Tag Archives: William Blake

Fathers’ Day Coffee Share.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share. It’s Father’s Day here in Australia and we’re heading off on a river cruise with Scouts and then off to see my parents afterwards. So, my apologies. Today, we’re going to drink and run, although I’ll give you some Mars Bar Slice for the road.

How was your week? I hope you’ve had a great one.

I’ve had a fairly quiet week recovering from the excitement and planning of my daughter’s school performance at the Sydney Opera House.

I finished reading Maya Angelou’s Now I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which I absolutely loved. I found so much in that book and felt myself melt into her words as if she was sharing her story over a coffee. I’ll be coming back to this book because a paragraph here simply does it justice. At the same time, however, I’ll mention that I’m Australian and I only came across her a few months ago. That almost feels like a crime. This book should be part of everybody’s basic, essential education if we are ever going to break down the barriers between us.

As far as my writing’s been concerned, I’ve written a few posts about living with an elderly dog and thinking about the next dog…how and when to make that decision.

bilbo & Lady friends

Bilbo and Lady.

Quite frankly, I thought we’d crossed that bridge two years ago when we adopted our second dog, Lady. Bilbo wasn’t looking well and he was 8 at the time and I thought we’d timed it pretty well.

Thankfully, and trust me I’m not complaining, Lady’s arrival gave Bilbo a second wind and he lost weight, gained fitness and confidence and now bounds along the beach chasing his ball, almost like a pup. Meanwhile, Lady’s proven that she’s not going to make it as a single dog so we’re back where we started except that we can now add a grieving dog to the mix when Bilbo passes. Not that I’m trying to rush things but the kids start talking about another dog and you know how it is. So, if you’re a dog person, you can catch up on: The Hypothetical Dog

Queens-Corgis

One hypothetical dog we thought warranted a bit of research was the Corgi. We spotted one while we were in Woy Woy the other day (a place made popular by comedian Spike Milligan) and while I see them more as the Queen’s dogs and a dubious choice for a Republican, the rest of the family was pretty keen. So, being my usual writer self, I had to write yet again about another what if in The Corgi Republican.

In addition to writing about dogs this week, I also finally made it back to Carrot Ranch and wrote another flash this week: Returning to Chernobyl.

tyger

Lastly, I wrote about English poet William Blake has influenced me as a poet:William Blake: Birthing of a Poet.

I hope you had a great week and that if you are celebrating Fathers’ Day or finding it difficult, that it is a good day.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the linky  to read the other posts.

Take care & Best wishes,

Rowena

William Blake…Birthing A Poet.

Have you ever considered who inspired you to write? The writers and poets who paved your way, connecting with your inner muse and launching your innards all over the page?

Well, through this post over at  Hugh Views and News, I was reminded of how William Blake inspired me back at school. That was when my hair was in plaits, my teeth were in braces and I was well and truly stuck in that teenage, ugly duckling phase.

It was also well before Dead Poets’ Society brought poetry out of the shadows, even giving it an edge of cool.

Dead Poets

As a poet, it’s hard to believe that there was ever a time before Dead Poet’s Society. The movie inspired an awe, a magic and a sense of crossing over into something raw, innate and at the very essence of the soul.

However, by the time Dead Poets’ Society came out in 1989, I’d left school and in that very same year (perhaps no coincidence), I attended and performed my poetry at my very first poetry reading. It was held at the Reasonably Good Cafe in Abercrombie Street, Chippendale a stone’s throw from Sydney University and if you threw the stone the opposite direction, it would’ve landed at Redfern Station, which was pretty much a no go zone back then after dark. That said, we students were made of stronger stuff!

Dead Poet's sign.jpg

However, although Dead Poet’s Society had an Australian Director in Peter Weir, it was an American movie featuring American poets. Growing up on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia we studied English poets, the odd Australian poet and absolutely no indigenous poets whatsoever.

