Sunday, January 30, 2011

See and Hear Great Poets Online

Wonderful to be able to hear Alfred Tennyson reading from “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in the Historic Readings section of The Poetry Archive website. He died in 1892. And Robert Browning who died in 1889. Others audio clips include Dylan Thomas, WH Auden, RS Thomas, Patrick Kavanagh, Yeats Pound, Stevie Smith, Sitwell, TS Eliot and many more. Check out the following pages:

Alfred Tennyson
Robert Browning
Sylvia Plath
Siegfried Sassoon

And, of course, YouTube is a treasure trove. Here are some pages to start: Ginsberg reading his best, Philip Larkin and Betjeman and Jenny Joseph not old enough yet to be wearing purple.

Philip Larkin interviewed by Betjeman
Seamus Heaney reading Digging
Ginsberg reading Howl
TS Eliot reading Prufrock
Thomas Kinsella
Anna Akhmatova
Jenny Joseph reading Warning

This last video’s closing banner "killed by ignorance" prompts me to post my own poem from Sunfire which carries a similar message.

Reflecting with Goya.

Of course not;
of course no one that ever cracked open a head
has seen a symphony pour out.

No executioner has seen the flow of an amber fireside
with its intimate and tangling caresses
drain from the split skulls of lovers

nor have soldiers who shoot dark holes
seen rafts of memories spilling, carrying the children,
the birthdays, the orchards, the dances.

When they shot the poet Lorca,
the bullets sailed in a universe; yet when the blood spurted,
it was only blood to them.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Disaster of War

I get a lot of inspiration from photographs, particularly those that relate to human tragedies; and of these none have moved me more than Don McCullin’s work.
This photograph exemplifies my point. This soldier: his pockets pilfered, a trail of personnel items strewn on the ground. A family destroyed, their photographs scattered; the ruination of lives unimportant, the girl in the photograph just a child. All that is important to the assailants: pilfered. There is no glory in war.


Shot crossing a wasteground;
they left him,
pockets pilfered,
staring beyond all wars;

a trail of photographs
and letters running from him
like a congealed flow
of memories.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Magical Art

Magical Art

I think the very best the arts can do is to lift us out of the mundane and into the wonderful. Too often I leave a cinema feeling that I been beaten over the head. No matter what the medium, when art lifts us above ourselves it reaches its finest: whether that be in soaring voices, breath-taking cinematography, beautiful words or exquisite painting. Obvious names come to mind: Mozart, Fellini, Michelangelo, Yeats, Shakespeare, Bosch, Leonardo, Bach.

But no need to be quite so classical, so grand: for me Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, Peter Greenaway. Sometimes glimpses of same are stumbled on: that’s how I felt when I first stumbled on Martin Gale’s work.

I maybe a bit behind, but I’ve just stumbled on the work of Ulla Schildt. Originally from Finland but now residing, I believe, in Oslo; she is a graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology. My discovery is in the exhibition Flow, a joint exhibition of art works from the OPW State art collection and the collection of the Department of Finance and Personnel, Northern Ireland, currently on view in the Pearse Museum in Dublin.

The image in question is Water World: a spectacular vision of lush exotic jungle flora (almost cinematic); a child stands gazing at it in some botanical garden. The wonder of the exhibition heightened by the mesmerized child draws the viewer right back to the days of childhood wonderment.

So I found some more of her works on line in which she time and again uses a transfixed child to convey to us the magic of some display of nature.Even in the tiny format employed on the website below, viewers will be interested in the exhibits on display,enchanted by the wonder of the viewing children and themselves transported back to their own childhoods by the magical displays. The images are moving and beautiful.

Visit and
to see some examples of her work.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Love Poem

Watching Films In Your Face

I am watching the film in your face:
your enjoyment crinkling
the corners of your eyes,
teeth catching lower lip,
blood draining from the pressure,
draining back as soon.

Furrows on your forehead,
I am smiling at your absorption,
want to smooth them with my thumb
but you catch me looking
so I turn back to the screen
till your face is mine again.

The words on my lips
remain unsaid. A time may come
when, not having words,
I will wish I had spoken; a time
when love being tested, I could say
I used to watch films in your face.