Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) along with Basho and Buson, is considered one the greatest Haiku poets of Japan. His most endearing gift was attention to detail, with such intense delicacy and sometimes playfulness, that the ordinary came to transcend its everyday mundaneness. Even though my interest today is in his focus on death, but I will start with the birth of his daughter.
Kafka and Marriage
I don’t believe that I have ever met a single person who in the long run in his ordinary human relationships, in normal everyday life (and what else is it all about?), could be more hopeless than I.
Differences Require Identity
Outside in the already darkened dusk, the din of traffic attacks your senses as does the unairconditioned air and there’s too the odour of tropical humid Africa, that aromatic fragrance of soil and vegetation.
Distress Signals from Wilderness
We walked up Hampsfell, on a bright sunny day and could see across Morecambe Bay and to the north the Lakeland fells. It was the season for fungi and there they were in their myriad forms and colours. Sometimes we walked through swarms of wasps.
Reading Garcia Lorca in Almeria
Africa was just across the sea, perhaps a few miles due south. We were in a small village, Alfaix, in Almeria. Sadly, there wasn’t any glimpse of Africa. There were no lights shimmering on the ocean surface, speaking to my inner Africa. Nonetheless, North Africans lived here, in Andalusia, for 700 years, before retreating to Fez and Marrakesh.
A single industrial bureaucrat, if he is sufficiently vital and nervous, should be able to create a ton of meaningless papers a year for the Bureau of Internal Revenue to examine.
No 10 Downing Street is probably the most famous front door in the world. It is different from the other centres of power because it has the appearance of an unassuming, ordinary front door on an ordinary street. So, it’s not the White House, nor is it the Kremlin. The doorway could be the doorway…
Houses and Their Noises
All houses or should I say, each house has a particular noise, a kind of signature that is like a finger print identifying and memorialising it. I remember our first night at the Moskva, a modern hotel, in the Soviet style in Moscow, in 1984. Remarkably, it groaned and spluttered at night more or less…
￼The Unmentionable Odour of Death
In his poem ‘September 1, 1939’ WH Auden (1907-1973) referred to the ‘unmentionable odour of death’. That was at the outbreak of the 2nd World War. But now we are into the second month of Putin’s war against Ukraine and the revelations from Bucha recalls Auden’s line, but sadly, even if the odour of death is unmentionable, we can well imagine it, all that way, away from the actual grim and unspeakable horror that is Bucha.
Slaughter House 5- not a theatre of pleasure
Like everyone else, I have been full of admiration for the valour, the courage and grim determination of the Ukrainian people, this past week.