The Second Coming – W. B. Yeats – comments

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Willian Butler Yeats (1885 – 1939)

Gyre – large spiral circular motion
Spiritus Mundi – the spirit or collective soul of the universe

S1 … not a very cheerful viewing of a world in change! … in chaotic change … I guess the virus and the rising of social networking has challenged the establishment in all its inadequacies … so those of a depressive pessimistic nature might say we are all doomed!

S2 … well, here we have the reason for the doom … the second coming (written in 2019) … different from the first … the beast is arising out of the desert like a great ancient Egyptian monument coming to life … and the dark side of humanity dominates … personified in the waking of an ancient relic … its hour come round at last.

Things falling apart has attracted the public to this well known poem … see this article  – from The Guardian

Of course I don’t believe that we are all doomed and that our darker side will take control and chaos will reign supreme. Incidentally, it all started with chaos according to the Greeks … so it would be complete full circle … and back to step one

We each control our own destiny and the upheaval being experienced is a world wide sensitivity that change is needed and a better world wanted by all and for all … so hopefully this will occur … in due time …

The Australian bush fires were truly apocalyptic but they have come and gone and recovery can be seen as expressed in the image and words below … and I am sure that the world as a whole will march triumphantly in time for all to enjoy in new leaf …

TreeRecovery

Australian bush 3 months after the fires – North Durras NSW

notwithstanding the summer fury
and the devastation of environment
bearded black faces show a green future
a bird is singing unseen
recovery

W. B. Yeats on Wikipedia

Eavan Boland – Tribute – ‘And Soul’

 

Irish poet Eavan Boland died at the end of April at the age of 75 from a stroke. Born in Dublin in 1944, Eavan Boland is one of the foremost female voices in Irish literature. She created a much needed female balance to Irish poetry on the same level as Yeats and Heaney.

She was known for documenting women’s lives, including their domestic lives. Her work covered the role of women in Irish history and culture. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Irish Book Awards in 2017 for what was described as her art, her eloquence and her stalwart advocacy for poetry.

Her first collection of poems was published when she was still a student and she went on to have a long career as a poet, editor and teacher. In recent years, she divided her time between Ireland the US. She was Professor of English and director of the creative writing programme at Stanford University.

For more information

A link to a tribute to Eavan Boland

A link to Wikipedia


I have chosen the following poem because it reflects her love of Dublin and gives her personal thoughts as she drove through wet weather to visit her dying mother. The Liffey is the river that flows through Dublin.

And Soul

My mother died one summer –
the wettest in the records of the state.
Crops rotted in the west.
Checked tablecloths dissolved in back gardens.
Empty deckchairs collected rain.
As I took my way to her
through traffic, through lilacs dripping blackly
behind houses
and on curbsides, to pay her
the last tribute of a daughter, I thought of something
I remembered
I heard once, that the body is, or is
said to be, almost all water and as I turned southward, that ours is a
city of it,
one in which
every single day the elements begin
a journey towards each other that will never,
given our weather,
fail –
the ocean visible in the edges cut by it,
cloud colour reaching into air,
the Liffey storing one and summoning the other,
salt greeting the lack of it at the North Wall and,
as if that wasn’t enough, all of it
ending up almost every evening
inside our speech –
coast canal ocean river stream and now
mother and I drove on and although
the mind is unreliable in grief, at
the next cloudburst, it almost seemed
they could be shades of each other,
the way the body is
of every one of them and now
they were on the move again – fog into mist,
mist into sea spray and both into the oily glaze
that lay on the railings of
the house she was dying in
as I went inside.

Eavan Boland (1944 – 2020)

Quite clearly it is a soaking wet city and enforces the Ireland rain connection to the mind. But it does give a shadowy grey dismal emotive background associated with pending death.

It is interesting for it is almost as if she connects the unending rain with her mother as if there is a transference or absorption – ‘it almost seems they could be the shades of each other, / the way the body is’. This reflection is readily accessible by the reader and her thoughts obviously dominated by having to journey through the city in wet weather and it being the wettest summer ever.

The title ‘And Soul’ is thought provoking. My thoughts are that ‘soul’ is always secondary and latent, if you like behind everything and in this case very much behind this personal experience when driving in the rain. 

This poem contrasts with my previous Post of Wallace Steven’s poem ‘The Snow Man’ where a different transference is involved and where words need much thought.

RIP – absorbed in Ireland beautiful.

