Saturday, 25 April 2009

archibald mcleish

You, Andrew Marvell

And here face down beneath the sun
Here upon Earth's noonward height
To feel the always coming on
The always rising of the night:

To feel creep up the curving East
The earthy chill of dusk and slow
upon those underlands the vast
And ever climbing shadow grow

And strange at Ecbatan the trees
Take leaf by leaf the evening strange
The flooding dark about their knees
The mountains over Persia change

And now at Kermanshah the gate
Dark empty and the withered grass
And through the twilight now the late
Few travellers in the Westward pass

And Baghdad darken and the bridge
Across the silent river gone
And through Arabia the edge
of evening widen and steal on

And deepen in Palmyra's street
The wheel-rut in the ruined stone
And Lebanon fade out and Crete
High through the clouds and overblown

And over Sicily the air
Still flashing with the landward gulls
And loom and slowly disappear
The sails above the shadowy hulls

And Spain go under and the shore
Of Africa the gilded sand
And evening vanish and no more
The low pale light across that land

Nor now the long light on the sea:
And here face downward in the sun
To feel how swift how secretly
The shadow of the night comes on...

Thursday, 23 April 2009


i'm to be in the scotsman on saturday 25th. i'll believe it when i see it if only to see how what i did in elvis makes it into the newspaper.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

louis macneice


Grey brick upon brick,
Declamatory bronze
On sombre pedestals -
O'Connell, Grattan, Moore -
And the brewery tugs and the swans
On the balustraded stream
And the bare bones of a fanlight
Over a hungry door
And the air soft on the cheek
And porter running from the taps
With a head of yellow cream
And Nelson on his pillar
Watching his world collapse.

This never was my town,
I was not born or bred
Nor schooled here and she will not
Have me alive or dead
But yet she holds my mind
With her seedy elegance,
With her gentle veils of rain
And all her ghosts that walk
And all that hide behind
Her Georgian facades -
The catcalls and the pain,
The glamour of her squalor,
The bravado of her talk.

The lights jig in the river
With a concertina movement
And the sun comes up in the morning
Like barley-sugar on the water
And the mist on the Wicklow hills
Is close, as close
As the peasantry were to the landlord,
As the Irish to the Anglo-Irish,
As the killer is close one moment
To the man he kills,
Or as the moment itself
Is close to the next moment.

She is not an Irish town
And she is not English,
Historic with guns and vermin
And the cold renown
Of a fragment of Church latin,
Of an oratorical phrase.
But oh the days are soft,
Soft enough to forget
The lesson better learnt,
The bullet on the wet
Streets, the crooked deal,
The steel behind the laugh,
The Four Courts burnt.

Fort of the Dane,
Garrison of the Saxon,
Augustan capital
Of a Gaelic nation,
Appropriating all
The alien brought,
You give me time for thought
And by a juggler's trick
You poise the toppling hour -
O greyness run to flower,
Grey stone, grey water,
And brick upon grey brick.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

napowrimo and the like

it's true the lounge is suffering as i seem to do little else but cycle, write and wobble about in the garden. oh yes there is that pesky work stuff which is reaching new levels of awfulness but maybe it's the arrival of spring because i don't feel like blogging about it lately.

napowrimo this year is dawdling along nicely. it's reached the stage of the month where it's beginning to feel a bit more like a trial but i've more ideas for poems than days to write them in so i'll reach the end okay. i'm happier with what i've done this year which is always a bonus but perhaps i'd a better idea of what to expect this year than last. i have found tho that working does interfere with it, not night shift surprisingly, but day shift. it's not that i'm busier just that the whole getting up early thing seems to weary me and stopper that part of my brain function.

i've also enjoyed picking a napowrimo site to follow. i'm mainly on readwrite tho i've kept an eye on poetry free for all. readwrite i've kept with, somehow they're just a more engaging bunch and i like the format better plus there's always the fall back of the prompt even if i've never actually stuck with it yet! the poetry varies wildly on both sites so there's something for everyone no matter what their taste! and while i've enjoyed many my particular favourites are here, here
and here. i recommend a browse with a cup of tea without hesitation.

