Monday, June 28, 2010

Open Call for Forgiveness.

Dear England F.C.

I am writing to congratulate you on your recent success in the South Africa World Cup 2010. This year you showed great promise and potential, acted as role-models for an entire country and were a credit to your parents and not least, your own hard work playing soccer.

I have many friends who support you in a very passionate relationship some are claiming now, after you left; is wholly one way - from them to you.

There were a number of incidents on and off the pitch at this year's tournament, that were singled out and picked up on by the global media, during the first few games of the tournament, in which England as a team, were disunited. John Terry in respect of seeking to disagree with Fabbio Capello in public about certain managerial responsibilities Terry's voice, thoughts and feelings on the subject of team selection, whilst very welcome at all times - took upon themselves to manifest as a man clearly making the wrong decision and embaressing himself and his team mates. It was lucky Anelka walked out and news of France's public mood beamed to you, reminding you how easily it could have been one of your players huffing off and creating a public mood of surprised disgust and a 'state in disgrace' caused by soccer players representing England internationally, as agents of her realm.

There will be a lot of good to come out of this. Liam Brady was 'very pleased' about the England humiliation, not because he derives any pleasure at seeing it; but because the disallowed goal will force a climbdown by FIFA's president, who is the only man in soccer against the introduction of touch-line technology available to match officials (as rugby has) because - he claims - it is too expensive to impliment. Brady's got a real bee in his bonnet about it, and such he expressed a view that in less confident, more fragile eras of the historical special relationship between these two islands - could be viewed as triumphalism in reverse, colonials getting their own back on the chaps; and something proven most poetically wrong today with the existing technology the richest news corporations on the planet use to beam soccer around the globe as the 'global game' that truly does embrace all continents and most nations.

Liam Brady was 'made up' Germany's young team with less international experience than Australia; thrashed England and Germany's young stars swiftly clicking into that flawless machine internationally emerging into a classic German side - not because he derives any hidden joy from seeing England hammered by Germany - but because of the changes it may hopefully force and that Brady has been banging on about for years, soon after it proved itself in rugby. Seconds out of play to consult the screens and Ireland could have been in this year's tournament after the Irish equivalent of Britain's 'hand of god' goal by Maradonna; except a penalty at stake and not the goals that booted us out the world cup, that was all Henry's fault, Ireland agreed and the redtops and a more recent introduction to the market, the Irish Daily Mail, sought to whip up national unity around. The issues of soccer and justice.

Until Jack Chartlon arrived and turned Ireland F.C into a nation of winners interationally (not in the sense we 'won' any competitions, but that we always went further than the odds had us when Big Jack came his Charlton's Barmy Army manifest as part fo the cultural fabric and consciousness - recently out, fervent and proud soccer fans whose numbers had been smaller and with many less hesitant prior to the national team getting good for the first time; under a geordie legend, the entire nation en masse experiencing for the first time, the world cup tournament as contendors - expressing a culturally collective passion for a game that was viewed with a degree of suspicion until then because it was considered an 'English' game the invading occupiers pushed on us with the spreading of soccer and cricket, both very popular but not a part of the collective Irish consciousness in the way it is in England, until an Englishman came and achieved the impossible of getting us to the tournament and turning a nation of supressed for a thousand years cubs - only seventy years alive free - into winners by belief and talent alone.

Four million Irish boggers with ten times less talent than England, beating England, after her very embaressing Lansdowe Road incident seared into Irish cultural history as a dark day of Englosh disgrace when they ripped up the seating and began throwing it into the bemused Irish people below who had welcomed England with an open heart and hand.


If it had been a 2.1 win for Germany then England would be demanding justice, but, as I say, unfortunately the small and welcome five minutes of togetherness and purpose, a brief snarl of grit and united as a team, evaporated at half time when the enormity of the injustice occured; but still, poetry in the sense of England's only world cup being won in a similar kind of game with the same team, eerily so, Germany England 1966 Wembley, a team the Charlton brothers played in. When England got the rub f luck abd were awarded a goal by a decision that turned out to be wrong, the ball not crossing the goal line, so 1.1 and not England 2.1 up; and the psychology of the game and the teams shifted into final gear after that wrong decsion, much like it did yesterday; England beaten at their own, physical game by a bunch of legends. Mark these words.

