Friday 31 July 2009


As promised, following yesterday's Blogland detour through some French poetry, I have endeavoured to give literal translations; I've left the words, as much as possible, in the order in which they were written, rather than re-arranging to the accepted, English syntax. In this way, I hoped to give a better correlation between the original, and my version.

Literal translation of Pastel by Theophile Gautier

I love to see you in your oval frames,
yellowing portraits of beauties from an earlier age,
holding in your hands, roses - a little pale -
as befits flowers a hundred years old.

The winter wind, in touching your cheeks,
has made your carnations and lillies* die.
You have nothing left but spots **of mud
and on the sidewalk*** you languish, all sullied.

It is past, the gentle reign of courtesans.
La Parabere, along with La Pompadour,
would only find rebellious subjects, now,
and in their tombs Love is buried also.

You, meanwhile, ancient portraits one forgets,
you sniff your bouquets of flowers with no scent,
and smile with melancholy
at the memory of your gallant conquests.

*1) i.e. made your pink and white complexions 'die' - in the sense of expire, or fade.
** 2) hints at the idea of beauty spots?or maybe fly-blown, as a describing a mirror's black specks?
***3) on the quais, or walkways of bridges which span the river, maybe even riverbanks?

Literal translation of Chinoiserie.

It is not you, no madame, that I love.
Nor you either, Juliette, nor you
Ophelie, nor Beatrix; not even
Laure the Blonde, with her great, sweet/gentle eyes.

The one I love at present, is in China.
She lives with her old parents
in a tower of fine porcelain
by the Yellow River, where there are cormorants.

She has eyes tip-tilted towards the temples:
a foot small enough to hold in the hand:
a skin more translucent than the parchment of a lamp:
the nails long, and painted bright red.

Through her lattice she inclines her head,
which the swallow in flight comes to touch,
and each evening, as adroitly as a poet,
she sings of weeping willow and peach blossoms.

This poem was inspired by the painting on a Willow Patterned, fine porcelain plate - or so I was lead to believe, so the words 'in China' have a double meaning.

I hope this gives you a flavour of the actual French language, a feel of its lyrical flow. It would take a greater poet/linguist than I to write a grammatical English poem which could catch even a fraction of the nuances of the original. You see, I had to resort to a French word in that last sentence anyway, as I could think of none better!

Thursday 30 July 2009

Thursday With Théophile

...Gautier, that is. I thought today, especially for the curious amongst you, I'd let you see one of those favourite, French poems that I mentioned yesterday. Here it is.


J'aime à vous voir en vos cadres ovales,
Portraits jaunis des belles du vieux temps,
Tenant en main des roses un peu pâles,
Comme il convient à des fleurs de cent ans.

Le vent d'hiver, en vous touchant la joue,
A fait mourir vos oeillets et vos lis,
Vous n'avez plus que des mouches de boue
Et sur les quais vous gisez tout salis.

Il est passé, le doux règne des belles;
La Parabère avec la Pompadour
Ne trouveraient que des sujets rebelles,
Et sous leur tombe est enterré l'amour.

Vous, cependant, vieux portraits qu'on oublie,
Vous respirez vos bouquets sans parfums,
Et souriez avec mélancolie
Au souvenir de vos galants défunts.

While I'm at it, I've decided I may as well post another of Gautier's poems that I love. If nothing else, it may make a few of you use your grey cells in a new way, as you endeavour to translate. Nowhere does Blogger say we have to stick to the English language, what, what, what?!


Ce n'est pas vous, non, madame, que j'aime,
Ni vous non plus, Juliette, ni vous,
Ophélia, ni Béatrix, ni même
Laure la blonde, avec ses grands yeux doux.

Celle que j'aime à présent, est en Chine;
Elle demeure avec ses vieux parents,
Dans une tour de porcelain fine,
Au fleuve Jaune, où sont les cormorans.

Elle a des yeux retroussés vers les tempes,
Un pied petit à tenir dans la main,
Le teint plus clair que le cuivre des lampes,
Les ongles longs et rougis de carmin.

