Thursday, 29 March 2007

Poetry Network Discussion Forum

Keats La Belle Dame sans Merci

John Keats - La Belle Dame sans Merci


O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.


O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms!
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.


I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.


I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.


I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look’d at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.


I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.


She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
“I love thee true.”


She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept, and sigh’d fill sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.


And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dream’d—Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream’d
On the cold hill’s side.


I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—“La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!”


I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.


And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.


Sonnet: England in 1819

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king, -
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn, -mud from a muddy spring, -
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow, -
A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field, -
An army, which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield, -
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless -a book sealed;
A Senate, -Time's worst statute unrepealed, -
Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.


Black Panther Poetry

Wednesday, 28 March 2007


Marx on Byron and Shelley

Marx, who knew and understood poets just as well as philosophers and economists, used to say:

“The true difference between Byron and Shelley consists in this, that those who understand and love them consider it fortunate that Byron died in his thirty-sixth year, for he would have become a reactionary bourgeois had he lived longer; conversely, they regret Shelley’s death at the age of twenty-nine, because he was a revolutionary through and through and would consistently have stood with the vanguard of socialism.”

Shelley and Socialism

Edward and Eleanor Marx -Aveling 1888

Proletarian Poetry - Bogdanov

James Connolly A Rebel Song

James Connolly

A Rebel Song

Come workers sing a rebel song,
A song of love and hate,
Of love unto the lowly
And of hatred to the great.
The great who trod our fathers down,
Who steal our children’s bread,
Whose hands of greed are stretched to rob
The living and the dead.

Then sing our rebel song as we proudly sweep along
To end the age-old tyranny that makes for human tears.
Our march is nearer done, with each setting of the sun.
And the tyrants’ might is passingwith the passing of the years.

We sing no more of wailing
And no songs of sighs or tears;
High are our hopes and stout our hearts
And banished all our fears.
Our flag is raised above us
So that all the world may see,
’Tis Labour’s faith and Labour’s arm
Alone can Labour free.

Out of the depths of misery
We march with hearts aflame;
With wrath against the rulers false
Who wreck our manhood’s name.
The serf who licks the tyrant’s rod
May bend forgiving knee;
The slave who breaks his slavery's chain
A wrathful man must be.

Our army marches onward
With its face towards the dawn,
In trust secure in that one thing
The slave may lean upon.
The might within the arm of him
Who knowing freedom’s worth,
Strikes hard to banish tyranny
From off the face of earth.


New Dylan Album

Kitty EmpireSunday August 27, 2006The Observer
Bob Dylan Modern Times (Columbia)

It becomes wearisome, the build-up to an album such as Bob Dylan's 44th, Modern Times. Men of a certain age become unaccountably twitchy, as though premenstrual, bandying about phrases such as 'Dylan's most anticipated album since 1975's Blood on the Tracks'. The recent upsurge in all things Zim - last year's No Direction Home, Martin Scorsese's docu-homage; 2004's volume of autobiography, Chronicles - replayed some of Dylan's purplest periods, re-establishing his status as the guy who gave American popular music gravitas. A couple of decent latter-day albums, 1997's Time Out of Mind and 2001's Love and Theft, added to the hope that Dylan may yet claw back more of his antic crackle.

It's a relief to report that an hour spent with Modern Times passes tantalisingly swiftly. The superlative final sally, 'Ain't Talkin', does what all last tracks should do: make you want to hear the whole thing again. It's a lengthy, mysterious blues-noir; virtually magic-realist in places. Dylan's nasal rumble tosses out gnomic couplets with bile and authority - like it, or he, still matter. It's worth the price of the CD alone. Not that Dylan thinks too much of CDs, as a recent gripe to Rolling Stone about modern production techniques attests.

'Ain't Talkin' shares top billing with 'Workingman's Blues #2'. It's been a good while since Dylan ached for the common man, if this most Machiavellian of bards ever did. But the song - the title of which nods to a Merle Haggard tune from 1969 - reveals a series of compelling hard-times vignettes. The fact that any of them could be drawn from Depression-era reportage points up the archness of the album's title (which could, in fact, refer to the Charlie Chaplin film of the same name). The only contemporary flicker is a passing, mischievous mention of R&B singer Alicia Keys.

