I couldn't decide which translation to buy - the Penguin or the Oxford. So I bought both and read them simultaneously!!! What an idiot!! What an effort!I couldn't decide which translation to buy - the Penguin or the Oxford. So I bought both and read them simultaneously!!! What an idiot!! What an effort!!! What a delight !! What an education in the art of translation!!! No one told me this tragedy was going to be...funny!!Amusing!!Witty!! I still don't get it but boy! did I enjoy it. Novels in verse I have NEVER gone near. But I am MAD about Tchaikovsky's opera of this verse-novel. Now THAT is TRAGEDY!! I think poor old Tchai was a disaster waiting to happen ..so that's what he gives you. Great stuff. And those 3 ethereal ballets!!To die for!!But I stray. Pushkin is another Russian altogether. And thus so is HIS Onegin.It is truly wonderful. A masterpiece. Get it and relish before the End of the World, which I hear is just around the corner.
November 1st, 2013. MORE REFLECTION:
I had the opportunity to see a filmed Metropolitan version of "Eugene Onegin" yesterday with Anna Netrebko (Russian) as Tatiana and Mariusz Kwiecien (Polish) as Onegin.Only two of a fine cast. Tchaikovsky did not have to dig very deeply to summon up his tone of melancholy. It was a TOTAL indulgence and made me realise that for me OPERA is the pinnacle of the Arts when it can pull it off, which happily is often.
It sent me back to Pushkin when I arrived home and again today. I particularly wanted to reread the letter scene where Tatiana writes to Onegin to tell him she has fallen in love with him, bravely, honestly and passionately baring her innermost soul to him. And his response also interested me. His response, which is really a very flattering rejection, is also honest and caring, warning her about being aware of the risk of being too open with strangers as she may get hurt. He admits that she is someone he loves but marriage would be a disaster for them because of him. Being like a brother is what he chooses. The librettist was true to the plot and the words of the poem.
However there is not an ounce of Pushkin's humour. Which also works. There is no narrator as there is in the poem, which I think would overload the opera. I found I prefer the opera to the poem...but certainly appreciate them both. Pushkin's canvas is much broader than the opera could manage.
Lucky to have these GREAT Russians...in music, poetry and song. AND a host of nationalities that helped to create this production !!!! If only the World could always be so happily and productively Multicultural!!! ...more
You never ever quite finish with a book of poetry. It is always waiting to be dipped into...always. Like old friends, a reunion is always on the cardsYou never ever quite finish with a book of poetry. It is always waiting to be dipped into...always. Like old friends, a reunion is always on the cards and always a pleasure.
You go to poets or write poetry to get questions answered or to see the questions perfectly put. Or for some clarification. Not surprisingly, I was tempted to put the poetry books on the philosophy shelf. But they do deserve a shelf of their own.
Sadly many people don't feel comfortable around poetry.It makes me frustrated, the way you get with people who won't go and see a doctor. Poets tend you and heal you when you didn't even know you were ailing. They can also needle you, just like a bloody doctor. Provoke you and make you take medicine you'd rather not, but of course it all helps in the long run.
Today poetry is ever-present in the lyrics of songs. The music is like the sugar that helps the medicine go down.
I met Constantine Cavafy close to home...his home, not mine. He was an Alexandrian Greek and I was living in Athens at that time teaching English. One of my students gave me the copy I still treasure. Probably thought I needed it. I did. Here was something I didn't know I needed - a refreshing, open and honest way of writing that I had never experienced with a poet before. Cavafy offered me a piece of himself, as all good friends do, which I used when I finally found a real need to express myself in poetry.
His poems were also on topics that resonated with me - poems about history, resignation, acceptance of life, frustrated passions, loss, the comfort of memory and...love. They were intelligent and lucid and did not hold back, readily confronting pain and Life's realities. They were strong potions. Alone in a foreign land I drank deep.
Often friends find you, as Cavafy came to me, unbidden.Often you have to cast your net wide, browse, re-meet a few times before you are sure; sometimes its love at first sight! Enjoy your poets when you find them!!
