Easy to make
Easy to break
like my heart
has been yours from the start
I just hate to be apart
split in two
its too hard
I try and try
But this time its goodbye
Easy to make
Easy to break
like my heart
has been yours from the start
I just hate to be apart
split in two
its too hard
I try and try
But this time its goodbye
On Sunday this week, I attended a poetry reading “Take a Look” at the Brett Whiteley Studios. The poet was Peter Boyle, who has books of poetry published, has won numerous awards for his poetry and has translated poetry works from Spanish and French.
Many of the poems resonated with the love he felt for his late wife, Deborah Bird Rose, who passed late last year. It was obvious to all present just how in love this man was… or is. Others spoke of his experiences in the world of art, literature and travel.
Accompanying Peter was a solo Cellist Christina Christensen, who with her cello managed to convey emotions only found when one is in meditative quiet. I remember she played a piece which she wrote called Lost Dreams, I think. Deep deep notes echoed regret, sorrow and sad contemplation. But just when you would have let out a sigh of empathic understanding, the last few notes were higher, faster, and finished with a flurry which left me feeling that the dreams had not been lost forever, that there was indeed hope.
Lost Dreams touched me deeply and inspired me to write a poetry piece of my own.
The Death of Dreams
Why did we wait
Life caught us up in the trap
of want more, need more
until at last
we are now time poor
We could have done
so much more.
You grieving already,
Me being at deaths door.
The dreams are gone
But memories can live forever.
Contemplating death, and those dying, who have given up hope, I believe you can tell. The glimmer leaves the eyes. The love for a partner, once so intense, while still there speaks from an apologetic place. Sorry I am so much trouble. Sorry I will be leaving you alone, that I am causing you sorrow.
Having cancer now has made me confront my own mortality. While having a full life, I can’t echo Frank Sinatra when he says, “Regrets, I have a few, but then again too few to mention.” My regrets are many. There are things in my life that I am certainly not proud of, and if I could have my life over, it would be so much different.
But I don’t live in the land of “shoulda, woulda, coulda”. I can only ensure that the future is different from the past.
“I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!”
I live my life now as I should. I think it was the apostle Paul who said: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands” 1 Thessalonians 4:11. And that’s how I shall live till I pass.
sorry its morbid.
footnote: I again looked at Brett Whiteley’s Alchemy now in a new light. Alchemy. Typical Alchemists would take a mineral and hope to turn it into gold, for one example. To take something ordinary, worth little, and to make it into something priceless. Brett Whiteley’s Alchemy starts with birth, the act of conceiving, then becoming born. through the panels we can track life’s experiences. Brett’s explorations of science, religion, drugs and art, literature. He ends it on a background of pure white, with gold representing, as I have written before the ultimate sacrifice for art, for purity. It was this purity that Brett Whiteley considered most valuable of all. Thank you Brett for continually speaking to us, even though you have been dead for decades.
A boy wanted to keep company, father said.
“He’s a good lad, son of the baker, Tom Woods”
Father organised a meeting for us. James was to call after church on Sunday and wander with me in the garden.
“I brought you this” said young James. He handed over a loaf of bread, freshly baked.
“I baked it myself, my papa showed me how”.
Such a humble gift, but I received it graciously.
“Mary, We shall have tea and bread in the garden”.
The bread was presented with the tea, I saw it at once. My heart was won.
word count 99
Done for Friday Fictioneers
While people in the English Renaissance wore different clothes and had no access to digital technology, their artistic expressions and the experiences these embody still have an impact on human beings living in the 21st Century.
I have learnt a new language and become immersed in another culture much different from my own, but at the same time so similar.
The culture and language are Shakespearian. When I first started the unit “Shakespeare and Renaissance literature” I was lost. I had no idea how to read or decipher the words or phrases on the page. The culture of the English Renaissance seemed far removed to culture today.
I soon learnt that there are many similarities between then and now, between that culture and my own in modern day Australia. Indeed much of our own language and culture evolved from the English Renaissance period.
It was Mr Shakespeare who invented many of our composite words, and other words which have become commonplace in our language today. People attribute Donald Trump in making up the word “Bigly” but it is used in a few of Shakespeare’s texts including Othello. It was however an obsolete word from the Scottish language meaning of great importance or size. It can also mean boisterous or loud, something I think you would agree that describes Donald Trump accurately.
