Monthly Archives: November 2011

Here’s a treat


Because I love all my readers, (what writer doesn’t?) , I am going to tell you  to find this beautiful collection of short stories, shut yourself away, and be reminded of the power of story-telling.

 In these tales, we are introduced to characters that inspire our love, and that is not an exaggeration.  It is full of humour and insight, written with such a lightness of touch, you are not consicious

that you are reading.  Trust me,  I have read as many words as there are galaxies, at least , that is how it feels to me. so when a book slows me down, invites me to take it carefully, treat it with

regard, with consideration – well, I sit up and take notice.  The writer is female, and like me, old enough to have had a myriad of experiences , and she uses  all her wisdom to craft these scenes.

More alive than daily life, these stories resonate with the challenges and frustrations of what it means to be human.  I read and read again. Then I am sent scurrying into nooks and crannies of my own histories,

relationships, understandings.   Terrific. 


“-oldfashioned as parentheses, The authoress of verse.”

You may not think poetry is your bag.   This lady knew that, but it didn't put her off. She only wrote 252 poems during her life,
 and that is not many in a poet's career. Quantity is not the only criteria by which poets are judged, thankfully. Born in Poland 
in 1923, she lived during 'interesting times' , and wrote about 'big ' things. What it means to be human, war, torture, imagination, 
death.  I read her poems in translation, as regrettably, I cannot read Polish, so thanks go to her translators, without whom I would 
still be unaware of this witty, bright, imaginative woman  who manages to speak to me about living.  Did I mention she won the 
Nobel Prize for Literature.  Oh yes.  And this is an extract from her Nobel lecture in 1996.  Even if you have never read a poem 
in your life, and never intend to, read this.  It will change your mind. Probably. 
” – inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits.
It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners – and
I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it.
Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born
from a continuous “I don’t know.”
There aren’t many such people. Most of the earth’s inhabitants work to get by. They work because they have to. They didn’t pick this or that kind of job out
of passion; the circumstances of their lives did the choosing for them. Loveless work, boring work, work valued only because others haven’t got even that
much, however loveless and boring – this is one of the harshest human miseries. And there’s no sign that coming centuries will produce any changes for the
better as far as this goes.
I sometimes dream of situations that can’t possibly come true. I audaciously imagine, for example, that I get a chance to chat with the Ecclesiastes, the
author of that moving lament on the vanity of all human endeavors. I would bow very deeply before him, because he is, after all, one of the greatest poets, for
me at least. That done, I would grab his hand. “‘There’s nothing new under the sun’: that’s what you wrote, Ecclesiastes. But you yourself were born new
under the sun. And the poem you created is also new under the sun, since no one wrote it down before you. And all your readers are also new under the sun,
since those who lived before you couldn’t read your poem. And that cypress that you’re sitting under hasn’t been growing since the dawn of time. It came
into being by way of another cypress similar to yours, but not exactly the same. And Ecclesiastes, I’d also like to ask you what new thing under the sun you’re
planning to work on now? A further supplement to the thoughts you’ve already expressed? Or maybe you’re tempted to contradict some of them now? In
your earlier work you mentioned joy – so what if it’s fleeting? So maybe your new-under-the-sun poem will be about joy? Have you taken notes yet, do you
have drafts? I doubt you’ll say, ‘I’ve written everything down, I’ve got nothing left to add.’ There’s no poet in the world who can say this, least of all a great
poet like yourself.”
The world – whatever we might think when terrified by its vastness and our own impotence, or embittered by its indifference to individual suffering, of
people, animals, and perhaps even plants, for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain; whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars
surrounded by planets we’ve just begun to discover, planets already dead? still dead? we just don’t know; whatever we might think of this measureless
theater to which we’ve got reserved tickets, but tickets whose lifespan is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might
think of this world – it is astonishing.
But “astonishing” is an epithet concealing a logical trap. We’re astonished, after all, by things that deviate from some well-known and universally
acknowledged norm, from an obviousness we’ve grown accustomed to. Now the point is, there is no such obvious world. Our astonishment exists per se and
isn’t based on comparison with something else.

