Showing posts from December, 2009

New Year´s Resolutions

In a few hour´s time, 2009 will be history and we will welcome 2010. Like every single year, there are plenty of people who have goals to achieve in the New Year. Among my friends´New Year´s Resolutions are to spend more time with their family, to keep fit, to study a new language, to stop smoking and drinking and a countless list of other “must do / must not do.” I have written in a small piece of paper three goals that I would like to accomplish in 2010 but I´d rather not share with anybody just in case. Perhaps the problem with my goals is that they are difficult to accomplish because they are rather abstract. I suppose that tangible goals are easier to achieve but I am not sure. I was thinking that one big New Year´s Resolution thet everybody should try to accomplish regardless of religion, country, language, skin colour or political views is simply to “sin less”. As we all sin, to try and “sin less” seems a reasonable goal for all, whatever it means.Dr. Faustus. Act 1. Scene…

Che sera, sera

2010 is round the corner and I wonder whether the new year will bring my family good things. I would be happy if it were a bit like 2009 because we were all healthy and had a job. However, I am really sorry for those who live in countries where there is no drinking water, no food to feed the children and no medicines to heal the sick. I am also sorry for those who live in countries where there is war, where there is no freedom, where there is terror, where the only sound people hear is the sound of the guns, where children do not know what a school is...

Dr. Faustus. Act 1. Scene 1.
by Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

Che sera, sera (47)
what will be, shall be? (48)

This fatalistic view of life can turn into a brighter one by moving on, by improving ourselves as individuals and as an entire society. Whatever 2010 will bring is very much up to me, up to you, up to us.

(The photograph of Dr Faustus can be found here and the beautiful sunset is here)

The Last Survivor´s Speech

2009 is almost over and there are plenty of TV programs anayzing the most important events that have occurred in the past 365 days. I have decided not to watch them anymore because they only talk about war and it makes me sick. There is war everywhere. How is it possible that we still make the same mistakes our ancerstors made hundreds of years ago? How is it possible that we have not learnt anything from our mistakes ? When will humankind be able to live in peace and prosperity? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We have learnt nothing from the past. Shame on us !

Beowulf. The last Survivor´s Speech“Hold them now, Earth”(Unknown authorship. Written between the 8th and 11th century)Brave men first got them; battle-death has taken, (2249)
Murderous fighting, the men, one and all,
Peers of my people: they have passed from this life,
Rest from hall-joys. None remains with me
To bear the sword, burnish the rich goblet,
Costly drinking cup; the company has gone elsewhere.
Now the hard helmet, hammere…

Appearances can be deceptive

At Christmas people look different. We wear our best suits to visit friends and our most wonderful raincoats to go shopping. We choose the tie that suits best with the shirt we just bought yesterday and we do not forget to polish those black shoes that we wore last Christmas.

I guess I have never paid much attention to the way I look but I do pay attention to the way others look (what an irony, isn´t it ?). These days the commonest man in the world can look like one of those models whose appearance makes young women tremble. These days the commonest woman in the world can look like an angel, like a perfect woman.I never thought they existed. Well, perhaps they only exist when one is in love.

Perfect Woman
by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

SHE was a phantom of delight
When first she gleam'd upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and t…

Back from Christmas Day

I have just come back from a little village in the north of Poland where we went to celebrate Christmas. It has been sad not to meet all the friends I met last year. One of my friends got divorced not long ago and a very funny old man who I never knew who he was passed away last October. All in all, I have managed to meet most of the people I love here in Poland. I suppose we all have changed quite a lot: some have got more wrinkles than last year and of course, more grey hair. I am not an exception.

This time I have had the possibility to eat Greek style fish , fish with pink sauce, fish with potatoes and raw fish (which I just tried a little bit and did not like much) and then I had an interesting conversation with a woman in her fifties whose main priority was to go shopping next day because her fridge was empty. Suddenly, we started to analyze whether Christmas time would be the same without presents and supermarkets.
A Supermarket in Californiaby Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)W…

Winter Trees

If there is something I like about winter is the way landscape changes. The brown tree I saw yesterday, today is beautifully covered with snow. The canopy may easily resemble the head of a snowman and its branches, the arms. Life takes different shapes and colours under the structures of a tree and human imagination begins to work.