I prayed to God for aid and answers; But one day found his ears upon the ground.
I sought counsel from the immutable stars; But then saw one falling from the sky.
I looked for a plan in the lines of my hand; But it only increased the lines on my brow.
Then Tarot cards came to hand; But they only dealt in riddles and rhymes.
I played with the I Ching; But got distracted playing fiddlesticks.
I turned to poetry in desperation; And found only all my questions perfectly put.
Now I write poetry.
New Year's Day, 1985.
That's from me...now a gem from Cavafy:
I'd like to speak of this memory, but it's so faded now - as though nothing's left because it was so long ago, in my adolescent years.
A skin as though of jasmine... that August evening - was it August? - I can still just recall the eyes: blue, I think they were... Ah yes, blue: a sapphire blue.
This cost me a mere 50 cents!!!! And I know it will contain an absolute wealth of plain-speaking insight on the daily grind, done with irony, wit and empThis cost me a mere 50 cents!!!! And I know it will contain an absolute wealth of plain-speaking insight on the daily grind, done with irony, wit and empathy. Larkin' with Larkin!!!!
POST-READ: Like ALL poetry books one knows one has never done with it, as the text and thought is usually so tightly packed with allusions, resonances and plain info as well as skills of style that it is a Continual Feast on so many levels.And so many returns (one just hopes one will have life and time!!) will hopefully be in store. I didn't find these poems as easily decipherable as I had thought I would.So have already read each poem a few times,silently , out loud trying to discover, translate etc.etc. No Regrets though!!!!...more
Reading words written between 700BC and 600AD should be a real experience and a cause of wonder. IT IS !!!! ....because they are as fresh as if they, h Reading words written between 700BC and 600AD should be a real experience and a cause of wonder. IT IS !!!! ....because they are as fresh as if they, had been written yesterday!!These poems range from the bawdy to the tragic. It's all here: Lust, regret, sorrow, love of nature, politics, war, heroics, humour, religion, romance, animals, food, eulogies, even a poem on the invention of glass!!!! Externals in dress,weapons,architecture etc may have altered but the basics of human nature have never altered. These poets touch you.
Sherod Santos has done a brilliant translation of about 154 poems from The Greek Anthology, the one thousand year old collection of 4000 poems from the Greek-speaking world.
Unfortunately poetry scares many people, but pop song lyrics ARE poetry and look how we LOVE those. Broaden your love-affair with the poets. They get to the essence of all that stuff we like or love to hate: politicians, war , love, sex, food. YUMMY! ...more
I really tried to give this at least TWO stars, but when you're really glad you have finished a book I think that's a pretty good indication of the stI really tried to give this at least TWO stars, but when you're really glad you have finished a book I think that's a pretty good indication of the star rating.
Perhaps it might be thought that a poetry book should be read in small bites?? Yes, much poetry is dense in terms of compacted thoughts and image and metaphor. After reading one Shakespeare sonnet(reviewed) one has to gasp for breath. (What was that semi-trailer that just passed over me!??!!) An immediate reread is necessary. The syntax(word order) is often a challenge in itself. But here, with Robert Louis, small bites came from an overdose of cloying sentimentality. A glucose overdose is NOT healthy!! And hence the poems lacked real substance. I can appreciate that for many this book was a lovely walk down Memory Lane. And I love that with A.A.Milne's "When We Were Very Young" (reviewed) and even taught them. As I have poems from "A Child's Garden". But not to the exclusion of modern poems for children. So I hope all fans do spread their wings!!
Found a few old friends here in Louis' Garden, some I had no idea were penned by Robert Louis. These I had read in anthologies or isolated in story books and so much easier to digest. BUT to sit down and plough through a whole cloying, sentimental volume was just more than could be expected of anyone's digestive system. I needed a spoonful of medicine (metaphor for Reality) to help the sugar go down!!!! and there was none in sight.
