Monday, 27 July 2020

Live session 27th July ~ Auden, silently and very fast




Sheila's been making blankets for the homeless... this is her 4th! We are still not getting out though we had a touch of canal nostalgia with this shot of Peccadillo in their programme opener:



Our writing prompt today came from a W.H. Auden poem - The Fall of Rome

silently and very fast

However Lou found a much better Auden poem that more closely echoes the societal angst of the covid paradigm... here it is:

September 1, 1939
W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.


Silently and very fast
by Sheila Buchanan

Silently I enter the loch with little splash.  I see the water ripple about me marking my entry spot.  I take on the eyes of a water fly and see everything at water level.  The vista is silent but rich in detail.  Alongside me are other swimmers and we set off slow and deliberate feeling the water slide over our skin as we move further and further across the loch stopping occasionally for the silent view.

The other joy in my life has been cycling steadily along the canal tow paths passing by the clusters of lilies and the sedate flotilla of swans. their increasingly large cygnet nursery having an afternoon nap beak under wings and under the watchful eye of their attentive parents.  My joy is watching the water flow silently along reflecting an open sky.  At the lock entry the water falls fast and causes some waves on the canal which drifts silently along.  A lasting picture is of the heron sheltering under the leafy branches watching my world as I watch his. 

My life is enriched by my indulgence of being in and beside the water. The water is the mirror of my soul.  

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