Monday, December 27, 2010

Poetry makes Beautiful Sound

I suspect "I love you" sounds beautiful in any language when it is whispered by a lover with real passion and feeling. I imagine the phrase transcends language.

Beautiful poetry read with passion and true feeling should be toe-curling,so often isn't; it should hit home like Maria Callas singing Casta diva.

Here is Khalil Gibran on love from The Prophet; the voice may be a bit sugary but you don't need to understand a single word of the portugese version below to know that the poetry is beautiful.

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the wind lays waste the garden.

For, just as love crowns you
so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth
so is he for your fall.
Even as he ascends to your height
and caresses your tenderest branches
that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots
and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are malleable;
Then he assigns you to his sacred fire,
that you may become sacred bread
for God's sacred feast.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The UK and US have financed Central African Wars

This KPFA Radio News report(21/3/2010)reports the UK and US financing of Central African wars,approx 8 million deaths.That's roughly equal to a separate 9/11 death toll for each person that died in the 9/11 atrocity.

There is a lot of material online about the funding of the war in the Congo. This is particularly the case this year; it relates to the sale of minerals (conflict minerals) by the militias to the big electronics manufacturers, the proceeds being used to fund their warfare.To the extent that we all use these electronics products everyday, we are all complicit.It also concerns the signing by President Obama, last July, into law a measure that requires corporations to disclose publicly what they are doing to ensure that their products don't contain these minerals.

Read more:

Why did it take so long to take the legislation step? Economic reasons.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Two Favorite Cristmas Poems

Patrick Kavanagh's Christmas Childhood, so accurate, so evocative of my own christmas childhood: the frost on the north side of a garden ridge, the tracks of cattle frozen solid around the water barrels, and I've seen the three kings in the moonlight of a christmas night.

This is a stunningly accurate evocation of the magic of christmas for a child in rural Ireland. Belief made apparations possible, and christmas with it's wonderful imagery made it the hide tide mark of a child's imagination.

A Christmas Childhood
One side of the potato-pits was white with frost—
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical.

The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven's gable. An apple tree
With its December-glinting fruit we saw—
O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me

To eat the knowledge that grew in clay
And death the germ within it! Now and then
I can remember something of the gay
Garden that was childhood's. Again

The tracks of cattle to a drinking-place,
A green stone lying sideways in a ditch
Or any common sight the transfigured face
Of a beauty that the world did not touch.

My father played the melodeon
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east
And they danced to his music.

Across the wild bogs his melodeon called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.

Outside the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass-going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.

Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy's hanging hill,
I looked and three whin* bushes rode across
The horizon — The Three Wise Kings.

An old man passing said:
'Can't he make it talk'—
The melodeon. I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.

I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife's big blade—
There was a little one for cutting tobacco,
And I was six Christmases of age.

My father played the melodeon,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary's blouse.

Jane Marchant catches the warmth of christmas in the warmth of a family kitchen; this is so much of the pleasure of the day, and most of the reason people reminisce fondly at christmas time.

The Christmas Thing
My grandmother sat
On Christmas morning
Mending overalls.
A tall tree glittered,
A hen was roasting,
And the room was merry
With dolls and balls,
So why was she mending
The air is magic
On Christmas morning
And it isn't a time
For doing chores.
We had given her
A brooch that glittered
After anxious searchings
Of ten cent stores
So why was she working
At everyday chores?
I didn't know then
But I learned much later
That Christmas magic
Goes through and through
The fabric of living
Love, threading her needle,
Made mending
The Christmas-thing to do.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Flying through Ireland

I came across these two videos on Youtube. The first, posted by FaoleannOBradaigh, shows footage of Ireland from the air; it is absolutely gorgeous and in places quite exhilarating. I particularly enjoyed flying alongside the escarpment at Ben Bulben and flying low over the road that skirts the Burren in North Clare. It’s a great advert for scenic Ireland.

The second is a motorbike ride through parts of Donegal posted by IrishBikedotCom. The video is a promo for Irish Motorcycle Adventures and definitely succeeds in whetting the appetite for a bike tour through the county, (the music is great too).

Two very enjoyable sight-seeing videos; hold onto your hat.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Remembering My Mother

December has sad memories for my family. Both my father and mother died in December; my mother five years ago. She was a very down to earth, practical woman completely devoid of any pretensions. Maybe that’s partly why I found it hard to write about her. However I was pleased with this short poem; I think it captures the sort of person that she was and the importance of home in her life.

She was

Two cups of flour resourceful

Plumb-line straight

Three sides of a triangle logical

Rain-coat wise

Five woollen blankets caring.