Saturated Colour

I’ve just finished The Doors of Perception + Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley. The book is incredibly detailed about what it means to really appreciate and understand something – anything- we come across. Huxley explored this after taking mescaline; the values and ideas presented were thought provoking and still are highly relevant, with or without being under the influence. I underlined and saved a lot of quotes from it – it’s very well written – and this one stood out the most. If you’ve thought of giving it a read, I’d recommend it. It’s heavy, it did require quite an awake and caffeinated mind to absorb but it’s short, inspiring and greatly illustrates what art does for us.

Familiarity breeds indifference. We have seen too much pure, bright colour at Woolworth’s to find it intrinsically transporting. And here we may note that, by its amazing capacity to give us too much of the best things, modern technology has tended to devaluate the traditional vision-inducing materials. The illumination of a city, for example, was once a rare event, reserved for victories and national holidays, for the canonization of saints and the crowning of kings. Now it occurs nightly and celebrates the virtues of gin, cigarettes, and toothpaste.”

Strong as Rocks

Strong as Rocks

Nesbit –

I’ve read my fair share of poetry and I’d love to have started all over again. Firstly, to relive that first read, that first personal discovery to a great piece of writing. Secondly, there’s hundreds of poets I’ve explored and I know, because I didn’t write them down, I’ve forgotten. However some other poems and poets I’ve not only not forgotten but their work has been ingrained in my mind, for various reasons. Their works often pop into my head and I wanted to share some that might do the same for you. There’s quite a variety:-

  • Vultures by Chinua Achebe – it’s about love and how it exists universally, in good and bad people and animals. The imagery has stuck with me since I read it when I was much younger, and the Commandant is a person I’ll never forget.
  • Slough by John Betjeman – a poem about the dull town of Slough (which is just outside London, for those who didn’t know.) It was featured in the The Office television series (UK) and the meter is brilliant. It’s perhaps the most powerful opening verse to a poem I’ve read and epitomises Betjeman’s feelings for the town.
  • When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be – John Keats – a fear that I feel everyone has, deep inside, that we may never be able to finish what we started, or achieve what we hope to accomplish before our time is over. The opening image of the pen ‘glean[ing] [his] teeming brain’ has never left my head. Whenever I begin to write, I imagine this pen absorbing all my thoughts and ideas and spilling them out onto the paper (or keyboard/screen, etc.)
  • Today – Frank O’Hara (below) – I only picked up this poem recently and it’s already made it’s resonating home in my head. It’s about how anything can be poetic and anything can be the focus of poetry. It’s reminded me not to make light of anything. Nothing is boring – it’s the way you portray it in writing. And that final line is brilliant – they’re strong as rocks!
Today (1950)

Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they've always talked about
still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They're strong as rocks.

I hope you enjoy these poems - they have had great influence my writing.