Lockdown Diaries: Day 61 (Give Me My Aegean)

Locked Down in London: Open Letter to Boris

Dear Boris,

Today I had a long, hard day at work in an overheated office (our patio) and in my well considered opinion this lockdown sucks, sucks and sucks some more.

I know you’re very busy so I’ll be brief: I want water. Not from the tap! I want to go to the beach; if not that, then to the river; if not that, to the lido; if not that, at least to the pool where I’m a member.

Virtual Escape: Give Me My Aegean

While we’re waiting for Boris to reply…

greece-zakynthos-castle-flag

SKIATHOS
The hour when the little boat enters the sea cave, and after dazzling light you suddenly find yourself closed inside a freezing blue-green mint.

MYKONOS
A little terrace. Among the flower pots of Geraniums, a rose-coloured dome, white arches, masts weaving the sky, Delos.

SERIPHOS
Sailing along the island at high noon. Your naked arms burn on the gunwhale. And continually, the little scallop-coves unfold one after the other until finally the big cove with the white crown at its heads spreads out before you.

PATMOS
Light-hued the tremulous waves and dark, heavy, opposite the conical boulder. A motor-caïque’s putt-putt is heard as unseen it passes by.

(Excerpts from What One Loves (Snapshots) by Odysseas Elytis)

Recommended Book:The Collected Poems of Odysseas Elytis
Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 48 (Serenity)

Locked Down in London, Day 48: Overworked

So I worked 3 hours extra today, and then despite of the fact that tomorrow is a bank holiday, I had to agree to work tomorrow as well, to meet all those people’s deadlines who have forgotten that tomorrow, actually, is a day off in the whole country. What makes it even more annoying is that of course I won’t even get paid for it or get time off in lieu…!

So what I need right now is, first of all, a large gin & tonic… and then a book of haikus. To regain my serenity.

Virtual Escape: Serenity

Okay, so I’ve got the gin & tonic, and the book of haikus open. Let’s also add some pebbles on top of each other and a torii gate (totally different religion from the pebbles, but that’s fine by me, I’m not fussy)…

Seven Fragments in Serenity

As on the plum comes
blossom after blossom, so
comes the warmth of spring

(Ransetsu)

the sea darkens –
the voices of the wild ducks
are faintly white

(Basho)

How cool the breeze –
the empty sky is filled with
the sound of the pines.

(Onitsura)

In calligraphic line
wild geese descend; at the foothills
the moon is the seal.

(Buson)

grasshopper –
do not trample to pieces
the pearls of bright dew

(Issa)

No sky and no ground –
only the snowflakes that
fall without ceasing.

(Hashin)

the little fish
carried backwards
in the clear water

(Kito)

Keep safe, keep sane – keep serene! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 43 (On a Peak in Darien)

Locked Down in London, Day 43

Entering the seventh week!

[sigh]

Virtual Escape: On a Peak in Darien

I want to be let out. I want to see wide open spaces and sandy beaches, flowers and palm trees. I want to breathe the fresh air of another continent, walk in the green gloom of a primeval forest, wade into the sea…

I want to cross the Isthmus of Panama, I want to stand on a peak in Darién!

View of San Miguel Bay in Darién [Photo by Erandly via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0]

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

(John Keats: On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer)

The fact that Keats got his history wrong and it wasn’t Cortés who stood upon the peak in Darién deducts nothing from the evocativeness of his poem.

If you want to know more about the man who did stand upon the peak in Darién and thus became the first European to set eyes on the Pacific – the South Sea he called it -, the man who then descended to the Bay of San Miguel where he waded knee-deep into the ocean taking possession of it for his king… if you want to know who he was and why he went all that way, whether he was a hero or a villain…

Well, then you will just have to go and read my earlier post upon the subject:

When With Eagle Eyes He Star’d at the Pacific

Because I’m too busy staring at the Pacific from a peak in Darién at the moment to re-write it here! 🙂

Further Reading:Chapman's Homer on Project Gutenberg (of course!) :)
⇒ A Short Analysis of Keats's 'On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer'Flight into Immortality by Stefan Zweig
⇒ Darién Province in Panama (Tripadvisor)
Keep safe, keep sane – make plans to cross the Isthmus of Panama?!

Lockdown Diaries: Day 42 (Cherry Blossom Viewing)

Locked Down in London, Day 42: Olympics in Quarantine

The Two-Tailed Dog Party in Hungary (I did hesitate whether I should be naming political parties here but the name add spice to the story!) is going to run a quarantine olympics this month – events include:

  • Speed Disinfecting
  • Indoor Gazing Into the Distance
  • Synchronised Couch Movement
  • Pancake Making Commentary
  • Toilet-roll Tower Building

Virtual Escape: Cherry Blossom Viewing

I don’t know about you but where I’m sitting, it’s raining cats & dogs and you can’t stir out without getting soaked to skin, with or without a mac. So we need a double escape here, one from this extremely tiresome quarantine and the other from this extremely tiresome weather…

This is the time of the cherry blossom and the Japanese loved to view them for centuries. So today, we’re going to go cherry blossom viewing… with a 17th century poet, the master of haiku, Matsuo Basho!

Cherry Blossoms

cherry blossom viewing –
admirable it is to walk
ten or twelve miles a day

with the sun darkening,
on the blossoms, it is lonely –
a false cypress

with a fan
drinking sake in the shadows –
falling cherry blossoms

(Knapsack Notebook by Matsuo Basho)

 

Further reading / You might also like:Karantén olimpia 2020 (in case you want to participate) :)
⇒ Matsuo BashoFour Seasons in Japan - with Matsuo BashoThe Dark Side of Life (in Nine Haikus)The Master of Cold Mountain
Keep safe, keep sane – view some virtual cherry blossoms!

Lockdown Diaries: Day 40 (Of the Aegean)

Locked Down in London, Day 40: Holiday flight

An e-mail from my airline regarding my upcoming holiday flight – the one we postponed from April – left me in the quandary: do I transfer the flight to July (my only remaining free holiday time), do I accept the voucher that I can’t use and try to swindle my way round the fact that it’s not transferable, or do I sit tight and hope that the airline will cancel the flight and I can get my money back?!

On the subject of holiday flights: I saw the following video a while ago, and probably you all saw it by now… but just in case somebody missed out, something to cheer you up!

Virtual Escape: Of the Aegean

No comment:

Eros
The archipelago
And the prow of its foams
And the gull of its dreams
On its highest mast the sailor waves
A song

Eros
Its song
And the horizons of its voyage
And the echo of its nostalgia
On her wettest rock the betrothed awaits
A ship

Eros
Its ship
And the nonchalance of its summer winds
And the jib of its hope
On its highest undulation an island cradles
The coming

(Odysseas Elytis: Of the Aegean)

Further Reading:Sailing the Aegean with Odysseas ElytisOdysseas ElytisA Look at Greek Poet Odysseas Elytis's Best Poems
⇒ In case the video didn't work for you: Holiday flight
Keep safe, keep sane – keep smiling! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 36 (Hiking the Kii Peninsula with a Book of Haikus)

Locked Down in London, Day 36: J-Pop

I’m becoming an expert in designing walking routes through the neighbouring streets. I now know on which street are the trees in bloom; which front gardens have the nicest tulips (on the way out now), lilacs or artistically arranged evergreens. I connect the streets with patches of woodlands, parks and playing fields in an effort to device myself that I’m walking in the country.

How many days in a row have I walked these exact streets without seeing anything else? Listening to the same music? I had to have some variety so now I’m cycling through world pop, a different country each day. I’m learning new phrases to search Spotify: Latin pop, Euro-pop, J-pop.

Virtual Escape: Hiking the Kii Peninsula with a Book of Haikus

Since today I’ve been listening to J-pop (that’s Japanese pop to the uninitiated 🙂 ), I decided that this weekend we’re going to pay a flying visit to Japan to hike on an old, more than  a thousand years old, pilgrim route on the Kii Peninsula.

Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, Seiganto-ji [Photo by Nekosuki via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
Two hours on the train out from Osaka takes you to this beautiful peninsula dotted with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, mountains, forests and waterfalls. You can hike the scenic Kumano Kodo trail, the “stairway to heaven”, which links many of them, a UNESCO World Heritage site, twinned with Spain’s Camino de Santiago. There is actually more than one route; you can do a short two-day hike or you can keep going for a week. It’s up to you. At night you can stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, and relax in a hot spring, reading a book of haikus

Your Little Book of Haikus

on the water
the reflection
of a wanderer

(Santoka)

lightning
running down inside
lightning

(Inahata Teiko)

summer rain
it drums on the heads
of the carp

(Shiki)

a clear waterfall –
into the ripples
fall green pine-needles

(Basho)

the little fish
carried backwards
in the clear water

(Kito)

fresh young leaves –
the sound of a waterfall
both far and near

(Buson)


Further Reading:Pilgrim's Progress: Kii Peninsula, JapanStairway to Heaven: Hiking Ancient Pilgrimage Trails in Southern JapanThe Kumano Kodo Walking Trail: A Guide with MapsKumano Kodo Pilgrimage TrailsWhy Should You Walk the Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan
Keep safe, keep sane –  exercise your imagination!

