The Memory Makers

Tramore Beach is a place where young children have been introduced to the sea for many, many years now. I was once one of those kids and I always love to see the tradition being carried on, as it was by this man with his youngster at sunset last night.

picsart_01-14-09-11-40
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford

While moments like this make me a little nostalgic, they also remind me that my memories are not necessarily rose-tinted. I remember the sea being golden and Dad bringing me right to the edge of the waves and then lifting me high into the air as the water came in. I saw the exact same thing happening before my very eyes last night and all the while the Metal Man was watching out in the distance, just as he was back when I was tiny.

Oddly enough, it was only while I was watching this pair playing with the waves that I realised that the memories were not just being created for the child but for the man as well. I wondered if he had once been the child that I was and was remembering his father as well as living in the moment with his own child.

All the while, lines of poetry kept wandering in and out of my head.

How can we know the dancer from the dance?  (W.B. Yeats)

and

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams. 

(Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy)

Yes, memory is crucial to  connectedness in the world and our sense of having a place within that:

Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilisation, no society, no future. (Elie Wiesel)

 

Back to Reading ~ Week 2

I’m a poetry person, as you probably realise by now, but I was a little dubious about even borrowing my book for this week from the library as I had a pre-conceived idea that it might be all religious and just not my cup of tea.

Here it is and the title was what put me off most:

twenty-poems

I’ve been dabbling in it all week and have loved the style in which it is written ~ with chapters about the intricacies of ‘marriage’ interwoven with reasons for the choice of the twenty one poems.

I love being introduced to poems I’ve never read before and while I’d met many of the included poets on other occasions, almost all the poems were new to me. And it wasn’t all holy, holy. In fact, it was more a collection of love poems than ones that were specifically about marriage.

If you are into poems about relationships, this book will open doors to places in your heart that you never knew how to even acknowledge before.

It’s written in a very accessible way and Roger Housden has a series of ‘twenty poems’ books. After reading this one, I simply have to get my paws on some of the others.

And let me say that this little effort at getting back to reading has been one of the better things I’ve done in a while. I think I’m getting hooked again and now have a whole stack of books lined up like back in the day.

I’m still resisting moving from real books with proper pages to turn to a Kindle. Maybe I’m missing something but I think I’d miss the feel of books too much if I went all hi-tech. What do you reckon?

 

 

 

More Things That Baffle Me

I  wrote a while ago about things that baffle me and here’s a few more I feel I need to add to my list:

#1. How could any non-medic even consider watching a live streaming of an operation on someone’s insides?  (I heard a radio interview yesterday about the fact that we will soon have the opportunity to do this!)

#2. How is it possible that Donald Trump has gained such momentum since I last wrote?

Trump
Source: http://www.freebeacon.com

#3. How can anybody be a litter lout rather than bringing their rubbish home?

#4. How is it that we can’t seem to get the message about the craziness of eating too much and not exercising enough?

#5. How is it that a relatively rich country like Ireland can’t sort out the horrific problem of homelessness that is getting worse by the day?

#6. How is it that poetry isn’t anything like as popular as music?

If YOU can help me to understand any of these matters, I’d be delighted to hear from you. 

 

 

 

Tame and Wild

Robin
Robin

There’s a tameness and a wildness in us all ~ whether we like to, or can, live these out or not.

I was very taken at the hairdressers the other day by a woman in her late sixties or early seventies who had long grey hair. She wanted lots of pink and purple tints put into it.

She has stayed in my mind and I  wonder if she is an extreme Jenny Joseph follower:

WARNING

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

(Jenny Joseph)

 I loved her cavalier attitude to the hairdo. She said it didn’t really matter if it worked out or not; that it was an experiment.
Those of us who live on the wild side maybe need to experiment a little with tameness and I’d like to see the tame experiment with the wild.
What fun to meet on a purple bridge in the middle!
Which side would you be coming from? 

 

 

Brightness of Peace

It’s been an evening soaking in poetry and this is the masterpiece that keeps calling me back to read and re-read:

love is a place

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

(e.e.cummings)

The place that says both love and yes  to me is my precious Tramore Bay.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford at Sunrise
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford at Sunrise

What thoughts or places does the poem evoke in you? 

Love, Love and More Love

Love

This Post Comes with a Warning for Lovers

There are times poems take me over. Usually they have more than eight words but this little one, included in Penguin’s Poems for Love, has had me turning myself inside out for days and days now

What Love is Like

Love is like
a pineapple
sweet and
undefinable

(Piet Hein)

It has caused me to see pineapples in a whole new light. I’ve spent hours trying and failing to take photographs of their thick skins and juicy flesh. I’ve been luxuriating in their deep scent, making smoothies with them, grazing on them, caressing them in shops and wanting to recite the poem to everyone in sight.

