Saying “Part One : Life LXXXVII” and “Forbidden Fruit. II. ” by Emily Dickinson

This week here I am saying two short poems by Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886).

Fighting for Emily Dickinson

I was attacked early in the morning on Friday night returning home from a party. I was not far from my house and my two young attackers did not hurt me too much. They managed to take my mobile phone from me, an iPhone 4 (so, at the time of this writing not the greatest phone available to consumers).

Street Fighting 2017

Having fought across the street and knocked me to the ground twice and I only having been able to knock one of them to the ground briefly (by throwing him across a green Parisian wheelie bin) we proceeded across the street to continue in their plan of giving me a sound beating and thereby relieve me of more of my possessions.

The Turning Point

It was at this time that they decided to try to take my bag containing my notebooks and two books of poetry. One of them was a compilation of Irish poets (Ten Poems from Ireland) and the other was a copy of Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson. My notebooks contained various drawings of the Fox and also preparation drawings for the performance piece in Toulon.

As they tried to rip the bag from me I resisted their attacks and grabbed the bag back from them. I managed to knock their plastic bag to the ground smashing the cheap bottle of vodka to pieces. They continued to attack me and lay about me.

The Cavalry (or Angels)

…And then we all heard shouts from above. People on a balcony above were telling them to stop. And then very quickly these people rushed down to us and when my youthful attackers saw that these people were coming they decided to run off. The people on the balcony had reminded them in an indirect way of their higher selves.

The people on the balcony and I gave chase but it was a little too late. I was very lucky that those people came to my rescue. I thanked them and then made my way home. I lost a jacket and a phone. I got a couple of bruises and they got a good kick and a phone. They lost a cheap bottle of vodka. They also missed a chance to spend some quality time with me. But we may meet again and perhaps we could do all of this properly and I could read them some poems, tell them a couple of jokes.

What has been happening to them since that morning

This may sound crazy but I am going to go out on a limb here. In Ireland a long time ago, one of the worst things that could happen to you was being cursed by a poet. Now, knowing a little about language and the danger of curses (they can backfire on you) I have been blessing my two attackers actively since the attack. I feel that violence breeds violence and I think that these two young men may have been coming out of a long period of difficulty. There is very little chance of things going better for them if they continue that way. Despite the general climate of hate and hostility I still believe that they are not choosing a career here.

Black Friday

France had just gone through its version of Black Friday and I feel that these two men were hoping or dreaming that they were finally going to find the thing in my pocket that somehow would fill this gap inside themselves. I am sorry for them that the iPhone 4 was probably not worth all the danger they put themselves through.

Despite all proof to the contrary I have a feeling that they have been going through a difficult time since the attack. My kick may still be hurting them. But more than that there are strange things happening in their dreams. Their imagination has now been opened up to other possibilities. Their plan (which I am sorry to say was not very well organised – another reason why they should reconsider their career choice) definitely did not go the way they wanted it to.

Wrong script

I even managed to say to them “guys you don’t know who you’re dealing with here”. If I’d had more time I would have added in “what I do I have are a very particular set of skills” but I think that first remark really annoyed them (or scared them: same difference) and they jumped on me before I could finish off the speech.

What has happened since then is really anybody’s guess but I believe in magic- I am a Magic Freak  ( link to the music from the duo electromenager where I sang this song over ten years ago- “I’m a victim but I’m always protected, I feel sorry for my enemies so dejected”). Still, my point is that when you meet people and show them another possibility, their imagination is opened, and even if it is not, I have a feeling that there are other forces at work that are now affecting them in ways that they cannot have imagined.

Dreams

I am talking about dreams. How I don’t know but one of them, he is now remembering a childhood friend who is coming back to him in his dreams, holding his hand, coming back after all these years to play with him. His friend died, it was messed up but here he is reminding him of the beautiful golden things he could do. In another his mother (but it is not only his mother but also the poet Emily Dickinson too but he does not know that) is speaking to him, reminding him of things he had forgotten.

They are waking up and smoking spliffs trying to dampen down these dreams. But you know, Change, you cannot stop it. And that is what has been happening to these two young gentlemen since they laid hands on me. And I also laid hands on them. No punches, just a strange calm, like a dance. I held their arms, I held the ringleader by his wrist I helped him to cross the road.

Fair warning

I warned them. I gave them a chance. They decided to go ahead. So I helped them across the road.

And now, they will maybe never be able to speak to anyone about their strange dreams but their dreams are going to double, triple in intensity. Their only choice will be to turn towards the light.

Maybe I am wrong though…

What About Emily Dickinson?

So here is this week’s poem in honour of Emily Dickinson, whom I think may have enjoyed that night the sight of a poet, fighting, physically for her work ! And maybe Emily interceded with my young attackers and calmed their youthful ardour.

And the Fox?

And I will also be drawing a re- enactment of the fight by the Fox.

Why?

