Friday, 11 August 2017

"This is among the most valuable work produced in our time"

The above quote comes from James Merrill and it refers to Theodore Weiss's collected poems (1950 - 1986) titled 'From Princeton One Autumn Afternoon'.

Weiss (1916 - 2003) writes: An ideal I have held before me is a poetry, a language, absorbed in and exploiting its own immense resources yet, at the same time, transparent to the world at large.

Unfortunately for 'the world at large' or in this case the small portion of it that has nothing better to do than to read this humble blog of mine I have to disappoint Mr Weiss and his potential new reader.

My copy of the 436 page tome contains no less than three copyright notices - one inside and two on the back flap. Respecting these Canadian and American notices which contain words like 'no part of this book may be reproduced' and 'all rights reserved' and 'without permission in writing' I cannot help Mr Weiss reach 'the world at large' much as I would like to. And this is unfortunate.

We are living at a time in history when poems like 'Gunsight' (An interior monologue that records, through the voices in him, the sensations and memories of a wounded soldier undergoing surgery) might deserve a wider audience.

Mother, why do you, pale as hoarfrost glimmer-
ing on leaves, my blood upon your lips,

M. L. Rosenthal says : The book is like a living tree: a talking, thinking, witty, changing, affectionate, serious Weiss-tree, unique in our American poetical garden.

James Dickey calls the poet's work: visionary.

Richard Eberhart speaks of a: richly indexed mind.

Weiss's poetry 'explores the human and natural condition . . . cuts through our individual predicaments and probes such pervasive matters as our historical circumstances, the refugee state most of us are in, the relentless search for basic identity and, finally, the problems of aging and dying'.

The title poem 'From Princeton One Autumn Afternoon' opens and closes:

Dear Zbigniew Herbert,

Someone said all poems compose
one poem. Who's to judge him wrong?

. . .


                   But as the newest
critics tell us, it's a mistake,
if not a downright fake, to think
a work, whether it be painting,
poem, song, belongs to anyone.
By god

. . .

barefoot into glory,
immortal, in their name-free works.

                                   Theodore Weiss

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Wallace Stevens creating a scene

-  from Wallace Stevens' Esthetique du Mal


Life is a bitter aspic. We are not
At the center of a diamond. At dawn,
The paratroopers  fall and as they fall
They mow the lawn. A vessel sinks in waves
Of people, as big bell-billows from its bell
Bell-below in the village steeple. Violets,
Great tufts, spring up from buried houses
Of poor, dishonest people, for whom the steeple,
Long since, rang out farewell, farewell, farewell.

Natives of poverty, children of malheur,                                            
The gaiety of language is our seigneur.

                            . . .

Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955)

Esthetique du Mal is a 14-page poem of 15 verses. The poem is to be found in the collection Transport to Summer which was was published in 1947, and in The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (a book to be treasured) which was published in 1955, the year of Stevens' passing, and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

The Malheur Bell was the trademark of the Malheur Telephone Company of Oregon which was founded in 1895 and ceased operations in 2009.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


An acrylic cut and paste job. 

A solution of sorts.   

Two grimly unhappy paintings, a seascape and a landscape, were uncaringly immolated and the sacrificial leftovers uncompromisingly glued together for life. 

With the end result: 

The sea is now the sky.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

And another strange plant . . .

This 3 to 4 foot high plant was found growing alone in an uncultivated area situated between a vineyard and an old quarry in a location not far from the town of Retz (see post below).

Thoughts on what this oddity might be would be very welcome!

Mystery solved!

See 'comments'.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Vineyards, Churches and Ossuaries, and much much more!

The Wineviertel is a wine growing area in the north-east of Austria near Moravia (CZ).

On a recent visit I found an abundance of signposted bicycling routes and scenic hiking trails.

A street of wine cellars

The town of Retz which has a railway station makes a good base.

Retz boasts a Fahrrad Museum - Bicycle Museum.

