Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Personal & Public

I woke up in the middle of last night, wide-awake. So I got up and put up the day’s blog. Went back to bed, put my oxygen machine back on, drifted off to sleep and next thing I knew it was 8 o clock. I pulled back the curtain to an apricot sky. The bitterly cold weather continued all day. Anne hung a fat ball on the fence. The wax-eyes quickly gathered and have been feasting all day. Also starlings.

I’m nearing the end of the compilation of an anthology of New Zealand Poems. I am calling it ‘These I Have Loved’ a line from Rupert Brooke – poems, which down the years or in some cases only recently, have settled in my mental household, comfortable and available, a satisfying source of reflection and contemplation. They represent my upbringing, my temperament and my interests.

There are surprising and unexpected gaps. There are long poems and short poems, some simple, others difficult, some well-known, others not. As a teacher I used to tell students you don’t need to understand a poem fully to like it. Love has the capacity to astonish. Like relationships, you think you’ve grasped the essence only to find there are previously unplumbed depths and sudden surprises.

There was room for only one really long poem. There were five or six and I dithered over the decision for I liked them all. Eventually I decided to go with Andrew Johnson’s ‘The Sunflower’, a eulogy to his father. I consider it one of our best recent poems. I was surprised and delighted to find that Mary McCallum’s blog had it as the Tuesday Poem. A superb selection. Reading it there and her comments about it reinforced my judgement.

On a very different tack. President Obama must sometimes wonder if the job is worth it. He inherited two wars and a recession. All are ongoing, despite progress in Iraq and the economy. But North Korea continues to remain rogue, Iran is intractable and Israel’s attack on the aid flotilla add to foreign policy dilemmas. And in the Gulf of Mexico an uncappable well continues to spew out oil.

The Israel/Palestinian dispute over Gaza is in the long-term most worrying. If Obama vetoes the Security Council resolution condemning Israel then he loses what little credibility he has with the Muslim world. If he doesn’t, Israel will condemn him and the Jewish lobby in the States will be outraged. All that with mid-term congressional elections looming. Hamas’s refusal to accept Israel’s existence is a factor. But heavy-handed use of force alienates international opinion. Hobson’s Choice. All I have to decide is what to put on my blog and in my anthology. Lucky man!

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