Sunday, 24 January 2010

China through the lens of John Thomson

China through the lens of John Thomson 1868-72

The Shield of Achilles (Part 2)

She looked over his shoulder
For ritual pieties,
White flower-garlanded heifers,
Libation and sacrifice,
But there on the shining metal
Where the altar should have been,
She saw by his flickering forge-light
Quite another scene.

Barbed wire enclosed an arbitrary spot
Where bored officials lounged (one cracked a joke)
And sentries sweated for the day was hot:
A crowd of ordinary decent folk
Watched from without and neither moved nor spoke
As three pale figures were led forth and bound
To three posts driven upright in the ground.

The mass and majesty of this world, all
That carries weight and always weighs the same
Lay in the hands of others; they were small
And could not hope for help and no help came:
What their foes like to do was done, their shame
Was all the worst could wish; they lost their pride
And died as men before their bodies died.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns (READ IT!)

Kahled Hosseini's potrayal of Afgahni women under the Taliban, is a hauntingly, soul searing search for love, freedom and self realisation under the cruellest of regimes, a man and a woman.

' Mariam is never very far. She is here, in these walls they've repainted, in the trees they've planted, in the blankets that keep the children warm, in these pillows and books and pencils. She is in the children's laughter. She is in the verses Aziza recites and in the prayers she mutters when she bows westwards. But, mostly, Mariam is in Laila's own heart, where she shines with the bursting radiance of a thousand suns.'

excerpt from A thousand Splendid Suns (c) Khaled Hosseini 2007

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow on Snow (listen to the podcast -------->>>>

Snow is sometimes a she, a soft one.
Her kiss on your cheek, her finger on your sleeve
In early December, on a warm evening,
And you turn to meet her, saying, 'It's snowing'
But it is not. And nobody's there
Empty and calm is the air.

Sometimes the snow is a he, a sly one
Weakly he signs the dry stone with a damp spot.
Waifish he floats and touches the pond and is not.
Treacherous-beggarly he falters, and taps at the window.
A little longer he clings to the grass-blade tip
Getting his grip.

Then how she leans, how furry foxwrap she nestles
The sky with her warm, and the earth with her softness.
How her lit crowding fairlytales sink through the space-silence
To build her palace, till it twinkles in starlight
Too frail for a foot
Or a crumb of soot.

Then how his muffled armies move in all night
And we wake and every road is blockaded
Every hill taken and every farm occupied
And the white glare of his tents is on the ceiling..
And all that dull blue day and on into the gloaming
We have to watch more coming

Then everything in the rubbish-heaped world
Is a bridesmaid at her miracle.
Dunghills and crumbly dark old barns are bowed in the chapel
of her sparkle,
The gruesome boggy cellars of the wood
Are a wedding of lace
Now taking place

© Copyright Ted Hughes