Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spring Arousal - The Gateway: A D Hope

The Gateway

Now the heart sings with all its thousand voices
To hear this city of cells, my body sing.
The tree through the stiff clay at long last forces
Its thin strong roots and taps the secret spring.

And the sweet waters without intermission
Climb to the tips of its green tenement;
The breasts have borne the grace of their possession,
The lips have felt the pressure of content.

Here I come home: in this expected country
They know my name and speak it with delight.
I am the dream and you my gates of entry,
The means by which I waken into light.

A D Hope

This poem was taken from a book of love poems. The above describes the physical act from the male perspective. Do you think a tree is an appropriate metaphor? At a meeting half the audience thought it erotic (mainly the female component), half not. It is certainly very sexual – perhaps an over glorification.

Compare this poem to Judith Wright's Woman to Man … a poem written from the female perspective, from the other side so to speak.

Tenement = a room, or set of rooms, forming a separate residence in a block of flats
Erotic ... tending to arouse sexual desire or excitement.

Spring is about to happen in Canberra so look out for those green tips!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chain Gang Gold



the four year cycle, that old refrain
     Go Oz! ... grab gold again’
the media said ‘fifteen a piece’
we sat and watched in disbelief

we did our best, the best we could
though this was not well understood
for best is not quite good enough
unless it produces the golden stuff

to ashes went our dreams and hopes
lost on bikes and rowing boats
Brits are bathed in glory now
but not for Oz a mortal blow -

we’ll not fade in silver light
we’ll beat them Poms next time we fight

Richard Scutter 12 August 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Song for Simeon - T S Eliot

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have taken and given honour and ease.
There went never any rejected from my door.
Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come ?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords.

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.

According to thy word,
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
Thine also).
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.

T S Eliot
The poem is based on the biblical text of Luke 2 29-32 - which forms the canticle Nunc dimittis (know as the Song of Simeon) ... the basic words from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer based on the King James version of the Bible are ...

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

This poem is discussed in detail on the following excellent Blog Site of Patrick Comerford ...

... a note on the lines
And a sword shall pierce thy heart,Thine also ... the suggestion is that Simeon is talking to both Mary and God, both of the parents, on what will eventually happen to the baby.
- I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me. - and those before? ...
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kisses in the Train - D H Lawrence

I saw the midlands
revolve through her hair;
the fields of autumn
stretching bare,
and sheep on the pasture
tossed back in a scare.
And still as ever
the world went round,
my mouth on her pulsing
throat was found,
and my breast to her beating
breast was bound.
But my heart at the centre
of all, in a swound
was still as a pivot,
as all the ground
on its prowling orbit
shifted round.
And still in my nostrils
the scent of her flesh;
and still my blind face
sought her afresh;
and still one pulse
through the world did thresh.
And the world all whirling
round in joy
like the dance of a dervish
did destroy
my sense - and reason
spun like a toy.
But firm at the centre
my heart was found;
my own to her perfect
heartbeat bound,
like a magnet's keeper
closing the round.
D H Lawrence 1911
Pivot = a short shaft on which something turns, swound = swoon, Dervish = a member of a Muslin fraternity vowed to poverty and austerity, Magnet's keeper = a metal bar joining the two poles of a horseshoe magnet, preventing the loss of flux. One of the early love poems taken from the book - The Love Poems of D. H. Lawrence edited by Roy Booth.
The rhyme scheme involves the second, third and fifth line. Marvellous metre such that it mirrors that iambic clickity clack of the railway track giving a distinct feeling of train travel. Apparently the woman in question was D H Lawrence's fiancee Louie Burrows (not the woman he eloped with and married.) The text implies she may have been a blonde, white sheep are more common than black.
I was really taken in from the first stanza for train travel was a feature of my school days. There are two great pastimes on a short journey when paper and book do not feature as distraction. They are - looking out through the window - or studying ‘interesting people'. If you are a regular commuter you get to know the people and some of their habits.
Love throws life off the tracks! (if you forgive the pun) ... except for the heart of course which finds its true fuel. whether or not it misses a beat.
Footnote ...
Wikipedia reference on DHL ... ... source to the following text ...
In defence of critics, long term friend Catherine Carswell said this of Lawrence ... In the face of formidable initial disadvantages and life-long delicacy, poverty that lasted for three quarters of his life and hostility that survives his death, he did nothing that he did not really want to do, and all that he most wanted to do he did. He went all over the world, he owned a ranch, he lived in the most beautiful corners of Europe, and met whom he wanted to meet and told them that they were wrong and he was right. He painted and made things, and sang, and rode. He wrote something like three dozen books, of which even the worst page dances with life that could be mistaken for no other man's, while the best are admitted, even by those who hate him, to be unsurpassed. Without vices, with most human virtues, the husband of one wife, scrupulously honest, this estimable citizen yet managed to keep free from the shackles of civilization and the cant of literary cliques. He would have laughed lightly and cursed venomously in passing at the solemn owls-each one secretly chained by the leg-who now conduct his inquest. To do his work and lead his life in spite of them took some doing, but he did it, and long after they are forgotten, sensitive and innocent people-if any are left-will turn Lawrence's pages and will know from them what sort of a rare man Lawrence was.
He came to Australia and wrote a least one novel based on that experience - Kangaroo 1923.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dead Poets Dinner 24 July 2012 - Readings

The following is a list of the readings at the Dead Poets Dinner held on 24 July at 'The Gods' cafe ANU Canberra (co-ordinated by Geoff Page as best as could be reconstructed from people's handwriting!) ...

John Berryman  2 'Dream Songs'
R.S. Thomas 'The Garden'
*   Rosemary Dobson 'Captain Svenson'
Margaret Scott 'Grandchild'
Oscar Hammerstein II 'If I Loved You'
Hone Tuwhare 'Statue'
James McAuley 'Because'
Ern Malley 2 poems
Niedecke 3 poems
David Campbell 'Two Ways of Going'
*   Rosemary Dobson 'The Three Fates'
Hopkins 'Pied Beauty'
Saigyo several haiku
Chaucer 'Prologue to the Legend of the Good Woman'
* Rosemary Dobson translations from Mandelstam and  Akhmatova 
Salvatore Quasimodo 'Lettera' in English and Italian
Tennyson 'The Eagle'
R.S. Thomas 'The Owl'
Frost 'Acquainted with the Night'
Louis MacNeice 'Bagpipe Music'
Two Bad Poems
Norman MacCaig Two poems
Three Aboriginal songs
A Sea Shanty (sung)
Shakespeare (excerpt from Twelfth Night)
Gwen Harwood 'Barn Owl'
Rilke 'Spanish Dancer'
Pound 'The River Merchant's  Wife: A Letter'
Eliot portions of 'Burnt Norton'
Shelley 'Ozymandias'

*   Of particular note were the readings in memory of Rosemary Dobson who died in Canberra in June.