Hello Cruel World
Monday, January 20, 2003
Well, January 2003 looks like something of a repeat of the bushfires around Christmas 2001 & early 2002. Destruction & fearful scenes in Canberra. Over 400 homes lost in one area in one day (& 4 dead people). Lord knows how many lifestock & wildlife. The historic & still currently well-used Mount Stromlo Observatory & its workshop where we were building our contribution to the Very Large Telescope.
Every year in Australia we lose about 4,000 homes & 200 lives to non-bush fires. That's 10% of the annual property loss & 2% of the annual lives lost in one day (less than 0.3% of a year). Meanwhile people are blaming the bush & those who care for it, after firstly cutting off resources to properly manage it, & then allowing builders to put houses with no defences right in amongst it. Why are so many people so instinctively, thoughtlessly, viciously destructive?
Saturday, January 18, 2003
Poems in Time of War
A site with links & some information about Paul Eluard's work:
He was a French poet who lived through World War Two, publishing
his work clandestinely (like samizdat in another regime).
The composer Poulenc, also in occupied France, used some of these
in a work which was smuggled out & broadcast back into France
by the BBC. The most well-known one used in it is called "Liberte",
which maybe is a bit long to put here (Garden of Proserpine
or more), but is on this site along with the two below:
24 Poems translated from the original French to English:
Talking of Power and Love
Between all my torments between death and self
Between my despair and the reason for living
There is injustice and this evil of men
That I cannot accept there is my anger
There are the blood-coloured fighters of Spain
There are the sky-coloured fighters of Greece
The bread the blood the sky and the right to hope
For all the innocents who hate evil
The light is always close to dying
Life always ready to become earth
But spring is reborn that is never done with
A bud lifts from dark and the warmth settles
And the warmth will have the right of the selfish
Their atrophied senses will not resist
I hear the fire talk lightly of coolness
I hear a man speak what he has not known
You who were my flesh’s sensitive conscience
You I love forever you who made me
You will not tolerate oppression or injury
You’ll sing in dream of earthly happiness
You’ll dream of freedom and I’ll continue you
(This one in memory of my late beloved Christopher.)
Lovely And Lifelike
A face at the end of the day
A cradle in day’s dead leaves
A bouquet of naked rain
Every ray of sun hidden
Every fount of founts in the depths of the water
Every mirror of mirrors broken
A face in the scales of silence
A pebble among other pebbles
For the leaves last glimmers of day
A face like all the forgotten faces.
A page with some information & several links to Paul Eluard's work
which is a bit long to put here (Garden of Proserpine or more), but is on this site:
24 Poems translated from the original French to English:
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
The Garden of Proserpine
Here, where the world is quiet;
Here, where all trouble seems
Dead winds' and spent waves' riot
In doubtful dreams of dreams;
I watch the green field growing
For reaping folk and sowing,
For harvest-time and mowing,
A sleepy world of streams.
I am tired of tears and laughter,
And men that laugh and weep,
Of what may came hereafter
For men that sow to reap:
I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
And everything but sleep.
Here life has death for neighbour,
And far from eye or ear
Wan waves and wet winds labour,
Weak ships and spirits steer;
They drive adrift, and whither
They wot not who make thither;
But no such winds blow hither,
And no such things grow here.
No growth of moor or coppice,
No heather-flower or vine
But bloomless buds of poppies,
Green grapes of Proserpine.
Pale beds of blowing rushes
Where no leaf blooms or blushes
Save this whereout she crushes
For dead men deadly wine.
Pale, without name or number,
In fruitless fields of corn,
They bow themselves and slumber
All night till light is born;
And like a soul belated,
In hell and heaven unmated,
By cloud and mist abated
Comes out of darkness, morn.
Though one were strong as seven,
He too with death shall dwell,
Nor wake with wings in heaven,
Nor weep for pains in hell;
Though one were fair as roses,
His beauty clouds and closes;
And well though love reposes,
In the end, it is not well.
Pale, beyond porch and portal,
Crowned with calm leaves, she stands
Who gathers all things mortal
With cold immortal hands;
Her languid lips are sweeter
Than love's who fears to greet her
To men that mix and meet her
From many times and lands.
She waits for each and other,
She waits for all men born;
Forgets the earth her mother,
The life of fruits and corn;
And spring and seed and swallow
Take wing for her and follow
Where summer song rings hollow
And flowers are put to scorn.
