three

(poems for the summer)

Brighton coast / Photo by Rachel Silverlight

Night (summer).

 In the stillness of the night I hear
Some car pass down some road.

Or is it the sea? That roaring rumbling
Sound is so distant and so faint.

Or the wind that whistles down these streets
Between the buildings like channels to
The sea?

No matter; the laughing gulls are up.

 *

Three.

The sea belongs to me.
The sea belongs to me.
Three times I have swum now
Three days in the sea
And three makes it true
Don’t it?

The sea belongs to me.

 * 

Fixed
(after Camus)

I will die not happy not sad
it will come to me just as it is
and it will be everything
I will feel some trepidation before,
but no more than any man or woman
at any other change coming.

After all it is fixed
like pain is fixed
and joy has its limit
and cold is fixed
and so death
from the moment we’re birthed
and before
played out in the lottery of the stars
in the light of any distant sun
still playing out forever.

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sea/sun

essential reading for the summer daze

Albert Camus: A Happy Death

So the school holidays began last week, which means that for many summer is really only beginning even though if I’m honest, I feel the heart of summer has already passed. The first time it’s properly hot and sunny you fall under a kind of madness; a kind of desperation when every moment is so bloody precious (especially working 9-6 with a forty five minute bus journey each way), and it’s really, really great. But the minute it’s not quite so hot and bright any longer it’s also kind of a relief, because living that way is exhausting.

Nevertheless – like I said, for some summer is only really beginning. So it’s the season of what they call ‘jetting off’ and holiday reading, which is of course the topic of this post. My essential summer read is A Happy Death by Albert Camus, and I’m going to tell you why.

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first quarter reading list 2013

sex drugs & madness

Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil

Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis: not my book of the quarter

January

Albert Camus, Exile and the Kingdom
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis

February 

David Sandison & Graham Vickers, Neal Cassady: Fast Life of a Beat Hero
Antonio Melechi, Fugitive Minds
Hermann Hesse, The Prodigy

March

D. H. Lawrence, Sons & Lovers
Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All

Sex, drugs, and madness was how I began the year. Literary wise, if not otherwise, but probably a little otherwise too. But in reality, it probably was more literary than any of the other three (or the other three combined).

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LIFE IN THE WOODS

thoughts on walden

For one who has long very much enjoyed living according to the Wilde philosophy – i.e. ‘anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination’ – Henry David Thoreau’s Walden presents rather a problem. For those unfamiliar with the book, it is more or less a collection of thoughts and observations from the two years in which Thoreau built himself a house and lived in the woods beside Walden Pond. The spirit of the book is a call toward a simpler life, and a eulogy to nature that evokes its subject with dazzling and earnest description. And between these two, a challenge to the notion that modernity, all our material advance, has advanced the heart of man:

‘While civilisation has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings.’
p. 21

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