Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Great Poets In Their Own Words - Philip Larkin

Great Poets In Their Own Words: Access All Areas 1955-1982 (2014)
Part I (Larkin)

A Study Of Reading Habits

When getting my nose in a book
Cured most things short of school,
It was worth ruining my eyes
To know I could still keep cool,
And deal out the old right hook
To dirty dogs twice my size.

Later, with inch-thick specs,
Evil was just my lark:
Me and my cloak and fangs
Had ripping times in the dark.
The women I clubbed with sex!
I broke them up like meringues.

Don't read much now: the dude
Who lets the girl down before
The hero arrives, the chap
Who's yellow and keeps the store
Seem far too familiar. Get stewed:
Books are a load of crap.

August 1960

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John Betjeman interviewing Philip Larkin (December, 1964)

Philip Larkin was famously controlled and controlling of his public persona, however, he did agree to be interviewed by Sir John Betjeman in a documentary for the BBC Arts flagship programme Monitor in 1964. In the film he talks about his life, his poetry and the city of Hull where he lived and worked as university librarian. The film features interesting footage of the city in the 1960s, as well as visual interpretations of his poetry.


Swerving east, from rich industrial shadows
And traffic all night north; swerving through fields
Too thin and thistled to be called meadows,
And now and then a harsh-named halt, that shields
Workmen at dawn; swerving to solitude
Of skies and scarecrows, haystacks, hares and pheasants,
And the widening river’s slow presence,
The piled gold clouds, the shining gull-marked mud,

Gathers to the surprise of a large town:
Here domes and statues, spires and cranes cluster
Beside grain-scattered streets, barge-crowded water,
And residents from raw estates, brought down
The dead straight miles by stealing flat-faced trolleys,
Push through plate-glass swing doors to their desires –
Cheap suits, red kitchen-ware, sharp shoes, iced lollies,
Electric mixers, toasters, washers, driers –

A cut-price crowd, urban yet simple, dwelling
Where only salesmen and relations come
Within a terminate and fishy-smelling
Pastoral of ships up streets, the slave museum,
Tattoo-shops, consulates, grim head-scarfed wives;
And out beyond its mortgaged half-built edges
Fast-shadowed wheat-fields, running high as hedges,
Isolate villages, where removed lives

Loneliness clarifies. Here silence stands
Like heat. Here leaves unnoticed thicken,
Hidden weeds flower, neglected waters quicken,
Luminously-peopled air ascends;
And past the poppies bluish neutral distance
Ends the land suddenly beyond a beach
Of shapes and shingle. Here is unfenced existence:
Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.

Oct. 1961

Philip Larkin: [On being a librarian] It alters you to think about something other than yourself… That is something positively good for you, even as a poet. & Secondly, of course... releases you from that awful pressure that I imagine you must feel sometimes – of just having to write something to carry on living.

I read, you know, that I am “a miserable sort of fellow writing a kind of welfare-state subpoetry; doing it well, perhaps, but it’s really not what poetry is”. I agree with the kind of criticism… What one writes is based so much on what kind of person he is, what kind of environment one’s had, & has now… One doesn’t really choose the kind of poetry one writes – one writes the kind of poetry one has to write, & can write.

Toads Revisited

Walking around in the park
Should feel better than work:
The lake, the sunshine,
The grass to lie on,

Blurred playground noises
Beyond black-stockinged nurses -
Not a bad place to be.
Yet it doesn't suit me.

Being one of the men
You meet of an afternoon:
Palsied old step-takers,
Hare-eyed clerks with the jitters,

Waxed-fleshed out-patients
Still vague from accidents,
And characters in long coats
Deep in the litter-baskets -

All dodging the toad work
By being stupid or weak.
Think of being them!
Hearing the hours chime,

Watching the bread delivered,
The sun by clouds covered,
The children going home;
Think of being them,

Turning over their failures
By some bed of lobelias,
Nowhere to go but indoors,
Nor friends but empty chairs -

No, give me my in-tray,
My loaf-haired secretary,
My shall-I-keep-the-call-in-Sir:
What else can I answer,

When the lights come on at four
At the end of another year?
Give me your arm, old toad;
Help me down Cemetery Road.


