Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Solstice Poem, December 21, 2016

 Winter Solstice Poem 

 For people of the North 
this is the key moment
 when the Sun lingers for a week 
 on the edge of darkness 

Today we celebrate with lights
-- a long held tradition --
 to coax the Sun back from its gloom 
revealing that our feelings
are much more ancient
than we realize

Two people in silhouette watching the sunset around the time of the winter solstice.

Christmas lights are now the traditional way to mark the end of the year -- but come from our ancient traditions.

Monday, December 5, 2016

We're All Just Animals


 Let's keep it simple: 

 We're all just animals 

 that live in a zoo 

 known as civilization 
New York City (left); Halloween in Austin, Texas (right)

"Let us consider that we are all insane. 
It will explain us to each other; 
it will unriddle many riddles..."
Mark Twain

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Translation - Pascal: The heart has its reasons

Undoctored time-exposure photograph of the moon at night over Jarrett Bay, North Carolina. (Rick Doble)

 Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas. 
From Pascal's Pensées
 Blaise Pascal  (1623 - 1662)
Literal translation:
The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.
Other common translation:
The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing. 

    The heart has its reasons    
    which the mind would never know.    
  Translation by me, Rick Doble  

Raison (reason) in French has multiple shades of meaning such as raison d'être (reason for being) and la raison (in the sense of being rational). The power of Pascal's phrase is a  play on these two meanings.

There is a different problem with translating the French verb connaître (know) which means being familiar with vs. the French verb savoir which means to have knowledge of or to know how -- as these two ways of knowing are expressed by these two separate verbs. However, the word know in English has both meanings, i.e. I know this person and I know how to speak French. So I needed to shade the English word know with some additional meaning.

Raison and connaître work wonderfully in French but do not translate well into English -- so I took the liberty of deviating from the standard translation. In English heart vs. mind is very clear and is similar to the two French meanings of raison

As for knowing, I wanted to emphasize the difference between heart and mind -- which I feel is part of Pascal's meaning -- that rational thought cannot know the reasons of the heart. I also find it very interesting that Pascal, a master mathematician who created one of the world's first adding and calculating machines, had such a profound understanding of the workings of the heart vs. his reasoning as a mathematician.

While my translation takes liberties with the French literal meaning, I believe my translation conveys the meaning and also the rhythm better than the standard ones.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day: November 11, 2016

Why is November 11 Veterans Day?
It is the anniversary of the signing of the WWI Armistice.
"The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was an armistice during the First World War between the Allies and Germany... It went into effect at 11 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 ("the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month")..."

My father was a veteran of the First World War. As one of the first American soldiers at the front, he served with a machine gun battalion and then was captured and held as a prisoner of war for a year.
November 11, 1918 has a special meaning for me, because at that time my father was near death at the prison camp. Everyone in Germany, especially prisoners of war, were starving due to the Allied Blockade. If signing the armistice had taken another month, my father would probably have died and I would not be here today to write this blog.

Anthem for Doomed Youth (1918)
By Wilfred Owen
As a poet myself I wanted to put my own interpretation on this powerful World War I poem. I have taken the liberty of breaking Owen's original poem into more lines because I think it creates the pauses and emphasis that is needed when reading this. -- My apologies to Wilfred Owen and his remarkable poem.
Original poem line breaks: http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/owen2.html

Original manuscript showing Owen's revisions and suggestions by a fellow poet.

 What passing-bells 
 for these who die as cattle? 

 — Only the monstrous anger 
 of the guns. 
 Only the stuttering rifles' 
 rapid rattle 
 Can patter out their hasty orisons. 

 No mockeries now for them; 
 no prayers nor bells; 
 Nor any voice of mourning 
 save the choirs, 
 — The shrill, demented choirs 
 of wailing shells; 
 And bugles calling for them 
 from sad shires. 

 What candles may be held 
 to speed them all? 
 Not in the hands of boys, 
 but in their eyes 
 Shall shine the holy glimmers 
 of goodbyes. 
 The pallor of girls' brows 
 shall be their pall; 

 Their flowers 
 the tenderness 
 of patient minds, 

 And each 
 slow dusk 
 a drawing-down 
 of blinds. 


This poem has been interpreted by a number of people.
What follows are several YouTube videos of this work:

Benjamin Britten: War Requiem: What passing bells for these who die as cattle?

Sean Bean reads Wilfred Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth

A modern interpretation by Jos Slabbert 
Anthem for Doomed Youth

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Written Word Is Not the Spoken Word

 The Written Word Is Not the Spoken Word 

Abe Lincoln reading to his son Tad.

 The written word 
 is not the spoken 
 conversational word 

(TOP) "The earliest known draft of the United States Declaration of Independence
a fragment in the handwriting of Thomas Jefferson. June 1776."
The numerous words that were crossed out, inserted 
and changed shows how the written word is usually crafted.
(BOTTOM) Top of a finished polished Declaration of Independence 
published version, known as a broadside. 

 The written word is molded, 
 crafted and polished 

 And does not include 
 the body language and 
 the silent  expressions 
 of speech 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sputnik, October 4, 1957

 OCTOBER 4, 1957 
 Personal Stories 
 Eight grade, age 13, Sharon, Connecticut 
 Pete, the town wino, tells us he saw it 

"A replica of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in the world to be put into outer space..."

