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The Original "Getting Real"

The Original "Getting Real"
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Sunday, 27 September 2009


Autumn comes again with the hazy mornings, the sun being a little lazy in rising, then coming out in all its amber splendour by mid-afternoon, and the chilly evenings with those scents which are so evocative! This poem is so often quoted that it seems almost trite to repeat it, but it is 'the' poem of autumn and its timelessness is so touching. Keats' "To Autumn".

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Monday, 21 September 2009

E.E. Cummings

Why did e.e. cummings have such an aversion to capital letters with regard to names and personal pronouns! The letter 'I', at least, should always be written in the upper case because the 'I' is so much greater than the 'me' and is the true self, to my mind, which is the spark of the Divinity, or simply Divine. We all can write 'I' boldly, because we are far greater than we know. All the same e.e.'s poems are often so lovely....I felt this today, walking among these beautiful trees in Temple Newsam!

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any - lifted from the no
of all nothing - human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

"The Wild Swans at Coole"

There were only two swans on the lake today and it's not yet October, but seeing the beautiful swans at Temple Newsam, W.B. Yeats' poem: "The Wild Swans At Coole" came to mind....

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Being and Doing

Maybe some people 'are' and some people 'do'. There's a message as we grow up that we need to be 'doing'. If we are not 'doing' we are being lazy and idle. But when we look at those who 'do', most are either interfering into everyone else's life or trying to rule the world.

"If everyone thought as you do," I was often told as a child and young person, "nothing would ever be done." My thought in reply was, "But what has been done by those who do thoughtlessly instead of thinking first?"

People rush thither and yon, always having to be busy, always having to take command of someone else, always having to meet deadlines or be at work on time, or get home on time, or fill the quiet hours with doing. And people have damaged the land, the animals, the trees and nature and caused havoc all over the place with our doing. Walk past a field of sheep and see that they are doing what they do without the need to do it. They just run when they feel like running, chew when they feel like chewing, stare when they feel like staring. Walk through a forest of trees and see how ancient they are, how they withstand the storms and the summer sun, how they don't give a damn for who is making silly rules about what we can and cannot do. Look at Nature and see how even when we try to crush all growth, the weeds still just work their way to the sun through the cracks in the pavement.

I'm not advocating inertia or suggesting that humanity needs only to stand as still as trees or spend our lives chewing grass, but it seems that the rest of creation knows what it is about and only humanity stands apart because we have forgotten that we are here to be before we are here to do. What needs to be done is being done by a far greater hand than ours. When we wake up to being, like the flowers wake up to the morning sunlight, rather than waking up to a day 'at the office' or another day of drudgery, we will truly be co-creators with the Divine.

Like the wonderful Davies poem:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Price of A Few Letters After Your Name

It's interesting how scornful or amused we are by the people who buy titles on-line. Apparently, for various amounts of money, one can buy an aristocratic title of count, countess, baron or anything else, and the title comes with a certificate to authenticate it. Anyone can choose the title or the area (rather like choosing number plates on cars) and the certificate - nothing more than a glossy piece of paper - acts as proof of purchase. Of course, the higher class version of this is being granted the title by whatever government happens to be 'in power' (whatever that means) in return for filling the party coffers. It's an age-old means of buying self-esteem and the idea that a title impresses other and gives one access to the echelons of power (whatever that means, too!).

It looks ridiculous but is it any more ridiculous than the millions of people all over the world who dedicate 3, 4 or 5 years of their lives to purchase some letters after their name? During those years, it used to be possible to have a lot of fun. Students were notorious for being rowdy, lazy, drinking too much, finding some kind of pleasure in the necessity of bringing traffic cones home, and having deep and meaningless conversations about anything and working out their delayed adolescent angst. Having been there, I must say it was fun in its way. Nowadays student life is quite different
and many, having worked their way through university in order to pay the fees, leave with enormous debts...and, of course, the letters after their names.

