And the people stayed home – Kitty O’Meara

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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) …

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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 literay 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

Spring Sonnet – Vivaldi (The Four Seasons)

Below are the words behind ‘Spring’ the first of Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ where each ‘Season’ consists of a three-movement concerto. The words form a sonnet and Vivaldi created a sonnet for each season prior to musical composition.

La Primavera (Spring)
Opus 8, No. 1, in E Major

I. Allegro

Festive Spring has arrived,
The birds salute it with their happy song.
And the brooks, caressed by little Zephyrs,
Flow with a sweet murmur.
The sky is covered with a black mantle,
And thunder, and lightning, announce a storm.
When they are silent, the birds
Return to sing their lovely song.

II. Largo e pianissimo sempre

And in the meadow, rich with flowers,
To the sweet murmur of leaves and plants,
The goatherd sleeps, with his faithful dog at his side.

III. Danza pastorale. Allegro
To the festive sound of pastoral bagpipes,
Dance nymphs and shepherds,
At Spring’s brilliant appearance.

The words are a prose translation from the Italian and were obtained from this Website

I. Allegro— to play fast, quickly and bright … Zephyr = a soft gentle breeze … the underlying theme is ‘bird song’ before and after a spring storm

II. Largo e pianissimo sempre— slow, to be played softly and sustained throughout … the sleeping goatherd and the murmur of nature marry nicely

III. Danza pastorale. Allegro—ending in fast, bright dance of nature … with visions of nymphs( = the spirit of nature as a young maiden) and shepherds in festive mood

We rarely read the words before listening to the music. I think they are well reflected in the musical composition. Below are Youtube links to each of the above components for comparison.

I. Allegro
II. Largo e pianissimo sempre
III. Danza pastorale

Humour and Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash and Humour

Humour is an important ingredient in any text. In the main it offers lightness and the ability to create a smile in the reader. This is not always the case of course – ‘black humour’ can invoke negative emotions as well as humour – especially if humour is at the expense of something or somebody. In such cases it can be quite damaging and if acceptable perhaps only acceptable at a cost and always at the discernment of the reader. Ogden Nash is always of an acceptable nature.

From Wikipedia … Nash’s poetry was often a playful twist of an old saying or poem. For one example, he expressed this playfulness in what is perhaps his most famous rhyme, a twist on Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” (1913).

Song of the Open Road

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I’ll never see a tree at all.

Selecting more of his work …

The Turtle lives’ twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile.

There was an old man of Calcutta,
Who coated his tonsils with butta,
Thus converting his snore
From a thunderous roar
To a soft, oleaginous mutta.

The Middle

When I remember bygone days
I think how evening follows morn;
So many I loved were not yet dead,
So many I love were not yet born
.
Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971)

from Wikipedia …

Frederic Ogden Nash … was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, The New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”.

On Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash is a humour-US poet I admire
His rhymes are often quite exemplar
For, if a word he cannot take
A new one he soon doth make
Yes, Ogden Nash is a poet quite unique-lar!

Richard Scutter

Responding to Shakespeare – Emotional Extremes

Words often give extremes in emotional feeling … poetry and the arts are reknown for such expression … here is a well-known example from Shakespeare and Macbeth

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing

Macbeth (5.iv.18-27)

Responding to these words at the other end of the spectrum ….

Today, and today, and today
in marvellous paradise
absorbing second by second
the full cup of divine love
where all our tomorrows have a new sun
aglow in glorious light, forever shining.
It is the tale of a wise-man,
alive in the knowledge of the forever now
full of beauty and joy,
signifying everything.

The release of such words is often thought of as an aid in dealing with emotional disturbance.

And words can become close friends in dealing with difficult situations. The outstanding example of this is ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’.

Have a great day whatever great – great being defined as appropriate to your situation!

The Meaning of Existence – Les Murray

Several years ago I had the pleasure of attending a reading by Les Murray in Canberra. The following poem was read from a wide selection …

The Meaning of Existence

Everything except language
knows the meaning of existence.
Trees, planets, rivers, time
know nothing else. They express it
moment by moment as the universe.
Even this fool of a body
lives it in part, and would
have full dignity within it
but for the ignorant freedom
of my talking mind.

Les Murray (1939 – 2019) from Poems the Size of Photographs, 2002

In the light of the above poem … the ignorant freedom of my talking mind … I asked him whether he had made the right choice in life … an emphatic yes …words are what he had do … if ignored they would have digested him … he was doing what he had to do.

In Europe he was once asked what a poem was … a poem is a song without music … searching for the words behind the music.

He died at the age of 80 on 29 April. He will be remembered for his clever manipulation of words, great repartee, quick witted and a prodigious producer of poetry. A great example is his fast flowing verse novel character Fredy Neptune, 1998 where LM comes to terms with life and his own spiritual understanding of existence. And, of course, he will be remembered for his vernacular love of the Australian rural country. Today there is a memorial service for him at the NSW State Library in Sydney.

From the Memorial Service … https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/the-poems-are-the-thing-tribute-to-the-great-les-murray-20190612-p51wvh.html

Les Murray on Wikipedia