Monday, January 28, 2013

Poetry is painting using words

Poets and painters are chips off the same block, here’s a selection of quotations that demonstrates it.

"Painting was called silent poetry and poetry speaking painting."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 “Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.”  
-Thomas Gray

“I look at a nude. There are myriads of tiny tints. I must find the ones that will make the flesh on my canvas live and quiver.”
 - Pierre-Auguste Renoir

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

 “What do you think an artist is? ...he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.”
― Pablo Picasso

“A line is a dot that went for a walk.”
― Paul Klee

“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.”  - Edgar Allan Poe

“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see....”
― René Magritte

“Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry.”
 - Georges Brague

“Art does not reproduce the visible; it makes visible.”
― Paul Klee

“Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows.”
  -Edmund Burke

“At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.”
- Plato

In our life there is a single color, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.
- Marc Chagall

Thursday, January 24, 2013


A lot has been written on the subject of the Irish famine; most of what’s needed to be said has been said. However, when I found myself digging potatoes in water-logged soil beneath the Bluestacks, gathering up marble-sized potatoes; I couldn’t but be reminded of the value even these had for families whose survival depended on ground such as this. 

Hard to appreciate, but the span of two just lifetimes (by today’s standards) would land us right back into the middle of those years, and hard to credit also, that affluence and starvation still live cheek by jowl today. 


In November, this charcoal month of sagging
clouds slung low between granite mountains,
while the trap-jawed landscape stalks,
diggers hunched double to the ground
are harvesting bright potatoes that constantly
endeavour, like mice, to escape, scuttle back
into the sodden soil, where roots compete
for water, and decay is life rekindling.  

Round-backed labourers, boulders fallen off
the mountain, sieve the soil for each stunted práta,
(size of a fingernail, ten minutes of a child’s life),
that scampered off the sleamhán, scuttled back
into the earth, fugitives from scrabbling fingers.
Potatoes, apples of the soil, sole currency of life
to those whose DNA shaped these fingers,
now rough with working the same earth.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Where education fails

I am very doubtful about the value of much of what we accept as education. In science, for example, too much deadening information, not enough regard given to what excites a young person’s interest. I think we’ve got it backwards: enthuse the young with the cutting edge of our enquiries and they will come back for the basics.  

For example, noble prize winner, English scientist, Sir John Gurdon was the first person to clone an animal from a single cell. I mention this because his Biology report from Eton said “I believe he has ideas of becoming a scientist. On his present showing this is quite ridiculous; if he can’t learn simple biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time, both on his part, and of those who have to teach him.” 

Okay, it's only one example but it's a good one. Mind you, there are risks in making any statements as the following school reports/comments demonstrate, 
Charlotte Bronte: “She writes indifferently and knows nothing of grammar.”
WB Yeats: “Only fair. Perhaps better in Latin than in any other subject.”
Albert Einstein: "He will never amount to anything"
Robert Graves: "Well, goodbye, Graves, and remember that your best friend is the wastepaper basket”
And there's another thing, how can education systems miss the potential in the likes of the above?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

from "Above Ground Below Ground"

Gull I fly, spark from an anvil;
cormorant standing, sopping rag.

Goat leaps, flame flaring;
horse exhales piston jets of steam.

Hound I dart, arrowed to bull’s eye;
hare sitting on a jewelled morning.

Lizard slithers, tress down stone;
bull pounding bodhrán of the earth.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dead End

Pared down to
tongues and mouths;

mouth to mouth,
tongue to tongue,
we are one.

At orgasm,

pared down
to tongues and mouths;

mouth to mouth,
tongue to tongue,
each is alone.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Black Men Ski"

“Some kids I’ll describe as friends
  say I am race-obsessed. 
  The luxury of your opinion
  shows that you are blessed.” - Stew
Singer/songwriter Stew, strong words and a strong performance. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Music is a stream

Music is a stream
whose fingers, knuckling over boulders,
send droplets trickling into crevices, tinkling;
gurgles bass notes in hollows beneath the rocks,
spills soprano trills
that burst into the white noise of spray.

Music is the wind
that whistles high notes in the leaves
low in a bowl of mountain-side;
that whistles sad through a stone wall;
laughs in a stand of nettles.

Music is all that stirs on the earth;
blackbird standing on the dawn,
trout etching circles at noon,
the raucous crows bickering with evening,
a fox tearing a hole in the night-time.