Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Malcolm Arnold, Composer of the Week

Are you of a sensitive disposition?
Affected by the issues 
In today’s episode?
Drinking heavily, throwing up your guts? 
Are you a wife beater, ill tempered, bad? 
Or a distressed and anxious, alcoholic?
Well cheer up, it could be worse,
I won’t suggest that you write verse,
But dry your eyes, you don’t need tissues,
Try your hand at composition,
Musicians often are quite mad.
Why not write a dance, bucolic,
Or something in Jamaican mode?
Leave the bar at closing time,
Create a symphony sublime.
Write a hundred film scores then
A fine concerto, maybe ten,
Who knows how much sheer brilliance,
And genius at orchestration
Comes in part from deep resilience
From hard work and concentration
And how much just from being nuts?

Ivan Rogers at the Spectator

Ivan Rogers, most long winded,
Can’t his contract be rescinded?
Tedious and dull and boring
Made for shunning and ignoring.
Yet given room to write at length
His doom and gloom, God give me strength!
Which moron here at the Spectator,
Thinks this old prevaricator
Adds a single thought of use,
Just because he sounds abstruse?
A bore is never less a bore
Because his reasoning’s obscure. 
The truth is Ivan’s very bitter,
Here’s to brevity and Twitter!

Let Us Revitalise The North

Let us ‘revitalise’ The North, tomorrow,
Remove the misery we caused it yesterday,
Let’s cheer the poor sods up, who live there, 
Let’s patronise them now and spend, spend spend,
Let’s put an end to misery and sorrow
And most of all, let us pretend
The good we do today will quite repair
The harm we caused before and the despair,
We’re trillions in debt, but we can borrow,
It wasn’t us who stole vitality away

Monday, 20 January 2020

Scientism (based on a quote from Roger Scruton)

When you take away philosophy, religion,
The higher aims of art
Then you also take away 
The way we know ourselves apart. 
And knowing our apartness
Is the basis of our sanity.
We can’t reduce our kind
To basic biology.
For when we try, it seems,
We offer an apology
For all that is abhorrent,
In our vile inhumanity.

”The one who forgives, sacrifices vengeance, and renounces thereby a part of himself for the sake of another.” Roger Scruton

What are the causes of our happiness?
Some say they’re many, varied, manifold,
Some cite freedom, some pursuit of pleasure,
But these with sacrifice must be compared

For in living as if living’s to forgive
(Thus to the Christian message paying heed)
One sacrifices vengeance, and gives up
A portion of oneself, a valued treasure,
Not for the sake of doing some good deed,
But in order that another might live.
And strengthened thus, as pillars we uphold
The value of our citizenship
And find the path to social membership
All human beings seem to need. 

'It is Only a Very Shallow Person Who Does Not Judge By Appearances' Oscar Wilde

Although the title of the poem is a quote from Oscar Wilde, the content is based on a chapter in ‘The Soul of the World’ by Roger Scruton

Your eyes, which are your soul,
Made manifest, unfathomable,
Defying scientific explanation;
Express in pools of blue or brown,
Round, moist with brilliance,
And fragments of reflected light,
Your very essence:  your whole.
To find a gaze impenetrable
Is merely to avoid confrontation,
There is no fleeting thought so quickly flown,
That leaves no evidence
Of its flight,
No trace residual in the coal
Black depths of pupils. For each inimitable,
Unique and transient manifestation
Of thought is known,
Finding its mirror in the onlooker, whose excellence,
Whose skill in guessing right
Your emotion, is illimitable.
And thus your eyes are by definition
The second person singular, a pronoun
Made physical in the face, speaking in silence
The language of consciousness: insight.

‘It is not falsehood that causes the greatest offence but truth’. Roger Scruton

Free speech is being everywhere shut down,
so we will never know now who is right
 – the heretics or those who’d keep them mute
By force of law and brutal strength of will.
Today a thinking person of renown
Will not be murdered for his thought, 
But might be subject to assassination yet
Of character and of his good repute.

We can’t discuss, converse, we can’t refute,
Much better our old habits to forget,
We must self censor, let our tongues be still. 
For some beliefs are safe, beyond dispute,
Protected from debate. For it is known
That certain kinds of men may wish to kill
And others may take up the noble fight,
If questions are allowed of their ideas.
And so it is that now we must disown
Our old traditions honed throughout the years.

Yet why restrict a contest free and fair?
Why give in to bullies and relent?
For ‘tis not falsehood makes men violent,
Or makes them take offence, or claim despair.
The thing that makes these men too much protest,
The thing these people really do detest,
Is truth, spelled out by reasoned argument.

“Intellectuals are naturally attracted by the idea of a planned society, in the belief that they will be in charge of it.” Roger Scruton

If only we could plan and organise
The way that other people live, we’d show
That following our rules, sans compromise
Improves society no end. We know
So much. The poor man in the street cannot
Much more than hope he makes the wisest choice
In such a way that helps to stop the rot
That’s at the heart of western life. His voice,
His thoughts, are for himself.  But ours are based
On calculations which can take account
Of every consequence.  We would not act in haste,
We’d weigh and measure, calculate amount,
Ascribe a figure to the impact each
And every action had and in this way
We’d help Joe Bloggs, the ignorant, to reach
The best all round decision, that’s to say
To put himself and all his needs aside.
For thinking of oneself, we always find
Does not in every case quite coincide
With doing what is best for all mankind.


Oikophobia is a stage through which the adolescent mind all but inevitably passes. But it is also a stage in which we can become arrested.’ Roger Scruton

It seems, as if in answer to the adolescent need
To turn one’s back on all that one loved best
And walk into the world and then to test
Each old idea which lately had been seed
From which the current self had grown,
One had despaired.

