Breakfast, by Harry Graham

A favourite poem, and a sobering moral tale
The perfect breakfast, all must own, is that which man enjoys alone
Peace, perfect peace, is found, they say, only with loved ones far away
And there is naught but solitude that suits the matutinal* mood.
But there, alas! are tactless folk who choose that hour to jest and joke
Whose conversation, brisk and bright, just bearable perhaps at night
Fills with intollerable gloom the self-respecting breakfast-room.
Thus, as I verily suspect, are many happy households wrecked
So, when you break your morning fast, let no one share that first repast.
Dean Cope, the eminent divine was breakfasting at half-past nine
Perusing (as he munched his toast) ‘The Anglican or Churchman’s Post’
When in there blew, to his distress, the Bishop of the Diocese
(Most typical in size and girth of the Church Miltant on Earth)
Who shouted “Cheerio, old chap” and gave the Dean a playful slap.
Alas! What ill-timed bonhommie, the Dean inhaled his kedgeree
And turning, with his face all black, he slapped the breezy Bishop back.
Both lost their tempers there and then, and in a trice these holy men
Began (with the most unholy zeal) to throw the remnants of the meal
At one another! Buttered eggs bespattered aprons, gaitered legs
Were splashed with bacon, bits of sole, fell thick on cassock, alb, and stole
The dining-room became a sea of struggling Christianity
And when at last the luckless Dean slipped on a pat of margarine
The Bishop took a careful shot and brained him with the mustard pot.
A sight to make the angels weep! How scandalized the local sheep
Who read descriptions of the scene in ev’ry Parish Magazine.
The Diocese was deeply shocked. The Dean degraded and unfrocked
Found refuge in a city slum, lay-reader to the Deaf and Dumb
The Bishop lost his See, and sank to rural Prebendary’s rank
No, longer in his breezy way he reads the Collect for the Day
Or chants what proper hymns there be for those of Riper Years at Sea.
At Matins and at Evensong his cry goes up, “How long! How Long!”
His groans are heard through aisle and apse, bewailing his untimely lapse
As he repents him of the crime of being bright at breakfast time.
* Pertaining to early morning

Maya Angelou – Come and be my baby

The highway is full of big cars
Going nowhere fast
And folks is smoking anything that’ll burn
Some people wrap their loves around a cocktail glass
And you sit wondering
where you’re going to turn.
I got it.
Come. And be my baby.

Some prophets say the world is gonna end tomorrow
But others say we’ve got a week or two
The paper is full of every kind of blooming horror
And you sit wondering
What you’re gonna do.
I got it.
Come. And be my baby.

Carl Sagan: Pale Blue Dot

My good friend Tam directed me to this.

It’s from the Cosmos series and it IS showing its age a bit. But it still has a message for us.

On my second viewing, YouTube flashed up an ad for Injury Compensation, which is nicely ironic and a sign of pretty bum marketing thinking. More likely just the randomness of the web, so let’s go with nicely ironic.

The music comes from Vangelis’ Heaven And Hell album; Vangelis is a founding inspiration for Out On A Limb.

Anyway, take a look…

Harmony

Wisdom before knowledge

This is a piece inspired by the book by HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales. I’ve probably got his title wrong.

To quote the Harmony movie website (www.theharmonymovie.com):

HARMONY IS….
Creating excitement, urgency and action, Harmony reaches out to various and diverse communities, organizations, NGOs and individuals who can help promote the values and ideas of the film through their work.  Harmony aims to unite the global community in an effort to transform the world, address the global environmental crisis and find ways toward a more sustainable, spiritual and harmonious relationship with the planet.

I hope everyone has the sense to listen. It feels like common sense to me, but it seems that only statistics count these days.

People often accuse green types of craving some lost rural idyll. As HRH says, nothing could be further from the Truth. What I would say is, we managed pretty well without statistics, narrow science and industrialisation for a good few thousand years. We must have known something.

I have huge respect for science, but it’s not what it used to be and, as Ben Goldacre brilliantly demonstrates in Bad Science, we’ve got it all out of  proportion. The press mess with it constantly.

What I think Harmony is saying is that science is not our only hope. It’s part of the solution, but cannot provide everything we need.

I worry that our obsessive “rationalism”, where we believe nothing we can’t prove, is preventing us from getting faster to the solutions we need. It seems crazy to look for answers using only the tools that caused the problems in the first place. We are like the big computer companies, launching more and more patches and repairs as if they are breakthroughs, when in fact they are just fixing things that should never have gone wrong in the first place.

Of course, we’ve always had science. Druids, hunter gatherers, Celts, whoever, were scientists – they tried things and if they worked they tried them again. If they worked consistently, they passed the knowledge on.

But they applied the process to everything, not just narrow fields of research. They saw the world whole and did not try to break it down or work against it. They had the wisdom to recognise the connectedness of things.

I think today we privilege knowledge above wisdom. The more we know, the less we understand, because the way we gather knowledge separates and categorises each piece. Look, for example, at what we have done to music – iTunes is riddled with “Genres”, as if every piece of music must fit some known definition. It’s no surprise that the music business is in disarray; there are so many genres reaching so many tiny markets that no-one can command a broad and sustainable fan base.

So let’s stop for a moment. Step back, listen to our instincts – or our right brains, if you insist on being scientific about it.

Perhaps if we just stop and listen, we’ll hear the Harmony.

Will you wake?

The human heart can go the lengths of God.
Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now. The frozen misery
Of centuries cracks, breaks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.

Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul men ever took.

Affairs are now soul size.
The enterprise is exploration into God.
Where are you making for? It takes
So many thousand years to wake
But will you wake, for pity’s sake?

From ‘The Sleep Of Prisoners’ by Christopher Fry. It was a favourite and much quoted passage of Sir George Trevelyan.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

John Donne: The Sun Rising poem

        Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late schoolboys and sour ‘prentices,
Go tell court huntsmen that the King will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

        Thy beams, so reverend and strong
Why shoulds’t thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
Whether both th’Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me?
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, ‘All here in one bed lay.’

        She’s all states, and all princes, I;
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here, to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere.