I know people can easily find good stuff themselves to read, but sometimes I come across something which I would heartily recommend, and ever more rarely, I manage to remember to do so!
So below are a few links to pieces which I think are well worth reading, for various reasons.
I hope you find them as interesting and thought-provoking as I did.
First of all, and whilst also by way of a public health announcement for men, something which, in the circumstances, is an excellent piece of writing. Malcolm Combe is an academic lawyer at Aberdeen University. What he has forgotten about property law is far more than I ever knew. But in this piece here he writes not of law but of health.
Good luck and best wishes to you Malcolm – I hope you have many long years ahead of blogging on piping (of the musical variety) and property law!
From health let’s go to Syria.
Here are two contrasting pieces for you.
The first comes from my good friend Martin Kelly. Martin is (a) a top chap; (b) a fine writer; (c) the most prolific and long-running blogger I know; and (d) a top chap. (He is also NOT, as some half-wits decided to accuse him of being a while ago, the man behind an anonymous blog about a certain football team).
Here he writes about his thoughts on the Syrian situation, and the change in his views since the Iraq conflict ten years ago.
This, as is all of what Martin writes, is well worth a read.
By contrast I offer the thoughts of Rany Jazayerli. He is an excellent writer on the rising and falling (mainly falling) fortunes of the Kansas City Royals baseball team. He is also a man whose parents came to the USA from Syria and so his thoughts on the conflict are rather more informed than much of the comments of politicians and journalists.
In his latest blog post here you will find his thoughts on Syria at the foot of the article, after thoughts on the Royals’ pitching rotation and bullpen (which I accept are likely to be of limited interest to some).
Finally in the links, can I commend Ian Smart’s latest blog post to you? Ian is a fine lawyer, past President of the Law Society, and shamefully passed over by the Labour Party for selection as a parliamentary candidate. He offers his views regularly on the independence debate and on the state of Scottish politics. The reason for recommending this post? Apart from his always thought-provoking views on Scottish politics, his piece has the best title for a blog post I have seen this year!
And this week we have lost Seamus Heaney – one of the world’s great poets. The Telegraph offered short extracts from some of his best poems in a “highlights show”.
You can read them below:-
Death of a Naturalist
From Death of a Naturalist, published 1966.
“But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window-sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst into nimble-
Requiem for the Croppies
Written in 1966, on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Printed in Door into The Dark, 1969.
“Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August… the barley grew up out of our grave.”
From The Spirit Level, published 1996.
“So tally bags and sweet-talk darkness, coalman,
Listen to the rain spit in new ashes
As you heft a load of dust that was Magherafelt,
Then reappear from your lorry as my mother’s
Dreamboat coalman filmed in silk-white ashes”
Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication
Published in North, in 1975 and dedicated to Mary Heaney.
“Now she dusts the board
with a goose’s wing,
now sits, broad-lapped,
with whitened nails
and measling shins:
here is a space
again, the scone rising
to the tick of two clocks.”
1. The Seed Cutters
“They seem hundreds of years away. Brueghel,
You’ll know them if I can get them true.
They kneel under the hedge in a half-circle
Behind a windbreak wind is breaking through.”
The Tollund Man in Springtime
Published in Metre, Spring 2005.
“The soul exceeds its circumstances”. Yes.
History not to be granted the last word
Or the first claim … In the end I gathered
From the display-case peat my staying powers,
Told my webbed wrists to be like silver birches,
My old uncallused hands to be young sward,
The spade-cut skin to heal, and got restored
By telling myself this.”
From Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996, published 1998.
“I returned to a long strand,
the hammered curve of a bay,
and found only the secular
powers of the Atlantic thundering.”
Written as an objection to being included in an anthology of British poetry, as he claimed his identity was Irish, in 1982.
“Be advised my passport’s green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
to toast the Queen.”
From Whatever You Say Say Nothing, published in North (1975).
“I retreated to the cool of the Prado.
Goya’s ‘Shootings of the Third of May’
Covered a wall – the thrown-up arms
And spasm of the rebel, the helmeted
And knapsacked miliatry, the efficient
Rake of the fusillade.”
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
Published in 2000.
“It is always better
to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.
For every one of us, living in this world
means waiting for our end. Let whoever can
win glory before death. When a warrior is gone,
that will be his best and only bulwark.”
And finally, farewell to Sir David Frost – known around the world for interviewing Richard Nixon and getting far more out of him than any interviewer ever did after his fall – and in Britain for saying “Hello, Good Evening and Welcome”.
Posted by Paul McConville