Penwith St Ives West Cornwall (and local history)

Branch Line Tea Room, St Erth

Cosy and gemütlich and comfortable
Cosy and gemütlich and comfortable

This is a favourite stopping off place where in the midst of all the travel you might enjoy either quiet or a brief encounter; perhaps both. Perhaps, one of the few actual benefits of privatisation, it is filled with transport posters from the 1930s. You can so easily imagine the billowing steam from the last trains which ran on the St Ives Branch line up until the 1970s.

Then the music begins, a gentle voice from the past:-

Sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m blue
My disposition depends on you
I never mind the rain from the skies
If I can find the sun in your eyes, oh

Sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you

Calling cards for The Branch Line Tea Room
Calling cards for The Branch Line Tea Room

Ah, but when I hate you
Don’t you know it’s ’cause I love you
That’s how I am, so what can I do?
I’m happy when I’m with you

I never mind the rain from the skies,
As long as I see the sun shinging in your eyes
Don’t you know that

Sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you
Ah, but when I hate you
That’s because I love you
That’s how I am, so what can I do?
I’m happy when I’m with
So happy when I’m with
I’m happy when I’m with you

(Read more: Room3

Literature Poetry Uncategorized

The Home is the Word Itself;Rose Ausländer 1901-1988




Wort an Wort


Wir wohnen

Wort an Wort


Sag mir

dein liebstes



meines heißt


Kirsten Krick-Aigner  of the Jewish Women’s Archive  writes of Rose Ausländer, “a German-speaking Jewish poet from Czernowitz/Bukovina who spent much of her life in exile in the United States and Germany, wrote that her true home was the word itself.”

There is a very useful biography at Her poems are short, aphoristic and beautiful. There is some more about her life at and also in German at and in considerable detail at


Das Schönste

Ich flüchte

in dein Zauberzelt


Im atmenden Wald

wo Grasspitzen

sich verneigen


es nichts Schöneres gibt

Which might be very freely translated thus:-

The very best thing

I seek the protection of your magic tent my love,

Beneath the whispering forest,

Where the springy grass bows under us;

Nothing is more beautiful……



überfluten mich

Von Tropfen aufgesogen

in die Wolken geschwemmt

ich regne

in den offenen


des Mohns


Are overwhelming me

So that absorbed into droplets

into the floating clouds

I rain

into the open mouth of the scarlet poppy                                                            

It is worth pausing at this point to view some old postcards of the elegant, fascinating city of Czernowitz, Rose’s home city and also that of the celebrated poet Paul Celan. These are on You Tube at

Czernowitz before the Second World War

Peaceful hill town
encircled by beech woods

Willows along the Pruth
rafts and swimmers

Maytime profusion of lilac

About the lanterns
May bugs dance
their death

Four languages
Speak to each other
enrich the air

The town
breathed happily
till bombs fell

Rose Ausländer translated by Vincent Homolka

Czernowitz vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg

Friedliche Hügelstadt
von Buchenwäldern umschlossen

Weiden entlang dem Pruth
Flösse und Schwimmer


um die Lanterner
tanzen Maikäfer
ihren Tod

Vier Sprachen
verständigen sich
verwöhnen die Luft

Bis Bomben fielen
atmete glücklich
die Stadt

This translation comes from a Poetry in Translation website where there are further engaging comments on Rose Ausländer at

Manchmal spricht ein Baum …

Manchmal spricht ein Baum

durch das Fenster mir Mut zu

Manchmal leuchtet ein Buch

als Stern auf meinem Himmel

manchmal ein Mensch,

den ich nicht kenne,

der meine Worte erkennt.

Sometimes a tree speaks…….

Sometimes a tree speaks

to me through the window courage which

Sometimes lights a book

like a star in my sky, and

Sometimes a person

whom I do not know,

recognises my words.

