Tuesday, December 19, 2017

If by Rudyard Kipling

As a little background, "If" was written in 1895 - two years before the birth of the Kipling's son, John, in 1897. It appears not so much to be a code designed for a son as much as a tribute to Leander Starr Jameson - who at least according to Wikipedia had a rigid code of honour and was much loved by his contemporaries. Anyway, if by radical and reformist, people mean Jameson was seriously anti-slavery then I will forgive Rudyard his all to apparent sexism (he is,after all, a product of his time), and also celebrate the good doctor/politician.

If, by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

If All the World were Paper

If all the world were paper,
And all the sea were inke;
If all the trees were bread and cheese,
How should we do for drinke?

If all the world were sand’o,
Oh then what should we lack’o;
If as they say there were no clay,
How should we take tobacco?

If all our vessels ran’a,
If none but had a crack’a;
If Spanish apes ate all the grapes,
How should we do for sack’a?

If fryers had no bald pates,
Nor nuns had no dark cloysters;
If all the seas were beans and pease,
How should we do for oysters?

If there had been no projects,
Nor none that did great wrongs;
If fidlers shall turne players all,
How should we doe for songs?

If all things were eternall,
And nothing their end bringing;
If this should be then, how should we
Here make an end of singing?


Treasury Islands (a cute site you should definitely check out if yo're faicnated by children's literature) says this piece appeared in John Mennes and James Smiths  Facetiae, published in or after 1658.
It's always interesting to speculate about the inspiration for any work -  and I can't help but wonder if it could have been this piece from the Quran. There are various translations but this is the simplest I've found. "If the seas were ink and trees were pens, the words of Allah would not be exhausted." Such magnificence. Every so often I wish I could read something in it's original language, and that is definitely the case here. 

And all this was because I thought an "If" poem would be a great way to introduce my students to poetry. But I'm so taken with if poetry, next week, don't be surprised if you see another "If" poem. (Not necessarily mine) 

Have a great week


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Voting Rights Anthem & does Twitter really need all those words?

We can't wait
in every district, every state
paper, pen get it done
voting rights for everyone

Okay, twitter decided to increase the limit on the number of characters, but just in case they go back to the old standard, this little ditty - at only 101 character including spaces and hastag - this would still work.

Proving 1: increasing the number of words was silly, as longer ideas could be linked to anyway.
2: important ideas can be expressed in very little words. Hell, you could cut the first two lines and be down to 58 characters.

And of course there's the idea that started this poem: the idea that voting rights should be universal, and beyond reproach. Just like having more women in politics, it appears we also need more people supporting voting rights in key locations. So remember, democracy is not a spectator sport, so we should all do what we can, so we can all have a voice. :)

Have a great week
A.J. Ponder

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"Impeachable" parody based on Nat King Cole Unforgettable

Impeachable, that's what you are

Impeachable, ask your Russian tzar
Just know the details do ring true for me
Even the thought of you is sick for me
You should know, there’s never been someone more

Impeachable, in every way
Impeachable, why won’t you walk away?
you’re so evil, so jailable - why are you so unreachable
This moment's surely teachable, it's unbelievable -
when the facts say you’re impeachable, you

Impeachable, that’s how you’ll stay
Unless you step down, the price we’ll pay-
will be uncountable, the lives unlivable
That’s why you, a snake like you, it’s incredible
Your buddies haven’t discovered - you’re impeachable, too

A bit of stupid fun - because the word "impeachable" just seemed to synch with "unforgettable" it seems I'm not the only one, there are a few versions up - or at least one - which I will now check out - I didn't even want to look before I wrote it. 
Have a fun week 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

George Gordon, Lord Byron,“Darkness” (1816) is the holloween poem this year

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came, and went - and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires - and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings - the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
Forests were set on fire - but hour by hour
They fell and faded - and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash - and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: The wild birds shriek'd,
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless - they were slain for food:
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again; - a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought - and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails - men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress - he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies; they met beside
The dying embers of an alter-place,
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects - saw, and shriek'd, and died -
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful -was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless-
A lump of death - a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal; as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge-
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon their mistress had expired before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them - She was the universe.

I was instructed in no uncertain terms that because it was halloween this Tuesday, that it was essential to post an apropriately themed piece.
I can't help but think a modern version would have the sun burning. But that would totally ruin the halloween spirit ;)

Have a great week everyone, I hope you have a great week, and enjoy the fun of All Hallows Eve - or manage to avoid it - whichever you prefer :)


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It's been a week, sorry no poem

First things first, I'm having the week off next week due to a wonderful Monday holiday, Labour Day. It commemorates New Zealand workers winning the right for an eight-hour working day. Yet another progressive landmark that has been eroded. In 1840 Samuel Parnell won an eight-hour day in Wellington, kudos to anyone who knows the ordinances that destroyed that right.

But the world is a strange place, sometimes we take steps backward. Sometimes we take steps forward. It's been a weird week, climate change, fires, hurricanes, and yet there are some amazing steps being taken with clean energy, and increasing acknowledgement of the jobs and opportunities that clean energy offers, along with the hope of saving us from climate change.

There's also been a rise of people, both men and women, standing up and saying, "me too" in response to the revelations that Harvey Weinstein's abuse of women. Sexual abuse has long been a taboo subject with little and no support for the victims, and we need to move away from that. That such behaviour can be such an open secret, and that some very well-known women were caught up in it was somewhat of a revelation. But as of yet there have been few moves to support the powerless. Given the lack of enthusiasm of kicking out several other well-known abusers from Academy membership, it appears there's still a long way to go.

So there we have it, the good news is opinions can change, and opinions are the first step to real change. The bad news is, change takes time.

But if we can imagine it, we can do it.
Wild is the wind: the resource that could power the world 
And if we can make the world a better place, we should.

Have a great fortnight
A.J. Ponder

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tim Minchin's "F- the Poor" with a link to his video

I would be liar
if I pretended to admire
the red-light windscreen-cleaning empire
that you've built

But my heart is good
it's not a thing of stone or wood
I'll give you 50c
to take away my guilt
etc etc...

...with all the usual Tim Minchin charm and determination to shock.

I love the little internal rhyme-scheme he drops in from time to time. (yes, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it.)

I think I first saw Tim Minchin playing "a coked-up rock star" and the role strangely suited him. Now, every so often, a song of his pops up on my feed. I thought I'd share this one. Hope you checked it out and enjoyed it - it seemed very important at this time, when we are facing so many disasters, and when people are saying how important their charity is, while turning away from the bigger issue of poverty.

Have a great week, I hope you enjoyed the piece in all it's horror :) 
A.J. Ponder