Lockdown Diaries: Day 35 (Dockside)

Locked Down in London, Day 35: A Day in the Office

A day in the office nowadays consists of: opening our new parasol, putting out the seat cushions, setting out the laptop hood, and then carting out the work laptop and assorted necessary paraphernalia to settle down for the day in the garden, typing away merrily (okay, perhaps not so merrily), next to the lilac tree. And then a family lunch, again in the garden, followed by more work, before it’s time to pack the lot away, and buzz off for a walk in the neighbouring streets.

I think I could get used to working from home, especially on sunny days… although I do miss my swimming with almost physical pain by now!

Virtual Escape: Dockside

Nobody reads blogs on Friday night – well, I suppose I hope nobody does, meaning that everybody has better things to do with family and housemates even in these sadly limited times!

But just in case there’s anybody around in need of escaping: today we’re escaping to the dockside. When I was a child, I used to spend lazy summer hours sitting on the embankments of the Danube watching history flow by – I can regonise the sentiment in today’s poem:

Dockside

by Amna Ahmed

Sat by the water for hours. Watched nothing but water, how it was spelt out by light;

its mass like silk blown in slow-moving wind,

or the glitter of fisted diamonds that flickered and kicked
as the waves caught the light
from the bounce of the sun and I squinted my eyes and saw every one

of those diamonds that tickled and swam,

or how the light lay like a curve
in a ripple of time, on that wet pool
and I thought of a painter
jig-sawing brushstrokes of yellow
over the salty sea-blue.

(Can you even remember the times when you could just walk or take public transport to go wherever you felt like?)

Further Reading:
⇒ More about - Amna Ahmed (!)
⇒ Poems on the Underground
Keep safe, keep sane –  keep reading poetry!

Lockdown Diaries: Day 31 (Loch Ness)

Locked Down in London, Day 31: How Long Can You Stand Quarantine? (A Poll)

Now think about how long you could stand it if you were “shielded”: staying in your bedroom alone, although you’re allowed to open the window; no physical contact with your family/housemates, talking to them only through the closed bedroom door; no exercise or entertainment except what can fit into your bedroom; eating alone in your bedroom; disinfecting the bathroom every time before and after use…

The UK government thinks people who need to be shielded can – should – cope like that for 12 weeks.

Really?

Virtual Escape: Loch Ness

Merely typing Day 31 in the title was unutterably depressing, therefore I decided that we need to inject a certain level of silliness in today’s post.

Now imagine you’re up in Scotland, along the shores of Loch Ness:

Loch Ness, Scotland [Photo by Je535 via Pixabay]
Not the most scenic lochs of the Scottish Highlands perhaps but undoubtedly the most famous on account of Nessie.

So as I said you’re walking around the lake… minding your own business… and then you hear this:

Sssnnnwhuffffll?
Hnwhuffl hhnnwfl hnfl hfl?
Gdroblboblhobngbl gbl gl g g g g glbgl.
Drublhaflablhaflubhafgabhaflhafl fl fl –
gm grawwwww gfr frawf awfgm graw gm.
Hovoplodok-doplodovok-plovodokot-doplodokosh?
Splgraw fok fok splgrafhatchgbrlgabrl fok splfok!
Zgra kra gka fok!
Grof grawff gahf?
Gombl mbl bl –
blm plm,
blm plm,
blm plm,
blp.

(The Loch Ness Monster’s Song by Edwin Morgan)

(If you ever want to type that up, better learn touch typing first!)

Further Reading:Survey results reveal average number of days people can bear to self-quarantineThe Loch Ness Monster's Song read by Robert Crawford on the Edinburgh Book Festival (video)
Keep safe, keep sane – keep reading poetry!

Lockdown Diaries: Day 29 (Books That Make You Look Good When Dead?)