Accustomed as we are to sifting through the chicken guts of Dylanic utterance, it wouldn't be hard to miss the chief pleasure of this record. It was recorded with Dylan's well-honed touring band, and their intuitive, unforced musicianship gives Modern Times a charmed fluency, lubricating even the more peculiar whimsies. The Thirties dinner-dance twinkle of 'Beyond the Horizon' is half Disney, half Dante. In his unlikeliest guise yet, the lizard-skinned former hipster pines for some perfect, beloved Beatrice-figure as cartoon palms sway behind him.
Most reviewers haven't had the privilege of hearing Modern Times twice. Time will reveal more detail, like the barely discernible guitar 'prink' on 'Rollin' and Tumblin', the album's third peak. Time will tell, too, whether Modern Times really is the equal of albums such as Blood on the Tracks. For now, it's safe to say that Dylan feels electric again.,,1859132,00.html#article_continue

Tuesday, 20 March 2007



O Whistle an' I'll come to you , my girl
O Whistle an' I'll come to you , my girl

Tho' partner and parents an a' would go mad
O whistle an' I'll come to ye, my girl.

Peter Burton August 2006

Friday, 16 March 2007

News from Nowhere

William Morris
News from Nowhere - Introduction

News from Nowhere was first published as a serial in the Socialist magazine Commonweal in 1890. It was republished in book form in a revised edition in 1892 and went though many reprintings after that. This text is taken from the 1908 reprinting by Longmans of London.
It is a book that is often ignored by Marxists and others who denounce it as backward looking and it is indeed true that Morris' utopian vision is that of a society which has in some sense reverted to an agricultural and handicraft one and seems static. But activists among our readers will be astonished as the insight of this middle aged and middle class English poet and artist in chapter 17 or How The Change Came. Morris here foresees the process of a working class revolution which includes a period of Dual Power, the creation of a fascist movement when the ruling class is threatened, the key role of the media (newspapers only in his case) and the overthrow of the original working class leadership by a more vigorous and determined one together with the necessity of a decentralised but coherent political leadership. Looking at the far cruder concepts of revolution by other socialists who were his contemporaries it is a startling feat.
Few socialists are rash enough to attempt any precision about their desired future state but even his romantic view of rural toil and what we might consider primitive technology contains an attempt to get to grips with and provide an answer to the whole question of alienated labour which again, though little considered at the time, has resurfaced as an important component of Marx's thought. I think he is far too dismissive of science and technology since he sees science and mathematics, like art, as gentlemanly pastimes - though in his utopia of course anyone can participate in them. Otherwise he suggests that science was becoming a commodity, in his words "an appendage to the commercial system". He does not see it as an immensely powerful collective enterprise and the only means by which his population will be able to be as healthy and long-lived as they are. Other questionable aspects of his future society with which he attempts to grapple, including education or economic organisation will doubtless occur to readers as they study this work.
But, whatever the criticisms that we are able to make after another century of human experience, this text forces socialists to try to answer deep and important questions. And they should so study it.
Introduction by Ted Crawford, 4th November 2000

Thomas More and His Utopia by Karl Kautsky

The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath

"The bank — the monster has to have profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one size....." "It's not us, it's the bank. The bank isn't like a man. Or an owner with 50,000 acres, he isn't like a man either. That's the monster...."

For more abstracts

John Reed Love at Sea

John Reed

Love at Sea
First Published: May 1916, The Masses

Wind smothers the snarling of the great ships,
And the serene gulls are stronger than turbines;
Mile upon mile the hiss of a stumbling wave breaks unbroken—
Yet stronger is the power of your lips for my lips.

This cool green liquid death shall toss us living
Higher than high heaven and deeper than sighs—
But O the abrupt, stiff, sloping, resistless foam
Shall not forbid our taking and our giving!

Life wrenched from its roots-What wretchedness!
What waving of lost tentacles like blind sea-things!
Even the still ooze beneath is quick and profound—
I am less and more than I was, you are more and less.

I cried upon God last night, and God was not where I cried;
He was slipping and balancing on the thoughtless shifting planes of sea.
Careless and cruel, he will unchain the appalling sea-gray engines—
But the speech of your body to my body will not be denied!

Ibsens' Plays in full

Eliminate the Positive ?

Campaign for a Marxist party
London, February 18, 5pm: 'What kind of programme?'

We will be debating the kind of programme a Marxist Party should develop.
John Bridge of the CPGB will present the case for a Minimum/Maximum
programme, Gerry Downing will argue for a transitional programme, and Steve
Freeman will introduce the RDG's concept of a Minimum/Transitional/Maximum
programme. With speakers kept to a maximum of 20 minutes there will be
plenty of time for contributions and questions from the floor.

The meeting is open to all.

Accentuate the Minimum, eliminate the Maximum
dont' worry bout your crazy screwed up rep

cos if you accentuate the minimum and eliminate the maximum
we'll all be sure to wear those transitional smiles

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Phil Ochs in 68 in Chicago Youtube

Alabama Song

Alabama Song

Show me the way to the next whisky bar
Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why
Show me the way to the next whisky bar
Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why
For if we don't find the next whisky bar
I tell you we must die
I tell you we must die
I tell you
I tell you
I tell you we must die

Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say say good-bye
We've lost our good old mamma
And must have whisky
Oh, you know why.

