Guest article: ‘Ten Things I can’t Wait to do in London when the World Reopens’ by Cathryn Goddard

Near to Daunt’s in Marylebone High Street is the Oxfam shop which also has a pretty good selection and CDs too!

tashtastic

I live in the depths of South London and have missed the freedom of the Capital. This isn’t exactly a hardship in the grand scheme things. But when the days are grey and I feel down in lockdown, I think of what I will do when I can fully return to the City I love.

Going down the rabbit hole

I have been so excited for the V&A’s major exhibition of Alice: Adventures in Wonderland, since its announcement in 2019. How could you not be with the lead marketing images? Luckily, according to the museum’s website, the exhibition is postponed for a later date.

I’ve also missed coffee in the V&A’s cafe, designed by William Morris, James Gamble and William Poynter. I love starting my day in this mosaic wonderland with the most spectacular chandelier in London @vam

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Every Autumn, 1-54 brings together the most…

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Thoughts on history in the making

We seem currently to be going through a period of iconoclasm which has an interesting history itself. One of my favourite plays is “Forty Years On” by Alan Bennett. It often seems to me that British, and particularly English, society resembles some sort of minor public school. Hence I can easily hear John Gielgud intoning Ecclesiastes 44-1:-

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us. 2The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning. 3Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies: 4Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions.

Now, when I googled this a moment ago, I discovered that the first six words of the title refers to a book written some 75 years ago by Agee and Evans with photographs of tenant farmers and their dreadful plight in the depression. The verse from Ecclesiastes was obscured and immediately raises the question about how the meaning of the past can be changed or indeed obscured. It also raises the questions about for whom history might be written, recorded or commemorated.

However, before examining the text, consider the last sentence….” meet For the people, WISE and ELOQUENT are their instructions”. Well it would be nice if the present incumbents of the senior management team were wise and concerned for the people and by no means can the repetitive bumbling be described as eloquence.

(Incidentally, I remember hearing that controversial Cornishman D.M. Thomas remarking once that we had moved from reading Isaiah to watching dire television in two generations!)

Now before we start praising famous men, let alone building statues to them, we also need to consider women and children. The statue which really brought pimples to the skin and still does was near the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin which shows those children going to the West in the Kindertransport and those from whom they have been sundered, facing the death camps in the East. Then, also very moving is the statue by Kathe Kollwitz. This sculpture is under an oculus and exposed to the rain, snow and cold symbolising the suffering of civilians during World War II. It is a pieta- a woman with her dead child. She had lost her son, Peter on the battlefield in the First World War.

At this point I should like to recommend a book and close with a couple of quotations which I think are worth pondering. The book is by Rachel Hewitt and is called “A Revolution in Feeling” It deals with the changes of feelings during the 1790s. To quote from the dust jacket;” Every society in every age, feels differently, and from the seismic shifts of the 1790s Britain emerged the contours of our contemporary attitude to need, longing and emotion”.

Now from that complex but original thinker Walter Benjamin, This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

WALTER BENJAMIN, Theses on the Philosophy of History

Here we return to eloquence again, a reminder that style in historical writers engage our interest from Hazlitt-

The history of mankind is a romance, a mask, a tragedy, constructed upon the principles of POETICAL JUSTICE; it is a noble or royal hunt, in which what is sport to the few is death to the many, and in which the spectators halloo and encourage the strong to set upon the weak, and cry havoc in the chase, though they do not share in the spoil.

WILLIAM HAZLITT, Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays

Finally

Finally, I listened to a radio programme last night about refugees in camps across the Channel in France desperate to escape persecution and many of them, children in conditions cramped as in a slave ship. What are we going to do to alleviate their situation?

When German trains saved Jewish kids - EXBERLINER.com

Käthe Kollwitz's sculpture 'Mother with her Dead Son', Neue Wache ...

Notes

On Iconoclasm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Iconoclasm

There may be elements of magical thinking in relation to monuments as clearly their destruction does not entail the erasure of the past or the racist structures still in existence. It might be argued that in their removal they can become instrumental towards that aim. Some may also consider that they are works of art which raises further questions about aesthetics – content and form etc.

 

 

Gwyneth Lewis-Sea Virus

Sea Virus

I knew I should never have gone below
but I did, and the fug of bilges and wood
caught me aback. The sheets of my heart
snapped taut to breaking, as a gale
stronger than longing filled the sail
inside me. To be shot of land
and its wood smoke! To feel the keel
cold in a current! To see the mast
inscribing water like a restless pen
writing a fading wake! It’s true,
I’m ruined. Not even peace will do
to keep me ashore now. Not even you.