Winter Tress
by Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees
Seem a botanical drawing --
Memories growing, ring on ring,
A series of weddings. (5)

Knowing neither abortions nor bitchery,
Truer than women,
They seed so effortlessly!
Tasting the winds, that are footless,
Waist-deep in history – (10)

Full of wings, otherworldliness.
In this, they are Ledas.
O mother of leaves and sweetness
Who are these pietàs?
The shadows of ringdoves chanting, but chasing nothing. (15)

It is very interesting the way Plath writes about the inner tree rings when she mentions “ring on ring” (4). We can find out the age of a tree by l…

White and cold

Today, again, the temperature in the street is -10ºC and it is very windy and cloudy. The colour of the blue sky has turned into sad grey. The streets are empty and the very few cars on the roads struggle to go straight. I feel like staying at home.

No Possum, No Sop, No Tatersby Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)He is not here, the old sun,
As absent as if we were asleep.

The field is frozen. The leaves are dry.
Bad is final in this light.

In this bleak air the broken stalks
Have arms without hands. They have trunks

Without legs or, for that, without heads.
They have heads in which a captive cry

Is merely the moving of a tongue.
Snow sparkles like eyesight falling to earth,

Like seeing fallen brightly away.
The leaves hop, scraping on the ground.

It is deep January. The sky is hard.
The stalks are firmly rooted in ice.

It is in this solitude, a syllable,
Out of these gawky flitterings,

Intones its single emptiness,
The savagest hollow of winter-sound.

It is here, in this bad, that we reach
The last purity of …

O Captain ! My Captain !

A few days ago I was cleaning my room and I came across a film I thought I had lost. It´s been nice to watch it again. The soundtrack, the topic and that nice definition of poetry in mathematical terms have made me laugh again. Not only laugh, I am afraid. Take a look at the poem and tell me if you remember the title of the film. The first line should be enough.
by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead. (8)

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up -- for you the flag is flung -- for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths -- for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their ea…

Christmas is coming

I can feel it in the air that Christmas is coming. The city centre is filled up with colorful light bulbs, there is a huge Christmas tree right in the middle of the square and people look happy with their shopping bags in their hands. It is Sunday and supermarkets will be opened the whole day to make customers’ lives easier. Churches too.

Church Going
by Philip Larkin (1884-1948)

Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence. (9)

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new -
Cleaned, or restored? Someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
'Here end…

Cold and beautiful

The weather man says that winter has not started yet but to me, it is already here and it plans to stay with us quite a few months. If yesterday was cold, today is even colder. The thermometer tells me that before leaving home I should wear my best parka, my winter boots and my gloves. Today, again, I will have to use public transportation because roads are very slippery and I simply want to avoid a car accident.

It was beginning winter
by Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

It was beginning winter,
An in-between time,
The landscape still partly brown:
The bones of weeds kept swinging in the wind,
Above the blue snow. (5)

It was beginning winter,
The light moved slowly over the frozen field,
Over the dry seed-crowns,
The beautiful surviving bones
Swinging in the wind. (10)

Light traveled over the wide field;
The weeds stopped swinging.
The wind moved, not alone,
Through the clear air, in the silence. (15)

Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
Yet still? (2…

The Snowman

It is very cold outside. The temperature right now is -12 degrees centigrades. I´d rather stay at home but I have to go to work. Yesterday all looked white, beautiful and slightly romantic but I am afraid today the snow will have blocked most of the roads and I will have to take public transportation. One tram, the tube and another tram. It is going to take me more than ninety minutes to get to work. A real waste of time. I will take a book with me.
Once I get back home I will ask my son if he would like to build a snowman. It will be fun !
The Snow Manby Wallace Stevens ( 1879-1955 )
The Snow Man One must have a mind of winterTo regard the frost and the boughsOf the pine-trees crusted with snow; (3)

And have been cold a long timeTo behold the junipers shagged with ice,The spruces rough in the distant glitter (6)

Of the January sun; and not to thinkOf any misery in the sound of the wind,In the sound of a few leaves, (9)

Which is the sound of the landFull of the same windThat is blowing in t…

Snowy and cold

It is snowing heavily here. All is white and beautiful. It is the right time to take some photographs and send them to my friends who live in warmer countries.

