Election Day in Australia – The Political Environment

Tomorrow is Federal Election Day in Australia for both the House of Representatives and the Senate though many have already voted.

on the beach
the plastic choke of humanity
washes the skin

Voting for the environment is a world consideration, not just Australia. For the many who have never come to these shores the beach is typically synonymous when thinking of Australia. On the Beach is a well-known book by Nevil Shute in which Australia is the last place to suffer radiation after nuclear fallout has destroyed the rest of the world. It was made into a film in 1959 starring Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck.

Whatever Party wins, the environment must be of prime consideration. Australia like many parts of the world is experiencing extremes in weather involving drought, fires, and floods. And I would really like to see something done about the amount of plastic polluting the oceans and being washed up on our beaches. It is truly time to do something!

Australia is
adorned with adorable awesome amazing
Beaches
VOTE YES
and pick up a bit of litter!

… and here is a link to a new edition of Nevil Shute’s ‘On the Beach‘ – https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6582666/modern-messages-in-on-the-beach/

Places of Poetry – A UK Poetry Society Anthology

I have recently found out about a UK Poetry Society project called ‘Places of Poetry’. The compilation of poems being based on places in the UK. People all over the UK submitted some 7,500 entries for possible inclusion. The project resulted in a book called ‘Places of Poetry’, Mapping the Nation in Verse, edited by Andrew McRae and Paul Farley and published in 2020.

Details on the setup for this project were explained on this Website –  

https://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/university/title_749467_en.html … which mentions Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate who submitted his poem ‘Snow’ in relation to Marsden in Yorkshire. It starts: ‘The sky has delivered its blank missive. The moor in coma.’

And Project details are also on the UK Poetry Society Website – https://poetrysociety.org.uk/projects/the-places-of-poetry/

Simon Armitage was born in Marsden and if you want to see a YouTube video of Simon placing a marker on the Map at quarry near Marsden where the Snow poem features … (68) Simon Armitage pinning the Snow Poem 1 – YouTube

The book is available as an eBook – Places of Poetry eBook by Paul Farley, Andrew McRae | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster AU (simonandschuster.com.au)

The Day Lady Died – Frank O’Hara – Comments

The Day Lady Died
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday  
three days after Bastille Day, yes 
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine 
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner 
and I don’t know the people who will feed me 
I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun  
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy 
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets 
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank 
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard) 
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or 
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres 
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness 
and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE  
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and 
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue 
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and 
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton 
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it 
and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of 
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT 
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing 
Frank O’Hara (1926 - 1966)

The actual day in 1959 is particularly important and this is defined in terms of Bastille Day (14 July), three days after making it 17 July. And it is very hot in the New York summer indicated by the sweating in the last stanza. But what is it that is so important about this day and who was ‘Lady’ (she was known as ‘Lady Day’).

This is a poem about place, the place being New York and if you don’t know New York it is difficult with all the references. Frank O’Hara is walking the streets and picks up a paper. It was Billie Holliday on the cover of the New York Post he bought. 

The sudden realisation that Lady, that great Jazz Queen, has died and he and like those who know her are momentarily stunned on hearing of her death.

If you appreciate Jazz and know New York this poem will have more depth of meaning as you walk the same path. For example, you would know that …

The Five Spot Café was a jazz club located at 5 Cooper Square (1956–1962) in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City, between the East and West Village. In 1962, it moved to 2 St. Marks Place until closing in 1967. Its friendly, non-commercial, and low-key atmosphere with affordable drinks and food and cutting edge bebop and progressive jazz attracted a host of avant-garde artists and writers. It was a venue of historic significance as well, a mecca for musicians, both local and out-of-state, who packed the small venue to listen to many of the most creative composers and performers of the era.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

And Frank O’Hara certainly knew New York. He was part of the New York Poetry scene and he frequented Five Spot where he appreciated the voice of Billie Holliday firsthand.

And even if you know nothing of the City, I am sure you can appreciate the bohemian flavour of a poet on his regular walk not exactly knowing how Mike and Patsy will feed him in the evening. It looks as though he buys something to take, alcohol for Mike and something to read for Patsy. Verlaine was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement and the Decadent movement. He details exactly what he did that day from the 12:20pm time he started walking to the name of the teller at the Bank. And he is obviously familiar with the theatre.

And it is a poem about the sudden notification of a death in the midst of on-going life that stuns a person ‘breathless’. There is a spiritual connection in the last stanza as Billie Holliday’s voice enters his mind, Mal Waldron was a jazz musician.

I can remember when Diana died, I was at an early morning church service that Sunday in the village of Hartley Wintney when the minister spoke about that tragic overnight car crash. Later that day we flew out from Heathrow with no delays despite possible pandemonium at the airport.

