October 21, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (born 21 October 1772) I don’t blame the anonymous person from Porlock who interrupted S.T. at Ash Farm during the composition of Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment.  (It may have been an opium trip in any case.) But the point is that Coleridge’s ‘fragment’ is perfect and needs no further embellishment. Richard Holmes, in his insanely detailed biography of Coleridge (1989), observed “His myth of creativity contains both these elements, which like Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”, implies both destruction and preservation of a poetic paradise…“Kubla Khan” is a pagan celebration of creative…

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Birth of Virgil

October 15, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Painting of the poet by Luca Signorelli

15 October, AD 70: Virgil, the greatest Roman poet, was born near Mantua. His great works are The Eclogues: O let the last days of a long life remain to me, and the inspiration to tell how great your deeds will be: Thracian Orpheus and Linus will not overcome me in song, though his mother helps the one, his father the other.* The mock-rural The Georgics: So, the sun will give you signs of what late evening brings, and from where a fair-weather wind blows the clouds, or what the rain-filled southerly intends. Who dares to say the sun tricks…

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The Library Agenda

September 4, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | PETER'S WRITING, Poetry |

"With you in charge, I am at ease." by Li Yansheng (1976) (Displayed in a series of prints venerating Chairman Mao at the Australian National Library, 2017)

(On the occasion of a rather chilly visit to the National Library, Canberra) Entering the library, one feels alone, No comfort on these shelves, no phone, No sense of welcome or assistance, Proprietorial resistance. No books in sight; no chores to do, Ideas not enclosed, neither old nor new. Heroes extolled in olden times Are traduced for their voguish crimes. I lack the time, I lack the means To gather up the left-wing magazines In serried ranks, beneath gold frames Of left-wing folks with famous names. There’s Ben Chifley, Lenin, Mao Zedong, Jack Lang and Trotsky, Marx and Huey Long,…

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Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

September 3, 2017 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | Poetry |

Portrait of Wordsworth by Benjamin Haydon

Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifully steep In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own sweet will: Dear God! the very houses seem…

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Henry Lawson

September 2, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

(17 June 1867 to 2 September 1922) “The minstrel of the people.” So said Prime Minister Billy Hughes at Lawson’s internment (he was the first Australian writer to get a State funeral) His output was large but uneven – he could be both romantic and realist, and his wonderful verse ranged from the lyrical to invective. He was a bit of a rogue, and spent much time in prison and the alcoholic wards of hospitals. His neat, clean, confident prose and terrific rhyming ballads and rolling, sonorous songs extolled the Australian landscape, town (which he preferred) and country. Take, for example, The Rush…

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