There go the loves that wither,
The old loves with wearier wings;
And all dead years draw thither,
And all disastrous things;
Dead dreams of days forsaken,
Blind buds that snows have shaken,
Wild leaves that winds have taken,
Red strays of ruined springs.
We are not sure of sorrow,
And joy was never sure;
Today will die tomorrow;
Time stoops to no man's lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
Weeps that no loves endure.
From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no man lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.
Then star nor sun shall waken,
Nor any change of light;
Nor sound of waters shaken,
Nor any sound or sight;
Nor wintry nor vernal,
Nor days, nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night.
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
Story - "Close your eyes - dream all is well"
(includes "So Much Water So Close to Home" reference)
Back on the last December 1st (1/12/2002), I mentioned the 'cold,
careless, greedy bastards' who are eating away at so many of the
good things we've slowly built up over the last, roughly, 200 years.
It looks like their side had another victory today at the NRMA.
Next thing they'll bring up something mentioned a few months
back, giving 'members' with more cars more votes, i.e. similar
to the '1 share, 1 vote' system now in place in the 'demutualized'
former NRMA Insurance, rather than '1 member, 1 vote'.
rather like going back to the old sufferage system of voting,
where only people owning above a certain amount of property
could vote. How would you like it if the number of votes you could
cast in an election was proportional to your assets or income?
Kerry Packer would have a whole electorate to himself, pretty much.
Over an hour in the lawyers' place today. Very close to another
fairly major step towards getting my dear deceased's
affairs into some sort of order.
Now have to pay over $1,000 to court as filing fees. Aaargh! Just paid
several $k to settle SOME medical bills.
Hint: Unless you would like to leave your friends & family some awful
botheration in addition to their grief, for goodness' sake make some sort of will!
Even one of those fill-in-yourself things you get cheap at the Post
Office or newsagent.
I think banks will keep them safe for you too. There's a thing called the
Will Registry where you can record the fact you have left a will &
also where to look for it.
Don't put people through this, unless you have a score to settle with
them. After all, whatever kills you might be something like a car accident
or house fire or other event that leaves other people badly injured.
I was only in hospital for 2 weeks, but it took another 4 or 5 weeks
before I could even walk around with a stick, much less
search around the place for documents, organize searches for distant
family members, write to many different organizations, &c, &c, &c.
Saturday, January 11, 2003
(for those strolling in the undergrowth around the wilder outskirts of poetry, song, folklore)
As a child I had been taught a code of conduct: I was to be courteous and
considerate, and most courteous and most considerate of those less strong than I
-- of girls and women, and of old people especially. Less educated men might hold
nferior positions, but that did not mean that they themselves were inferior; they
might be (and often would be) wiser, braver, and more honest than I was. They
were entitled to respect, and were to be thanked when they befriended me, even in
minor matters. Legitimate authority was to be obeyed without shirking and without
question. Mere strength (the corrupt coercion Washington calls power and Chicago
clout) was to be defied. It might be better to be a slave than to die, but it was
better to die than to be a slave who acquiesced in his own slavery. Above all, I was
to be honest with everyone. Debts were to be paid, and my word was to be as good
as I could make it.
With that preparation I entered the Mills of Mordor, where courtesy is weakness,
honesty is foolishness, and cruelty is entertainment.
G'Quan wrote: "Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of
dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us,
waiting in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows
the shape of that future, or where it will take us. We know only that it is always
born in pain."
-- G'Kar in Babylon 5: "Z'ha'dum".
Thursday, January 09, 2003
A friend found this on a Tolkien newsgroup(?) & passed it on, with the message:
A great read.
Read and spread.
Haven't run into Tolkien group - there are nearly 200 hits on Google, of which these
are a few. Some include the chat beforehand, others just the text of the talk, one
also includes question & answer session following the talk. Apparently published first
in the Friday Times, Pakistan, Sep 27 -Oct 3, 2002.
(About & Other stuff by A Roy - see
Come September - Arundhati Roy
( or printer-style version at
This one, from an islamic website, also includes question & answer session
following the talk.
This is the text of a lecture delivered on September 18, 2002 at the Lannan
Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States.
This is my blogchalk:
Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, English, photography, reading, natural history, land use, town planning, sustainability.