Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Miny imperial

#the tower
towers, buoyant serapi
Berenice strolled on flags
and on heavy inscriptions
Oh, heavenly. I am stood here patient enough

Have you forgiven gas attax yet?

I must feed my child
Cathy.. betrayal #

Berenice scrambled flailed
the plaster knife ran all over the surface
They mustered, unbuttoning

Sov, du lilla videung

Franco in Moscow

Language can't say what I know

They're always asking for strength

the village lives only on its surface,
courting, labouring...
its dead are forgotten

Life, an illusion

The pearl waves pouring through the flume

An afternoon dark with mustering pines

And the child ran into the barn, I panicked,
I couldn't see her I flew
and then I trod on my ankle
like a fool

I banged the cupboards
and the dust flew what a dingy night

I was life, multitudes, when I came to know this.

I rose straight up with my child held above my head, the warmth of patterned blankets descended from Government Hill and burst into floral borders is that the way you imagined it


yellow mint tabs, caplet abstracted, multiplication red plaza mosaic,
The figures were cultivating the green, soil plots and the cream chimneys,
generators of a low grey thudding hum across a walkway behind a temple.
The fox-form slunk into the bramble,
The fox's buoyed tail like the sock of coastal plains; no paintings near the coast,
grey and mint panels, ranks of long canted grass reflexion,
the lofted spokes energised, enervated. sink-white aloft. 


Monday, February 17, 2014

flowers from Jämtland (July 2013)

A few more photos from my stay in Jämtland last July:

Angelica sylvestris

Wild Angelica (Strätta, Angelica sylvestris). One of the most characteristic plants of Norrland.  Often, as here, flushed pink. Grey Alder in the background. 

Dianthus deltoides

Maiden Pink (Baknejlika, Dianthus deltoides). Quite common in villages, road-verges, old farmsteads, pastureland... anywhere, in short, that human beings have managed to win back from the blanket forest.  

Trichophorum alpinum

Cotton Deergrass (Ullsäv, Trichophorum alpinum, formerly known as Scirpus hudsonianus). Common in northern Sweden. Once recorded in Scotland (a bog in Angus from 1791 - c. 1813), but long extinct. An extremely beautiful sight, I thought.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

The flowers of Jämtland - Nattviol

Platanthera bifolia flowers and fruits

Pictures from a stay in East Jämtland last summer (early July 2013).

Above, Lesser Butterfly-orchid = Nattviol (Platanthera bifolia). This one is the woodland variety with longer spurs (ssp. latiflora (Drejer) Löjtnant), known in Sweden as "Skogsnattviol".  On the right of the picture above, you can see a dried-up spike from the previous year.

Nattviol means "night violet" and refers to the fragrant scent at evening, designed to appeal to moths.

Here in Jämtland it's close to the northern limit of its range, but this should not lead you into thinking that the plants are rare or sickly.  Here in the woody copse known as "Sjögrens" at the back of our old summer cottage (to which, alas, we were saying our goodbyes) there has always been this healthy colony of nattviol. Perhaps the conditions are exceptionally good, in the sheltered Indal valley, on a calcareous west-facing slope.

Nattviol is a common plant in Sweden (especially central Sweden) and much celebrated, tending to become a symbol of the mystery and melancholy in those white nights of summer.

Dofta, dofta nattviol,
sommarnatt är ljum,
ingen oro sjuder.
Och till skogens tysta rum
långt ur fjärran ljuder
vemodsensam bondfiol.

Fragrant, fragrant night-violet,
summernight warm,
no unease here.
In the wood's silent spaces,
far from commotion,
one sad and lonely peasant violin.

(Erik Grotenfelt - a Finland-Swedish poet, 1891 - 1919. This unhappy poet, novelist and children's-book author, who was an early champion of Edith Södergran, received his military training in Germany, fought for the Whites during the Finnish Civil War, ordered the execution of sixty Red Guards and at least two women at Västankvarn in May 1918, initially carried out the sentences himself  (the men, he said afterwards, were not experienced in the enforcement of judgments), and shot himself a year later.  He was later claimed by Finnish Nazis as an inspirational forerunner, which more or less terminated any lingering interest in his writings.)

