Summer Geese

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Painting in acrylic by Canadian artist, Alma Kerr – October 2017  ©

SUMMER  GEESE

 

I walk not with the summer geese

but I follow them

as they make their stately way

along the water’s edge

through the incoming waves

towards the seagrass

 

So beautiful

this sense that Nature and I

Are aligned

Working to the same end

Coupled in a determination

To follow our will

Into whatever the future will bring

 

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Poem composed in collaboration between Alma and Roland – November 2017

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Stillness

 

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‘Solitude’: Rydal Water, Cumbria, The Lake District, UK … Pen & Ink – WHB 1991  ©

 

STILLNESS

 

This stillness and the beauty all around me

Bring with them peace and grace for which I yearn;

For here among the lakes and mountains resting

I sense my hopes and dreams will now return.

 

For now I’ve reached a time when life has bitten,

Reminding me of pleasures once enjoyed;

Since lost in cares and daily obligations

How Nature can supplant and fill the void.

 

Its healing powers I know and cannot question;

They bring delights I cannot bear to miss.

They sing to me of other loves and places,

And speak to me of other times than this.

 

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TIME – A Sonnet

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‘Head of Adam’ Copy in Pencil of Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel. Vatican City, Rome … by WHB -1981

The dust of borrowed time 

Has settled on my soul 

Clogging my receptors, 

Taking further toll

On my retreating days 

Aware as I am now 

How limited my gaze

Which cannot tell me how

Much latitude I have

How bad will be the weather

My seasons tell my stories 

Now all have come together 

Time reaches out to garner me

I’m handing in my history’s key. 

 

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W.B.Yeats – ‘The Salley Gardens’

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William Holman Hunt – The hireling Shepherd (detail) 1851 (Manchester Art Gallery, UK

The Salley Gardens

 

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

 

William Butler Yeats
1865-1939

 

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Yeats has said that his composition of this poem was “an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisdoare, Co.Sligo.  “Salley” or “sally” is a form of the Standard English word “sallow”, i.e., a tree of the genus  Salix. It is close in sound to the Irish word saileach, meaning willow.   Click on the link below to hear a sung version of Yeats’ poem by Maura O’Connell with Karen Matheson …

‘Down By The Sally Gardens’

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My Distant Star

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Van Gogh – 1888: ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’ (detail) … Musee d’Orsay

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MY DISTANT STAR

 

It’s not what I meant
by following my star
but that’s how it is
you’re so remote and afar.

so in my reflections
I make the connections
I’ve been living your life
I’ve laid siege to your mind
and fenced in your feelings
thinking your thoughts
and wishing your wants
your dreams I’ve been dreaming

 so what am I doing
with this surrogate presence?
what will I find
and what can I prove
amidst mist and fashion
by chasing each clue?
a sense of your passion
that essence of you?

I need to give you a meaning
to capture that feeling
of truly belonging
no longer just dreaming
no longer an adjunct
no remote stalker
given to stealing
your dreams, thoughts and wishes
your love and your kisses

 and then if I dare
all that I want
is your love to snare
rejoice in the glow
all else is despair

 

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BRUGES – Revisited

[ Photo Blog #61 ]

I have previously blogged photographs of the Belgian City of Bruges (q.v.) 3 months ago on August 14th.  I made a further long weekend visit there the following year, and present below a different set of photographs of its stunning views, architecture and history . . .

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A reflective view of one of the city’s beautiful canals

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Another canal view

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… and a third

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. . .  a shop selling – you guessed it – vintage dolls

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another view of a roadside lace-maker

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. . .  with a close-up view of the technique

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The famed artist, Jan Van Eyck, lived in Bruges from 1429 until his death in 1441

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I visited an exhibition of Salvador Dali prints whilst in Bruges in 2004

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This poem had been posted in a closed Bruges restaurant window on a Sunday morning

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Spectacular painted interior walls and decorated ceiling of the Stadhuis, the City Hall in Burg Square

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An imposing canal-side Crucifix

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Another canal-side view

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View to the side of the main market square

 

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William Blake – ‘On Another’s Sorrow’

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This poem, in its first published form is by the English poet and painter, William Blake (1757-1827).   Blake was not highly recognised during his lifetime but is now regarded as a leading poet and painter of the Romantic Period.   As an important printmaker, Blake, as he did for many others of his poems, produced the decoration himself.  The poem discusses human and divine understanding and compassion. It was first published in 1789 as the last song in the ‘Songs of Innocence’ section, part of the collection ‘Songs of Innocence and of Experience’. 

My Chinese Mudmen

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MUDMEN

 

Death brought to Life  –
here lies
the ambiguity

Wrought by ancient toil
hands in the dirt
my Men of Clay
contemplative figures
moulded figurines
idle idols
progenitors of
Gormley’s Field
still still
after all these years

The thoughts
dreams
of uncounted
peasant potters
bringing
death to life
life to death
the artisan’s role
a messy resurrection
now paraded
recreated
amongst my books
in my own milieu
a lesson
for my assimilation

Dead as the earth is dead
alive as the wet oriental soil
of their conception
the kiln heat
of their birth

Chilling sentiment
glazed eyes recalling
the potter’s hands
remembering the gnarled
and knotted tension
in their birth

The hope of yesterday
the stillness of today
The meaning of tomorrow

 

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For many centuries Chinese artisans have created clay figurines to accompany their miniature bonsai gardens and aquaria. Such miniature landscape creations were known as Pen’Jing.  These artefacts were individually created by hand from local clays and fired with a low temperature lead glaze, usually in green, blue or yellow.  Faces, hands and feet were often left unglazed, allowing the natural colour of the mud to show.  Such small-scale figurines were generally termed Mudmen.  They were made in many village farming communities when,  following the rice harvest, and the onset of the dry season, locals turned to the production of figures using the local clay. They were often of standing or seated fishermen, mystics, musicians, occasionally women, sages and old wise men, holding books, axes, flutes, scrolls, pots, fish and other objects in common use often of some mystical importance.

Over subsequent years such objects became of importance, particularly following the European fashion of seeking out oriental pottery and sculptural artefacts.  The genuinely old and individually hand-made mudmen figurines are nowadays highly sought after and fetch high market prices.  In more recent years however, modern versions of these mudmen figurines, which most, if not all, of those in my photographs are, have been mass produced and are not of any great value.

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Westonbirt National Arboretum

[ Photo Blog #60 ]

Westonbirt Arboretum can be found near the historic market town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England.  It is the UK’s National Arboretum, managed by the Forestry Commission, and is perhaps the most important and widely known arboretum in the United Kingdom.  The arboretum’s 18,000 specimen trees and shrubs sourced from all over the globe provide a remarkable place for people to enjoy and learn about trees. It has 17 miles of marked paths which provide access to a wide variety of rare plants.

When I visited there in 2003 there happened to be an exhibition of what, only in the broadest sense, could be called ‘garden sculpture’.   I offer below some of my photographs taken at the time . . . 

 

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Westonbirt 01 (1)

Just taking a work break

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A pointed remark

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Tear-drop Tree

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All wired up …

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… and suitably pigeon-holed

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Water-glass

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A hairy situation

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‘The green trees transported and ravished me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap and almost mad with ecstasy.’

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Mirrored garden #1

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Mirrored garden #2

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Mirrored garden #3

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W.H.Auden – The More Loving One

(No.58 of my favourite short poems)

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My drawing of Auden as he was in 1970 – 2001   ©

The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

W. H. Auden (1907 – 1973)

 

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