31 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 1.
by Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

Stipendium peccati mors est- ha ! Stipendium, etc. (39)

The reward of sin is death ? That´s hard

Si pecasse negamus, fallimur,et nulla est in noblis veritas

If we say we have no sin

We deceive ourselves, and there´s no truth in us (43)






Sistine Chapel Fresco

(Image from Wikipedia)


It is paramount to understand that we all sin, and “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (42,43) and we lie to ourselves and to the rest of the people, because “there´s no truth in us” (43). I believe it is good to start the New Year considering that we all can be a better person, that we can help others a bit more than we did in 2009, that we can lie less, that we can smile more and that we can love our neighbour, among others.

Do you have any New Year´s Resolution that would like to share ?

HAPPY 2010 !

30 December 2009

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)

29 December 2009

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, hammered with gold,
Must be stripped of its plating;the polishers sleep
Who once made bright those grim battle-masks; (2257)
Also the armor, which endured in battle,
Mid breaking of shields, the bite of swords,
Rots with the warrior. The ringed-corslet
May not wander far on the war-chief's path,
At the soldier's side. The harp is silent,
No glad music sounds, nor any good hawk
Sweeps through the hall, nor swift hoofbeats
Drum in the courtyard. Death-qualm has sent
Full many a folk forth on their way." (2266)

The vocabulary of the poem is very explicit: "Battle-death" (2249),"Murderous fighting" (2250), "they have passed from this life" (2251), "armor" (2258), "battle" (2258), "bite of swords" (2259), "warrior"(2260) and "death" (2265). Today´s vocabulary to describe a war has not changed much;nowadays we use more "academic" words like "eliminate" or "erase" the enemy but the outcome is the same, "death" (2265).

Who will be the last survivor? If those in power do not work harder to reach agreements , nobody will.


28 December 2009

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 the cheerful dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.


Take a look at the entire poem here:

Beautiful woman


I would have posted a poem where male beauty is described but couldn´t find it. If you know one, I would appreciate if you could send it to me.

27 December 2009

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 California

by Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I

walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache

self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went

into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families

shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the

avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, Garcia Lorca, what

were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,

poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery

boys.

I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the

pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?

I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans

following you, and followed in my imagination by the store

detective.

We strode down the open corridors together in our

solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen

delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in

an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?

(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the

supermarket and feel absurd.)

Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The

trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be

lonely.

Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love

past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?

Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher,

what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and

you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat

disappear on the black waters of Lethe?


From the very beginning of December till the very end, there are so many things to buy (or we are encouraged to buy), so many presents to wrap up and so many bottles of Spanish wine to have ready for guests that sometimes I wonder what Christmas would be like without presents, without shopping and without supermarkets. Would it be the same ?

23 December 2009

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 looking at those rings, which show how fast time goes by and become just a bunch of “memories” (4).

Besides, trees enjoy a very special freedom that humans will never have: trees reproduce peacefully and “effortlessly” (8) without “Knowing neither abortions nor bitchery” (6) while they enjoy the possibility to see life from the top, “tasting the winds” (9) as if they could fly with their “wings” (11).

Freedom we will never enjoy.

22 December 2009

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 Taters

by 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 the knowledge of good.

The crow looks rusty as he rises up.
Bright is the malice in his eye...

One joins him there for company,
But at a distance, in another tree.

21 December 2009

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.


O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
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 eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead. (16)

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead. (24)

Poetry can take us to different worlds. The poem you read on Monday takes you to sunny beaches in Brazil and the one you read on Tuesday reminds you of how wonderful life can be.

A few lines are enough to make you travel on time, to dream, to love...

By the way, if you do not remember the title, let me know. I will reply to you.

20 December 2009

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 endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for. (18)

If you wish to read the entire poem:
Church Going

Whether we celebrate Christmas or not, we all look happy these days. We share presents, we wish love, peace and health to each other. How about having Christmas all the year round ?

19 December 2009

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;
Stayed.
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? (20)

A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
Be still.
Wait. (25)


Even under harsh conditions, even under the low temperatures of the "frozen fields" (2), there is life, there are "beautiful surviving bones" (3) that will eventually bring us more life and joy during the colourful spring. Certainly, "It will come again" (23).

18 December 2009

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 Man

by Wallace Stevens ( 1879-1955 )


The Snow Man One must have a mind of winter

To regard the frost and the boughs

Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; (3)


And have been cold a long time

To behold the junipers shagged with ice,

The spruces rough in the distant glitter (6)


Of the January sun; and not to think

Of any misery in the sound of the wind,

In the sound of a few leaves, (9)


Which is the sound of the land

Full of the same wind

That is blowing in the same bare place (12)


For the listener, who listens in the snow,

And, nothing himself, beholds

Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is. (15)

17 December 2009

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.

Snowflakes
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?

16 December 2009

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.


Metaphors
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.

Nine months of pregnancy, nine lines in the poem, nine syllables in each line, nine metaphors to describe the changes in her body. Simply beautiful !

