The Arts

FLOWERS FOR PEACE

Photo: Bill Grosart

Flowers have been used to signify peace for millennia.  Lavender is said to be the ultimate peace flower, though many others are recognised as symbolising concord and harmony:  apple blossoms, lotus flowers, lilies, and white poppies are said to help bring tranquillity and peace to our lives.

Below is a link to a public group on Facebook, Flowers for Peace; you can join and contribute your own photos as the seasons roll by.

The following photos are from an album saved on my computer.

 

Click on the photos for full screen

 

JOIN ON FACEBOOK

Dorje Lama, Kathmandu, Nepal

CHILDHOOD

 

CHILDHOOD

Long time he lay upon the sunny hill,

      To his father’s house below securely bound.

Far off the silent, changing sound was still,

     With the black islands lying thick around.

He saw each separate height, each vaguer hue,

     Where the massed islands rolled in mist away,

And though all run together in his view

     He knew that unseen straits between them lay.

Often he wondered what new shores were there,

     In thought he saw the still light on the sand,

The shallow water clear in tranquil air,

     And walked through it in joy from strand to strand.

Over the sound so slow a ship would pass

     That in the black hill’s gloom it seemed to lie,

The evening sound was smooth like sunken glass,

     And time seemed finished ere the ship passed by.

Grey tiny rocks slept round him where he lay,

     Moveless as they, more still as evening came,

The grasses threw straight shadows far away,

     And from the house his mother called his name.

Edwin Muir (1887-1959)

 

 

THE CHARCOAL SELLER

(A Satire against “Kommandatur”)

An old charcoal-seller
Cutting wood and burning charcoal in the forests of the              Southern Mountain.
His face, stained with dust and ashes, has turned to the
colour of smoke.
The hair on his temples is streaked with gray: his ten fingers are black.
The money he gets by selling charcoal, how far does it go?
It is just enough to clothe his limbs and put food in his
mouth.
Although, alas, the coat on his back is a coat without lining.
He hopes for the coming of cold weather, to send up the
price of coal!
Last night, outside the city,—a whole foot of snow;
At dawn he drives the charcoal wagon along the frozen ruts.
Oxen,—weary; man,—hungry: the sun, already high;
Outside the Gate, to the south of the Market, at last they stop
in the mud.
Suddenly, a pair of prancing horsemen. Who can it be
coming?
A public official in a yellow coat and a boy in a white shirt.
In their hands they hold a written warrant: on their tongues
—the words of an order;
They turn back the wagon and curse the oxen, leading them
off to the north.
A whole wagon of charcoal,
More than a thousand pieces!
If officials choose to take it away, the woodman may not
complain.
Half a piece of red silk and a single yard of damask,
The Courtiers have tied to the oxen’s collar, as the price
of a wagon of coal!

From: A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems
Translator: Arthur Waley

THE FOUR REMINDERS

 

The Four Reminders can help with facing the reality and preciousness of a human life, the importance of impermanence, and the imminence of death:

Ringu Tulku’s words on the Four Reminders, from the Ngondro book:

“Precious human life endowed with every freedom and assets. It is difficult to get and can be easily destroyed, so now is the time to make it meaningful.

The universe and everything that lives therein is impermanent, particularly the lives of beings, who are like water bubbles. The time of death is uncertain, and when you die, you will become a corpse. Dharma will help you at that time, therefore practise it diligently now.

Thirdly, after your death you will have to experience your own karma, having no degree over what happens.
So give up harmful actions, all your time should be spent in the practice of virtue. Thinking this way, evaluate your life daily.

Your are constantly tormented by the three kinds of sufferings. Therefore, samsaric places, friends, pleasures and possessions are like a party given by an executioner, who will lead you to the place of execution. Cutting through the snares of attachment, strive for enlightenment with diligence.

Source:  https://livinganddyinginpeace.org/author/margaret/

BILL GROSART: PHOTOS

The following photos are part of a collection of plants and insects photographed by Bill Grosart.

To enlarge, click on the photos.

 

Honey bee on Rozanne geranium

Peruvian Lily

Miss Willmott’s Ghost

Orange day lily

Allium

Star of Persia

Knapweeds

Red shoulder beetles

Tipula (daddy long legs)

Ringlet butterfly

Ladybird

Tortoiseshell butterfly

Karma Changchub: Photos from

The following photos were taken by Karma Changchub in East Ayrshire.

