The Sentimental Bloke

September 7, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

C.J. Dennis, born 7 September 1876 He lived in an age when you could get away with writing in dialect (like Robbie Burns or Walter Scott before him) and his most famous work, The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke makes one cringe nowadays. Although we love one of his titles; The Glugs of Gosh. The ‘Laureate of the Larrikin’ was born in Auburn in the Clare Valley of South Australia, and spent most of his life in Melbourne.  He’s buried in the cemetery at Box Hill. Here’s “At the Play” from Sentimental Bloke, where Doreen and Bill (the Bloke) take…

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John Dryden

August 9, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Dryden (born 9 August 1631), England’s Poet Laureate before that office was fairly soon debased, you can set aside his works that tediously extol public virtue and look instead at his poetic struggles between Religion and Reason, or Now and Then: “Dim, as the borrow’d beams of Moon and Stars To lonely, weary, wandring Travellers, Is reason to the Soul; And as on high, Those rowling Fires discover but the Sky Not light us here; So Reason’s glimmering Ray Was lent, not to assure our doubtfull way, But guide us upward to a better Day. And as those nightly Tapers…

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Gerard Manley Hopkins

July 28, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889 We recall his Sprung Rhythm and his Sadness: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod…” (from God’s Grandeur) “No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of…

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“If” They Could Only Think – the Ban on Kipling

July 22, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, Poetry, Ulalume, WRITING & LITERATURE |

True Art is Art, and true idiocy is idiocy, and idiots insist that the twain shall meet.

Our venerable Hodder and Stoughton hard-cover ‘inclusive edition’ of Rudyard Kipling’s verse (1885-1918) sits proudly in our poetry bookcase. We understand that his fatherly riff, “If – ” written 4 years before a war that would devastate two generations, and lose Kipling his only son, has been scrawled-out at Manchester University (yes, Manchester – home of the Enlightenment). The Student’s Union has taken a stand.  “We, as an exec team, believe that Kipling stands for the opposite of liberation, empowerment, and human rights – the things that we, as an SU, stand for,” Miss Sara Khan, the union’s liberation and access…

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Charles Baudelaire and the Flowers of Evil

June 1, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Published today (1 June) in 1857, Les Fleurs du Mal, Baudelaire’s masterpiece was controversial, of course, but it went way beyond that – beyond the outrage aux bonnes mœurs, this big, bold collection of seething poetry was genuinely terrifying.  “Walking through the neighborhoods of Paris, he observed animals rotting in the street, the homeless alcoholics, drug users, or assassins loitering in the gutters. The beggars, the blind, the ragpickers, the skinny old ladies and the young famished prostitutes, all became mediums through which he could convey his changing moods. He turned abstractions like Beauty, Sorrow, Death, the Ideal into existential…

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