Monday, 18 September 2017

D H Lawrence poem: 'Man and Bat'


When I went into my room, at mid-morning,
Say ten o'clock . . .
My room, a crash-box over that great stone rattle
The Via de' Bardi . . .

When I went into my room at mid-morning,
Why? . . . a bird!

A bird
Flying round the room in insane circles.

In insane circles!
. . .  A bat!

A disgusting bat
At mid-morning! . . .

Out! Go out!

Round and round and round
With a twitchy, nervous, intolerable flight,
And a neurasthenic lunge,
And an impure frenzy;
A bat, big as a swallow.

Out, out of my room!

The venetian shutters I push wide
To the free, calm upper air;
Loop back the curtains . . .

Now out, out from my room!

So to drive him out, flicking with my white handkerchief;
   Go!
But he will not.

Round and round and round
In an impure haste,
Fumbling, a beast in air,
And stumbling, lunging and touching the walls, the
   bell-wires
About my room!

Always refusing to go out into the air
Above that crash-gulf of the Via de' Bardi,
Yet blind with frenzy, with cluttered fear.

At last he swerved into the window bay,
But blew back, as if an incoming wind blew him in again,
A strong inrushing wind.

And round and round and round!
Blundering more insane, and leaping, in throbs, to clutch
   at a corner,
At a wire, at a bell-rope:
On and on, watched relentless by me, round and round in
   my room,
Round and round and dithering with tiredness and haste
   and increasing delirium
Flicker-splashing round my room.

I would not let him rest;
Not one instant cleave, cling like a blot with his breast to
   the wall
In an obscure corner.
Not an instant!
I flicked him on,
Trying to drive him through the window.
Again he swerved into the window bay
And I ran forward, to frighten him forth.
But he rose, and from terror worse than me he flew past me
Back into my room, and round, round, round in my room
Clutch, cleave, stagger,
Dropping about the air
Getting tired.

Something seemed to blow him back from the window
Every time he swerved at it;
Back on a strange parabola, then round, round, dizzy
   in my room.

He could not go out,
I also realized  . . .
It was the light of day which he could not enter,
Any more than I could enter the white-hot door of a blast
   furnace.

He could not plunge into the daylight that streamed at the
   window.
It was asking too much of his nature.

Worse even than the hideous terror of me with my
   handkerchief
Saying: Out, go out! . . .
Was the horror of white daylight in the window!

So I switched on the electric light, thinking: Now
The outside will seem brown . . .

But no.
The outside did not seem brown.
And he did not mind the yellow electric light.

Silent!
He was having a silent rest.
But never!
Not in my room.

Round and round and round
Near the ceiling as if in a web,
Staggering;
Plunging, falling out of the web,
Broken in heaviness,
Lunging blindly,
Heavier;
And clutching, clutching for one second's pause,
Always, as if for one drop of rest,
One little drop.

And I!
Never, I say . . .
Get out!

Flying slower,
Seeming to stumble, to fall in air.
Blind-weary.

Yet never able to pass the whiteness of light into
   freedom . . .
A bird would have dashed through, come what might.

Fall, sink, lurch, and round and round
Flicker, flicker-heavy;
Even wings heavy;
And cleave in a high corner for a second, like a clot, also a
   prayer.

But no.
Out you beast.

Till he fell in a corner, palpitating, spent.
And there, a clot, he squatted and looked at me.
With sticking-out, bead-berry eyes, black,
And improper derisive ears,
And shut wings,
And brown, furry body.

Brown, nut-brown, fine fur!
But it might as well have been hair on a spider; thing
With long, black-paper ears.

So, a dilemma!
He squatted there like something unclean.

No, he must not squat, nor hang, obscene, in my room!

Yet nothing on earth will give him courage to pass the
   sweet fire of day.

What then?
Hit him and kill him and throw him away?

Nay,
I didn't create him.
Let the God that created him be responsible for his
   death . . .
Only, in the bright day, I will not have this clot in my
   room.

Let the God who is maker of bats watch them in their
   unclean corners . . .
I admit a God in every crevice,
But not bats in my room;
Nor the God of bats, while the sun shines.

So out, out, you brute! . . .
And he lunged, flight-heavy, away from me, sideways, a
   sghembo!
And round and round and round my room, a clot with
   wings,
Impure even in weariness.

