Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Robbins chooses O'Siochain

About Philippa Robbins

I was born in London in 1964. I am a painter and live and work in Wales.  My work is figurative. I'm working on still-lifes and landscape at the moment and am artist in residence on an architectural project in West Wales.
My website is www.philipparobbins.com and recently finished work and work in progress can also been seen on http://www.flickr.com/photos/philsr/.

About the poem

This is a poem written by Ruary O'Siochain and I first heard it, read by him, at his marriage last year to Kathrin.  It tells of their re-meeting early in their relationship after a  short spell of having not seen each other, neither of them certain that the other was still feeling the same as they had those few weeks earlier.

I find the poem has a quality to it like a classic old film--immediately familiar and unelaborate with separate focus on each little scene skirting the asking of the question. It's beautifully poignant and romantic, reserved and, in the telling, complete.

The poem


Later I drank
the most beautiful
Old Speckled Hen.

It was early May
in the Sunday park.
The east wind
kept isolate people
all moving
in the bright sunshine.

The tree we lay under 
was full of fresh leaves.
How many greens?
we asked, 
shimmering emerald
dancing to the brush
of a squirrel’s tail.

Winter is always long
and hard.
The deep barrier blue
now in place
above us, and you asked -
“Are we still all right,

 --Ruary O'Siochain

By permission of the poet

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Digby chooses Hopkins

Clive Hicks-Jenkins earned the honor of being first because he was so wonderfully quick in response, but as it seemed a little self-serving to make one of my own poems go first, I have delayed him and begin with the myriad-minded Paul Digby. Every post at The Lydian Stones will contain three sections: a short biography of a featured artist, along with a picture of some kind; his or her commentary on a favorite poem as well as links to further work or information about the poet; the chosen poem. This post contains a little celebratory extra, a piece of Paul Digby's music.

About Paul Digby

A biography is rather difficult for me to write.  I enjoy many aspects of creative work and dabble in musical composition, painting (figurative/portraiture), light poetry, pottery, life drawing, and much else.  I studied composition as a teenager but decided upon a hiatus from that when in my early twenties.  Over the past ten years I have slowly returned to it because I can now write orchestral and choral work using sampled instruments and voices.  There is a very steep learning curve to the process of scoring an orchestral work, but I am tenacious by nature and rather stubborn about the whole thing.  In the past I wrote much piano music (my first instrument) but found that unsatisfactory.  I have recently taken up oil painting, and find this to be a rich experience for me, and one that goes hand-in-hand with musical composition work.  I both paint and write music to express the same ideas at the same time.  Communicating ideas in this way keeps me sane.

Without this, I would simply talk an awful lot.


When writing this music recently--as part of an art show experience --I attempted to express both ethereal and earthy immediacy within the work.

The piece explores the idea of the “ascension of us all”--and also, what we would wish to ascend from.  The boy solo calls to us throughout.

About the poem

I was first introduced to the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins while still at school and studying toward my 'A' level in English Literature.  I must have been fifteen or sixteen at the time.  It was the work of this poet that woke me up to the beauty of the sound of poetry.  I realized then that words held meanings that sometimes became more powerful when put out into the air, as music.  For me, poetry is spoken music.  Poetry has rhythm, texture, and tonally modulating qualities that arrest my attention.  It was this realization that woke me up to poetry and I have been awake to it ever since.

Gerard Manley Hopkins' work displays a very strong Christian faith, and although I am an atheist, essentially, I find beauty and integrity in his work and admire his faith and his appreciation of beauty in this world.

I have been reading his poetry for nearly forty years now, and his poetry remains as fresh and wonderful to me as it was the first time I read him.

“Pied Beauty” expresses so much that I love about life.  There is also an acceptance of mystery “(who knows how?)” that I find appealing for its simplicity.

To read this poem is a joy.  To read this poem aloud, well . . . that pushes something beautiful out into the world.

The poem


GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

Poem in public domain.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Stones and poetry book in Marly's writing room.
THE LYDIAN STONES will begin on my birthday and is meant as a gift to readers and those who love all branches of the arts. Please e-follow or plan to visit on the 22nd, when the first pebble will be tossed onto the site of a future cairn made up of many stones, bright or dark, memorials and markers of encounters with beauty and shapeliness.

Future posts will appear on Tuesdays as well... I am mulling which one to post first. Not the one somebody did relating to me--that would be immodest, even on a birthday. Maybe one that has music and poetry. Always good to have a little music on one's natal day.