Loneliness I

My pores suck it up
until it’s evenly distributed
throughout my body

Days ceaselessly tattoo
lines upon my cheeks
signs none but the sibyl
can interpret

My friends are sewn up
their breath inaccessible
upon their lips there hangs a colourless flag:
a frosty smile

When I turn around
I see footprints
trailing away in the sand

The windmill on the horizon
moves its sails in time
to a lullaby
It’s time
to put an end to solitude
with bed and sleep

Rose Ausländer    (translation by Vincent Homolka)

Einsamkeit I

Die Poren saugen sie auf
bis sie im ganzen Körper
gleichmäßig verteilt ist

Tage tätowieren
unablässig Linien
in die Wange
Zeichen die nur die Sibylle
deuten kann

Die Freunde sind zugenäht
man kommt nicht heran an ihren Atem
auf ihren Lippen hängt eine farblose Fahne:
frostiges Lächeln

Wenn man sich umwendet
sieht man Fußspuren die
sich verlaufen im Sand

Die Mühle am Horizont
bewegt die Arme nach dem Pulsschlag eines
Es ist Zeit
dem Alleinsein ein Ende zu bereiten
und schlafen zu gehn

Czernowitz is situated in the area known as Bukovnia and its complex history is quite remarkable; once part of Poland-Lithuania, as Galicia, Moldavia it has an extremely varied population. For example, at we read that in the late Eighteenth Century,” The Austrian Empire occupied Bukovina in October 1774. Following the first partition of Poland in 1772, the Austrians claimed that they needed it for a road between Galicia and Transylvania. Bukovina was formally annexed in January 1775. On 2 July 1776, at Palamutka, Austrians and Ottomans signed a border convention, Austrians giving back 59 of the previously occupied villages, and remaining with 278 villages.”

Tensions over identity, unsurprisingly, following the difficult history remain:-

“The fact that Romanians and Moldovans were presented as separate categories in the census results, has been criticized by the Romanian Community of Ukraine – Interregional Union, which complains that this old Soviet-era practice, results in the Romanian population being undercounted, as being divided between Romanians and Moldovans.”


Mit fremden Augen

Mit fremden Augen

kommt der Morgen

mit den vertrauten Augen

der Fremde

kommt der Mittag

mächtig sein Licht

die Fremde mächtig

morgens mittags

und abends

melden sich Stimmen

mit dunklem Klang

der Fremde

altbekanntem Klang

Der Mond lodert rot

auf den Lippen

des Fiebernden

Hörst nachts

das Echo

wenn deine Stimme schläft

erkennst den Körper

die schwarze Wange

aus blauen Poren

fremd vertraut


Art Exhibition Reviews Uncategorized

Auras and Auroras; The work of Matti Braun

The eye-catching, penetrating splendour of Matti Braun’s lyrical paintings and creations are as unusual asthey are inspiring. Braun was born in 1968, trained at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin and also in Frankfurt, he works in Cologne and has had several major exhibitions in Germany, France and Italy. His work can be seen currently at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol until the 6th Jan 2013. Further details may be found here at This current exhibition consists of an installation constructed from sections through a Douglas Fir tree obtained from Westonbirt Arboretum. These are surrounded by a lake of water creating a placid, contemplative effect. Filling the tank in which they are enclosed, gave the Bristol fire brigade a useful opportunity for them to practise and develop their skills. Further information can be read on and photographs of the operation at and  The work was apparently inspired by a film, later abandoned, by the renowned Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. It was entitled ‘The Alien’.

Braun’s oeuvre includes photographs, installations, sculptures as well as paintings. Some of the latter were displayed in a large exhibition in Rome in 2011 and can be discerned in a You Tube movie at and there is a book by Friedemann Malsch et al available on Amazon at

In some respects Braun’s compositions are a little reminiscent of the rainbow effects in the colour field paintings of Morris Louis- which the critic Clement Greenberg has termed post-painterly abstraction. There is also the possible influence of Mark Rothko. His paintings in acrylic, silk and cold-rolled steel bring to mind the evocative inks of a Rorschach test. Certainly, they invite the viewer’s personal response or interpretation.

