Category Archives: quotable

A poem for our time – Children kept from the sun

 

New Poems Dylan Thomas winecountrybooksnapa at gmail

New Poems Dylan Thomas 1943  winecountrybooksnapa at gmail

 

Some books I just can’t let go. This one… nope.  When I opened this book, as I usually do before I list something interesting, the first poem hit me right in the chest. This beauty is mine for now.

 

Poem

 

There was a saviour
Rarer than radium,
Commoner than water, crueller than truth;
Children kept from the sun
Assembled at his tongue
To hear the golden note turn in a groove,
Prisoners of wishes locked their eyes
In the jails and studies of his keyless smiles.

The voice of children says
From a lost wilderness
There was calm to be done in his safe unrest,
When hindering man hurt
Man, animal, or bird
We hid our fears in that murdering breath,
Silence, silence to do, when earth grew loud,
In lairs and asylums of the tremendous shout.

There was glory to hear
In the churches of his tears,
Under his downy arm you sighed as he struck,
O you who could not cry
On to the ground when a man died
Put a tear for joy in the unearthly flood
And laid your cheek against a cloud-formed shell:
Now in the dark there is only yourself and myself.

Two proud, blacked brothers cry,
Winter-locked side by side,
To this inhospitable hollow year,
O we who could not stir
One lean sigh when we heard
Greed on man beating near and fire neighbour
But wailed and nested in the sky-blue wall
Now break a giant tear for the little known fall,

For the drooping of homes
That did not nurse our bones,
Brave deaths of only ones but never found,
Now see, alone in us,
Our own true strangers’ dust
Ride through the doors of our unentered house.
Exiled in us we arouse the soft,
Unclenched, armless, silk and rough love that breaks all rocks.

I didn’t find much in the way of scholarly analysis and that’s fine because to me this is very clearly about US, Americans.

We are dead because we are numb and disconnected.

We have attached ourselves to processed substitutes and intermediaries for our joy, our wellness, our communication and connection with others, our society’s laws and values.

Not all substitutes and intermediaries are always inherently bad, no more than a piece of art is somehow not as good as the item or concept it was created to reflect. They are just what they are- they do what they do, they offer what they offer.  Art, Media, Facebook, and other substitutes and intermediaries allow us to share, express, preserve, learn, coordinate.

Some, though, are death wearing a handy benign mask provided by the greed and fear that we allow to pervade our society from within our own hearts to the highest halls of learning and government.  Sometimes they are inherently evil; sometimes they are only killing us because we allow them to because it is easier to find something to numb us than to just connect.

We have been lulled by benign and evil substitutes and intermediaries into letting go of real contact, connection, nourishment, education, competence, and skill.

We are are silent when murder is done and our earth cries out and we ignore the pain of other humans and we cannot cry when we see death. The anger pain and prurient pleasure constantly whipped up by our media, portrayed for ‘entertainment’ and substituted for news by our journalists, keep us complacent and unquestioning of what is really going on and how we really need to engage.

We keep our children out of the sun, literally. They have no time to play outside, and they must not learn for themselves. They have lost the wilderness of childhood, both literally in the sense that children do not get to play outside and in the sense that we pound their joy out of them in favor of conformity, grades, good behavior, shake it off and suck it up and drive on.

We are lost but never found and there is no redemption and we are fine with that.

I have pretty much ignored John Cale, but he did set it to music if you like that sort of thing.  I am sick at heart but thankful for the message. Although, as I read it, I do wonder if, in fact, things truly are all according to plan, all good, all Maya and not worth worrying about because Heaven is always right here, within and all around us, simultaneously with the suffering and evil I, we, choose and prefer to see in every little movement, shadow, difference or change. Is my perception, or lack of it, the real problem here?

In any case, I am off to go really connect with my family in the sunshine.

 

“Poem” from poemhunter.com 

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Filed under Antiquarian, Poems and Poets, quotable, social currents

Two figs

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I am digging through my books this morning. I often find the sweetest things.

I found these and loved them.

First Fig
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
It gives a lovely light!

Second Fig

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

For some time I have been wanting certain friends to ‘play hooky’ with me and spend a day sipping fine spirits and reading poetry. I put play hooky in quotes because with our lives and obligations we will have to plan hooky ahead.

A while back we were listening to M read one of her father’s poems and I mentioned this again. Then H reminded me of Bloomsday. I wrote papers on Joyce in school and I am ashamed to say that I could not name Leopold Bloom and had forgotten about Bloomsday. What kind of literature lover, Kate Bush fan and librarian am I, anyway?

Never mind. Now we know. June 16 2014, 110 years later- Hooky, poetry and fine spirits on Bloomsday it is.

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Filed under Poems and Poets, quotable, Women writers

Online book discussion: If only she’d let me talk to her, or tracks 4 and 5

So how’s it going for you? How far have you read?

September's Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

September’s Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

Pages 100 through 136 provide the context for the funny, ugly scenes approaching in pages 137-165. Tracks 4 Babbino Caro and 5 Nessun Dorma provide a sort of ironic, but not really, counterpoint to the illustrations and revelations. I won’t spoil it, but I will give my thoughts.

I think ‘Ironic, but not really” sort of covers it, for me.

