Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hicks, Amnesty - and some still smarting

Fifty years ago today (28 May 1961) saw the foundation of Amnesty.

This week David Hicks launched his book Guantanamo and gave a presentation at the Sydney Writers Festival to a standing ovation. One person interviewed after the session commented that he was still smarting by the John Howard decision to denign an Australian citizen basic rights. Hopefully it won't happen again.

The following poem appeared on the Fair Go for David Website at the time of protest ...

Australia Day 2007

following the discovery of Botany Bay by Cook
New South Wales was first established
under the equanimity of Arthur Phillip
with authority from Pitt, Lord Sydney and George III
due to over-crowded English jails
establishment of an experimental penal settlement

all were put in the same boat
from that first fleet of eleven
the convicts given a second chance
and soldiers, free settlers, sailors, allocated
equal rations, and a law that would be first
to protect a convict before a thieving soldier

and so over the years much has been achieved
from the federation of the States
to bloodied Diggers at Anzac Cove
continual Aboriginal recognition
and respect for the culture of extensive migrant intake
while prospering below the southern skies

so Australia and Australians
unite as one people, the
diverse voices of many make one note
ring out loud, to rejoice again
at the founding of this fair nation
and the rights of all its citizens

but today it is not a hulk in the Thames
but a hiccup in an alien land that
allows a man to lie naked
before a foreign power, exposed to
five years of violated rights –

the egalitarian spirit of Arthur Phillip
gives rent to a cry of shame!

© Richard Scutter 26 January 2007

Comment on Australia Day 2007 at the time of writing ...

David Hicks, an Australian citizen, has been incaserated in Guantanamo Bay for over 5 years without charges made. Responsibility has been abdicated relegating legal treatment to a USA military tribunal. Other countries in similar circumstances, including Great Britain, have protected the basic rights of their own citizens.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Australian Poetry Ltd ... Summary Info ...

The following are details Australian Poetry (as at March 2013) - Australian Poetry Website.

Australian Poetry, as it is known is based in Melbourne at the Wheeler Centre, while having an office in Sydney and a presence in all states and territories.

The goals for Australian Poetry ...

a) be the leading service provider of poetry in Australia, demonstrating a wide reach nationally and regionally
b) unite Australian poets and the Australian poetry community, by creating opportunities for inclusiveness, involvement and collaboration
c) have significant impact in achieving a high level of excellence in the art form
d) have a significant presence for Australian poets and poetry internationally

Details of Poetry at The Gods (ANU Arts Centre, Canberra) can be found on the calendar of events on the above site. A poetry meet organised by Geoff Page ... second Tuesday every month from Feb-Dec ... and still only $5 for an amazing evening of readings from top poets ...

The Arts Centre - ANU Canberra ... home to 'The Gods' cafe 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sonnet 73 - William Shakespeare

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That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
   This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

As it is deep Autumn here in Canberra, the reflective time of the year, it seems appropriate to look at the sonnet 73 … one of a number of sonnets concerning aging. If Shakespeare wrote this in 1600 he would have been 36 years old – not old by our standards – but life expectancy was much lower in his day.

 A structure … abab cdcd efef gg … with the first twelve lines devoted to 3 related metaphors. The three quatrains have a relationship to each other and a natural development … equated to natural aging … so the assumption is of an old man in gradual decline.

Autumn –equated to senior years …with a trembling of the coming winter and where tree branches are seen as bare ruined choirs

The dying day (twilight) … equated to personal decline – the taking of life by black (k)night - and the allusion to sleep as death … death’s second self

Fireside -  and dying embers … seen as a personal death-bed … as well as the death of youth already experienced.

The quatrains move from the wide autumn, to the day, to the confines of the fireside and to ashes of the fire.

Looking at the first line of each quatrain … the personification is clearly stated … in me behold/in me thou see’st/in me thou see’st

Then we come to that marvelous line 12 where the whole process of life is defined …
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by

Fire is equated to time … time naturally nourishes life and then in due course time will take away that which it has nourished. The burning process equated to the living process.

