Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Death the Leveller

Death the Leveller

The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows not substantial things
There is no armour against fate,
Death lays its icy hands on kings;
Scepter and crown,
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made,
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.

Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill,
But their strong nerves at last must yield,
They tame but one another still;
Early or late,
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
When they, pale captives, creep to death.

The garlands wither on your brow,
They boast no more your mighty deeds;
Upon death's purple altar now,
See where the victor-victim bleeds,
Your heads must come,
To the cold tomb;
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.

James Shirley: 1659

The Best Poems of the English Language/Harold Bloom/Wikipedia/Poem Hunter.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

James Shirley

The Glories Of Our Blood And State.

James Shirley
From Google Images
James Shirley was a poet and dramatist who was born in 1596 and died, sadly, after his house was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. A dramatist until Parliament closed the theaters in 1642 he  fought for the Stuart cause before returning to London in 1644 to make his living as a schoolmaster. The above titled poem comes in under a number of headings and Harold Bloom in his selection of the finest poems in the English language settles on "Dirge" page 157, and remarks that Robert Frost at one of his readings recited it from memory, recording it as one of his favourite poems. I heard it first or at least I think it was first when Attracta Moore recited it from memory at the November meeting of the Writers' Circle and managed to record it on video, though whether it will load or not is another thing, being a little long for the Broadband out here. We will try! Attracta gave it the title "Death the Leveller" which seems to be the one that comes up most often when you search for it on Google. Whether there is anything of a coincidence here  I do not know, given that the "Levellers" were an extreme radical group whose views even Cromwell took a little exception to, in the course of events, and given that James Shirley was a supporter of the Royalist cause, and would be expected to have even less sympathy for, I leave coincidence to you! Poem to follow I promise!     

Sources: Harold Bloom: The Best Poems of the English Language, Wikipedia. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chivalry and Betrayal

Chivalry and Betrayal

Battle of Naseby
English Civil War.
From Google Images.
Watching an episode of the excellent BBC series on the hundred years war the other night and the reference to those who would seek to raise income by the imposition of certain taxes on the local peasantry, the outcome doesn't seem to be at all too lucky for those involved and that even up to the present day. The pull on an English longbow though by the way, was said to be up to one hundred pounds and not very friendly to be on the receiving end of, not that I know anything about archery and I throw that in as an aside. Pastimes on the village green before the advent of the plastic bottle and ice cream. But as I happen to be reading of another civil war and the not so pleasant outcome of that one either it brings me to a poem. Next one up! Have to get out in the sun more. Now I know the image is from the English Civil War. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"So you must be the first that gives this sentence" - Measure for Measur...

Another of those quotes from afternoons I should have been doing something else. "But man proud man". I spent a little while looking for this on youtube. So to "alexanderjdurham" who posted, with thanks! Anyway here's the part I remember.

Measure for Measure

But man proud man
Dressed in a little brief authority
Most ignorant of what he's most assured
His glassy essence, like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Seamus Ó Droma sings "Beir Mé Ó"

Seamus Ó Droma.

Seamus Ó Droma and Pat Farrelly dropped into the Meath Writers' Circle on Thursday night and I managed to get a recording of him singing the above. The light is not good but give a listen, the singing sure is.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Meath Writers Circle (Meeting) February 2013

The Meath Writers' Circle February 2013.

The group had its first meeting of 2013 last night in the Trim Castle Hotel with about fifteen in attendance (I think?) it was getting crowded! Willie entertained with a play on words that was for the over eighteens only and everyone had something interesting to read or say, with more than a few tributes to Tommy Murray. Pat Farrelly and Séamus Ó Droma of the Scurlogstown Olympiad Committee dropped in with a view to a testimonial proposed for two of its members and plans were discussed on getting something published by the group later in the year. Hopefully not that much later. Anyway see how it goes! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

SiarScéal Festival (Celebrating the Gathering 2013)

The Hanna Greally Literary Competition 2013.

The above festival runs from March 7th to 9th in Roscommon Town and has a closing date of  Friday 15th of February which gives you about one week to get your entries in to their poetry and prose competitions. Full details if you go to and please do. Poems should be no longer than 60 lines and Short Stories/Prose no longer than 500 words which seems very short. The telephone number to contact is 00353 (0) 872628191 and forward your entries to SiarScéal Festival C/O Richie Farrell, County Librarian, Roscommon County Council Library Service, Abbey Street, Roscommon, Ireland. €10/  $10/£10 for up to three submissions. School entries: €2.The Mayor of Roscommon Cllr. Tom Crosby will present the winners with the Awards. The winners will be invited to read during the Festival Launch. And good luck!  

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Meath Writers' Circle Video (1) February 2013.

Sean Reilly

Sean is a writer, a poet, a singer of fine songs and a member of The Meath Writers' Circle for a good number of years now. Also a member of The Small Impact Writers Group in Navan. Listed below are just some of the stories or songs posted here. Scroll back or just tap into Google. This one was recorded on Thursday the 2nd of August 2012.