 Waiting for a ride to school 
 in the chill of dawn 
 the town wino comes up to us 
 pointing to the sky 

 "That thing those Russians put there  
 going around the Earth... 
 I saw it," 
 he says slurring his words, 
 "...a little silver ball" 

We stood in front of this building waiting for 
our ride to school in Sharon, Connecticut. (Google Earth)

 We laughed 
 at Pete 
 but underneath we shivered 

 Because as young boys 
 soon to be draft age 
 we knew 
 we would be involved 

Wounded during a military operation in Vietnam in 1967, 
10 years after the launch of Sputnik.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A True Writer Must Write

 Age 13, Sharon Connecticut, 1957 

 To be a  poet  is a condition rather than a profession. 
 Robert Graves 

 At the age of thirteen 
 I knew this: 

Working draft (left) of The Tyger (opening line: Tyger Tyger burning brightand finished poem with illustration (right). 
William Blake produced a large body of work but did not worry about his audience and was virtually unknown. Only years after his death would he be considered one of the great Romantic writers and painters.

 Whether my writing 
 was good or bad, 
 liked or disliked 
 was not important 

Orson Welles (right)
-- whose fictional radio program, War of the Worldscaused a sensation -- 
being interviewed by writers and reporters.

 I had no choice 
 but to be a writer 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Autumn Equinox, September 22, 2016

-- when day and night are equal --
 September 22, 2016 

 Derived from the Latin: 
 equi = equal 
 nox = night 

 With electric lights 
 and central heat 

 we have 
 the delicate 


Text, design & research by Rick Doble. All images are from commons.wikimedia.org unless otherwise noted.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Power of Words, The Limitation of Words

 The Power of Words 
 The Limitation of Words 

 Give & Take 

One of the first forms of writing:
 an early style of Sumerian writing about 4600 years ago on a clay tablet.

 gives us 
 the freedom and power 

A page from the ABC trim alphabet book
a French book used to teach children the alphabet -- this page is for the letter B.

 to communicate 

 via our shared virtual reality 

 of symbols 

 imprison us 
 with their generalities -- 

 removing us 
 from the specific beauty 

 and uniqueness of life 

Friday, September 9, 2016

One Year Anniversary Online: Haiku-like Poetry

 One Year Anniversary Online: 
 Haiku-like Poetry 
 43 poems & short quasi-essays 

 These poems 
 aim for the intersection 

Starlings swarming.

 of thought and imagery 

 reason and intuition 


and the wordless

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Poet's Task

by Rick Doble

 The poet's task 
 is to fill 
 the emptiness 
 of words 
 with the richness 
 of the world 

Drawing of Rimbaud by Verlaine  (commons.wikimedia.org)

 Example of a poet filling his words with the richness of the world 
 W. B. Yeats 

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
— Those dying generations — at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

Verlaine & Rimbaud (far left)
belonged to a group known as Les Poètes Maudits 
(The Cursed Poets or The Outsider Poets) 
which is also the title of  a work by Verlaine (commons.wikimedia.org)
 I'm now making myself as scummy as I can. Why? I want to be a poet, and I'm working at turning myself into a seer. You won't understand any of this, and I'm almost incapable of explaining it to you. The idea is to reach the unknown by the derangement of all the senses. It involves enormous suffering, but one must be strong and be a born poet. It's really not my fault. 
Arthur Rimbaud, 1871, age 16

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Past Is The Present -- The Present Is The Past

 The Past Is The Present 


 The Present Is The Past 
 by Rick Doble 

Ocean waves transport energy over vast distances...
There are waves of all sizes and shapes rolling into the beach at any given time. If they’re not stopped by anything, waves can travel across entire ocean basins and so the waves at your beach might be from a storm half a world away.
Oceans in Motion: Waves and Tides

 The Past Is The Present = 
 The Present Is The Past 

  the past is  
  like ocean waves  
  forever breaking  
  on the shores  
  of the now  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Fast Food Sound Bites

(At a McDonald's restaurant during a storm)
(Photographs from commons.wikimedia.org)

The large loud man
who has a story for anyone who will listen
tells his daughter 
she is acting 
like a seal

Outside a storm 
pounds the parking lot
with large beaded drops

Then sudden sunlight hits
glossy grass
before rain returns

French fries beep in the kitchen
I wonder if my car window is open

The loud man
looks at his daughter
claps his hands
and barks like a seal

Around the restaurant 
ripples of laughter

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Young Girl Frightened By Gulls

A Very Young Girl 
Is Frightened By Gulls At The Beach
Radio Island, Carteret County, NC
Photo by Rick Doble

Monday, June 6, 2016

Chinese Restaurant - 1963

 Special Trip to a   Chinese Restaurant 

 Personal Stories 
 In 1963 there were no Chinese restaurants in Chapel Hill NC
 where I was going to college at UNC, so we drove to Durham 

(Image processed from a photograph at commons.wikimedia.org)

  At a Chinese restaurant  
 the waitress 
 tells me 
 I think too much 

 I am 
 out the window