Monday, 24 February 2020

Herry's Journal Index

What is Poetry?
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam 
Favourite Poetry - The Four Quartets
Favourite Poetry - The North Ship
Favourite Poetry - Akhmatova
Favourite Poetry - Pablo Neruda
Edna St Vincent Millay - Love is not All
Edna St Vincent Millay - Eight Sonnets V
Edna St Vincent Millay - Dirge Without Music
Favourite Poetry - Poesie Mondane, Bestemmia 619
Favourite Poetry - John Henry Newman's 'Dream of Gerontius'
Favourite Poems - Heine - A Young Man Loves a Maiden 
Favourite Poetry - Wind
Favourite Poetry - October
Favourite Poems - Hiawatha
Favourite Poems - Horatius at the Bridge - Macauley
Favourite Poems - Ithaca
Favourite Poems - Kindness
Favourite Poems - Beloved Earth
Favourite Poems - C9th Chinese Poem on Old Age
Favourite Poems - Heraclitus
Favourite Poems - Beloved Earth 
Favourite Poems - Animals
Favourite Poems - Stag's Leap
Favourite Poems - The Wilderness
Favourite Poems - No Man Is An Island
Favourite Poems - The Wound in Time
Favourite Poems - A Shropshire Lad
The Patience of Ordinary Things
Favourite Haiku - Basho
Kei's Poetry - Ego Sum
Kei's Poetry - The Dressing Table
Kei's Poetry - For Obachan
Favourite Carols
Favourite Songs - Kathleen Ferrier 'Land of Hope and Glory'
Favourite Music - Dame Janet Baker

The Story of the Fox (The Little Prince) 
Favourite Writings - Big Wolf Little Wolf
Favourite Writings - Louis 1, King of the Sheep
Favourite Writings - Beyond Euphrates
Favourite Writings - Ovid
Favourite Writings: Jalaluddin Al-Rumi
The Dazzling Fluidity of Days
Favourite Writings - The Lycian Shore
Favourite Writings - More Freya Stark
Favourite Books - 'Wait For Me' by Debo Devonshire
Favourite Bedtime Books
100 Books Famous in Children's Literature
100 Books Famous in Children's Literature - the List
Favourite Writings - Jalaluddin al-Rumi
Favourite Writings - Bruno Schultz 'August' 
Favourite Writings - Desiderata
John O'Donoghue at Glenstal Abbey
William Tyndale - the Translator of the Bible
King James' Bible and the Book of Common Prayer
Things We Learn in Time
The River Test
The Stanzas of Dzyan
Astravakra Gita
I Am Shiva
The Other Song of Solomon
Blithe Moment
Jane Austen
Edith Wharton
The Song of the Weather
The Snow Country
The Forms of Love
The Scientist and the Universe
The Scientist and the Universe II
Ruskin on Pugin's Conversion to Roman Catholicism
Vogue's Book of Houses, Gardens and People
A Study of History
Hannah Arendt on Lies and Propoganda
A History of Intimacy
Wise Advice - Sally Brampton
More Wise Advice - Sally Brampton
Life by Biance Sparacino
The Five Signs of Lack of Intelligence
Cognitive Biases
The Book of Kells
Watching The English
De Profundis - Oscar Wilde
Isaiah Berlin
Favourite Quotes - John Ruskin
Bertrand Russell's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
Favourite Writings - Ecclesiastes
Favourite Writings - Friendship
Favourite Writings - Love Undetectable by Andrew Sullivan
Favourite Writings - The Tao Te Ching
Favourite Writings - Seneca - We Are All Chained to Fortune