Wings dark and skinny and flapping the air,
Lost their flicker.
Spent.

He fell again with a little thud
Near the curtain on the floor.
And there lay.

Ah death, death
You are no solution!
Bats must be bats.

Only life has a way out.
And the human soul is fated to wide-eyed responsibility
In life.

So I picked him up in a flannel jacket,
Well covered, lest he should bite me.
For I would have had to kill him if he'd bitten me, the
   impure one . . .
And he hardly stirred in my hand muffled up.

Hastily, I shook him out of the window.

And away he went!
Fear craven in his tail.
Great haste, and straight, almost bird straight above the
   Via de Bardi.
Above the crash-gulf of exploding whips,
Towards the Borgo San Jacopo.

And now, at evening, as he flickers over the river
Dipping with petty triumphant flight, and twittering over the
   sun's departure,
I believe he chirps, pipistrello, seeing me here on this
terrace writing:
There he sits, the long loud one!
But I am greater than he . . .
I escaped him . . .


- D H Lawrence (Firenze, Italia)

After typing the above I went for a trail run in the morning sun. When I reached a point where I had to cross a busy main road which ran through the trees of the Vienna Woods a man and a dog suddenly appeared.

The dog, which was not on a lead and not muzzled, ran up to me and then back to the man who tried to put him on the lead, but it was too late for the dog now ran into the road and ran back and forth crossing the road several times before running "round and round and round in an impure haste" and "as if in a web staggering" and "lunging blindly" which now caused oncoming drivers to stop. One driver shouted abuse in the direction of the dog's owner and shook his fist. Another driver pipped his horn politely.

Let the God who created dogs be responsible for their fate I thought when one of the vehicles almost collided with the crazed animal.

The dog's owner eventually grabbed hold of his of his pet by the collar and I said to him: Many dogs behave like this. Maybe more than you can imagine.

Continuing my run I wondered if this incident was an example of synchronicity, or only a mere coincidence.



Sunday, 17 September 2017

from 'Bat' -D H Lawrence


And you think:
'The swallows are flying so late!'

Swallows?

Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop . . .
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.

Never swallows!
Bats!
The swallows are gone.

At a wavering instant the swallows give way to bats
By the Ponte Vecchio . . .
Changing guard.

Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one's scalp
As the bats swoop overhead!
Flying madly.

Pipistrello!
Black piper on an infitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in the air and have voices indefinite,
wildly vindictive;

Wings like bits of umbrella.

Bats!

Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
And disgustingly upside down.
Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
And grinning in their sleep.


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Lost and Found - a short story.


I pressed a cigarette on my friend Dai as he passed his eye over the map. He quickly picked up the trail.

We overlooked the valley the river and the forest. The trail was not so hot and the walk was no bed of roses.

My friend kept a cool head.

He lives on hope and is thin on top.

I decided to nip on ahead.

Leaving the forest and following the river I drank in the view and dredged up the old memories. I revisited the photo on the old sideboard. My father dressed to kill and my mother pretty as a picture.

I recalled how they drifted through life before they finally drank themselves to death. A jealous man he'd dogged her every step.

One night they dropped me at the station.

One man's poison is another man's poisson, was the last thing he said. He was right. I felt it in my bones.

Uncle Claude was hanging about on the platform. He fished a watch out of his pocket. I'll fix you! he growled when he saw me.

We hadn't gone far when he flooded me with questions. The night flashed by.

I felt a jar as the train stopped.

Uncle Claude was a strange one. A beer drinking Belgian he'd ferret about in every corner. Sometimes he feigned to be dead. Other times he'd flared up at the least thing and give me the rough edge of his tongue.

Aunty Dot was an old gas-bag and a heavy chain smoker. When she got herself up she would gather her hair into a bun.

She was impossible to please and always nagging me to get my skates on which gave me the hump when I wanted to loaf about.

It never rains but it pours was her favourite idiom.

And like the rain I ran away.

And then I suddenly realized it was raining cats and dogs.

I looked around and saw the Green Lion.

And that's where I dropped in and found Dai with his head in a glass.

Hello there, what's your poison? said a man polishing a glass with a broad grin.

And who do you think it was but my Uncle Claude, and he quickly pulled a half.

Aunty Dot went off with the milkman so I've sold the house and taken this pub. Tonight we'll smoke the calumet of peace, he said.

