Showing posts from August, 2012

Maria Salgado - Adio Querido


Where Are the War Poets - Cecil Day Lewis, Appreciation

By Bernard O’Donoghue

Cecil Day Lewis was one of the major figures in twentieth-century English poetry by any public measure. He was Poet Laureate; Oxford Professor of Poetry; a Companion of the Royal Society of Literature. He was universally recognized as one of the leading figures in English poetry across five decades, from the 1930s to the 1970s, as well as a ‘great translator’, to borrow Deschamps’s praise of Chaucer: certainly the one of the best translators into English poetry of his century.

So why on earth was he denied his place of honour in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey? I think I know the answer; but I will work round to it by degrees. To begin with, my title comes from one of Day Lewis’s most admired anthology-pieces (included for example by Philip Larkin in his Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century English Verse), the poem called ‘Where Are the War Poets?’

They who in folly or mere greed
Enslaved religion, market, laws,
Borrow our language now and bid
Us to speak up in freedom’…

Ken Russell: Mahler

Director: Ken Russell
Writer: Ken Russell
Stars: Robert Powell, Georgina Hale, Lee Montague

Mahler is a 1974 biographical film based on the life of composer Gustav Mahler. It was written and directed by Ken Russell for Goodtimes Enterprises, and starred Robert Powell as Gustav Mahler and Georgina Hale as Alma Mahler. The film was entered into the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Technical Grand Prize.

Vincent van Gogh: Starry night over the Rhône

Starry Night Over the Rhone, a popular painting that was that was drawn in September 1888 by an expressionist artist, Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh’s art is amongst the finest, highly prized and sought-after today. The painting is set on the banks of Rhone River that passes near Place Lamartine, a place where the artist had rented an apartment. Vincent had sent a sketch of the painting to a friend named Eugene Boch on 2nd September 1888. This particular Arles at night painting is usually classified with other related paintings by Vincent van Gogh that constitutes a Starry Night Works montage. The painting was firstly exhibited in Paris in 1889 at an annual exhibition.

Hermann Hesse: In the Mists

Wondrous to wander through mists!
Parted are bush and stone:
None to the other exists,
Each stands alone.

Many my friends came calling
then, when I lived in the light;
Now that the fogs are falling,
None is in sight.

Truly, only the sages
Fathom the darkness to fall,
Which, as silent as cages,
Separates all.

Strange to walk in the mists!
Life has to solitude grown.
None for the other exists:
Each is alone.

Translation by Walter A. Aue

Hermann Hesse himself, reading his perhaps most beautiful poem „Im Nebel" - In the Mists

Gustav Klimt: Adele Bloch-Bauer's Portrait

Adele Bloch-Bauer (1882-1925), nee Bauer, came from a wealthy Austrian banking family. She married Ferdinand Bloch, a banker and industrialist, who was an important sponsor for Klimt and the Secession.

Adele had an affair with Klimt that started in 1899 and lasted for several years. As a result, she was the only society lady whom Klimt painted twice, and she also served as a model for his two depictions of Judith.

The Bloch-Bauers purchased 6 of the painter's works, including both portraits of Adele and four of Klimt's mood landscapes. In 1925, when Adele died, she requested that the paintings be given to the Austrian State Gallery. However, this was never done.

In 1938, when the Nazis invaded Austria, Adele's widowed husband Ferdinand had to flee abroad because of his Jewish roots, abandoning all his property, much of which was subsequently confiscated. Adele Bloch-Bauer's request that the paintings be donated to the Austrian State Gallery were seen as justification f…

Luchino Visconti: Ludwig (1972)

Director: Luchino Visconti
Writers: Luchino Visconti (story), Enrico Medioli (story),
Stars: Helmut Berger, Romy Schneider, Trevor Howard

You can watch the movie with English subtitles  here.

Ludwig is a 1972 film directed by Italian director Luchino Visconti about the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Visconti's muse, Helmut Berger, stars as Ludwig, while Romy Schneider reprises her role as Empress Elisabeth of Austria in a very different portrayal compared to her role in the 1950s Sissi trilogy. Ludwig is a very languidly paced film, but with an impressive sense of tragic crescendo. The fully restored version, running over four hours, builds sympathy in the viewer for Ludwig's decadent, yet ultimately firmly constricted life. Visconti’s meticulous realism gives a bright picture of court life in the nineteenth-century Bavaria and shows with impressive dramatic pathos how a dreamy romantic idealist as Ludwig succumbs to the strenuous and urgent demands of his resp…

Kandinsky: Bride. Russian Beauty (1903)

Wassily Wasilyevich Kandinsky was born on December, 16th (4), 1866 in Moscow, in a well-to-do family of a businessman in a good cultural environment. In 1871 the family moved to Odessa where his father ran his tea factory. There, alongside with attending a classical gymnasium (grammar school), the boy learned to play the piano and the cello and took to drawing with a coach. "I remember that drawing and a little bit later painting lifted me out of the reality", he wrote later. In Kandinsky's works of his childhood period we can find rather specific color combinations, which he explained by the fact that "each color lives by its mysterious life".

