In memory and celebration: Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney died on August 30th this year at the age of 74 after a short illness – he had taken a fall outside a Dublin restaurant. Physically he had been weaker since a stroke in 2006, but his last collection Human Chain (2010) showed no dimmunition in his powers of sensitivity and reflection. It was described by Ruth Pardell, poet and judge of the Forward Prize, as ‘a collection of painful, honest and delicately weighted poems… a wonderful and humane achievement’ (Human Chain was the first of his collections to win that prize – perhaps the only major poetry award he had not so far received.)
His previous collection District and Circle (2006) likewise contained several intensely moving poems with an elegiac mood. It was characteristic of the man, loved by so many – poets, writers and millions of others around the world – to have been preparing us, and himself, for his expected departure, with down to earth images of both mortality and on going life. Continue reading
A summer evening in Granchester
There have been times when I well might have passed and the ending have come–
Points in my path when the dark might have stolen on me, artless, unrueing…
Thomas Hardy, ‘In Tenebris’
Granchester Meadows – a grey and cheerless dusk which Hardy would have appreciated.
It is cooler now and the meadows have lost the smouldering Tuscan gleam they had last week. As if to reinforce the changed mood the farmers have been around and mowed flat the long grasses and the dry thistles that baffled even the tough lips of the Redpoll herd. No doubt this will lead to fresher and sweeter leaves to eat for the cattle as the summer days shorten to Autumn. For the moment however, it is a somewhat dreary sight. Last night at dusk there was a grey wash over the sky as I walked out into the meadows. It was one of those summer evenings which are nonchalantly non-descript – the air was warm and thick with the sweet peppery smell of newly mowed hay, and a few a slightly darker rags of cloud banded the uniform grey above. Continue reading
Just to let you know that an in depth documentary film about the life of a community of Buddhist nuns in Tibet is about to be released.
The London Premiere takes place on
30th June 2013, Sun
Bulgarian Cultural Institute, London
188 Queen’s Gate
Urthona will be covering this fascinating and unique film in our next issue due out in the autumn.
A page from Blake’s Book of Urizen
Blake is virtually unique in European art for the way in which image and poetry are married in his visionary prophetic books. Early in his professional life Blake hit upon a novel method for printing his own books from etched copper plates, where hand written text and images could be combined. Continue reading
Without water no Buddhas!
Zen Master Hakuin says: ‘All beings from the very beginning are Buddhas, it is like water and ice, without water no ice, without living beings no Buddhas’. This suggests that metaphorically living beings are water and the Buddha ice. In one way this is appropriate because liquid water is the general case, the form we normally find, and ice is a special case under particular conditions. A Buddha is a special case of a sentient being, a sentient being who is awake and knows who they really are. However, there is much to be gained from reversing the metaphor. Continue reading
In praise of a Victorian suburb
Red brick villas with the coal smuts long since polished away