Football – Kate Llewellyn – Comments

Football

I found myself wishing this persona… to be brave and strong and to tell me
about anything else;
art, football, ice hockey, plasma physics, philosophy… anything but love…

It's a game
I saw it once or twice
when I was twelve
standing by a fence in a coat and scarf
with my best friend
local farmers leapt and ran
thuds and clouts and kicks
made the noise of drums and blood
in the dark part of the heart
goals were signalled
with a cheer
and a man waved two white flags
as if he wanted peace
men ran out with oranges
the players sucked them
and began again
it got cold
and we went home
I forget who won
my Mother's pinafore was green
it had red berries on it
we made toast on a fork
in the kitchen stove
it tasted of smoke and butter
my Father didn't play football
I don't think he knew how
the ball seemed an odd shape
perverse

Kate Llewellyn (1936 –

The story of going to a football game with a friend at the age of twelve, so it must have been just after the war in 1948. It looks like winter weather as a coat and scarf is involved. And it looks like a local event where the farming community come in to town to play. And it seeds as though Kate is a little sensitive to all the supporting uproar – made the noise of drums and blood / in the dark part of the heart.

Why the waving of white flags? An understanding of the game seems to be in question later in the poem. But the next thing of note was the half-time break and the distributing of cut oranges to the players. But then it got cold so you had the feeling it was not really very pleasant to be standing around.

The main memory then is the after game warmth of being home again and having toast and being with her mother to the extend of remembering colours in her mother’s pinafore.

Her father did not play football. If he had been involved she may have been educated in the game at a much earlier age. This gives force that she just went along with another girl for an introduction. One thing that obviously struck her was the strange perverse shape of the ball – balls should be round, so why this shape!

You must remember at that time sport was more male than female. And that this girl had little understanding and involvement with the game. And maybe her girl friend had more knowledge of ‘football’ and had asked her if she would like to come along for company. This poem is a statement of a view of the game from this perspective.

Our appreciation and involvement of sport is highly influenced by family and friends. Parents often get their children involved when very young. This can be a positive or negative. I am still interested to see how Southampton Football Club in the UK are going; at a great distance of course. This is purely because of going to see games with my father when I was about the same age as Kate in the above poem.

My father finished work at mid-day on a Saturday. And if ‘The Saints’ were playing at home I would sit with my brother in the back seat of the Morris Isis for the drive to Southampton. We did not go straight to the ground, there was always a stop at ‘The Sun’ pub where we waited in the back of the car with a soft drink and ‘Smiths’ crisps. It was dark and cold at the end of the day when we got back home so I can relate to Kate’s warm home words in her poem. Such pleasant memories wrap around me when I think of those times. And of course the ball was round!

Kate Llewellyn is is an award-winning Australian poet, author, diarist and travel writer. A link to Wikipedia.

False Prophet – Bob Dylan – Analysis

False Prophet

Another day without end – another ship going out
Another day of anger – bitterness and doubt
I know how it happened – I saw it begin
I opened my heart to the world and the world came in

Hello Mary Lou – Hello Miss Pearl
My fleet footed guides from the underworld
No stars in the sky shine brighter than you
You girls mean business and I do too

I’m the enemy of treason – the enemy of strife
I’m the enemy of the unlived meaningless life
I ain’t no false prophet – I just know what I know
I go where only the lonely can go

I’m first among equals – second to none
I’m last of the best – you can bury the rest
Bury ‘’em naked with their silver and gold
Put ’em six feet under and pray for their souls

What are you lookin’ at – there’s nothing to see
Just a cool breeze encircling me
Let’s walk in the garden – so far and so wide
We can sit in the shade by the fountain side

I’ve searched the world over for the Holy Grail
I sing songs of love – I sing songs of betrayal
Don’t care what I drink – don’t care what I eat
I climbed a mountain of swords on my bare feet

You don’t know me darlin’ – you never would guess
I’m nothing like my ghostly appearance would suggest
I ain’t no false prophet – I just said what I said
I’m here to bring vengeance on somebody’s head

Put out your hand – there’s nothin’ to hold
Open your mouth – I’ll stuff it with gold
Oh you poor Devil – look up if you will
The City of God is there on the hill

Hello stranger – Hello and goodbye
You rule the land but so do I
You lusty old mule – you got poisoned brain
I’m gonna marry you to ball and chain

You know darlin’ the kind of life that I live
When your smile meets my smile – something’s got to give
I ain’t no false prophet – I’m nobody’s bride
Can’t remember when I was born and I forgot when I died

Bob Dylan (1941 –

This is a recent poem/song written by Bob Dylan from his album ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’. It was released this year … see this link

Each of the ten four-line stanzas comprise rhyming couplets.