However, Wassily's parents saw him in the future as a lawyer. In the year of 1886 he went to Moscow and entered Law Faculty of Moscow University. Graduating with honors, six years later Wassily married his cousin, Anna Chimyakina. In 1893 he became Docent (Associate Professor) of Law Faculty and continued teaching.…

Marina Tsvetaeva: To Akhmatova

Your stripe will be harvested
By which person's arms?
O the black magician you!
My black-plaited one!

Your tumultuous century,
And your midnight days...
All your little workers are
At once born away.

Where are your campaigner friends,
Your comrades in arms?
O the black magician you,
My one with white arms!

Not with glory, not with tears
Can one heal those graves.
One, as though he had been choked,
Walked around alive.

One more went into a wall
Himself to advance.
(He was proud - a falcon!) - They
Knocked him out at once.

High above your brothers are!
Can't exude a cry!
O the black magician you,
My one with clear eyes!

And from out the cloud (praise
Marvel from above!)
Arrow of a falcon falls,
Arrow of a dove...

To know, in two feathers at once
People to you write,
Know, that soon you will receive
A certificate,

O the boulders! They will shake
With their wings,
O the black magician you!
My one with black wings!

Translated by Ilya Shambat

An Interpretation of E. M. Forster's A Room with a View

by Rob Doll

At the beginning of A Room with a View, when he overhears Lucy Honeychurch and Miss Bartlett complaining that they did not get the rooms with views they had been promised in the Pension Bertolini, another guest interrupts, saying, "I have a view, I have a view. . . . This is my son . . . his name's George. He has a view , too." Mr. Emerson is speaking of their views of the river, but the Forsterian text has a double meaning. The Emersons' view has to do with more than the quality of their accommodations; they have what for Forster is a superior view of life. This philosophical view which the Emersons offer and which Lucy eventually accepts, is implied in the literal view that the Emersons relinquish with their room: It was pleasant .

. . to lean out into sunshine with beautiful hills and trees and marble churches opposite, and, close below, Arno, gurgling against the embankment of the road. Over the river men were at work. . . . Platforms were overflowing…

Pablo Picasso: Guernica, 1937

Probably Picasso's most famous work, Guernica is certainly the his most powerful political statement, painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazi's devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during Spanish Civil War.

Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. This tour helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world's attention.

This work is seen as an amalgmation of pastoral and epic styles. The discarding of clor intensifis the drama, producing a reportage quality as in a photographic record. Guernica is blue, black and white, 3.5 metre (11 ft) tall and 7.8 metre (25.6 ft) wide, a mural-size canvas painted in oil. This pain…

Virginia Woolf: Street Haunting: A London Adventure

No one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards a lead pencil. But there are circumstances in which it can become supremely desirable to possess one; moments when we are set upon having an object, an excuse for walking half across London between tea and dinner. As the foxhunter hunts in order to preserve the breed of foxes, and the golfer plays in order that open spaces may be preserved from the builders, so when the desire comes upon us to go street rambling the pencil does for a pretext, and getting up we say: “Really I must buy a pencil,” as if under cover of this excuse we could indulge safely in the greatest pleasure of town life in winter—rambling the streets of London.

The hour should be the evening and the season winter, for in winter the champagne brightness of the air and the sociability of the streets are grateful. We are not then taunted as in the summer by the longing for shade and solitude and sweet airs from the hayfields. The evening hour, too, gives us the irrespons…

Boris Pasternak: In Memory of Marina Tsvetaeva

Dismal day, with the weather inclement.
Inconsolably rivulets run
Down the porch in front of the doorway;
Through my wide-open windows they come.

But behind the old fence on the roadside,
See, the public gardens are flooded.
Like wild beasts in a den, the rainclouds
Sprawl about in shaggy disorder.

In such weather, I dream of a volume
On the beauties of Earth in our age,
And I draw an imp of the forest
Just for you on the title-page.

Oh, Marina, I'd find it no burden,
And the time has been long overdue:
Your sad clay should be brought from Yelabuga
By a requiem written for you.

All the triumph of your homecoming
I considered last year in a place
Near a snow-covered bend in the river
Where boats winter, locked in the ice.

What can I do to be of service?
Convey somehow your own request,
For in the silence of your going
There's a reproach left unexpressed.

A loss is always enigmatic.
I hunt for clues to no avail,
And rack my brains in fruitless torment:
Death has no lineaments at all.

Words left half-spoken…

George Sand's letter to Alfred de Musset

Venice, May 12th, 1834

No, my dear child, these three letters are not the last oath of the lover who leaves you; these are the hug of the brother who is still with you. That feeling is too beautiful, too pure and too gentle for me to ever need to cease feeling it. Let not my memory poison any pleasure of your life. But do not let these pleasures destroy and despise my memory. Be happy, be loved - how would you not? But keep me in secret corner of your heart and go down there when you are saddest to find solace or support.