Enlightenment, inherent though it is in the mind, seems so difficult to unveil. But if you develop fervent devotion and fuse the guru’s enlightened nature with your ordinary mind, enlightenment can be realized. Truly, to meditate on the benevolent teacher is a spiritual practice more profound than any other.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Wasp on the Prayer Flag

Maeve O’Sullivan is a Dublin-based member of Bodhicharya Ireland. In Wasp on the Prayer Flag, O’Sullivan’s fifth collection with Alba Publishing, the years 2018-2021 are chroniced in the forms of haiku and senryu verse.  The three sections, Seasons, Sequences and Senryu, bring to the reader Maeve’s lucid observations of life in Ireland and abroad.  This latest edition is both an insightful and a rich addition to her previous publicatons.

From the back page of Wasp on the Prayer Flag

Maeve O’Sullivan has an unerring gift for rendering momentary experience – outdoors among weather, flora and fauna, or just pottering at home – into memorable, often beautiful haiku or amusing senryu.
Matthew Paul

These meditative haiku discover magnificence in the everyday. Alert to how birds, plants and insects revel in weather and the seasons, they connect our human world with the cosmos, and the natural world with the timeless.
Catherine Phil MacCarthy

 Wasp on the Prayer Flag is an excellent poetic guidebook for Maeve O’Sullivan’s native Ireland and places beyond.
Julie Warther

The final senryu ends in a consummate and optimistic note.  Here is Pandemic, the last Senryu sequence in the book.  Some of the senryu were previously published in Many Roads for Bodhicharya.

empty city street
they walk hand in gloved hand
two young men

in separate trees
a pair of magpies
a pair of collared doves

bored with lockdown
I wear sandals in which
I travelled the world

a doubling of deaths    the clematis buds fatter

my friend tells me more
about his cousin’s passing –
wasp on the prayer flag

no human hugs
for seven weeks –
this silver birch will do

lifting of lockdown    first glimpse of Dublin Bay

The easiest way for anyone to get a copy of the book is to visit O’Sullivan’s website. 30% of all profits from sales go to charity partners Asral Mongolia, an NGO whose aim is to eradicate poverty and to support children and their mothers in Mongolia. Since publication costs of Wasp have now been covered, that means that 30% of sales now go directly to the charity.

 

 

Their father died in a car accident. Their mother can’t work because of her disability. Their ger (traditional Mongolian tent) is old, it leaks and in winter loses heat. Egshiglen and Enkhtur have to share their clothes and collect garbage to heat their home in sub-zero winter temperatures. They share one pair of winter shoes between them. You can help transform Egshiglen and Enkhtur’s lives. DONATE

Maeve O’Sullivan’s poetry and haikai have been widely published, anthologised, awarded and translated. She is the author of five collections from Alba Publishing. Maeve is a founder member of the Hibernian Poetry Workshop, and a member of the Irish Writers’ Centre and the British Haiku Society. She also leads workshops in haiku, and reviews for various journals. www.maeveosullivan.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Lockdown on the River Garry

This short film by Sitar Rose is a pensive study of the Scottish countryside during lockdown.  The film contains a series of shots along the River Garry down to Loch Oich.  The river runs from the west of Pilochry to the north of Fort William in a north-westerly direction.

With only the sound of the flowing water at various stages in its travels, the images take us to standpoints on the river bank from where we catch glimpses of trees, lichen on rocks, spring buds on bare branches and reflections on the water of the sun and landscape.
(Ed.)

 

Photography

 

Bill Grosart: Five-Spot Burnet

 

 

Bill Grosart: Damsel Fly

Bill Grosart: Dangling Marsh Lover

 

 

Bob Douglas: Mid-summer sunset from Balerno

Bob Douglas: Pink Poppy in Malleny Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Douglas: Himalayan Poppy flowers against white sky.

