Feliz cumpleaños José Zorilla

Jose_zorrilla

José Zorilla Y Moral

Spanish romantic poet José Zorilla was born on this day in 1817.  He lived a live of poetry and poverty until the very end of his days when he at last achieved recognition, a pension, honours and the post of Poet Laureate of Spain.  He was so happy with all this recognition that he died within 4 years of getting it.

I like to fool around with poetry translations.  You can’t just translate a poem word for word.  Even if it makes sense it loses all meaning.  So I have made a stab at translating this one and updating it a bit to convey the same sentiment but to make it more relevant and more accessible.

Hope you like it!

 

Ay del triste; de José Zorrilla.

¡Ay del triste que consume
su existencia en esperar!
¡Ay del triste que presume
que el duelo con que él se abrume
al ausente ha de pesar!

La esperanza es de los cielos
precioso y funesto don,
pues los amantes desvelos
cambian la esperanza en celos.
que abrasan el corazón.

Si es cierto lo que se espera,
es un consuelo en verdad;
pero siendo una quimera,
en tan frágil realidad
quien espera desespera.

 

Feck Hope; by Donal Clancy (apologies to José Zorilla)

Feck Hope!  Don’t waste this life on dreams.
Don’t wager your outcome in the game of life
in the scales of some imagined judge.

Hope, that dismal gift of the heavens
becomes a heart rending jealousy
in the clutches of restless lovers.

So what if your dreams come true anyway!
This chimera, this fragile reality
always ends in doom.  Feck Hope.

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Starry Night

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We have had a run of clear skies and bright full moons this week.  As an early riser I get to see plenty of starry nights.  Perfect weather to wax romantic, but maybe not so melancholy.  You don’t want people cutting their ears off!

This is from José Eustasio Rivera, the Columbian poet who wrote their national epic, The Vortex.  Born on this day in 1888.

En la estrellada noche;  por José Eustasio Rivera

En la estrellada noche de vibración tranquila
descorre ante mis ojos sus velos el arcano,
y al giro de los orbes en el cenit lejano
ante mi absorto espíritu la eternidad desfila.

Ávido de la pléyade que en el azul rutila,
sube con ala enorme mi Numen soberano,
y alta de ensueño, y libre del horizonte humano,
mi sien, como una torre, la inmensidad vigila.

Mas no se sacia el alma con la visión del cielo:
cuando en la paz sin límites al Cosmos interpelo,
lo que los astros callan mi corazón lo sabe;

y luego una recóndita nostalgia me consterna
al ver que ese infinito, que en mis pupilas cabe,
es insondable al vuelo de mi ambición eterna.

Happy Birthday A.R. Ammons

Ammons.jpg

Award winning American poet Archie Ammons was born this day in 1926.  He served in the navy during WW2 aboard a battleship escort.  He was a member of the generation who benefited from US government support for education.

He attended University after the war to study biology, becoming a teacher.  He then pursued an M.A. in English and became a life long academic, teacher, writer in residence and award winning poet.

So I guess he qualifies as a “warrior poet”.

 

Eyesight; by Archie Randolph Ammons

It was May before my
attention came
to spring and

my word I said
to the southern slopes
I’ve

missed it, it
came and went before
I got right to see:

don’t worry, said the mountain,
try the later northern slopes
or if

you can climb, climb
into spring: but
said the mountain

it’s not that way
with all things, some
that go are gone

Happy Birthday Louisa Lawson

water-circles-1

Bord this day in 1848 to a very poor family Louisa Lawson left school at 13.  Married at 18 to a Norwegian sailor who left her on her own as he went gold prospecting she had five children, one who died as a baby.  She gained financial independence by buying and managing boarding houses in Sydney.  She used the money from the boarding houses to buy shares in the nationalist newspaper “The Republican”.  She became a writer, editor, poet, suffragette, Australian republican and feminist.

She edited and published “The Dawn” a feminist journal published monthly for 17 years, the first Australian publication produced solely by women.

She had a difficult relationship with her eldest son Henry, who went on to become a writer, editor and poet in his own right.  Many consider him to be the greatest Australian poet.  His early work was heavily influenced by his mother, and she helped his career by employing him as an editor, and by publishing his work and using her press to print his first book.

Reverie; by Louisa Lawson

I am sitting by the river,
and I wile an hour away,
watching circles start and widen
in their momentary play.