Do You Understand Climate Change?
Art and What it means to Me
Post EU Referendum Blues
Fracking - a Real and Present Danger
Stockbridge and the Storms of February 2014
Grave Threat to Longstock and Stockbridge from Developers 
Destruction of the Winchester College Wingnuts
Falloden Nature Reserve Closed to Walkers
The Curious Case of the Middle Lane
How to Become a Petrol-Saving Bore
How to be a Bore About Almost Anything
Some Inadequate Words on Grief
For the Love of Dogs
The Curse of Road Noise
The End of Cadogan
In Praise of Fluting
The Poison of Bonuses
The Scourge of Intensive Farming
The Mystery of Crop Circles
The Law of Unintended Consequences
Inequality - A Growing Problem
Illogical Arguments
Games People Play
Slideshows and The Little Prince
The Dazzling Fluidity of Days
Early June Morning
The Joy of Fly Fishing
The Big Issue
Geography and How We've Lost It
The Highway Code in 100 Words
The Joy of Cricket
Leonard Cohen The Master
Favourite Songs - Leonard Cohen
The Joy of YouTube
Thoughts on SOPA and PIPA
Farewell Tempo
The Rat Pack
The Lexus
Heron Wars in Stockbridge
Why I Prefer Pubs to Restaurants 
Slideshows and The Little Prince
Treasure Island and the Avoidance of Tax
The Part Played by Insurance in the Financial Crisis 2008

Obituaries and Eulogies
Dirge Without Music
Some Inadequate Words on Grief
Rosie Jenks 1943 - 2005
Gopika Fraser 1965 - 2009
Cmdr Colin Balfour RN 1924 - 2009 
Norman Buckingham 1918 - 2010
The Rev Hamilton Lloyd 1919 - 2011
Suzanne Lloyd 1923 - 2011
Sally Macpherson 1940 - 2012
Nick Duke 1945 - 2013
Richard Shaw 1940 - 2013
S Venkiteswaran 1941 - 2013
Joanne Louise Taylor (Jo Johns) 1939 - 2014
Ernie Stiles - 1941 - 1914
Lucie Skipwith 1942 - 2014
Annie May Spawton 1944 - 2014
Kate O'Brien 1953 - 2017
Bill Birch Reynardson 1923 - 2017
John Kay 1936 - 2019
Penny Lawford 1944 - 2019
Lucy Luxmoore 1953 - 2019
Beryl Williams 1949 - 2020

Herry's Trinity House Retirement 2006
Herry's Tokyo Retirement 2006
Herry's Beijing Retirement 2006
Herry's Office Retirement 2006
Herry's 70th Birthday Party July 2015
Lawford Lunch at the Drapers' Hall 2014
Winchester College 50 Years On Dinner 2014
Wellbeing of Women Christmas Fair at the Drapers' Hall 2016
Wellbeing of Women Christmas Fair at the Drapers' Hall 2014
Wellbeing of Women Christmas Fair at the Drapers' Hall 2013
Wellbeing of Women Christmas Fair at the Drapers' Hall 2012
Wellbeing of Women Christmas Fair at the Drapers' Hall 2011
Wellbeing of Women Christmas Fair at the Drapers' Hall 2010
Wellbeing of Women Christmas Fair at the Drapers' Hall 2009
The Royal Hospital Carol Service 2009
The Royal Hospital Carol Service 2010
The Royal Hospital Carol Service 2011
The Royal Hospital Chelsea Dinner 2010
Fine Cell at the V&A
Fine Cell at the Drapers' Hall
Fine Cell at the Leathersellers' Hall 2009
Fine Cell at the Leathersellers' Hall 2009
Fine Cell at the Glaziers' Hall
The Drapers' Almshouses
The Drapers' Almshouse Outing to Winchester 2009
The Drapers' Almshouse Teaparty 2007
The Drapers' Almshouse Teaparty 2008
The Drapers' New Year's Service
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2008
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2009
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2010
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2011
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2013
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2018 and the City
The Mission to Seafarers Carol Concert 2008
The Mission to Seafarers Carol Concert 2009
The Mission to Seafarers Carol Concert 2010
Stockbridge Christmas Evening Shopping 2014
Remembrance Sunday at Litchfield
Christmas at Blenheim 2016
Winchester Cathedral Carol Service 2016
Winchester Portrait Exhibition 2017
Dedication of 'Ascension' for the SAS at Hereford Cathedral
Litchfield Flower Festival 2019
UK Club's 125th Anniversary 1994
UK Club's 150th Anniversary Dinner