Klose was a revelation and grew in stature the longer he was on the pitch; his and his teamates rise in belief as the game went on, mirroring England's ebbing away; until twenty five minutes to the end the team collectively switched off and its psychology wentinto 'departure lounge' mode, plain to witness.

A self-fulfilling curse manifest as the absence of wit and class. The captain's explanation, childishly simple in its logic, keen to remain upbeat, take the positive from the negative and carry-on looking foward four years, Wayne nearing thirty, playing support to the next Roy of the Rovers being invested with the collective hiope of millions, the chances of a winners medal slimming into a semblance of reality; who knows, it might happen four years from now..

It's going to Argentina Germany or Brazil, again. I personally have a desire for Maradonna being the story of this tournament; his life has been pure poetry already; from slum to world best to heart-attack and early death before turning his life round with faith and religion, a God he seems to believe in, and who seems to believe in him. If he wins the world cup after winning it when a pinch of years older than Messi is now, that's a team that leads from the heart.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Liam Clancy reciting Raftery's Mary Hynes

Mary Hynes

(The most beautiful woman in the West. Padraic Fallon translation
of the Anthony Raftery poem)

That Sunday, on my oath, the rain was a heavy overcoat
on a poor poet; and when the rain began in fleeces
of water to buck-leap like a goat, I was only a walking
penence reaching Kiltartan

and there so suddenly that my cold spine broke out
on the arch of my back in a rainbow;
this woman surged out of the day with so much sunlight,
that I was nailed there like a scarecrow.

But I found my tongue and a breath to balance it,
and I said:

'If I'd bow to you with this hump of rain, I'll fall
On my collarbone, but luck I'll chance it'; and after falling bow again
She laughed: Ah! she was gracious, and softly she said to me,

'For all Your lovely talking I go marketing with an ass, I know him.
I’m no hill-queen, alas, or Ireland, that grass widow,
So hurry on,
sweet Raftery, or you’ll keep me late for Mass!'

The parish priest has blamed me for missing second Mass
And the bell talking on the rope of the steeple,
But the tonsure of the poet is the bright crash
Of love that blinds the irons on his belfry.
Were I making an Aisling I’d tell the tale of her hair,
But now I’ve grown careful of my listeners
So I pass over one long day and the rainy air
Where we sheltered in whispers.

When we left the dark evening at last outside her door,
She lighted a lamp though a gaming company
Could have sighted each trump by the light of her unshawled poll,
And indeed she welcomed me
With a big quart bottle and I mooned there over glasses
Till she took that bird, the phoenix, from the spit;
And, 'Raftery,' says she, 'a feast is no bad dowry, Sit down now and taste it.'

If I praised Ballylea before it was only for the mountains
Where I broke horses and ran wild,
And for its seven crooked smoky houses
Where seven crones are tied
All day to the listening-top of a half door,
And nothing to be heard or seen
But the drowsy dropping of water
And a gander on the green.

But, Boys! I was blind as a kitten till last Sunday,
This town is earth’s very navel.
Seven palaces are thatched there of a Monday,
And O the seven queens whose pale
Proud faces with their seven glimmering sisters,
The Pleiads, light the evening where they stroll,
And one can find the well by their wet footprints,
And make one’s soul!

For Mary Hynes, rising, gathers up there
Her ripening body from all the love stories;
And rinsing herself at morning, shakes her hair
And stirs the old gay books in libraries;
And what shall I do with sweet Boccaccio?
And shall I send Ovid back to school again
With a new headline for his copybook,
And a new pain?

Like a nun she will play you a sweet tune on a spinet,
And from such grasshopper music leap
Like Herod’s hussy who fancied a saint’s head
For grace after meat;
Yet she’ll peg out a line of clothes on a windy morning
And by noonday put them ironed in the chest,
And you’ll swear by her white fingers she does nothing
But take her fill of rest.

And I’ll wager now that my song is ended,
Loughrea, that old dead city where the weavers
Have pined at the mouldering looms since Helen broke the thread,
Will be piled again with silver fleeces:
O the new coats and big horses! The raving and the ribbons!
And Ballylea in hubbub and uproar!
And may Raftery be dead if he’s not there to ruffle it
On his own mare, Shank’s mare, that never needs a spur.

But ah, Sweet Light, though your face coins
My heart’s very metals, isn’t it folly without a pardon
For Raftery to sing so that men, east and west, come
Spying on your vegetable garden?
We could be so quiet in your chimney corner–
Yet how could a poet hold you any more than the sun,
Burning in the big bright hazy heart of harvest,
Could be tied in a henrun?