I mean, the crazy new agey stuff Esquivel has Anacreonte and Mammon saying about life and their respective charges, well. It should be at best silly and at worst annoying baloney. But I find myself reading passages like

“When one forgets one is a part of the whole, that one bears the Divine Essence within; when one ignores the fact one is connected with the Cosmos– like it or not– one ends up foolishly lying in bed dwelling on nonsense.”

or

“One act,  however minimal, unleashes a chain reaction in the world around us… One person’s inaction paralyzes the world.”

or

“The kind of alignment I’m talking about consists of getting oneself in syntony with the loving energy circulating throughout the Cosmos. This is achieved by relaxing and letting life flow among all the cells of the body.  Then Love, the cosmic DNA, will remember its genetic message, is origins, the mission assigned it…  her entire being will breathe cosmic energy,  and will remember it is not alone– much less, without Love.”

and feeling myself agreeing and being comforted.

Whoa!

So in this cynical era, this work is sort of funny to me, but I have to be honest. I think this work has potential to be uncovered thousands of years from now and mistaken for an exalted philosophical and  moral text, perhaps much like we see the writings of the ancients we have uncovered.  And that perception would not be a bad thing, at all. Butterfly effect, Conservation of Energy, String and Chaos theories, whatever… I don’t want to give a light, ironic yet also soulful literary fun run short shrift just because it isn’t so highbrow.

What do you think?

Next time : Beginning at Track 6, page 167.

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Filed under Latin American, New Age, online book discussion, quotable, Science Fiction, Women writers

Vogliatemi Bene by Puccini, and The Law of Love

September's Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

September’s Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

     The members of the Wine Country Books online book discussion group have been dying to begin the conversation about this book! Have you gotten your copy yet? If not, I still have one free copy to send the first person who comments here or emails me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail dot com. 

     So what do you think? 

     Readers! Let’s get the comments rolling! 

     *     *     *

“Listen, Senorita. You have any idea how meretricious I’ve been? 

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’ve levitated my soul enough to merit scatological treatment.” 

– page 55

     I don’t read enough Latin American literature. Whenever I do, it is unbelievable- enjoyable, earthy, usually darkly funny but not always, and beautifully written.  My most recent read was Dona Flor and her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado. What a treat.

     It all started when my mom gave me a copy of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits when I was a teen, sealing my love for and fascination with Latin America for good.  Some years later she gave me The Law of Love.  I don’t know where that copy went, and I am so glad it cropped up again. It has everything, right? Music, illustration by Miguelanxo Prado, and, a silly yet really soulful premise-  we are thrown into situations again and again, reincarnation after reincarnation, until we finally atone for whatever evil we did in previous lives, and only when we atone fully can we step free of our spiritual messes and find true love. The illustrations and especially the music really bring me right into the story, like the alarming realness of the news of the assassination on the Televirtual set. 

     When I read Cuquita’s conversation with the bureaucrat at the Astral Ascension desk in the Consumer Protection Agency, I just cracked up. 

“Well, okay, I admit I was pretty nasty, but not enough to deserve this! I’ve spent enough time paying off karmas from posterior lives not to be stuck with a man guilty of default and battery. Just look at this eye! If you don’t grant me a divorce soon, I swear I’ll kill him.”

“Do what you like, but you’ll still have to pay. Next, please.”

p.55 

     I mean… what married lady has NOT felt this way at least for a time?

     If she says she hasn’t she is LYING! And if she really hasn’t- well. Hum.

     It is my favorite kind of humor- the humor that strikes right at the heart of a human situation, with compassion as well as cutting honesty.  It seems like everything I read or every movie I watch from the Spanish Speaking World is so rich with this painful hilarity (or hilarious pain?). With the exception of Pan’s Labyrinth. That was not hilarious or witty, not one bit. It was amazing, but funny it never was, not for one moment. But in general, the humor in Latin American literature and film cuts deeply and truly. 

     I am sure Cuquita’s and Azucena’s sentiments fit just fine with other situations that have us wondering WHY ME? AND HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS? Miserable jobs, parenting horrible children, putting up with some asshole coworker or family member day after day, or life’s many other more painful passages- and the common theme is that I don’t deserve it! How can I get out of it! Why am I  having to put up with this? WHY ME? What agency can assist me out of this mess?

     At the start of the book I was absolutely on board regarding the physical and spiritual violence done when colonial powers set themselves to bring  indigenous civilizations and people to heel. But the story line made me uncomfortable, and it didn’t seem particularly well written… but I do wonder if the language and tone would sound much more literary in the original Spanish, and I do see the necessity of these brief passages and the first set of dark illustrations to the story.

     And  fast-forwarded to Azucena’s story, I am back on comfortable ground. Done well, this book could make an adorable, yet deeply thoughtful and soulful movie. And the whole book and cd are worth it just to read the words of Liliana Felipe’s song Mala, Track 2. Seriously. 

     I’ve read ahead a bit, through the thoughts of the Demon Mammon. I get a huge kick out of how he claims credit for human evolution, by making us suffer. His idea that violence is required to produce a masterpiece reminds me of the very insightful, cutting humor I value so highly. 

    I look forward to reading more, and to hearing what you think, dear reader! Get in touch and I will send you a copy free!!!

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Filed under Latin American, New Age, online book discussion, quotable, Science Fiction, Women writers

Striving toward such an epitaph

“It is my belief that having reached this concluding chapter, the reader must be aware by now that Tennessee Williams is a man with fewer major faults than many less interesting people.” Gilbert Maxwell, Tennessee Williams and Friends An Informal Biography. 1965, World Publishing Company

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July 29, 2013 · 7:15 pm