Thursday, November 19, 2015

A poem for the times - WB Yeats

     William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


The Second Coming was written in 1919 in the aftermath
of the first World War. The above version of the poem is
as it was published in the edition of Michael Robartes and
the Dancer
 dated 1920 (there are numerous other
versions of the poem). The preface and notes in the book
contain some philosphy attributed to Robartes. 

This printing of the poem has a page break between lines
17 and 18 making the stanza division unclear. Following
the two most similar drafts given in the Parkinson and
Brannen edited edition of the manuscripts, I have put a
stanza break there. (Interestingly, both of those drafts
have thirty centuries instead of twenty.) The earlier drafts
also have references to the French and Irish Revolutions
as well as to Germany and Russia.

  • Monday, November 16, 2015

    Poems after Paris 13/11/2015

    Early reactions to the attacks in Paris, 13 November 2015
    Shaken again
    from complacency
    into confusion.

    Asking why? 
    How can they?
    Is life not tough enough?

    Like the hydra
    violent groups grow more heads
    each time we chop one off.

    if we despair
    darkness has the upper hand

    I believe
    most people are decent
    not deluded.

    I believe humans
    can progress
    towards peace
    and cooperation.

    But after such "incidents"
    I want to hide,
    pretend they have not happened.

    I marvel
    I marvel
    at human persistence
    in destruction

    I marvel
    at how some justify

    I marvel
    at those who demand
    faith unto death

    I marvel most
    at the resilience
    of survivors

    and the compassion
    of millions.

    Le lendemain - next morning

    next morning
    life slowly pulls on
    everyday clothes
    but some people
    never will

    or maybe I need to make it more obvious

    next morning
    Paris slowly puts on
    everyday clothes
    for some people 
    this makes no sense


    le lendemain
    on s'habille
    comme d'habitude
    - pours certains
    cela n'a plus de sens


    The next day
    Paris gets dressed
    as usual
    for some
    there is no usual

    Wednesday, November 04, 2015

    More Leicester oddments

    Very literal old sign
    The Leicestershire Butchers Hide Skin & Fat Company building on Queen Street is now a car park. The sign still remains above the entrance. The company appears to have been formed in 1867 and transferred business operations to Somerset and is now dissolved. Info from empedia
    Leicester going continental

    I imagine this is a self-confident Victorian building

    One of the ground floor windows
    Some info on Faire Brothers and CO.  It seems they still manufacture paper.
    The magnificent entrance to what is now residential flats

    Leicester covered market - always worth a visit

    Autumn colours hanging in there

    Verdigris on the turret

    Modern reflections

    Friday, October 16, 2015

    John Biggs - another Leicester man

    We were walking between Highcross Shopping Centre and Newarke Street car park by the direct route, rather than the circuitous one we tried earlier - Leicester played its old trick of shifting in space when we weren't concentrating.

    There on Welford Place is a statue of John Biggs (1801 - 1871).  I'm always curious about these characters. No photograph by me, but this link has one.  The information below comes from a blog.
    John was the eldest son of a hosiery manufacturer, and a Unitarian. He was a social reformer, respected by the Chartists as a model employer, and he became mayor of Leicester in 1840, 1847, and 1856 and borough magistrate from 1840.  He campaigned for the improvement of conditions at work for children, and the abolition of the practice of renting frames to framework knitters - a way of charging workers almost as much as they earned. 
    Portrait of the British School, unknown artist. In Leicester Town Hall
    He was a Leicester MP from 1856 to 1862.  However his business failed around the same time, as trade had become very sluggish, and expenses high. He died with less than £1000 in his estate.
    The original statue was the work of G.F.Lawson in granite. It was later replaced by a bronze cast.

    For more information, see the blog referred to above. There is also a lengthier examination of the Biggs family. 

    Tuesday, September 29, 2015

    The eclipse makes the stars shine

    The lunar eclipse on September 28th early in the morning in the UK was well worth missing some sleep for. 

    It all began with a wonderful sunset on Sunday evening.

    Then the harvest moon rose and hung low and lustrous in the sky, and huge as it does just after it appears.

    A few hours later I grabbed some sleep, knowing that my resident astronomer would wake me up later to see this and more.
    Photograph by Harry
    Harry played magician and camera wizard with some more great pics

    The constellations grew clearer in the still night as the moon's light dimmed. I recognised The Plough, Orion, Cassiopeia, Auriga, and Perseus - getting better! 

