Thursday, 2 June 2016

Poetry is honey for the soul (9) - Ellen Moody

           Poetry is honey for the soul

Ellen Moody is ... Well, I could write a classic introductory note telling you all about the academic career of Professor Moody, her achievements, diplomas, curriculum vitae. But you will find all this on the net (  Ellen is someone "from the family" for me, in a way, although we have never met. My God-mother "met" her while discussing in one of Ellen's numerous reading groups on the net, and I sort of went on discussing in the same groups some years later. In this indirect way, I have been taught a lot.

But Ellen is closer than that. She writes me off line emails, talks about her family, her life, her daughter Isobel, sends recommendations about what to read, photos of her garden and her two cats, Ian and Clary, ceases to be Professor Moody to be simply (what a reductive word !) Ellen.

Links to her various blogs are given at the end of this post.

When I asked her if she would contribute and give us a poem, this is what Ellen wrote: 

"It's common for women to write of small creatures -- and to identify. Women especially have written bird poems.  Here are two of my favorite poets and two bird poems by them for your blog: both are 20th century poets, Judith Wright, Australian, Fleur Adcock, originally a New Zealander."

I chose Judith Wright poem (this time).

"I love Australian literature, art, history, the landscape, and am persuaded the angle on reality that Wright’s background gave her is part of why I love her poetry. And the tone of her mind. Her typical imagery. The rhythms of the lines."

Extinct Birds
Charles Harpur in his journals long ago
(written in hope and love, and never printed)
recorded the birds of his time’s forest —
birds long vanished with the fallen forest —
described in copperplate on unread pages.

The scarlet satin-bird, swung like a lamp in berries,
he watched in love, and then in hope described it,
There was a bird, blue, small, spangled like dew.
All now are vanished with the fallen forest.
And he, unloved, past hope, was buried,

who helped with proud stained hands to fell the forest,
and set those birds in love on unread pages;
yet thought himself immortal, being a poet.
And is he not immortal, where I found him,
in love and hope along his careful pages? —
the poet vanished, in the vanished forest,
among his brightly tincted extinct birds? 

This a blog written by Ellen about Judith Wright 
with references to other material 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Poetry is honey for the soul (8) - Hammad Rais

           Poetry is honey for the soul

Hammad Rais is a blogger I met "by accident" in the blogosphere. I think we were under the same tutorship of Wordpress, and he came to my rescue because I had not understood something - as usual. Hammad is from Pakistan, Karachi to be more precise. As months have passed, I have met his family, his parents, parents-in-law, his "lovely wife, Jia" (this is how he introduced her to me), their son Uzair who has just started going to his first school - a Montessori school - and whom I consider as an honorary nephew (!!!); we have worked on some posts together, Hammad and I, to make his country known by Westerners; we have exchanged e-mails, re-blogged and tweeted each other's blogs.

Hammad is well known by the Wordpress community. I do invite you warmly to have a look at this blog (of which I give the link at the end of this post). You will discover another way of life and at the same time our same fundamental way(s) of life and values. In times of non-understanding and violent refusal between the West and the East, it is the beginning of a healing process to go, read, comment, exchange with the One who seems on the other side of a breach. 

Only to state that we are essentially the same.

Hammad blogs about his life life in Pakistan, photography, memories, poetry... I have chosen one of his last "attempts" as he calls them: he says he is no poet but words sometimes bubble this way and no other! 


We build up our lives too
Just like our homes

There is a kitchen
Where we make dreams and hopes

A living room which is,
Full of happiness and joy, for everyone

Basement is underground
To store up the memories, good and bad, both

Lawn in front
To plant the future of us and our generations

We have washrooms too
To cleanse ourselves from life’s hardships

A Reading room
To learn not only about ourselves but also about the world.


This is a photograph of Hammad's home (light and shades),
also published on his blog.
And here is the link to his blog: 
(All texts and images protected by laws and regulations of copyright)

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Poetry is honey for the soul (7) - Dylan Thomas (and Jodie)

           Poetry is honey for the soul

I first "met"Jodie Roberts on Facebook as "Geranium Cat"; I loved the name and she was kind to the young beginner I was then. I discovered later that she was deeply committed to the life of her family, her region, her job, writing, reading, reviewing books, blogging, belonging to various orgnisations , her pets - cats and dogs - and "her girls" - her hens!

I feel very happy that she has reciprocated friendship with me. She has even been so confident in some of my capacities that she has allowed me to help her in one of her functions, concerning literature. Can you imagine a French girl working for a British organisation, under the wing of a British lady, about British literature? Well, Jodie made it! 

