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)

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

‘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

Canberra Day: Some Les Murray Words

It is Canberra Day today and a public holiday for Canberrans. And each autumn there is a balloon festival. The following is a sunrise photograph from Commonwealth Avenue Bridge looking towards the National Gallery and the Parliamentary lawns as the balloons start to lift in the early morning air.

Canberra Balloon Festival Autumn 2022

In a letter when feeling down and living in Canberra at the time (1962-65), Les Murray had these words to say about the Capital …

I’ve had a bad attack of the old tedium vitae lately. Can’t say why then one never can. It’ll pass. I need a tonic. Like escape from Canberra, which would, without the least fragment of a doubt, be the deadest, dullest, most worthless, ephemeral, baseless, pretentious, pathetic, artificial, over-planned shithouse of a town I’ve ever laid eyes on. I’d set it alight, some days, but I’m sure they’d merely put the fire out with dull, unimaginative efficiency and go on as before. Sod the place.

From an unpublished letter, LM to Greg O’Hara 7August 1963 … taken from ‘Les Murray: A Life In Progress‘ by Peter F. Alexander.

Canberra has grown into a truly magnificent vibrant city, far removed from that rampant LM rage that caused such toxic words to flow fifty years ago!

LM also wrote some short Canberra pieces (Rhymes for a Small Capital) … a couple of examples …

As I walked in Garema Place
I met a man with shining face
Who cried I am not in The Know!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
But Canberra's neither cold nor soulless
(except to those unsold, or coal-less)
she has her delights - I won't distort 'em -
wide embassies of Spring and Autumn

I’m glad to hear LM mentioned some positives! … Spring and Autumn are magic times of the year in Canberra, the Floriade Festival in Spring and the Autumn Balloon week make use of the excellent weather in these seasons.

Les Murray on Wikipedia

– he was arguably an Australian Defacto Poet Laureate.

Canberra as defined by Wikipedia

The World Peace Bell – Canberra

The Rotary World Peace Bell, Nara Park, Canberra

The inscription at the memorial, attributed to Laozi – Chinese Poet and Philosopher …

If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace between nations. 
If there is to be between nations, there must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace within neighbours.
If there is to be peace within neighbours, there must be peace at home.
If there is to be peace at home, there must be peace in the heart.

Laozi – Lao Tzu, also rendered as Lao-Tze, was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.

Laozi on Wikipedia – Laozi – Wikipedia

Details –
In partnership with the World Peace Bell Associationthe Rotary Club of Canberra Burley Griffin built the Canberra Rotary Peace Bell within the Canberra Nara Peace Park precinct on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

Officially launched on 23 February 2018 the bell provides a destination in Nara Park to remind us that we want a peaceful World.

Canberra has a sister city relationship with Nara, Japan

An appropriate time to ring out for world peace. Let us not underestimate the power of prayer and communal thought for peace.

Sharing a Christmas Letter …

… sharing a Christmas Letter from a close friend –

Christmas Letter
I know you appreciate a Christmas Letter. And I guess you have been sending out a few to family and friends. Look guys, I wrote this letter to you a few years ago now, I’m not sure whether you understood what I was trying to say and whether you remember the essence.
Well, I just want to reiterate that I do love you dearly and I will be there for you throughout 2022. You are that bit special!
And yes, I know you think of me at times. And you are good at remembering birthdays; I thank you for that.
How could you forget my name LOL. We do have that unique relationship!

Love, as always … be in touch +

Everyone Sang – Siegfried Sassoon

Everyone Sang
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.
Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted; 
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
Siegfried Sassoon (1886 – 1967)

Yesterday was ‘Remembrance Day’ it also coincided with the easing in Canberra of the restrictions associated with the virus.

This well-known poem is all about freedom and release from war.

The first stanza highlights the immediacy of the release in a sudden outburst of joy. But there is a hint of the transient nature of this emotion with the disappearance of the birds in the last line of the stanza on – and out of sight.

The second stanza shows the joy to be short lived being counteracted by grief – and beauty came like the setting sun. And ends with the dramatic statement – and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done. The song being wordless; without meaning. Siegfried Sassoon remembers those that died in the war and those that are maimed and unable to join the celebration.

In similar fashion there is a degree of immediate relief at the easing of virus-restrictions counteracted by the unease that the virus is still a threat to life. And for those families that have lost members there is that on-going shadow to life. We are fortunate for currently there are no virus-related patients in Canberra hospitals.

Siegfried Sassoon on Wikipedia     

Ancient Egyptian Love Poems – John L Foster translator

Ancient Egyptian Love Poems – John L Foster translation

We explored some Egyptian Love Poems created 3,000 years ago at a recent U3A Poetry Appreciation session.

They were translated from the Ancient Egyptian by John L Foster from the book Love Songs of the New Kingdom (Charles Scribner’s Sons – New York 1974)

In 2003 the ABC Radio National program ‘Poetica’ explored this work … the summary text –
Four small collections of anonymous poems have survived from the New Kingdom of pharaonic Egypt. Written on papyri and a stone vase, they are approximately 3,000 years old, but John L Foster’s translations make them seem very contemporary, fresh and erotic. This program presents a selection of the poems accompanied by music from Michael Atherton and the Musicians of the Nile.

Here are two of the poems …

How clever my love with a lasso  

How clever my love with a lasso -  
she'll never need a kept bull!  
She lets fly the rope at me  
(from her dark hair),  
Draws me in with her comehither eyes,  
wrestles me down between her bent thighs,  
Branding me hers with her burning seal. 
(Cowgirl, the fire from those thighs!) 

… this example is quite contemporary … and makes that universal statement on how passionate love flows endlessly through the years

Your love, dear man, is as lovely to me 

Your love, dear man, is as lovely to me  
As sweet soothing oil to the limbs of the restless,  
as clean ritual robes to the flesh of gods,  
As fragrance of incense to one coming home 
It is like nipple-berries ripe in the hand,  
like the tang of grain-meal mingled with beer  
Like wine to the palate when taken with white bread.  
While unhurried days come and go,  
Let us turn to each other in quiet affection,  
walk in peace to the edge of old age.   
And I shall be with you each unhurried day,  
a woman given her one wish:      to see  
For a lifetime the face of her lord. 

… love, food wine nicely married … and oil is referenced so important in ancient times … and it does say something about the culture of the day and the place of woman in society … that very last word Lord … if it was changed to love it would remove the subservient nature

… but I do like the line – walk in peace to the edge of old age … taking quiet affectionate togetherness to the precipice … implying parting at death

It is interesting to see how love is articulated through the centuries in words. And the importance given to love by making it remembered by transcribing on material objects.