Show me the way to the next pretty girl
Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why
Show me the way to the next pretty girl
Oh don't ask why, oh, don't ask why
For if we don't find the next pretty girl
I tell you we must die
I tell you we must die
I tell you
I tell you
I tell you we must die

Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say good-bye
We've lost our good old mamma
And must have a girl
Oh, you know why.

Show me the way to the next little dollar
Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why
Show me the way to the next little dollar
Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why
For if we don't find the next little dollar
I tell you we must die
I tell you we must die
I tell you
I tell you
I tell you we must die

Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say good-bye
We've lost our good old mamma
And must have dollars
Oh, you know why.

Bertolt Brecht

Guardian on Trocchi

Mean streets
Friday August 8, 2003
The Guardian

Alexander Trocchi was the smack-addled icon of beat literature, whose writings have been eclipsed by a lurid life of porn, pimping and dissolution in New York, Paris and London. But with a new film out adapted from his novel Young Adam, the Glasgow-born writer's life and work are ripe for re-evaluation. By Tim Cumming

There's not a ship in sight, and few human figures, just the occasional huge crane standing amid rubble and twisted metal. Walking the docks by the dark waters of the Clyde, the only remnants of heavy industry are the vast BAe hangars housing sensitive defence projects. Glasgow's former shipyards have been demolished and greened over: a conference centre here, a business park there. Along vast stretches of the north bank, old industrial buildings are being demolished, broken up, and reduced to rocks and gravel to be carried away. But not, as in earlier days, by barge along the Forth and Clyde canal, its locks punctuating the city, side by side with the grey, boarded-up housing schemes and solid, angular tenements of the empire-forging Victorian era.

The postwar atmosphere of old Clydeside is the setting for David Mackenzie's forthcoming movie adaptation of Alexander Trocchi's cult novel, Young Adam, first published in Paris in 1954. The film stars Ewan McGregor as shiftless antihero Joe, a young drifter working as a bargehand on the Forth and Clyde for sturdy, earthy Les and his resentful wife Ella. A metaphor of existential drift in a repressive, puritanical society, the barge carries them and their cargo from Glasgow to Edinburgh while Joe works silently and glowers dangerously, an alien in the bloodstream of a colour-desaturated 1950s Scotland. The plot of Young Adam turns upon the body of a dead girl dredged from the canal that Joe knows more about than he lets on. Driving the narrative, there is sex, and lots of it: mute, animalistic couplings between Ella and Joe, between Joe and Cathy, the dead girl, between Joe and Ella's newly widowed sister. The carnality is as relentless as the drumming of rain on the barge roof, the slap and slurp of water under the bows.
Virtually forgotten by the time of his death in 1984, the first signs of a Trocchi renaissance came in the early 1990s as a new generation of Scottish writers began publishing in magazines such as Rebel Inc. "With books like Trainspotting, and writers like Alan Warner," says Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, who taught Trocchi at Glasgow University at the end of the 1940s, "there was a revival of interest in the figure of the exile, the rebel, the drug-taker. Irvine Welsh in particular made a revival of Trocchi possible." Young Adam was one of Rebel Inc's first titles and, with the film opening this year's Edinburgh film festival, interest in Trocchi has never been higher.

He was born in 1925, the youngest son of Alfredo Trocchi, a second-generation Italian immigrant with relatives in the Vatican - there was a Cardinal Trocchi - and at the time of Trocchi's birth, they were a well-off family. Alfredo had been a successful bandleader after the first world war but, with the onset of the Depression, his audiences melted away, and the family moved from Glasgow's southside to a house on Bank Street near the university, where they took in a menagerie of lodgers to survive. Bank Street's solid, imposing sandstone tenements are only a few minutes from the blackened gothic towers of Glasgow University. The Trocchi boarding house is difficult to pinpoint, although the three-storey house on the corner, with its overgrown garden, soot-blackened stone, and darkened interiors, at least feels like the right place.

Trocchi entered university in 1947 to study English and philosophy, and was soon living with his first wife Betty in a remote shepherd's cottage outside Glasgow, and making his first forays into fiction. Edwin Morgan remembers Trocchi as a brilliant student, yet even then erratic in his working habits - and in his relationships.

"He was extraordinarily magnetic, some would say manipulative - able to get what he wanted out of people," he says. "He was very charming, but with a hint of danger. Sometimes there were these dark looks from under his eyebrows, a sense of something different altogether. There was a depth to him that was impressive, strange and not quite sinister, but there was the sense that something unexpected could happen." His mother had died when he was 16, a devastating loss for young Trocchi. "We know he was very much affected by her death," says Morgan. "Her death was my direction," Trocchi would later write. It perhaps explains why he was unable to inveigh solidity or permanence into many of his relationships, or even his own literary output.