Looking at each stanza, my immediate response …

S1 – If we open ourselves to the world without reservation pain can be the travelling companion. And this of course can course emotional turmoil. How big a backpack is another matter.

S2 – ‘Hello Mary Lou’ was the name of a song first recorded by Ricky Nelson. And Miss Pearl is another song … girls that influence the heart … girls that mean business and this is reciprocated.

S3 – Great to seek good. Great to know yourself and know where you’re going in life. Great not to be false to yourself. Great expectations!

S4 – To be inclusive and equal but not seeking gold … gold and silver are false things to hold.

S5 – There’s nothing special, special about Dylan … come to myside in the garden … then you will see, you will see and will feel … all that is special – special and real together

S6 – I’ve (Dylan) done a lot of searching … love and betray … I’ve struggled up mountains so hard not to fail … climbed a mountain of swords on my bare feet … it doesn’t matter any more about food and drink … I’m beyond that old searching game

S7 – Don’t go on appearances I’m not what you see … you don’t know me … I’ll get my own back on life … but who is to blame … vengeance on somebody’s head

S8 – I can’t give you anything … don’t look to me …you will be led astray … the swallow of gold … gold will choke you, it’s not a food … look up to the hill to God behold

S9 – Hello and good by … false prophet – true prophet, both rule the land … but to prison I send the false holding of hand

S10 … You know me and I know you … in confrontation something must give … I’m no false prophet … when was love born and when did it die!

Here is the official audio on You Tube 

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 and all his lyrics have been thought provoking. He is remembered by most for his early days of coming to fame with songs such as ‘It Ain’t me Babe’ here is a YouTube link … and his involvement in the Counterculture of the sixties.

My Darling Turns to Poetry at Night – Anthony Lawrence – Analysis

My Darling Turns to Poetry at Night

My darling turns to poetry at night.
What began as flirtation, an aside
Between abstract expression and first light

Now finds form as a silent, startled flight
Of commas on her face — a breath, a word …
My darling turns to poetry at night.

When rain inspires the night birds to create
Rhyme and formal verse, stanzas can be made
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her heartbeat is a metaphor, a late
Bloom of red flowers that refuse to fade.
My darling turns to poetry at night.

I watch her turn. I do not sleep. I wait
For symbols, for a sign that fear has died
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her dreams have night vision, and in her sight
Our bodies leave ghost prints on the bed.
My darling turns to poetry at night
Between abstract expression and first light.

Anthony Lawrence (1957 –

This is a nineteen-line villanelle; five three-line stanzas and ending with a four-line.

The first and third lines of the first stanza appear repeatedly throughout the villanelle structure. They form the rhyming couplet in the last stanza. These are the most important lines and once defined eight lines have been created. Much thought must be given in creating these lines.

My darling turns to poetry at night
Between abstract expression and first light.

Looking at the above lines and what they say to me. The poet’s sleeping partner is pure poetry as he/she changes in facial expression. It is clever to use the double meaning of turns.

The other lines cleverly elaborate on this theme with poetry in mind. For example –

Her heartbeat is a metaphor, a late
Bloom of red flowers that refuse to fade.

We now know that a ‘she’ is involved and not a ‘he’. There is an underlying sense of beauty. And I do like the way commas appear as separation in the silent breathing of words by the sleeping person.

The facial expression of a person varies throughout the journey of the night. What you can read from viewing the continual changes is another matter. This poem is all about facial expression translation to poetic thoughts. I think there is an incredible beauty in the sleeping face of someone in peace with the world whether adult of child. In this poem it appears that fear must be eliminated before this can occur. And it is very thoughtful for partner to wait for this to be seen visually. Perhaps using this time to compose poetic words.

I watch her turn. I do not sleep. I wait
For symbols, for a sign that fear has died

The end rhyming words must flow through the villanelle too, so it is not an easy structure to adhere to. In this case – night, flight, sight, light

And for those not familiar with the villanelle this is a link to that well-know Dylan Thomas poem as another example, together with more detail on the villanelle.

Anthony Lawrence is a contemporary Australian poet and novelist.

 

 

Donal Og – Lady Augusta Gregory – Comments

Donal Og (young Donal)

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday
and myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

My mother has said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith’s forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you put that darkness over my life.

You have taken the east from me, you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

Anonymous (8th century Irish ballad)
Translated by Lady Augusta Gregory

From WikipediaIsabella Augusta, Lady Gregory was an Irish dramatist, folklorist and theatre manager. With William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn, she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous short works for both companies.

From the Guardian
The translation from the Gaelic leaves much of the original’s grammatical structure in place, giving her English remarkable energy

Well, in the 8th century a woman needed a man for financial support and a living apart from love getting in the way.

And it is the same old story of a lover promising the world and the beloved half believing through misty eyes. The promises detailed in terms of agricultural life – that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked. And she giving three hundred cries and none were heard. She knew his promises were meaningless – you promised me a thing that is not possible. But did that matter? Lovers are generally  prone to be forgiving of the faults in others.

And religion joins forces with her passion it being Passion Sunday the day she gave herself to him and to him forever – my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

She is in deep depression at the loss of love; the loss of him – it was you put that darkness over my life.

The counsel of her mother was too late – it was a bad time she took for telling me that; / it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

That last line brings in religion again – and my fear is great that you have taken God from me! Perhaps she believes that if she does commit suicide God would be taken from her. And perhaps she is feeling suicidal. Commit is not the word to use today in that association.

This lament is the story of love, grief and despair which flows endless through the centuries.

Days – Philip Larkin – Analysis

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin (1922 – 1985)

I read this poem some time ago. However, recently I took out a book from the library by Robert Dessaix ‘What Days Are For – A memoir’ and that renewed my interest is this poem.

Robert Dessaix had a heart attack and was rescued off the streets in Sydney. He spent a long time in hospital recovering from what was a near death experience. This poem featured very much in his thinking during his eventual recovery. Some text from his book –

I don’t find this poem disheartening at all. On the contrary, it gives me heart. I don’t know a lot about Philip Larkin, not being much of a one for poetry, having found so little of it transporting, but I do know that he rarely gives anyone heart. He skewers, pricks, amuses, lances, stuns. He was too aware that, while most things might never happen, death certainly would to give anyone heart. And all we can do, from Larkin’s perspective, I gather, is ruefully endure.

And this morning I can do more than that: I can simply enjoy myself. For the time being I need not contemplate anything except the euphoric upswing of convalescence.

A rather cynical response on Larkin and keyed into the stereotype but I must say that contrary to this image of Larkin I think he very much enjoyed life.

There are two questions asked of the reader. Instead of contemplating the meaning of life meaning is brought down to daily existence. Days being the stepping stones in the day to day journey of our existence and as Mr Larkin so well states they just can’t be ignored. Another one will appear tomorrow – hopefully! The question is answered quite emphatically they are to give happiness – they are to be happy in. Life is to be enjoyed; life is rather nice and gives pleasure – not all the time of course. And how happiness manifests itself is another matter.

And it was a certain joy that came to Dessaix that on a day of recovery and despite the woes of his aging body be felt so much better. This is clearly shown in his text below –

I feel undeniably much, much better. Yes, little by little “the million-petalled flower / of being here” another phrase of Larkin’s – may indeed be losing its vibrant hues and shrivelling up, but it can be contemplated with pleasure for what it is today.

A nice thought that as we deteriorate we can be happy in our deterioration. Finding happiness may not be easy but it may be around somewhere.

The second question – where can we live but days – is perhaps one that should not be contemplated too much unless we want to go mad. We cannot go out of this reality into something beyond imagination. Some may attempt this through religious fervour or because of mental breakdown so a doctor and priest are well chosen.

Death of course may be an answer but do we really want to summon last rites from a priest and a doctor for confirmation. In his book Dessaix spends time arguing that too much wasted time is spent considering the after-life, if there is such. And there is a clear distinction between religion and spirituality – religion getting in the way of the truth perhaps.

My comment … ‘God’ can only be touched through the cloud of unknowing – that is if you can actually ‘touch’ God of course.

The poem ends in the macabre but as Dessaix says not despairing or dour.

Enjoy “the million-petalled flower / of being here”! – I do like that. From Philip Larkin’s poem ‘The Old Fools’.

And of course make the most of this day!

When you are old – W. B. Yeats – Comments

When you are old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And, nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.

