“It is a beauteous evening, calm and free” by William Wordsworth: Worshipping the Divine in Nature

Stuff Jeff Reads

Caspar David Friedrich

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the Sea;
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder—everlastingly.
Dear child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year;
And worshipp’st at the Temple’s inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

In this sonnet, Wordsworth expresses what amounts to a religious adoration of nature. He is on the beach at sunset, observing the sun as it sets into the sea. And while Wordsworth’s spiritual connection with nature is obvious by the words of worship that appear throughout the…

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News from Berlin, by Otto de Kat, translated by Ina Rilke

I read another novel by de Kat called “Julia” which I thought was really well written -set in Luebeck I seem to remember.

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

I love it when a book that’s on my wishlist waves at me from the new books shelves at the library!  There it was, News from Berlin which Grant at 1st Reading had so enticingly reviewed, so of course I brought it home.  And read it straight away because it’s only just over 200 pages long and I couldn’t put it down.

Otto de Kat is the pen name of Dutch author, publisher, critic and poet Jan Geurt Gaarlandt.  The book jacket tells me that his award-winning novels have been widely published throughout Europe and Man on the Move (2009) was the winner of  Holland’s Halewijn Literature Prize. News from Berlin is translated by Ina Rilke who also translated two books by noted Dutch author Hella Haase that I have read, so I knew the translation would be good.

And it is.  The translation is excellent.  News from Berlin is…

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“Sonnet 34: Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day” by William Shakespeare

Stuff Jeff Reads

Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o’ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
’Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s cross.
Ah, but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.

While this poem is one of the “fair youth” sonnets, and is about some sin committed against the speaker by a person that he loves, for me, it has a…

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Losing and Leaving -two poems by a friend

Loss

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.

Image result for alleyways

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.

Image result for worn wooden floor

Early Aviation in West Cornwall

Image result for grahame white aviation+fleet in mounts bay

The first flight over Penzance was a short affair lasting just 3 minutes at a height of 200 feet. This was achieved in a rather fragile biplane called a Farman with a propeller in the rear. This was around 6.00 p.m. on Saturday July 23rd, 1910. The pilot was the renowned Claude Grahame-White whose purpose was to fly over the three fleets assembled in the bay where they were expected to be informally reviewed by the recently crowned King George V. Poor weather had delayed the flight and high winds curtailed this first effort.

Grahame-White’s second flight from Marazion at 9.00p.m. that same evening was more impressive. It lasted some 15 minutes over the now illuminated fleet. Among the 200 ships present he was able to identify the flagship of the Home fleet, The Dreadnought, and the Admiralty yacht, The Enchantress. It had been his intention to show the vulnerability of the Navy to aerial attack. He had been supported in this endeavour by the photographer of The Daily Mirror, Vaughan T Paul. Grahame-White had learnt to fly at Reims under Bleriot who was the first to cross the Channel, the previous year in 1909. The next month Grahame-White flew his Farnham biplane over Washington landing close to the White House.

Despite the attention which it attracted this was not the first heavier than air flight to take place in the Duchy. Jack Humphries, a Dental Surgeon from Fowey had observed bird flight and made at least two flights with gliders from nearby cliffs. In 1912, the French aviator Henri Salmet, with the financial support of Lord Northcliffe arrived with his Bleriot machine on the 14th of June in Falmouth. He had intended to fly over Lands End, however the headwinds proved too strong for the monoplane.

On 24th September 1913, the Hamburg born Gustav Hamel, just 24 years old, arrived at Trengwainton from whence he flew his Bleriot monoplane over Penzance where he could be seen clearly from the Market Place, Market Jew Street and then to Newlyn Coombe and on to St Ives and was greeted by a large crowd upon his return. After meeting Lord and Lady St Leven and the local M.P., Mr T. Bedford Bolitho who examined his aircraft. The energetic Hamel flew off once more at 5.30 and returned having fulfilled his ambition of being the first aviator to have flown over Lands End.

Hamel and Grahame-White collaborated in the development of Hendon airfield which became a flying school, a site for aircraft manufacture and later taken over by the R.A.F. and is now its museum. Ballooning at Hendon had taken place as early as 1862. Airship bases were built in Cornwall during 1915 and 1916. For example, the Royal Naval Air Station Mullion was developed on a 320-acre site near the village of Cury and the first airship transported here by train. This Lizard Airship Station was later to contain a hydrogen producing plant and a small Marconi transmitter. Its situation was ideal for attacking U-boats in accordance with the intentions of the First Sea Lord, Lord Fisher.

Image result for Lizard Airship Station

 

Books about people to get you into Physics

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.

Einstein And Eddington [DVD] [2008]

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.

Albert Einstein Creator And Rebel (Plume)

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brighter_than_a_Thousand_Suns_(book)

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

 

 

 

 

‘The Disappearance of Émile Zola’ by Michael Rosen

I heard Michael Rosen talk about this last year. Must get around to reading.

Intermittencies of the Mind

I haven’t posted much in the last month what with being busy at work, the World Cup occupying much of my time and the warm summer weather not being favourable for sitting at a computer screen. So blogging has taken a bit of a back-seat, but I have been reading quite a bit. One of the books I read recently was Frederick Brown’s book on the belle epoque era in French history, For the Soul of France, which has the subtitle Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus. That book covers significant events such as the rise and fall of General Boulanger, the crash of the Union Générale, the Panama Scandal and of course the Dreyfus Affair as well as others. The Dreyfus Affair becomes more fascinating the more I read of it and Brown’s book was especially useful as it helped put the events into context. I…

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