Par son treillis elle passe sa tête,
Que l'hirondelle en volant vient toucher,
Et, chaque soir, aussi bien qu'un poëte,
Chante le saule et la fleur du pêcher.

I promise to tell the stories of both the poems, eventually, once I've let them confound you for starters. Who knows, there may be talented, multi-lingual Bloggers who won't be able to wait to leave a comment and translate the lot today!

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Wednesday With Weaver

Wow! (Thought I may as well keep the 'W's' well in evidence, as a starter.) Thanks to the Weaver of Grass, I rashly agreed to join in today's challenge to write about INSPIRATION. Hmmm. Yesterday, I dutifully typed and printed a hypothetical post, ready for transcribing to Blogger. (I still can't get anything to copy and paste successfully into napple notes - no inspiration there, then....)

But now, in the early hours of Wednesday (5.30am), and in the cold light of day, the two pages of A4, on which I quoted one German and one French poem among other things, lost their charm. All, that is, except for the last paragraph, which seemed to be the most relevant, and I quote:-

I simply love words. The older I get, the more I read, the more words have etched themselves into my conscious, or unconscious, mind. Now Blogger has given me the perfect arena for letting them spill out. But I wouldn't class as inspiring - though many of it's Blogaddicts are! For which I thank you all...

When all is said and done, inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere, anything. As long as one keeps an open mind and a sharp lookout for anything which triggers the flashing , Eureka! sign in the brain, inspiration will always be available. Now, stop reading this and go and find some.

Sunday 26 July 2009

Live And Learn

That's what it's all about, no matter which area of life you care to mention. Thanks to Gumbo Writer's interview with Harvey Stanbrough this week, I have discovered a great source for more learning. At one point in this interview, if you've not read it, Mr H. kindly offered to send a PDF file to those interested in the art of writing.

As a result of my being bold enough to request a copy in an email, I've had an ongoing, behind the scenes conversation with the gentleman since then. Thanks to a chance remark of his, I had the perfect nudge to write the following lines:-

Oh, To Be An Open Book!

If I were published in a book,
however would I breathe?
While people flipped my pages,
I might get a reprieve;

for as they turned a leaf or two
I'd inhale with all my might.
This hasty chest expansion
might last me through the night.

By counting all my many lines,
they'd maybe guess my age...
I know, if they erased a few,
I'd not be in a rage!

As The Weaver of Grass is currently asking for people to talk about their sources of inspiration, I thought this would tie in very nicely with her idea. I nominate 'The Chance Remark' as an ideal starting point for prose or poem. Why not go and visit her, and find out more about her cunning plan to get everyone writing? She does some exceedingly worthwhile posts herself, on the pen pushing front!

I'd also like to say a big thank you to the people who have become followers over the past few days... though some of you haven't left me a clue as to how I may return the favour. Nevertheless, you have caused Blogger to count to 100 on his less than perfect fingers; I noticed yesterday, you see, that he managed to make the total 101, but this morning, although I spotted yet another new face in the picture parade, he only makes it total 100. Either people are deserting me in disgust, or Blogger still hasn't mastered the art of arithmetic.

So, speak to me, newcomers - you'll find my bark is far worse than my bite...

Saturday 25 July 2009

Short, But Not Necessarily Sweet

A Reflection

The one in the glass is a stranger.
Who could they be? Should I know?
Possibly. There is a danger
the face is nobody but me!

Thursday 23 July 2009

Q's Done It Again

He sent an email, asking 'What am I?' I thought Blogland should tell him, so here's his question in full:-

I hold sprinklings of dust and occasional hair
pulled out in frustration, or computer despair.
I carry remnants of biscuits, a sandwich or three:
splashes of fruit juice, coffee or tea.
My glossy key tops are like footprints in sand;
some letters worn off by repetitive hand.
The eventual demise of my N, O, P, Q
means it's out with the old, and in with the new.