Braun is gifted and prolific. His thought provoking and exciting conceptions will repay further attention in forthcoming years. On a personal basis they remind me of a garden hedge clustered in Mesembryanthemums in full sunlight. Set against a dark background they might suggest the delicate fronds of various luminescent underwater sea coral.

Book Reviews Uncategorized

Bomber County: The Lost Airmen of World War Two by Daniel Swift

BomberCounty is, of course, Lincolnshire where squadrons of Beaufighters, Wellingtons, Halifaxes and Lancasters were huddled in hangars for combined raids against enemy targets in German occupied Europe. As the war progressed the targets escalated, from attacks against the German Fleet, the industrial complex of the Ruhr and later, with the aim of breaking enemy morale, the targets included the cities-including Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden and Cologne. Night after night, crews already warmly dressed in jerseys and thick woollen socks zipped themselves into flying suits and made their way towards the enemy coast. Conditions were cramped and the temperatures plummeted as they gained altitude flying by the light of the moon to their appointed destinations.

By Daniel Swift

Later in the War, navigators were able to use the hazy reflected signals of H2S to guide them over the changing relief of the land towards enemy territory. Ack-ack batteries, enemy nightfighters and heavy flax over the target took a heavy toll on crews. This book relates the loss of one pilot, James Eric Swift of 83 Squadron on a raid on Munster, early in June 1943. His body was later discovered washed up on a beach in Holland. In this multi-layered book Daniel Swift, his grandson, sensitively retells this family story. He is further inspired to explore a range of related issues from poetry and literature to the morality of the bombing campaign as it was conducted later in the War.

The cover of this handsomely produced volume depicts the distorted perspective of aerial warfare as depicted by Paul Nash; it shows that visual arts produced effective responses to combat. The contrasting situation in poetry is examined throughout the book in counterpoint to the narrative. From classical times Virgil declared Arma virumque cano ( I sing of arms and man) in The Aeneid but this kind of warfare has weaponry that operates at speed and men have little time for reflection unlike the poets of The Great War; Owen, Rosenberg and Sassoon. Daniel Swift refers to the dirge like rhythms of Dylan Thomas’s A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a child in Londonwhich despite the title, is a deeply moving elegy. The author also has much to say of interest on TS Eliot and Virginia Woolf’s responses to the Luftwaffe’s raids.

Swift makes mention of a small number of poems written by pilots like those encouraged by C Day Lewis. There is an exhilaration in flight which has been memorably captured by the lyrical French writer Antoine de St Expurey. Poetry is also inspired by heroism and myths such as that of Ovid’s Daedulus and Icarus, Such matters prompt Swift to tender family reflections and musings on the writings of Auden and Isherwood. These considerations make this an unusual memoir for his Squadron Leader Grandfather about whom Swift has thoroughly researched the archives.

Poetry was very popular during the Blitz, however, it sits awkwardly with mass bombing and firestorming and its effect on civilian populations. Swift who teaches English Literature at SkidmoreCollege in upstate New York is aware of the arguments concerning the morality of debates on such issues which continue to rage on and indeed intensify in relation to more recent conflicts. Arguments and emotions proposed and expressed by Orwell, Churchill and the ethical arguments on the effect of such destructiveness by AC Grayling and other philosophers are briefly outlined.

The Avro Lancaster Bomber

Did the barbarism of the Nazis justify the adoption of the ruthless means of waging war that led to Slaughterhouse V? The poetry falters as we consider events that ended that conflict; the use of Nuclear Weapons and the emerging political doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction. Swift examines and acknowledges many of the issues including the guilt about delivering death at a distance –especially in relation to the poetic recollections of James Dickey; a poet to thank the author for here introducing to a wider audience.

This interesting, informative and hybrid book should remind us all that the poetry as Wilfred Owen stated, lies in the pity. This pity must eventually bring reconciliation. However, UN estimates on August 10th, less than a month ago, quoted in the Guardian of that date; show the number of child casualities in Afghanistan has soared by 55%, despite strict rules on the use of airpower by NATO troops. This heartfelt first book reminds us that the best memorial to lost  grandparents is to earnestly strive for peace for our grandchilldren