Go on, love, my Alfred;
Love once and for all.
Love a young, beautiful woman
Who has never loved yet.

Spare her and do not hurt her.
The heart of a woman is such a delicate thing.

When it is a ice cube or a stone,
I believe that there is almost nothing in between.
And it is the same
With your way to love.

Your soul is bound to ardently love
Or to totally harden.
You said it numerous times
And tried but did not manage to retract.

Nothing, nothing did erase that sentence.
There is noth…

Daily Disaffirmation - Witold Gombrowicz's Diary

When Witold Gombrowicz departed Poland on the liner Chrobry in 1939, he was a minor literary figure unknown beyond his native country, the author of a collection of short stories, a play that virtually no one reviewed, and the novel Ferdydurke, his absurdist provocation that offered him a toehold among the more progressive critics and intellectuals in Warsaw. That July, Gombrowicz set sail for Argentina on the maiden voyage of the newly christened Chrobry as part of a cultural tour for the Polish government. The ship reached Buenos Aires a month later, just as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Germany was announced. A week later, when Germany invaded Poland and the ship was given the order to return at once, Gombrowicz made an apparently last-minute and fateful decision to stay in Argentina, which spared him the terrors of wartime Poland but left him in a country where he was cut off from his livelihood, not to mention the culture and language of his native cou…

William Butler Yeats: When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Mezquita Cathedral, Córdoba, Spain

The Mezquita (Spanish for "Mosque") of Cordoba, Spain is a beautiful and fascinating building that symbolizes the many religious changes Cordoba has undergone over the centuries. Today, the Mezquita is the cathedral of Cordoba (officially the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption), but the vast majority of its art and architecture owes its origin to the Islamic architects who built it as a mosque in the 8th century.

Lao Tzu: The supreme good is like water

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don't compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.

Kahlil Gibran: Love

Then said Almitra, "Speak to us of Love."

And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them.

And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.

He threshes you to make you naked.

He sifts you to free you from your husks.

He grinds you to whiteness.

He kneads you until you are pliant;

And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that y…

Franz Kafka and Milena Jesenska

Milena Jesenská (pronounced Mee-leh-nah Yeh-sen-skah) was born August 10, 1896 in Prague to Dr. Jan Jesenský, a dentist and professor of medicine at Charles University in Prague, and Milena (Hejzlarová) Jesenská (in Czech and other Slavic languages, women's last names have a feminine ending). Her family was a conservative Catholic one, and although she got along well with her mother, she feared and later rebelled against her severe, strict father, with whom she had major problems throughout her life, much like Franz Kafka's problems with his own father. When Milena was about three, a son was born to her parents but soon died. Her mother died when she was 16, leaving her alone with her father, whose fathering abilities were nonexistent, and after that she pretty much did what she liked. She was sent to the Minerva Girls' Academy in Prague, which turned out to be a hotbed of new ideas, such as feminism. She had a very dear friend, Staša Procházková, and they were so c…

Anna Akhmatova: Memoir on Modigliani

When you're drunk it's so much fun --
Your stories don't make sense.
An early fall has strung
The elms with yellow flags.
We've strayed into the land of deceit
And we're repenting bitterly,
Why then are we smiling these
Strange and frozen smiles?
We wanted piercing anguish
Instead of placid happiness. . .
I won't abandon my friend,
So dissolute and mild.

1911 (Paris) -- translated by Judith Hemschemeyer Originally published (in Russian) in the book Evening, 1912

‘In 1910, I saw him very rarely, just a few times. But he wrote to me during the whole winter. I remember some sentences from his letters. One was: Vous êtes en moi comme une hantise (You are obsessively part of me). He did not tell me that he was writing poems.

I know now that what most fascinated him about me was my ability to read other people’s thoughts, to dream other people’s dreams and a few other things of which everyone who knew me had long since been aware. He repeatedly said to me: On commu…

Canetti, Man of Mystery

As a literary type after World War Two, the German-speaking International Man of Mystery found Britain a more comfortable land of exile than America, where he was always under pressure to explain himself in public, thereby dissipating the mystery. The chief mystery was about his reason for not going back to German-speaking Europe. Before the mysterious W.G. Sebald there was the even more mysterious Elias Canetti. While the Nazis were in power, Canetti had excellent reasons to be in London. But now that the Nazis were gone, why was he still there?

Like Sebald later on, Canetti might have found Britain a suitable context for pulling off the trick of becoming a famous name without very many people knowing precisely who he was. Canetti even got the 1981 Nobel Prize for Literature, and people still didn’t know who he was. He was a Viennese Swiss Bulgarian refugee with an impressively virile moustache; he was Iris Murdoch’s lover; he was a mystery. Apart from a sociological treatise called…