    The only downside was that I was late waking up to lead my friends on a walk the next day, but they were quite affable and what's an hour among mates?

    Sunday, September 27, 2015

    La bella città - part 5

    Day 6 - Piazza Navona, Campo de' Fiori, back to the Borghese Park, and a disappointing meal.

    First stop - coffee at the Bibliobar.

    There's a hint of autumn in the leaves.
    The  cycle track by the river is well used today.

    Did you ever see an ice-cream walking...?
    On to the lively Piazza Navona, on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, and still the same shape.  Most of the stalls are selling paintings and caricatures - rather like a less claustrophobic Place du Tertre.

    Egyptian obelisk with the fountain of the four Rivers

    Harry meets the Invisible Man
    Harry's cousin Morton has recommended the Campo de' Fiori, so we head in that direction.
     It was once a meadow, then became the site of many burnings at the stake, including Giordano Bruno, a 16th century Dominican friar and philosopher, whose statue in bronze by Ettore Ferrari dominates the square. He was executed in the Campo de' Fiore for heresy - he denied several Catholic doctrines (including the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and Transubstantiation) and the Inquisition was not pleased. 
     There was an excellent little sandwich and snack shop near by - more pizza and some biscuits. Onwards. Well, well, here's another old ruin . . . 
     and the second cat I've seen in Rome.
     We pass the lovely creature below as we walk on towards the Borghese Park - I know something I could introduce him to nearer home.
    We have a quick pitstop in a cafe, then head to the Borghese Park. We find a bench and eat our lunch under the disapproving gaze of this serious-minded statue - Angelo Brofferio, a poet and politician, with anti-clerical views, who supported the freedom of the press, and opposed the death penalty and torture. 

    Grazia Deledda, writer
     Sunday afternoon and the park is full of young families and couples relaxing and enjoying the sun and the breeze!
    We don't even try to resist the temptation to hire a rowing boat for twenty minutes on the little lake.
     In the middle of this artificial lake is the "Temple of Aesculapius"

    The sky is clouding over - a storm is forecast.  There are a couple of claps of thunder, and at least ten drops of rain. The street vendors swap the sunhats for brolleys alongside the inevitable selfie sticks.
     Dramatic skies over Rome, seen from the Piazzale Napoleone
    We'd decided to eat out, but our choice of steamed salmon and veg was rather uninspired and expensive, even if it was healthier than the usual pizza! We followed it up with a visit to a gelatteria and an expresso, so all was not lost.

    Saturday, September 26, 2015

    La bella città - part 4

    Day 5 - Saturday - The Botanical Gardens and the Gianicolo

    A lateish start, with a coffee at the Antico Caffè Doria on the Via Andrea Doria -  a 16th Century Genovese Admiral, and also the name of a ship which sank off Nantucket in 1956 after a collision , and several other earlier ships.
    Postcards . . .
    We called in at the market for some lunch supplies, and food for tomorrow, since the market is closed on Sunday.
    In the Mercato Trionfale
     We walked alongside the blond Tiber, seeking the Orto Botanico.

      and back along the river

    That looks more promising . . . 

    For a 30 acre garden, this was hard to find! It's between Via della Lungara and Colle de Gianicolo and is a Museum of the Department of Environmental Biology of the Sapienza University of Rome.  €4 each for ancients is a price well worth paying. Palm trees and a fountain with ducks and a gull . . .

    enormous bamboos . 

    From the highest areas there are glimpses of the city . 

    There's a Japanese garden complete with fish . . .

     and waterfalls . . .

     a cactus house . . .
     a café . . 
    and a children's play area, where lots of the local parents met to enjoy the late afternoon . . and more - this was a real discovery. 

    After the gardens we made our way to the Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill - not one of the seven, but the site of a temple to Janus) to the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi - there was a welcome breeze after the hot day, and fantastic views over the city, to the surrounding hills.

     Traditional Italian songs
    volare . . .cantare . . .

    It grew darker so we made our way down passing several busts and statues.
    Filippo Zamboni
    I didn't think this sinister looking character was the inventor of the ice smoothing machines at Peterborough - turns out he was a 19th century poet  . He looks friendlier on the wikipedia page, but did have interests in spiritualism and hypnotism . . .

    Back to base for a much appreciated meal!