Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The "good old" time is past, it sang itself out in Mozart-- how happy are we that his Rococo still speaks to us, that his "good company", his tender enthusiasm, his childish delight in the Chinese and its flourishes, his courtesy of heart, his longing for the elegant, the amorous, the tripping, the tearful, and his belief in the South, can still appeal to something left in us! Ah, some time or other it will be over with it!--but who can doubt that it will be over still sooner with the intelligence and taste for Beethoven! For he was only the last echo of a break and transition in style, and not, like Mozart, the last echo of a great European taste which had existed for centuries. Beethoven is the intermediate event between an old mellow soul that is constantly breaking down, and a future over-young soul that is always coming; there is spread over his music the twilight of eternal loss and eternal extravagant hope,--the same light in which Europe was bathed when it dreamed with Rousseau, when it danced round the Tree of Liberty of the Revolution, and finally almost fell down in adoration before Napoleon.

Friedrich Nietzsche, from 'Beyond Good and Evil', translated by Helen Zimmern

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,
The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:
The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,
The wide creek, the mist-blurred grass.
The moss is slippery, though there's been no rain
The pine sings, but there's no wind.
Who can leap the world's ties
And sit with me among the white clouds?

Han Shan, translated by Gary Snyder
Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer, it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I'll never reach it. So what's the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking.
Eduardo Galeano

Monday, January 29, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
This is that Lady Beauty, in whose praise
Thy voice and hand shake still,--long known to thee
By flying hair and fluttering hem,--the beat
Following her daily of thy heart and feet,
How passionately and irretrievably,
In what fond flight, how many ways and days!

DG Rossetti, from Soul's Beauty

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.
Frank O'Hara

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
I sang of the dancing stars,
I sang of the daedal Earth,
And of Heaven, and the giant wars,
And Love, and Death, and Birth--
And then I chang'd my pipings,
Singing how down the vale of Maenalus
I pursu'd a maiden and clasp'd a reed.
Gods and men, we are all deluded thus!
It breaks in our bosom and then we bleed.
All wept, as I think both ye now would,
If envy or age had not frozen your blood,
At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.

From 'The Hymn of Pan' by Percy Bysshe Shelley
It is the business of the very few to be independent; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it, even with the best right, but without being obliged to do so, proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring beyond measure. He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life in itself already brings with it; not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes isolated, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing such a one comes to grief, it is so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it, nor sympathise with it. And he cannot any longer go back! He cannot even go back again to the sympathy of men!

Friedrich Nietzsche, from 'Beyond Good and Evil', translated by Helen Zimmern

Friday, January 26, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Robert Burns

Green grow the rashes, O;
Green grow the rashes, O;
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent amang the lasses, O.

There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
In ev'ry hour that passes, O;
What signifies the life o' man,
An' 'twere na for the lasses, O.

The warly race may riches chase,
An' riches still may fly them, O;
An' tho' at last they catch them fast,
Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them, O.

But gie me a canny hour at e'en,
My arms about my Dearie, O;
An' warly cares an' warly men,
May a' gae tapsalteerie, O!

For you sae douse, ye sneer at this,
Ye're nought but senseless asses, O;
The wisest Man the warl' saw,
He dearly lov'd the lasses, O.

Auld Nature swears, the lovely Dears
Her noblest work she classes, O;
Her prentice han' she try'd on man,
An' then she made the lasses, O.

Green grow the rashes, O;
Green grow the rashes, O;
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent amang the lasses, O.

Robert Burns

translation: rashes = rushes, reeds; 'twere na = if it wasn't for; warly = wordly; canny = pleasant; e'en = evening; tapsalteerie = topsy-turvy; douse = bold; auld = old; prentice = apprentice

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It all just comes with ideas. It's like I'm sitting there, empty, and bingo — in comes an idea. It might just be a little, tiny idea, but some of them I fall in love with. I fall in love with them for two reasons: the idea itself, and then what cinema could do to that idea. It always goes by in fragments, and then the whole thing starts revealing itself.
David Lynch

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The Stone Ledge
On the stone ledge above the water,
Where willow leaf-tips drink the wine.
If you say the spring breeze has no meaning,
Why does it bring me all these falling flowers?

surely this is one of the most absurd ideas ever ...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Claire de Lune
Your soul is the choicest of countries
where charming maskers, masked shepherdesses,
go playing their lutes and dancing, yet gently
sad beneath their fantastic disguises.

