Geoffrey Hill’s valedictory lecture as Oxford Professor of Poetry is powerful final plea to maintain standards in literature. His hectoring, pungently oratorical style has to be heard to be believed. He is irreplaceable. Listen to it here: Oxford lecture Continue reading
The Solitude of Small Doors, Ananda (Stephen Parr)
Wolf at the Door, Bristol 2015, £11.52, pb, 250 pp
(To order go to Lulu.com and search for Stephen Parr
Reviewed by Ratnagarbha
Ananda’s major new collection, The Solitude of Small Doors has a distilled reflectiveness about it. We get the feeling that this is the fruit of a lifetime of reflection, observation and wrangling with the intractibles of this precious, confusing all to brief event we call human life. But human life, in Ananda’s universe, is always reflected and refracted through things, things vividly alive that speak to the poet, each in its own idiosyncratic voice. The kind of things you find in dank back yards:
ropes that parted like rotting
asparagus at the lightest touch.
(‘Sudden Pianos’) Continue reading
A Fascinating article by Henry Gould about a new group of American poets to call themselves the new gnostics. It appeared in Coldfront magazine in May 2014.
It was spring and I wanted to climb a hill, but not too far away. Too much driving, surely, equals alienation. Best to stay within a day’s journey on horse or camel back. Let the crabbed soul come along for the ride. No more than one hour’s drive then. I would give in to contour lust, follow Ruskin, worshipper of the Alps, in my own humble quest for ascent. Continue reading
Francesco Petrarca (July 20, 1304 – July 19, 1374), commonly written in English as Petrarch, was one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch’s rediscovery of Cicero‘s letters is often credited with initiating the 14th-century Renaissance. His love sonnets were admired and imitated throughout Europe during the Renaissance and became a model for lyrical poetry. They were all written to express his love for a mysterious highborn lady called Laura, who certainly never returned his affection and may not even have existed. Nevertheless his anguished sonnets to her set the standard for lyrical love poetry up until the present day. Not so well known and celebrated as Dante in the English-speaking lands, his story is fascinating and his emotions are as fresh now as they were hundreds of years ago. Here is my attempt to translate his first sonnet to Laura, in its original rhyming scheme.
All you who’ve heard in wandering scraps of rhyme
The sighs on which I fed my foolish heart
When in youth’s confusion I felt the dart
Of love – I was not then what I’ve become –
Who mark the reasoned sorrows that are found
Throughout my songs, of hope and fear bred,
I pray, if ever for love your heart has bled,
Then may your pity be with pardon crowned.
But now too well I see how my good name
Has been embroiled in long lived public scorn.
Myself I must convict of foolish schemes,
And the fruit of all my foolishness is shame
With deep repentance of the knowledge born
That life’s sweet joys are merely fleeting dreams.
Edward Thomas has been much celebrated in recent years for the short lived but vital output of his poetry before he headed for the Western front and into memory. The influence of his prose writing – nature writing and literary reviews has been downplayed. This is regrettable. Continue reading
Just posted a talk given by Ratnagarbha on the art critic John Ruskin and his relevance to people who believe in the power of art to transform self and world.
Find the talk here: Ruskin’s Seven Lamps