Locked Down in London, Day 29: Too Many Books?

A few years ago we had to have some repairs done to our roof and for a few days we had a workman in. On the last day he finished work early and had to wait for a colleague to pick him up with the company van. We sat him down in the living room with a cup of tea, and he looked at the bookshelves and asked: “How many books do you have?”

Well, truth be told, I don’t know. Mostly I feel that not enough. At some point however we did try to catalogue them by using a scanning program and although we never finished and keep forgetting scanning new books in, I was able to make an educated guess.

“About three thousand,” I said.

His jaw dropped. “Three thousand! And did you read them all?”

That made my jaw drop. “Well, of course…” I have read a lot more than 300o books in my life, actually. The ones on the bookshelves – those are just my favourites.

Literary Escape: Books That Make You Look Good When Dead?

“Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”

(P. J. O’Rourke)

I’m sure we all know somebody who never reads but proudly displays his intellectual status by having bought in the collected works of Dickens. As far as I’m concerned, for example, on reflection I have to admit that actually I haven’t read all three thousand volumes in the house. And I don’t just mean that I haven’t read all of Mr Anglo-Saxonist’s books – most of which I qualify under smart-arsery – but that I myself have a couple of books that actually I bought because it would make me look good if I dropped dead with them in hand.

And then never read.

The Republic by Plato

I don’t know what maggot got into my head when I bought this one on an impulse from one of those tables selling second-hand books on the South Bank. I mean I do like the Ancient Greeks but I never liked philosophy. My philosophy starts with Matsuo Basho and ends with Omar Khayyam; it can be summed up as ‘Let’s eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we will be dead’ and that’s where I would really like to leave it. So what the devil was I doing buying Plato?

Looking good, that’s what.

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

Strictly speaking, that one is not mine. It belongs to Mr Anglo-Saxonist but he freely admits that he bought it out of sheer intellectual snobbery. He never got any further than the madeleine episode; but the other day he picked it up out of lockdown desperation and gave it another five minutes of his time –  that’s five minutes he’s not going to get back, he said.

Antología Poética by Francisco de Quevedo

One day in Rye in Sussex we stopped to mooch around in a promisingly quirky looking second-hand bookshop and I discovered a book of Spanish poetry. It was a comprehensive collection of the poetry of Francisco de Quevedo, a Spanish poet from the early 17th century, whom I mostly knew only as a character in Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s delightful series about Captain Alatriste. Here was an excellent opportunity to read his actual poems. Er… yes. Except my Spanish really is not up to it; something I realised as soon as I opened the book in the bookshop. So why did I get it? Because the bookshop owner complimented me on both being able to speak  Spanish and on having an excellent taste.

Of course, I keep telling myself that someday my Spanish will be able to cope with Quevedo!

Time to revise your own bookshelves – what book do you have that’s only there to make you look good if you drop dead? 🙂
Further Reading:
Francisco de QuevedoThe Republic by Plato (on Project Gutenberg)
Keep safe, keep sane – keep reading!

Lockdown Diaries: Day 14 (The World’s Shortest Poem)

Locked Down in London, Day 14: Exit Strategies

If the government has any, it’s not very forthcoming.

According to the press there are four ways we could be done with this:

  1. Intermittent Social Distancing: in other words, we go into lockdown, the case numbers go down, we come out of lockdown, the case numbers go up, we go into lockdown… This merry-go-round can go on and on… and on.
  2. Hurray for the Healthy & the Immune: test everybody, let out those who are not likely to keel over if catching the virus and those who already had it. The elderly and the ill can live their lives in self-isolation until they commit suicide out of sheer boredom.
  3. Search & Destroy: wait until the virus nearly died out, then let everybody out and catch those who still managed to catch it. And then catch their contacts. And so on.
  4. Vaccine or Treatment: wait until somebody managed to make one. Well, let’s hope it doesn’t take 50 years.

It might be just me but – is this a tad depressing?

Virtual Escape: The World’s Shortest Poem

I got absolutely buried in work today (even had to do unpaid overtime – shocking), so that was my escape today. I also doubt very much that anybody is so lonely and bored as to read blog posts on Friday night – but I want to keep up the series (this is my contribution to the fight against the coronavirus) – so I’ll keep this short:

Already this is too long.

