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.
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)
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!
“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?
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.
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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 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.
My name is Hilary Harris – since retiring from my catering business after 25 years, I have been fortunate to undertake some spectacular world travels. I have photographed some great images to capture these memorable journeys ::: but most surprising of all, is the beauty right here on my own doorstep on the south side of Glasgow. I’m ashamed to admit that this was largely undiscovered by me, until lockdown forced me to pound the pavements and I am truly inspired by what I see right here, on my daily walks. Silver linings and all that!
Photographs submitted for the
University of the Third Age Photographic Group Edinburgh.
Subject: Black and White
Source: Living and Dying in Peace
For information on Bernie Hartley please visit his home page.
Four years later you give me an Afghan carpet.
Hand made in Herat.
Roll it out by the fern frost window and sip green tea
and tell me of your daughters
the Way These Times
have foiled their paths to school.
And now the year splutters through Buhare wood smoke
and you say it is Hopeless.
Even though the war is ‘won’ in the messianic
light of an embassy in Wazir
and I nod and remember children
playing shrapnel lines and see
the Way These Times
have honed your face and cracked a tooth,
and the shabby shalwar kameez
and the worlds that bring us together again,
in a guest house in Kabul, shift to silence.
We shake hands. I thank you for the carpet.
The steel gate divides your way back
to the Hazara district – and my way out.
‘See you again in a peaceful Afghanistan, inshallah.’
The chokidor stamps his feet and slides the bolt.
It is snowing.
Beyond the wall clouds obscure the mountains.
I wonder if my plane will leave