Since the dawn of civilisation, man has been fascinated by the secret, the magic and mystery of flight. If only he could fly, this would change one’s life, for he would be able to escape the troubles and cares of the world. He would be closer to his God!
One of the memorable Greek myths reflects on both the desire to fly and the dangers that go hand in hand with it.
Daedalus, an Athenian engineer employed by King Minos of Crete, built a labyrinth to house the Minotaur; half man and half bull.
When Daedalus slipped out of favour, his King had him jailed along with his son Icarus, in the labyrinth. Daedalus and Icarus made themselves wings out of wax and feathers, and escaped by flying off over the sea. But their flight to freedom, quickly ended in tragedy, for Icarus failed to heed his father’s warning, not to fly too high, or too close to the sun. It wasn’t long, before the wax in his wings started melting as he flew close to the rays of the sun, and he fell out of the sky, to certain death.
Daedalus escaped, landing in Naples, but never took to the skies again.
In the May of 1992, the ATF began an extensive investigation of David Koresh a cult group residing on rural property near Waco, Texas. ATF investigation centered their attention on Koresh and the Davidians cult being involved in the illegal manufacture and possession of guns and possession of destructive devices, which included bombs and grenades. ATF’s investigation proved that Koresh and his followers had acquired:
136 guns and rifles
200,000 rounds of ammunition
AR15/M16 rifles + 700 magazines
Grenade-launchers + M31 rifle grenades
Plus quantities black powder and explosive chemicals
The investigation brought them into contact with former cult members; inspection and interviews with federal firearms dealers, dealing with purchases of AR-15 rifles, ammunition and grenades. An ATF undercover agent infiltrated the cult, becoming an associate member of the Davidians, with limited access to their compound. Enough evidence was gathered leading to federal arrest and search warrants in February 1993, to arrest Koresh and search the compound.
ATF agents from Dallas, Houston and New Orleans joined forces to execute federal warrants at the Waco compound on Feburary 28, 1993.
Koresh and the Davidians were alerted of the raid by a local postman, and cult member. Heavily armed, cult members were waited to ambush the ATF agents, as they alighted their vehicles. Koresh stood on the porch, as approaching agents informed him they had a search warrant for the Waco compound, they called out for him to “get down,” he ignored their request as he retreated inside the house. Gunfire burst through the door, as the agents approached, and one agent was wounded.
A 2 1/2 hour long gunfight ensued, where four ATF agents were killed; and a further twenty ATF agents were wounded from gunshots or shrapnel and eight others suffered other injuries. A cease-fire followed and Koresh released 24 members, mostly children, from the compound. A fifty one day stand-off ended when the Davidian Compound erupted in fire set by cult members, as law enforcement attempted to force them out by shooting tear gas into the building on April 19. The fire destroyed the compound and seventy cult members were killed, many wounds were inflicted by fellow cult members. Some nine cult members escaped the fire and were arrested, and eight of those members were later convicted in federal court on firearms charges and sentenced to terms of imprisonment.
ATF Agents who lost their lives on that fateful day at the Waco Compound: Special Agent Conway LeBleu, badge number 2134. joined ATF on August 31, 1987, and was assigned to the New Orleans Field Division. He carried badge #2134. He was survived by his wife and their two sons.
Special Agent Todd McKeehan, badge number 1255. He was survived by his wife.
Special Agent Robert Williams, badge number 2933. He was survived by his wife.
Special Agent Steven Willis, badge number 3061. He was single and survived by his parents and sister.
What’s a sonnet? A kind of rhymed poem consisting of fourteen lines.
Here I’m going to show you the Shakespearian sonnet, also called the English sonnet. The Shakespearian sonnet has fourteen lines in three groups of four lines and one group of two lines.
When the last word in a line of poetry rhymes with the last word in another line, this is called an end rhyme. Many traditional poetry forms use end rhymes… one we know being the Shakespearian Sonnet.
Here’s an example of a sonnet written by William Shakespeare written in this form.