(Gareth Owen: An Attempt  at the Shortest Poem in the World)

Keep safe, keep sane – have a Margarita! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 13 (On Homer’s Beaches)

Locked Down in London, Day 13: The Year of the Genius Generation

Since the government cancelled all exams this summer (A-levels and GCSEs both), the young and a bright are set to get predicted grades instead.

Wow! This will be the only year ever in which no student fails his exam; the only year when all departments in all schools meet their targets; the year when academic achievement across the country soars to unimagined heights… the year of the Genius Generation!

There’s only one small problem: How will the universities and sixth form centres accommodate all this talent?

Virtual Escape: On Homer’s Beaches

Today we’re escaping to Greece, with a Nobel-prize winning poet. But no picture – this is for seeing in your mind’s eye!

     I was given the Greek language;
a poor house on Homer’s beaches.
     My only care my language on Homer’s beaches.
Seabream there and perch
     windbeaten verbs
green sea-currents amid the azure currents
     which I felt light up in my viscera
sponges, medusae
     with the first words of the Sirens
pink shells with their first black shivers.
   My only care my language with the first black shivers.
Pomegranates there, quinces
     swarthy gods, uncles and cousins
pouring oil in huge jars;
     and breaths from the ravines smelling
of chaste-tree and lentisk
     broom and ginger root
with the first cheeps of the finches,
     sweet psalmodies with the very first Glory to Thee.
My only care my language with the very first Glory to Thee!
     Laurel there and palm fronds
censer and censings
     blessing the sabres and flintlocks.
On the ground spread with vineleaves
     odours of grilled meat, eggs cracking
and Christ is Risen
     with the first gunshots of the Greeks.
Secret loves with the first words of the Hymn¹.
     My only care my language, with the first words of the Hymn!

(Odysseas Elytis: Psalm II, aka The Poet and His Language)
(Translated by Jeffrey Carson and  Nikos Sarris)

Notes:
¹ Hymn: the Greek national anthem.
Keep safe, keep sane – keep reading poetry! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 10 (An Evening with Omar Khayyam)

Locked Down in London, Day 10: My Hospital Loses the Plot

Today I got a phone call from my hospital. They said they wanted to change my phone consultation from tomorrow to next week, was that all right? No, I will be attending a family funeral on that date. Then how about in two weeks’ time? In two weeks’ time I would have run out of the medication that keeps me alive! Well, in that case, can we have the consultation during the funeral? No, you can’t!

I’m afraid on this occasion my hospital will just have to keep to their original schedule – I recognise this would be unprecedented…

Virtual Escape: An Evening with Omar Khayyam

After the insanity of the above, what we need is a tranquil evening out under the stars. So wrap yourselves up (should you be in the northern hemisphere), take a candle and a glass of wine, and sit outside to commune with the stars. (Venus was visible till after 11 o’clock in the west last night – well, from where I was sitting!)

And between sips of wine, read the Rubaiyát in the dancing candle light:

Oh, come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

There are no sorrows wine cannot allay,
There are no sins wine cannot wash away,
There are no riddles wine knows not to read,
There are no debts wine is too poor to pay.

A book, a woman, and a flask of wine:
The three make heaven for me; it may be thine
Is some sour place of singing cold and bare –
But then, I never said thy heaven was mine.

Would you forget a woman, drink red wine:
Would you remember her, then drink red wine!
Is your heart breaking just to see her face?
Gaze deep within this mirror of red wine.

Lost to a world in which I crave no part,
I sit alone and listen to my heart,
Pleased with my little corner of the earth,
Glad that I came – not sorry depart.

Set not thy heart on any good or gain,
Life means but pleasure, or it means but pain;
When Time lets slip a little perfect hour,
O take it – for it will not come again.

Keep safe, keep sane – keep smiling. 🙂

(See you tomorrow.)

The Moody Poets’ Gallery (Or a Melancholy Glance at Hungarian Poetry)

The Connection Between Miserable Weather & Hungarian Poetry (If Any)

So the other day it was grey and gloomy and it was also p***ing it down in a typical London fashion. Moreover it was a Sunday afternoon, and you would expect better from a Sunday afternoon in March, even in London.

In any case, the weather was miserable, I was miserable, and I felt like wallowing in some miserable Hungarian poetry.

Not at all a difficult thing to do, that: misery and poetry goes hand in hand in Hungary, and although we do actually also have some cheerful poems you’re not going to get any of those today.

