Qui est ce jeune plongeur ?

Is that really Maupassant readying

himself to dive  among the ladies?

These, modestly dressed like himself

beneath the white high cliffs of Étretat.

Behind him on the perilous board

a gentleman stands with arms

folded, wearing a woolen hat, about

to inspect the quality of the dive

into this so called “mer d’huile”.

Notchalantly, a modern-looking

girl in her black bathing costume floats

seemingly unaware of the garrulous.

society society on the nearby anchored punt.

So this jeune homme is conceivably

the fellow who will meet

Flaubert and Swinburne and

pen Bel Ami?


[With thanks to Paris Match]

The painter’s details are below:-


Eugène] Le Poittevin, peintre (Getty Museum)

Skying 7: Impressionism

The Eclectic Light Company

It’s only when you look through hundreds of Impressionist and Naturalist paintings – the movements which dominated European painting in the latter half of the nineteenth century – that you realise how high most of their horizons are. Despite a strong culture of painting in oils outdoors, and the general availability of oil paint in tubes, skying seems to have become much less popular after about 1850.

It’s also easy to mistake the rough facture and overall sketchiness of many of the paintings made by Impressionists as indications that their finished works were no more than the sort of sketches of clouds that John Constable made on Hampstead Heath. Skies weren’t a strong part of the mainstream Impressionist agenda, though, with limited scope for intensified chroma and lightness, leaving them to be relegated to backgrounds. As a result, the most prolific of the Impressionist sky painters were those at the…

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Girl, comment devient-on femme?


Girl est un film intéressant et marquant car il met en scène le combat de Victor pour devenir Lara. Ce film pose des questions théoriques, éthiques et sociologiques. Souvent nous sommes attachés à des termes sans voir le côté humaine sous-jacent qui se cache derrière ces “mots”. Le combat que mène Lara illustre un parcours silencieux que beaucoup de personnes voulant changer de sexe subissent. Une opération avant 16 ans en France est plutôt rare, mais le film se passe en Belgique, en projection bilingue, où chaque personne est un hybride, parlent, réfléchit en deux langues pour illustrer parfaitement la situation d’instance fragile qu’est le personnage de Lara.   

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Reading Padraic Fallon

  1. Fallon (1905-1974) came from lovely County Galway and was drawn to Dublin by George Russell (AE) to take part in the Irish Literary Revival. Heaney wrote of him “His sensibility has weathered in Galway the rainy light that was familiar to both Rafferty and Yeats; it has been tutored by a landscape at once elemental and historical; a landscape that holds the walled demesne and the tower as well as the bog-face and the stone wall…”

I came across this poem entitled YESTERDAY’S MAN which contained the following lovely and intriguing stanzas:-

Lines of verse too left littering

After poems that never got away,

A pen drawing, very odd, the storm God Zu

Trusses in his fowl form to a carrying pole;

(From him the wren-walk on St Stephen’s Day)


Copied I suppose, to prove a point,

(Akkadian seal, Babylonian cylinder?) How

Much at home I am in this mad world

Suddenly and again! And here somewhere

You the girl enter


Anonymously, in two wooden stanzas, into which

You have entirely disappeared. Words, words,

That’s all you are, girl who never

Was a lover. And I likened you,

Body I could see through, to a catapult

The poem concerns itself with writing poetry and the poet looking through his notebooks and considering lost loves, regret and all in a stormy atmosphere. I like the variation between detail , here about the paraphernalia of writing and the vagueness…”here somewhere”. The latter representing ageing disorientation.

More on Fallon may be found at preview.co.uk where Seamus Heaney has written an appreciation and quotes some lines about Lands End.





Books I havent got around to reading.