While they sing in a minor key
of all-conquering love and careless fortune,
they don’t seem to trust in their own fantasy
and their song melts away in the light of the moon,

in the quiet moonlight, lovely and sad,
that makes the birds dream in the trees, all
the tall water-jets sob with ecstasies,
the slender water-jets rising from marble.

Paul Verlaine

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Alas! what are you, after all, my written and painted thoughts! Not long ago you were so variegated, young and malicious, so full of thorns and secret spices, that you made me sneeze and laugh--and now? You have already doffed your novelty, and some of you, I fear, are ready to become truths, so immortal do they look, so pathetically honest, so tedious! And was it ever otherwise? What then do we write and paint, we mandarins with Chinese brush, we immortalisers of things which lend themselves to writing, what are we alone capable of painting? Alas, only that which is just about to fade and begins to lose its odour! Alas, only exhausted and departing storms and belated yellow sentiments! Alas, only birds strayed and fatigued by flight, which now let themselves be captured with the hand--with our hand! We immortalise what cannot live and fly much longer, things only which are exhausted and mellow! And it is only for your afternoon, you, my written and painted thoughts, for which alone I have colours, many colours, perhaps, many variegated softenings, and fifty yellows and browns and greens and reds;-- but nobody will divine thereby how ye looked in your morning, you sudden sparks and marvels of my solitude, you, my old, beloved-- evil thoughts!

Friedrich Nietzsche, the closing passage from 'Beyond Good and Evil', translated by Helen Zimmern

Saturday, January 20, 2007

variation on a theme
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Friday, January 19, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
If the heavens were not in love with wine,
There’d be no Wine Star in the sky.
And if earth wasn’t always drinking,
There’d be nowhere called Wine Spring.
I’ve heard that pure wine makes the Sage.
Even the cloudy makes us wise.
If even the wise get there through drink,
What’s the point of True Religions?
Three times and I understand the Way,
Six and I’m one again with Nature.
Only the things we know when we’re drunk
Can never be expressed when we’re sober.

Li Po

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O'er the far times, when many a subject land
Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, thron'd on her hundred isles!

She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,
Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion,
A ruler of the waters and their powers:
And such she was; her daughters had their dowers
From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East
Pour'd in her lap all gems in sparkling showers.
In purple was she rob'd, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity increas'd.

In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,
And silent rows the songless gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,
And music meets not always now the ear:
Those days are gone -- but Beauty still is here.
States fall, arts fade -- but Nature doth not die,
Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

Byron, from Canto IV, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

I was reminded of this while reading Udge's post about Venetian bridges. I've never been to Venice, but Byron makes me want to. What an elegant poet he is.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

everyone's got something to say ...
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The translator must first be a medium between the natural and human worlds, between the living and the dead, and among cultures, languages, and peoples. The translator of poetry must also be a historian, a linguist, a magician, a composer, an intuitionist, a lover, and a midwife, but most of all, he or she must be a poet.
Leza Lowitz, from ‘Midwifing the Underpoem’
Listen to my silence
that murmurs through these leaves
listen to this unwritten song.

Much is heaped between these lines
risen without mouth
silted up in the underground.

Listen to my paper-thin silence
that is gone with the wind
through the trees.

Hear my voice
at the curve of your mouth

Jos Steegstra

Reading this poem reminded me of my first meeting with Jos in an Edinburgh pub one lunchtime. It was a chance meeting at the bar and we struck up a conversation. Before long we were on our fourth pint of strong Scottish beer. At that time I was working on some paintings and he asked if he could see them, so we staggered out of the pub and up the road to my flat, stopping to buy a bottle of whisky on the way. But when we got to the door I realised I had left my keys inside. I rang the bell expecting one of my flatmates to be at home, but no-one came, so, under the influence of the drink, and because I knew that the lock wasn't very secure, I took a step back and gave the door an almighty thump with the base of my boot. Jos looked aghast as I did this, but not half as aghast as the poor girl who had arrived that day from America to visit one of my flatmates and had been fast alseep alone in his room when I began ringing the doorbell. She was just about to reach the door when it suddenly flew open in front of her. She screamed, and Jos just stood there clutching the bottle of whisky, looking totally bemused.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

today an email from Lithuania:

Dear Sirs,
good day to you.
Please advice best price for Herring 300+, 350+, 400+ and Mackerel 400-600, 500+, 600+.
Thank You in advance.
Julija Fediukina

anyone know the going price for herring?
Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.
Albert Camus

Monday, January 15, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Bitter Thoughts on Receiving a Slice of Cordelia's Wedding-Cake

Why have such scores of lovely, gifted girls
Married impossible men?
Simple self-sacrifice may be ruled out,
And missionary endeavour, nine times out of ten.