I have taught thousands of children and I don't think I have ever encountered a child like this!! "This" turns out to be a construct of himself as a child created wearing rose-coloured glasses - ill and privileged middle class, but with all the negative aspects of what it was really like to live ill and cut off whitewashed out. The archaic language added to the alienation, whereas usually I enjoy such a shift in style and vocabulary. Happily some very nice moments, but too much 'Niceness" in the end.
I am now seeking refuge and recovery with an injection of Ted Hughes in his "Collected Poems for Children." However Hughes is writing 'for' and 'about' children, where Stevenson wrote exclusively 'about' children, or 'as' a child or once-child. Roald Dahl's children's verses may be another sedative!!
My edition of "A Child's Garden" is a Collins hardback publication printed in the UK in 1946 with illustrations by A.H.Watson which are very nice but a bit too derivative of E.H.Shepard who did the A.A.Milne books of the 1920's. ...more
Have just added two new shelves to this poetry gem - Memoirs-biography and Movie-Seen-As-Well. "Reaching For The Moon",SECOND REVIEW and REREAD - 2014
Have just added two new shelves to this poetry gem - Memoirs-biography and Movie-Seen-As-Well. "Reaching For The Moon", the film of Elizabeth Bishop's meeting with the architect Lota de Macedo in Brazil just released here in Sydney last week. And that makes for a Capital Reason to reread this Favourite; and hopefully lead onto her Collected Works for at least SOME dipping !
FIRST REVIEW and REREAD - 2008.
A little unexpected gem sent to me in 1983 for Xmas by my super-poetic Canadian mate Norma, God bless her, and which has always remained a favourite.It contains "One Art" which I have always regretted not having written myself and so grateful that Elizabeth did it so much better than I ever could have managed!!! It begins: The art of losing isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost keys, the hour badly spent. The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Now why would I spoil it by completing this tale of Losses Profound, all done with a shrug and the lightest of touches. Yet the very last line shows she is heroic!!!!
I went out and bought the complete works after this. ...more
ALAS!!!...I DIDN'T BEWARE... rather I gorged on the food, music,scenic photos,Zorba,both film and novel!!!
...thus BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING GIFTS !!!!!!
ALAS!!!...I DIDN'T BEWARE... rather I gorged on the food, music,scenic photos,Zorba,both film and novel!!!
...thus one day found myself cast upon barren shores and a polluted city. I scanned that rocky, barren, treeless landscape from ship and bus and car and tried to penetrate... what??...the Greek mind ?,the Ancient Greek mind?,the origins of their Gods? their myths? I had no idea where to start!! Athens was a loss. What was I doing here??...teaching English was only an excuse!! Where was the Inspiration of the Ancient Greek World,its myths, the music, whatever, that had silently seduced me?
I can't recall if I THEN recalled the Two Volumes of Barbara Leonie Picard's that a classmate had shown me at 15 years of age in our classroom... The Iliad and The Odyssey. I can recall THAT!!! THAT's where it started! That first meeting...with the Greeks!! I fell in love with the books' illustrations IMMEDIATELY...modelled on those found on ancient Greek pottery. And then I read them, those books!!! One day I would see the film "Helen of Troy" and be stunned again. Then the film "Zorba The Greek" added another layer..and who WASN'T seduced by THAT???? Finally,one day I would be living in a run-down pensione in Athens, at the end of Eolou Street where it melted into the Ancient World...and next door was a shop selling re-creations of urns, vases, plates,cups of that Ancient World, where I would go and glory in and drown myself in that strange and amazing World. Did I ever recall Barbara's books? I can't recall.I think not. But I can recall that we could see the Magnificent Fading Glory of the Parthenon seated like a crouching weathered Old Lion on the Acropolis...from our toilet window in our pensione home. Was that the Greeks' final joke ..or lesson? BOTH joke AND lesson...the Greeks did nothing by halves!!!