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Thursday, February 06, 2014

New on Intercapillary Space...

I've put up a couple of little notes on Intercapillary Space.  They are not much more than annotated links but they cover quite a lot of interesting ground (of a modern-poetry-and-poetics variety, but also taking in militancy and civil unrest, tiger economies, friendship...).

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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Tapping World Summit 2014

Yes, it's that time of year again....

The summit starts on February 24th. Lots of free stuff but it is time-limited, so make sure you sign up before the 24th and you can get a mass of free info about how (and why) to tap. Get on there now and you can watch Nick Ortner's 30-minute chat with Wayne Dyer, which is amazing.

As for the summit itself, I'm expecting it to be the usual format of two presentations a day, all conducted by the brilliant Jessica Ortner.

(If you don't know why you'd be at all interested in this, then EFT aka "tapping" is a simple but profound technique for changing how you do things to get through life.)

If you're bothered about how this fits with conventional medicine, check out the interview with Lissa Rankin MD:


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

What did the summer contain?

What did the summer contain?
(16)   It wasn't only the pine-scent, wasn't only
the meadow-sides flowing like a bright flag.
         At the river you picked up a
                                              handful of
         not only red river-gravel but all
            those one-syllable words: air, & love ...
(What dumb signposts they are! We who are tired
             of kicking up & down the same old road,
well, we have left some dents on them.)
         But, what was it?
Where the grass rippled up a bank,
         where we danced a mazurka & the
                                   sun became a golden berry -
what worm of no syllables
        lay wreathed & smiling in its gut?    


Monday, February 03, 2014

William Shakespeare: King John (1595?)

Mrs Siddons on Constance, quoted in Thomas Campbell's Life of Mrs Siddons

King John is now about the least-performed of Shakespeare’s plays. I have read a review of a college production at M.I.T.; but it’s a long time since Mrs Siddons and her directors seized eagerly on the role of Constance to make a showstopping display of female loftiness.  The words used by Mrs Siddons, Mrs Jameson and others are “vehemence”, “passion” and “exquisite sensibility”. These were topics of urgent interest. The Romantic/Victorian cult of “the feminine nature” - though really depending on a belittlement of women as practical agents, as is now easily seen - permitted the relief of some acute pressure in that bizarre culture.

R. L. Smallwood’s interpretation of the play (in the New Penguin Shakespeare, 1974) turns its back on all this to emphasise the centrality of the Bastard and Hubert as, eventually, decent bystanders. This reading is humane and detailed, but it has some scarcely acknowledged difficulties. (Despite the evidence of speech prefixes, I hardly accept Hubert as identical with the citizen on the walls of Angiers. The two roles have clearly defined functions and nothing but questions seems to be gained from assimilating them.)

One difficulty is that the Bastard’s outrageous (and nearly implemented) suggestion that Angiers be levelled first and argued over later must be regarded as a sort of sarcasm. The idea is proposed with considerable energy. Another is that the Bastard is not shown as being in possession of the facts, so far as John’s death warrant on Arthur is concerned. This matters if his decisions are to be regarded as morally normative.

                                    If thou didst but consent
            To this most cruel act, do but despair...

So he says to Hubert. But John did consent, and the Bastard, not knowing this, is not really put to the test.

A better approach to this rumbustious character is via his kinship with Richard Coeur de Lion. His impatience with treaties is a military and temperamental one. He is well positioned to make deflating criticisms but he is not at all suitable as a comprehensive guide to political and national behaviour. Pugnacity is a sort of behaviour that is occasionally useful.

It is perhaps with these issues in mind that someone else has proposed playing King John as a “black comedy”, i.e. (so I suppose) a play in which all the action is to some extent vain and there is no moral centre. “Black comedy” seems to me an anachronistic genre, I mean when applied to Shakespeare; it can glide over difficulties but not help us.

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