Shakespeare tells the story of a deformed man seeking love and acceptance through his play “Richard III”. In the time of Richard III the deformed and different were cast aside from family and community, to try to survive any way they can. For Richard, his survival was reliant on his usurping his brother, in fact killing him in order to get the throne of England. Did he have a lust for power? Or did he merely seek to be loved and valued as a human being? The question of the origin of Richards evil ways was the topic of a blog I penned called:
I also wrote a poem, that perhaps may have been the thoughts of Richard, in a blog I entitled:
I truly believe that the story of Richard would have been different if he was loved by his mother and family and included more in the family life. Poor Richard was hidden away, treated differently, looked down upon for his disabilities. Are we in the 21st Century treating our disabled or mentally ill any better? I think we are trying on this account but we still have a long way to go.
I liken some of the world leaders today to Richard III. Instead of working with others, certain leaders want all the power. They kill anyone who gets in their way, much like Richard did. Some of our world leaders today are downright evil, and we still ask the question: Is the evil they have in their hearts inherent or learnt behaviour?
From there, I went on a sidetrack and looked at the life of Sir Walter Ralegh and the monarch of the time, Queen Elizabeth I. We studied Ralegh’s poem “The Lie” in class and I wanted to uncover the context in which it was written. I did this in the post:
Raleigh knew too well that people were two faced, saying one thing in front of your face, then turning around and chopping your head off with their next breath. But wait, James said, I will free you if you go back to the Americas and bring back more riches. When he returned it was learned that he had a fight with a Spanish dude. The Spanish King said to the English King, “If you don’t chop his head off, I wont be your friend anymore”. Isn’t this how children in the playground act now? have we learned anything?
I wrote a poem to woo Queen Elizabeth I, to make her see that she needs to give England an heir. We know from history that I was unsuccessful.
King Lear is the second play we studied in class. We saw again in this play how people don’t value each other and how even family turns against family when they are seeking importance, power and money. Cordelia, the youngest daughter of Lear does not bend her fathers ear or lick his boots. She is content with her lot in life, whether that means inheriting part of the kingdom or not.
For King Lear, I wrote a bit of a frivolous entry, which compared the behaviour of Lear’s daughters to my dogs and cat. Just a bit of fun really, but I do think it is a good analogy:
I wrote a poem for my father, comparing my relationship with my father to that of Lear and his youngest daughter. I then got a little soppy and wrote a Sonnet to my partner, which he loved by the way. Perhaps it was looking at Shakespeare’s poems and Sonnets that allowed me to express my love for Sam and my father. Maybe Shakespeare is still teaching the world how to love, through the legacy of his writings.
I did a sidetrack and studied the sonnets further, especially after the wonderful lecture we had from Professor Spurr. I for one didn’t know who Petrarch was, or the style of sonnets he wrote. I didn’t know they differed from the majority of sonnets written by Shakespeare. I went digging and wrote the following blog entry in response to that research.
We then studied The Twelfth Night and discovered that this was an ancient equivalent to the modern day Rom/Com. There is lots of Romance in it and the comedy comes in the form of making us laugh at the stupidity of the drunks. However it made me look at the temporary nature of life and love. It was true in this play and is true in today’s world. In this poem Love or lust knows no boundaries. there are women in love with women, men in love with men. One can see that deception reigns as a teenage boy plays the role of a woman, who disguises herself as a man. Confused? so was I. But again I looked at Love as a theme and created the blog:
We sometimes confuse love with lust, or is it just infatuation?
The Tempest is also something we may describe as a Romance. Certainly the end of the story and the solution to the dilemma lays in the Romance between Prospero’s daughter Miranda and the King’s son Ferdinand. The play again looks at deception. Prospero is usurped from his dukedom by his brother and exiled with his daughter to this island. When Prospero arrives on the island, he wants to take control. He frees the spirit Ariel from the tree, only to enslave him and make Ariel do his bidding. He takes the deformed and cast aside person of Caliban and teaches him language, so they can understand each other. Prospero seems to think he has done Caliban a great favour by teaching him language. Caliban is enslaved to Prospero, for now that Prospero has shown Caliban that life could be different, easier, Prospero says that without him, Caliban would be nothing.