not that i haven't been wasting my time. i am gladdened to hear that in this obama era the situation with gay people in the military is at last clear ; )

Friday, 17 April 2009

clement freud

i was saddened to hear of the death of clement freud the other day not least because it struck me that i've been listening to just a minute for as long as i can remember (this link'll take you to the arena documentary), mainly because it's been broadcast as long as i can remember(this'll take you to a proper old school line up!). while it can't have been all that unexpected, and it certainly wasn't by him not least because he was eighty four, and i think most of us would like to keel over at home rather than end up in the care of the likes of me it still must've been a shock to his family. i'm sure he had his moments but my impression of him is as a thoroughly convivial fellow and that will do for me.

thoughts of my own ageing process came to the fore today as, t having thoroughly neglected my head and sporting what can only be described as a scruffy bouffant, i dragged my shabby liberace looking ass down to the hairdresser. not a barber, mind, a hairdresser. no matter it may look like a barber shop a man who cuts hair in a kilt will always be a hairdresser no matter how much he claims otherwise.

the moment of truth when he had shaved my head back into its accustomed no. 3, trimmed and at its fighting weight, when he said ' do you want me to do your eyebrows as well?'

'my eyebrows?' i said. well, why not. and while i can't be said to even sport a decent pair of spocks, genetics dictates that one day the sleek full owls besported by my dad will be mine. not that i'd ever really considered it until leaving the shop, underwhelmed by the experience, i was suddenly aware of how unhirsute my periorbits were feeling. doubtless no one else will notice. i looked in the mirror and they looked tidy enough if a bit disturbingly blonde. tidy but weird.

what comes next i wonder. i wait with curiosity.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

the (slightly smaller) joy of angus

this week i'm happy to find that my twenty mile speed is going in the direction it should be and that's before i'm back on my fast bike. the sun is shining so i decide it must be endurance day. yes, i've had two aerobic days in a row and yes, conventional wisdom dictates that at my silver haired old lady age i need to rest more but who am i to listen? so i ignore the tiredness and head back angus-ward for a 50 loop, this time fully stocked with energy bars, gels and bottles of electrolyte, all of which work a treat, even the generally minging electrolyte drink.

again i take the a94 to meigle, slightly less mellow as it's cluttered with people in their cars. so i detour off towards kirriemuir. as soon as i'm on the road tranquillity descends, the sun is shining if coolly and i'm reminded of just how long it's been since i was up these roads. stupid really as the country is very beautiful, very arable, lots of lambs running about, the buildings that solid red sandstone old school agricultural construction. as is kirriemuir, which is surprising picturesque and seems to have avoided the closing of businesses that has affected many of these wee towns. the roads are narrow, the buildings are higgledy-piggledy, there's even some sandstone cobbles just to make my day.

farther on i make a brief stop at the loch of kennordy to view the bird life. there are ospreys here and active, but not while i'm there. a mellow stop tho, and somewhere i'll come back when i've more time. now that i'm out of kirriemuir i'm aware of my proximity to the cairngorms and can fairly feel the cold air washing down the glen. but who cares, detouring out here os to pass all manner of places with cool names - the kirkton of kingoldrum, bridgend of lintrathen, reekie linn and the slug of auchrannie. i feel like i've got a walk on part in sunset song.

lintrathen is lovely, nature reserve, fishery and water supply for dundee. the road snakes down onto it, thru the village and alongside the water. i say hello to a woman out pushing her grand daughter. i'm pleased to see an honesty box so close (relatively) to dundee. i'm starting to feel the hills in my legs and suspect that my fifty mile loop is somewhat more. either that or the 40/60 mile psychological fragility has come early. i confirm it when i get back to meigle. 50 down, 20 to go and not downhill.

it's murder. i see my average speed tumble, my legs ache and the wind becomes comical. six miles to go and i feel an awful sliding in my left knee. not good. but it's only six miles and i tumble back inti the house shortly after. the stretching is ugly no matter, my knee doesn't blow up and it's been a lovely day. so lovely, i get myself together then take t round the whole route in the car.

it's nice but not the same. folk ask me about the why of it from time to time esp as i;m getting less and less inclined to go anywhere where i can;t cycle from my door. i can always come up with some nonsense but today, as i'm listening to the radio and attempting to stretch, i'm provided with as good an answer as any

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?-
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

W.H. Davies

no, there are no photographs. i should've taken a camera and when i did later of course the batteries weren't working....

