20.8.17: Sleep is a Reconciling

This is the fourth post in my ‘Peace Poems’ series; be sure to click through to the Category to see the rest of the posts.

Weep You No More, Sad Fountains – Anon.

Weep you no more, sad fountains;
What need you flow so fast?
Look how the snowy mountains
Heaven’s sun doth gently waste.
But my sun’s heavenly eyes
View not your weeping,
That now lie sleeping
Softly, now softly lies
Sleeping.
Sleep is a reconciling,
A rest that peace begets.
Doth not the sun rise smiling
When fair at even he sets?
Rest you then, rest, sad eyes,
Melt not in weeping
While she lies sleeping
Softly, now softly lies
Sleeping.
Peace Direct
Peace Direct is an NGO with offices in London, Washington DC, and New York. They work in countries that are often forgotten by our news services, like Burundi, Sri Lanka and Somalia – preventing conflict, advocating human rights, and fighting trafficking.
They also run ‘Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Awards’, telling powerful stories of people working for peace, and celebrating those ventures. I love this concept so much!
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s ‘Peace Poems’ instalment – thank you for reading, and have a lovely day.
Dani

19.8.17: Stars to Hold

This is the third post in my ‘Peace Poems’ series; be sure to click through to the Category to see the rest of the posts.

Peace – Sara Teasdale

Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
It ebbs not back like the sea.

I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.

I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies–
You are my deepening skies,
Give me your stars to hold.

Save the Children

You’ve probably heard of Save the Children, but their Syria Crisis Appeal seemed particularly relevant. Over 11 million people have been displaced due to the conflict in Syria – for perspective, that’s the same as the entire population of Greece. And many people are still trapped in besieged areas. The word ‘crisis’ is kind of losing its meaning right now, but this situation is exactly that.

It is not all negative though. Save the Children have people working in Syria to provide food and water, keep schools running, and provide emotional support for traumatised children. They’re working with partners to reach the most vulnerable children and families.

It’s so encouraging to me that people devote so much time and energy to help those who need it so badly. If you’re interested in learning more, or making a donation, the Syria page is here.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

18.8.17: Up the Sun’s Path

This is the second post in my ‘Peace Poems’ series; be sure to click through to the Category to see the rest of the posts.

Peace: A Study – Charles Stuart Calverley

He stood, a worn-out City clerk —
Who’d toil’d, and seen no holiday,
For forty years from dawn to dark —
Alone beside Caermarthen Bay.
He felt the salt spray on his lips;
Heard children’s voices on the sands;
Up the sun’s path he saw the ships
Sail on and on to other lands;
And laugh’d aloud. Each sight and sound
To him was joy too deep for tears;
He sat him on the beach, and bound
A blue bandana round his ears
And thought how, posted near his door,
His own green door on Camden Hill,
Two bands at least, most likely more,
Were mingling at their own sweet will
Verdi with Vance. And at the thought
He laugh’d again, and softly drew
That Morning Herald that he’d bought
Forth from his breast, and read it through.

Against MAlaria Foundation.png

Today’s charity is the Against Malaria Foundation. According to their website, Malaria affects 400 million people every year – that makes this disease a humanitarian issue, as well as an economic issue. Deaths from Malaria are preventable, but when people lack bed nets to protect themselves from carrier mosquitoes, hospitals are forced to spend millions every year on treatments.

Against Malaria Foundation has already distributed over 4 million nets to people in need, but there’s more that can be done! If you’re interested in learning a bit more about their process, take a look at this page.

Each long-lasting insecticide treated net costs just $2.50, so if today you feel like you could spare the cash, consider buying someone a mosquito net. It’s such a small gesture, but it could literally save a life.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

17.8.17: Patience Exquisite

This is the first post in my ‘Peace Poems’ series; be sure to click through to the Category to see the rest of the posts.

Peace – Gerard Manley Hopkins

When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I’ll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?

O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.

Refugee Action

The first charity I want to talk about is UK-based: Refugee Action. They work with asylum seekers as they move into their new country, helping them settle in and giving advice as they build their lives again from scratch. Although there have been a lot of complaints about the number of immigrants coming into Britain, it’s important to note that asylum seekers – that is, people who have been forced to leave their homes because of violent situations – don’t even make up a quarter of a percent of the UK’s population. (0.24%)

I love their motto: ‘Dignity not Destitution’. Refugee Action is a group that sees asylum seekers for what they really are: people.

If you’d like to help – whether that’s by campaigning for refugee rights, fundraising, volunteering, or even getting a job with Refugee Action – there’s a lot more information on this page.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Peace Poems

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of things suck right now. There are tensions between the USA and North Korea, protests in Venezuela, ongoing unrest in the Middle East and an overwhelming refugee situation in Europe…the list goes on and on to the extent that it can be disheartening. Sometimes it feels like there’s just no way all of this can be fixed.

