Punishment of the Gods

Atlas At Culzean

The ‘Atlas’ Sundial, Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland … Photo: WHB 2003  ©

PUNISHMENT OF THE GODS

The ancient gods of Greece and Rome, omniscient in their sagacity,
Showed no restraint at all in exercising their voracity.

Eternal punishment was dealt by Zeus to those who crossed him;
Ever the vengeful God dispersed reprisal on a whim.

Prometheus, fettered to a rock, Zeus’s ego damaged,
Condemned to have his entrails by an eagle daily ravaged.

For Sisyphus he set the task of rolling a stone uphill. 
For all I know that poor old chap is pushing skywards still.

Wretched Tantalus suffered long, his grasp forever taunted
By receding fruit and water, always close, but always daunted.

For lusting after Zeus’s wife, Ixion was bound to a wheel,
Then the wheel was set on fire, a vicious cruel ordeal.

Other gods and goddesses were equally disdaining
Of lesser gods and vulgar mortals of whom they were complaining.

Arachne she was killed by fate, but brought back as a spider,
Condemned continually to weave, forever an outsider.

Actaeon was turned into a stag for just one venial sin,
Then torn apart by his own hounds, his heart ripped from his skin.

Narcissus met his Nemesis beside the mirrored pool.
He pined away with love forlorn; he broke the golden rule.

Atlas he was made to bear the whole of heavens’ weight; 
Upon his shaken Titan shoulders, his cursed aeonian fate.

So thus discomfited mankind was taught not to transgress;
Displease the gods who dares, condemned to unceasing deep distress.

 

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Sea Fever – by John Masefield

(No.56 of my favourite short poems)

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‘Sea Fever’ . . . WHB: Pen & Wash – Sep., 2017

Sea Fever

 

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

 

By John Masefield


 

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‘Sea Fever’ is perhaps the best known of all the poetic works of John Masefield.  Born in Herefordshire, England, in 1878, he was the British poet laureate for 37 years in the middle of the 20th Century until his death in 1967.   As a young man he trained as a merchant seaman, but, in 1895, he deserted his ship when in New York City.  There he worked in a carpet factory before returning to London to write poems, in many of which he wrote about his experiences at sea.

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Saudade

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‘Saudade’: 2017 –  Photograph used with kind permission of AK  ©

 


Saudade‘ is a Portuguese word which does not have a direct equivalent in English. It is usually described as ‘a nostalgic longing to be near something or someone that is distant, or that has been loved and lost’  or as ‘the love that remains’ after someone or some place is gone. In its wider sense it conveys feelings, of experiences, places, events that once brought pleasure, but which now trigger the senses and make one live again, although often with an underlying sense that the object of longing will never return.

Several pieces of music have been composed which attempt to convey such feelings of nostalgia and melancholy, mostly by the Brazilian composers for the classical guitar. One of my favourite pieces of guitar music is the ‘SAUDADE’ composed by Diermando Reis.  I have used it here to accompany my poem.  It is played beautifully with great tenderness and technique, by the French classical guitar maestro, Frédéric BERNARD (“Cyrloud”).

I encourage viewers to turn up the volume, then click on this YouTube video link to the music which will open the video in a separate window.  If you then return to this main screen window you will be able to read the poem whilst the music is playing . . .

Guitar from Brazil: Eterna Saudade, Dilermando Reis

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SAUDADE

I retain
a longing that never leaves
a love that heeds
neither present
nor future
but clings to the past
as suckers of ivy
cleave to my crumbling walls
as the unceasing tide
embraces
the shore

and, as the guitar’s
velvet fingerings
hold me in their thrall
its mellow notes
take me
to that soft spring time
of my youth
when life had begun
to take on meaning
memory then
had no significance
and zeal and lust
freshly formed
were all

now
those times long past
remain with me
brighter than yesterday
clearer than today
the music returns me
to that other time
that other place
bound by hiraeth
bringing with it
regret
for opportunities gone
for loss of that distant
loved land
and people

enchanted in memory
and now
all too bitingly missed
loved
lost
and longed for
… saudade

 

AmorSaudade

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Let Sleeping Ducks Lie

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Morning on the River Lowman, Devon … Photo: WHB – 2017  ©

 

LET SLEEPING DUCKS LIE

Pillowed heads
nestled
self-cushioned
oblivious
to my interference
in their down time

Dead to the busy world
and to my stare
my attempt
to disturb their lives
with my own

Our only mutual assurance
the comfort
of another sunrise
another day
to forage
to survive
to face
new concerns
different uncertainties

 The inbuilt plight
of all creation
fortified only
by a will
to endure
to survive
and thrive

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Inspiration

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Waters of the River Lowman, Devon – Photo:  WHB, 2017   ©

 

INSPIRATION

 

As Lowman meanders
hardly awake
over its pebbled bed
and as clear waters
give back the russet tones
of disturbed sand
of silt-stained rocks
so I muse

Imagination awakes
words flow
with the waters of the stream
transmuting my senses

into visions
of solitude
and silence
of grace in being
delight in life itself

These images
transposed
revisiting me now

with imprinted memories
of awe
of richness

felt in the bones of my youth
replicated now
in the dis-ease of old age

 

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VAN GOGH by Mervyn Peake

(No.55 of my favourite short poems)
Mervyn Peake-Self Portrait

Mervyn Peake (1911 – 1968) … Self-Portrait

VAN GOGH   . . .  by Mervyn Peake

Dead, the Dutch Icarus who plundered France
And left her fields the richer for our eyes.
Where writhes the cypress under burning skies,
Or where proud cornfields broke at his advance,
Now burns a beauty fiercer than the dance
Of primal blood that stamps at throat and thighs.
Pirate of sunlight! and the laden prize
Of coloured earth and fruit in summer trance
Where is your fever now? and your desire?
Withered beneath a sunflower’s mockery,
A suicide you sleep with all forgotten.
And yet your voice has more than words for me
And shall cry on when I am dead and rotten
From quenchless canvases of twisted fire

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Wheat Field With Cypresses, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh

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I Remember The Bellows

Following on from my blog two days ago, ( ‘Fire, Forge and Furnace’ ) in which I attempted to place the work of the blacksmith in an historical context, I thought it may be the time to re-blog one of my very first published poems ( ‘I Remember The Bellows’ ), which described my introduction to the smithy, the blacksmith’s forge and, for me at the time, all its excitement and wonder.

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I grew up a long time ago, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, in a staunch Methodist household, the son of the village blacksmith and farrier.  Two abiding memories of my early years were . . .

1. on weekdays, of pumping the bellows to maintain the heat of the fire in his forge, and . . .

 2. on Sundays, of being concealed behind the chapel organ, pumping the bellows to maintain the air to the organ  pipes during the hymn singing.

 For good or ill, BELLOWS thus became a significant part of my childhood, and I recently recalled these formative experiences in the following, light-hearted verses.

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I REMEMBER THE BELLOWS

 

Arms activate,  
Biceps bulge. 
I remember the bellows. 
Let my memory indulge. 

*

 The forge and the furnace  
The farrier’s tools.
His anvil, his hammers,
His tongs and ferrules.

 I build up the heat
Till the iron is blood-shot,
And molten and moulded –
Into what shape I know not. 

*

The pipes and the console
The organist’s tools
His feet and his fingers
Obey all the rules.

 I build up the wind
In the pipes till they sound
Out their diapason
To all those around.

 *

 So, it’s weekdays the smithy
And Sundays the Chapel.
A slave to them both,
And all that for an apple.

 Whilst I labour discretely,
And pump up and down,
They can’t do without me –
Best  aerator in town.

 

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Fire, Forge and Furnace

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‘The Smith’: Illus.from’The Book Of English Trades’, Museum of English Ryral Life, Reading University.

FIRE, FORGE & FURNACE

It began with the furnace
When limping Hephaestus
tamed his volcanic forge,
before Prometheus
poached fire,
and brought to mankind,
his creation,
those skills of
 inspired artistry
 in metal and the arts,
for which he suffered
until, released, liver-less,
 from his eagle-torn fate

So, his legacy,
passed on to the smith,
farrier, blacksmith, metalworker,
a noble calling
worthy trade
artist in iron
his skill
portrayed in metal
wrought within the fire
of Vulcan’s heart

Bent over the anvil
he finds his future
his art is in iron
his heart lies there too
the kiln his spirit
the anvil his easel
tongs his palette knife
his hammer his brush

Rendering and wrenching
forging
forcing his will
on that malleable metal
moulding with skill
stroking the steel
forming shape
to match imagination
to meet a need
create a masterwork
from his mind’s ferment

The furnace,
bellowed into life,
bright burning coals
in heat and fusion
throw shadows all around
as if their flickering flames
are desperate to escape
and return
to the place of their birth –
the fiery inferno
in Vulcan’s heart.

Hephaestus

Hephaestus

 

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Popular Opinion

 

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From Reddit (detail) – Sep., 2017

“Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world. ”  ― Thomas Carlyle   Thomas Carlyle

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WAS IT ME?

Three faces of the truth
Did, Didn’t, Might-Have-Done
Owned up only to being honest

DID . . .

Ok
Hands up
I admit it
You aren’t wrong
It was me
I am guilty
You’ve got me bang to rights

DIDN’T

It wasn’t me
You are mistaken
Not guilty
I deny it all
I was never there
I couldn’t have done it
I have a watertight alibi

MIGHT-HAVE-DONE

I don’t know
It might have been me
It could have been me
But – what does it matter
I don’t care
You don’t care
No-one cares

JUDGEMENT

Being economical with the truth
Right or wrong
True or false
Truth will out
Justice will triumph
 
Or so says popular opinion 
The greatest lie in the world

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