For on finding there were blooms more dazzling bright,
More gaudy; hybrids bred for trumpeting their right
To dominate the public parks, be shown,
The latest, greatest, must have, modern craze
One had offered up one’s soul
For hybridising treatment, so the whole,
Native flower were wiped out.  To erase
The subtle beauty of the wild thing
So fitted for the soil, the cold, damp air,
Had been one’s mission and one’s only care
To emulate the fashionable, bring
Something of that showy, new florescence
In the juvenile belief that it would thrive,
Take over.  Full of joy, and still alive,
One believed one could acquire a new quintessence.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

The consolation of imaginary things is not imaginary consolation.” ― Roger Scruton

 “The consolation of imaginary things is not imaginary consolation.” 
We’re truly moved when music stirs the soul.
 It matters not that we are subject to manipulation:
Melody and harmony console.
And tension and release are real, for seeming real,
There is no proof, no basic, solvable equation:
Music has its human place, fulfils its role.
”The consolation of imaginary things is not imaginary consolation.” 
And yet it bears some scrutiny, investigation,
Within the Lebenswelt, and left intact and whole,
Not beneath some lens or analysed in fragmentation, 
We’re truly moved when music stirs the soul.
Those minor thirds, descending scales may both control
The floods and tides of sadness and emotion
Such music is the moon, the guiding star, the pole,
It matters not that we are subject to manipulation
Or that others name our claims 'exaggeration'.
Music might encourage and cajole
But we respond with glad capitulation:
Melody and harmony console
There’s deeper truth in chansons sans parole
Than in the truth of scientific explanation
We are complex, much too strange to pigeonhole
There is beauty in the world and in creation
of imaginary things.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Property of a Gentleman

An 18th century oak cupboard,
Nice thing, anyone going to bid?
Come on, it belonged to such a good fellow,
A gentleman, played the cello,
A man with a title,
He once gave a recital
In the village hall,
He raised quite a bit for charity,
Over the years,
Good chap, full of bright ideas,
But he didn’t need money,
So nothing ever came to much.
He used this as a cabinet by his bed,
But his family wanted rid,
Once he was dead,
Well, not dead as such,
Second marriage, you know how it is,
The wife can’t stand the sight
Of aught that’s his,
And now he’s on his way out
She’s taken a new broom
Come on now, that’s right,
Anyone buying?
Anyone going to give it house room?
It’s quite small,
You could stash your porn in it,
As he did,
And there’s only one shrinkage split.
His first wife was a nice lass,
Pretty, clever, upper class,
Went off,
With some other toff.
I’ll tell you what,
I’ll throw in this regency bedroom chair,
Come on, do I hear two quid?
Two quid anywhere?
Alright, I’ll let it pass.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Are My Emotions Real?

Are My Emotions Real?

Is it true, as I self report, 
that I am repelled
In that moment,
Bending near the ground,
When I discover that the turd in the poo bag,
Reducing the heat of my hand,
Is not the one freshly expelled
By my faithful hound,
But the shit some other dog has left lying around? 
Why do I start to gag?
Either I am revolted by faeces or I’m not,
Cool or hot,
I would have thought.
Is this a subject for a thesis or dissertation?
Would I still feel queasy
If the ‘wrong dog’s’ excrement 
Was warm?  Am I simply disgusted
By taking hold of something cold?
Or is this conclusion too easy?
Should I conduct an experiment,
Launch an investigation?
Is my response adaptive or encoded,
Do I feel this way, because of my DNA?
Is it an instinct protecting me from harm?
Which questions might be loaded?
“What kind of bond
Makes one respond
To the motions passed by one’s own Alsatian
With equanimity and calm?”
For example.
Could one set out to deceive
By pretending all the mess 
Dog owners were asked to collect
Was from their own animal,
Or would it be better to forget the lies
And see if owners could detect
Or recognise
The particular qualities of their own pet’s faecal matter?
I think I prefer the latter.
Would other physiological responses
Reveal the truth, serve as validation?
Or is all this emotion just imagination?

Can Mud Abate?

How strange a thing to contemplate,
And yet a subject for debate,
And childish poetry and rhyme,
Since mud only becomes less mud
When water doth evaporate:
When mud is dry, of mud there’s none.
Yet one could argue  (as one should,
Since arguing does people good)
Or make a gambit or a start,
By saying that the water’s gone, 
but that the water’s not the mud,
Since no one ever understood
The nuisance of the dirt and grime
To be the clear, liquid part.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Lutoslawski, Concerto for Orchestra

Out of the suffering came forth sound,
A tortured song of the soul.
A music the purpose of which was profound,
Containing a prayer, not meant to console,
A prayer sufficient of itself, a hope complete and whole,
Which hung in the air, above the despair, which also hung around,
And yet there was no praise, no glorified God to extol.
Out of the suffering came forth sound,
Out of the music appeared a wound,
Which could not be healed and still had control
Of the man who conveyed it as pain as he found,
A tortured song of the soul,
A music whose only role
Was to spell out exactly, not trick or confound,
To say what was true and let truth take its toll,
A music the purpose of which was profound,
A music of death and of blood soaked ground
And yet intelligent, a glimpse through a keyhole,
Into a mind which did not flinch, but sought to expound,
Containing a prayer, not meant to console,
Or offer false glimpses of future parole.
A music relentless and seeming to hound
The listener, wear him down, yet condole,
Truth and beauty wrought, where yet they almost drowned:
Out of the suffering came forth sound.