‘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.

Canberra Can – Canberra Speaking

Canberra is speaking

Canberra and the beauty of Canberra is speaking loudly at this time of year! Canberra is such a fine city in so many ways apart from benefitting from the relatively low impact of the virus. I do hope those local readers can get out in the spring sunshine and enjoy the colour flush and associated return to warmer days. We have an abundance of recreational areas and nature parks. It raises the spirit no end; especially for those that have been confined at home! And isn’t it wonderful that the majority of those infected have recovered and are now able to get out and appreciate the change!

Here is an image from our garden of the crab-apple saying a white hello.

Unfortunately, the Australian media often uses ‘Canberra is speaking’ in a different context. I say unfortunately because those that have never experienced the delights of Canberra can have a coloured image associated by the political life of our city.

I wonder to what extent this stereotype is changing and how much people can Canberra in this way. It is in this light that I encourage the uninitiated to come see and for themselves in the following sonnet …

Canberra Can
Canberra can be quite annoying 
the polies are soul destroying
they come from a different place
to give our fine city a tainted face
please do not send rubbish here 
to rape their time in sex and beer
we care about our reputation!
we are the Capital of the Ozie nation!
so, peel off this superficial skin 
place firmly in the rubbish bin
and come to Canberra yourself to see
the abundancy of our city
then I am sure you will discover 
that this fair city is like no other!
Richard Scutter

For those readers outside Australia the unacceptable sexual behaviour by some politicians has come to the fore, including inappropriate behaviour and lack of respect for women generally. Interesting, the ‘Profumo / Christine Keeler Affair’ documentary has recently been on television. This was a major scandal in British Politics in the early sixties.

A Wife’s Protest – Ada Cambridge

A Wife’s Protest
1.

Like a white snowdrop in the spring
From child to girl I grew,
And thought no thought, and heard no word
That was not pure and true.

2.

And when I came to seventeen,
And life was fair and free,
A suitor, by my father's leave,
Was brought one day to me.

3.

“Make me the happiest man on earth,”
He whispered soft and low.
My mother told me it was right
I was too young to know.

4.

And then they twined my bridal wreath
And placed it on my brow.
It seems like fifty years ago —
And I am twenty now.

5.

My star, that barely rose, is set;
My day of hope is done —
My woman's life of love and joy —
Ere it has scarce begun.

6.

Hourly I die — I do not live —
Though still so young and strong.
No dumb brute from his brother brutes
Endures such wanton wrong.

7.

A smouldering shame consumes me now —
It poisons all my peace;
An inward torment of reproach
That never more will cease.

8.

O how my spirit shrinks and sinks
Ere yet the light is gone!
What creeping terrors chill my blood
As each black night draws on!

9.

I lay me down upon my bed,
A prisoner on the rack,
And suffer dumbly, as I must,
Till the kind day comes back.

10.

Listening from heavy hour to hour
To hear the church- clock toll —
A guiltless prostitute in flesh,
A murderess in soul.

11.

Those church- bells chimed the marriage chimes
When he was wed to me,
And they must knell a funeral knell
Ere I again am free.

12.

I did not hate him then; in faith
I vowed the vow “I will;”
Were I his mate, and not his slave,
I could perform it still.

13.

But, crushed in these relentless bonds
I blindly helped to tie,
With one way only for escape,
I pray that he may die.

14.

O to possess myself once more,
Myself so stained and maimed!
O to make pure these shuddering limbs
That loveless lust has shamed!

15.

But beauty cannot be restored
Where such a blight has been,
And all the rivers in the world
Can never wash me clean.

16.

I go to church; I go to court;
No breath of scandal flaws
The lustre of my fair repute;
For I obey the laws.

17.

My ragged sister of the street,
Marked for the world's disgrace,
Scarce dares to lift her sinful eyes
To the great lady's face.

18.

She hides in shadows as I pass —
On me the sunbeams shine;
Yet, in the sight of God, her stain
May be less black than mine.

19.

Maybe she gave her all for love,
And did not count the cost;
If so, her crown of womanhood
Was not ignobly lost.

20.

Maybe she wears those wretched rags,
And starves from door to door,
To keep her body for her own
Since it may love no more.

21.

If so, in spite of church and law,
She is more pure than I;
The latchet of those broken shoes
I am not fit to tie.

22.

That hungry baby at her breast —
Sign of her fallen state —
Nature, who would but mock at mine,
Has made legitimate.

23.

Poor little “love- child” — spurned and scorned,
Whom church and law disown,
Thou hadst thy birthright when the seed
Of thy small life was sown.

24.

O Nature, give no child to me,
Whom Love must ne'er embrace!
Thou knowest I could not bear to look
On its reproachful face.
Ada Cambridge (1844 – 1926)

This ballad style with alternating eight/six iambic syllable lines is typical of poems created in early Australia. Poetic structure was adhered to by the poets of the day. Why each stanza is numbered I do not know but this is how it is represented in her work on the Internet.

In much of her later writing a predominant theme was the proper basis of marital choice. Quite clearly this poem is a sad lamentation when that choice turns sour to the extent of slave proportions. And in stanza 15 we see there can be no restoration from such a predicament –

But beauty cannot be restored
Where such a blight has been,
And all the rivers in the world
Can never wash me clean.

I could not help feeling wounded inside at the likely fate of Afghanistan women and girls under the repressive Taliban regime. And doubt whether the strong sentiments expressed in this poem are in anyway an adequate expression of feelings.

Details of Ada Cambridge from the Australian Dictionary of Biography …Biography – Ada Cambridge – Australian Dictionary of Biography (anu.edu.au)

Ada Cambridge, later known as Ada Cross, was an English-born Australian writer. She wrote more than 25 works of fiction, three volumes of poetry and two autobiographical works. Many of her novels were serialised in Australian newspapers but never published in book form. While she was known to friends and family by her married name, Ada Cross, her newspaper readers knew her as A.C.

And on Wikipedia –   Ada Cambridge – Wikipedia