I was first attracted to Gwyneth Lewis’s work by a poem in Ruth Padel’s collection, 60 Poems for the Journey of Life where her attractive poem, The Flaggy Shore may be found. Clearly she is much interested in marine matters.

The poem has a tension and an elegance about it. It will appeal to anyone interested in messing about in boats but has an edge about it too. Much of the imagery is erotic even sexual. The word fug strikes and catches you back as she says in the next line. It is overpowering and yet speeds you along with considerable force like a dangerous attraction. The word “shot” adds to this general sense of menace and yet also implies the freedom experienced as the liberation of inspiration. The image of the pen as a sail-a simile- reminds of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khyyam –

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

It also reminds of the words written on Keat’s Grave-

The best-known use of a similar phrase is on the gravestone of John Keats: Here lies one whose name was writ in water. (‘Writ‘ is a poetic form of ‘written‘.) This means his fame was transient; it passed away quickly. Then there is Catullus-

1 Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle My woman says that she prefers to be married to no one
2 quam mihi, non si se Iuppiter ipse petat. but me, not even if Jupiter himself should seek her.
3 dicit: sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, she says: but what a woman says to her passionate lover,
4 in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua. she ought to write on the wind and swift-flowing water.

The poem then is about the possible effects of being driven along by the poetic imagination. The last line has an awesome direct remark to the reader. For some poets their trade requires passion even to the point of not counting the cost. Shelley in his boat springs to mind!

The past uncovered- an aircraft in the sands

Extract from the Daily Mirror

The emergence of this wrecked Beaufighter after more than 75 years struck me as interesting for a variety of reasons. Rather as memories emerge from traumatic periods in the past. It seems to me that much of the current political debate over Brexit and other matters is connected with unresolved conflicts from the past. Also there is the contrast or juxtaposition between the terrible last moments in the cockpit, as the engines failed, and the discovery of the wreck by the arrival of the dog bounding across the sands so many years later.

Thinking of the variety of persons lost from Leslie Howard, the Film-star in 1943, Antoine St Expupery in July 1944 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_de_Saint-Exup%C3%A9ry) and the disappearance of Jazz Band leader Glenn Miller in December 1944, I came across this famous poem by W.B.Yeats.

An Irish Airman Forsees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

This  great poem exposes what sometimes is forgotten – the treatment of the Irish in the shady forgotten history of British imperialism. Kiltartan by the way is not far from Galway.

Martin Lewis-The man who mentored Edward Hopper

More detailed information can be found at https://boomers-daily.com/2020/03/22/painters-of-the-1930s-moonlight-ballad-the-art-of-martin-lewis-2020/

These lovely etchings go well with Auden’s  wonderful poem “As I Walked Out One Evening”

As I walked out one evening,
   Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
   Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
   I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
   ‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
   Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
   And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
   Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
   Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
   For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
   And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
   Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
   You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
   Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
   And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
   Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
   To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
   Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
   And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
   Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
   And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
   The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
   A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
   And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
   And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
   Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
   As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
   With your crooked heart.’

It was late, late in the evening,
   The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
   And the deep river ran on.

2 – Detail aus meinen Gedanken – Zinie – Zeichnung von Susanne Haun

Lovely detailed sketch! Thanks!

Susanne Haun

Detail aus meinen Gedanken, 76 x 56 cm, Tusche auf Hahnemuehle Leonardo Büttenpapier, Zeichnung von Susanne Haun (c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020Detail aus meinen Gedanken, 76 x 56 cm, Tusche auf Hahnemuehle Leonardo Büttenpapier, Zeichnung von Susanne Haun (c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020

In den nächsten Tagen zeige ich euch jeweils ein Detail aus der Zeichnung Aus meinen Gedanken.

Die 76 x 56 cm große Zeichnung ist gerade auf Hahnmühle Leonardo Büttenpapier am Entstehen.

Für mehr Text fehlt mir gerade die Energie.

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“Mine Alone is the Country in my Soul”: A Poem by Marc Chagall

Just watched a great You Tube talk on Chagall-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz2f8xBWxD0

The Mitchell Gallery

20070507235911chagall_iandthevillage Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Russian-French. I and the Village. 1911.