Philip Larkin: I found it [the cemetery] when I came here one wet Sunday afternoon in December, when it isn’t at all romantic. It gets me into perspective, it gets my worries into perspective, & everything I write, I think, has the consciousness of approaching death in the background.


Beyond all this, the wish to be alone:
However the sky grows dark with invitation-cards
However we follow the printed directions of sex
However the family is photographed under the flag-staff -
Beyond all this, the wish to be alone.

Beneath it all, the desire for oblivion runs:
Despite the artful tensions of the calendar,
The life insurance, the tabled fertility rites,
The costly aversion of the eyes away from death -
Beneath it all, the desire for oblivion runs.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Чехословакия оккупирована «братьями».../ The Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, diaries

50 лет назад на «Прожито»: 20 августа 1968 года. Разные люди — разные дневники.

Михаил Гробман, художник:
«Я читаю знаменитую "Лолиту" Набокова, интересно, но не суперкнига. Вечером был у нас Роберт Белкнап, мы пили вино, ужинали, пили чай и беседовали о литературе. Боб принес чудесные цветы. Он очень приятный умный собеседник и прелестный человек. Я подарил ему 2 рисунка свои и 1 ворошиловский. Заходил Серг. Коновалов и тоже участвовал в нашем чаепитии».

Петр Непорожний, министр энергетики:
«Утром в Кремлевском Дворце съездов состоялось торжественное открытие конференции. С приветствием от имени Правительства СССР выступил зам. Председателя Президиума Верховного Совета СССР. Академик А.П. Александров сделал доклад "Развитие атомной энергетики и ее роль для человечества"».

Юлия Нельская-Сидур, преподаватель:
Нам бог послал ежа. Мы возвращались в полночь домой, шли по стадиону «Динамо» и вдруг увидели, как он семенит впереди нас на своих смешных ножках. Мы сказали: «Тю-тю», и он остановился. Дима собрал его в свою белую шляпу от солнца и теперь он забрался в его комнате за стекла и папки с рисунками, а завтра мы отнесем его в подвал и он будет там жить.
У нас дома сломался телефон и мы поскорее поспешили в подвал. Эдика еще не было. На улице жарко, а в подвале, как в раю. Эдик пришел. Дима на письменном столе очень удобно устроился и сделал при помощи лампочки три рисунка с уменьшенных Эдиком фотографий. Дима хочет, чтобы у Юры в книжке были рисунки из серии «Месяцы».
Позвонил наконец Силис, был невероятно вежлив, завтра хочет прийти обо всем договориться. Обещает в ближайшее время вывезти свои работы.
Сегодня мы устроили генеральную уборку. Пришла Валька, ее подружка Аня и мы все втроем с помощью Эдика вымыли пол во всей мастерской за исключением того пространства, которое занято мусорными кучами у дверей. Сразу сделался другой воздух. Потом пришла Инна Бернштейн с Гариком из Киева. Принесла последний номер «Литерарны листы» от 15 августа, в которой опубликована Димина скульптура «Памятник погибшим от любви». Инна была очень оживленная и радостная. Гарик говорил об антисемитизме на Украине. Дима защищал Украину и украинцев. Он считает, что если бы Украина отделилась от России, совсем не обязательно, что там бы сразу начали преследовать евреев, как считает Гарик. Дима вообще очень любит Украину и везде со всеми спорит, кто ее ругает.