Repeat "impossible men": not merely rustic,
Foul-tempered or depraved
(Dramatic foils chosen to show the world
How well women behave, and always have behaved).

Impossible men: idle, illterate,
Self-pitying, dirty, sly,
For whose appearence even in City parks
Excuses must be made to casual passers-by.

Has God's supply of tolerable husbands
Fallen, in fact, so low?
Or do I always over-value woman
At the expense of man?

Robert Graves

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Two Sisters © The Imogen Cunningham Trust

Imogen Cunningham - Two Sisters, 1928
My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

Dylan Thomas, from 'Poem in October'

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Barred Spiral Galaxy
Whilst idly browsing the Internet tonight I followed a link to News of the Universe. I don't know what kind of news I expected to get - something quite important I suppose - but this is the sort of thing I found:
Figure 13 showing the limits on the dark energy equation of state shows w(z) = w0 +wa(1-a) with (w0, wa) = (-1.7,3) as being within the 1 sigma contour. But this combination gives a dark energy density much larger than the matter density at last scattering.
Well, that's certainly news to me.

I was drawn to an entry entitled 'Egg-shaped Universe?'. It seems that despite the best efforts of some brainy boffin to convince us that the Universe is indeed egg-shaped, it is not. I'd quite like the Universe to be egg-shaped, but have always assumed that it is infinite, which, according to my peculiar way of thinking, would preclude it from having any shape at all. But I'm not an expert. Anyway, the reason the Universe is probably not egg-shaped is this:
Adding an additional quadrupole from the ellipsoidal Universe will make the probability of the low observed quadrupole even smaller, unless there is a reason that the quadrupole from the ellipticity will be equal and nearly opposite to the quadrupole from inflation.
But you knew that already.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
A Chinaman will inquire of what noble country you are. You return the question, and he will say his lowly province is so-and-so. He will invite you to do him the honour of directing your jewelled feet to his degraded house. You reply that you, a discredited worm, will crawl into his magnificent palace.

19th Century description of Chinese etiquette by a Westerner writing under the name "Resident in Peking"

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
I was watching Breakfast TV yesterday. A female presenter is standing in the middle of a windswept field with the owner of an animal sanctuary, two black labrador dogs, and a Shetland pony foal that barely reaches up to her knees.

Presenter: This is Barney the Shetland pony who was abandoned by his mother and hand-reared here. The only trouble is that because he was reared in the company of dogs he now thinks he is one. (turns to Sanctuary owner) And when did you first realise that Barney had psychological problems?
Sanctuary Owner: When he started retrieving sticks.
It's so dark and wet and cold here today that I found myself singing this song ...

Think of London, a small city
It's dark, dark in the daytime
The people sleep, sleep in the daytime
If they want to, if they want to

I'm checking them out, I'm checking them out
I got it figured out, I got it figured out
There's good points and bad points
Find a city, find myself a city to live in.

There are a lot of rich people in Birmingham
A lot of ghosts in a lot of houses
Look over there! A dry ice factory
Good place to get some thinking done

Down el Paso way things get pretty spread out
People got no idea where in the world they are
They go up north and come back south
Still got no idea where in the world they are.
Did I forget to mention, to mention Memphis
Home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks
Do I smell? I smell home cooking
It's only the river, it's only the river.

Talking Heads, from Fear of Music

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
There is the class of history books and the class of forensic books, that is to say, the books of facts and the books of argument. No one would wish to belittle either kind. But when we think of a book proper, in the sense that a Bible means a book, we mean more than this. We mean, that is to say, a revelation of something that had remained latent, unconscious, perhaps even more or less intentionally repressed, within the writer's own soul, which is, ultimately, the soul of mankind. These books are apt to repel; nothing, indeed, is so likely to shock us at first as the manifest revelation of ourselves. Therefore, such books may have to knock again and again at the closed door of our hearts. "Who is there?" we carelessly cry, and we cannot open the door; we bid the importunate stranger, whatever he may be, to go away; until, as in the apologue of the Persian mystic, at last we seem to hear the voice outside saying: "It is thyself."

Havelock Ellis, from The Dance of Life (1923)
Whatever tastes sweet to the most perfect person, that is finally right.
Walt Whitman

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Napped half the day;
no one
punished me!

