Monday, 26 September 2011

The Sage's Journey (Parmenides)

Only a few fragments remain of the poet-philosopher Parmenides from the 6th century B.C.. The following is a translation I did from the Greek of the first ten lines of fragment 1 of his poem that goes on to tell about how he met the goddess and what she taught him. One striking feature is that it is not the archetypal journey of the fool, but rather of the sage whose understanding paves the way for him to meet the goddess and learn more...

The audio was just a test-run, but it came out ok. Still, I ought to redo it one day.

The Sage's Journey

The racing mares that carry me
As far as ever my longing reached
Kept bearing me onwards after
They'd set me on the channelled way
Of divine presence through every stage
That ushers straight the learned sage.

Along this way I was carried,
For the nimble mares carried me there,
Pulling forth the hurtling chariot,
Maidens guiding it with great skill,
The axle screaming a piping note
As it whirled, driven at both ends
Blazing between two metalled wheels.

Thus they made haste to convey me,
Maidens born of the sun who had
Abandoned the abode of night

For the light, and hands at their heads
Thrust aside their covering hoods.

Painting: thanks to Catherine!

The poem continues in the comments...

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Birth of Tragedy - Nietzsche

Genre: Literature & Fiction
Tagline:The Life Affirming Power of Art & Music

In this, his first book, written when he was 27, Nietzsche offers a dense but compelling speculation into the psychological origins of Greek tragedy, its untimely death after a few brilliant years, and the potential for its re-birth in the German context at the end of the 19th century. But as well as philosophical examination, this is also a celebration of music, dream and myth in art forms that defy conceptualization, transcending the plastic boundary of the individual and rational, and reflecting an intuitive feeling of will that strives not for satisfactory resolution, but rather to suffer the veils of appearances and so burn through them to the ineffable things-in-themselves. Tragedy then is the fusion of Apollonian impulses for individuation, beauty and restraint with Dionysian impulses for unity, intoxication and participation, these two, objective and subjective, represented in poetry by Homer and Antilochus respectively. In the witnessing of the tragic chorus, in whom the audience see themselves, these two impulses merge in imagination and music. But the Apollonian was neutralised over time by the scientific impulse for mastery that yearns for a continuous unveiling of the goddess of truth, a delighting in the outer forms of her appearance without getting to her heart, while the Dionysian was poisoned by Socratic optimism unfit to withstand the retribution of her violent sensuality. Nietzsche's dream then is a revival of that divine intercourse, and tragedy's re-birth.

Whether we agree or not with Nietzsche's thought, the call is to bring our understanding to life!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Two Sonnets

The Dance of Artemis & Eros

From the cover of shade, eyes blinking,
We can best see out into the light.
So it is that in shadows sinking,
The poet and the Muse relish Night.
The green eyes of a black cat slinking
Pierce the darkness with ethereal might,
Startling a wild deer in sudden fright
That by the waters had been drinking.
Dawn’s caress awakes the circling kite
And the sweethearts who without thinking
Reached precariously in maiden flight
Enter now their new morn, arms linking.
Fragrant petals quiver with delight,
Sprinkling like stars in the wind tonight…

I Listen with the Ears of my Love

I listen with the ears of my love—
What tension, what promise, and what lack!
But why write these lines, my long-lost dove,

Unless I should hope to win you back?
Shiver, shiver, for what the heart craves

Its heels unrelenting will set free,
Fire in the belly, rain on the sea,
Ripples that turn into pounding waves.
Blessings trickle at our fingertips
Where the air is fresh and milky dew
Leaves its taste upon the pristine lips
Virtue, Honesty and Laughter knew.
Can you smell the salt earth on their tongues?
Breathe deep, my Love, and revive your lungs!


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Would You...?

This is a reading of a love sonnet "In the Eyes of Your Desire, Would You...?" accompanied by the piano piece "Danse Bohémienne" by Debussy. The video is of the Spanish sea crashing against the rocks to set the mood and the painting is Ekval's "Fisherman and The Siren".

The poem had its origins in a dream I had a few days ago
(edit: it only occurs to me now that this must have coincided with hurricane Irene in the U.S. which I was not really aware of). There were two seemingly opposing aspects to the dream: "erotic passion" and "the bailing out of water", and my intention over the following days was to try to work some alchemy out of these two base emotions which I realize afterwards to be simply love and fear. I would hope that the result is gender-neutral so the voice of the poem could be either male or female, depending on how we would like to imagine it, and not necessarily one or the other. Perhaps something is lost because of this wish to universalize, but I feel I must. No doubt there is room for further improvement... and exploration... and any ideas are most welcome!

In the Eyes of Your Desire, Would You...?

On siren rocks, worn down by cruel seas,
Would you nestle, head arched back, chest bare,
Tempting Fate your carnal lust to please?

Should your longing rise with body fair,
Would you turn away or would you seize
The moment and no seduction spare?

When passion's grip leaves you gasping air,
Would you try to run with shuddering knees
Or would you stay and your passion share?

If you sense your yearning is a tease,
Would you, with wet hands, brush back the hair,
Unveil each round breast and firmly squeeze?

Would you in Love's consummation dare
Stake your life, your all, for Beauty's care?