Travel and Places

My Travelling Life
Memories of the Taj
Timeless India
India - the Cradle of Language, Astronomy and Science
Favourite Cities - Beirut
Russia - The Wild East
Favourite Places - Palace Hotel, Tokyo
Favourite Places - Winchester Cathedral
Favourite Places - Wells Cathedra
Favourite Places in Autumn - Japan
Favourite Places - Landmark Trust Castles
Hampshire Views - Stocks Farm and Old Winchester Hill
Favourite Places - Stockbridge
Old Swan House History
Christmas Scenes in London
Christmas Scenes 2008
Mottisfont Abbey in Winter
More Frosty Walks
Favourite Houses - Hinton Ampner
Favourite Places - The East Banqueting House
Favourite Restaurants - The River Cafe
Farewell Robert Le Pirate
The Murphy's and the French Riviera
Drapers' Almshouse Outing to Winchester 2009
Japan - Imabari and the Kurushima Strait
Japan - Early Morning Chimes
Hymn to Dear Japan March 2011
One of Hutton's Glass Screen Angels in Hampshire
The Great Churches of the City of London
John O'Donohue at Glenshal Abbey
Elmore Abbey
Stockbridge Christmas Evening 2016
Favourite Places - Lime Wood
Favourite Churches - Sherborne Abbey


The Rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral
Sir Alfred Herbert and Town Thorns Residential School, Easenhall
Sir Alfred Herbert and the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital
Sir Alfred Herbert's Memorial Service in Coventry Cathedral 1957

The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry Reopening 2008
The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry
Favourite Places - Coventry Cathedral
Coventry's Awe-Inspiring Cathedral
Coventry's Awe-Inspiring Cathedral II
Coventry Cathedral - the Sutherland Tapestry
Rediscovering Coventry's Medieval Stained Glass
Coventry Cathedral Carol Concert 2013
Coventry Cathedral Golden Jubilee

Gardens and Flowers
Favourite Gardens - The Buildings in Autumn 
Favourite Gardens - The Buildings, Broughton
Favourite Gardens - The Buildings August 2018
Favourite Gardens - the last of The Buildings, October 2018
Favourite Gardens - the Laskett Gardens
Favourite Gardens - Terstan
Favourite Gardens - Ashtall Manor
on form at Ashtall Manor
Favourite Gardens - Bere Mill in Spring
Favourite Gardens - Adwell
Favourite Gardens - Hinton Ampner
Favourite Gardens - Stockbridge Town Gardens
Favourite Gardens - Wherwell Village Gardens
Favourite Gardens - Bramdean House
Favourite Gardens - Dean House
Favourite Gardens - A Secret Garden
Favourite Gardens - West Green
Favourite Gardens - Mottisfont Abbey
Favourite Gardens - Rotherfield Park
NGS Evening at Hazelby House June 2019
Cascades Flower Arrangement Exhibition in Winchester Cathedral 2015
Winchester Flower Festival 2018
The Manor at Upton Grey
Heale House Garden
Adwell Garden Fair
The National Gardens Scheme
Glorious Gardens in the National Gardens Scheme
Stockbridge Gardens Open for the NGS 2019
The Secret Gardens of Spitalfields
Autumn Colours in Kyoto
Autumn Beeches
The Orangery in Winter
Snow in April
Favourite Views - Koko at The Orangery
Favourite Views - Fields of Barley
The Therapeutic Power Of Gardens - Oliver Sacks
Old Swan House Garden 2012
Making the Garden at Old Swan House
Old Swan House Gardens Open for the NGS 2015
Old Swan House Garden Video in June 2014
Old Swan House Garden in Summer and Autumn
Old Swan House Garden in July
Old Swan House Garden in June
Old Swan House Garden in August 2016
Old Swan House Garden in September 2016
Old Swan House Garden Late 2016
Old Swan House Garden Video April 2018
Old Swan House Garden in June 2018
Old Swan House Garden in July 2018
Old Swan House Garden in August 2018
Old Swan House Garden in March 2019
Old Swan House Garden in April 2019
Old Swan House Garden Changes in 2019
Old Swan House Garden Open for the NGS June 2019
The Story of the Raphael Seat
Chelsea Flower Show 2007
Chelsea Flower Show 2008
Chelsea Flower Show 2010
Chelsea Flower Show 2011
Chelsea Flower Show 2012
Chelsea Flower Show 2013
Chelsea Flower Show 2014
Chelsea Flower Show 2016
Chelsea Flower Show 2018
Chelsea Flower show 2019
Chatsworth Flower Show 2017
Garden Design - Vaux le Vicomte
Mottisfont Rose Garden June 2013
Mottisfont Rose Garden June 2015
Mottisfont Rose Garden June 2017
Mottisfont Rose Garden June 2018
Hilliers Evening Tour for the NGS June 2018
Litchfield Flower Festival 2019