The Tempest shows us the evils of colonisation. The western world takes on an air of superiority and thinks that anyone who is not at their standard of living, is substandard. In fact the natives of a land prior to colonisation, know more about the land than the colonisers. Without the natives, the colonisers would perish. I think we really need to remember that. I wrote further feelings about this subject in my final blog post:
So what from Shakespeare is still relevant today? I have learned the truth in that power is something that men (and women) want at all costs. I have learned that disabled people were treated as bad in Shakespeare’s time as they are today; but I think we are getting better at that. I have learned that love takes many forms, that gender is fluid, and love as well as life are temporary. I have learned that deception was a major theme in many of Shakespeare’s plays, but that deception was not limited to the stage. Deception was rife in the courts of Britain during the English renaissance. Deception is also rife now. People are confused about what is true. What the heck are alternate facts if they are not indeed lies? What is fake news?
I have learned that language is evolving. Shakespeare made up words in his time. We make up words, and meanings in ours. When I was a child, hardware is what you bought from Nock and Kirby’s and software was not even a word. A mouse was something not wanted in the house. A screen is what you used to keep the flies out. a Monitor was someone who volunteered in the school library. A browser was someone who went window shopping. The young people of today don’t know what a walkman is, or a discman. Records are something to be broken, not to be played. Even the term CD is becoming obsolete as we download, upload, stream music.
These three remain, Faith Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love. Love was a theme then, it is relevant now, and it will be forever, whatever form it may take.
Thank you for coming on this journey through the writings of Shakespeare and the Renaissance. See you all again next Semester when I study Reading Australia and American Writing.
“What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.”
The above is an excerpt from the song that Feste the sings to Sir Toby and Sit Andrew when they are drunk and making a raucous on the patio of Lady Olivia’s house.
All are in a fairly jovial mood and Toby asks for a song of Feste. Feste, being a fool, but being wise, knows that laughter and merriment will not last forever; and love does not last eternally.
Who knows what the future holds, he says. Have fun now, for fun and things and love will not last. Kiss while you can. The things of youth… Love and merriment will not continue.
I think we can be sure of the truth of these words. Love for someone changes over time. First it starts with infatuation. This is the type of love described in the opening speech of this play, when Orsino says “If music be the food of love, play on”.
“If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!”
And again when Antonio is speaking to Sebastian.
“If you will not murder me for my love, let me be
Orsino is madly, deeply in love with a woman who is in mourning and unatainable. I think that Orsino feels safe in expressing his love, as he knows that it will be rebuffed for the moment. But for him, he loves the idea of being in love, instead of being in love with Lady Olivia herself.
Antonio rescued Sebastian from the sea when the vessel he was aboard was sunk. Sebastian could not have been on board the ship for long, but in that time Antonio has fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with him. In the line mentioned above, he bravely expresses his love for fear it would be rejected “If you will not murder me for my love…” It was indeed not rejected but Sebastian has a greater mission, and leaved Antonio to grieve the love that was lost.
After infatuation, when love is both accepted and welcomed, one can grow weary of love. We take the other person for granted. We get disappointed when the object of our desire does undesirable things (like leaving the toilet seat up, or clogging the drain with hair).
One must accept the ever changing nature of love. It cannot always be “on heat”. It slows down and becomes comfortable. sometimes people fall out of love with actions and think they have fallen out of love with the person.
I love to see old couples holding hands, kissing… a gentleman pulling a ladies chair out, or opening the door and helping her in or out of a car. My own Sam is very loving like that, treating me with the utmost gentleness and love. Sam is very considerate when we are together. We are both very busy people so don’t get to spend as much time together as other couples might. We value the time we have together. After four years together we are still truly, madly deeply in love. I think we always will be.
I feel that Feste may have had a bad experience with love, and so the love song he sings is more like a dirge or requiem. He is remembering how sweet love once was but remembering with regret that it had to end. Poor Feste, does he really know what love is?
Last week we had a wonderful lecture by Professor Barry Spurr on the Sonnets of Shakespeare. Professor Spurr mentioned this fellow named Petrarch. Since few of us knew who he was or his style of Sonnet, I thought I would give you a brief biography, and explain a little about Petrarch Sonnets.