Strange. That pile of books ever supplemented by cheap offerings from charity shops. For instance The Cambridge Guide to Greek Literature. Must cost at least £20 and I got it for 50p. I know very little Greek but at least have a Greek dictionary. I know that to grapple with Neitzsche and Heidigger a background in Greek drama is necessary. I have picked up some slight knowledge of Greek myths from poetry (Irish and German) and Greek Drama from Woody Allen. However, it may be some time before I get to grips with the 50p prize.

More to be read!!


Then in my bag I have Eva Ibbetson. I have one in secondhand book form and another on Kindle. I was recommended this author as a lighter read at the end of the current crisis. I then remembered that she was given some prominence at bookshop at Jewish Book Festival. I started reading one about the Pool of Dragonflies” which started in a Harry Potterish vein and seemed to be a bit about Dartington- or rather a fictionalised version thereof. It looks good but not sufficiently so to detract me away from my current Julian Barnes.

So my Don Juan approach to reading is even more random with poetry. That reminds me that I must read more Byron, a frequent feeling which extends to Auden and MacNeice’s Journal from Iceland written in a Byronic style. The following volumes are cluttering my long coffee table;- Lowell, Delmore Schwarz, John Berryman, Padrigh Fallon and Ciaron Carson. Reading poetry at depth is an intensive business and I don’t think it can be hurried. So it is good to read some Betjeman, Kipling and Gavin Ewart. The latter I heard in the Penwith Gallery during the St Ives Festival  some 30 years ago.

Like the road not taken by Johnson in Scotland there is pleasure in the anticipation. Reading reviews can to a degree keep you abreast of the zeitgeist. However, it is often biographies that I most miss when I put them down. Salisbury, Melbourne and John Freeman’s are three that spring immediately to mind.


When the great terror came

Fascinating, I wonder when this was written? 1937??

Poems of Nelly Sachs in English

When the great terror came
I became mute –
Fish turned
dead-side up
Air bubbles paid the price of battling breath
All words fugitives
in their immortal hiding places
where the life force
has to spell out their
and time loses its knowledge
in the enigma of light –

wurde ich stumm –
Fisch mit der Totenseite
nach oben gekehrt
Luftblasen bezahlten den kämpfenden Atem
         Alle Worte Flüchtlinge
in ihre unsterblichen Verstecke
wo die Zeugungskraft ihre
buchstabieren muß
und die Zeit ihr Wissen verliert
in die Rätsel des Lichts –

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Arthur Symons- Cornish Connections

Arthur Symons biography > My poetic side

Cornish Wind

There is a wind in Cornwall that I know
From any other wind, because it smells
Of the warm honey breath of heather-bells
And of the sea’s salt; and these meet and flow
With such sweet savour in such sharpness met
That the astonished sense in ecstasy
Tastes the ripe earth and the unvintaged sea.
Wind out of Cornwall, wind, if I forget :
Not in the tunnelled Streets where scarce men breathe
The air they live by, but wherever seas
Blossom in foam, wherever merchant bees
Volubly traffic upon any heath:
If I forget, shame me! or if I find
A wind in England like my Cornish wind.
This poem by Symons is perhaps a reminder that his parents were Cornish Methodists, his father, a preacher who once was a Minister at St Ives as well as at other parishes in the Duchy. I particularly like the line about “the ripe earth and the unvintaged sea” which by contrast brings evokes Homer’s Wine Dark Sea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wine-dark_sea_(Homer). Then there is the a reference to merchant bees, perhaps because they transport pollen but then there are robust Cornish nlack bees (https://www.merchantsmanor.com/cornish-black-bees/).

There is an interesting review in the TLS of his Selected Early Poems and also his Spiritual Adventures by Kate Hext (January 12 2018) which begins with a poem which describes  the poet in sad old age at dinner. It was published by John Betjeman in 1940.



I saw him in the Café Royal,
Very old and very grand.
Modernistic shone the lamplight
There in London’s fairyland.
‘Devilled chicken. Devilled whitebait.
Devil if I understand.