Never say die, I said.

I'd better have another one said Dai in the corner, laughing his head off.


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Friday, 15 September 2017

Ferry boats in the Salzkammergut


Karl Eder passing the Traunstein  mountain (Traunsee)

The Hallstatt to Steeg ferry boat (Halst├Ąttersee)

The paddle steamer Kaiser Franz Josef in St Gilgen (Wolfgangsee)

During the summer months the scenery of the Salzkammergut (Austrian Lake District) is best appreciated by taking the ferry boats, not only because the lakeside roads can become congested during the peak season but also because the panoramic views of the lakes and the hills as seen from the ferry boats are amongst the best the region has to offer.

Aside from the three lakes pictured above, the lakes of Mondsee, Attersee, Fuschlsee and Ausseersee  are serviced by a variety of ferry boats.

The Ausseersee ferry is notable as it is powered using solar energy; proof that it doesn't rain in the mountains all of the time!

The above mentioned lakes and surrounding villages are connected by bus and train services (or a combination of both).

Don't forget your camera!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

To the Moon




Out of compassion
I love you;

Out of the shadow
And into the light, 

Away from indifference,
 This moonrise together.



Fake Views, not Fake News!



Via a recent news item on a German TV channel we were recently informed of a new trend regarding the publishing or more correctly none-publishing of photos of crosses on churches and mountains. 

The newscaster stated that crosses on rooftops in photos of picturesque buildings such as churches featured on wrappers of products like Greek cheese on sale in Germany were being erased, so as not to offend. 

The news programme showed a before and after photo, that is to say with and without the cross on an old church by the seashore, to make the point. 

But what really made me sit up and pay attention was the news that picture postcards on sale in Germany showing the peak of the highest mountain of Germany, the Zugspitz, were now on sale with the summit cross erased. 

Here's a photo of a summit cross on a mountain in the French Alps. It also shows an eight-pointed star. I hope nobody is offended. 



Crosses and cairns on mountain summits are great navigation points. In fact crosses are amongst the oldest of human symbols and predate all religions.

The original crosses served to mark a time and place in space.

The time is shown by the horizontal line and the place by the vertical line. When you stand next to a cross you know exactly where you are in space-time.

You are where the lines cross. Always. And everywhere. 

The question is: Now that crosses are being erased from picture postcards and food wrappers how long will it be before the real crosses are physically removed from the mountain peaks of Germany and the churches so as not to offend? 


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Tale of the Turtle


Cyprus - sunset over a stormy sea (detail) 

I've told this story somewhere once before. I think it bears telling again.

Before my holiday in Cyprus I'd read in a guide book that a large quantity of sand had been taken illegally from a beach in a nature conservation area; a place where turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand.

The sand had been removed in order to fill bunkers on a golf course. The information in the guide book went so far as to name the main culprit, a man in a very high position in the church in Cyprus who honestly, in my opinion, should have known better.

The driver of one of the trucks hauling the sand told investigators that he was obeying orders from above, according to the information in the guide book.

Armed with this knowledge I flew to Cyprus. I was already on the side of the turtles.

We stayed near an area where it is said that Aphrodite came ashore - walked out of the waves like a modern movie star.

One morning I went for a walk along a pebbled beach and in the distance I saw something lying on the stones. I went nearer and discovered it was a dead turtle. It had clearly suffocated. It's head was wrapped in a transparent plastic bag.

I wondered what to do with the turtle. After a few minutes of debating the problem with myself I decided to return it to the sea. I threw it into the waves. It was quite large and heavy and I couldn't throw it far enough at first - the waves brought it back in.  At the third attempt, with all my strength I managed to throw it far enough to catch a wave which held it and finally carried it away.

I decided not to tell anybody about the incident.

And I didn't, until the next day, when a strange event took place.

It went like this:

I was walking along the beach with a companion when she suddenly decided to sit down and look at the sea. The funny thing was that she had chosen the exact spot where the turtle had been.

I sat alongside her, but I didn't say anything . . . that is  until I saw the stone which lay at my feet.

Here it is:



I think of it as a turtle rising above the waves. 


The following day there was a tremendous storm. The seas were so rough that ships were unable to approach the island.

On the day we left we read in a local newspaper that permission had been given for eight new golf courses on the island.