This an example of well thought-out sonnet design … three separate views on aging ending in the decline to focal point of close personal contact at a fireside … and the rhyming couplet stating that if one understands the aging process and how quickly the fire can consume then make the most of life … or should I say … make each spark-filled second brilliant to behold.

Note … choir can also relate to part of the church building … and the ruined choirs could give imagery to the many ruined abbeys and churches which were left to decay after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries.

Choir … from the Macquarie dictionary …
1. a company of singers, especially an organised group employed in church service.2. any company or band, or a division of one: string choir.3. Architecture
a.       that part of a church used by the singers.
b.      (in a medieval cruciform church) the body of the church which extends from the crossing to the east, or altar, end.
c.       (in cathedrals, etc.) the area between the nave and the main altar.
4. Theology any of the nine orders of the celestial hierarchy.
verb (t)
5. to perform (a piece of music) in chorus.
verb (i)
6. to sing in chorus:* As they talked into the early morning, the frogs choired on, encouraged by the moon. -- ROSS FITZGERALD, 1987
For those with a creative interest … use a similar design to develop your own sonnet … for example … consider beauty in place of age
Quatrain 1 = world beauty
Q2 = local beauty
Q3 = personal beauty
Couplet … if beauty in the eye of the beholder be … then let beauty always walk with thee!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bin Laden and Silly Syllables

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                                               A Bin Laden Haiku

fresh air in the world
top terrorist blown away
is this a wind change?

2 May 2011

A silly burst of syllables

ten syllables equals four syllables

ten syllables equals four syllables
equals ten syllables

which by itself equals six syllables
which is ten syllables

which is six syllables
which is six syllables
which is six syllables

which is repetitive
(which is six syllables)

1 April 2011

A poem cut-short in its prime, and written for children.

©  Richard Scutter

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sonnet 37 - William Shakespeare

As a decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth,
So I, made lame by Fortune's dearest spite,
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth;
For whether beauty, birth, or wealth, or wit,
Or any of these all, or all, or more,
Entitled in thy parts, do crowned sit,
I make my love engrafted to this store:
So then I am not lame, poor, nor despised,
Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give
That I in thy abundance am sufficed,
And by a part of all thy glory live.
   Look what is best, that best I wish in thee:
   This wish I have; then ten times happy me!