So, when I picture myself in a school scene studying and falling in love with poetry, I am thinking along the lines of William Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats and this love affair began with Blake’s Tyger, with its primal drumming beat and graphic imagery:

The Tyger

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp,

Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears

And water’d heaven with their tears:

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,

In the forests of the night:

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake

I encourage you to read it out loud. It has a such a strong, striking rhythm like the pounding of a drum or the beating of your heart (especially if you’re being chased by the Tyger!!)

Like much of Blake’s work which is highly symbolic and devoutly spiritual, Tyger isn’t just about a Tiger but about God the creator and who he is. Could the same God who made the meek, innocent and gentle lamb also make the tiger, and both Jesus and the the devil?

Most of the poetry I write doesn’t have this strong sense of rhythm and while rhyming can be a bit twee, in this poem it really creates a sense of theatre and I think it really would’ve fitted in well to Dead Poet Society’s readings by candlelight out in the bush late at night. I could feel the tiger running towards them now.

However, it’s been sometime since I was studying Tyger at school and my son is roughly that age and the doors of my perception have widened.

I am now grappling with Blake’s  Marriage of Heaven and Hell…a complex, baffling and incredibly humbling work, not unlike Revelation in The Bible. I came across this work while researching Jim Morrison from The Doors. Indeed, The Doors take their name from these lines:

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narow chinks of his cavern.

Jim Morrison Grave

Jim Morrison’s Grave July 1992.

Moreover, back when I visited Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris, I found these words graffitied nearby: “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” I’d thought someone had made them up and the “palace of wisdom” referred to the cemetery after all Morrison’s years of wild excess. I didn’t know it was a quote from William Blake.

I have also started delving into William Blake’s art which seemingly shows something from beyond those doors of perception and I suspect this is the beginning of another chapter with Blake and I’m curious to know where it leads me. Yet, I have little doubt that I will be taking the road less traveled. Indeed, I suspect we’ll be ploughing through the bush!

Have you read any of William Blake’s works? Or, perhaps another poet has inspired you way back when? Please share.

Meanwhile, the the doors of my perception are about to shut. It’s after midnight and it’s long past time for bed.

xx Rowena

 

William Blake On Joy & Suffering

Man was made for joy & woe;

And when this we rightly know,

Thro’ the world we safely go.

Joy & woe are woven fine,

A clothing for the soul divine.

William Blake From “Auguries of Innocence”.

Featured image:

“When the Morning Stars Sang Together”

[Book of Job, no. 14]

ca. 1804–7
Pen and black ink, gray wash, and watercolor, over traces of graphite
11 x 7 1/16 inches (280 x 179 mm)

 

Romeo! Romeo! The Quest for Love & Reflections on The Rose.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

In case you’ve just joined me, I am participating in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.  where we write about a different letter of the alphabet every day, except Sunday.Today, we’re up to the letter R and starting approach the downward run. Although I don’t really have a set theme as such, I’m loosely writing about my favourite things.So for R, I will be taking you on a journey through the rose poems, which I found on this roller coaster journey of love, rejection, joy and angst.

Like most of us,  my very first rose poem was chanted in childhood and written in autograph books:

Roses are red,

violets are blue

sugar is sweet

and so are you!

The very nature of the rose perfectly reflects love’s passion and its heartache…its Jekyll and Hyde. A budding red rose symbolises new love with it’s incredible passionate intensity and it’s elegant, fragrant petals. Yet, just as love isn’t pure pleasure, neither is the rose. Every rose has it’s painfully sharp thorns…representing love’s heartache.

“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.”

― Kahlil Gibran

Roses, violin serenades...such is love!

Roses, violin serenades…such is love! Photo: Rowena.

Before I met my husband, I was on a determined mission to find Mr Right. This intense and challenging roller coaster ride was reflected in the greatest symbol of love…the rose. Whether I was basking in love’s giddy heights or more than likely,  sinking into its unending depths, there was a rose poem for every occasion. In the true spirit of a poetry-writing, angst-ridden youth in the days before you could just  summon Google, I transcribed these poems into an exercise book and absorbed them over and over again through osmosis. There is nothing like an angst-ridden poem to provide catharsis for the soul.