Easter Sunday Sunrise

Easter Sunday Sunrise

not just another day
another day of the same
of the no touch of distancing
of not being able to reach out in the community
of confinement to self
of being centered on the inside
not just another day
no!

this day is different
this day is the one day
the one day that opens into every day
the lifeline to eternal tomorrows
as our own tomorrow ending
is contemplated

Richard Scutter

Celebrate this special day with friends and family!

Emily Dickinson on Facebook – Pamela Milne

A U3A friend, Ian, introduced me to a very amusing poem by Pamela Milne that imagined Emily Dickinson on Facebook. He obtained it from this link.

In the poem Milne mentions Emily using a tinted/photo-shopped version of the one famous daguerreotype (early photographic process). Here’s just the thing By Debra Styer to go with the poem.

EmilyDickinson

Emily Dickinson on Facebook

She posts many times a day.
Often during the night and early morning.
Photos of spiders and flies on windowsills,
her garden seen through her bedroom window,
her new tulle dress, flowers in a simple vase.
No poems.
Anyone who requests to be her friend, she accepts,
but she never clicks the Like button.
She never comments.
She never responds to messages.
She joins no groups.
Every weekend she changes her cover photo:
leaves of trees and bushes, surfaces of water,
things seen so close up as to be abstract.
But her profile photo is always the same one.
Sometimes she does something to it in Photoshop –
a tint, a filter, sepia – but still, the same.
Emily.

Pamela Milne

Here are Ian’s comments from a recent U3A Poetry meeting –

The idea of the quintessential recluse Emily Dickinson choosing to be on Facebook sounds oxymoronic at first like … but of course social media, artfully used, is a godsend for the true recluse. Pamela Milne’s sense of how Emily would/wouldn’t use Facebook, how she’d make so much of small things in her necessarily small world, is exquisite. Perfect, even. I went “Gosh!” with admiration when I read it. I can’t find a biographical word anywhere about Milne…so if anyone knows anything about her…

I too could find nothing on the Internet so if I find out more about her this Post will be amended.

Well, seclusion is highly topical with the virus restricting many people to limited space. Emily Dickinson would have no problems adhering to the restrictions! Perhaps those poetically minded or those involved in writing that are in forced confinement can use the time to produce some work. Another thought is the maintenance of a diary. For all those reading this Post and in forced seclusion I wish you well.

And the people stayed home – Kitty O’Meara

Roses.png

And the people stayed home And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed.And.in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

Kitty O’Meara

This poem recently went viral so many have already read this untitled prose pandemic poem. I think the strong appeal is the positive optimism expressed, and seeing an eventual outcome in terms of a world healing – eventually a better place to live.

Staying at home has many positives outlined in the first stanza; a time for the world to stop and smell the roses. I like the thought of people meeting their shadows. To me this implied coming to terms with oneself, and a time for self-discovery, reflection and prayer.

The staying at home lifestyle could enable a change in thinking, and the world could start to be healed and the world could begin to progress in a healthier direction. In contrast perhaps by those who view the current status quo as a 24 by 7 all-expenses economic road to ruin?

But let it be known that the ‘old-world’, for all its people faults, was a beautiful place with marvelous people. And that the interim change despite world turmoil still emanates much beauty. And that the ‘new-post-pandemic world’ will be equally amazing. I hope you will be around to participate in that creation! I hope to join you!

The following background text on Kitty O’Meara was obtained from this link

Kitty O’Meara of Madison, WI … is the poet laureate of the pandemic. Her untitled prose poem, which begins with the line, “And the people stayed home,” has been shared countless times, on countless backgrounds, with countless fonts, since its first posting. It was most widely popularized by Deepak Chopra, and has since been shared by everyone from Bella Hadid to radio stations in Australia. The poem has become shorthand for a silver-linings perspective during the coronavirus outbreak—the hope that something good can come out of this collective state of “together, apart.”

Fittingly, the poem is proof of what O’Meara has chosen to do with herself while social distancing: Write. “And the people stayed home” was written in one sitting, the by-product of months of built-up anxiety while watching the pandemic brew on the news.
“I was anxious for the past few months. I knew this was coming and I couldn’t be of service,” O’Meara tells OprahMag.com. After years working in palliative care, O’Meara is especially concerned for her friends who still work in the health care profession and are on the frontlines of battling the virus.