After graduating, he was given a travelling scholarship and, with Betty and their two daughters, Trocchi travelled widely in the Mediterranean before settling in Paris. "It was amazing how quickly he got into the Paris literary scene," says Morgan. "For someone from a Scottish university to suddenly publish people like Ionesco, Beckett and Genet was extraordinary." Almost immediately, Trocchi set about changing his life, sending Betty and their daughters to Majorca, while he stayed in Paris with his new American lover Jane Lougee, and set about establishing the influential and now highly collectible Merlin magazine, which ran for five years and 11 issues, publishing many of the last great names of Modernism.

His first address was a cheap residential hotel on Rue de la Huchette just south of the Ile de la Cité, a dank, rough street of European émigrés and Algerian street traders. Now it is a narrow, bustling thoroughfare of Greek tavernas and kebab shops. The hotel is still there, opposite a little theatre advertising Ionesco, the stairs leading straight on to the street. A few minutes walk away is Shakespeare and Company, a Parisian legend and one of the world's most famous book stores. "A little socialist republic pretending to be a bookshop," jokes its 90-year-old owner George Whitman, surely the last living link between the Paris of the Lost Generation, the beats, and the expensive, crowded and bourgeois St Germain of today. In the 1950s, his bookshop was Trocchi's second home, and Merlin's centre of operations.

"Trocchi came by with his girlfriend, Jane Lougee," says Whitman. "She was getting a little money from her father, who was a banker in Maine, and with that money she financed Merlin magazine, because she was in love with Alex Trocchi. She was scrubbing floors and slaving away to pay for food and lodging. So that's how Merlin got started. For a couple of years, I gave them an office upstairs, and sometimes he would put on a little show, and have readings here."

Whitman still sits at the front of the shop, buying, selling and holding court before the young Americans who come to stay in the warren of book-lined rooms above the ground floor. There he tells me how, decades later, Trocchi briefly returned to Paris and left with a purloined set of Merlins and other items of value. He directs me to his third-floor room and a chest of books and papers that hold the last few Merlins he owns. Hidden among papers, magazines, books, and correspondence from a remote age, there are the first three issues, in mint condition, unread and untouched for decades.

In 1952, there were 12,000 expats filling St Germain with their pretensions to the lives of Hemingway, Miller and Joyce. Trocchi was one of them - and one of the few whose name matters now. He was in his element. "He was very persuaded of his genius," says Whitman. After a year of hotels, he and Jane moved into the basement of an Afro-Caribbean antiques emporium on the Rue du Sabot, whose proprietor had gone mad. Here they devoted themselves to Merlin and to the cafe society that sustained it.

"People who might not have talked to each other were able to do so with Merlin," says Edwin Morgan, and it was here they came together, on this cobbled street near the offices of Les Editions de Minuit, Samuel Beckett's French publishers. Trocchi first met Beckett here, and would go on to publish Watt and Molloy. At the same time, he had graduated from pills and alcohol to the Parisian drugs underworld of hashish, cocaine and heroin. His English publisher John Calder claims Jean Cocteau turned him on to opiates, just as he had done with Picasso in the 1920s. As the struggle to financially maintain Merlin steepened, heroin came to exert a profound grip. Within a year or two, his most productive period would be over.

Trocchi's achievements had been startling. Eleven issues as Merlin's ringmaster, six pornographic novels written at speed for easy money for Maurice Girodias's Olympia Press, and Young Adam, his brilliant literary debut, were produced all in the space of three or four years. Many of his pornographic novels went on to sell millions in bootleg American editions, although Trocchi never saw any money from them. Even Olympia's edition of Young Adam was beefed up with added sex scenes at Girodias's request, later all removed bar one infamous episode with a bowl of custard that provides a climax, of sorts, to Mackenzie's film.

But just as Trocchi seemed on the verge of success and literary prominence, he blew it, substituting reckless experiments in sex and drugs for experiments in narrative and form. When his lover and main source of income, Jane Lougee, left him in 1955, Merlin came to an end. Trocchi moved to a room in Montparnasse, sexually voracious and now an addict, "injecting himself in public," says Whitman, "pulling up his sleeves and making a big show of it." He withdrew from writing and production for an intangible revolution of mind, untethering his old life and leaving it far behind. "I am living my own personal Dada," he would write. "For a long time, I have suspected there is no way out."

And around him, his less brilliant, more human victims were beginning to pile up. His wife and family had long been abandoned, friends were uneasy that money for Merlin was spent on drugs. His enthusiasm for heroin's touch-sensitive reality caught many less assured and powerful than he, and many fell where Trocchi seemingly soared.