Only polite answers please - remember I am his Mummy, no matter how old he gets! As such, I am allowed to be a lazy moo, and use his brain power, rather than mine, to fill today's blank blogpage. I wasn't born yesterday. Anything for an easy life...

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Chip Off The Old Block

Having written the title, I thought I'd better go straight to The Phrase Finder and probe into the origins of such a delightful saying. This is what I found:-


A person or thing that derives from the source or parentage.


There are at least three variants of this phrase. The earliest form is 'chip of the same block', where the block in question may have been stone or wood. It dates back to at least 1621 when it appeared in a sermon by the Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Sanderson:-

"Am I not a child of the same Adam...a chip of the same block, with him?"

This seems to be interchangeable with 'chip of the old block' (See John Milton's An apology against - A modest confutation of the animadversions upon the remonstrant against Smectymnuus.)

N.B. The author of this gem then pointed out he'd included this book title simply for the pleasure of seeing one which was longer than the quoted line he'd taken from it:-

"How well dost thou now appeare to be a Chip of the old block."

He went on to tell us, it remained 'of ' rather then 'off ' until the 19th century, when the earliest reference he could find was in the Ohio newspaper The Athens Messenger, June 1870:

" The children see their parents' double-dealings, see their want of integrity, and learn them to cheat...The child is too often a chip off the old block."

I shall ignore the use of the verb 'learn' as opposed to 'teach', as well as pray it was not my want of integrity my No.1 Son was copying when he sent me the following lines in an email yesterday:-

Ode to a Biro!
by Q

There was a young Biro in plastic
whose life had been simply fantastic.
It was faithful through all,
with its medium-tip ball,
but unfortunately, I've just gone and snapped it!

I trust my own first-born chip didn't leave too great a dent in his Ma-block...The jury is still out on that one.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Jumping On The Bandwagon

I am beginning to feel some of my readers are guilty of this crime. Though come to think of it, what is a bandwagon? And if several readers jumped at once, would it collapse, or merely overturn?

Perhaps I should stop following this unproductive line of thought, and focus on the accepted meaning of the phrase. As I understand it, it's a way of describing a somewhat copycat mindset.
It would seem, after noting my fairly fast following up on their suggestions for poetic subject matter, that several Blogpersons are challenging me to pit my wits against unseen forces of inspiration on a somewhat regular basis.

More than once has Gumbo Writer prompted me in this fashion. Sometimes I can reply 'by return', as it were, but occasionally it takes a while to get my thinking into gear. Such was the case recently, when in an email of hers, she remarked that my phrase 'the larks and owls would never meet' sounded as though it should warrant a poem of its own.

Eventually, the cogs and wheels whirred, and I emailed her the resultant lines - for her eyes only, as you might say. But then I got to thinking, why limit readership? Why not cast it on the waters of Blogland's Inland Sea, securely corked in typical green glass bottle, and let it wash up on some far distant shore as fate, time and tide decreed? (Thinks:- Do inland seas have tides?)

Therefore, thanks to Angie and my clanking cogs, I give you:-

Larks and Owls

The Larks and Owls would never meet,
should each to his own rhythm keep.
Larks, who wake a break of dawn,
long before it's midnight, Y..A..W..N.
But Owls, who choose to lie abed
until the sun its beams have shed,
at dark, revive to full alert;
they're lively, witty, brisk and pert.
Then, night-time Owls come out to play,
while morning Larks all hide away
beneath their duvets, sound asleep,
as Owls their nightly vigil keep.

Bon Voyage, little green bottle... may you have a safe journey to those distant realms. And if you happen upon it yourself, Oh! Unknown Castaway, please reseal it after reading, and return to the deeps. Who knows where it may land next?

Saturday 18 July 2009

As Phoenix Requested

This is me talking to/about a couple of my pencils, as per comment/ suggestion left on my last post. I should probably explain, I have pencils at all points of the compass, so it was no easy task deciding which I should engage in conversation. I eventually opted to concentrate on the one which had produced the Enigma poem, the most recent of my efforts - until today, that is.