MLA style: “Wislawa Szymborska – Nobel Lecture”. 27 Nov 2011

 The commonplace miracle:
that so many common miracles take place. 
The usual miracle:
invisible dogs barking
in the dead of night. 
One of many miracles:
a small and airy cloud
is able to upstage the massive moon.
 Several miracles in one:
an alder is reflected in the water
and is reversed from left to right
and grows from crown to root
and never hits bottom
though the water isn't deep. 
A run-of-themill miracle:
winds mild to moderate
turning gusty in storms.
A miracle in the first place:
cows will be cows. 
Next but not least:
just this cherry orchard
from just this cherry pit.
 A miracle minus top hat and tails:
fluttering white doves.
 A miracle (what else can you call it):
the sun rose today at three fourteen a. m.
and will set tonight at one past eight.
 A miracle that's lost on us:
the hand actually has fewer than six fingers
but still it's got more than four.
 A miracle, just take a look around:
the inescapable earth. 
An extra miracle, extra and ordinary:
the unthinkable
can be thought.

The Invitation

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,
for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or
have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own,
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own,
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be
careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself;
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithless
and therefore be trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty
even when it’s not pretty, every day,
and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine,
and still stand on the edge of a lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes”!

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and
despair, weary and bruised to the bone,
and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you are, how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself,
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

—Oriah Mountain Dreamer


Most of us will meet a moment in our lives when we have to ask ourselves , ‘Who am I?’  , ‘How do I live?’.  To live courageously, and authentically is the  challenge, retaining responsibility to others around you. Nobody said it was easy.

All Change.

I like the simplicity and the depth in this short poem.  It is uplifting in its sentiment, that whatever has gone before, there is ahead of us a future.  Somehow all possibilities are contained in two short verses. Very clever.  Very pertinent to the times, and the best poem for a Wednesday.  I love how poems can change days.  Wunderschon,  danke zu Brecht fur  ‘Alles wandelt sich’. The poem is called ‘ Everything Changes – after Brccht, Alles wandelt sich’  and was written by Cicily Herbert.  She is better known for being one of the three people behind introducing poetry to the Underground, and going on to edit the anthology ‘Poems on the Underground’, and putting a little enjoyment into thousands of peoples lives on a daily basis.  Simple idea, simply brilliant.


and was written by Cecily Herbert


Scale of the universe

Hope you’re feeling humble, because there’s no way you’re going to enjoy this video, unless you have come to terms somewhat with idea of how inconsequential we all are on this little planet, gorgeous as it is.   I love the paradox that this life offers up, how immediately vital our lives are, how individual each member of the human race is, has been , will be, and yet simultaneously,what specks we all are.  It’s liberating and reassuring in some sense, at least to me.  And mind-blowing,  the ability to watch a video like this seems magical to me. The scope of human ingenuity and imagination that has got us to this place, the invention of language, the discoveries of science and the unending curiosity . It’s not so long ago in our human history that we thought we knew the cosmos looked a bit like this.

A Heliocentric Cosmos


This volume is the first edition of the work that set forth evidence that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun. Written by Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), and published just before his death, the work was met by tremendous opposition because it contradicted religious beliefs of the time. The Copernican views provided the basis for the later work of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Galileo (1564-1642), and Isaac Newton (1642-1727).

Now we think there may be particles moving faster than light. Maybe.  An interesting dilemma for all physicists if the tests are proved correct, but the beauty of science is that is how it works. We believe in the model last proved by scientific endeavour.  So it may be we need to discover a new model for how we perceive existence.  That’s what I’m saying, there aren’t ‘arf some clever bastards. ( in the words of Ian Dury).

Scale of the Universe video from Primax Studios.


Plug in the headphones and be blown away


I have no idea why I cannot link this, so I shall write it longhand for you all.  Peter Gabriel has an album ‘New Blood’ which is really worth having a listen to. It is songs from his back catalogue, remixed and working with a full orchestra.  The result is astonishingly good.  Full, rich and dripping with texture.  I am so frustrated that I can’t post the links straight to you, but when you have a spare moment, enhance your day by googling Peter Gabriel, or going straight to his website petergabriel.

A poet, a musician, an artist, a thinker – Peter Gabriel – we salute you.

Putting a perspective on time/

Researched, calculated, designed, and built by Jamie Brightmore ©2011

I cannot applaud Jamie Brigthmore enough for creating this amazingly informative and fun presentation of the mind boggling nature of geological time.  If you want to be blown away , then spend some of yours just hovering over the interactive infographic.  The technology he has used so beautifully and creatively could not have had a more suitable , fascinating subject to encompass. I am sending Jamie one humungous air kiss over the ether in deep gratitude.  Now this is what I call awesome.   After perusing it for a wee while, you might want to consider taking the time for a refreshing cuppa.

Time for tea created by column five media published by