Hildegard of Bingen Named one of the Most Loved Composers

Classic 100: Composers most loved of all time. 

 

Our ABC   classical radio, a few months ago, put out a call for  listeners to vote for their most loved Composer.  Well you know Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Handel  will be there as Vivaldi and Elgar and Chopin will be there too.

Of course  I voted for Hildegard as my No. 1 and Mahler as my 2nd most loved composer . We waited a few months for the tally and over last weekend  – a National Holiday Weekend in Australia,  we prepared to hang around house cooking, gardening, reading knitting , to listen to magnificent music as we counted down from 100. 

Many of the great names fell  all day Saturday. Their gorgeous music came lifted us and left.  Composers fell away  . . . Grieg, Ravel, Haydn, Wagner, Bizet  and  it took another sleep .

On Sunday with the count 40 and down . . . Hildegard arrived at 33. There was an eruption of excitement. There was cheering all around our apartment. . . friends were texting me and we popped the champagne ( a bit later) To think the people have taken her ecstatic, heavenly music to their hearts.

You can still hear it all on www.abc.net.au/classic – 100

To think her music was silenced by the hierarchy for nearly a year, the year before she died and now today, 900 years later she is listened to and loved by people all over the world and today in the ABC Classical Countdown of the top 100 most loved Composers of all time  Hildegard rates 33rd  and one of the few woman. 

It is extraordinary that the voice of Hildegard has returned at this time of history with her music, her health and healing , her understanding of the environment and her call for  our need to be stewards and custodians of our Mother Earth for she is our life line.  

For me Hildegard is a woman who sees through hypocrisy  and cannot abide with the patriarchy of church or state .  She acts as if she is doesn’t see it.  She acts on  her intuition and what her inner voice tells her. To do this of course she had to listen  and listen and listen.

Listen  to the heart beat of the earth and the thrum of the tree and the wind and the messages that are with us constantly in nature and in our very being.

My story of her life written in poetic verse is with the publishers Ginninderra Press and will be launched in a few months.  

And hence I am thrilled  to see  Hildegard of Bingen named 

and for all the world ,

well  for all of Australia,

(at least but I know my daughter in England was jumping up and down with joy and some Hildegardeans in America and a few in Germany were filled with joy )

to stop and listen to her exquisite music today.

 

A Poetry Morning – ‘full of beans’

Kissing Point Probus Ladies Group at South Turramurra  3rd June 2019

A cup of tea and delicious home-made date and walnut cake then we grouped for our poetry morning.

This was our second visit. In  2018 I was invited to the Kissing Point Probus Ladies Group at South Turramurra  by one of our neighbours Myra Fletcher and  introduced as an established local poet. It was a great session and Myra invited us  back to share some familiar poetry. Down Memory Lane. We noticed some of the group mouthing the poems as we read and enjoying the memory.

The session today was well attended and  from my take everyone enjoyed the time together. I worked along with Michael and the group responded to our enthusiasm.

We had a plan for 

a) Australian Poetry 

Dorothea Mackellar, ‘Banjo’ Paterson, Henry Kendall,  Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) Judith Wright, Henry Kendall.

b) General Poetry in English 

William Shakespeare, John Keats, William Wordsworth William Blake, Gerard Manly Hopkins Dylan Thomas

c) American Poetry 

Robert Frost  William Carlos Williams  Gelett Burgess 

Billy Collins  Mary Oliver

d) Finally, an iconic Australian humorous poem – 

We didn’t get through half of what we had planned. However that was probably a good plan in itself. They were very pleased. We had to  stop at a good time and they had material to take home with them.

Currently my favourite poet is the American Mary Oliver. (1935 – January 17, 2019) – Pulitzer Prize Winner in 2007.  She has just recently died and I was disappointed that we didn’t get time to tease her out. I quickly read one poem  of hers, good for birthdays as one  gets older and we all warmed to Mary Oliver’s sentiment.

Self Portrait.

Mary Oliver  (1935-2019)

I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans.
Onward old legs!

There are the long, pale dunes, on the other side
the roses are blooming and finding their labor
no adversity to the spirit.

Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch.

Though I’m not twenty
and won’t be again
but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life. And still
full of beans.