Josef Koudelka (Czech–French, b. 1938)
Czechoslovakia, Prague. August 1968. Warsaw Pact troops invasion

21 августа. Среда. Ужасно, что мы бессильны и беспомощны. Сегодня самый черный день этого года — Чехословакия оккупирована своими «братьями», советские танки попирают ее землю. Члены правительства вместе с Дубчеком увезены на бронированных автомобилях, а может быть, их уже нет в живых. Вчера в одиннадцать вечера мы с Инной обсуждали чешские проблемы, а сегодня, к великому несчастью, сбылись мои мрачные предчувствия, из-за которых Инна так на меня рассердилась. Сегодня уже плакала я и даже Дима. В первый раз за пять лет начали глушить передачи радио Би-би-си, «Голос Америки» и другие. Кое-что мы все- таки услышали. Всю ночь работало Пражское радио, оно сообщало населению об «интервенции пяти дружеских государств» во главе с войсками моей родины. Убито около 20 словацких студентов, есть раненые.
В нашем подвале собрались Рита Смулдрид из редакции «Детская литература» со своим мужем и еще одной редакторшей, Валька, Эдик, Силис, пришедший за кое-какими своими вещами, зашли ненадолго Юра Левитанский, Булат Окуджава, Гдаль тоже пришел, и моя мама. Все мы слушали радио, пытались разобрать то, что прорывалось через глушилки. Даже Гдаль, который осуждает Даниэля и Синявского, сказал: «Да, человечество достойно атомной бомбы». Сейчас с ним трудно не согласиться...

Юлия Нельская-Сидур. Время, когда не пишут дневников и писем.... 
Хроника одного подвала. Дневники 1968-1973

Josef Koudelka (Czech–French, b. 1938) - Czechoslovakia, Prague. August 1968 

Monday, August 06, 2018

When suddenly one day one of your loved ones dies...

source: Tree of Compassion - 03-08-2018

Samaya the rescue cat died this morning after a brief final battle with kidney disease. When she was rescued from a death row pound in 2014 we learned that she was originally taken to the RSPCA, who then took her to the pound. It is thought she may have been an ex-breeder that was no longer producing. She was underweight and quite fragile (but determined and not one to back down quickly, despite her weakness).
The initial vets who assessed her suggested we take her back for a refund. We couldn't give up on someone who so wanted to keep living.

Dr Howard Ralph of course didn't give up on her either and he prescribed a number of things we could do to manage her condition and keep her comfortable and happy. We knew eventually her kidneys would fail and this week it finally happened. It came as a shock, going from unwell to irreversible faster than expected. She died as she had lived, with a serenity and an underlying independence. She may have been mistreated in the past, but she was never timid nor acted like a victim. She shall be missed by all who have had the opportunity to care for her.

source: Enlightenment for the Dear Animals - 04-08-2018

Lama Zopa Rinpoche continually reminds us of the importance of knowing what to do when someone is approaching death. It can come as a surprise, even for those who we know are already more vulnerable.

Yesterday Samaya the cat died from renal failure. She had kidney disease which was successfully managed for over 4 years although she would have had it before she was rescued. Samaya had been rescued by Tree of Compassion in 2014 from a death row pound.

Upon her health check post-rescue, she was found to have kidney disease, aneamia, was very underweight & had some other issues. Some veterinarians suggested we 'take her back to the pound' but the wonderful Dr Howard Ralph, who has helped at the Animal Liberation Sanctuary a number of times, provided a strategy to manage her condition and give her good quality of life. As she couldn't keep weight on, she was fed as often as possible, on a special diet, and in winter, being so thin, had her only little heater in her room to keep warm . She heard many mantras and prayers, was circumambulated around holy objects, particularly on special days, had a special mantra in her water bowl and would also get blessed with holy objects periodically. Despite her condition, it was still a great shock when a minor relapse developed into renal failure and her death quickly after.

Fortunately she was comfortable enough to take around lots of holy objects and more prayers and practices were done for her. She died very peacefully, surrounded by holy objects, with powerful mantras on her body, mandala sand at her crown, and with mantras playing on CD as well as being recited in person along with the prayers Lama Zopa RInpoche recommends for death time, which will continue for the 49 days after her death.

When suddenly one day one of your loved ones dies and you don't know what to do to help, you'll feel so confused, so lost. This made me think that knowing how to help others at the time of death is such important education to have. By providing the right support, the right environment, you can help your loved one die peacefully, with virtuous thoughts, and thus have a good rebirth.
- Lama Zopa Rinpoche

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