 

Yeshe Dorje: Edward VII Victoria Park Edinburgh

Yeshe Dorje: Leith Docks from Newhaven Harbour

 

 

 

 

Yeshe Dorje:Two Saardhar Ji

 

 

The Light on the Shore

Old as I am
Older than the threads of understanding
Which we weave between us
Old as you are
Older by far than the contours of the love
Which we leave behind us
Bold as I am
Bolder than the pioneers
Who trekked their way across the desert
Bold as you are
Bolder by far than the lovers
Who have swum the tide to be together
Are we old enough and bold enough to say good-bye?
Are we old enough and bold enough that we do not need to cry?
Well, I’m not so old and not so bold I don’t need you more
Now the light is slowly beckoning you to the shore
Cold is the ground
For which you’re bound
It’s a place where we can never more be together
Cold is the air
That takes you there
On a passage that will end with your end forever
But it’s not so cold I do not feel the warmth of your skin

And it’s not so cold I do not know the fires that burn within you
Though they are fading now, I wish that they would blaze once more
And keep you from the light that’s slowly beckoning you to the shore
If I could sail the seas of time, then I would keep you from harm
But I am no sailor and I cannot warn you
Though there is nothing in my life I ever wanted more
Than to keep you from the light that’s slowly beckoning you
Than to shield you from the light that’s slowly beckoning you to the shore
Source:

The world is a beautiful place to be born into

youtube.com

                The world is a beautiful place 
                                                           to be born into 
if you don’t mind happiness 
                                             not always being 
                                                                        so very much fun 
       if you don’t mind a touch of hell
                                                       now and then
                just when everything is fine
                                                             because even in heaven
                                they don’t sing 
                                                        all the time

             The world is a beautiful place
                                                           to be born into
       if you don’t mind some people dying
                                                                  all the time
                        or maybe only starving
                                                           some of the time
                 which isn’t half so bad
                                                      if it isn’t you

      Oh the world is a beautiful place
                                                          to be born into
               if you don’t much mind
                                                   a few dead minds
                    in the higher places
                                                    or a bomb or two
                            now and then
                                                  in your upturned faces
         or such other improprieties
                                                    as our Name Brand society
                                  is prey to
                                              with its men of distinction
             and its men of extinction
                                                   and its priests
                         and other patrolmen
                                                         and its various segregations
         and congressional investigations
                                                             and other constipations
                        that our fool flesh
                                                     is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
                                                           for a lot of such things as
         making the fun scene
                                                and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
                                         and singing low songs of having 
                                                                                      inspirations
and walking around 
                                looking at everything
                                                                  and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
                              and even thinking 
                                                         and kissing people and
     making babies and wearing pants
                                                         and waving hats and
                                     dancing
                                                and going swimming in rivers
                              on picnics
                                       in the middle of the summer
and just generally
                            ‘living it up’

Yes
   but then right in the middle of it
                                                    comes the smiling  
mortician

The world is a beautiful place to be born into'' by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 
from A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND, copyright ©1955 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. 
Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. 

Obituary: See The Guardian.

Chinese poems

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bai-Juyi

Po Chü-i was born at T’ai-yüan in Shansi. Most of his childhood was spent at Jung-yang in Honan. His father was a second-class Assistant Department Magistrate. He tells us that his family was poor and often in difficulties.  (772-846)

 

EATING BAMBOO-SHOOTS

My new Province is a land of bamboo-groves:

Their shoots in spring fill the valleys and hills.

The mountain woodman cuts an armful of them

And brings them down to sell at the early market.

Things are cheap in proportion as they are common;

For two farthings, I buy a whole bundle.

I put the shoots in a great earthen pot

And heat them up along with boiling rice.

The purple nodules broken,—like an old brocade;

The white skin opened,—like new pearls.

Now every day I eat them recklessly;

For a long time I have not touched meat.

All the time I was living at Lo-yang

They could not give me enough to suit my taste,

Now I can have as many shoots as I please;

For each breath of the south-wind makes a new bamboo!

 

THE PHILOSOPHERS

Lao-tzŭ

“Those who speak know nothing;
Those who know are silent.”
These words, as I am told,
Were spoken by Lao-tzŭ.
If we are to believe that Lao-tzŭ
Was himself one who knew,
How comes it that he wrote a book
Of five thousand words?

 

BEING VISITED BY A FRIEND DURING ILLNESS

I have been ill so long that I do not count the days;
At the southern window, evening—and again evening.
Sadly chirping in the grasses under my eaves
The winter sparrows morning and evening sing.
By an effort I rise and lean heavily on my bed;
Tottering I step towards the door of the courtyard.
By chance I meet a friend who is coming to see me;
Just as if I had gone specially to meet him.
They took my couch and placed it in the setting sun;
They spread my rug and I leaned on the balcony-pillar.
Tranquil talk was better than any medicine;
Gradually the feelings came back to my numbed heart.