This is perhaps the most well-known poem by Frank O’Hara.

Frank O’Hara – Frank O’Hara – Wikipedia

Billie Holliday – Billie Holiday – Wikipedia

A Poem from the Iona Community by Peter Millar

Each month Peter Millar, a long-time member of the Iona Community shares a reflection.  At Easter it took the form of a poem which Peter asked readers to share with others.

Reference There is no copyright on this poem. No quotes from others. It
would be great if you could share it in these days of Lent and of Easter. Thank you and let us hold God’s amazing world in our hearts.
Peter.

Easter 2022 
                            
Every new day across our planet
there is a constant certainty moving in our midst - it is this:
violence, disconnection and radical change 
are our sure companions and disturbers.
Sometimes the whole edifice spins too fast as we
ponder the human future and the divisions that ensnare us. 

Yet within these shadows are fragile possibilities of light
always inviting us to engage with other visions and
truths -  ones that spring from our depths:
emerging from places of insight, where life-giving
currents still flow freely in fractured times.
Ancient wisdoms that renew and restore. 
 
I call it Resurrection,
while others who don’t go there, know its meaning.
Whatever our path, is it not the willingness to see
our world through the eyes of Love; to know we are all wounded
healers: to walk in another’s shoes: to touch the Good Earth and its radiant
Mystery, and to believe that farewells should be free of regrets, that matters
most in every age? 

 Peter Millar, Edinburgh, Easter 2022

I know Easter has come and gone but I am sharing this poem because it aligns with my view of the latent nature of love (or Jesus) in all humanity. In this case defined by Peter in his Easter poem as ‘Resurrection’ –

… while others who don’t go there, know its meaning.
whatever our path, is it not the willingness to see
our world through the eyes of Love; …

And so inclusively expressed independent of traditional religious spirituality.

The resurrection is a gift. An amazing gift of love connecting all humanity in that common denominator giving purpose to the world. At the same time providing individual support and care empowering the on-going beautification of life.

And even if our world is violent and chaotic – life-giving currents still flow freely in fractured times.

I am sure we can all recall the many times when the basic goodness within humanity has been particularly relevant in supporting us at challenging times in our lives. And isn’t the Good earth wonderful in its radiant mystery?

The Iona CommunityWelcome to the Iona Community – A Christian ecumenical community

Nevertheless – An Easter Poem

Nevertheless
nevertheless, it is true 
nevertheless, whether you believe,
believe elsewhere
or just don’t believe
for nevertheless He is latent, 
the he that exists or doesn’t exist,
nevertheless, supporting you
recognised or not
nevertheless it is nice to know too, 
that he cares!
and nevertheless his light
shines through this Easter
nevertheless, yes, nevertheless 
you care to open the window
Richard Scutter Easter 2022

A follow up on my previous Easter Post where Michael Thwaites used that one word ‘Nevertheless’ in his poem ‘The Word’.

Easter greetings to all.

May you be brightened by the light that is the power of love.

‘The word’ Nevertheless – Michael Thwaites

The Word

The greatest word in the greatest book
is that conjunction, ‘Nevertheless’,
(‘Plen’ in the Greek: you could translate ‘However ’)

when the man of Galilee, very near his end
foreseen, self-chosen, with set face and foot,
came to the garden in agony of soul,
his sweat like drops of blood falling to the ground,
his friends sleeping (the heat was far beyond them),
the Son of Man, split by a human cry,
cried to his Father, ‘Father, some other way?
Something, not this! Father, I want, I fear:
Nevertheless, your will, not mine, be done.’

Michael Thwaites (1915 – 2005)

Conjunction – a word used to connect clauses or sentences

Plen – adverbially, at the beginning of a sentence, serving either to restrict, or to unfold and expand what has preceded: moreover, besides, so that, according to the requirements of the context, it may also be rendered but, nevertheless; (howbeit; cf. Buttmann, § 146, 2): Matthew 11:22, 24Matthew 18:7Matthew 26:39, 64Luke 6:24, 35Luke 10:11, 14, 20Luke 11:41Luke 12:31Luke 13:33Luke 17:1 L Tr text WH; ; 1 Corinthians 11:11Ephesians 5:33Philippians 1:18 (R G (see Ellicott)); ; Revelation 2:25; πλήν ὅτι, except that, save that (examples from classical Greek are given by Passow, under the word, II. 1 e.; (Liddell and Scott, under the word, B. II. 4)): Acts 20:23 ((Winer’s Grammar, 508 (473); Philippians 1:18 L T Tr WH (R. V. only that)).

Here is a clever Easter poem based on one word from the bible.

Easter is perhaps the time when we consider the incredible unprecedented self-sacrifice in the life of Jesus. What a situation if that nevertheless did not happen? And is the will of God active in humanity today?