But the thing is, life doesn’t have to be this way. I am in no way saying we should ignore other people’s problems, but I do think listening to bad news all the time leads to a really miserable existence.

That’s why every day for the next two weeks, I’m going to share a ‘Peace Poem’ (a poem that reminds us of what’s good in the world, and what human harmony can be like) and a charity or group of people who are working to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives.

This isn’t a guilt trip, but I do hope it will inspire you! We may be far away from the conflicts, or they may be right on our doorsteps, but know this: there is still good. There are still good people and good projects and good things that we can support. We don’t need to sit back and watch the world go down in flames: let’s stay hopeful, let’s stay helpful, and above all: let’s not detach ourselves from other peoples’ realities.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ll see you tomorrow with the first post in this series, but until then – thank you for reading, and have a lovely day.

Dani

If you have a poem or a charity that you would like me to include, drop me an email or comment below.

 

Review: You Break What Falls – Robert Okaji

You Break What Falls – Robert Okaji – 4 stars

‘You Break What Falls’ is a quick little poetry collection which you can access (for free!) here. It consists of six little poems, and guys – I would suggest it’s worth a look!

Each poem is succinct and thoughtfully crafted, grounded in tangibility, and yet light with abstraction. Although there were points where the philosophy felt a little heavy-handed (especially in ‘In Praise of Rain’), as a whole the collection was delightful to read. I loved the almost haiku-like simplicity of the lines, and the way each poem focused on specificity without running out of things to say.

My particular favourite of the collection was ‘Mirror’ – it was so perfectly contained that it left me wanting to give someone a sincere yet animated high five.

The other thing is, Okaji excels at last lines. Every single on of these poems is rounded off neatly, concisely, and without limiting the breadth of meaning behind the poems.

Have you read through this collection? Which would be your favourite poem?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Movements: Beat Poets

So I recently watched the Chilean movie ‘No!’ which details the plebiscite in 1980, in which the country overthrew a particularly nasty dictatorship. One thing that really inspired me about the film was the way that media played a huge part in the campaign; people literally ‘used their words’, and completely changed the direction of the country.

I love the idea that literature can be so powerful, so I’m starting a little series of posts under the title of ‘Movements’, talking about literary movements that worked to positively affect their society. Today we’re starting with the Beat Poets!

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night

-from ‘Howl’ by Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg was an American poet (among many other things) who graduated from Columbia University in the 1940’s. It was at university that he made friends with Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy, and William S Bourroughs. These men would all be leading figures in what would come to be known as the ‘Beat Generation’, or the ‘Beat Movement’.

In part, the movement was a response to the end of World War Two, and a protest against the Vietnam War. Most Beat literature was popularised during the 1950’s, and was concerned with criticising a lot of core cultural aspects of America. Its essence was the questioning of the mainstream, and defying the norms of culture and of literature.

Ginsberg wrote:

Since art is merely and ultimately self-expressive, we conclude that the fullest art, the most individual, uninfluenced, unrepressed, uninhibited expression of art is true expression and the true art.

-Source

Although this was never a huge movement in terms of the number of participators, it was highly influencial, and it has been argued that the hippy movement of the 1960’s found its roots in Beat Poetry.

Many writers involved with this movement were also very interested in meditation, Eastern religion, and hallucinogenic drugs; they were looking to reach a higher consciousness, and were not content to remain within the traditions of their society.

Got up and dressed up
and went out & got laid
Then died and got buried
in a coffin in the grave,
Man—
Yet everything is perfect,
Because it is empty,
Because it is perfect
with emptiness,
Because it’s not even happening.

– from ‘Mexico City Blues’ by Jack Kerouac

Is this movement something you’d heard of before? Do you have any favourite poems from this group? And what other movements would you like to see a post about?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

Hold Out Your Arms

I was saddened to hear yesterday about the passing of Helen Dunmore. You’ve probably heard of her: she was an award-winning writer, having authored 10 poetry collections, and 12 novels. She was 64 years old, and had only recently been diagnosed with cancer.

But what really struck me about this news was the release by her family of a poem she’d written in her last days. The poem – entitled ‘Hold Out Your Arms’ – is reproduced in this Guardian article, and I really recommend you check it out – there’s something beautifully innocent about her portrayal of death, and although it is a sober read, it is both chilling and peaceful.

As you push back my hair
– Which could do with a comb
But never mind –
You murmur
‘We’re nearly there.’

Dani

Month in Books: February/March 2016

This year I’ve been reading (if that’s the right word?) so many audiobooks. I honestly can’t get enough of them – how great is it to have a random voice reading you stories while you bake/paint your nails/practice being an artisan/partake in general fun activities? It’s ideal.