How many loved your moments of glad grace
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountain overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

W B Yeats (1865 -1939)

My thoughts on this well-known poem …

S1 …The speaker, who may or may not be old himself, is talking to lady who is young. We will consider a male – female conversation. The speaker is saying that when you are old and sitting in your chair by the fireside read my words. At the same time remember your beautiful eyes that were known to me when you were young.

S2 … As you look back on life remember all those that loved you. But this man, the speaker, loved you (all will love you) through the journey of your life with all its ups and downs – your pilgrimage implying a spiritual journey, and moreover he loved or will love your aging face too.

S3 … And when you think of me in old age – personified as Love (note the capital) you will be sad to see how time as fled. The speaker considers himself dead  … the glowing bars has nice double meaning in terms of the lost love … but in a way he will be “hidden alive” – his face amid a crowd of stars.

I must admit that when I read this poem many years ago I thought it a little arrogant, but I do like the way face is a key element in each stanza.

Yeats is often identified in this poem with Maud Gonne, an Irish revolutionary who ended up marrying another man.

This poem was a response by Yeats to the French poet Pierre de Ronsard and his poem When You Are Truly Old.

Quand vous serez bien vieille

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
Assise auprès du feu, dévidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant :
Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle.

Lors, vous n’aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,
Déjà sous le labeur à demi sommeillant,
Qui au bruit de mon nom ne s’aille réveillant,
Bénissant votre nom de louange immortelle.

Je serai sous la terre et fantôme sans os :
Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos :
Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupie,

Regrettant mon amour et votre fier dédain.
Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain :
Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.

Pierre de Ronsard (1524 – 1585), Sonnets pour Hélène, 1578

Here is a literal translation courtesy of – https://lyricstranslate.com

When you are truly old, beside the evening candle,
Sitting by the fire, winding wool and spinning,
Murmuring my verses, you’ll marvel then, in saying,
‘Long ago, Ronsard sang me, when I was beautiful.’

There’ll be no serving-girl of yours, who hears it all,
Even if, tired from toil, she’s already drowsing,
Fails to rouse at the sound of my name’s echoing,
And blesses your name, then, with praise immortal.

I’ll be under the earth, a boneless phantom,
At rest in the myrtle groves of the dark kingdom:
You’ll be an old woman hunched over the fire,

Regretting my love for you, your fierce disdain,
So live, believe me: don’t wait for another day,
Gather them now the roses of life, and desire.

Yeats has converted the sonnet form to three quatrains. And there is quite a different ending in Ronsard’s sonnet. Ronsard is very forceful thinking there is still much regret involved in the relationship using the words fierce disdain, at least from his perspective. And then there is the advice to live each day to the full. Don’t live in the past – So live, believe me: don’t wait for another day.

And my advice is of course to live each day to the full whatever the circumstances and whether you are young or old.

This is an example of taking an existing poem and using it in creating a new poem unique to your own thoughts. A little different from a paraphrase … to express the meaning of (something written or spoken) using different words, especially to achieve greater clarity.

Pierre de Ronsard on Wikipedia – https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_de_Ronsard

W. B. Yeats on Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._B._Yeats

Colour Blind – Lemn Sissay – Analysis

Colour Blind

If you can see the sepia in the sun
Shades of grey in fading streets
The radiating bloodshot in a child’s eye
The dark stains on her linen sheets
If you can see oil separate on water
The turquoise of leaves on trees
The reddened flush of your lover’s cheeks
The violet peace of calmed seas

If you can see the bluest eye
The purple in petals of the rose
The blue anger, the venom, of the volcano
The creeping orange of the lava flows
If you can see the red dust of the famished road
The white air tight strike of Nike’s sign
the skin tone of a Lucien Freud
The colours of his frozen subjects in mime

If you can see the white mist of the oasis
The red, white and blue that you defended
If you can see it all through the blackest pupil
The colours stretching the rainbow suspended
If you can see the breached blue dusk
And the caramel curls in swirls of tea
Why do you say you are colour blind when you see me?

Lemn Sissay (1967 –

Nike’s sign – the distinctive white Nike tick sign used on athletic clothing … the air tight strike  – well chosen words considering Nike running shoes.

Lucian Freud was a British painter and draughtsman, specialising in figurative art, and is known as one of the foremost 20th-century portraitists.

There are plenty of end rhyming words but this is very much a list poem IF being the predominant word. The IF addresses the reader in force with the repetition giving emphasis on the sensitivity of the reader to colour. There are many striking ways in which the poem red-lines the beauty of colour in all of life. But more than that colour is representative of deeper meaning as in – The red, white and blue that you defended.