Michael Thwaites on Wikipedia

Separation – Colin Campbell Analysis

Separation
a card arrives 
“happy birthday  fondest love”
i stand it on the fridge
whilst  half a world away
she has forgotten that she sent it
but recalls the usual things
peeling the vegetables  making the bed  sweeping  dusting
later  her head nods over a page  and
the once-friendly words turn away and hide
thin rain oozes from the mossy tiles 
and the bare brown trees stare through the afternoon 
and drip  she tries to remember what it is 
that she must thaw for tea 
and the kitchen  silent as lino  will not tell her
dealt from a well-worn pack of tidy habits 
(what ought to be done rather than the needful)
hours are laid out in patterns on the day’s thin fabric
(so much is to do with the turn
of one moment to cover the last)
whilst indifferent  greedy  thieving Time
gnaws the afternoon
rubbing a hole in the window’s condensation 
she watches the cold  flat Suffolk landscape
turn and shiver beneath the winter sky
and  looking up  she sees the cold rain in the trees …
… and i remember it
Colin Campbell (1941 -

Colin uses spaces in his text to denote a pause while reading. For example – and the kitchen  silent as lino there are two spaces between kitchen and silent. So the more spaces between words in the text the longer the pause.

Colin is a member of our U3A Poetry Appreciation Group and this is a poignant poem from his book ‘Poems’ published at the end of 2021. Looking at each stanza I can give some context to give more depth behind the words which might help the reader.

S1 … The poem addresses Colin’s mother in England while he himself is living in Australia. The first three lines refer to Colin placing a card from his mother on the fridge. This is then a trigger to a reflection on his mother who is living with dementia in Suffolk, England. Maybe he has mentioned the card in a telephone conversation and his mother has no recollection of sending it.

But with a failing mind his mother is confined to keeping track of everyday happenings.

And I like the way words are personified as they hide their meaning as she struggles in daily life.

S2 … It is a dreary winter day … the trees have lost their leaves … it is fitting in connection with the loss or separation taking place in the struggle with domestic life. And little things once easily performed are now hard to fathom out … again, the wonderful personification of the kitchen lino – silent – and unable to help.

S3 … Habits do die hard … worn down by the years … she would like to keep her house tidy but is this really needed … and the day’s thin fabric give that sense that the day itself is fading akin to perhaps the fading of clothes now worn by his mother. And the complexity of each moment as it turns on itself in the effort to combat the lack of mind progression in dealing with dementia … clearly there is separation in the ability to deal with everyday life

And Time is capitalised to give strength to the personification as it gnaws away life … nicely connecting to the problem with trying to remember what’s for tea previously mentioned in the second stanza.

S4 … we have a picture of Colin’s mother looking out on the dreary winter Suffolk environment … creating a small window hole on life outside … the hole that is dementia in reducing life, and she sees the cold rain descending …

… and Colin too remembers the Suffolk scene … and there is a sense of beauty in his recollection of his Suffolk days … perhaps different to the way his mother sees the countryside … but although there is separation there is that strong personal connection.

This is a poem that will relate to those coming to terms with dementia in whatever way the condition manifests.

Vitai Lampada – Henry Newbolt – Comments

Vitai Lampada
There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night—
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
'Play up! play up! and play the game! '

The sand of the desert is sodden red,—
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
'Play up! play up! and play the game! '

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind—
'Play up! play up! and play the game!
Sir Henry Newbolt (1862 – 1938)

Born in Bilston, Staffordshire in 1862, Newbolt was educated at Clifton School and Oxford University. After his studies Newbolt became a barrister. Higly respected, Newbolt was a lawyer, novelist, playwright and magazine editor. Above all, he was a poet who championed the virtues of chivalry and sportsmanship combined in the service of the British Empire.

Written in 1892 Vitaï Lampada was published in Newbolt’s first collection of poetry, Admirals All in 1897. It is probably the best known of all Newbolt’s poems, and for which he is now chiefly remembered. The title is taken from a quotation by Lucretius and means The torch of life. It refers to how a schoolboy, a future soldier, learns selfless commitment to duty in cricket matches in the famous Close at Clifton College. And of course, extension of duty goes far beyond the cricket field.

This is all about playing the game regardless, being part of the team is all important – and concentrating on doing your bit for King and country.

This is a propaganda poem using mate-ship to rally the war cause. And mate-ship is based on that old school tradition of loyalty to your friends. I think times have changed markedly and soldiers have now learned to think for themselves without blindly following orders! Unless of course, they are coerced by authoritarian regimes.

Here is my own propaganda. Seen on the back window of a car parked at the Balloon Festival in Canberra, the following words –
UNITED
in
TRUTH – LOVE – PEACE

Sir Henry Newbolt on Wikipedia … Henry Newbolt – Wikipedia