Seul est Mien
by Marc Chagall

Mine alone
Is the country in my soul
I enter there without a passport
As if it is my home.
It sees my sadness
And my solitude
It lulls me to sleep
And covers me with a heavy perfume.
In me gardens bloom.
The flowers are my creations
The streets belong to me
But there are no houses,
They were destroyed in their infancy.
The inhabitants roam the air
In search of a home;
They dwell in my soul.
For this reason I smile
When my sun barely shines
Or cry
Like a light rain
In the night.
There was a time when I had two heads.
There was a time when these two faces
Covered themselves in an amorous dew
And dissolved into the perfume of a rose.

At present it seems to me

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Nanki-Poo in the Rose Garden

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.

So writes T.S. Eliot in Burnt Norton, the first of the Four Quartets. It makes one wonder what memories can be recalled of this particular Rose Garden. A slightly strange venue to choose surely? Maybe the door ought not to have been opened? Most will recall the unfortunate and strange meeting that heralded the unfortunate Coalition  Indeed, it was another Special Adviser, Julia Goldsworthy who was to finally conclude, “Many Liberal Democrat activists would have found the Rose Garden love-in between David Cameron and Nick Clegg “sick-inducing”. Perhaps it was to give a green tinge to distract from 260 miles or more of carbon emissions.

It is not just the receding hairline of Cummings that brings G and S’s Mikado character of Nanki-Poo to mind. This histrionic and grumpy individual needs a trickster or Jungian alter ego. Remember it is Nanki-Poo who sings-

The flowers that bloom in the spring,
Tra la,
Breathe promise of merry sunshine —
As we merrily dance and we sing,
Tra la,
We welcome the hope that they bring,
Tra la,
Of a summer of roses and wine,
Of a summer of roses and wine.
And that’s what we mean when we say that a thing
Is welcome as flowers that bloom in the spring.
Tra la la la la,
Tra la la la la,
The flowers that bloom in the spring.

This indeed is the Topsy-Turvy World where the Rose Garden becomes the stage for attic antics. Incidentally, Topsy-Turvy is an excellent film directed by the redoubtable Mike Leigh about the making of the Mikado.

The Mikado is relevant here too in more serious ways- it is about a fiercely autocratic society. There is the haughty nobleman, Pooh-Bah.There is making the punishment fit the crime. In Leigh’s film there is drug addiction- there is social distancing and the overwhelming distance brtween performance and the dark and stark reality. In both there is meiosis, a drastic understatement of the situation. Which brings us back to today’s performance attempting to come up smelling of roses.

Durward Lely as Nanki-Poo

 

 

A micro-anthology of Imagist poems by non-Imagist poets

Interesting poems- attempting to penetrate Ezra Pound soon!

It's only chemo

  1. In the desert, Stephen Crane, ‘In the desert/I saw a creature, naked, bestial…’
  2. A Wish, Christina Rossetti, ‘Or shadow of a lily stirred/By wind upon the floor’
  3. The Embankment, T.E. Hulme, ‘The old star-eaten blanket of the sky’
  4. Follow thy fair sun, Thomas Campion, ‘Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow’
  5. Early haiku translations in English
  6. The Frog, Francis Ponge, ‘Let her flee with her nervousness. Her legs are pretty.’
  7. On the Metro, C.K.Williams, ‘how literally golden young women can look at the end of summer.’
  8. This Moment, Eavan Bolard, ‘Stars rise./Moths flutter./Apples sweeten the dark.’
  9. One Girl, Sappho, ‘Like the wild hyacinth flower which on the hills is found,/Which the passing feet of the shepherds for ever tear and wound,/Until the purple blossom is trodden in the ground.’

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Guest article: ‘Slim Gaillard’s Avocado Seed Soup and other Vout-O-Reeny delicacies’ by Sam Berlin

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We’re going to cook up a fine dish, real groovy. Wrap up some fine grape leaves and chip up a little lamboroonie. Sprinkle on a little fine riceorootie and a little pepporoonie, a little peppovoutie. And sprinkle on a little saltoroonie to put the seasoning in there, that makes it really mellow. Then you take and you nail an avocado seed up in the ceiling and let it vout for a while.

Introduction to ‘Gaillard Special’, Jan 1946.

Of all the great songs written about food, and there have been many, few are like those of Bulee ‘Slim’ Gaillard. Often disregarded in mainstream histories of jazz, Gaillard is probably best remembered for inventing his own idiosyncratic ‘slanguage’, Vout (or Vout-O-Reenee). More of an approach to talking than a strict language as such, it largely consisted of adding nonsensical suffixes like oroonee or macvootee or even skoodlivootimo to words…

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