Francesco Petrarca or Petrarch was born in 1304 in Tuscany. He devoted his life to the study of Classical Literature. It was his devotion to the church and becoming a cleric which allowed him to travel and study the ancient texts in Latin and Greek.
When Petrarch was a child, the family moved to Avignon in France. It was here he met the subject of his desire and his sonnets, Laura, in 1327. He wrote many sonnets and poems and this girl was one of the main themes for them. It is rumoured that Laura died in the Black Death in 1348.
The doctrine Petrarch espoused was that humankind can again “reach the heights of past accomplishments”, which he read about in the sometimes forgotten ancient and classical texts. The Doctrine was called Humanism and bridged the Gap between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Petrarch’s writings were much loved in his day and his poems led him to be named Poet Laureate of Rome in 1341. He worked tirelessly until he death at age 69. The legacy he left behind was a collection of his writings called Rerum vulgarium fragmenta—also known as Rime Sparse (“Scattered Rhymes”) and as Petrarch’s canzoniere (“Petrarch’s songbook”). This included 366 poems in the common language of the people and a further 317 sonnets.
His poems helped to shape modern day Italian language. But it is the Sonnets which I wanted to concentrate on.
Petrachan Sonnets have 14 lines. They are arranged into 2 stanzas. The first is 8 lines (Octave) and the second is 6 lines.The rhyme sequence is abba, abba, or cde,cde or cdcdcd. A Petrachian sonnet has 3 parts:
Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374)
Being one day at my window all alone,
So manie strange things happened me to see,
As much as it grieveth me to thinke thereon.
At my right hand a hynde appear’d to mee,
So faire as mote the greatest god delite;
Two eager dogs did her pursue in chace.
Of which the one was blacke, the other white:
With deadly force so in their cruell race
They pincht the haunches of that gentle beast,
That at the last, and in short time, I spide,
Under a rocke, where she alas, opprest,
Fell to the ground, and there untimely dide.
Cruell death vanquishing so noble beautie
Oft makes me wayle so hard a desire.
(Trans. Edmund Spenser)
Shakespeare used a different form of Sonnet. It had 3 lots of 4 lines followed by a rhyming couplet. Each second line rhymed, but the rhyming couplet was different, rhyming a single line with the next.
We studied Sonnet 130 in class.
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
The turn or volta doesn’t occur in the same place as an Italian sonnet. It continues talking unfavourably about His mistress until the rhyming couplet. Then he says… EVEN SO… “And Yet”… i still love her.
Both types of sonnet use the iambic pentameter, or 5 beats to the line as a rhythm.
I enjoyed looking at this unique form of poem. I hope you have enjoyed reading it.
A sonnet after Shakespeare, for my lover Sam.
“Shall I compare thee to a summers day?”
That day is pale in comparison to you
The sun may warm our skin today
your love warms my whole life through.
Your smile is bright like the stars at night
Your eyes shine as bright as the moon
Your embrace makes everything right
I hate that you must leave so soon
The busyness of our days prevent
the time we can spend together
our last time together came and went
I pray such times should end never .
A time when we can together dwell
Will cause me to shout, All is well!
You are the youngest daughter in your family. Your father is demanding that you tell him how much you love him. In your own words, tell him what you really feel about his question. What are you prepared to say in response to his demand?
The above is a suggested blog post for the Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature unit which I am doing at University. This struck a chord with me. My own father died some 10 years ago. It is his birthday this month. I was unable to be with him in the final days of his life. He asked for us not to go down to see him. We had said our face to face goodbyes about a month earlier. I rang every day. My dad was not one to say “I Love You” and did not expect his manly sons to say it either. It was just sort of understood. I could tell my mother, as could my brothers, but to show emotions in front of my father would have been seen as weakness by him.
So, now that I have done a mindfulness course; now that I am in touch with my emotions and stand unafraid to speak them. Here is a poem, that I would write for my father. Or if you like, one that Cornelia would have written to her father the King.
You held me when I was small
kept me safe from all
that scared me in the night
or gave me a fright.
You held my hand on the first day of school
you brushed my hair so I looked real cool
you put food on the table, a roof over my head
you shook my hand when you sent me to bed.
