Well, the time has come … the Richard said …

Well, the time has come … the Richard said … reaching the leadup to that transition stage in life … for I have personal projects that must take priority, so I must refrain from continuing Posting on this Site … at least until further notice … in the meantime here are some statistics on the viewing of Posts from my WordPress account …

From 5 April 2011 to 25 December 2022 … 479 Posts created …

Twelve of the most popular Posts …

When all others were away at Mass – Seamus Heaney
Dance me to the end of love – Lenard Cohen
Journey to the interior – Margaret Attwood
Recognition – Carol Ann Duffy

Yussouf – James Russell Lowell
Wuthering Heights – Sylvia Plath
Gold Leaves – G. K. Chesterton
Winter – Shakespeare

Silver – Walter De La Mare
The History Teacher – Billy Collins
I remember, I remember – Philip Larkin

Words – Sylvia Plath

This Word is not the last word …
… and the bottom line, well never the last line …

I will be in touch, well at least by your touch LOL     X Richard

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December 23 – Celebration of a birthday

December 23

A sip and a smoke on the back porch,
then its starts to snow;
it seems the night
has decided to number
its ghosts.

No snowflakes settle; beyond reproach,
all absolved — go, go,
a cull of light;
as my birthday remembers
its lost.

Carol Ann Duffy (1955 -

December 23

pavlova and BBQ on the beach
the day full of light
and gives warmth
to all the cells
of my now

so many memories have rescinded
like missing snowflakes
that once came to my window
and momentarily settled
before melting away

Richard Scutter

Well interesting that I share a birthday with Carol Ann Duffy. And that she mentions the snow in relation to the passing years as people like ghosts are recalled before fading like disappearing flakes of snow.

It was snowing heavily when I was born. It was so cold, I got quite a shock. I am still recovering.

Along by merry Christmas time – Henry Lawson – Comments

Along by merry Christmas time

Along by merry Christmas time they buy the aged goose,
And boil the dread plum pudding, because of ancient use.
But to sneer at old time customs would be nothing but a crime,|
For the memory of the Past is all bound up in Christmas time.

Then Jim comes home from shearing, and he puts a few away,
With Dad, perhaps, or Uncle, but they’re right on Christmas Day:
For be it on the Never, or ‘neath the church bells’ chime,
The family gets together, if they can, at Christmas time.

And, after tea at Christmas, they clear the things away
And play the dear old silly games our grand-folk used to play
And Dad gives a recitation that used to be the joy
Of all the Western countryside, when Father was a boy.

Along by merry Christmas time, and ere the week is o’er
We meet and fix up quarrels that each was sorry for.
Our hearts are filled with kindness and forgiveness sublime,
For no one knows where one may be next merry Christmas time.

Henry Lawson (1867 – 1922)

S1 – Christmas is all about remembering the past. The birth of Christ and friends and family that are, or have been, dear to us.

At Christmas we reflect on people that are not with us … always hard to come to terms with loss of the precious in our life. But can love deal with the loss of a recent family member. Here is a poignant poem by Louisa Lawson, the mother of Henry Lawson – A Mother’s Answer – Louisa Lawson | my word in your ear

Henry Lawson’s easy flowing rhymed poem was written in 1913, maybe the plum pudding was not what it is today. An aged goose doesn’t sound attractive either. How many people in Australia are planning to eat goose this year, not exactly a first choice! In fact a meat I have never eaten.

S2 – Christmas is all about bringing family and friends together. And regardless of where the family gather – the Never, Never – the outback, or whether the family congregates at Church together. Food and drink are always to the fore. The variety of food and drink on offer has expanded considerably since I was a boy. And many items that were a luxury for us at Christmas are now commonplace throughout the year.

S3 – Christmas is all about sharing family play. And being accepting of the previous generation in the games they used to play. There are always well-known familiar stories associated with relatives in conjunction with the play. And listening without comment maybe hard for the younger generation, however boring! And when I was growing up music renditions by those who could play, piano and violin from my mother and an uncle come to mind.

S4 – Christmas is all about forgetting squabbles and forgiving. And the last line tells us unequivocally to make the best of the time together; for who knows where family and friends will be next Christmas.

Henry Lawson is best known for being a master of the short story – ‘While the Billy Boils’ – rather than his poetry. Although an Australian theme the Christmas expression in this poem has wide universal association in the Western World.

So what can I say – make the most of this coming Christmas Day.

Henry Lawson on Wikipedia

The Prisoner – Alexander Pushkin

The Prisoner

I sit by the bars in my cell, in the damp
A lusty young eagle caged up in a cramp.
A suffering comrade down there waves his wing.
And flaps as he pecks at some blood-spattered thing.

He pecks it and drops it, and looks up at me
As if our ideas were in deep sympathy.
His beckoning call and his eyes seem to say
What he wants from me: ‘come on let’s fly away!

We brothers, free birds of the air, let us go!
Where mountains stand white, with the storm clouds below,
Where rolling blue oceans run off to the sky,
Where I can fly free with the wind - he and I!’

Alexander Pushkin (1799 – 1837)
translated by A. D. P. Briggs

Ostensibly a poem about a caged eagle. Representative of Russian oppression and the cruel treatment of Russians in the Stalin era. Seeking flight from such conditions and the beauty of nature outside the cage.

Pushkin is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. 

Alexander Pushkin on Wikipedia – Alexander Pushkin – Wikipedia

My Papa’s Waltz – Theodore Roethke – Comments

My Papa’s Waltz

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head   
With a palm caked hard by dirt,  
Then waltzed me off to bed  
Still clinging to your shirt.