But this post isn’t just for rambling about audiobooks; here’s what I read in February!

The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper – James Carnac – 4 stars This is allegedly an old document written by a man who claims to have been Jack the Ripper. It’s intense, deeply disturbing, and really quite scary. It is also well written and very quick to read. I have no idea if it is legitimate.

That’s…actually all I completed in February. Hey, it’s a short month. I did decide that was a bit meagre though, so here’s March as well.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge – 4 stars I’ve been studying Gothic poetry, and this was the only one I felt was long enough to warrant a mention here. I did enjoy it – visually, it was very intense, and the story was vivid and unusual. It does kind of ruin things when you have to study them though.

The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman – 5 stars This is a Gothic short story that deals with the way people used to treat mental illness. It’s powerful and more than a little bit scary! I thought it was really wonderfully handled, though.

Confess – Colleen Hoover – 4 stars This is a contemporary romance (I think), set in the States. I’ve heard a lot about Ms. Hoover, and although none of her books jumped out to me as particularly exciting, I decided to give this one a chance. It was a real page-turner, and it was a good story…I’m just not sure that it was especially memorable. I may have just chosen the wrong book, but I may not be a Colleen Hoover person.

How to Live on 24 Hours a Day – Arnold Bennett – 3 stars This is a nonfiction self-help kind of book. The writer argues that although we have lots of help with how to live on the amount of money we get, no one is looking at how we can best use our time. He made a lot of very interesting points that definitely made me think, but the condescending and superior tone it was all written in made it a bit of a test of patience for me.

Ring for Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse – 4 stars This was my first Jeeves story, and I loved it! I realise it’s the tenth book in the series, and is the only book that doesn’t feature one of the main characters, so it was maybe not the best one to start with…but I still really enjoyed it. It was funny and sweet, and was set in a period of British modern history that I found I know very little about.

Humility – Andrew Murray – 5 stars This is a Christian non-fiction book that argues for the absolute necessity of humility. It was well written, thoroughly explained, and very helpful!

The Three Strangers – Thomas Hardy – 3 stars This is a Victorian short story. To be honest, I read it because I wanted to be able to say I’d read something by Thomas Hardy. It’s…well…maybe his novels are better?

Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars I’m obsessed. This is a fantasy novel, which I actually don’t read that often, but this is just my favourite thing. I love the sheer creativity of it, and the humour, and the way it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I love Sophie’s no-nonsense nature, and Howl has already made it onto my list of characters I’m pretty much in love with. I know this is getting a bit gushy, but the books I tried to pick up after this just couldn’t quite compare. So, naturally, I had to read the rest of the trilogy:

Castle in the Air – Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars This isn’t as good as the first one. It is, however, still wonderful. I think Diana made a really good choice to take a step away from the main characters in the first book, and although they are heavily involved in the plot, focussing on some new characters made the story new and refreshing.

Guess which book will be first in my April wrap-up?

So that’s all I read in February and March. How many of these books have you read, and do you agree with my ratings? And what are your thoughts on audiobooks?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Clockwork Princess and Poetry #4

A while ago, I started a series of posts that explored Clockwork Princess (the third book in Cassandra Clare’s Young Adult urban fantasy trilogy ‘The Infernal Devices’), picking out all of the wonderful poetry references, and pointing you in the direction of their sources. I’m sure there’s a much simpler and quicker way to do this, but I’ve been enjoying myself, and I hope you do too!

That said, here is the fourth instalment of ‘Clockwork Princess and Poetry’:

Confessions, Book IV – Saint Augustine This isn’t a poem, but it was so close to the novel, and so beautifully crafted, that I couldn’t leave it out.

For I wondered that others, subject to death, did live, since he whom I loved, as if he should never die, was dead; and I wondered yet more that myself, who was to him a second self, could live, he being dead.

Catullus 101 – Gaius Valerius Catullus This is a beautiful Latin elegiac poem, written for the poet’s dead brother. It’s absolutely heart-wrenching; it’s only short, so I advise you to go and read the whole thing.

atque in pepetuum, frater, ave atque vale

(And forever, brother, hail and fairwell)

The Old Astronomer – Sarah Williams This line is one of my favourites in all of literature, ever:

Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;

I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady – Alexander Pope I’m not the biggest Pope fan, but I do like some of the stuff in this poem.

Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung,

Deaf the prais’d ear, and mute the tuneful tongue.

No Worse, There is None – Gerard Manley Hopkins This little project has been my first introduction to Hopkins, and I’m really liking his work! This sonnet is sad, but powerful.

Oh, the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall

Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap

And that’s all for today – let me know what you thought of these poems!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani