A journey into the scruffy outer zones of Cambridge, with camera in hand. Click below…
Contemporary composers who are strongly influenced by Buddhism are not often featured in the music press, but there are several very talented figures working currently. Here are four to note:
Akashadeva – David Earl
What would that great poet of political engagement in the twentieth century have made of the current state of the world? Would it have brought out the ambivalently committed English socialist of the earlier years, or the Christian humanitarian Auden of maturity? Would he have understood that modern right wing populism is not quite the same thing as the fascism that he knew, and proceeded to dissect the differences and similarities with prophetic brilliance?
A partial answer to these impossible questions is provided for me at any rate by the still pertinent introduction to Faber’s 1979 selection of Auden by Edward Mendelson:
” In Auden’s unbroken vision of history, the ancient discontents survived in contemporary forms, but so did the ancient sources of personal and literary vitality. Modernism, disenfranchised from the past by its own sense of isolated modernity, could bring literary tradition into the present only as battered ironic fragments as in Eliot or by visionary heroic efforts like Pound’s to ‘make it new’. For Auden, it had never grown old. A laconic old English toughness survived in his poetry as did an Augustan civility…. Modernism tended to look back toward the reigns of a native aristocracy, too often it found the reflected glory of ancient tradition in political leaders who promised to restore social grandeur and unity through coercive Force. Auden’s refusal to idealize the past saved him from comparable fits of mistaken generosity. His poems and essays present the idea of the good society as, at best, a possibility never actually to be achieved, but towards which one must always work.’
Optic Nerve is a Blakean project based in South London. Largely self-funded they are producing fascinating videos about poetry and contemporary music. Especially the black mountain poets and the Objectivist poets of 20th century America. And from Britain material on Elaine Feinstein – her ‘Song of Power’. I also highly recommend the interview with ‘the last living Objectivist’ Carl Rokosi in the ‘current projects’ section. There is much excellent work here in progress much of it needing funding to continue…
Eversden wood is an ancient managed woodland in South Cambridgeshire. Rather than carpets of bluebells as in Hampshire or Somerset the insouciant flowers hide between ferns and saplings.
High summer approaches. For me this time of year is very much associated with that most aetherial of birds, the swift. I’m waiting eagerly for them to arrive. Remembering sitting in the garden at peace on summer afternoons; looking upwards into depth upon depth of blue, where the screaming swifts are seen looping through the sky in their great, unhindered gyres. So sad that their numbers have declined in recent years, not enough people have proper wooden eaves under which they can make their nests anymore.
I have just updated our website – let us know what you think of the new look. The featured image is now Blake’s engraving of Orc in the fires of energy, from his book America a Prophecy.
Explore art & culture from a Buddhist perspective
Welcome to Urthona magazine. Inspired by William Blake’s zoa of the creative imagination, Urthona blends a Romantic concern with inner and outer spiritual freedom with the insights of the Buddhist East. Urthona appears once a year in 72 page full colour A4.
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Urthona, appearing once a year, is a lavishly illustrated, 68 page, glossy magazine: with original and inspired poetry, fine art & photography features, reviews plus in depth articles on a fascinating theme chosen for each issue. Themes have included Indian Art, Romanticism, Art & Ecology, Writing as a sacred art…
We explore art, literature, culture and imagination from a modern Buddhist perspective. Our inspirations are William Blake and the Romantics, the zen poets of Japan, symbolists, psychonauts and radicals of all ages and climes.
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‘Unction and Slaughter’
Faith and Doubt in the poetry of Geoffrey Hill
by Ratnagarbha (Ambrose Gilson)
This standing stone was spotted just outside Hatfield Forest, north east Essex. Although it has clearly been set up by a farmer just outside his farmhouse as an interesting feature, the stone itself does look very old and extremely weathered. It is some kind of conglomerate with many small pebbles ingrained in the rock. Surely someone trying to manufacture a megalith would not use this kind of stone as it doesn’t look especially mythic or impressive. However its shape is certainly very like some of the smaller standing stones at Avebury. So if a forgery a clever one…
PS I hear rumours of a church somewhere in Essex that is supposed to have a ring of buried megaliths all around the edge of the grave yard. I hope to report on this properly at some point in the future. Any pointers gladly received…