e a m harris

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Archive for the category “Comment, Opinion, Politics”

A lost world – ‘Princes of the Black Bone’

This book by Peter Goullart, the author of Forgotten Kingdom, also deals with a way of life that has now vanished.

It seems not to be as well known as its companion and is less available. I found it in a library and it looked as if it hadn’t been borrowed for decades.

The Princes of the title are tribesmen living on the borders of Tibet and China, known to the Chinese as Lolos but calling themselves Yi.

Goullart lived and worked in the area for a couple of years and got to know the people well. He travelled extensively, often in dangerous situations, and met local people at all levels of society. When he finally had to leave, he had to do so in a hurry, having stepped, unwittingly, on a few toes.

The book gives a vivid description of the area, its wildlife, scenery and inhabitants. He was there just as the modernisation of China was starting and the world he describes is now gone. We are lucky to have such a good writer to record it.

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Here today gone tomorrow

snow sceneThe sun is shining so hard today it’s difficult to remember that everything was white with snow less than a week ago.

I took this picture last time we had snow, I no longer have a pampas grass to catch snowflakes and hold them up to be admired.

The white beauty lasted longer then; this year it was only decorating the garden for two days.

I’ve written haiku about snow before but it’s a subject that lends itself to the lightness of  very short poems.

Today the garden
is lovely with snow, but will it
last ’til tomorrow.

The dream of the homeland

rural England

Recently I’ve been re-reading Poem for the Day One edited by Nicholas Albery. Today’s poem is a section of Rupert Brooke‘s ‘The Old Vicarage: Grantchester‘ written in 1912 while he was on a long journey in Germany. . It starts:-

Ah God! to see the branches stir
Across the moon at Grantchester.

In this expression of homesickness he describes the beauties of rural England in detail. It sounds idyllic.

Reading it I began to wonder how much of the idealisation of homeland/motherland/fatherland is created not by those in it but by those away. I suspect that most countries have a body of nostalgic literature, often poetry, written by the exiled, the war bound or the long-time traveller.

Such idylls are very pervasive. Do they still affect the way people vote or even fight?

Ambisinister

Writing in North Norfolk has some great and imaginative posts. Here is a wonderful example of new and unusually used words. I think the bird is a kiwi, but I could be wrong; I’m not very knowledgeable about birds.

writing in north norfolk

My response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Wordle #117 “July 11th, 2016”

Wordle117

Ambisinister as a duck,

I scratch the surface of a metaphor

That destructs

In a shivering thunderhead

Of poetic ephemerids,

Filling the chambers

Of my heart with benign

Imagery and rhyme.

No need to bribe

Saint Peter

To enter

The plush gates of heaven

When you have your own

Narrow turnstile.

© Kim M. Russell, 2016

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Light on the subject – but what kind?

Today I logged into Wordnik for the first time in many months. As you can guess, if you don’t already know it, Wordnik is about words – finding, gathering, listing, sharing, commenting.

Browsing through my collection I was reminded of the words I’d garnered in the past, including one of my favourites: lucubratory. This word has two meanings that may of may not be related. One is laborious or painstaking. The other is much more poetic; composed by candlelight or by night or pertaining to night studies.

A special word for composed by candlelight!candle-197248__180

I imagine an old-time sage painstakingly writing out poems or music (or both – maybe he’s a singer/songwriter) by the light of a guttering and smelly candle; which is all he can afford until people recognise his genius and reward him accordingly. Preferably while he’s still around to enjoy it.

Are there words for composed by torchlight or electric-light? Do we need them?

Composed by moonlight is a beautiful thought: shall we call it lunabratory?  I suspect even a determined sage would find it difficult to see well enough by the moon alone.

Perhaps fairies compose by firefly light, and mermaids by deep-sea squid light.

On a more serious note, is writing or composing affected by the kind of light used? Do candles encourage the romantic and halogen the aggressive? I think it likely to have an effect, but I also think it would be both individual and very subtle.

International Day of Rural Women – Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India

Great that rural women get their own day. Too often they are overshadowed by urbanites.

CAMBRIA PRESS

October 15 is the International Day of Rural Women, and so Cambria Press is highlighting Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India: Making Place for Rural Developmentby Dr. Pratyusha Basu.

Cambria Press publication author book review

Cambria Press Publication Excerpt
Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India

“The constant appearance of India’s cooperative dairying program in celebratory itineraries of national and international development can be considered one of its principal distinguishing features. One prominent instance of this utilization of the program to mark the successes of rural development was the visit by Bill Clinton, then president of the United States, to the village of Nayala in the state of Rajasthan in western India on March 23, 2000, as part of an official visit to South Asia. In his meeting with members of a women’s dairy cooperative society in Nayala, Clinton marveled at their use of automated milk-testing and accounting…

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BOOK REVIEW – MADDERAKKA BY MOTERWRITER

I’ve recently been reading about the literature of marginalised peoples (I’ll blog about it one day) so was drawn to this review. I haven’t read the book but it sounds fascinating. A romance that doesn’t ignore political realities must be unusual.

M C Raj Author

Our Time Now – A review of the novel ‘Madderakka’

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass

Author M C Raj’s novel ‘Madderakka: A Romantic Journey Through Cultures’ is a love story that celebrates the human spirit in its highs & lows. The protagonists in this love story are not just a couple of individuals but representatives of two indigenous communities from separate parts of the world. Veeran is an Adijan, member of the so called untouchable caste from India while Ramona is a Sami woman from Norway. An anthropologist and a philosopher meet under special circumstances and romance blooms between them. They also discover the similarities in rituals followed and oppressions faced by their…

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Weird words

Browsing around today I came across this BuzzFeed quiz. It is twenty multiple choice questions on the meanings of rare English words. As a lover of odd words, I did it and didn’t do too badly – but I have to admit that some of the ones I got right were more lucky guesses than knowledge.

I was thrilled to discover that there’s a special word for a fear of buttons. On the medical side I’ve also learned that some people fear buttons, which must make shopping for clothes really difficult. I sometimes wonder if the source of such fears could be a forgotten (by your conscious mind) nightmare, which nevertheless lurks in the subconscious waiting to make trouble.

I recently bought a cardigan with a long row of tiny buttons and even smaller holes; now what I need is a word for losing my temper with buttons.

I’m always on the lookout for words I can use poetically, but I don’t see myself writing about borborygmus or pilgarlic.

Post-Christmas thoughts

Today is twelfth night (at least where I come from) and as I was taking down decorations and sorting cards, I was stopped by a lovely picture of poinsettias.

It occurred to me that the holly and the ivy (and I have several nice pics of them this year) are very well established with poems and carols to call their own, but what about poinsettia? These days it’s found its way into Christmas big time – on cards and wrapping paper; for sale in florists and supermarkets; but it doesn’t crop up in the choirboys’ repertoire.

A bit of googling found me a number of websites with short poems and one with a charming legend as well. One surprise was from Queensland, Oz which shows that poinsettias aren’t just for December (although what they’re doing in Australia in June I’m not sure).

None of these poems are as well-known as the holly and ivy ones and, as far as I know, none has been set to music, but at least the flower’s contribution to our Christmas iconography has been recognised in print.

I decided to add my own two pence worth to the recognition.

They remind me of
home, your poinsettias;
red stars of Christmas.

Happy Winter festivities

Most religious groups have a winter festival, and I wish all my readers joy in whatever their’s is. If you’re not religious or don’t have a festival coming up, I still wish you a happy winter-time.

The whole world gets a New Year in a few days. I hope your celebrations go well and that 2015 is all you want it to be.

I probably won’t have time to blog between now and January, but I will make time to read your posts.

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