This is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

u3a Photographs

Jigsaw post-processed on Photoshop by Bill Grosart.

The following photos were taken by members of  Photography 4 of University of the Third Age, Edinburgh. Every month the members decide on a subject and submit a few photographs on Dropbox followed by a viewing on zoom.  At other times, one member gives a presentation about some aspect of photography.

Our group leader, Geoff Gardner, encourages us to comment on the pros and cons of the photos which is helpful in allowing us to judge different aspects of the activity like lighting, framing, cropping, and other features of in-camera decisions and post editing processing using our chosen software.  
A.H. Editor

 

 Bill Grosart:  Down low and close up

John Ferguson:  Just passing through

Geoff Gardner:  Painter’s palette, anthurium

Geoff Gardner:  tulip tree

 

Bob Douglas:  Kirkgate above Currie late November

Yeshe Dorje:  Winter on Holy Isle Scotland

March 1st 2020 St David’s Day

Prelude to poem ‘March 1st, 2020, St David’s Day’

This poem was written last year, just before the World Pandemic 2020 exploded in the UK, during a time, when all we had to worry about was ‘differences of opinion’! That still remains, of course, and for me, my ongoing ‘fight’ is over ‘styles of gardening’ which impact on our environment and the wider picture.

For nearly a decade, I have come up against a regime, driven by an allotment Committee, whereby diversity and heritage is not celebrated but, indeed, has been virtually obliterated! Order and uniformity is enforced, with apple and pear trees cut down, bushes removed, glyphosate used to kill weeds, and generally a ‘scorched earth’ approach, the idea being that each plot-holder can ‘start afresh’, with a blank canvas…

I have my own triangle-shaped, half-plot, with two Morello cherry trees, apple, plum and pear trees and, my pride and joy, a beautiful Cydonia quince tree! I have a cultivated blackberry, red, black and white currant bushes, six blueberry bushes, and gooseberries too.

There is a small pond: new people are not allowed ponds now! I have frogs, an earthworm rich soil, a visiting fox, blackbirds, long-tailed tits, robins, great tits and the occasional pigeon! I can’t ever leave this piece of ground, as the Committee will cut down my trees! I am passionate about my style of gardening and know that increased diversity produces the greatest abundance.

My plot is an oasis amongst devastation. Those who have suffered badly from this regime have left. I’m holding out for as long as my health and strength can manage!

PS I’m looking for a toy-boy who likes gardening, romance would be nice, but, if they are of my way of thinking, I would like them to inherit my piece of paradise, to continue fighting for our beloved green spaces!

March 1st 2020, St David’s Day  by Ianthe

Sister- sun’s warm touch soothed my left shoulder,

Deep, comforting heat…a gift, now I’m older!

Served to remind me of jewels, still to unfold,

Bright, longer days, some relief from the cold…

And, yet, daffodils nodded their yellow ‘Hello’

Bees sought mauve crocus beneath branches below.

I beamed, as I walked on this rain-sodden earth

Revealing its bounty, declaring its worth.

Harvesting broccoli, rhubarb, leeks and sorrel

Caught Mr Blackbird scutter low, by the laurel.

Robin perched on a twig, stretched out his fine wing,

Long-tailed tits gathered, flitted, enjoying their sing,

On turning, to glance down amongst parsley and sage,

Was frogspawn clear-glistening behind the wire cage!

Couched down in the pond, Marsh Marigold mingled

It brought a flush to my face: my gloved-fingers fair tingled!

I smiled, as I heard the ‘wreckers’ break glass,

As this patch of land maintained its own Class,

Undisturbed, full of life, “Hell! … Just pure Heaven!”…

Counted spent summers here, at least ten years, plus seven!

All this planning and building, the soil and its treasure…

The hours of watching, listening, the joy and the pleasure,

Fruitful promise, sure harvest, delight and surprise,

Were all there…unfolding…in front of my eyes.

****************************************

 

 

Stephanie Jones

Stephanie Jones is a world-renowned soloist and chamber musician who specialises in classical guitar performance. She is currently based in Germany and studying Konzertexamen at the University of Music Franz Liszt with Prof. Thomas Müller-Pering.