To be totally contrary, though, both of the following were tapped out on the keyboard; no back of envelope (traditional) or pencil (optional) played any part in their composition.

Ode To An Old, Wooden Pencil

Oh, Pencil! How your black and red
draws words and pictures from my head.
The painted stripes are dented, scratched,
but still your black lead stays intact.
You once belonged unto another,
who chewed your end. It made me shudder.
But when I found you, sad, forlorn,
I docked your tail. You were reborn.
Now, detrimental teeth marks gone,
and pristine eraser placed upon
your nether regions, you're renewed -
one cannot tell you had been chewed!

Blue Clutch Wonder

Nought point seven millimetre,
Pentel two oh seven;
a wonder of the modern age,
a pencil straight from heaven.

Turquoise barrel, silver clip,
twelve leads inside his shell;
consistency of breadth is his,
he always serves me well.

His point is ever crisp and sharp,
yet soft and freely flowing,
with leads advancing one by one;
spare refills keep him going.

No sharpener need spoil his head,
and splinter pointed dome,
for on this marvel of design,
his headgear's made of chrome.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Signposts And Curiosity

"Curiouser and curiouser!" So said Alice in Wonderland, one upon a storytime. For those among us who have more than our share of The Elephant Child's ' satiable curtiosity', a signpost can be our down fall, once our trunks have sniffed a whiff of something interesting...

Blogland leaves these tempting pointers in unexpected places, and we can find ourselves wandering in fields of fantasy before we have time to control the dash of the mouse upon which we ride. I was leisurely investigating blogs old and new after I posted my pennyworth (!) on Tuesday this week, when an Aerial Armadillo had me following one such signpost to the Clarity Of Night.

Before I knew it, I was inveigled into grabbing a used envelope, the back of which was imploring my pencil to waggle out a few words on the subject of In Vino Veritas. This was to comply with rules of a competition set up by Jason Evans. The closing date was only a day away, so my pencil needed to move quickly; eventually producing enough drawn out black lead lines to create the following:-


Her glass is filled with wine.
He asks "Will you be mine?"
She, bashful, pale and shy,
lifts glass, and drains it dry.

She hears his words, so false,
spin round her, like a valse.
The Devil's Advocate
has left his help too late.

"You will not be in charge
once truth is set at large!
Beware what comes to pass -
In Vino Veritas!"

The enterprising Mr Evans has put an alphabetical list of numbered entries on his blog, with the chance for Blogpersons to vote for their favourite five submissions. With a total of 158 to peruse, this will be no mean task...Whoever manages to read all of them, will deserve a special prize for their tenacity of purpose, no less.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

It's About Time

...I stopped revelling in other people's words and and got down to the business of chiseling a few more of my own in the marble halls of Blogland: or impressing them on clay tablets: or painting them on papyrus: or on a cave's rock face.
When you contemplate the variety of methods humans have used, doesn't it just show how great has been Man's urge to put his thoughts down to share with others? Since the beginning of time an underlying ribbon of communication has woven its threads around the world.

And this Time thing. When did it stop being governed by internal, unconscious rhythm, and turn into the rat race of modern quicker- faster- save time mentality? But then the advantages of this speed become obvious.

Imagine a pre-historic Blogland.

Immediately the whole concept of world wide, near instantaneous communication system becomes laughable. I chisel my message, tie it to a four footed messenger, or the back of a turtle, or leg of an eagle and send it on its Otherland. There's Authorblog, off in Aussie land, for example, who wouldn't stand a kangaroo's chance in hell of ever reading my equivalent Verse and Worse sample. Doesn't bear thinking about, eh?

Awareness of Time starts to look like a necessary evil in our evolutionary march through life...Although I gave up wearing a wristwatch many moons ago, I have to admit to being a trifle obsessive about clocks. I like their tick, tock, background noise, and it took me a long while to accustom myself to the clock radio beside my bed, because of its tock-tickless state.

It was while pondering in this fashion, that I came to write the following:-


Clock in the hall, steady and slow,
measuring ages as they come and go.
A grandfather clocks towering height
guards the pendulum's swing, left, right.