Politicians are constantly spouting about the need to make university places more accessible to more people; and people are constantly responding by feeling the need to have a degree...but what does it really mean? It means that you conform your essays to what the powers-that-be want you to say; it means you fit the system and think you are rebelling, but you're not. It means, basically, you pay out loads of money and come out with a piece of paper saying someone else decided you were this clever, that clever, or just mediocre (or a failure) and you can write some letters after your name. Basically, a degree or any other qualification is simply gaining authenticity from someone else's idea of what you should be. Surely, the brightest brains know that there is no need for such ulterior authentication. It's interesting that some of the wealthiest and most successful people have no such stamp of approval by the authorities. Richard Branson, Alan Sugar (I think) Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, Jesus etc. etc. were not university qualified, but professors argue for hours about their merit, while the great minds and great spirits go on making an impact on peoples of all time when the university officials are long forgotten.

If you want to go to university to study, by all means do so! If you want to study a subject among people who have taken if further than you have, then study it in colleges and universities. But if you want some letters after your name or a piece of paper and some outside stamp of authenticity for your self-esteem, it won't work. That can only come from yourself and you would do far better following your own heart, studying what you love and who cares whether someone else decides your efforts are worthy?

If you want letters after your name, write your own. How about:

F.S. - Free Spirit (it's more fitting than my B.A. - Bachelor of Arts, since I am not a bachelor and never could be!!)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Emily Bronte and "Wuthering Heights"

I don't care what the critics write! Of all the adaptations of "Wuthering Heights" that I have seen, this is the best. Shown in two parts, this version of the book was so much more than the old Olivier/Oberon love story, or the ridiculous version that tried to be closer to the book but cast a French Cathy! This version, in my opinion, capture Heathcliff perfectly! Tom Hardy's portrayal was wonderful because he was attractive one minute, most unattractive the next. He was loving and passionate, and equally hateful and violent - humanity in the raw and passion-driven. Sarah Lancashire's performance as Nelly was spot on, and both Tom Hard and Charlotte Riley finally (as opposed to earlier versions) had the correct Yorkshire accents!

Most brilliant of all was the way this version returned one's thought to the author of the book and the astounding fact that a very young woman created this epic purely from her own imagination. Emily Bronte didn't wander thither and yon, or gather masses of research to create such a story. She spent a short - horrendous to her - unpleasant time 'confined' as a teacher in Belgium and felt so deprived of the wildness of the moors that she became ill. Back home, she walked miles and miles every day, and from her walks, her own singular mind such a story of utter passion, darkness, probably the most powerful love story ever written came into being.

There is so much of Emily's brother, Branwell, in Heathcliff, but there is a lot more besides. It is fascinating that Emily, at so tender an age, caught a chill at Branwell's funeral and died a short while after. The undertones of incest in the book are obvious but I am absolutely not implying anything untoward between Branwell and Emily, but I do believe that Emily (who was so absorbed in spirituality) was the other side of Branwell's coin. Branwell was the epitome of a spirit turned to the hellish aspect of life, while Emily was seeking heaven. They were one soul in different aspects. They were so close as children and emotionally deeply involved. Absolutely nothing untoward in it, just the emotional/spiritual manipulations that affected all of that family! Emily - the parson's daughter, who, were she alive today, would be seen as so insular - was the most fearless warrior in delving into the inner life and unashamedly created in her characters such raw passion that she was prepared to expose every taboo. The greater part of Emily's short life was lived in her own head. To me, she is the most fascinating of all the Bronte sisters and ought to be listed among the greatest spiritual seekers of all time. She was utterly Pagan - her poetry attests to that - and, like Cathy in the novel, she simply could not live without the breath of freedom of the Moors and Nature.

"Wuthering Heights", as this latest adaptation shows, is anything but a simple love story. It is about passion and the soul; the fine line between heaven and hell, and living life on the edge, where convention is simply a prison....and begs the questions, "What is it to be truly alive?" and, "What is real goodness, and what is evil?"

Thank you to the casting department, the screenplay and script writers and to the great actors for such a brilliant presentation of the book!!