The posters on the gates mention a special exhibition - 200 Years - The Story of the Bicycle - which runs until 31st October 2017.

Retz - town square

All roads lead to Rome and the Krakau-to-Rome Pilgrims Way passes this landmark: 

The Windmill of Retz 

A wonderful area to visit. Good value for money. And not overwhelmed with tourists! 

Pulkau Waldbad

Thursday, 20 July 2017

le tour


through sunflower fields 

              eyes on the road 

Mellow Yellow

Friday, 14 July 2017

Sun on the Danube

a golden sunset 

a riverside picnic   and insects 
sucking our blood

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Rainbow at twilight (Waldviertel - Austria)

Art is like nature. If you do not let it in through a door, it will enter through a window.
- Samuel Butler

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

What is a Stoic?

A 5 minute introduction. Please watch on You Tube. 
Marcus Aurelius is my prophet! 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Big Green Thing

She tells me to hurry.

It was "flitting about  

like a butterfly"

When I fetch the camera 

it is on the ground 

by the watering can. 

Hurriedly snapping. Focus on auto. 

No hint 

of skills.  

Waves of its feelers - it finds the green 

bush. And 

is gon

ps - Length of 'The Big Green Thing': from nose to tail about 10 to 12 cms.

Sunday, 25 June 2017


Reflect often how all the life of today is a repetition of the past; and observe that it also presages what is to come. Review the many complete dramas and their settings, all so similar, which you have known in your own experience, or from bygone history: the whole court-circle of Hadrian, for example, or the court of Antonius, or the courts of Philip, Alexander, and Croesus.
The performance is always the same; it is only the actors who       change.    
                                                           Meditations - Book 10 no. 27
Marcus Aurelius

'That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.'

'. . . after 45 years of research and study the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.' 

Aldous Huxley

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Black Bear, Burning Bush and Mystery Flower

A small nature reserve to the south of Vienna was the setting for today's adventure. Intended to be a recovery jog after last week's half-marathon (see Bard on the Run) it turned into a walk of discovery. Fortunately I had my camera with me. 

Please can someone identify the mystery (to me) orangey-brown flower immediately above the stone cat? I saw perhaps half a dozen of these flowers. Nobody I spoke to could say what they were.*

*Mystery solved. It's a Yellow Broomrape. And a lovely one too! 

Arctia Villica (Cream-Spot Tiger Moth (Eng) or Black Bear (Ger)

Dictamnus Albus - Diptam or Burning Bush (Ger)

Orbanche lutea - Yellow Broomrape (Eng) Gelbe Sommerwurz (Ger)

Friday, 26 May 2017

Meditations: Book 10, Meditation 37

from Meditations:

At every action, no matter by whom performed, make it a practice to ask yourself, "What is his object in doing this?"  But begin with yourself, put this question to yourself first of all. 

Marcus Auerlius 

(121 - 180)

The beginning of Ramadan is marked by the killing of 23 Coptic Christians in Cairo. It is another Friday. Another day of prayers for Muslims. The latest atrocity follows on the heels of the carnage
in Manchester. In an effort to understand what's behind all this I'm rereading Pulitzer  Prize Winner The Looming Tower. I think there's no better book on the subject.

For those who ask 'Why?'   

" . . . describes the contorted intellectual journey that has taken place among some Muslims . . . which allows a holy book . . . to be used to justify catastrophic terrorism." - Financial Times

" . . . untangles the anxieties, resentments, aspirations and ideals that have driven and defined radical Islam." - Los Angeles Times 

" . . . extensively researched, gripping tale of the growth of Islamic radicalism." - The Indianapolis Star

" . . . Wright's book is my new touchstone. None of the previous books led me to say 'Aha, now I think I understand' as frequently." - The Boston Globe

"Should be required reading for every American . . . yes, it is that good." - The Christian Science Monitor 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Weeping Angel of Dresden and the Memorial Chapel

Robert H. Lee (1915-2007)
The Weeping Angel
Presented to the Frauenkirche in 1998

British Artist, Craftsman and Prisoner of War in Freital,
whose love of Dresden never dimmed. Carved in lime
wood, painted and distressed, the Angel aims to represent
the sorrow and suffering of the survivors. It is the artist's
personal tribute to the beauty of Dresden and his expression
of respect for the people of Saxony, whose pain he shared.