Friday, 10 April 2009

karel capek

The End of the Twentieth Century

When this century collapses, dead at last,
And its sleep within the dark tomb has begun,
Come, look down upon us, world, file past
And be ashamed of what our age has done.

Inscribe our stone, that everyone may see
What this dead era valued most and best:
Science, progress, work, technology
And death - but death we prized above the rest.

We set new records, measuring men and deeds
In terms of greatness; thus we tempted fate.
In keeping with the greatness of our needs,
Our heroes and our gangsters, too, were great.

The XXth century, buried; nonetheless,
World, see what eras yet to come will gain:
Great new records, great inventions. Wretchedness.
Dictators. War. A ruined town in Spain.

trans norma comrada

not the translation i'd first seen , i found this here along with a discussion about the translation process. and readings! definitely check out adam and eve. i know little about him other than the robot thing and war with the newts, either of which can be downloaded from the link

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

a. r. ammons


My great wars close:
ahead, papers,
signatures, the glimmering
in shade of
leaf and raised wine:
orchards, orchards,
vineyards, fields:
spiralling slow time while
the medlar
smarts and glows and
empty nests
come out in the open:
fall rain then stirs
the black creek and
the small leaf slips in.

Friday, 3 April 2009

the joy of angus

off out on the bike and away up into angus where i find it's remarkably flat. not only that the a94 is well surfaced an almost empty so i don't keep to the wee roads and find myself ambling along in the sun at a fair old crack. it's true i should have probably looped back at forfar but my legs were okay and i knew i could get a break at rachel's.

so, onwards and forwards and with the mileometer ticking just over fifty i arrived for coffee. it's true i could describe rachel's residence, the way she floated out in some laura ashley creation, how she showed me round her 'poetry room' with its gingham curtains but as she asked me not to then i shan't. but we did spend a lovely hour in her arbor before i was back on the road home.

coming over the hill to lunan was fantastic but after the climb i was suddenly reminded that although i'd stopped i hadn't actually eaten anything in montrose, not a bad mistake as it turned out, but a mistake nonetheless. the wind had kicked up, being near the coast and all so my speed dropped. then i got lost in arbroath and cold. the whole stretch to dundee all i could think about was food. each house i passed i wanted to be a shop. all along the road i came across empty cans that had once contained sugary stuff. i could just about taste the last hinty of sweet, sweet energy from my final gel. i wasn't ready to bonk but it wasn't good.

and then newbigging. a can of coke, a double mars and a slab of tablet. i practically inhaled them! and with that flew down the road to dundee where t was waiting for me. i could've have forgiven her for short temperedness as i was well over time due to a) being lost in arbroath b) travelling down ncn 1 which had no signs south of arbroath and c) being unable to tell the difference between 'about twenty miles' and forty five on the map.

still, my first 150k of the year. i retire to bed and sleep solidly for thirteen hours!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

a year of elvis

a year to the day of elvis....

so i go along to this creative writing group unsure why but i guess to kind of catch the energy of the last one i did back in the islands, except this time i'm just turning up, just attending and after all i'm supposed to be up for this sort of thing.

except i'm so not. all the talk is of publishing, of competitions. there's no constructive discussion at all, just that leaden appreciation that's somehow supposed to masquerade as encouragement. i feel reined in, as if all the dials are turned down low. they have a topic but i daren't write anything because i just know that speed writing is something they're not into. all of which is just about dealable with, except for the joylessness. maybe it's just a bad day. maybe i should keep myself in the world.

and elvis? on it will go. i like the blogulic process. but i must write more fiction this year and i definitely, definitely want to do some more collabortaive work. now if only i could just sleep less....