On the Rue Campagne Première, he scored and played pinball in the local cafes, and finally left for New York in 1956, expecting fame and fortune in Greenwich Village. What he found instead were draconian drug laws that ensured that all his energy would be devoted to scoring, fixing and evading arrest. He had a new young wife, Lyn Hicks from (literally) Hicksville. Within months she was a heroin addict, pregnant with their first child, and at his behest prostituting herself in Las Vegas to alcoholic gamblers to support both their habits. Chaos and desperation became familiar bedfellows. Shocked friends who had loved him and stood in awe of him now began to dread his appearance and hate his habit, his incredible energy replaced by constant need.

Back in New York, he worked as a scow captain, carrying building materials from the quarries into Manhattan. His old friends from Paris did what they could. Dick Seaver at Grove Press paid him by the chapter to hack out Cain's Book, begun in Montparnasse and ended, or abandoned perhaps, in the tiny cabin of his scow, with his marijuana and heroin. It is a powerful book, but with the dangerously charmed inertia of heroin's spell cast across its prose, which moves between story and writing about story, observing oneself in an act that for Trocchi was becoming untenable. "I had been in abeyance," he wrote, "too far out, unable to act, for a long time."

He was still a writer when he fled New York, after being charged with the capital offence of supplying heroin to a minor. He made for Canada by bus, and was met in Montreal by the young, then-unknown Leonard Cohen. After almost killing Cohen with an accidental overdose of opium (he invited the young poet to lick the bowl after his fix) he took a tramp steamer to Aberdeen, and made his way to London, where hebecame a registered addict on the NHS.

From the 1960s onward, Trocchi became a countercultural media figure rather than a writer. He hit the headlines with a combative appearance at the 1962 Edinburgh writers festival, squaring up against ultra-nationalist, puritanical Hugh MacDiarmid, then at the apogee of his fame and influence. So for Trocchi to declare himself the only important Scottish writer in two decades was an act of rank-pulling of the highest order. In 1965, he compered the "tribal gathering" of poets at the Royal Albert Hall, celebrated in Peter Whitehead's Wholly Communion, and one of the key events in turning a tiny metropolitan subculture into the mass phenomenon we know as the Sixties.

Then there was sigma, a revolutionary movement with a mathematical symbol for a name, an offshoot from Guy Debord's Situationism, mutating the personal interiors of the Existentialists into a "coup du monde" against straight society. It led to insane conferences, innumerable tracts, and night-long monologues from Trocchi, and though there was an Anti-University of sorts, with a prospectus and tutors such as RD Laing and CLR James, sigma's idealism and optimism remained as remote as Xanadu. Perhaps this is what heroin did to Trocchi, at least philosophically, pushing him towards narcotic reverie. Nevertheless, Trocchi would seize upon sigma and obsessively try to bring it to reality throughout the 1960s.

Basing himself in west London, his only literary endeavours were a series of rather brilliant translations for John Calder, most of them done under duress at Calder's offices in Piccadilly. Like Seaver in New York, Calder knew better than to pay Trocchi in advance. "We paid him £1 a page and he'd come in with 20 pages and I'd check them against the French originals and he'd walk away with £20 cash - not a bad sum in those days. He was also, without any question in my mind, selling a part of his prescriptions to other people."

At this time, there were only a few hundred registered addicts in the country and Trocchi, the counterculture's drug proselytiser, was closer to the spirit of De Quincey and Coleridge than to the thin, pale whores supporting their habits on Glasgow's Bothwell Street today. But as the 1960s wore on, even Trocchi realised he was no longer in control. Sigma's dream of "the invisible insurrection of a million minds" was gone, along with his writing and his luck.

From the 1970s on, aside from media appearances as arch-junkie, virtually nothing was accomplished. He still held court to addicts and acolytes in his chaotic penthouse flat in Kensington's Observatory Gardens, and publishers were still gullible enough to give him advances on the strength of a sample chapter, but the so-called Long Book pledged to Calder in the mid-1960s was non-existent. "He had at least seven contracts for that," remembers Calder. "He never even wrote a word. After Lyn died he said, 'I'm really going to do it, I have to do it for Lyn.' At the time he really believed it. It never happened."

Lyn, still an addict, died of hepatitis in 1972, aged 35, leaving Trocchi to care for their two young sons, Mark and Nick. Ill luck and ill health dogged him, and there was an increasingly desperate scrabble for funds to feed his family and a gargantuan habit of heroin and cocaine. Sure, he still knew everybody, and television still cast him in debates on drugs or counterculture but, as the 1970s became the 1980s, even the publishers' calls and their advances stopped coming, and Trocchi's bohemian circle of west London rogues retracted like a stoned iris.

But there was the master holding forth in his cap and gown, a giant drug-flooded Mr Punch trading rare books instead of writing them, to keep his head, his habit and little else above water. He was an astute book dealer, with stalls in Portobello, Kensington, and Kings Road, the latter managed by another old friend he'd turned on to heroin, Marcus Klein, a charming, erudite American. "Not a writer," says his daughter, journalist Naomi Klein, "but someone people liked to have around."

