Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Twelth Night

I’m in the Dell in the Wellington Botanic Gardens with a hundred or so school children. We’re all watching Twelfth Night which has been staged as a light-hearted
1920s seaside caper. When Feste sings ‘Come Away, Death’ and comes to the line

“More than light airs and recollected terms—“

the sky darkens and a sudden strong gust of wind shakes the trees and the seaside changing sheds on the stage and a haze of dust rises from the grass as his voice fades against the wind. It’s a chilling, eerie, touching moment. Afterwards we take the rolls and line the kids up to go back to the buses. Who knows really what they have made of the play? What have we made of it? I see Sir Toby Belch in the cafĂ© and the Lady Olivia puffs on a cigarette as she texts someone, I imagine, for a ride. I know its just a play and people are just acting and it’s almost just a sort of social ritual. But when Feste was singing that song and the wind rose and shook the stage then something as close to magic as I can get too took place. Something else was happening and something else was added—I think this is the magic that Elizabeth Hand explores in her marvelous book Illyria.

Image source: Scoop NZ
More on the production here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Songs of Innocence - The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake

Songs of Innocence - The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake.

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved: so I said,
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

And so he was quiet; and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight, -
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free;
Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds and sport in the wind;
And the angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm;
So if all do their duty they need not fear harm.

I think of Tom as one of my relatives; way back. I think of Blake as one of those who helped to set people like Tom free.

More poems by Blake over at The Literature Network.
More Tuesday Poems over at Tuesday Poem.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

To a Cockroach, Aotearoa 2011 by S. Harvey

This week I have the honour of editing The Tuesday Poem site and I've selected To A Cockroach, Aotearoa 2011 by Siobhan Harvey. Go and have a look!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Gary Snyder on Ecology and Poetry Pt.2

Here's part two. Thanks for the encouraging comments.