Saturday, 28 September 2013

Another great poem....

 
The Road Not Taken
 
 
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5
 
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        10
 
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15
 
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.        20
 

Monday, 13 May 2013

About Time - A work in progress

This is the first chapter of a story I was working on a while back that kind of fell by the wayside. It's a story about time travel that starts in Dublin 2013 and moves around from there. I've decided to post a chapter here and then read it back and see if its worth continuing with. Feel free to comment, positive or negative... I can take it!!!



Chapter 1



Before we begin, I have to explain that I am a genius. I am not trying to be vain or big-headed about this, but it is something you need to know from the outset. And incidentally, I am not talking your average fourteen year old, top-of-the class-in-school kind of genius either. I am more your Albert Einstein type of genius. Though in fairness, old Albert didn’t speak until he was two years old, which makes him a bit of a late bloomer in my opinion. I’m not knocking the great man of course. He was obviously extremely intelligent, and some of his work on relativity was obviously ground breaking, even if he did need two attempts at it. Still, that whole E=MC2 thing was great for its time. I’m just saying that we should not necessarily use him as a benchmark on the genius scale. 

Now I know you are probably sitting there wondering how anyone can be so big-headed. After all I’m not stupid. But if we are going to go through this story together there are a few things that you will need to understand at the very beginning, and the first, and most important is that I am a genius. If you were here with me I could produce letters and certificates from MENSA or from Trinity College Dublin where I completed my Masters in Applied Quantum Physics before my thirteenth birthday. But you are not here, so you are just going to have to take my word on it. Otherwise you may as well just close the book now and go back to whatever you normally do to pass the time.

The second thing you have to understand if this story is going to make any sense at all is that everything you were ever told about time was wrong. Well, almost everything. HG Wells got a few things spot on, and the writers of Dr Who were not too far off the mark on occasion either. Time Travel is not only possible, it is essential. At the moment you are travelling through time and space at a speed of 1 second per second. Congratulations. You are officially a Time Traveller, and you will be until the day you die, at which point, your body will continue without you in some shape or form. 

The tricky part is not travelling in time, it is controlling your speed. And actually, once you get the hang of the whole thing, it’s really not that tricky after all. But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit here. The best way to tell the story is probably to stick with the traditional sequential approach, so we’ll start at the beginning and work forward. And I suppose it really all started last spring, when I was preparing to deliver a dissertation on “Energy Loss in Quantum Tunnelling” to the Max Planck Institute in Munich. I was in my office in the Hamilton Building in Trinity College Dublin, polishing off a packet of munchies and wondering whether I should deliver it in German or English. I was also trying very hard to keep my hands away from a spot the size of Vesuvius which was festering beneath my chin and likely to erupt at any moment. Suddenly something struck me. It was a scrunched up A4 page that had been ripped from a copy book and thrown with remarkable accuracy directly through my second floor window.  

I flattened the page out on my desk, and found a scrawled message from my older brother, Jack. “Dinner is at six-thirty. See you at Pav in 10.” The Pavilion Bar is the area of the college overlooking the cricket grounds where students like to hang out in the sun and pretend they are being profound as they knock back pints of lager. I had little time for alcohol, but Jack was nineteen and was in his first year of an Arts Degree, (English and History). He seemed to spend more time in the bar than in classes, and with his year-end exams only a few weeks away would have been better off focussing on a few books in the library than a few beers in the Pav, but I suppose it takes all sorts. 

I only had ten minutes to finish up and get over there to him, so I turned my attention back to my dissertation. There was something niggling at me though. I could not quite put my finger on it, but there was something about having only ten minutes to finish up, and wanting to get so much more done in that time that was drifting around in my head like a butterfly. For a couple of seconds I tried chasing around my head after it with a metaphorical net trying to catch it, but with no success. Then I decided to lure it in, so I shifted my focus back to Quantum Tunnelling, and waited for my Eureka moment. And then it came to me. A flash of inspiration hit me on the head with all the force of an apple falling from a tree, and in that instant I knew that I had mastered the secrets of time travel that had evaded the greatest minds in history. 
Then I had to run off to the Pav and on home for a fried chicken dinner. 


Monday, 12 November 2012

Another Poem

I just realised that I've hardly posted at all this year, (not that I was overly prolific last year in fairness). So, rather than start adding new writing I've decided to put up another poem I discovered many moons ago. This was in the same book as the hippopotamus poem posted previously. I'm sure there was some worthwhile lesson being taught in this school book but the 'only' thing I learnt from it was how much fun words can be. The poem is titled 'The Bath' and I think the reason it resonated with me was that I had a 'maiden aunt' who fit the role perfectly.