I read some time ago that snowflakes are all different ! There are so many millions of snowflakes falling down that it is almost impossible to believe it, but that is what they say.

by Howard Nemerov (1920-1991)

Not slowly wrought, nor treasured for their form
In heaven, but by the blind self of the storm
Spun off, each driven individual
Perfected in the moment of his fall.

I was 16 years old when I saw for the first time those beautiful white ice crystals falling slowly and covering the surface of everything. I stormed out of home and touched it. Such a nice moment to remember now !

By the way, are we all somehow like "individual" (3) snowflakes ?
Similar and different at the same time?

Human speech

I like speaking. Human communication is one of the most amazing and wonderful abilities we all have. However, what I do like is to experiment with language by enriching it with rhetorical tricks, tools that make our way of saying things more appealing to me and to others. For example, it is easy to say: “ I am pregnant”. What is more difficult but much more beautiful in terms of language is to describe pregnancy the way Sylvia Plath does it in the poem below. I thought about the poem after knowing that one of my peers is pregnant but, unfortunately, she is not very happy about it. I guess the author felt the same way.

by Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
I'm a riddle in nine syllables.
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off…

Self and Reality

How much of what I see is true?, how much of what I hear is true?, does my mind play with me and makes me see and hear things that are not there?, is my reality the Reality?,what is the relation between my self and the reality around me?
In the Nightby Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001)Out of my window late at night I gape
And see the stars but do not watch them really,
And hear the trains but do not listen clearly;
Inside my mind I turn about to keep
Myself awake, yet am not there entirely.
Something of me is out in the dark landscape. (6)

How much am I then what I think, how much what I feel?
How much the eye that seems to keep stars straight?
Do I control what I can contemplate
Or is it my vision that's amenable?
I turn in my mind, my mind is a room whose wall
I can see the top of but never completely scale. (12)

All that I love is, like the night, outside,
Good to gazed at, looking as if it could
With a simple gesture be brought inside my head
Or in my heart. But my thoughts about …

Here and now

All those billions of dollars spent to find out whether there is water in Mars, life in other planets or how certain liquids perform in outer space could be spent in our own planet. Millions of people do not have drinking water in their homes. They do not even have homes. Thousands of children die of hunger everyday and they need bread here and now. The space is there, far away. We are here.

by James Kirkup (1918-2009)

In this world a tablecloth need not be laid
On any table, but is spread out anywhere
Upon the always equidistant and
Invisible legs of gravity’s wild air. (4)

The tea, which never would grow cold,
Gathers itself into a wet and steaming ball,
And hurls its liquid molecules at anybody’s head,
Or dances, eternal bilboquet,
In and out of the suspended cups up-
Ended in the weightless hands
Of chronically nervous jerks
Who yet would never spill a drop,
Their mouths agape for passing cakes. (13)

Lumps of sparkling sugar
Sling themselves out of their crystal bowl
With a dis…

Church Going

Today is Sunday and people will go to church. I will not. I live in a place where people still like going to church, or perhaps they go because it is part of their long religious tradition. I am sure they would not go had they been born in a non-Catholic country. In my view, this applies to those who profess other religions as well. The vast majority of the people do what their parents did or taught them to do. How much is up to the individual is unclear to me.

Church Going

by Philip Larkin (1884-1948)

Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence. (9)

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new -
Cleaned, or restored?…

A new day

The alarm clock has done its job but I am still in bed. I am thinking.
There are so many things I have to do today that I do not know whether I will have enough time for everything. Sometimes I wish days had more than 24 hours. Yet, if they had more hours I would be as busy as I am or more, so let us leave it the way it is.