But the last line asks that important colour question that if you can see such marvels as this why do you say you are colour blind when viewing me? Why do you have to say black and white is the same to you? Putting it another way why do you have to say black is Ok, or that black is equivalent to white.

People should not have to say they are non-racial? It is more important to be respectful and sensitive to the great diversity of race and the beauty of each colour. It is insensitive to say you are insensitive to another. It is more important to be sensitive without needless verbalisation!

Interesting I think the word Lemn means why.

The background to an outstanding poet from England with strong Ethiopian heritage is quite amazing. Lemn Sissay had a very difficult childhood.

He was born in Billinge, near Wigan, Lancashire to Ethiopian and Eritrean parents. Sissay’s mother had come from Ethiopia to the UK in 1967. She fostered her son and returned to Africa. He was adopted by a family in the north of England and was with them for 11 years. He has commented “My parents were very religious. They told me that they had not decided to take me in, rather that it was God that had decided it for them … To them I had become a Trojan horse that symbolised evil. They said that I was bringing evil into their home, that there was this mighty struggle inside me and that God was losing.” He has written that he felt lost, as though he was growing up in an alien environment. He attributes this to the fact that the family was white and he didn’t meet many black people until he was an adult. When he was 11, Sissay was put into care. His adoptive family told him that they would cease all contact from that point. From 11 to 17 he lived in various children’s homes in Lancashire.

At eighteen years old he moved from Atherton, Greater Manchester, to the city of Manchester. By the age of nineteen he was a literature development worker at Commonword, a community publishing cooperative in Manchester.

He met his birth mother when he was 21, after a long search. She was working for UN in the Gambia. By the age of 32 he found his whole birth family, documenting the journey.

For more information on his great success as a poet and broadcaster
Lemn Sissay MBE on Wikipedia

 

The Nature of Love – Rabindranath Tagore – Comments

The Nature of Love

The night is black and the forest has no end;
a million people thread it in a million ways.
We have trysts to keep in the darkness, but where
or with whom — of that we are unaware.
But we have this faith — that a lifetime’s bliss
will appear any minute, with a smile upon its lips.
Scents, touches, sounds, snatches of songs
brush us, pass us, give us delightful shocks.

Then peradventure there’s a flash of lightning:
whomever I see that instant I fall in love with.
I call that person and cry: ‘This life is blest!
For your sake such miles have I traversed!’
All those others who came close and moved off
in the darkness — I don’t know if they exist or not.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941)

Tryst = secret romantic meeting

Here are my thoughts on this philosophic poem from this Indian prophet/poet master.

Love and nature go hand in hand for many regard the creation of the universe as being based on love. In that way it is a fitting link in the title.

Lines 1-4 … Life can be mysterious and likened to a forest where we transact with many as we live. Trysts imply romantic associations in our meetings with others. True that we never know who we are going to meet each day and that Christians are impelled to love others in life but not necessarily like them of course. But romantic love is something different so I have to come to terms in reconciling the tryst idea in transactions with others.

Lines 5-8 … Do we search for bliss over our lifetime? And do we have faith that we will eventually find this magical substance through living? Well the process of living gives snatches of delightful shock to the senses.

Lines 9-14 … I have broken this sonnet with a blank line for the last 6 lines give dramatic change from the bliss of human relationships to the wondrous flash spiritual encounter with love supreme. In other words you could say a mountain top experience of God. And ‘For your sake such miles have I traversed!’ implies that this gives meaning to life. And the sonnet ends stating that human relationships fade away and are not real in comparison – ‘I don’t know if they exist or not’.

The poem is a personal spiritual statement. How the reader relates to such is equally personal and based on individual life experience. A poem that engenders thought on our spiritual nature.

Rabindranath Tagore on Wikipedia

Summary info … Rabindranath Tagore was born on 7 May 1861 in Calcutta. He was India’s greatest modern poet and the most creative genius of the Indian Renaissance. Besides poetry, Tagore wrote songs (both the words and the melodies), short stories, novels, plays (in both prose and verse), essay on a wide range of topics including literary criticism, polemical writing, travelogues, memoirs and books for children. Apart from a few books containing lectures given abroad and personal letters to friends who did not read Bengali, the bulk of his voluminous literary output is in Bengali. Gitanjali (1912), Tagore’s own translation of the poetic prose from the Bengali Gitanjali (1910) won him the Nobel prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore died on 7 August 1941 in the family house in Calcutta where he was born.