Emile woke Mary up at 7am.It was a Sunday in late October, grey and damp though the sun was still not too low
Go away, she told him.The clock has changed.It’s not 8 am yet.I have to wash my hair as well.Get the Observer out of the basjet for me.
I can’t read. the dear animal replied.And why don’t you rebel and stick to Summer Time?
I know Stan wanted to send you to Eton but we couldn’t afford it.Yet you understand days and calenders, Mary joked savagely
She got up and found her fleece dressing gown; it was conker brown covered in coloured spots.She went downstairs and gave Emile a Whitby kipper.Then she made some tea and took it upstairs so she could drink it while she came round from her dreams
Suddenly Annie ran into her bedroom wearing a long black vinyl coat and red knee-high boots
You never locked the back door, she howled like a lost leopard which has had no food for weeks
I don’t suppose anyone wants my old TV as it is only 19 inches.And my Chromebook is not something worth re-selling.I do have a new coat.
How about Ray Monk’s life of Wittgenstein, Annie asked her defiantly, her apricot lips pouting childishly as the Riemann of Paris lipstick glittered uncannily like an imaginary number in a dream of Godel.
The people who might enjoy reading it are by virtue of that , not the sort to steal or buy it on the black market.
That is very racist, Annie told her.You should say:the beige market!
Then nobody would know what I meant, Mary said lovingly
Anyway, do you want to come to Marks with me? They have some beautiful coats in
I’d like a pink wool coat, said Mary thoughtfully
Quite right ,said Annie.Bring back feminine colours
Actually, gay men might like pink coats, she continued.But if they go on the bus they might get dirty.Come to think of it, so will women’s coats
They will have to buy pink puffa jackets and we can wash them at 30 deg.Mary whispered
Using a special detergent, Annie asked?
I have never seen a detergent for washing gay men.I don’t think they will fit into the washing machine.On the other hand, you are small so you will fit in
Shall I get undressed first, Annie asked furtively.
Yes, I’ll try to put you on a short wash for 15 minutes but it is your choice.Maybe a bath would be safer?
No problem, said Annie intellectually.Are you having one with me?
You’d better be careful, Mary ad-libbed.It might be sexual harassment.
Well, I am not gay , said Annie.
You never know till you try, Mary giggled ,like a child behind the school canteen
Why, we might become gender fluid and then who knows?
And so say all of us
Using google maps I see
I can walk to Tewkesbury
It will take me 50 hours
Just time for the milk to sour
If I have a motor car
I can get there in 3 hours
Is it worth it just for once?
£20,000 at a glance
I wonder can I hire a bike
I have an old one but it’s white
The tyres have rotted and it’s sad
Better just to say its dead
No wonder the Royal Family
Spend so much on fealty
Their own train is very good
If only if it were real brown wood!
“To pray,” Auden wrote, “is to pay attention or, shall we say, to ‘listen’ to someone or something other than oneself. Whenever a human so concentrates his/her attention—be it on a landscape, or a poem or a geometrical problem or an idol or the True God—that s/he completely forgets his/her own ego and desires in listening to what the other has to say to him, she/he is praying.” This may seem a denatured idea of prayer, but Auden took it seriously, and seems to have prayed in exactly this sense”
I sent this article to a few friends.One sent back an elegant and beautiful description of his view of the world and what it has within it though being an atheist he may not pray in the [old fashioned] Christian sense.He may pray in the above sense but to him it’s not prayer it is being alive and experiencing that
Another lapsed Catholic sent a short note saying she wasn’t interested in God
She didn’t ask me what it meant to me or why it had seemed interesting enough to send to her.She may like me have suffered the utter boredom of a convent school
Are some of us living in a complete and enclosed world so we don’t care what interests others? And we feel safe.After all, the boredom of the Rosary nearly drove some of us insane.That was no prayer that was rubbish to me.Yet some people have found it a help in times of trouble/Maybe just feeling the beads is nice?
I suppose in Auden’s piece he wants to be involved in humankind and the world of nature, the Universe of some aspect of that.And he also liked the invocation of the spiritual by means of rites and rituals which has been part of our history from the start……
A bit like music or an art show….?
““To pray,” Auden wrote, “is to pay attention or, shall we say, to ‘listen’ to someone or something other than oneself. Whenever a human so concentrates his/her attention—be it on a landscape, or a poem or a geometrical problem or an idol or the True God—that s/he completely forgets his/her own ego and desires in listening to what the other has to say to him, she/he is praying.” This may seem a denatured idea of prayer, but Auden took it seriously, and seems to have prayed in exactly this sense
A starting phrase, a melody alert,
A trill of birdsong may our ears caress
As sensitive as a baby’s little hands
As touching as the lover understands
We join together in one human heart
As round the world the News our minds will hurt
As round the sacred, carelessly we skirt
As dimly we perceive the last combat
Then let us be like music sung unplanned
From startled phrase
Arpegionne, cello,Franz Schubert
Do not leave before the great concert
The music gathers from the world’s own lands
Shared in trembling heart and soul’s demands
Till all to peace may make their minds convert
Give us that phrase.
In the mirror, who do we perceive?
Do we see ourself,does it deceive?
We look different when in varied moods
Ungrown people love to sulk or brood
We see ourselves but how are we received?
If a friend looks sad, perhaps they grieve
We are mortal.,death will snatch with greed
As we turn to dust with ancient leaves
Reflecting on the truth, do not look rude
In the mirror
Where one has has ventured must she lead?
Far from home, barbarians spread their seed
Europeans savaged worlds approved
Forced conversions madden God indeed
With no mirror
the same mirror:
mobile, glancing, we call it poetry,
fixed centrally, we call it a
and God is the poetry caught in
caught, not imprisoned. Caught
as in a mirror
that he attracted, being in the
world as poetry
is in the poem, a law against its
There’ll always be religion around
while there is poetry
or a lack of it. Both are given, and
as the action of those birds –
crested pigeon, rosella parrot –
who fly with wings shut, then
beating, and again shut.
Though an atheist – in that I believe we’re here only by happy accident – my sensibility is religious. I like ritual and heightened states. I like mind-altering drugs. I believe in invisible forces – radioactivity, magnetism, sound waves – and I’m more than willing to sit for an hour listening to a church organist practice, which I did just last week. And I’ll let myself shiver along with the immense chord changes. I don’t like faith but I’m fond of its trappings- the kitschy icons, the candles, the paintings, the architecture and, especially, the poetry. Though many great religious figures, from Augustine to Screwtape, have taken prose as their instrument for confessing or cajoling, when it comes to praise, poetry’s the usual choice. I’ve been reading Robert Alter’s magnificent new translations of The Book of Psalms, and “My heart is astir with a goodly word”.
The relationship between poetry, those goodly words, and religion is hard to quantify. Both involve the hidden, working at the borders of the sayable. They share an experiential dimension. Personal religion involves a private speech act (prayer), chanting (psalms), heightened states achieved by ritualised words. The Lord’s prayer is one of the first poems I learned. Leached of its import by years of mindless recital, it’s almost a Sitwellian sound poem to me.