Lost words of Shelley – The Existing State of Things – Politics

Friday 8 July marked the bicentenary of Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) and below are some lost words only discovered in 2006 from a political pamphlet.

Shelley’s poem was “lost” for nearly 200 years, before a single copy of the pamphlet was “rediscovered” in 2006, and a decade later bought by Oxford’s Bodleian Library, so finally it could be read by the public again

“Shall rank corruption pass unheeded by, 
Shall flattery’s voice ascend the wearied sky;
And shall no patriot tear the veil away
Which hides these vices from the face of day?
Is public virtue dead? – is courage gone?”

These lines are taken from Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things, an excoriation of the moral devastation wreaked in late Georgian Britain two centuries ago. It was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley and published anonymously in 1811, in support of the radical Irish journalist Peter Finnerty, who had been imprisoned for seditious libel after accusing the Anglo-Irish politician Viscount Castlereagh of the torture and executions of Irish rebels challenging British rule.
(I came across them from a recent article in the Guardian Newspaper by Kenan Malik … Long gone, but speaking clearly to our age – Shelley, the poet of moral and political corruption | Kenan Malik | The Guardian)

The lines can relate to the sad state of humanity across the ages. And they are apt today in lamentation at what is happening in many places across the world.

Shelley astounds me by his great productive flow of words throughout his short life.

Shelley on Wikipedia

On love and domestic life – Vikram Seth

Prandial Plaint

My love, I love your breasts, I love your nose.
I love your accent and I love your toes.
I am your slave. One word, and I obey.
But please don't slurp your morning brew that way.

Vikram Seth (1952 -

From The Times of India

Vikram Seth is one if India’s most renowned writers. He’s known for his fiction and poetry and has been awarded with several honours in both Britain and India for his contirbution towards literature. He’s recieved a Padma Shri, a Sahitya Academy Award, a Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, an Order of the British Empire(Officer) and several other prizes for individual works.

His poetry is known for it’s witty wordplay, it’s rhythm and rhyme scheme. With simple words and thoughtful phrasing he evokes rich imagery, and there’s always a clever message clear towards the end.

And this is clearly evident in the above poem!

Prandial = during or in relation to dinner or lunch, such as a mealtime conversation
Plaint = complaint

What a wonderful humorous poem all about relationships and living together where the sublime and down to earth acceptance is such a contrast. That last line!

Vikram Seth on Wikipedia

It happens all the time in heaven – Hafiz – Comments

It happens all the time in heaven

It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day It will begin to happen
Again on earth -

That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are Lovers,

And women and women who give each other Light,

Often get down on their knees and while 
So tenderly holding their lovers hand, with 
Tear-filled eyes will sincerely say, “My dear,
How can I be more loving to you; my darling, 
How can I be more kind?"

Hafiz Iran/Persia (1320 – 1389)
Translation by Daniel Ladinsky

See this site for more translations of Hafiz

Hafiz was a great fourteen century Persian poet and mystic revered in Iran to this day.

How to be humble and get down on your knees to respond to the one you love. To listen and hear the need in those you love. The poem asks a key question in the last line. The problem is how to respond and be more kind. Perhaps being kind may involve confronting the one you love to address a deeper need.

And I have always wondered whether Jesus gave the perfect response to those he met?

Hafiz on Wikipedia

Ilya Kaminsky – ‘Deaf Republic’ – the Ukraine War

At a U3A Poetry meeting discussion ensued concerning the power of poetry compared to the power of factual reporting. We were considering Ilya Kaminsky’s … book ‘Deaf Republic’. Here are some enormously powerful lines from one of the poems in his book ...
 
That Map of Bone and Opened Valves 
 
I watched the Sergeant aim, the deaf boy take iron and fire in his mouth― 
his face on the asphalt, 
that map of bone and opened valves. 
It's the air. Something in the air wants us too much. 
The earth is still. 
The tower guards eat cucumber sandwiches. 
This first day 
soldiers examine the ears of bartenders, accountants, soldiers― 
the wicked things silence does to soldiers. 
They tear Gora's wife from her bed like a door off a bus. 
Observe this moment 
―how it convulses― 
The body of the boy lies on the asphalt like a paperclip. 
The body of the boy lies on the asphalt 
like the body of a boy. 
I touch the walls, feel the pulse of the house, and I 
stare up wordless and do not know why I am alive. 
We tiptoe this city, 
Sonya and I, 
between theaters and gardens and wrought-iron gates― 
Be courageous, we say, but no one 
is courageous, as a sound we do not hear 
lifts the birds off the water. 

Ilya Kaminsky (1977 -

Considering these three lines ...
The body of the boy lies on the asphalt like a paperclip. 
The body of the boy lies on the asphalt 
like the body of a boy.
We liked the removal of the paper-clip symbolism in the next line – the boy was like the body of a boy gives emphasis on the human being viewed, going from the poetic to the factual within the poem.

The poem is purely fictional or a poetic statement of the sort of thing that does happen considering inhumanity, and of course the Ukraine is in the public eye. But these words were written well before the invasion by Russia.

Here is a powerful 'factual statement' from The New Yorker media …

“Back at the police station, Fedorov endured long interrogation sessions. His captors pushed him to resign and transfer his authority to Danilchenko. Fedorov took the opportunity to ask what they were doing in his city. They had three explanations, he remembers: to defend the Russian language, to protect Ukrainians from Nazis, and to stop authorities from mistreating veterans of the Second World War. “It was all funny and absurd,” Fedorov said. He told the soldiers guarding him that ninety-five per cent of Melitopol’s residents speak Russian; that he has lived in the city all his life and has never seen a Nazi; and that, by his count, thirty-four veterans live in Melitopol, and he knows just about all of them personally, has their numbers saved in his phone, and tries to visit them often. But his captors seemed to take their imagined picture of an anti-Russian, fascist--ruled Ukraine seriously. ‘They repeated it like a mantra, over and over, as if they were zombies,’ Fedorov told me.
“An air of menace, even violence, was never far away. At night, Fedorov could hear the screams of people being tortured. The Russian soldiers said that they were Ukrainian saboteurs who had been captured in the city after curfew. At one point, Fedorov listened as a man in an adjoining cell shouted in agony; it sounded as if someone was breaking his fingers. ‘This was happening one metre away,’ Fedorov said. ‘What would stop them from coming to my cell and doing the same thing?’”

Power in words is always dependent on the reader or hearer, their emotional state at the time. But here are my thoughts …

The reporting does highlight reality in a factual statement compared to the artificiality of poetry. Both are powerful and thought provoking. Reality demands a response of some form – can we let this happen! Whereas poetry goes beyond actuality to give emphasis to that demand for change using language as a powerful word voice in effecting change. And in this case making us aware of what is happening far away from our individual lives because of the association with the terrible actuality of the Ukraine war.

Ilya Kaminsky a YouTube reading from his Deaf Republic book

Ilya Kaminsky on Wikipedia

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)

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