‘Where is Oscar? Where is Bosie?
Have I seen that man before?
And the old one in the corner,
Is it really Wratislaw?’
Scent of Tutti-Frutti-Sen-Sen
And cheroots upon the floor.

There is a delightful exposition of Tutti Frutti Sen Sen and other commercial items in poetry by the late Clive James at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/articles/69678/product-placement-in-modern-poetry

Waking with Rosa

Wenn du erwachst

Wenn du erwachsts
Baum der in dir Wächst
Hinter deinen Liden
schlummern Zinnsoldaten
singt der Friedenvogel
Wenn du erwachst
breent die Stadt
die Toten sind wach
und erwarten dich

When you awake

When you awake
Trees grown within you
green as dreams
Under your eyelids
tin soldiers slumber
the bird of peace sings
when you awake
the city is burning
the dead are awake
and waiting for you

Zinnsoldaten by Michael Gogol on Amazon Music - Amazon.com

More poems by Rosa Ausländer may be found at https://allpoetry.com/Rose-Auslander


Discovering a new poet- Ciaran Carson

The town where I live has many barber shops, betting shops (gambling dens) and fortunately many charity shops. Since the end of lock-down, as part of the recovery process I have been raiding the latter and especially one which has a rich supply of poetry books. Taking advantage of my reduced price filter coffee at 50p per cup, I thumbed through, “Poems of the Decade”  in which I happened upon two remarkable poems about historic battles by Ciaran Carson.

Here is the start of a poem about Gallipoli from a collection called The War Correspondant.

Take sheds and stalls from Billingsgate,
glittering with scaling-knives and fish,
the tumbledown outhouses of English farmers’ yards
that reek of dung and straw, and horses
cantering the mewsy lanes of Dublin;

take an Irish landlord’s ruinous estate,
elaborate pagodas from a Chinese Delftware dish
where fishes fly through shrouds and sails and yards
of leaking ballast-laden junks bound for Benares
in search of bucket-loads of tea as black as tin;

The full poem may be found at https://genius.com/Ciaran-carson-the-war-correspondent-annotated

My knowledge of Gallipoli comes from a visit during a minitrek in the early seventies and in addition the outstanding film with Mel Gibson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallipoli_(1981_film) 

However, this poem is remarkable with the tumbledown and dilapidated nautical images. There is a clear underlying structure but the surreal images build throughout this poem. I particularly liked the word “mewsy” and there are clear political references in the poem. The situation along with the following poem “Balaklava” show the desperation of war and both battles show the limits of British Imperialism. There is a strange surrealism to the lines-

elaborate pagodas from a Chinese Delftware dish
where fishes fly through shrouds and sails and yards

These somehow reflect the weirdness and disorientation of the context. The Delft reference reminds me too of another favourite poet, Derek Mahon. Yet there is also an association as the poem progresses of Kipling. Then there is a reference to horses which were present in the cramped situation. They were there to move the heavy guns of the Anzac forces. 6100 horses were ready to disembark but only a few were actually put ashore. A search reveals-

After Gallipoli many moderate nationalists began to lose faith in the idea that supporting Britain in the war would assure Home Rule. … But it was in August that Irishmen arrived at Gallipoli in large numbers as part of Allied commander Sir Ian Hamilton’s plan to break the stalemate and go on the offensive.

Sadly in discovering this new poet, I also found how recent was his passing in October of last year https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciaran_Carson


Now you’ve got your getaway baggage

Love Nelly Sachs, Rosa Aüsslander et al. Very relevant today!

Poems of Nelly Sachs in English

Now you’ve got your getaway baggage
across –
the border is open
but first
they throw all your “home”
like stars through the window
don’t ever come back
live in the empty desert
and die –

Schon hast du dein Fluchtgepäck
hinüber –
die Grenze ist offen
aber vorher
werfen sie alle deine “zu Hause”
wie Sterne durchs Fenster
komm nicht mehr zurück
im Unbewohnten wohne
und stirb –

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