15 December 2009

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 Night

by 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 it divide
Me from my object. Now deep in my bed
I turn and the world turns on the other side. (18)

Quite often it happens to me that I am “myself awake, yet I am not there entirely” (5), all I feel, all I see, who controls that,? “do I control what I can contemplate?”(9), Is it me?

14 December 2009

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.



TEA IN A SPACE-SHIP
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 disordered fountain’s
Ornamental stops and starts.
The milk describes a permanent parabola
Girdled with satellites of spinning tarts. (20)

The future lives with graciousness.
The hostess finds her problems eased,
For there is honey still for tea
And butter keeps the ceiling greased. (24)

She will provide, of course,
No cake-forks, spoons or knives.
They are so sharp, so dangerously gadabout,
It is regarded as a social misdemeanour
To put them out. (29)

Those trips are very expensive and as sharp and dangerous as knives (26-28). I am not good at calculating but if instead of sending a space shuttle in search for other living creatures in the outer space we used that money to feed hungry children, there would be no hunger in the world. If instead of organizing a mission to the Moon to feel the "Invisible legs of gravity’s wild air" (4), we used that money to buy food such as "cakes" (13), "honey"(23), "tea" (23) , less people would be hungry.

13 December 2009

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? Someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for. (18)


If you wish to read the entire poem:
Church Going


Just a few "books", plenty of "flowers" (3), a "neat organ" (6) and a cold and long "silence" (7) "reflect the place was not worth stopping for" (18). I´d rather go somewhere else.

12 December 2009

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.


Living
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 not want to think that I "ll only die" (9).
Not yet. It is too early.
Time to get up !

If you wish to take a look at the entire poem, see:
Feeling

11 December 2009

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 may believe they are gods.

I do not want to have anything to do with them.

9 December 2009

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.

8 December 2009

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,
Idle solace of things that have gone before,
Rootless hope and fruitless desire are there:
Let them go to the fire with never a look behind.
That world that was ours is a world that is ours no more. [18]

They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise
From squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,
And magical scents to a wondering memory bring;
The same glory, to shine upon different eyes.
Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.
Nothing is certain, only the certain spring. [24]

If it "is the time for the burning of the leaves" (1), let´s burn them because "fingers of fire are making corruption clean" (12) and eventually, "they will come again, the leaf and the flower." (19). But let us not burn entire forests, let us not destroy green areas that serve as lungs to the Earth. They will not come anymore. The "world that was ours is a world that is ours nomore." (18)

Now it is the "time for the burning of days ended and done" (13) Let´s move on to a brighter future. "Earth cares for her own ruins" (23) but we do not care for her.

"Nothing is certain, only the certain spring." (24)

I have used this poem to write a comment in The New York Times (8th Dec. 2009). Take a look if you wish:

Climate Change Conversations, entry 116

7 December 2009

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 course, I can make an omelette myself but...it is not the same. I suppose this "craving for my mother´s food" (3-4) may well represent a psychological search for home. But when I say home, I mean not the place where I am now but the place that is my real home, wherever it is. I also "need this link" (8) to feel good and safe.

6 December 2009

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 of I´l Allegro, the first poem this blog is about.


Here I include the first 30 lines of the poem:
L'Allegro by John Milton(1608-1674)

Hence loathed Melancholy
Of Cerberus, and blackest midnight born,
In Stygian Cave forlorn
'Mongst horrid shapes, and shreiks, and sights unholy,
Find out som uncouth cell, [5]
Wher brooding darknes spreads his jealous wings,
And the night-Raven sings;
There under Ebon shades, and low-brow'd Rocks,
As ragged as thy Locks,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell. [10]

But com thou Goddes fair and free,
In Heav'n ycleap'd Euphrosyne,
And by men, heart-easing Mirth,
Whom lovely Venus at a birth
With two sister Graces more [15]
To Ivy-crowned Bacchus bore;
Or whether (as som Sager sing)
The frolick Wind that breathes the Spring,
Zephir with Aurora playing,
As he met her once a Maying, [20]
There on Beds of Violets blew,
And fresh-blown Roses washt in dew,
Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair,
So bucksom, blith, and debonair.
Haste thee nymph, and bring with thee [25]
Jest and youthful Jollity,
Quips and Cranks, and wanton Wiles,
Nods, and Becks, and Wreathed Smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek; [30]

If you wish to read the entire poem, you can find it here:
I´l Allegro

Personally, I relate I´Allegro with joy and good feelings. It reminds me of the Spanish word "alegría", which meand happiness and good mood. Milton describes these feelings as "heart-easing"(13), "the Spring" (18)a a great deal of colorful flowers such as "violets" and "roses" (21-22). All seems to be positive in the poem and I believe one can easily apply it to the importance of being a happy person. Someone who "love[s]to live"(30)because his/her life makes sense. Being positive must be paramount to see all things in beautiful colours. It is better to see in colours than in black and white because we can notice the details of what surround us.
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