Paintings and Photographs
Art and What it Means to Me
St Laurent and Pierre Berge Collection
Saatchi Gallery - New Art from India
Saatchi Gallery - New Art from China
Saatchi Gallery - New Art from the Middle East
Emily Patrick Exhibition in Spitalfields 2008
Anish Kapoor's Exhibition
Anish Kapoor in Kensington Gardens 2010
Horst at the V&A - Photographer of Style
Van Gogh at the Royal Academy 2010
An Inland Voyage at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
Ibrahim El-Salahi at the Tate Modern
Gaugin at the Tate Modern
Francis Bacon Exhibition at the Tate
The Tate Modern's 10th Anniversary
Picasso Exhibition at the National Gallery
Anish Kapoor at the Royal Academy 2009
Art Gallery of New South Wales - Frieda Kahlo
Lines of Thought - Isabel Seligman
How to Draw
The Garden Gallery Exhibition at the Grange
Turner - Painting With Light
Emily Patrick and Patience of Ordinary Things

Food and Wine
Favourite Restaurants - the River Cafe
Wine Writings
The Joy of Breakfast
Favourite Recipes - Dark Chunky Marmalade 
Dinner for One

Favourite Blogs
Favourite Blogs - Spitalfields Life

NGS Evening at Hazelby House June 2019

The NGS Party at Hazelby House

The NGS held a marvellous party at Patrick and Gabby Hungerford's Hazelby House on a beautiful June evening. I had not seen the garden before but was astonished at its perfection. The photos can attest that there wasn't a leaf out of place and there was superb garden statuary and sculpture to make even Travers Nettleton weep.

One of the tranquil pools at Hazelby

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Beryl Williams 1949 - 2020

Beryl Williams was a dear friend for thirty years, who I got to know from the days when she managed a shop in the Royal Exchange to her life in Fethiye (Turkey) to which she emigrated in 2004 to ease her MS. She was a wise, bright and beautiful soul, and leaves a loving family of her daughter Amanda and Kirsty and son Paul and their offspring, as well as Peter, a former London insurance broker who she lived (and sailed) with for the last 12 years.

Beryl Williams on her boat in Turkey

Thursday, 16 January 2020

The Story of the Raphael Seat

The Raphael Seat and brick piers
The Raphael Seat is, in fact, a large piece of sculpture, and now occupies the space in which for some time I had intended a sculpture or garden feature to stand.

The upper lawn area has always lacked a focal point - the Tang horse is off to the side under the tree and is easily missed and the quince tree is not yet ancient enough - and I had originally thought that some kind of sculpture such as a piece from Rachel Bebb's Garden Gallery would be perfect. But the cost was always much more than I wanted to spend. I did consider buying an old stone bench but those with age such as sold by Travers Nettleton at Garden Art were also prohibitively expensive,

I was, therefore, delighted to be directed to Haddonstone, the makers of good quality pressed stone garden ornaments, and there find a sculpture with an interesting provenance as well as being on sale. The seat in question was a 'Raphael' seat designed by Bob Haddonstone in the 1980s for the Drapers' Livery Company, so-called as it has Raphael drawings in bas relief on the back panels. An exactly similar seat (on four Drapers' Ram's bases) stands in one of the courtyards at Drapers' Hall today and given the family's long links with the Drapers, this provenance was an added attraction.

The area for the seat to stand required some preparation, as it weighed half a ton (but came in pieces on three pallets) and so Brian Dibley put in a concrete base topped with old York stone flags. Imagining the seat in place I also thought that it would need some additional masonry support, and decided to put in two brick piers topped by old stone caps that would reduce the dominance of the seat and also frame the view under the hazel tree in both directions. The result can be seen at the top of the page.

At the moment the seat stands out too much due to it being so white, but when it has weathered to a decent patina, it should look as if it's always been here.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Hannah Arendt on Lies and Propaganda

When I was in grade school, we learned the very basics of how the Third Reich came to power in the early 1930s. Paramilitary gangs terrorizing the opposition, the incompetence and opportunism of German conservatives, the Reichstag Fire. And we learned about the critical importance of propaganda, the deliberate misinforming of the public in order to sway opinions en masse and achieve popular support (or at least the appearance of it). While Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels purged Jewish and leftist artists and writers, he built a massive media infrastructure that played, writes PBS, “probably the most important role in creating an atmosphere in Germany that made it possible for the Nazis to commit terrible atrocities against Jews, homosexuals, and other minorities.”
How did the minority party of Hitler and Goebbels take over and break the will of the German people so thoroughly that they would allow and participate in mass murder? Post-war scholars of totalitarianism like Theodor Adorno and Hannah Arendt asked that question over and over, for several decades afterwards. Their earliest studies on the subject looked at two sides of the equation. Adorno contributed to a massive volume of social psychology called The Authoritarian Personality, which studied individuals predisposed to the appeals of totalitarianism. He invented what he called the F-Scale (“F” for “fascism”), one of several measures he used to theorize the Authoritarian Personality Type

Arendt, on the other hand, looked closely at the regimes of Hitler and Stalin and their functionaries, at the ideology of scientific racism, and at the mechanism of propaganda in fostering “a curiously varying mixture of gullibility and cynicism with which each member... is expected to react to the changing lying statements of the leaders.” So she wrote in her 1951 Origins of Totalitarianism, going on to elaborate that this “mixture of gullibility and cynicism... is prevalent in all ranks of totalitarian movements":
In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true... The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.
Why the constant, often blatant lying? For one thing, it functioned as a means of fully dominating subordinates, who would have to cast aside all their integrity to repeat outrageous falsehoods and would then be bound to the leader by shame and complicity. “The great analysts of truth and language in politics”---writes McGill University political philosophy professor Jacob T. Levy---including “George Orwell, Hannah Arendt, Vaclav Havel—can help us recognize this kind of lie for what it is.... Saying something obviously untrue, and making your subordinates repeat it with a straight face in their own voice, is a particularly startling display of power over them. It’s something that was endemic to totalitarianism.”
Arendt and others recognized, writes Levy, that “being made to repeat an obvious lie makes it clear that you’re powerless.” She also recognized the function of an avalanche of lies to render a populace powerless to resist, the phenomenon we now refer to as “gaslighting”:
The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end---is being destroyed. 
The epistemological ground thus pulled out from under them, most would depend on whatever the leader said, no matter its relation to truth. “The essential conviction shared by all ranks,” Arendt concluded, “from fellow traveller to leader, is that politics is a game of cheating and that the ‘first commandment’ of the movement: ‘The Fuehrer is always right,’ is as necessary for the purposes of world politics, i.e., world-wide cheating, as the rules of military discipline are for the purposes of war.”
“We too,” writes Jeffrey Isaacs at The Washington Post, “live in dark times"---an allusion to another of Arendt’s sobering analyses—“even if they are different and perhaps less dark.” Arendt wrote Origins of Totalitarianism from research and observations gathered during the 1940s, a very specific historical period. Nonetheless the book, Isaacs remarks, “raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead.” Arendt's analysis of propaganda and the function of lies seems particularly relevant at this moment. The kinds of blatant lies she wrote of might become so commonplace as to become banal. We might begin to think they are an irrelevant sideshow. This, she suggests, would be a mistake.

Monday, 16 December 2019

King James' Bible and the Book of Common Player

The King James' Bible at Litchfield
Having attended a meditation on the life of William Tyndale at Bossington Church recently, I have become even more aware of the place of the King James' Bible in our culture. And when last week I attended an otherwise lovely carol service at St Katherine Cree Church in the City, I was saddened to hear the beautiful and time-honoured phrases in the lessons replaced with modern English.

I realise of course that I have been conditioned to hear the King James' version of the Bible over the past 70 years. Like many of my friends, I have attended school services since the age of five of six and since going regularly to my church at Litchfield for the last thirty years I am steeped both in King James and the Book of Common Prayer and have never heard any other. I love their cadences and phrasing. Any variation, however well-meaning, is a small psychic shock, akin to changing the words of a Beatles song.