Bless your poet then and let him go!
He’ll never stack a haggard with his breath:
His thatch of words will not keep rain or snow
Out of the house, or keep back death.
But Raftery, rising, curses as he sees you
Stir the fire and wash delph,
That he was bred a poet whose selfish trade it is
To keep no beauty to himself.

Friday, June 11, 2010

We Are (not) the Centre of the Universe

(From the Herschel Space Observatory)

The image shows most of the cloud associated with the Rosette nebula, located about 5,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn. The region contains a family of growing stars, with the oldest and most massive members in the center of the nebula, and younger and less massive generations located farther out in the associated cloud. There's enough dust and gas in the entire Rosette cloud to make about 10,000 suns.


The animal behaviour of humans in electronic media makes for a very interesting study. One which involves us all and which is in its infancy, barely 15 years old and in real terms, only ten.

A unifying prinicple one notices, having blabbed in a lot of e-holes and chat-rackets, is how in all the groups I've playfully joined with the intention of learning, there's a strong tendency to coalesce into insular, closed communities, who then rank themselves by various rituals, into pecking orders, like apes - these social groups who advertize themselves as go-to gals and guys in po-biz, as living examples of how to successfully practice the activity of verse and ditty making - yet whose fantasies often crumble in the face of what is pejoratively called 'the foreigner', on whatever list it might be.

Very much a game of jaw-jaw we often confuse for some existential 'war' between ourselves and 'them' pesky foreigners with wrong-headed ideas that contravene every poetic principle held dear; be it in lyric or non-lyric form.

However, having participated in most of the insular groupings; it is clear that we are all basically the same. Whatever our purported beliefs on poetry per se; few have Amergin's 7C bardic prose-poem first translated in 1979 and defining exactly what poetry is, as their word of god.


The activity in, what e-poet Carol Rumens terms, our 'zoo-smelling little cage-screens', amounts to a basic human desire, and the animal behaviour, of leaving some imprint and record of our presence in the environment of Letters; with the enterprise itself driven by a fundamental competitive spirit - imprinted into our genetic code - that is the hallmark of evolutionary creation. At least, it seems that way to me as someone who has sought and sustained myself on the spats, scraps, wars, flaming and in the act noted across the board, a need for ritual demonization of scapegoats on social network sites.

This behaviour seems eloquent testimony to what's merely a less destructive, benign manifestation of our animal urge to go collectively off our heads now and again, driven by what Stephen King ventriliquizes through his character of Harold Lauder, an earnest and unhinged teenage wannabe novelist in his novel The Stand - 'the urge to stretch out our hand and draw a rational pattern from the cosmos'.

The archaelogical record abounds with incontrovertible proof of a fundamental desire in human beings, to rationlize what's beyond our intellectual capacity to understand and know, by phsycially killing and making sacrifices of ourselves to, what used to be called, gods.

Our entire material history and literary universe was founded on the principle of fictionally contextualizing trillions of second-by-second human events, into mythical systems that - prior to the current scientific age - constituted what was held to be true and real about the human relationship with, what we have now discovered, is an effectively infinite amount of space whose centre (we've also discovered), is not as our tiny cellular, self-centred and hubristic brains chose to believe for the last ten thousand years of recorded human history we know of; but the wholly opposite.

Far from being the most important centre-piece of God's Universal project, collectively we are but a very insignificant seven billion whole; a micro-organism and single cell entity on the surface of an infinitesimal speck of, in relative terms, electron orbiting its solar nucleus 25,000 light years from the centre of our barred-spiral galaxy; at the inner rim of the Orion Arm, part of the Local Fluff inside the Local Bubble of the Gould Belt; our puny solar cuisle croi, just one of half a trillion suns that make up what is the tiny blip of Milky Way; itself one of billions of galaxies in the observable universe.

Humanity, until now, has been based on fiction, lies and misunderstanding, equally tragic and comedic, the entire human species, a tiny brief flash and what is almost effectively of zero consequence; an invisible, micro-second history of a million or two years, we're a pathetic film of life clinging, in perfect 50/50 balance, between joy and sorrow, man and woman, ourself reflection and physical testament to the simple binary principle explicated by the most authentic, earliest aboriginal minds concerning themselves with the business of knowing such things as; what poetry is.