Harold Monro described very vividly the very first moments of our body activity, including the way our nervous system behaves.
by Harold Monro (1879-1932)

Slow bleak awakening from the morning dream
Brings me in contact with the sudden day.
I am alive--this I.
I let my fingers move along my body.
Realization warns them, and my nerves
Prepare their rapid messages and signals.
While Memory begins recording, coding,
Repeating; all the time Imagination
Mutters: You'll only die.
No matter how many things I have to do during the day, my nervous system is much busier than I am. It performs millions of activities in seconds while I am in bed.
"I am alive" (3) and do …

Rats and Beasts

Some say that a bunch of people control the entire world. Some say that their decisions affect nations and continents. Apparently only their decisions are important. Today they start a war here, tomorrow there. Next day they sell their shares in the Stock Exchange and the economy of the whole world shutters. Suddenly, you notice you have problems to pay your mortgage. You, your wife, your son, your daughter will have problems to pay your mortgage too.

Prayer before Birth
by Louis Macneice (1907-1963)
I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
Clubfooted ghoul come near me. [3]
I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God come near me. [27] To read the entire poem, follow this link:Prayer before Birth The decisions of those in power affect our lives and the lives of those who are not born yet. Some politicians may behave like a “bloodsucking bat” (2), some others like a “beast” (2) and even some other m…

A bus, a woman and me

Yesterday I saw a very pretty woman in the bus. I do not know how old she was but I guess she was in her forties. Her curly hair and her blue eyes caught my attention so much that I could not stop staring at her. I suppose she realized I was looking at her and to my surprise... she smiled at me! What at a beautiful smile !

I do not know where Walt Whitman was when he wrote the poem below, but I am sure he was not on a bus. Read it and enjoy it. It is almost impossible to say so many things in two lines.

Beautiful Women
by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Women sit or move to and fro, some old some young
The young are beautiful--but the old are more beautiful than the young.

The Planet cries

I have just heard on the news that soon there will be another international summit to deal with the future of our Planet. Apparently, the health of our Planet is in our own hands and we should look after it. Almost every week I hear the same message from our politicians. I do not like it. It does not look good.

The Burning of the Leaves
by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Now is the time for the burning of the leaves.
They go to the fire; the nostrils prick with smoke
Wandering slowly into the weeping mist.
Brittle and blotched, ragged and rotten sheaves!
A flame seizes the smouldering ruin, and bites
On stubborn stalks that crackle as they resist. [6]

The last hollyhock’s fallen tower is dust:
All the spices of June are a bitter reek,
All the extravagant riches spent and mean.
All burns! the reddest rose is a ghost.
Spark whirl up, to expire in the mist: the wild
Fingers of fire are making corruption clean. [12]

Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare,
Time for the burning of days ended and done,

My mother´s food

There is nothing like my mother´s food. She really knows what I like and she cooks for me my favourite dishes when I go and visit her. Unfortunately, it does not happen very often because I do not live in the country where I was born. Every now and then, regardless of where I am or what I am doing, the smell of a wonderful Spanish omelette or a tasty paella touches my senses and it makes me think of my mum, my dad, my family and my country. I am sure you know what I mean if you are a foreigner or feel as a foreigner. The poem below describes very well the way I feel right now. The only element that changes is the city and what “art galleries” may represent. Grace Nichols wrote a masterpiece in these few lines. Read it and enjoy it.

Like a Beacon
by Grace Nichols (1950-)

In London
every now and then
I get this craving
for my mother’s food
I leave art galleries
in search of plantains
saltfish/sweet potatoes

I need this link

I need this touch
of home
swinging my bag
like a beacon
against the cold

Of cou…

Oh heavenly Muse !

I am neither a poet nor somebody who wants to become a poet. I just like poetry and wish to write my own feelings and thoughts about selected poems. This blog is not about explaining poems in context or about analysing poetry in an academic way. There are already too many webs and blogs about it. It is me and the poem. It is you and the poem. So, you are also welcome to express your feelings after reading the poem I include in my blog. I would be most interested in the way you can apply this poem to your own life and in what you feel after reading it.

As this blog will not be about creating poetry, I will not ask any Muse to inspire me in my blog. I would certainly implore Mirth to come and infuse me the right words if I knew she would help me. However, I believe that privilege belongs only to the greatest poets. Certainly, only a small bunch of poets can ask the Muses and the Graces for the inspiration to create beauty with a pen. Milton did it and Mirth directed him in the creation o…