Another place of worship in Dresden is the Cathedral of the Bishopric Dresden-Meissen built by the Italian architect Gaetano Chiaveri in late baroque style and completed in 1754. This building was also destroyed by bombs on the 13th February 1945.

Reconstruction began immediately following the war's end.

The Pieta in the daylight-flooded Memorial Chapel was created from Meissen porcelain by Friederich Press in 1976.

Dear Lord,
we have lost the means. 
We waiver from one side 
to another
and find no foothold.

Give us your hand, O Lord,
and lead us out of the darkness -
you know the way. 

Dear Lord, I thank you,
that I may come to you -
with my joy
and my sorrow,
with my faith
and my doubt,
with my plans
and my lack of direction.

I can tell you everything.
I can ask you for anything.
You listen to my prayers sometimes
differently than I would like -
but always,
that it may serve me the best. 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Henderson Island: 'X' no longer marks the spot.

Palm fringed


tropical paradise.

Friday eat your heart out.

A place to die for.

Henderson Island.

A treasured spot on our blue planet.

And thriving on the golden beaches

               37 million ". . . pieces of rubbish . . . "  

to quote an official mouthpiece.

I smell a rat.

in this unsightly vomit of progress -

this voluminous regurgitation

of countless tons

of seaborne garbage.

Here is the new normal.

'X' no longer

marks the spot.

*Island in Pitcairn group.
9km. long. 27 km coastline.
Total area 36 sq km.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Summer on the way . . .

the dawn 

 her early light alights

so soft inside my window

Sun flowers

the rosebush set,

the daffodils deadheaded . . . 

 how quick they grow - these lions' teeth 

Löwenzähne - The teeth of lions

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Heavenly Superstars!

 The star nursery in the Buttercup Cloud 

 The constellation of Ranunculus in the Little Frog Galaxy 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

TV Repair Men

My favourite PG Tips advert. 

View this and others on YouTube and give them your 'thumbs up'!

Nothing beats a nice cup of tea.

Monday, 1 May 2017

I can believe

given the vastness
of the cosmos

and its immense age

that there are super-
intelligent entities

out there

in the darkness (or somewhere) -


or twenty
or one hundred

or two hundred


a billion

or more. Observers
of everything 

everywhere. Keepers 

of records.  Our
wars and our


the poverty of our days
of mistrust

perhaps worth a footnote -

but scarcely of interest
to most. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Frank Fearless Free

Britain's newspapers -  have they had their chips?  

Courage and integrity are history.  Britain's main stream media is today a mere shadow of its former self. 

The Guardian was silenced. It's computers smashed. That was the end. 

Once proud and exemplary when it came to news reporting the UK finds itself in free-fall and in a humbling 40th place, one place below the French in the Press Freedom Index. 

Norway heads the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom List with Sweden and Finland in second and third places.

The following are taken from the 2017 Press Freedom list:

1 - Norway
2 - Sweden
3 - Finland
4 - Denmark
5 - Holland

11 - Austria
14 - Ireland
16 - Germany
19 - Australia

22 - Canada
23 - Czech Republic

39 - France

40 - United Kingdom
43 - United States of America

52 - Italy
54 - Poland

71 - Hungary

88 - Greece

91 - Israel
97 - Tunisia
99 - Lebanon

155 - Turkey*

180 - North Korea

*EU candidate country

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Monday, 24 April 2017

Time for coffee and a quote

In the end you will lay your freedom at our feet and say - 'Make us your slaves, but feed us' 

- Fyodor Michailowitsch Dostojewski