Mist rising off the damp dark fields at the front of our cottage this morning. Not river mist, but fine wraithlike tendrils of mist rising from the strength of the sun on the damp earth. Not easy to photograph, but a fine sight, telling of the increasing power of the sun, and the waning of winter. The monochrome drama of the drifting white mist over the raw, inert black earth holds my attention for some time. Then my eye is drawn to a lonely farmstead on the horizon, with its guardian oak. The day is widening, and hazy blue skies are promised.
Culture notes: objects, sounds and curios worth exploring
The latest issue of Magma, one of the UK’s best poetry magazines (considerably better than Poetry Review to my mind) is devoted to ‘The Soul and the Machine’. Very much Urthona territory. The editors say they are fascinated by the idea that a ‘poem is a kind of machine’ (Auden’s ‘verbal contraption’) a construction that works on the mind in various ways, and yet is much more, that each poem ‘could be said to have a soul’. Includes poems by Maitreyabandhu. well known to Urthona readers as a leading Buddhist poet, and Penelope Shuttle, whose late husband Peter, once featured in our pages many years ago. Highly recommended.
About ten years ago we ran a major interview with the composer James MacMillan. Since then he has continued to build a reputation as one of the leading composers of his generation. Amongst his many sacred works (including several masses) I warmly recommend the Strathclyde Motets. These are modern sacred choral music of the highest order. We will include a short review in the near future. You can find them on a disc called Miserere, which also features his remarkable and highly audacious modern version of the Allegri original. This is music for which the over worked word sublime, really does seem fitting .