“I was getting kind of sad. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t help my friends. I was very worried about them. My husband said: ‘Write. Just write again,’” O’Meara recalls.
So, she did. “I just kind of sat down and wrote it,” O’Meara says matter-of-factly, crediting “spirit” with the process. “I saw the maps of the receding pollution over China and Europe. I thought, ‘There you go. There’s something of blessing in all suffering.’ And I thought with my passionate love for the Earth, maybe that’s one good thing.”
Immediately after writing, O’Meara shared this poem with her friends on Facebook. “I post stuff like that all the time. I usually don’t get a lot of response,” O’Meara says. “But this found its niche.”

That’s an understatement; the poem resonated with people instantly. Soon, a Facebook friend asked to share the poem with her own followers, and within three days of posting, her husband, encountered the poem elsewhere on the Internet. Kitty O’Meara had officially gone viral.

The top image – Autumn roses from our Garden

 

Being Infectious – a personal exchange!

Smiling Is Infectious

Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,

When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.

When he smiled I realized
I’d passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.

A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.

Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

Jez Alborough ? see Note below  (1959 –

It is a fact that smiling appears contagious – and of more importance makes us happier … well we need something to counteract the emotional response to COVID-19!

… smiling is contagious. And according to the ‘facial feedback hypothesis’, which postulates that facial movement can affect emotional experience, smiling can actually make us feel happier – (Reference – The Contagious Power of Thinking: How Your Thoughts Can Influence the World by David Hamilton)

Note – In some Internet Sites this poem is identified incorrectly as one of Spike Milligan’s poems. I have no record of Spike Milligan and this work (Reference – The Compulsive Spike Milligan edited by Norma Farnes). Admittedly it is the sort of thing Spike Milligan  would write. But from the following comment on the Internet this poem appears to be the work of Jez Alborough who posted …

the author is not unknown, it is by jez alborough. I am the author. It was publihed in my collection of poetry back in 91 called shake before opening. It has also been republished in a few poetry collections, aleays credited to me. I have mo idea why other people have beed credited with it, i’d appreciate itif you correct this. Thanks, jez

Jez was born in Kingston upon Thames in 1959. He went to art school in Norwich and then set about entering the competitive world of children’s books. Jez has now written and illustrated over thirty picture books for children, he was runner up of the 1985 Mother Goose Award with his first book Bare Bear. Jez lives in London with his Danish wife.

And of course finding happiness is up to you 

Smoke – Michael Symmons Roberts – Comments

Smoke

First one tree, then another, horizons close
towards us, house-lights dim and drown.
The huge, low moon dissolves. Pray in us,

spirit, animus, holy ghost among
the wet leaves, in the smoke’s mute song.
Eyes sting. All perspective gone.

One building bleeds into another.
Torch beams shrink to dandelions
Headlamps fade to dull gems set in cars.

Distances collapse. Shouts could cross
streets, valleys, oceans. Silence, broken
by a siren on another continent.

And what burns? Sweet and salt,
bracken, berries, hair. What new edifice
hardens within, waits for world to sharpen.

Michael Symmons Roberts (1963

Animus – hostility
Edifice – structure

This poem, written by UK poet Michael Symmons Roberts in 2011, marries nicely with the smoke drenched city of Canberra as the wanton bushfires send their hangover dust into Canberra from the devastation on the NSW south coast.

A clear message that is not going away – long after the smoke dissipates!

Unfortunately the Australian Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) is not showing the leadership needed to address climate change in an adequate way – waiting for some serious sharpening.

Below Black Mountain Tower, Canberra shrouded in smoke (3 January 2019) …

20200103_112105[1]

A link to Michael Symmons Roberts on Wikipedia.

A tribute to Clive James

A tribute to Clive James …

Clive James (1939 – 2019 ) died on Thursday at the age of 80. He was an Australian author, critic, broadcaster, poet, translator and memoirist, best known for his autobiographical series Unreliable Memoirs, for his chat shows and documentaries on British television and for his prolific journalism. He lived and worked in England from 1962. Clive James was such an erudite and clever user of words and a literary Australian Expat giant over a wide range of literary work.

He stated that his best poetry was in the last years of his life from 2010 when he was first diagnosed with leukaemia and emphysema. In many ways he said that this extension to life were golden years while in reflective mood and at a slower pace. Luckily he was not in any pain.

When he was not in a position to return to Australia he had strong mind memories that were sufficient sustenance. This can be seen from his articulation of such images of his homeland in the following poem …

 ‘Sentenced to Life’

And here are links to three more of Clive James’ Poems on this Site …

The Japanese Maple

The Divine Comedy and Heaven

Commentary on Australia Day

And I can thoroughly recommend reading his – ‘2006 -2014 Poetry Notebook