Broad is the gate and wide the path
That leads man to his daily bath;
But ere you spend the shining hour
With sponge and spray, with sluice and show'r,
With all that teaches you to dread
The bath as little as your bed;
Remember, whosoe'er you be
To shut the door and turn the key.

I had a friend a friend no more;
Who failed to bolt the bathroom door.

A maiden aunt of his, one day,
Walked in as half submerged he lay,
But did not notice nephew John
And turned the boiling water on!

He had no time, or even scope,
To camouflage himself with scope,
But gave a yell, and flung aside
The sponge 'neath which he sought to hide;
It fell to earth I know not where.
He beat his breast in deep despair,
And then, like Venus from the foam,
Sprang into view and made for home.

His aunt fell fainting to the ground.
Alas! They never brought her round.

She died intestate in her prime,
The victim of another's crime,
And John can never quite forget
How, by a breach of etiquette,
He lost at one fell swoop (or plunge)
His aunt, his honour and his sponge.

Harry Graham

The Joy of Poetry

I found this poem in an old schoolbook when I was about 8 or 9 and I've always remembered it. It tells a story of a love found and enjoyed, and the tragic end that came all too soon. It was written by Patrick Barrington. Enjoy!!


I Had a Hippopotamus

I had a Hippopotamus, I kept him in a shed
And fed him upon vitamins and vegetable bread
I made him my companion on many cheery walks
And had his portrait done by a celebrity in chalk

His charming eccentricities were known on every side
The creatures' popularity was wonderfully wide
He frolocked with the Rector in a dozen friendly tussles
Who could not but remark on his hippopotamuscles

If he should be affected by depression or the dumps
By hippopotameasles or the hippopotamumps
I never knew a particle of peace 'till it was plain
He was hippopotamasticating properly again

I had a Hippopotamus, I loved him as a friend
But beautiful relationships are bound to have an end
Time takes alas! our joys from us and rids us of our blisses
My hippopotamus turned out to be a hippopotamisses

My house keeper regarded him with jaundice in her eye
She did not want a colony of hippotami
She borrowed a machine gun from from her soldier nephew, Percy
And showed my hippopotamus no hippopotamercy

My house now lacks that glamour that the charming creature gave
The garage where I kept him is now as silent as the grave
No longer he displays among the motor tyres and spanners
His hippopomastery of hippopotamanners

No longer now he gambols in the orchards in the spring
No longer do I lead him through the village on a string
No longer in the morning does the neighbourhood rejoice
To his hippopotamusically-meditated voice

I had a hippopotamus but nothing upon earth
Is constant in its happines or lasting in its mirth
No joy that life can give me can be strong enough to smother
My sorrow for that might-have-been-a-hippopota-mother
Patrick Barrington

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Favourite poem....

I found the Irish Times from 31/12/1999 recently. They ran a feature on Ireland's favourite poems. No. 1 was my favourite too..

THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE
By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

1892

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Inspirational Poem #2

The second poem that I've always found inspirational is If by Rudyard Kipling. I heard someplace that Kipling was a bit of a racist and certainly his roots lay in a very imperialistic Britain of the late 19th century. His reputation suffered unfairly partly because some of his works included a swastika. However according to the fountain of all
Knowledge that is wikipedia kipling's use of the symbol predates the Nazi adoption of it and was intended to represent An Indian sun symbol conferring luck and wellbeing.

Anyway, regardless of his political perspective, I still love the poem If. It has helped me both physically and emotionally. When I was 18 and working away from home in Cape Cod one summer I found myself working the night shift in a plastic factory. I was a scrawny city lad and completely unprepared for the physical demands of the job. Each night my goal was just to make it to the coffee break, and then to the lunch break. And the only thing that kept me going were the lines...

'If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve their turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in
Except the will which says to them hold on.'

Even now, 25 years later whenI hear those lines I can feel the ach in my back and the sense of achievement that came with not giving up. I have 2 sons and I think if they grow up with the values expressed in this poem
I'll be happy.
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!






Monday, 22 August 2011

Inspirational Poems #1

With a definite nod to a recent blog entry by http://nakedgirlinadress.com/, I've decided to post a couple of poems that I have found inspirational. Number one on my list is Desiderata. This poem originated in the 1920's and I first came across it in my teens. It's stayed with me over the years, to be used like a lighthouse guiding me on the right path when I start to lose my way. I seem to remember someone having a hit song with it in the '70's but I could be imagining that. Anyway I've reproduced it below. Feel free to comment on this or let me know what poems have inspired you.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann c.1920