Happily Barbara's books contain nothing of the Homeric detail of the vivid and ghastly ferocity of a Greek v Trojan battles. (I read a Homeric one recently and felt sick.) Yes, it was a gentle seduction, followed up by High School Latin classes of Virgil's Aeneid and the cruel slaughter and destruction of Troy. It then became truly Classical. And it was here I first encountered, was tantalised by and forced myself, wonder of wonders, to learn off by heart these words:
"Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes." Virgil,"Aeneid" Bk.II Verse 48.
Whatsoever it is, I fear the Greeks and(especially) bearing gifts.
The Point of this review being:
Barbara's books are a good place to start to be seduced perhaps, but don't say I didn't warn you !!!! ...more
AFTER READING The more I got into these the more I enjoyed and began revisiting earlier poems...one always and always and continuously SHOULD. Always anAFTER READING The more I got into these the more I enjoyed and began revisiting earlier poems...one always and always and continuously SHOULD. Always another skin to peel back and make fresh discoveries.
I guess that is what is happening in these poems. Ruth revisits some painful memories, shares the private openly with feeling and eloquence. Shifts with ease between past and present revealing insecurities, sympathies, the unresolved, with delicacy, intimacy, and unobtrusive imagery. Simple but deceptively rich. Humour and beauty too, and wisdom and dead-ends. Looking forward to a future read...so much to mine here. And I really enjoyed Ruth's company. Thanks, Norma.
PRE-READ My Poetry Pal and dear Friend Norma sent me this a couple of years ago with a nice inscription from Ruth... a book I've shelved for the right day which has come!!!At last!!! Am doing a very quick read -there's even some German phrases which will have to be revisited. But I'm just getting the scent of most poems, and the feel is good. ...more
Emily Ballou, the author ,writes in "Some Notes On The Text":
If one were to use only the material that Charles Darwin himself recorded about his life, Emily Ballou, the author ,writes in "Some Notes On The Text":
If one were to use only the material that Charles Darwin himself recorded about his life, it would be possible to write a dozen collections of poems.
A few days later, I discovered that one of Darwin's numerous great-great-grandchildren, the poet, Ruth Padel, has also celebrated his anniversary in 2009, by doing just THAT. I immediately wanted to see how somebody else interpreted, used,the same sources. It's a little/ a lot like my reading simultaneously two translations of Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin", a novel in poetry. I have since found some of Padel's poems and find I prefer Ballou's, but both have something unique to offer. I've only read a sample, after all.
One LOVES to LOVE one's favourite authors. Isn't that so !!!???
Charles Darwin reminds me of the Cole Porter song "You'd Be So Easy To Love". He would sit down in the kitchen and help the staff by shelling the peas. He and Emma "were lenient, unorthodox parents.They preferred to purchase less expensive furniture and let their children have the run of the sofas, staircase (down which the children slid on a wooden board),than buy expensive things and bar the children from the parlour or the other rooms of the house, including, when deemed necessary, Charles' study." I was so glad Emily Ballou had chosen to write that !!! I realised quick smart that we were both smitten.
"There was something wonderfully exhilarating in his company", said one daughter, Henrietta."He was so vivid, had such joyousness of nature, and his laugh was delightful to hear. His courtesy, tact and ready sympathy made him a perfect listener."
There are 6 sections in this book and I have been reading one section per day every morning as soon as I wake up. A wonderful way to start the day. Along with the poems I read Emily's notes.Hand in glove, so one's understanding is increased. I also started dipping into a short biography.But I really need one which is more exhaustive. Hopefully that will come. ...more
Such a fun book to dip into!!! I pulled this off the shelf to suggest it to a friend and, of course, began browsing.
Love these short, seemingly digestibSuch a fun book to dip into!!! I pulled this off the shelf to suggest it to a friend and, of course, began browsing.
Love these short, seemingly digestible poems which although generally witty and pithy have an underside of darkness that actually gives you indigestion!!! Such a pleasure...to be pushed into the abyss thus. Death, god/God, doubt, grief, life, surviving, philosophy ...they're all (and MORE!!!) there to embrace you.