She thinks Trocchi played a part in her father's almost-lifelong heroin habit. "Unlike Trocchi, he didn't have all these people to support him." While Marcus did his best to hide his habit from his children, Trocchi's attitude was one of shocking openness. "Once I came home from school to find Trocchi in our kitchen injecting himself. My mother said he used to shoot up in front of his children."

Trocchi died in 1984, seven years after losing his 18-year-old son Mark to cancer. Trocchi's final companion was Sally Childs, a young au pair from New Zealand who fell in love with the old rogue . "She was his last lover," recalls Edwin Morgan. "She helped a great deal; he had a kind of calm and peace in his last years. At the same time, I remember her telling me of these terrible moods of frustration. He was still trying to write."

Not long after his cremation at Mortlake, Trocchi's ashes, kept in a jar on a mantelpiece, were stolen and never recovered. Then a mysterious fire ravaged his flat, and many of his papers were burned. Worst of all, less than a year after his death, his son Nicholas killed himself by jumping from the charred rafters of his father's old den. Perhaps he couldn't live without the old man either, however close to the edge of chaos his father had brought ordinary life when he was alive.


America by Allen Ginsberg

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January
17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I'm sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I
need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not
the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back
it's sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical
I'm trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I'm doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday
somebody goes on trial for murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid
I'm not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses
in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.
I won't say the Lord's Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle
Max after he came over from Russia.

I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by
Time Magazine?
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It's always telling me about responsibility. Business-
men are serious. Movie producers are serious.
Everybody's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.
I haven't got a chinaman's chance.
I'd better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of
marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable
private literature that goes 1400 miles an hour
and twenty-five-thousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of
underprivileged who live in my flowerpots
under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers
is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that
I'm a Catholic.
America how can I write a holy litany in your silly
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as
individual as his automobiles more so they're
all different sexes.
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500
down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Com-
munist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a
handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and
sentimental about the workers it was all so sin-
cere you have no idea what a good thing the
party was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand
old man a real mensch Mother Bloor made me
cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody
must have been a spy.
America you don't really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen.
And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power
mad. She wants to take our cars from out our
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Readers'
Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia.
Him big bureaucracy running our fillingsta-
That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read.
Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us
all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in
the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes
in precision parts factories, I'm nearsighted and
psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

Berkeley, January 17, 1956

Monroe Quotes

• I'm for the individual as opposed to the corporation. The way it is the individual is the underdog, and with all the things a corporation has going for them the individual comes out banged on her head. The artist is nothing. It's really tragic.

• Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Interactive Alice in Wonderland

Play Chess with the Red Queen !

“We must have a bit of a fight, but I don’t care about going on long,” said Tweedledum. “What’s the time now?”

Tweedledee looked at his watch, and said, “Half past four.”

“Let’s fight till six, and then have dinner,” said Tweedledum.

Trotsky on Art and literature

Poets on Poetry

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
T. S. Eliot

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
Leonard Cohen

Night Funeral in Harlem

Night Funeral in Harlem
by Langston Hughes

Where did they get
Them two fine cars?

Insurance man, he did not pay--
His insurance lapsed the other day--
Yet they got a satin box
for his head to lay.

Night funeral
In Harlem:

Who was it sent
That wreath of flowers?

Them flowers came
from that poor boy's friends--
They'll want flowers, too,
When they meet their ends.

Night funeral
in Harlem:

Who preached that
Black boy to his grave?

Old preacher man
Preached that boy away--
Charged Five Dollars
His girl friend had to pay.

Night funeral
In Harlem:

When it was all over
And the lid shut on his head
and the organ had done played
and the last prayers been said
and six pallbearers
Carried him out for dead
And off down Lenox Avenue
That long black hearse done sped,
The street light
At his corner
Shined just like a tear--
That boy that they was mournin'
Was so dear, so dear
To them folks that brought the flowers,
To that girl who paid the preacher man--
It was all their tears that made
That poor boy's
Funeral grand.

Night funeral
In Harlem.

Interesting interpretation of Dylan Lyrics

Must-see Bob Dylan

Must-see Bob Dylan

Five reasons why only foolish fans would skip Dylan's shows .

The Orange County Register

So the ghost of Vincent Price is back once again, his so-called Never Ending Tour making stops from Inglewood to San Diego this weekend. What to say this time?

Look, I know Dylan's current late-career high, besting all phases since "Blood on the Tracks" some three decades ago, merits much detailed discussion. But how 'bout we skip the amateur Dylanology (go get a book; there are dozens) and answer instead a more pressing question:

Why should you and your Dylan-admiring fence-sitter friends stop worrying that you won't understand a word he sings, plunk down a chunk of change and go see him live?