Kobayashi Issa, translated by Robert Hass

Monday, January 08, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The Poet McTeagle

(Camera pans away revealing a rocky Highland landscape. We hear inspiring Scottish music)

Voice Over: From these glens and scars the sound of the coot and the moorhen is seldom absent. Nature sits in stern mastery over these rocks and crags. The rush of the mountain stream, the bleat of the sheep, and the broad, clear Highland skies reflected in burn and loch form a breathtaking backdrop against which Ewan McTeagle writes such poems as 'Lend us a quid till the end of the week'.

(Cut to crofter's cottage. McTeagle sits at the window writing)

McTeagle: (voice over) If you could see your way to lending me sixpence I could at least buy a newspaper. That's not much to ask anyone.

Voice Over: One woman who remembers McTeagle as a young friend - Lassie O'Shen.

Lassie: Mr McTeagle wrote me two poems, between the months of January and April 1969...

Interviewer: Could you read us one?

Lassie: Och, I dinna like to... they were kinda personal... but I will ... 'To Ma Own Beloved Lassie. A poem on her I7th Birthday. Lend us a couple of bob till Thursday. I'm absolutely skint. But I'm expecting a postal order and I can pay you back as soon as it comes. Love Ewan.'

(Cut to abstract trendy arts poetry programme set. Poetry critic St John Limbo sits on an enormous inflatable see-through pouffe)

Limbo: (intensely) Since then McTeagle has developed and widened his literary scope. Three years ago he concerned himself with quite small sums - quick bits of ready cash: sixpences, shillings, but more recently he has turned his extraordinary literary perception to much larger sums - fifteen shillings, £4.12.6d ... even nine guineas ... But there is still nothing to match the huge sweep ... the majestic power of what is surely his greatest work: 'Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed?'.

Monty Python

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


1) My uncle once:
took his glass eye out and dropped it in his whisky
2) Never in my life:
have I been invited to an orgy
3) When I was five:
I shouted 'Get off you bad man!' at Captain Hook during a performance of Peter Pan
4) High school was:
totally devoid of girls
5) Fire is:
useful for toasting marshmallows
6) I once saw:
John Cale loping along like a wolf on an Edinburgh street
7) There’s this woman I know who:
walks like Bo Diddley
8) Once, at a bar:
I got very slightly tipsy
9) By noon I’m usually:
10) Last night:
an alien stole my scooter
11) If I only had:
the energy
12) Next time I go to church:
I will leave my ukulele at home
13) What worries me most:
is my tendency to worry
14) When I turn my head left:
I see a photograph of myself fishing on the River Tweed
15) When I turn my head right:
I see a slim Etruscan statuette known as the Shadow of Evening
16) You know I'm lying when:
I promise you a rose-garden
17) What I miss most about the eighties:
are Debbie Harry's cheekbones
18) If I were a character written by Shakespeare, I’d be:
19) By this time next year:
I should be more proficient on the Patagonian nose-flute
20) I have a hard time understanding:
21) You know I like you if:
I bite your neck
22) If I won an award, the first person I’d thank would be:
Santa Claus
23) Darwin, Mozart, Slim Pickens & Geraldine Ferraro:
are all in the running to manage the Scottish football team
24) Take my advice, never:
take my advice
25) My ideal breakfast is:
poached eggs, grilled mushrooms, bacon, tomato and toast
26) If you visit my hometown, I suggest you go to:
the Caledonian Hotel and invite me for afternoon tea in your suite overlooking the castle
27) Why doesn't everyone:
like Witold Lutoslavski?
28) If you spend the night at my house:
you must be raving mad
29) I’d stop my wedding:
if I were you
30) The world could do without:
jazz, morris dancing, Disneyland and tripe
31) My favorite blonde is:
The Milky Bar Kid
32) If I do anything well, it’s:
a bloody miracle
33) And by the way:
Could you lend me a pound till Friday? I'm expecting a postal order


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Through blue summer nights I will pass along paths,
Pricked by wheat, trampling short grass:
Dreaming, I will feel coolness underfoot,
Will let breezes bathe my bare head.

Not a word, not a thought:
Boundless love will surge through my soul,
And I will wander far away, a vagabond
In Nature - as happily as with a woman.

Arthur Rimbaud
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
Robert Frost

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
a medal for anyone who can get beyond level 14 on this insane game.
Let all men note
That in all years (O Love, thy gift is this!)
They that would look on her must come to me.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Monday, January 01, 2007

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

A very Happy New Year to you!
All great and beautiful work has come of first gazing without shrinking into the darkness.
John Ruskin, Modern Painters (1860)