We finished off as promised with a narration together of an iconic Australian poem so appropriate for these times 

‘We’ll all be roon’d said Hanrahan’. by John O’Brien

The group went away with a handout of all the poems we planned to do and we felt it was  an enjoyable morning.

Launch of Mrs. Rickaby’s Lullaby by Julie Thorndyke

Congratulations 

to Julie Thorndyke on the launch of her novel Mrs Rickaby’s Lullaby.

Celebrating the birth of a new book is always one of the great pleasures, after all the hard work in bring it to fruition.  It was launched by the well known poet and writers and mentor Beverley George surrounded by Julie’s family, friends and writing colleagues. And very enjoyable to share a glass of wine and some delicious cheeses while  we chatted with writer, friends old and new.

Hartog Bookshop at Macquarie Centre was a welcoming  space for just such an experience. 

Special  mention was made of Ginninderra Press and the invaluable gratitude many of us have for the support we receive from this publishing company. Thanks to Brenda and Stephen Matthews.  

Mrs. Rickaby’s Lullaby was a wonderful read, cleverly written with well developed characters and twists of story just like in real life.

 

 

 

SPEECH for the LAUNCH of BLOOM by DECIMA WRAXALL

 

 

 

LAUNCH OF BLOOM

Good evening everybody.  Thank you Sue for your kind words and I too would like to   acknowledge the land on which we meet and pay respect to the ancestors, especially  story tellers of the past, present and our future.

We are privileged to be sharing the Judith Wright room, named for one of our great Australian  women poets of last century,  an activist for indigenous rights, conservation and the environment. 

There are a few new faces here so I introduce myself. My name is Colleen Keating . I belong to the Women Writers Network which meets every Wednesday in the Henry Lawson room of Writing NSW. 

I feel privileged  to be standing here  to launch Decima’s beautiful poetry book BLOOM. As most of you know Decima has written many short stories. Her novel, Black Stockings, White Veil, celebrated the golden anniversary of her RPA hospital group, and was a Finalist in the 2014 Indie Book Awards fictional history  category. She has published two other historical fiction novels, with one more to be published by Ginninderra Press in 2020.

Since the poet in Decima burst onto the scene I have been amazed at the poetry that pours out from her. 

Decima draws on her nursing knowledge and on every day experiences, lives of people she observes . eg  pg 42  in the poem Private . . .

She uses the powerful concrete image.   and has found  the pared back to the bone approach  with its  the maxim. . . writing less is more.   eg  in Don’t call me Madam   (70)

shady lane/discreet sign /massage/my shoulder pain cries/step inside/ blinking i see/ skimpy-clad girls in a row/a hard-faced crone/man’s the desk/   Don’t you love that word man’s and you will have to red the poem to find the end.

Decima reminds us, the ordinary is poetic another way of saying that she finds the poetic in the ordinariness of life.  eg in her poem Bluff (11)  

“Dad doffed his sweat-stained het to the flies. Eyes closed he rested, dappled by kurrajong shade.”

She is a realist . . . takes day to day happenings and  experiences and paints her picture with words., leaving the bigger issues as an understatement .

Notice in her poem Hands  (16 )  col reads first 3 paras of ii.

The  poet Jean Maria Rilke says “everything is gestation and then ‘bringing forth’”

 and writing is a lot of that. 

Firstly the gestation  . . . . it’s a lonely trek, a long haul,  a footslog, an odyssey  sometimes lost in the bush,  sometimes all at sea, sometimes desert-dry, sometimes writing  energising but mostly it’s a solitary and gruelling chore  

and then the ‘bringing forth . . .

the birthing  sharing with the world, the unveiling  like opening up a secret diary and throwing away the key . 

and as a writing community we appreciate that and we are here to honour the loneliness of the long distance writer and here to  celebrate the  Decima’s very successful outcome

read fallen star pg.  130

When you write a poem, you write it for anybody and everybody. And you have to be ready to do that out of your single self.    It’s a giving. . . .always   . . . a gift. . . a gift to yourself but it s gift to anybody who has a hunger for it.   

I like to think we all have the hunger for poetry and we honour those who give us this gift .

Here is Decima’s gift to us .

A new poetry book in our world.  

 Like a seed in the moistest earth

 may it bloom and grow where it is planted . 