The Rose,

The Rose, “Little Prince”, St Exupery.

When love was going well, there was Robbie Burns:

My Love is Like A Red, Red Rose

Robert Burns

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Salvidor Dali,

Salvidor Dali, “Meditative Rose”, 1958.

In more recent times, I have discovered Rumi:

With the Beloved’s water of life, no illness remains
In the Beloved’s rose garden of union, no thorn remains.
They say there is a window from one heart to another
How can there be a window where no wall remains?

Rumi From Thief of Sleep translated by Shahram Shiva

The Little Prince watering his rose.

The Little Prince watering his rose.“The thorns– what use are they?”

Like anyone who has experienced love’s sting, St Exupery’s Little Prince also wondered why roses have thorns:

“The little prince never let go of a question, once he had asked it. As for me, I was upset over that bolt. And I answered with the first thing that came into my head:

“The thorns are of no use at all. Flowers have thorns just for spite!”

Antoine de St Exupery: The Little Prince.

When love went wrong, I turned to William Blake’s scathing attack in The Sick Rose and John Keats Ode to Melancholy:

The Sick Rose

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

By William Blake

POrtrait of poet John Keat by Severn, 1819.

Portrait of poet John Keat by Severn, 1819

Ode on Melancholy (an excerpt)

John Keats

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
       Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
       And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
       Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
               Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
       Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
               And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
While the red rose first comes to mind, then there is the yellow rose, symbolising jealousy.
I photographed this gorgeous yellow rose, the symbol for jealousy, at the home of artist Hans Heysen, The Cedars, Hahndorf, South Australia. Both Hans and his daughter Nora created incredible rose portraits.

I photographed this gorgeous yellow rose, the symbol for jealousy, at the home of artist Hans Heysen, The Cedars, Hahndorf, South Australia. Both Hans and his daughter Nora created incredible rose portraits.Photo: Rowena

My Pretty Rose Tree

William Blake

A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said ‘I’ve a pretty rose tree,’
And I passed the sweet flower o’er.

Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker

When I wanted to appreciate the humour is love, there was Dorothy Parker’s: One Perfect Rose:

One Perfect Rose

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet –
One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
‘My fragile leaves,’ it said, ‘his heart enclose.’
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

Dorothy Parker

Then, alas, there is the death of the rose, as expressed by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

A Dead Rose

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat,—
Kept seven years in a drawer—thy titles shame thee.

The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day,—
If breathing now,—unsweetened would forego thee.

The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom, and flower to burn,—
If shining now,—with not a hue would light thee.

The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grow incarnadined, because
It lay upon thee where the crimson was,—
If dropping now,—would darken where it met thee.

The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet,
Along thy leaf’s pure edges, after heat,—
If lighting now,—would coldly overrun thee.

The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive,—
If passing now,—would blindly overlook thee.

The heart doth recognise thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete,—
Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.

Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold!—
Lie still upon this heart—which breaks below thee!

“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it’s dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared. You see you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity. We would all love it’s will to reach the sun. Well, we are the rose – this is the concrete – and these are my damaged petals.”

-Tupac Shakur

Unforgettable: Bette Midler: The Rose.

Unforgettable: Bette Midler: The Rose.

However, as much as I love my poetry, who can go passed one of the most loved songs of our time: The Rose:. Once I’d finally found my Romeo, a friend of ours gave a beautiful rendition at our wedding. Here’s the Bette Midler & Ms Judd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5q0KmjU0Qk

Do you know any good rose poems to contribute?

How are you going with the Blogging A-Z April challenge? I’ve been trying to read as many other blogs as I can but it’s all getting challenging. I planning to do some catch up after the challenge is over and the writing load has hopefully cut back.

xx Rowena