The clock on the mantelpiece studies life,
the daily routines of husband and wife,
of children and friends who clatter around
quite unaware of its rhythmical sound.

Clock in the kitchen - almost ringing;
bubbling saucepans, kettle singing.
Everything timed, no second wasted;
plates of hot food wait to be tasted.

A travelling clock in the spare room waits
for a guest to arrive. In the hands of the fates
its destiny hangs, and the decision
of when it may once again work with precision.

So all these clocks of which I speak,
each with its character, quite unique,
throughout the house are the guardians of time,
who remind us, to waste it would be a crime!

(Then what am I doing writing this, when I should probably be doing something else?)

Late Edition P.S.

It's 7pm here now, and anybody reading thus far after this time ( or its equivalent elsewhere in the world) please do make sure you read the comment Q has left ... I think you might enjoy it as much as I did!

Friday 10 July 2009

I Feel Like Dora The Explorer

If this post title leaves you a trifle puzzled, I'm sorry. My smallest granddaughter once initiated me into Dora's cartoon land, and has occasionally waved merchandise under my nose with blatant Dora logos embossed on its various plastic horrors.
You will gather I favour more traditional, less consumer driven toys. However, that's another story.
Although I've never watched the TV programme, from the title, I assume Dora is an intrepid explorer. That's what I've felt like the past couple of days, flitting round Blogland, peeking at various pals latest offerings and reacquainting myself with their goings on.

While visiting one of my longtime favourites at, what should I see but a photo of a combine harvester, along with Weaver's delightful Kraken poem. Then, Lo! and Behold! I found with a green giant of a tractor on the heading banner.

They reminded me of something I wrote back in the days when I trundled up and down the South Coast railway line to work, and often saw combines and tractors busy in the adjacent fields.

Clean Cut

Harvest dust cloud
shrouds barbershop tractor
noisily creating
crew-cut stubble fields.

Heads of ripened corn
stand to attention,
waiting to be cropped.

No blonde tipped stalks
will be left, to weave
magic-movement patterns
under the teasing comb
of a warm summer wind.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Boss Is A Dirty Word

I may have shown who is boss, and enjoyed making Blogland sit on the naughty step for a while, but I now have the feeling I'm being treated to a bit of my own medicine. You see from choice of vocabulary in that phrase, that medical matters are impinging on my consciousness. I think I have been banished to the naughty step belonging to the NHS. I have obviously been remiss for not making more noises to gain their attention before now. Their radar has now registered my presence, and I'm being bombarded by flak from all directions.

This would be a little more encouraging if the gunners got their act together, and concentrated the salvos so they came from a single direction. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case. Our local surgeries have recently undergone major changes - some for better, some for worse, it seems. My GP, who has known my ins-and-outs (!) for more than 35 years, has moved on to more managerial realms. You might think a letter would have been sent, to inform me whose list I would be transferred to, but no. In fact, I only knew of his departure from a friend of mine who had received such a letter.

This did not bode well, once I blipped on the radar screen, as I'm sure you can imagine, and now I'm dodging bullets while trying to establish a rapport with doctors to whom I'm virtually an unknown entity.

My supposedly 'restful holiday' break, has proved to be a whirlwind of to-ing and fro-ing, at the mercy of medics... apart, that is, from a few great days when NZ relations were in my neck of the woods, together with No1 Son, who played chauffeur for them. Son is much improved, I am happy to report, so pills seem to have had the desired effect in his case, at least! Only wish I could say the same about me. But I live in hopes?!

I'd like to say a BIG thank you to all my Blogpals who have left messages during my AWOL act. I make no promises as to frequency of posts for a while, or to regularity of ward rounds among Blogland's lunatic fringes, but will flit like a will o' the wisp as time and inclination dictate. Normal service will be resumed as soon as I begin to feel normal. This could take centuries as, in truth, I have yet to discover how normal feels... I even wonder whether I would recognise it if it bit me on the behind...