And together Decima and I declare 

BLOOM

              launched  and planted .

 

 

POEM IN MAY

Michael and I taking a “turn in the shrubbery” as Jane Austen recommends many times in her writings. For us it meant a walk around the block . . . but what beauty to behold

POEM IN MAY

“Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness /close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;     from John Keats Ode to Autumn

Autumn 2019 has been the most beautiful autumn ever.  For me that is because the summer warmth has lingered. And  so the colour has given us its rich glory in  somewhat balmy days.

Sometimes I wonder how many  more autumns will my eyes behold and can they get any more crisp and brisk and sweet in harmony of tone and memory.

If the colours  of autumn were music notes 

the sound  would be a mellow humming tune 

with a back ground of bird song crickets and frogs  

and our wonderful powerful owl 

that comes to perch each evening 

on the cedar tree  

that brushes against our kitchen window. 

We have been vegging  (defined as to relax in a mindless way) on Jane Austen this past week 

and enjoying Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. (Hugh Grant)

We have two copies of Pride and Prejudice one with Colin Firth  as Darcy  It was a BBC series and went for hours and one with Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley.

For Jane Austen, back then, “taking a turn in the shrubbery” is a way of moving both literally and metaphorically “in the proper circles.” In making this daily circuit, women observe the boundaries of taste and convention; reconcile past, present, and future; and redraw the lines of social connection.

For Austen and for her characters, walking is a habitual part of daily life. In letters written in 1805 and in 1806, Austen says, “we do nothing but walk about” and “we walk a good deal”

Hence  in accordance with our Jane Austen motive, Michael and I  have ‘taken a  turn in the shrubbery’ . . . . that is a constitutional walk around the block and heaven was in the oak trees at the end of the street. The crunch of leaves under foot and the sprinkle of leaves that fell silently around us like confetti with their  aura of colour, They fell silently and obediently at the slight whim of the air and the still quiet press of the branches.

In Dylan Thomas’ wonderful Autumn poem  it was his thirtieth year to heaven hence he can speak of being in his summer at noon watching the autumn colour around him.

I would like to say I stand here in summer noon though all below me lay leaved  in Autumn blood but I would have to say to be truthful,  I stand in autumn time with it leaved all around me still singing my name in the sky , still falling like tears and leaved with autumn blood  under my feet. But his next sentiment I sing with all my heart, he marvelled his birthday away up on the hill looking down on his town bathed in October blood   (October of course because it is Wales that is  his autumn: here it is May I am standing in right now, writing this)

O may my heart’s truth

Still be sung

On this high hill in a year’s turning.  from Dylan Thomas Poem in October

The coloured leaves I carried with me . All the music of an octave.

Out the windows

Music in the colour. Little Miss E and my heart ringing for joy . . .  Beauty is all around

Our Local Bush Walk

 

 

Our Local Bush 

We are very blessed by walking 10 minutes  from our home we enter this wonderful pocket of bush a remnant of Eucalypts, especially the wonder of  Red Gum and cedars ,  The second layer makes  a pocket  of rainforest environment  with its Tree Ferns, Palms and Bird Nests . There is the relaxing sound of the tinkling of water, examples of sandstone and a bridge to walk across the creek.

Here is an opportunity for  Forest Bathing . The quiet restfulness and many shades of green is special. I once called it my air pocket for survival . Today 5 years since we moved here and first discovered this bush it is just as wonderful

 

 

new bush track

moving house means searching
for new wilderness
like a miner after an elusive air pocket
 

following a green area on a map
hidden by development
encroached to the edge
behind an old scout hall
a brambly track
winds me down
through a sandstone escarpment
 
the dawn-sun plays into the hands
of eucalypts stretched
to seek the light
yet their search for meaning
being found more in their roots
symbiotically curled around sturdy rock
 
here dew tipped casuarinas sparkle
here grass trees verdantly splurge
as if their whole purpose is to shine
 
self important the palms push upwards
like screaming rock stars
 
honey birds swing on rusty gold banksia
magpies warble
in the whip cracked air
 
this is the australian bush
how it pulls me in
 
through the trees i glimpse a waterfall
and marvel to think it has always been here
carving musically into the heart of the earth
it has sung its song for eons
 
it is the human in me that delights
nature just is in its own world
whole unto itself
 
it doesn’t even know I’m here
and there is a loneliness in this
yet lost from the world
i am found
and to the cadence of nature
i dance