For the occasion of "a poem a day", she has chosen the following broadcast of Anthony Hopkins saying the famous villanelle "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night, 

Old age should burn and rage at close of day; 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, 

Because their words had forked no lightning they 
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright 

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, 

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, 
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight 

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height, 

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. 
Do not go gentle into that good night. 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Poetry is honey for the soul (6) - Diane Reynolds

           Poetry is honey for the soul

Diane Reynolds is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and Publishers Weekly among other publications. She teaches literature and writing at the university level and also holds an MDiv from Earlham School of Religion. Her book, "The Doubled Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer" has been released last month.

I asked Diane if she might consider participating in "One poem a day: readers turned bloggers". She accepted and gave me two suggestions: one is Johnson's Creation ( The other is a poem she wrote after cutting and arranging wild irises into a jug or pitcher. Diane also gave photos and ¨painting (irises by Van Gogh), underlining that they might illustrate both poems.

Of course, even if she says she is no poet, I chose her text.

in a pitcher
amid leaves and nature's green wire spirals.

On the pitcher
blue and white glaze
Woman reading
Cat, tail curled upward
Sheep lying in a patch of shade.

Picked from a meadow
Abutting cut lawn.
Massed in a factory pot.

Against artifice nature etched.

Sunday, 29 May 2016


I hope readers and readers-bloggers will not be angry with me if I choose a poem today with illustrations, and generally take back the helm of these "Sketches and Vignettes".

There are still several contributors and contributions to come: I am both surprised by and happy of their numbers. They will be back tomorrow but today is a special day in France and at The Little Family's. The last Sunday in May is Mother's (or Mothering) Day. And The Girls and I wish to send our flowers to Mothers who are no more.

Tastes have always been simple: roses. But not your elaborate roses to be seen in flower shows. No. The flowers of brambles and blackberries, eglantines, briar roses, slightly more sophisticated climbing roses. 

Silhouettes in the afternoon, bended, pushing back a  lock of hair escaped from the bun, wet and curling tendrils in the neck, back of a gloved hand on forehead, slight squint against the light and the sun when straightening up from a corner in the shade, a sigh, a straw hat sliding crazily.

Silhouettes in the morning, wicker baskets on arm, secateurs in the other hand, choosing the flower, the length of the stem, thinking about colour scheme, height of vases, width of flower dishes, lifting a face towards the early sun before the coming of the heat, dew on the grass and in the paths.

Silhouettes in the falling night, half lost, half indistinct, caressing the climbing roses while listening to the chatter of sister, husband, daughter, son, nephew, vaguely smiling surely, blue time of the dying evening, trailing with them a light but heading scent.

Then, home. Windows wide open over the June night. Books taken down from the shelves and discussions under the gentle but always professorial rule of Grand-Father, about old botanical plates. Waves of warm wind and white gauze-like curtains billowing as veils of a ship ready to leave. Last cup of tea. "No, not for me, thank you. I would prefer a lime infusion, or a lavender one. Sleep eludes me and I need to feel calm." Nod. Smile.

Fading silhouettes. Faded silhouettes. There shall be no involuntarily brushing or caress anymore. There will be no kiss, no look, no smile, no laugh anymore. There shall be imagined silhouettes guessed in the shimmering light or the gathering dusk, by the corner of the eye. There shall be the illusion of a scent, of a gesture against the cheek, of a move, of a warmth around the shoulders.. 

Only silhouettes.

Do you remember these days in Arles? The end of August under a biting sun and more biting bugs? Do you remember the woman who was selling essential oils of lavender and lemon grass, geranium as well, against mosquitoes and bugs? And the long way among the sarcophagi towards Saint-Honorat church, with the trees that had not changed much since the time of Paul and Vincent? And the voice. The voice that was saying the words of the poem, slowly, as we were walking slowly. Sowly. Softly.

In Arle, where rest the Alyscams,
When shadows are red, under roses,
And the weather clear,

Beware the sweetness of things,
When you feel your too heavy heart
Beat without cause;

And silent are the doves;
Wisper, if it be love,
Besides the graves.

The poem is by Paul-Jean Toulet
and as no translation seems to exist in English
(at least available to me)
I have made a very free and awkward translation.

Les Alyscams

Dans Arle, où sont les Alyscams,
Quand l'ombre est rouge, sous les roses,
Et clair le temps,

Prends garde à la douceur des choses
Quand tu sens battre sans cause 
Ton coeur trop lourd;

Et que se taisent les colombes;
Parle tout bas, si c'est d'amour,
Au bord des tombes.