Because I am an artist and that is the only thing I know how to do : recycle my life. Turn the shit into something positive or at least entertaining. Maybe just an anecdote. Or a poem.

Thx Emily LOL!

Just remember : self defense = poetry books and sketch books.

 

Part One : Life
LXXXVII

Forbidden fruit a flavour has
That lawful Orchards mocks ;
How luscious lies the pea within’
The pod that Duty locks !

Forbidden Fruit.
II.

Heaven is what I cannot reach !
The apple on the tree,
Provided it do hopeless hang,
That ‘heaven’ is, to me.

The colour on the cruising cloud,
The interdicted ground
Behind the hill, the house behind, –
There Paradise is found !

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Saying “The Fly” by William Blake

The Fly

This week here I am saying the poem “The Fly” by William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827).

William Blake

Blake is a fascinating poet, with his mystical aspect and of course his beautiful drawings that accompanied his poems. Or is it his beautiful poems that accompanied his drawings?

Of course, with the type of work I do I adore Blake: his writing, his drawing. Also these are very simple and direct forms. If you have never seen Blake’s drawings please try and do so as soon as possible. With his wife, they printed the images and coloured in the prints with watercolours. I see Blake’s books like fanzines.

Seen as a madman during his life, he has become more and more popular over time until he is now one of the best known and loved British poets.

Time and the poet

It is almost as if he stepped outside of time through his visions and hopes. Blake is bigger than time; he is timeless. He stated that he had visions from an early age, once seeing a flock of angels in a tree.

In this poem there is no vison, simply a realisation of the fleeting aspect of life, in its many forms.

There are many versions of this poem set to music but the beautiful simplicity of the lyric gives it something very playful, without needing any music to enhance it.

The message

For me this poem shows us that we never know when “a thoughtless hand” will brush us away. We have to enjoy our life as it is, no matter how fleeting that might be.

So, your projects, your hopes, your worries: all of these can disappear so quickly.

You can think about this at the start of the week on the way to wherever you are going…

William_Blake_The_Fly

The Fly

Little fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death,

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

From Songs of Experience. First published in 1794. This poem is in the public domain.

By William Blake

Saying Muse by Jo Shapcott

This week, here is a poem called Muse by Jo Shapcott. Muse can mean more than one thing…

I enjoyed learning this poem with the lines running into each other and the sound of it. And especially the “punchline” at the end of the piece.

The music of this poem, the images are very specific and clear.

The muse, who is it in this poem? That is the question. The poem uses very specific images. It wants to break out of the typical muse relationship. The poem that follows the title is very different to the traditional idea of the Muse.

Poetry and Football

I tried recording this in the park, sitting on a bench, while my children were playing football. It was a beautiful day today. It was great to watch them kick the ball about. I tried to record the poem, sitting on the park bench, I just imagined it (as I often do with poetry) as if someone was just talking to you.

However, it was impossible. I was sitting too near a goal. I was also asked to be a ref, and an admiring public. I had brought books thinking I might be able to read some of them. Then we had to leave. I regret not having recorded it in the park. The sun through the leaves, the shouts of the children playing. So beautiful to hear all this life.

We finally got home late and with lots of things to do (one child had conveniently forgotten lots of homework so he could play more in the sun) I finally recorded the poem. I imagined of course how you might say this to someone. So I lay myself down. Plus I was “dog” tired…

Poems and Everyday Life

This is something that I like in this poem: it is down to earth. You have a feeling of clear eyed reality, with an eye for the specific detail. There is no Muse here. What is the Muse for a woman? A man as a Muse? Difficult.

The more I learn poems and say them the more I imagine how strange it is to say them. To ask someone for their attention. To hope that they can get the same reward from them. To discover the poem in real time.

I listened to  an interview with Jo Shapcott where she mentions Elizabeth Bishop leaving her unfinished poems stuck to the wall for ten years. Poems take time to write, to be born. They take time to learn and as you learn them they pass into you. I imagine not as much time to learn as they take to write. And they take time to understand as well. Imagine taking ten years to understand a poem. It is a short time actually.

I would say this poem on the metro, walking in the streets, in lifts, in stairwells. It is a little like the drawings I do on the metro. Sometimes I would look up and see all the people on their smartphones. I am sitting there with a scrap of paper. Sometimes I put the poems I am learning onto smartphones. That way I do not feel left out.

Poems working

The poem works its way into you. Any poem that you’re learning. Then it is there.

Muse

When I kiss you in all the folding places
of your body, you make that noise like a dog
dreaming, dreaming of the long run he makes
in answer to some jolt to his hormones,
running across landfills, running, running
by tips and shorelines from the scent of too much,
but still going with head up and snout
in the air because he loves it all
and has to get away. I have to kiss deeper
and more slowly – your neck, your inner arm,
the neat creases of your toes, the shadow
behind your knee, the white angles of your groin –
until you fall quiet because only then
can I get the damned words to come into my mouth.

Jo Shapcott