In The Library Michael Hofmann - Events - Shakespeare and ...

Michael Hofmann (photo) is yet another poet and critic as well as a brilliant translator. Yesterday I was reading his introduction to John Berryman’s Selected Poems which was also very clear and enlightening.

 

 

 

 

Realist Paintings of Piet Mondrian 2

The Eclectic Light Company

Around 1908, the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian (1872–1944) started to paint his first works which radically departed from the realist landscapes which he had been painting over the previous decade or more. He had also become increasingly attracted to spiritual movements, including the writing of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who founded the theosophical movement, and Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy. These emphasise the attainment of deeper knowledge of nature by spiritual means, which was significant to his exploratory painting.

mondrianwinkelmill1908 Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), The Winkel Mill (Pointillist Version) (1908), oil on canvas, 44.4 x 34.2 cm, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX. Wikimedia Commons.

In this ‘Pointillist’ version of The Winkel Mill which he painted in 1908, his brushstrokes have become shorter and more prominent, resembling the small tiles used by some of the Divisionists, and his chroma has become almost shockingly intense.

Devotion, by Piet Mondriaan Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), Devotion (1908), oil on canvas, 94 x 61…

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Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

It's only chemo

If we could divide books into two genres, Odyssey books and Iliad books, Siddhartha would be an exemplary Odyssey book. However, Siddhartha departs from Odysseus. He goes on a circular journey, encounters isolation, a courtesan and a wealthy merchant. He is detained by water and eventually realises that the world is an illusion to be detached from. Odysseus wants no such detachment. Hesse’s biggest argument here is against modern individualism, of which the Odyssey is the founding myth.

Siddhartha is like a well researched, post-Enlightenment version of Rasselas. I think of it as, in some ways, the opposite of Ulysses. It is no surprise that Hesse spent time in an asylum when he was young and spent periods of his life in isolation. Like many other Western wisdom-literature books (think Thoreau) this is a late-Romantic work that probably smuggles its beliefs past casual readers.

Hesse’s real challenge to readers…

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Drawings of the Franco-German war of 1870-71: a new acquisition at Cambridge University Library

A fascinating collection!!

Last year Cambridge University Special Collections acquired, with the help of the Friends of the Library, a notebook of 47 drawings, probably produced by an unidentified soldier towards the end of the 19th century (ms Additional 10300). This acquisition adds to the library’s holdings of primary material relating to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, which ranges from bound volumes of contemporary caricatures (KF.3.9-14, see the earlier blogpost) to directories of caricaturists and their work (such as Berleux’s La caricature politique en France pendant la guerre, le siège de Paris et la Commune, 1870-1871, Lib.5.89.27 and Gallica) and facsimiles of posters produced during the Paris Commune (See Les murailles politiques francaises and Les affiches de la Commune). The interest of the notebook does not lie in the artistic talent of its creator, but rather in the examination of his visual culture, through the identification of…

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#Play A Doll’s House

NancyElin

Conclusion:

  1. This was a very easy play to read.
  2. The dialogue is …
  3. clean, simple, evocative, alive and easily spoken.
  4. In Act III when Nora finally finds her voice she
  5. pummels her husband….who can’t handle the truth!
  6. #MustRead  classic play!
  7. This play is an audience favorite:
  8. Film adaptations with Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Jane Fonda and Juliet Stevenson
  9. Stage production is planned June 2020 London with Jessica Chastain.

  1. At the moment a spin-off is on stage in London.
  2. Nora: A Doll’s House –> Young Vic Theatre in London.
  3. Stef Smith’s adaptation of the Ibsen play sends the title character on a time-traveling mission,
  4. exploring how far women’s rights have progressed in the last 100 years.
  5. The play re-frames the drama in three different time periods:

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Painting the nightmare of Auschwitz : the February 2020 Slavonic item of the month

This year will see many 75th anniversaries relating to the Second World War, and one of the most poignant – the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviets – has already occurred, in late January.  We recently received an important addition to Cambridge’s significant holdings about the Holocaust and Auschwitz in particular, in the form of a catalogue of works by David Olere, Ten, który ocalał z Krematorium III (The one who survived Crematorium III), based on an exhibition held at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in 2018-2019.

Olere, a French Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1943, was one of the very few Sonderkommandos to survive the war.  His artistic abilities, employed by Nazi personnel to illustrate letters home and produce other artwork, saved him from the regular killing of Sonderkommando generations.  Olere was in the death march from Auschwitz in January 1945 and was liberated only in May, in Ebensee.  He…

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Hate is Our Enemy

K Heidi Fishman

Tuesday evening I went to the HeartStorm Farmstead where gracious owners Kim and Mike, Rabbi Raskin from Chabad of Southern VT, and Baltic Truth Holocaust Documentary, were hosting Holocaust survivor Elly Gotz, who was there to tell his miraculous story of survival. Gotz was 13 years old and living in Kovno (Kaunas) Lithuania when war broke out in 1941. His story is terrifying and he tells it with passion and heart and, dare I say, humor. Of the 160,000 Jews living in Lithuania before WWII less than 10% survived.

Elly Gotz at HeartStorm Farmstead

Mr. Gotz’s message is extremely important in today’s divided world. He talked about hate. He told us that after the war he hated Germans and wanted to kill them. He had to find a way to put aside that hate in order to live. He quoted Buddha at the end of his talk…

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#Classic Animal Farm

Basically Orwell’s response to the Spanish Civil War.

NancyElin

Finished: 26.02.2020
Genre: allegory (140 pg)
Rating: A+++
#Classic


Conclusion:

  1. Timeless classic
  2. …..every one should read it
  3. …soon to be a Netflix film.
  4. After 50.308 reviews on Goodreads about this book…
  5. …there isn’t much more to tell!
  6. The story, published in 1945, is an allegory for
  7. Stalinist Russia in which animals rebel against the
  8. humans who own their farm and adopt
  9. the rule of equality for all.
  10. By the end of the story, a group
  11. of pigs has begun ruling the animals.
  12. Animal Farm is considered a work of social satire
  13. because Orwell employs irony to criticize
  14. the individuals/groups depicted in the novel.
  15. This story demands that readers think.
  16. Presenting the novel as a beast fable
  17. …contributes greatly to its brilliance.
  18. Lessons learned:
    1. Power corrupts
    2…

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One or two people got hurt in the meantime, didn’t they?

Image result for Cartoons of English Kings eating

Along with Gillray or maybe Hogarth,

we like rude cartoons of old kings;

overweight, overbearing and bewigged,

breeches bursting, waistcoats straining at buttons

at table, grasping forks thrust

into grotesquely large mouthfuls of whole chicken.

 

Thus has our Royal Family delighted us

and so it was today as I sat beside

a girl bearing a willow branch or some such.

Behind me a conversation struck up

in praise of books yet denigrating kindles.

Someone spoke of her favourite detective stories,

“Its a pity when you do know,

half way through who done it,” she paused

“but you have to keep onto the end in case

-you haven’t got it right.”

“I like turning the pages,”

replied he who disparaged modern technology.

 

“Did you see that programme last night?”

“The Windsors”, “The Palace” or some such

“What he got up to – the ageing Duke

and that other one, the Princess-

No!” and he named her Aunt instead

I began to imagine islands, sun-tanned cougars

behind sunglasses…..

He continued in a sadder tone,

“Yes, she couldn’t be with the one

she wanted to be with…” and went on

plaintively and regretfully describing the Royal lady’s lifestyle

and jazzed up episodes and finished somewhat mournfully,

“One or two people got hurt in the meantime, didn’t they?”

And the bus stopped and I got out and walked away pensively.