You carried me from the car, asleep
you taught me life lessons which I keep
you cheered while I took a bow on stage
at times you scolded me, “act you age”.
You gave everything that you could give
I prayed to God that you would live
It’s hard to write now as I shed a tear
we were never close but you were always near.
If I had the time to live over again
I would be there to share your pain
“I’m doing alright” you would lie
why did you have to go and die?
before I could tell you
I love you.
You see dad, its not the things you gave me that makes me love you. Its that you taught me to be a man.; to be responsible, to have my own opinion and not to follow the crowds. You taught me to be myself no matter what anyone else thinks. You made it safe for me to come out, when earlier in my life I was too afraid. When everyone else deserted me, you were there. That’s why I love you.
I miss you dad.
This year has been one where I have focused mainly on my studies, with work and relationships thrown in. It has been a year of accomplishments.
In January, one of my paintings was chosen for 2 special exhibitions representing the best of works for students of art at ACU. While this was not a sale opportunity, the recognition of my work made me feel wonderful.
So too I felt wonderful when one of my photos won the National Photo Competition with the theme of The Year of Mercy.
My University results have been consistently high. I achieved 2 High distinctions this year in Communications. I received distinctions in Sculpture and Literature, and credits for all other subjects.
The Strathfield choir had a change of Music Directors this year, with the introduction of the wonderful Claire Mc Fadden. We sang at many concerts and masses, including a special one for the Sisters of Mercy in North Sydney. We sang a suspice for Catherine McKellar which had never been sung before. It was written by Mr Graham Press, who also wrote several other pieces that we sang this year. It was a pleasure working with Graham as a guest of Claire. Peter Kneeshaw also worked with us as accompanist.I was also involved in the Australian Catholic University National Choir, singing as a bass. We had a masterclass in July, then met briefly before going to Rome to sing.
The trip to Rome was incredible. We sang 3 concerts and rehearsed together well. We bonded closely under the baton of Fay. It was incredible how so many singers from three or four different local choirs were able to sing together so well. We had some very special people listening to one concert including Cardinal George Pell and the Ambassadors to both Italy and the Holy See (Vatican City).
Mid-year I had to change cars. The Tarago which had served me well for the last few years finally died, and I bought a Mazda MPV. I like this vehicle but it loves petrol too much, and I fear I will need to change again purely for economy reasons very soon.
I have had a few health issues this year but overall, I think I had a better year health-wise. I did manage to split my head open in Rome, but that did not stop me from enjoying myself, and I now have a ‘Harry Potter’ style scar in the middle of my forehead.
I continue my work as a Mystery Shopper for three different companies, and have just been employed by two more. Hopefully that will bring me enough income for me to continue my studies and living in Earlwood. I have done it tough this year, at times wondering where my next meal was coming from. Thankfully, I have friends who were quick to lend me an extra dollar until payday, and others who shared a meal with me.
Besides still having contact with Mission Australia, this year saw me do a volunteer placement with The Big Issue magazine. I loved working in the office and meeting some of the vendors and other volunteers. I was invited to share a Christmas Lunch with them and had a great time.
I am also still volunteering at Polly’s, doing the photography at the drag shows and dances, however I missed a few due to choir commitments and illness.
Sam and I are still enjoying each other’s company, but with both of us working multiple jobs, our time together is precious. Sam was granted Citizenship this year and is just waiting for a date so he can attend a ceremony to get his certificate and passport. We intend to take a week off later in 2017 to go to Thailand to visit some friends there.
Christmas was a quiet event. I sang carols at the university chapel on Christmas eve, and shared lunch with a wonderful mentor Br. Jude and his community.
I have neglected meet up groups recently as I spend more time concentrating on my studies. I do hope to become more involved next year as I find it a good distraction from the busyness of Uni and the stresses of everyday life.
2017 will see me continue with my studies, and I will finish my BA in November. I am starting a Diploma of Languages next week and will study Italian. This will help with any future tours to Rome with the choir and with the pronunciation of Latin and Italian words in some of the songs we sing.
I am also looking to do a course on editing and proofreading at TAFE to help me look for work in the literary world. I have applied to audition with the Christian Arts company Artes Christe and hope to perform with them when I can as well.