The words used at church services make up the major party of the liturgy of worship and as such are imbued with deep significance and energy. It's not fanciful to imagine the words imprinted into the fabric of churches where they have been intoned without change for the past 400 years.  I am afraid that I agree with those who ascribe a fall-off in attendance at traditional church services to the lessening of the use of such glorious language.

See also - Litchfield Church - St Cecilia's Prayer 

See also - William Tyndale - the Translator of the Bible

Monday, 2 December 2019

William Tyndale - the Translator of the Bible

The Authorised Version of King James' Bible, published in 1611, was translated from the Latin and Hebrew by six committees of scholars, and remains, with some later amendments, the most authoritative text of the Bible as far as the Anglican Church is concerned.

However, the original translation of the Bible into English from Latin and Hebrew was undertaken by William Tyndale, who produced the first printed translation of the New Testament in 1526 while being sought and harassed by both the Church and Henry VIII in the form of Sir Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. Any translation into the vernacular was regarded as heresy, and in particular, Tyndale's translation further aggravated the Church by choosing to translate the Greek 'ekklesia' as 'congregation' rather than 'Church' and 'presbyteros' as 'elder' instead of 'priest'. Working in secrecy in Antwerp, he made over 5000 revisions to the New Testament in the 1534 edition, which became 'the glory of his life's work'. The King James' translators left most of his work (said to be 93%) untouched - though, of course, not the two examples above. He also translated the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) including Genesis and Deuteronomy, but while working on the rest in 1536 he was betrayed and executed.

Melvyn Bragg has written a useful short biography of Tyndale, and he concludes:

Genius Discarded

Yet in this country, the King James Bible has been allowed to fade away over the past few decades. While Shakespeare and all his Elizabethan and Jacobean pageant of language is played, filmed, televised and read more and more and in the original without dissent, it was decided that Tyndale was too complicated! This has proved to be a dreadful mistake, We have discarded a genius and are every day poorer for it. I see it as no accident that Anglican congregations have fallen away since the King James Bible was abandoned.

The Anglican Church has more or less outlawed then King James Version. It pops up now and again but with far less regularity and authority that it deserves. Why not have Tyndale / King James services in every church and every school on the first week of every month. For non-Christians, it would be a feast of language, adventure and argument,. For all who listened it would be to hear and understand the deepest spring of our cultural history through the mind of a unique genius; William Tyndale.

Melvyn Bragg - William Tyndale Postscript

There is also a film of Tyndale's life made in 1986 called 'God's Outlaw'

See also: The King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Favourite Paintings - Peter Breughel Netherlandisch Proverbs

Peter Brueghel the Elder - Nederlandisch Proverbs
I am sometimes given to complaining that modern paintings seem to have no meaning or significance. The same can not be said of Brueghel, and this painting - Nederlandisch Proverbs, painted in 1559 - is replete with illusions, some more evident than others. It is said that there are more the 100 proverbs illustrating human foolishness in this scene, the meanings of many of which have been lost. The principal figure of the woman draping her husband with a blue cloak is said to show that she is having an affair. A full list of those that can still be identified can be found on Wikipedia here.

See also Favourite Paintings - Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

See also Art and What it Means to Me

Return to Journal Index

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Favourite Paintings - Landscape with the Fall of Icarus - Peter Breughel the Elder

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

W.H. Auden, Musée des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong, 

The old Masters: how well they understood 

Its human position: how it takes place 

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along; 

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting 

For the miraculous birth, there always must be 

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating 

On a pond at the edge of the wood: 

They never forgot 

That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course 

Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot 

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse 

Scratches its innocent behind on a tree. 

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away 

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may 

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, 

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone 

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green 

Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen 

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, 

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on. 

See also Favourite Writings - Ovid 

Monday, 30 September 2019

Some Inadequate Words on Grief

I am not able to write with any authority on grief as I have never experienced it. But others have and do. Instead, I often give friends who have lost loved ones Joan Didion's book: 'The Year of Magical Thinking', which seem to capture the condition most truly.

This also seems to be a fine piece