From here I immediately progressed to her first of three novels "Novel On Yellow Paper"...in many ways a different kettle of fish!!!!
In 1977, 6 years after Stevie's death at 68, Hugh Whitmore wrote the stageplay "STEVIE" which later became a film both starring the ever-satisfying Glenda Jackson. I saw the film on TV many years ago.
There are over 300 poems in this selection. I've chosen the final one to end... COME DEATH (II)
I feel ill. What can the matter be? I'd ask God to have pity on me. But I turn to the one I know, and say: Come, Death, and carry me away.
Ah me, sweet Death, you are the only god Who comes as a servant when he is called, you know, Listen then to this sound I make, it is sharp, Come, Death. Do not be slow.
A wonderful look at the cultural trappings that every society brings to the most natural and urgent of natural instincts - consequently and ironicallyA wonderful look at the cultural trappings that every society brings to the most natural and urgent of natural instincts - consequently and ironically well and truly "fucking" it up for just about everybody.
I enjoyed "Gigi" and "Cheri" once I'd got my head around the sexual culture of certain segments of French Society of the Fin de Siecle. The Loneliness and yet High Social Profile of the Courtesan is well and truly captured by Colette. Its ironies, possibilities of great wealth,its pitfalls,its children and the consequences of ageing are all touched on. And its obsession with "a good marriage" must be one of its biggest ironies. And "true love"? Where exactly could that fit in in this cultural entanglement of status, wealth and survival?
"Cheri" gives us a look at a love recognised in this milieu, but too late. And of how the two lovers find their own solutions and survivals in a world rigid, unforgiving, unsympathetic and ruthless. A tale of sadness and resolution, resignation and acceptance, as only Colette can serve it up. Oh, Colette, you are a gem!!!
Now "Gigi". I missed Colette. But her wit and wisdom were there behind the scenes. A little gem that you may read so quickly you don't even notice its punch, its turning topsy-turvey sexual traditions of Belle-Epoque Paris.A charmer!...more
I am dying to reread this book. A fellow teacher loaned it to me several years ago and I have never forgotten the experience of these dark, cruel, vi I am dying to reread this book. A fellow teacher loaned it to me several years ago and I have never forgotten the experience of these dark, cruel, violent,bizarre,clever,funny, unexpected poems.I expected to be finally bored, wondering for just how long Hughes could sustain this persona, this line he had chosen to take...and he never let up, never disappointed. It just rolled on, poem after poem after poem.
I realise I have never quite recovered from it. I want to test the waters again and just see if it works a second time. Was it just novelty that grabbed me? It's either going to be a BIG BIG BIG disappointment or a re-addiction. WATCH THIS SPACE FOR A POSSIBLE EXPLOSION!!! ...more
Ages 5 to 9!!!??? Balderdash. I've been reading this book ever since my older sister Di and I discovered it in our Nana's bookcase in the early 1950's.WAges 5 to 9!!!??? Balderdash. I've been reading this book ever since my older sister Di and I discovered it in our Nana's bookcase in the early 1950's.We eventually knew just about every poem off by heart, not because we set out to achieve this noble task but merely because we just read the poems over and over and over again, delighting in their rhythms and rhymes and subjects.
This is a 1938 edition. Pre World War Two. And post Edward and Mrs Simpson. It actually looks as though it may have been blitzed a few times in WWII. But in fact it has just been thoroughly loved to near destruction by three children who were introduced by it into the Magic World of Poetry. It still bears Dianne's name which she neatly inscribed on the inside cover. And our little sister Janie applied scribble on a title page with red colouring-in pencil Such were the claims of love and possession. Later I taught many of the poems to my classes.
Now if this isn't enough to make you rush out and purchase a copy of this little gem for yourself, then consider yourself a Lost Soul!!Yes, perhaps it may appear dated today, but THAT is precisely part of its charm. And the now famous illustrations by Ernest Shepard are a delight. ...more