Line 01: Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck, (Rhymes with line 03)
Line 02: And yet methinks I have astronomy, (Rhymes with line 04)
Line 03: But not to tell of good, or evil luck, (Rhymes with line 01)
Line 04: Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons’ quality,(Rhymes with line 02)
Line 05: Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell; (Rhymes with line 07)
Line 06: Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind, (Rhymes with line 08)
Line 07: Or say with princes if it shall go well (Rhymes with line 05)
Line 08: By oft predict that I in heaven find. (Rhymes with line 06)
Line 09: But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive, (Rhymes with line 11)
Line 10: And constant stars in them I read such art (Rhymes with line 12)
Line 11: As truth and beauty shall together thrive (Rhymes with line 09)
Line 12: If from thy self, to store thou wouldst convert: (Rhymes with line 10)
Line 13: Or else of thee this I prognosticate, (Rhymes with line 14)
Line 14: Thy end is truth’s and beauty’s doom and date. (Rhymes with line 13)
Some of the rhymes are not exact. For example, “art” and “convert” have the same final sound, but are different. This is an example of what is called off-rhyme.
“Smart” and “art”; “fellow” and “yellow”; “surgery” and perjury” — these are all examples of true rhymes, or exact rhymes because the final vowel and consonant sounds (or the final syllables in the longer words) are exact matches to the ear.
Why One Uses Rhyme?
To give pleasure. Rhyme, done well, is pleasing to the ear. It adds a musical element to the poem, and creates a feeling of “rightness,” of pieces fitting together. It also makes a poem easier to memorize, since the rhyme echoes in the reader’s mind afterward, like a melody.
To deepen meaning. Rhyming two or more words draws attention to them and connects them in the reader’s mind.
To strengthen form. In many traditional forms, a regular pattern of rhymes are at the ends of the lines. This means that even if the poem is being read out loud, listeners can easily hear where the lines end, can hear the shape of the poem.
Here’s another sonnet by William Shakespeare.
(a) My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; (a) rhymes with (c)
(b) Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; (b) rhymes with (d)
(c) If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; (c) rhymes with (a)
(d) If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head(d) rhymes with (b)
(e)I have seen roses damask’d, red and white, (a) rhymes with (c)
(f)But no such roses see I in her cheeks; (a) rhymes with (c)
(g)And in some perfumes is there more delight(a) rhymes with (c)
(h)Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. (a) rhymes with (c)
(i)I love to hear her speak, yet well I know (i) rhymes with (k)
(j)That music hath a far more pleasing sound; (j) rhymes with (l)
(k)I grant I never saw a goddess go; (k) rhymes with (i)
(l)My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground: (l) rhymes with (j)
(m)And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare (m) rhymes with (n)
(n)As any she belied with false compare. (n) rhymes with (m)
I found this poem by Mary Louise Haskins (1876-1957), former Economics lecturer, stored away with my grandfather’s death certificate, and it made me wonder if it held any special meaning for him, for he carried it with him always.
For he was one of the lucky one’s who returned from the “Battle of the Somme (World War One). He was not a religious man, and I never heard him talk of his experiences of the war, only to say, many friends died needlessly.
It is said, Princess Elizabeth, our present Queen showed it to her father King George VI who used the first part of it in his 1939 Christmas Broadcast to the nation.
The words were engraved on a plaque, fitted to the gates of King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Chapel.
The Queen Mother who was buried at Windsor Castle in 2002, had it read out as part of her state funeral.
These words can also be found engraved in stone within the “Private Royal Chapel at Windsor.”
These words with a simple meaning and yet so poignant…
LAID OUT IN ORIGINAL FORMAT AS MY GRANDFATHER HAD:
The Gate of the Year published in 1908.
I said to the man stood at the gate of the year. Give me light that I may tread safely into the unknown. He replied, go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than the known way.
So I went forth, And finding the hand of God, Trod gladly into the night He led me towards the hills, And the breaking of the day in the lone east.
So heart be still What need our little life. Our human life to know, If god hath comprehension? In all the dizzy strife, Of things both high and low, God hideth his intention.