Theodore Roethke (1908 – 1963)

An episode between father and son when Theodore was a child. And you can always value the words from a poet when involving family in their work. Clearly his father was an alcoholic and his mother not improving on his resultant behavior and the impact on her kitchen domain. But the above words give only a limited insight into his character. And interesting Theodore Roethke said this about his father – ‘a great story could be written about my father, for in many ways he was truly a great man. I have never found anyone remotely like him in life or literature’.

I remember the words my father used to say – if you can’t be good be careful. I used to like these words because it gave acceptance to my non good behavior. There is another interpretation in that careful is care full and of course I try to be full of care as I react with people and life. Independent of the fact I don’t want to be had up for speeding. I am actually very good when driving especially if I have my partner at my side.

The father-son relationship is the foundation in the growth of any boy. The effect on the future life of the son is another matter. The new generation is always in conflict in some way with the old. I remember a Cat Stevenssong in relation to the differences in thought for those that can remember Cat Stevens.

There are plenty of poems in similar vein where the father-son relationship is articulated. Seamus Heaney has poems in relation to both his father and mother.

From a poetry point of perspective a lot of thought has gone into this simple story poem. The end rhyme words in the second and final lines of each stanza are well chosen. And there is a subtle stumbling effect in the sound of dizzy and easy as the small boy is twirled around in the first stanza.

Here is a link to a very personal poem from Seamus Heaney in relation to his mother.

Theodore Roethke on Wikipedia

In the Park – Gwen Harwood – Analysis

In the Park

She sits in the park. Her clothes are out of date.
Two children whine and bicker, tug her skirt.
A third draws aimless patterns in the dirt.
Someone she loved once passes by –– too late

to feign indifference to the casual nod.
“How nice,” et cetera. “Time holds great surprises.”
From his neat head unquestionably rises
a small balloon … ”but for the grace of God.…”

They stand awhile in flickering light, rehearsing
the children’s names and birthdays. “It’s so sweet
to hear the chatter, watch them grow and thrive,”
she says to his departing smile. Then nursing
the youngest child, sits staring at her feet.
To the wind she says, “They are eating me alive.”

Gwen Harwood (1920 – 1995)
From Poems 1963

Gwen Harwood was an Australian poet and librettist, creating text for musical score. Harwood is regarded as one of Australia’s finest poets. And the above is a poem she is often identified with concerning motherhood.

The title In the Park brings immediate association to any park experience in the mind of the reader with the suggestion that something is going to happen.

S1 … The first three lines define the situation. A bedraggled poorly dressed mother coping with three young children two of which are pulling at her dated skirt. And I guess many seeking peace and quiet from the park would hurry their step as they walked by. But the next line is the key to the occurrence in the park. Someone she once knew under completely different circumstances confronts her painful situation. And this someone is a special person from the past, a lover. And I think many would assume a man but equally it could have been a girlfriend. But she is caught by surprise and can’t feign indifference to the previous relationship. And the break is appropriate as we flow into the section stanza.

S2 … And this lover from the past shows politeness and he says it all ‘Time holds great surprises’.  And there is immense relief that he had avoided being associated with such a life – ‘but for the grace of God‘. He recovers from such emotional thought himself to spend time in conversation pleasantries that flow into the third stanza.

S3 … He takes an interest in the children, their names, and birthdays. The mother then completely denies her situation and contradicts her dire adjustment to motherhood saying a little sarcastically ‘It’s so sweet to hear the chatter, watch them grow and thrive’ as the fellow departs. Contradicting the glory of motherhood and the expectation once held by her and the expectation of society at that time in the role of the mother in family life.

What is interesting is that later in life she penned a different text to give a balance.

A later text …

She sits in the park, wishing she’d ever written
about that dowdy housewife and her brood.
Better, The Memoirs of a Mad Sex Kitten,
or a high-minded Ode to Motherhood
in common metre with a grand doxology.
“They have eaten me alive.” Did she write that?
The sonnet nestles in a new anthology
safe in its basket as a favoured cat.

She sits a while in flickering light rehearsing
the family’s birthdays. “Stop, you bloody fool!”
A young house-father with a pram is cursing
a child whose pushed another in the pool.
She helps him calm them. “Eating you alive?
Look at me. I’ve lived through it. You’ll survive.”

Written in 1992
from The Present Tense (1995)

Two wonderful Petrarchan Sonnets. I think the first eight lines in the above, before the twist have a subtle swipe at the establishment of the day at the time she wrote ‘In the Park’. That sonnet is now safe and valued, perhaps much more than at the time it was written.

The male role in supporting children in family upbringing has changed markedly over the years eating away at the traditional stereotype of motherhood.

Gwen Harwood on Wikipedia – Gwen Harwood – Wikipedia

Nothing Doing – a response to the wanton Ukraine destruction

Nothing Doing
on a visit to a dying nun

and again seeing
the rubble of some impossible buildings
people are emerging through the tangled mess
probably a three-year-old girl
her left hand holds a tatty bear
her right hand is held tight by her mother

the camera focuses on her face
her eyes vacant, expressionless
someone in the nursing-home
presses the remote

the screen blanks

she is propped up by two cushions
prepared for my visit
she gives a gentle smile

as blue eyes spark into life
her frail hand motions
to the chair by her bed
I think it sad that she will
leave this world in such
a hopeless state

soon she will be silent
her body gone

but when Russians fire their bullets
she will be there in her nothing
bleeding her impervious spirit
while holding the hand
of a three-year-old girl

Richard Scutter July 2022

The image of the child portrayed in the above was from TV news footage several months back.