I’d never, ever had thought of love being like a pineapple. At least, I thought I wouldn’t have. If I’d had to pick a fruit, I’d say it would have been grapes, apples or, maybe, passion fruit.

Now, I’m hooked on pineapples.

Go on, tell me which fruit, vegetable or anything else you would substitute for ‘pineapple.’ 

Where Does Culture Bring You?

Tonight is Culture Night here in Ireland and the whole question of what ‘culture’ means to different people/s has been playing on my mind all day.

It probably won’t surprise regular readers of Social Bridge that culture, for me, is at its best when it brings nature and poetry together.

I associate September very much blackberries and going out with our buckets to secret hideaways to pick them. That’s exactly what I did this evening up this old track a few miles from Tramore.

The Blackberry Path
The Blackberry Path

Various poems about blackberries flashed before me, including Seamus Heaney’s Blackberry Picking, Sylvia Plath’s Blackberrying and this beauty from Galway Kinnell:

Blackberry Eating

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry — eating in late September.

Galway Kinnell

Blackberries

I realise that cultural preferences vary hugely and are very wide-ranging indeed. Ireland is alive with cultural activities tonight and I even caught the choir of birds at their dress rehearsal as I came home after my poetic blackberry feast.

The Choir
The Choir

I’d love to hear where the concept of  culture brings you? 

***

I’m thrilled that Social Bridge has been Shortlisted in the Blog Awards Ireland 2015 in the ‘Best Post’ Category. The Finalists are being decided by Public Vote which concludes on September 21st ~ just a few short days away now. (Many, many thanks to everyone who has voted for me, thus far.)

If you haven’t voted yet, I’d be delighted if you would vote for Social Bridge, and, of course, encourage all your family and friends to do so too, by clicking this Voting Button:

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Seamus Heaney Remembered with Love

Today marks the second anniversary of the death of Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.

Seamus Heaney Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Seamus Heaney
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Seamus Heaney’s poetry, as regular readers will know, has been very dear to my heart, especially since I heard him read at the Kikenny Arts Festival in August 2009, just weeks after my mother’s death and at a time when my father was very frail indeed.

Heaney’s work is wide-ranging in terms of theme but, for me, his writings about his family, particularly his late parents, resonate very strongly and never fail to bring solace.

Last night, I was perusing the various volumes of his work that have their home on my desk beside the computer and found myself returning over and over to what I suspect may be his shortest poem of all.

The Strand

The dotted line my father’s ashplant made

On Sandymount Strand

Is something else the tide won’t wash away.

(Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996Faber and Faber)

The tide has ebbed and flowed rhythmically over the last two years and it certainly hasn’t washed away any of the lines crafted by Seamus Heaney. If anything, it has brought more and more of them up onto the shores of new waves of poetry lovers from all across the world.

Stepping Out with Brendan Kennelly

The New Year simply hasn’t begun for me and lots of that is due to the fact that I’ve been waiting to take an acceptable photograph of birds to accompany the one poem that always gets a year going in my crazy mind.

I’ve gone out day after day and the birds are singing melodiously or soaring beautifully but it’s like they are playing hide and seek with me.

So here’s the poem and maybe someone would send me a 2015 photo of ‘summoning birds’ that I can add in to the post.

Begin

Begin again to the summoning birds

to the sight at the light at the window,

begin to the roar of morning traffic

all along Pembroke Road.

Every beginning is a promise

born in light and dying in dark

determination and exhaltation of springtime

flowering the way to work.

Begin to the pageant of queuing girls

the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal

bridges linking the past and future

old friends passing through with us still.

Begin to the loneliness that cannot end

since it perhaps is what makes us begin,

begin to wonder at unknown faces

at crying birds in the sudden rain

Begin to the pageant of queuing girls

the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal

bridges linking the past and future

old friends passing through with us still.

Begin to the loneliness that cannot end

since it perhaps is what makes us begin,

begin to wonder at unknown faces

at crying birds in the sudden rain

at branches stark in the willing sunlight

at seagulls foraging for bread

at couples sharing a sunny secret

alone together while making good.

Though we live in a world that dreams of ending

that always seems about to give in

something that will not acknowledge conclusion

insists that we forever begin. 

From: The Essential Brendan Kennelly: Selected Poems (2011) edited by Terence Brown and Michael Longley ( Bloodaxe Books)

P.S. The photograph that I like best from my numerous expeditions in search of ‘summoning birds’ since January 1st is this one. 

Hope