Here a stronger whelms a weaker
as its ring expanding flies,
there one rises to the surface,
as another fades and dies.

And I solemn grow with thinking,
for just now it would me seem,
that each life is like a circle –
on time’s deep, impellant stream.

Do we not upon its bosom
linger for a little day,
making faint and fleeting impress,
then forever fade away.

while the strong unresting river
toward Eternity doth glide,
all regardless of the circles
that have pulsed upon its tide.

 

Lawson

Telling Lies #4: Confabulation

hydra

Heracles slays the Hydra one head at a time

Sometimes called “An Honest Lie” the confabulation is an unintended lie.  It is an inaccurate statement believed by the protagonist with no intent to deceive.  For this reason some people do not consider a confabulation as a lie.

It is neatly summed up by Mark Twain in the statement “It ain’t what you don’t know will kill you, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”.

A confabulation is something I call a “script” and a script is a narrative that has been passed to you, usually from parents, older siblings, grandparents or teachers.  It is a script you accept because it comes from a source you respect.  But it is just plain wrong when it is tested against the cold hard facts.

Even after the confabulation has been demonstrated to be wrong there are many people who find it difficult to drop the script.  It forms a deep foundation of their weltanschauung.  So many other scripts hang off the proven confabulation that it has become a Hydra in their belief system.  Cutting off one or two heads has little or no impact.

 

Enough confabulation, let’s talk facts:  Howard Moss was born this day in 1922 if you can believe that.

The Lie; by Howard Moss

Some bloodied sea-bird’s hovering decay
assails us where we lie, and lie
to make that symbol go away,
to mock the true north of the eye.
But lie to me, lie next to me;
the world is an infirmity.

Too much of sun’s been said, too much
of sea, and of the lover’s touch,
whole volumes that old men debauch.
But we, at the sea’s edge curled,
hurl back their bloody world.
Lie to me, like next to me,

for there is nothing here to see
but the mirrors of ourselves, the day,
clear with the odors of the sea.
Lie to me. And lie to me.

Sharing birthdays

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It’s tough as a poet to share a birthday with someone as famous as Edgar Allan Poe (Jan 19th 1809).  Such is the fate of Reginald Charles (Rex) Ingamells (b. 1913).  The leading light of the Australian poetry group known as the Jindyworobak Movement.  They sought to free Australian art from subservience to old world influences and to celebrate the vernacular voices and indigenous inflences that give Australian English it’s unique character.  The movement flourished in the 1930’s and 40’s.  These days it suffers criticism because it was a white movement that celebrated aboriginal and bush life influences.

These days the Australian first nations peoples reject the hijacking of their culture by white immigrants who had a poor understanding of the native zeitgeist.  Effectively the Jindyworobaks are now seen to have been doing to Aboriginal Art the very thing they were fighting against where European writers were seeking to hijack their first hand experience.

I like the poetry of the movement and I think they served an important role in bringing the Australian voice to life.

News of the Sun: by Rex Ingamells

The noon is on the cattle-track;
the air is void of sound,
except where crows, poised burning-black,
cry to the dusty ground.

Through mulga and mirage go none
but brazen Boolee now,
scorning the mercy of the sun
beneath the niggard bough.

But suddenly the mulga stirs;
the hot leaves flash like stars;
and, threading song on wing-beat whirrs,
burst flights of gay galahs.

Emily Dickinson: Scientist

Hangnail

On the Birthday of Emily Dickinson I am delighted to learn that she was a fan of science.  Like another great write, Roald Dahl, she will tell you to vaccinate your child.

Many of the anti-vaxx brigade see themselves as people of faith.  They cleary never learned the lesson that God helps those who help themselves.  If you believe in God why is it so difficult to believe that he created in us the ability to understand the scientific precepts of our world?  Why is it so difficult to believe that God would have created in us the ability to heal ourselves through science?

If you don’t believe in God you belive the same thing, not through blind faith, but through reason.

Either way, why would anyone ignore the best evidence of science in favour of irrational actions motivated by hearsay and anecdote?

Fear.  That’s why.  Try to live a life devoid of fear.

 

Faith; by Emily Dickinson

“Faith” is a fine invention
when gentlemen can see –
but microscopes are prudent
in an emergency.