A coneflower displayed
its green and brown. Serenity
in a summer garden.
The haiku challenge is to write about it, but I’ve never seen any Shinto shrine, so my poem is more about a shrine of the mind.
A soft breeze whispers
in the eaves of the temple;
frost on the roof melts.
My motto is
Keep calm and party on
so, when I found in The Art of the Chinese Gardens (published by China Travel & Tourism) a lot of place names associated with inviting guests, drinking wine and generally being sociable, I knew I must make a poem out of them.
The result is below. It may actually be more a semi-found poem as the short connecting lines are my invention.
Once, in the
Twilight of the Setting Sun
The Sunlight Welcoming Pavilion
Garden of Harmonious Delight,
The Gate for Inviting the Moon,
The Pavilion for Bestowing Wine –
Pearl of Shichahai.
They chattered in
The Pavilion for Enjoying the Scenery
The Hall of Cheerful Melodies:
Places of Mutual Affinity.
Later we left
The Moon Inviting Terrace
The Tower of Clear Voice
The Musical Gully.
The Solitary Hill
Snow on the Broken Bridge.
I’ve just finished reading Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons and I’m wondering how I didn’t read it before. No one told me it had beautifully written descriptions (and I’m not a lover of description usually). Nor had I known that it’s full of lovely neologisms and dialect; who could resist cowdling a mommet or inhaling the perfume of the sukebind. You could even teazle a scranlet, though it might be uncomfortable.
The book, written in the 1930s, is a satire on the rural misery novels popular at the time. But like any good satire it stands on its own and doesn’t require familiarity with the likes of Mary Webb.
The heroine, Flora, orphaned at twenty and with very little money, accepts an invitation to live with her relatives at Cold Comfort Farm. She arrives to find the farm in chaos and its numerous inhabitants filled with angst, misery, regret and a good many other horrible emotions. Instead of joining the doom, gloom and victimhood, Flora sets to work to overturn the current malaise and sort out her relatives lives.
One of the things I particularly liked about this book is that it’s a tale of success. Through hard work and cunning Flora succeeds in setting up her various aunts, uncles and cousins with the kinds of life they really want. She then falls into the arms of a handsome, rich man – but don’t expect traditional romance, this is satire.
The book was filmed in the 1990s and one day I hope to see this version.
Cover art from Goodreads.
For my late night reading lately I’ve been re-reading The Rattle Bag, a poetry anthology edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. Apparently the original intention was a collection aimed at the young or new poetry reader, but it doesn’t shirk serious subjects like death, love or loneliness. I love it and, to judge by the reviews around the web, so do many other not-so-young people.
Here is a collection of poems to which the term ‘quirky’ seriously applies, though there are plenty of ‘normal’ poems for readers who like their quirky in moderate doses.
On a more serious level the book goes to the edge of what poetry is, both in subject and form: midnight mice, no punctuation and horses eating violins crowd together with the more traditional.
One of the innovations is to arrange the poems alphabetically by title. This means that the usual pattern of date or subject is broken up. Sylvia Plath is on the same page as Shakespeare, while a pet cat precedes a pilgrim.
I’ve had this book for some years (it was published in 2005) and have read most of the poems already, some several times. However, this time I’ve had a serious look at the glossary at the back.
Many of the entries are dialect or archaic terms I already knew, and some I don’t really want to know: should I care that a danegun is an “old firearm, fairly primitive”?
But there are plenty of new-to-me words to enjoy. I’ve seen many solons (gannets) in my time, but have never met a goney (albatross). As I write the gullies (seagulls) are squawking outside. I didn’t know a rack was a cloud in the upper air and I wonder if, like other clouds, it can be scrowed (streaked).
I wish I was in Buxton to hear this talk. Thank you James Burt for reminding me that the ‘official’ history isn’t all there is.
The Odditorium: the tricksters, eccentrics, deviants and inventors whose obsessions changed the world (Hodder & Stoughton, 2016) includes some amazing characters. Some you’ll have heard of, some you probably won’t. All of them have changed the world, although in some cases the wider world hasn’t noticed yet. They include Joshua Norton, first Emperor of America, and Reginald Bray, who carried out strange experiments with the Royal Mail. I was delighted to be asked to write about Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who is by far my favourite explorer.
When I was at school, we were often told stories about adventurers and explorers as something to aspire to. Captain Robert Falcon Scott was held up as a great example, bravely sacrificing himself in an attempt to reach the South Pole. As Sara Wheeler once described Antarctica, our southernmost continent often seems to be “a testing-ground for men with frozen beards to see how dead…
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Carpe Diem has started a series of posts on tanka techniques. Even for non-writers, it’s worth reading the post to enhance understanding and appreciation.
The first technique is to add mystery and depth. Autumn is a good time for mystery I think; not only do we have Hallowe’en and the supernatural, but we are in a sort of between-ness – assessing summer just gone and looking forward to/dreading winter to come.
But autumn is a time of its own, as the old Japanese writers knew so well and wrote about so movingly, as in this tanka written by Toshiyuri and quoted on Carpe Diem:
Cries of quail
from the shore of Mano cove
waves of plume grass
ripple in autumn dusk.
My response is:
A dense, white fog fills
the garden; among yellowed
grasses no blade stirs.
A crow, hidden in whiteness,
croaks three times, then falls silent.
Picture from Photo Pin.
Recently I did a post on the words listed in Landmarks By Robert MacFarlane.
In the glossaries are several words attributed to Gerard Manley Hopkins. Words like endragoned for a raging sea, or bright-borough for an area of sky thickly strewn with stars. I never knew we needed a word for ‘thickly strewn with stars’, but looking at it I can see it could be useful and poetic.
I had not realised that Hopkins went in for neologisms in a big way, but I’m not very familiar with his poetry. So I decided to read up on it and found several interesting websites: Crossref-it.info and The Wonderful World of English among them.
I’ve known people who really hate invented words, but IMHO without all these authors developing new words, our language would be poor indeed.
Korean literature is new to me. I’ve just bought this book and look forward to reading it. I don’t generally go for romance, but this sounds intriguing.
My thanks to the author of blog Word by Word for drawing my attention to it.
Ethereal, dream-like, accepting of their fate. South Korean working class literature.
Two young people work in an electronics market and slowly develop a friendship.
We meet Eungyo as she is following her shadow, causing her to become separated from the group she is with. Mujae follows her and stops her. Shadows rise and seem to lure one to follow it, something that others try to prevent, for it feels death-like.
Although it is never explained the constant mention of human shadows and their various behaviours provoke the reader’s imagination to ascribe meaning. Ill health and approaching death cause it to rise, and perhaps thoughts, reaching the limit of what one is able to endure. One shouldn’t follow it.
Their bond is formed as the environment within which they work is threatened with demolition. There is a subtle interdependency between the market traders, repairing and selling electronics, so when people who…
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I’ve just bought a lovely little book: A Conspiracy of Ravens compiled by Samuel Fanous.
It’s a list of collective nouns for birds. Apparently, creating these words was a pastime of hunters in times past. Now, thankfully, they are the province of word-hunters looking for novel ways of describing the world.
I’ve known a gaggle of geese and a murmuration of starlings since childhood, but most of the collectives in this book are new to me: a fling of dunlins; a pitch of orioles; a raft of auks! I wish I could think of a literary use for them.
Some of the names are so fitting. How about a paddling of ducks or an ostentation of peacocks? And some, like a bellowing of bullfinches, make me laugh.