Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ant Attack

I wondered where he was
then I saw him out in the garden
by the garden path, watching a stream of ants
as they crossed from one side to the other.

Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly
he stamped his foot down hard.
A little severe I thought,
they didn’t know what happened.

Then he saw me standing at the window,
he read my eyes immediately -
They can take it Dad’
as he left the ants to repair their path.

Richard Scutter 27 Feb 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Orange Tree - John Shaw Neilson

The young girl stood beside me.  I 
Saw not what her young eyes could see:
 A light, she said, not of the sky
    Lives somewhere in the Orange Tree.

The young girls starts the conversation ... perhaps so moved by her sense of seeing something within the orange tree that she just has to share.

Is it, I said, of east or west?
  The heartbeat of a luminous boy
Who with his faltering flute confessed
  Only the edges of his joy?

Was he, I said, born to the blue
  In a mad escapade of Spring
Ere he could make a fond adieu
  To his love in the blossoming?

Two stanzas of questioning takes the focus away from the tree on to the girl for an understanding of what she is experiencing. The bystander is trying to discover the nature of her experience in terms of his own thoughts.

Listen! the young girl said.  There calls
  No voice, no music beats on me;
But it is almost sound: it falls
  This evening on the Orange Tree.

The young girls says 'listen' ... she has been interrupted in her own listening ... listening is important ... but she has the grace to share saying there is something ... an almost sound ... a sense of something in the tree.

Does he, I said, so fear the Spring
  Ere the white sap too far can climb?
See in the full gold evening
  All happenings of the olden time?

Is he so goaded by the green?
  Does the compulsion of the dew
Make him unknowable but keen
  Asking with beauty of the blue?

Another two stanzas of similar questioning ... quite clearly there has been no listening, and no attempt to understand what is happening to the girl. The responder wrapped in their own thoughts.

Listen! the young girl said.  For all
  Your hapless talk you fail to see
There is a light, a step, a call,
  This evening on the Orange Tree.

Again the young girl asks for the person to listen ... and divert attention to the tree ... and she again emphatically states there is something communicating with her ... (call - a key word)

Is it, I said, a waste of love
  Imperishably old in pain,
Moving as an affrighted dove
  Under the sunlight or the rain?

Is it a fluttering heart that gave
  Too willingly and was reviled?
Is it the stammering at a grave,
  The last word of a little child?

Unfortunately her requests to listen have fallen on deaf ears ... the person wanting to extract the experience from the girl by analysis rather than any attempt at sharing in the moment.

Silence! the young girl said.  Oh why,
  Why will you talk to weary me?
Plague me no longer now, for I
  Am listening like the Orange Tree.

The young girl has had enough of the weary talk ... the communication with the bystander has ended ... she is now at one with the orange tree sharing totally with the tree ... perhaps at one with the natural environment.

John Shaw Neilson 1919

The most known and perhaps one of JSN's most important poems. Every poet, writer and especially those steeped in analysis should read these words.

Analysing experience detracts from the experiencing ... and may, as in the case above detract from the experience of another. I hope that my analysis has not stopped enjoyment of the poem!

I have a friend who twenty years ago stopped taking photographs on his journeys away. 

Where is the 'correct focus' of our attention? ... and do we live to write or write to live?

I must go and put the dog out, enjoy your day, really enjoy the day ... and no feedback necessary.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Canberra's Centenary: '100 Year of Words'

On 12 March 1913 Canberra was officially named by Lady Denman, the wife of the Governor-General Lord Denamn.

To celebrate the occasion there is to be an anthology of writing by Canberra region writers spanning the 100 years to be published in late 2012 in the lead-up to the centenary celebrations. The editor is Irma Gold and the Publisher: Halstead Press.

Here is a link to '100 Years of Words'  - a Blog set up for the project.

Looking at that first important word ... 'Canberra' ... Ann Jackson-Nakano's book ...

Ngambri Ancestral Names
For Geographical Places and Features in the Australian Capital Territory and Surrounds
ISBN 0 646 45223 1

defines the origins of the name Canberra.

From the dedication ...

The name, Canberra, formerly rendered into Roman script as ‘Canburry' or ‘Canberry' by the earliest non-Aboriginal settlers in Ngambri country, is derived from the name of the Aboriginal ancestral group who once held sway in the region that now incorporates the Australian Capital Territory and surrounding areas.

'Canberra' was a corruption of the earlier anglised version, ' Canberry', of the original Aboriginal name for this territory: Ngambri. This name for the district, 'Canberry', was claimed as such in the Government Gazette, 22 January 1834 (p39) and was officially known as such from that time even though it was eventually changed to 'Canberra', perhaps to make it sound more 'European'.

A mountain of historical evidence overwhelmingly supports the assertion that the ancestral custodial group of this territory at the time the first 'European settlers' arrived in 1820-21 took their name from their traditional country: these were the Ngambi people. The name of the Australian Capital, Canberra, is derived from that of the Ngambi people and their ancestral country. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Winter Depression

View from 'Suicide Seat'
In memory of precious lives lost by suicide
Donated by survivors, Weston Park, Canberra

Although the world is full of suffering
It is full also of the overcoming of it
(seat inscription, Helen Keller)

No emergency now

on this early forsaken morning
the sun is yet to make impression
with no warmth to this part of day
there are no children floundering out of parental eye
nor bathers out of depth in deep distress
the life-line stands redundant in the chill air
winter removes
as nature takes a sleeping tablet
while across the far side of the lake
the wind stirs life to water
and people collect at a picnic shelter

from the dead-still of a reflective moment
I move away into the living morning
and shake off these lines that entangle

Richard Scutter 8 June 2010 (amended June 2014)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mysterious Night - Joseph Blanco White

Mysterious Night! when our first parent knew
  Thee, from report divine, and heard thy name,
  Did he not tremble for this lovely Frame,
  This glorious canopy of Light and Blue?
Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,
  Bathed in the rays of the great setting Flame,
  Hesperus with the host of heaven came,
  And lo! Creation widened in man's view.
Who could have thought such Darkness lay concealed
  Within thy beams, O Sun! or who could find,
  Whilst fly, and leaf, and insect stood revealed,
  That to such countless Orbs thou mad'st us blind!
Why do we then shun death with anxious strife?
  If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?

Written in 1827
Joseph Blanco White - Wikipedia. He was a theologian and poet. This is perhaps his most famous poem dedicated to Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Sonnet structure abba abba cdcd ee - Hesperus, the evening star ... a clear divison of thought after the first two stanzas.

We consider the world to be defined by day rather than night, yet night is perhaps more interesting to some than day. I thought it an interesting concept to see the sun as a force that blinds as much as a force that shows. If the sun declares such minute detail as leaf and fly does it also hide the same. 

If day, through the work of the sun, can hide such an interesting world perhaps life can also blind us to another world. How much do we know of death that is revealed by what life gives us? As our own 'Hesperus' rises do we start to see more of this world?

Do we look to the mysteries of the heavens as much as in the past? Has science removed some of the layers? ... or increased are interest?

I think the heavens will always have poetic interest and symbolism ... and a great mystery always above our understanding.