•Because he's still vital – and suddenly more human than ever.Of the handful of giants from his generation still recording and performing, only Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen (arguably more a devotee than a peer) come close to measuring up to his artistic determination and touring stamina, and not even Bowie has maintained as much mystique.

Paul McCartney, Elton John, Lou Reed, Stevie Wonder, CS&N, Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, the remnants of the Who and Pink Floyd, that hack Rod Stewart – they're pros at best, overpaid nostalgia peddlers at worst. Sirs Paul and Elton encounter a sudden creative spike, as they have lately, and we rejoice because their careers have lagged for so long; Dylan takes his time to craft another multilayered masterpiece and we can only marvel at how he routinely operates at such an elevated level.

And he's never seemed less than the epitome of cool, even in the least cool situations. Pete Townshend-penned staples introduce every "CSI" spinoff while Slash and John Mayer solo around automobiles in commercials – and they get slammed as sellouts and shills. Dylan turns up in shadowy cowboy mode singing "Thunder on the Mountain" for iTunes and he couldn't seem more unusual, more hip – and beholden to no one.

Yet he's also gone to great lengths to humanize himself lately. It may have been esoteric, but the launch of his "Chronicles" autobiography was more than he's said about himself in years. He still grants few interviews, but when he submits lately he's been remarkably candid – note the straight talk that filled Martin Scorsese's must-see documentary "No Direction Home."

Then there's his new job – Bob Dylan, satellite radio DJ. His eccentric "Theme Time Radio Hour" for XM has been one of the year's most acclaimed new programs. An opportunity for him to spin unexpected variations on an array of topics, it's also been a means for this famously private character to get even more intimate, excavating roots alongside personal memories that his selections revive.

All this plus he's writing some of the most moving, perceptive, flat-out funny songs of his career. It's as if the guy somehow stole the heart (but not the soul) of a 25-year-old.

•Because he really can sing – but for how much longer?I'm as guilty as the next guy of accusing Dylan of phoning in performances and either garbling or rushing lyrics so that they become indecipherable and, worse, meaningless. A Newport Beach reader took me to task when I reiterated this potential for pitiful elocution after I raved about the new album "Modern Times."

"Since August 1997, shortly before 'Time Out of Mind' (came out), I have never had a problem understanding Bob's lyrics (live)," he wrote. "I think those who do either have bad seats, have had too much to drink, are unfamiliar with the songs or are distracted."

Possibly, though it could be that they're just sticklers for a sound-alike; they want what they know, which is never what you get from Dylan, even when you know the song inside and out. I'll also add that the venue matters: The rumbling gymnasium that is Bren Events Center is a terrible place to see anyone, but for Dylan last year it was ruinous. Long Beach Arena and even the Forum (site of several great Dylan shows in the '70s) could prove problematic as well.

But the truth is that if you give extra attention to Dylan's words – and why wouldn't you? – he tends to repay you handsomely, surprising with an unexpected snarl or startling phrasing that can alter the tenor of well-worn lines. I go into gigs giving him the benefit of the doubt: If I can't understand him, there must be a reason why he's making it so difficult.

Besides, he's never been a candidate for any pantheon of powerful singers, though his wholly unique, influential style surely merits such induction. What I wonder, though, is how much longer his gruff instrument will last. He sounds froggier and more nasal than ever on "Modern Times," yet Dylan says he has no intention of retiring anytime soon. I suspect he'll die performing, actually.

But there's always the possibility that soon he simply won't be able to sing. As with every rock legend over 50 or so, every show could be the last.

•Because he's affordable. Top price for the Stones at Dodger Stadium: $450. Top price for the Who at the Hollywood Bowl: $507.50. Best seats in the house for Dylan: $75.

In fact, it costs less ($49.50) to see Dylan on Saturday night at Long Beach Arena in any seat than it costs to wave your lighter in the last row of the top tier at either the The Mick & Keith Show or the half-Who's gigs next month.

No one would likely flinch if his price tag crossed the triple-digit mark, yet Dylan remains one of the least expensive old-guard attractions around. And that's good news for more than just ardent devotees: Families and parent-child pairings should really take advantage of boomer bashes like his.

If you wanted to introduce your son or daughter to one of the all-time greats – well, OK, maybe you'd better start with a best-of. But to place them in the presence of the real thing so they can say they once heard "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower" performed by the author himself? You can't beat Zimmy's cover charge.

•Because he's rarely had better backing."I'm the oldest son of a crazy man," he sings on the new album. "I'm in a cowboy band." Well, kinda – the hats and Western wear certainly suggest as much. But what he's really assembled is a world-class roots band, one skilled enough to keep pace with his whims – slip into weeping country mode for one song, tumble into a breezy blues figure the next.