Before we dive in at the deep end, a word of warning: Hungarian is an obscure language and not a lot of her poetry has been translated into English. (And what's been translated leaves you holding your head - in dispair.) The source of today's miserable poetry is a single bilingual anthology, going by the title of The Lost Rider. It's about as representative as a single anthology can ever expected to be. 

(And some of the translations are, well, dire.)

Continue reading “The Moody Poets’ Gallery (Or a Melancholy Glance at Hungarian Poetry)”

Woe Is Me, Alhama!

Woe Is Me, Alhama!

Boabdil’s Farewell to Granada by Alfred Dehodencq [public domain via Wikipedia]
One of my favourite Spanish historical ballads is A Very Mournful Ballad of the Siege and Conquest of Alhama, also known as The Moorish King Rides Up and Down or Woe Is Me, Alhama! It was also one of the first Spanish ballads I’ve ever read in the original (Spanish learners take note – the text is that accessible). I came across it in a collection of ballads which I found in a second-hand bookshop in Southport in Lancashire; it was a university textbook from the 1960s. In A Brief (Literary) History of the Reconquista I have already shared an excerpt with you (and a shorter version a few years ago in The Moorish King Rides Up & Down) but the ballad deserves better, so today you’re going to get the full version – plus the Spanish original for those of you who can enjoy it.

Continue reading “Woe Is Me, Alhama!”

A Brief (Literary) History of the Reconquista

The other day (okay, a few weeks ago, it took me a while to finish this post) I wrote a few lines about Covadonga in Asturias, the place where the reconquista, the reconquering of Spain from the Moors began in 722 A.D. If you haven’t read it:

View from the Holy Cave, Covadonga

Asturias Is Spain… (And the Rest Is Conquered Land)

…then you’d bloody well better 🙂 because today you’re going to get part two of the story that started in Covadonga: the story of the reconquista.

In keeping with Waterblogged tradition, we’re going to explore the topic through the medium of literature; I hope you’ll enjoy this brief history of the reconquista as told by Spanish historical ballads!

Continue reading “A Brief (Literary) History of the Reconquista”

The Seven Princes of Lara

In the process of writing a brief literary history of the reconquista (the reconquering of Spain from the Moors), I found myself debating whether the tragic story of the seven princes of Lara should be included or not. On the one hand, it seemed difficult to leave out such a popular ballad from the era of the reconquista altogether; on the other hand, the brief literary history is already long enough without adding in something that, strictly speaking, is not so much a story of the reconquista but a story of a family feud. Upon reflection I decided that the famous story of the seven princes of Lara deserved a post of its own. To keep you busy while I finish the brief literary history. 🙂

Continue reading “The Seven Princes of Lara”

La Rubaiyat de Omar Khayyam

Read the English version

Lo que sigue aquí abajo es la versión española de un post sobre Omar Khayyam - también suele deletrear Omar Jayam - que escribí el pasado domingo en inglés. Versión, digo, porque la poesía no es el mismo que en el post inglés, por la razón de que Omar Khayyam escribió unos cientos cuartetos, y los cuartetos en la traducción española y la traducción inglesa no se corresponden.

Leí a Omar Khayyam en el baño anoche. Esto es siempre una receta para el desastre, pero a pesar de muchos años de práctica empapando libros, Omar Khayyam se conservó seco, probablemente porque me despertó. (Lo que no fue el efecto que pretendía en absoluto, pero estas clases de cosas suceden cuando te instalas en el baño para una lectura relajante antes de dormir. )

Continue reading “La Rubaiyat de Omar Khayyam”

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

I read The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in the bath last night. This is always a recipe for disaster, but despite of long years of practice in soaking books, Omar Khayyam survived dry, probably due to the fact that he quite woke me up. (Which was not the effect I had been looking for but these things happen when you settle in for a relaxing read in the bath before going to bed.)

Continue reading “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”

The Dark Side of Life (In Nine Haikus)

It’s February, it’s cold, it’s dark, life is s**t for so many different reasons.

In other words:

It’s Time For Poetry

I could, of course, dig out something uplifting, like Odysseas Elytis painting an Aegean heaven. I usually do, at moments like this. But you know what, not tonight. After all, life is not all song and dance, and sometimes, just ever so often, you do have every reason to sit in a dark corner and howl. (Some of you might have a lot more reasons to sit and howl than others – rid yourself of the notion that life is fair.)

Continue reading “The Dark Side of Life (In Nine Haikus)”