Sonnet 37 above has been lauded as one of Shakespeare’s key sonnets because of a possible strong religious inference. Refer to the following excellent Website where all the sonnets are analysed in detail line by line. Sonnet 37 is also discussed in great length in the introduction to the sonnets where the sonnet is linked to biblical texts including Psalm 37.
It is my purpose in this post to explore this sonnet from a personal religious perspective … with reference to some of the text and analysis from the above mentioned site ... courtesy of Oxquarry Books Ltd.
The following text is from the sonnet summary …
An interlude occurs, in which the poet takes stock and reflects on what the youth has given him. Though he himself is old and useless, the abundance of the youth's qualities feeds into his veins, like sap into a grafted tree. This transforms him and removes his lameness and his failures. The youth has everything that is desirable, and the great store of his qualities diffuses its glory around. The poet is contented, for he sees that his beloved has all that is best, all that he could wish for him, and he basks in this reflected glory, his decrepit status now entirely forgotten.
The key to my sonnet interpretation is in line 4 and the reference to thy.
Shakespeare  is making comparison between Father and child in the preceding lines but it is not clear on the nature of the thy … but all comfort worth and truth is involved … and from a religious point of view thy could be a reference to Christ. Especially as all truth is involved – an attribute associated with deity.
My line by line commentary below is based on this interpretation and references some of the Site commentary (shown in red) …
1. As a decrepit father takes delight
2. To see his active child do deeds of youth,
decrepit father  Shakespeare reflects on being like a father worn down by age who takes consolation in an active child (son).  The Father – Son relationship is critical in Christian philosophy.
3. So I, made lame by Fortune's dearest spite,
4. Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth;
made lame – This is a metaphor associated with his need for support … Christ’s first actions were to heal (the lame).
If  dearest spite = most severe malignancy … this could refer to the imperfection of man, the most severe of all malignancies … (the relationship is healed on the cross by active work of the son).
All comfort worth and truth … Shakespeare identifies with the son … a declaration of total support from Christ. In many of the sonnets the importance of the next generation is paramount (the son) in giving life to the preceding generation.
And from the Site commentary …Take all my comfort of = derive all my comfort from. 
worth and truth are qualities which link the beloved to Christ, particularly the words of St. John's Gospel,  And the same word became fleshe, and dwelt among vs ( and we sawe the glory of it, as the glory of the only begotten sonne of the father) full of grace and trueth. John 1. 14 Bishop's Bible 1568.  The echo is not exact, but the youth is often praised for his grace, as e.g. in Sonnet 17.
5. For whether beauty, birth, or wealth, or wit,
These are the traditional inheritance characteristics of the aristocrat.
6. Or any of these all, or all, or more,
Text from the site …
The superabundance of all these qualities, and the way they seem to burst out of the boundaries of expressing them, as out of a magician's hat, each one causing new wonderment, enhances the expectation of where it might lead. Are we to see a new monarch crowned, or a new era proclaimed? Surely they are enough to make the youth, or the beloved poet who sings his praises, immortal?
 For this discussion I am equating the youth to Christ
7. Entitled in thy parts, do crowned sit,
If the subject is in fact Christ then there is no question of entitlement.
8. I make my love engrafted to this store:
Text from the site …
I make my love engrafted to = I graft myself lovingly on to them. The Q spelling is ingrafted, possibly underlining the intimacy of the relationship. To this store = to the store and abundance of your qualities.
Grafting has vine religious connotations of personal association common in the New Testament.
9. So then I am not lame, poor, nor despised,
Reference to Christ’s support for those most in need.
10. Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give
Christ is like a shadow which is inseparable from the body though not always seen. This may be a stretch in thought but I do I like this wonderful imagery of Christ being always there for a person – and more in evidence when the sun is shining. To have Christ as a shadow is all that is needed given the nature of Christ.
And from the Site …
The imagery shifts from being engrafted, and bearing a title, to that of deriving sustenance from the beneficent shade offered by the youth. The meaning is approximately 'While your shadow and your influence pours on to me such abundance of well-being, such absolute reality of existence'. The sudden appearance of substance and shadow in this sonnet is odd, and I suspect that it may be an oblique reference to the doctrine of transubstantiation, playing on the idea of the beloved as the Christ figure.   There must be a link in thought also to sonnet 53.
What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Shakespeare often used the substance/shadow dichotomy, which he seems to have been rather fond of. These are the instances of its use in the plays.
COUNTESS of A. Then have I substance too.
TALBOT No, no, I am but shadow of myself:
You are deceived, my substance is not here;
That Talbot is but shadow of himself?
These are his substance, sinews, arms and strength,
To your most gracious hands, that are the substance
Of that great shadow I did represent;
Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very
substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
.....Yet look how far
The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
In underprizing it, so far this shadow
Doth limp behind the substance.
That I have purchased at an infinite rate, and that hath taught me to say this:
'Love like a shadow flies when substance love pursues;
Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues'
. MW.II.2.206-9.
The usual direction of traffic is from substance to shadow. It is interesting that the reverse is shown, in that the shadow gives substance.  The implication is that Christ as a shadow has more power and substance than the body of a person. An emphasis given to the shadow (spiritual nature) .
11. That I in thy abundance am sufficed,
So that I have sufficient for myself from your abundant supply of excellence. Cf from Psalm 37
... the meeke spirited shall possesse the earth: and shalbe delighted in the abundance of peace Psalm 37:11
12. And by a part of all thy glory live.
A mere part of your glory is enough to give life and being to me.
13. Look what is best, that best I wish in thee:
Look what is best = whatever (in the world) is best. As in sonnet 9 - Look what an unthrift in the world doth spend ...
Christ deserves all that is best … his right.
14. This wish I have; then ten times happy me!
I am so happy when Christ continues to grow with all that is best (as the world repairs).