Colleen

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wings of dawn

On Wing of Dawn

Thirst drove me down to the water
where I drank the moon’s reflection
Rumi

Tuggerah lake spreads open
the flounce of a bridesmaid skirt
amongst the pink tulle of cloud
a singular pelican
disturbs the moon bobbing along
its reflection in perfect balance
a narcissus moment
especially when it goes down for a fish

a silken sheen
wide expanses of blue
with dark patches –
sway of grasses
from which a snake long neck
of black cormorant
rhythmically dives

what we find: time plays waggery
in the still quite
of a dawn-lake our mind
is seduced to giddiness
like the caprice of a merry -go-round
with its jangle of lights and robotic tune

what we find: frivolity at the edge
as the day works itself
into a frenzy time is not kind
the lake becomes all fire
the plovers on the jetty protest
whip-smart at our approach

what is at stake: when the world
shatters into a million shards of glass
the shimmer on the lake
for our grandchildren
the beauty of the flocks of gulls
going south to feed
how they share the wind
in their formation

the death knell rings out
past the horizon
where the hills are softened
in the curl and swirl of mist
time thrusts its body
a superficial rush
but it cannot catch the present
that hums like a Tibetan bell
long after it stops ringing

we are always putting ourselves
together again
in a broken world
like humpty dumpty
who sat on the wall
after the fall
we have to pick up the pieces and go on
this is the journey
knowing only death is paralysis
and as Frost tells us
we have miles to go
before we sleep

Earth Day. A Celebration – Saving the Jacaranda- copy

To celebrate Earth Day I choose to reprint a poem  I love from my  first poetry collection,  A Call to Listen.   It is  a true story of a group of workers in our local council.  A model to save trees wherever you can for the life they support, for the beauty they give, for the fresh air they make, and for their healing presence in our lives.

Thank you Mary Reynolds Thompson for your inspiring email  . . . a reminder for me to act today.

It was on an autumn walk I learnt the old Jacaranda tree that I loved was under threat. It was in the way of new pipes. The pipes about 2 metres in diameter were being dug in and the gorgeous old Jacaranda was in the pathway. The next day there was an arborist directing the men down amongst the roots gently digging out the soil. The pipe was placed in underneath the roots. Then in November, 6 months on there it was, in full glory . . thanks to those who had worked to save it.

jacaranda_tree

saving the jacaranda

the line for the new concrete
drainage pipe
runs under the massive old jacaranda

meticulous to protect its roots
day after day the council men
ratty and mole in fluorescent yellow
dig a man-made warren
wide and deep

exposed roots
stretch and coil like dark bearded monsters
from a tenebrous underworld
smelling earthy airless damp

then overseen by an arborist
a crane lowers the pipe into place
and this private world is reclaimed

a year on
standing before its gnarled trunk
on a lilac path
i am corralled in its aura
of blossom-laden branches
and i rejoice with the breeze
in whispered mantras

And thank you to my daughter Elizabeth  Keating-Jones sending me Neil Gaiman’s poem in honour of  the Scientist and researcher, Rachel Carson (1907- 1964 )  who is the inspiration for Earth Day after  the new enlightment the world was given with her book Silent Spring  (1962)

Society of Women Writers April Meeting

A fresh Autumn morning . I set out by train for the city to attend the monthly gathering of the Society of Women Writers. ( SWW)

Each month it is held at the State Library of NSW over in  the  Dixson Room in the original Mitchell Library. And being a Friend of the Library I enjoy a coffee and some quiet space in  the Friends room before hand

This month  Pattie Miller lead the workshop .

and luncheon with the key note spesker as Pattie again on the topic of

and a very interest talk with Libby Hathorn and the first release of her new children’s book Miss Franklin .

It was a very pleasant gathering  and Pattie as always very informative

One of the exciting unfolding pieces of information Pattie Miller  held up the  new Stella Award book  An Erratic life by Vickie Laveau-Harvie            . Pattie was excited as Vicki had been on e of her students . I was excited firstly for Vicky winning such a prestigious prize but that I had spent the week at Varuna