Bassist Tony Garnier still anchors the proceedings, and though the guitarists have rotated recently – Larry Campbell and Charlie Sexton have been traded for Stu Kimball and Denny Freeman – the playing remains solid, sympathetic, as worldly-wise (and -weary) as the man himself. It ain't Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, OK, but Dylan hasn't enjoyed such consistently great support since the Band was called the Hawks.

•Because he gets decent openers.I was going to add "because you never know what he'll play," but that's only half-true. He changes sets nightly, yes, but you can always count on a sprinkling of recent gems atop a classics-heavy assortment. And his encore hasn't changed in years.

What holds surprise for attendees, then, is who Bob enlists to open. He's not alone in spotlighting new talent – the Stones have done likewise for years – and Dylan is just as likely to team with Merle Haggard, say, than to give stage time to a bunch of young'uns.

But when he does select something fresh, it's usually worth noticing. This tour's treat: Kings of Leon, a jumped-up, edgy band of Southern-rock brothers (and a cousin) whose lyricism owes much to Dylan's recent manner and whose rock 'n' roll is as American as it comes these days. Do yourself a favor: Arrive early.

Contact the writer: 714-796-2248 or

The Jolly Beggars: A Cantata^1

Excellent site with Discussion forum on Burns and all poems
give meaning of difficult words

The Jolly Beggars: A Cantata^1

Type: Cantata


When lyart leaves bestrow the yird,
Or wavering like the bauckie-bird,
Bedim cauld Boreas' blast;
When hailstanes drive wi' bitter skyte,
And infant frosts begin to bite,
In hoary cranreuch drest;
Ae night at e'en a merry core
O' randie, gangrel bodies,
In Poosie-Nansie's held the splore,
To drink their orra duddies;
Wi' quaffing an' laughing,
They ranted an' they sang,
Wi' jumping an' thumping,
The vera girdle rang,

First, neist the fire, in auld red rags,
Ane sat, weel brac'd wi' mealy bags,

And knapsack a' in order;
His doxy lay within his arm;
Wi' usquebae an' blankets warm
She blinkit on her sodger;
An' aye he gies the tozie drab
The tither skelpin' kiss,
While she held up her greedy gab,
Just like an aumous dish;
Ilk smack still, did crack still,
Just like a cadger's whip;
Then staggering an' swaggering
He roar'd this ditty up-

Political Poetry site

Sunday, 11 March 2007

The Rights of Woman

While Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty things,
The fate of empires and the fall of kings;
While quacks of State must each produce his plan,
And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some attention.

First, in the sexes' intermix'd connexion
One sacred Right of Woman is Protection:
The tender flower, that lifts its head elate,
Helpless must fall before the blasts of fate,
Sunk on the earth, defac'd its lovely form,
Unless your shelter ward th' impending storm.

Our second Right - but needless here is caution -
To keep that right inviolate's the fashion:
Each man of sense has it so full before him,
He'd die before he'd wrong it - 'tis Decorum!
There was, indeed, in far less polish'd days,
A time, when rough rude Man had naughty ways:
Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot,
Nay, even thus invade a lady's quiet!
Now, thank our stars! these Gothic times are fled;
Now, well-bred men - and you are all well-bred -
Most justly think (and we are much the gainers)
Such conduct neither spirit, wit, nor manners.

For Right the third, our last, our best, our dearest:
That right to fluttering female hearts the nearest,
Which even the Rights of Kings, in low prostration,
Most humbly own - 'tis dear, dear Admiration!
In that blest sphere alone we live and move;
There taste that life of life - Immortal Love.
Smiles, glances, sighs, tears, fits, flirtations, airs -
'Gainst such an host what flinty savage dares?
When awful Beauty joins with all her charms,
Who is so rash as rise in rebel arms?

But truce with kings, and truce with constitutions,
With bloody armaments and revolutions;
Let Majesty your first attention summon:
Ah! ça ira ! The Majesty of Woman!

Robert Burns

Mississippi Field

In Mississipi at noon
with the group of morning butterflies,
you can sit down in the field.

The mockingbirds will sing.
The air will blow on you
and on the warm weeds.

You can touch the bugs.

In the field sun
you can sit down with your friend
and somebody can come shoot you both.

1967 Jane Stembridge

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Caged Bird

Caged Bird

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn

and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou

Bird With Two Right Wings

Bird With Two Right Wings

And now our government
a bird with two right wings
flies on from zone to zone
while we go on having our little fun & games
at each election as if it really mattered
who the pilot is of Air Force One
(They're interchangeable, stupid!)
While this bird with two right wings
flies right on with its corporate flight crew
And this year its the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
And next year its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo
on his captains cap and now
its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who's busy monkeywrenching crucial parts
of the engine and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose to siphon off
the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats without parachutes
listening to all the news that's fit to air over
the one-way PA system about how the contract on
America is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern manifest destiny

Lawrence Ferlinghetti