God knows. His will. Is best. The stretch of years, Which wind ahead, so dim To our perfect vision, And clear to God. Our fears Are premature. In him, All time hath full provision.
The rest: until God moves to lift the veil From our impatient eyes, When, as the sweeter features Of life’s stern face we hail, Fair beyond all surmise. God’s thought around his creatures Our mind shall fill.
Robert Burns was born on the 25th January 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland in a two roomed cottage, the home of a tenant farmer. His parents being William Burnes and Agnes Broun, who ran a small market garden.
In 1766, William Burnes faced a dilemma, he could no longer earn enough to support his growing family. The family set up home at Mount Oliphant Farm, a few miles down the road. It was at this time, William saw to it that his gifted son Robert received some form of education. By the spring of 1777 the family left Mount Oliphant before William faced financial ruin, and moved to Lochlea Farm.
The problems faced by William Burnes and other farmers at that time, was the short lease system, granted to farmers. If a farmer improved his land, he would find the rent would increase when it was time to renew his lease. So it was, they attempted to scrape a living from the poor soil, as best they could. William Burnes was one of these farmers.
On the 4th July 1781, aged just twenty-two Burns was initiated into the mysteries of Freemasonry at St.David’s Lodge, Tarbolton as an Apprentice. The Second and Third degrees were conferred upon him that very night following his initiation.
In February 1781, peasant farmer William Burnes died. Robert and his brother Gilbert rented the farm of Mossgiel, from lawyer Gavin Hamilton. Robert would spend little time on the farm, he let his brother Gilbert take over the running of it, as he spent more time on his writing and love of women.
On the 27th July 1784, Burns was elected Depute Master of St.James Lodge at Tarbolton, a position he held until St.John’s Day 1788.
In 1785 Robert Burns had an affair with household servant, one Elizabeth Paton, which bore a child out of wedlock.
In 1785/86 Robert Burns had an affair with Jean Armour, resulting in the birth of twins in 1786, much to her father’s displeasure. The couple announced they be married, but Jean was forced into requesting an annulment by her father.
In 1786 Robert Burns released his book of “Kilmarnock Poems” which received much praise from his critics and public alike. In the same year he moved to Edinburgh as his fame as a poet grew, where he mingled within literary circles.
On the 26th October 1786, Burns was made an honary member of St.John’s Lodge, Kilmarnock, with the designation of being a “Poet.” Major William Parker master of the lodge, became a great friend of Burns, to the point of subscribing to thirty-five copies of his collection of poems.
In 1787 Burns was made a Royal Arch Mason in Eyemouth
With fame as a poet, Jean Armour’s Mason father consented to an official marriage between Robert Burns and Jean Armour in 1788.
Success was short lived, but Burns the poet had a family to support, and so in 1791 relocated to Dumfries to take up the position of an excise officer.
Burns had another love, collecting and composing traditional Scottish songs. He will always be remembered for his composition “ Auld Lang Syne” sung across the world, in celebration of New Year.
Robert Burns, famed Scottish poet died in Dumfries in 1796 at the age of 37. He lived for the day, his love was writing, women and drink, leaving behind a trail of illegitimate children and broken relationships.
Jonathan Swift was born on the 30th November 1667 in Dublin, Ireland to his Irish father; Jonathan Swift and English mother, Abigail Erick. Jonathan had been born, seven months after the death of his father. His mother Abigail left him in the custody of Godwin, his uncle and she fled to England.
When Jonathan was six, he attended Kilkenny Grammar School and in 1682 entered Dublin University and received a B.A. Degree in 1686.
Jonathan left Ireland in 1688, as William of Orange invades England, amidst times of political unrest, securing employment as a secretary to Sir William Temple at Moor Park.
In 1690, Swift is diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. It was at this time he wrote “The Battle of the Books” a satire published in 1704. In 1692 Swift received an M.A. degree from Oxford University, then returned to Ireland and took up the post of Priest in the Church of Ireland at his ordination in 1695.
In 1696, Swift returned to England to work as Sir William Temple’s assistant, until Temple death on the 27th January 1699. Thereafter returning to Ireland as Chaplain and Secretary to the Earl of Berkley.
In 1702 Swift was awarded with “Doctor of Divinity from Trinity College, Dublin. With the publication of the Battle Books, he achieved success as a writer.
In 1707 the politically active Swift went to London, seeking claims for the Irish Clergy; seeking remission of tax on Irish clerical incomes.
The Whig administration of Lord Godolphin dismissed his claims, which led to Swift’s actions in print. “The Conduct of the Allies in 1711, a pamphlet criticizing the Whig administration, and the war with France.
In 1710, the Tory party came to power with a new ally; Jonathan Swift who was appointed editor of the “Examiner.”
In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of Spanish Succession, and the French War. That same year, Swift was installed as Dean of St.Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.
In 1714, the Tory government lost out to the Whig’s who took power, and they charged Tory leaders with treason for what they considered to be illegal negotiations with France.
Jonathan Swift returned to Ireland writing a series of political writings in 1718. In 1726 published Gulliver’s Travels anonymously, the success led to French, Dutch and German versions being printed in 1727.
Jonathan Swift had an intimate relationship with Esther Johnson, whom he first met when she was eight, a relationship maintained all his life. It is believed they secretly married, but there be no proof to that effort.
Esther Vanhomrigh, became infatuated with Jonathan, but the feelings were not mutual.
On the 28th January 1728, Esther Johnson died, and Jonathan’s life had been torn apart, pushing him over the edge, towards mental illness. Moved by her death, he wrote extensively about death. Then in 1738, suffered a paralytic stroke.
On the 19th October 1745, Jonathan Swift died, and in accordance with his final wishes, requested he be buried close to the grave of his beloved one; Esther Johnson.
He left all his assets, to be used to create a hospital dedicated for those with mental illnesses.
William Blake, son of James Blake a hosier was born on 28th November 1757 in London. He attended school until he reached ten, and the remaining years of his education, were undertaken by his mother; Catherine Wright Armitage Blake. He grew up in a family where life centred around the Bible, maybe that is why much of his work, hinted on links to his early teachings.
Blake’s appreciation of the masters; Raphael, Michelangelo, and his own early drawings of Greek antiquities, gave him a better understanding of the classical forms.
It was during this time, he was drawn into the world of poetry.
On 4th August 1772, Blake commenced a seven year apprenticeship under engraver; James Basire.
In 1774, the young apprentice was sent to copy images from London’s Gothic Churches. Blake would spend many hours, sketching, and this helped him form his artistic style.
In 1779, aged 21, William Blake had attained the position of a professional engraver. On the 8th October, in the same year, he became a student at the Royal academy.
From his early times at the academy, Blake rebelled with the then president: Joshua Reynolds.
Reynolds championed artists like, Rubens, whilst Blake often referred to them as an unfinished style of painting. For Blake preferred the precision style of his early influences by Michelangelo and Raphael. Even though they crossed swords so to speak on many occasions, it did not stop Blake from exhibiting his works at the Royal Academy between 1780 and 1808.
Blake married Catherine Boucher on 18th August 1782, at St.Mary’s Church, Battersea. Catherine signed her name with a cross, upon the wedding contract, for she was illiterate.
Over the years that followed, Blake taught Catherine to read and write, and trained her in the art of an engraver. Her knowledge would prove invaluable to him, assisting with the printing of his works.
William Blake released Poetical Sketches in 1783.
William Blake and James Parker opened a print shop, after’s his father’s death in 1784, and worked with publisher Joseph Johnson.
In 1788, Blake started experimenting with relief etching, which he had used to produce most of his books, drawings etc.
This involved a process of writing text on copper plates with pens and brushes dipped in an acid-resistant liquid. Then the plates were treated with an acid, which dissolved the untreated copper plates, leaving the design standing.
Blake, now the inventor, had become famous for his relief etching, however much of his work was of intaglio engraving, a process which had stood the test of time.
William and Catherine’s marriage was one of devotion until his death in 1827. It is said, that on the day of William’s death. His last work that day was a portrait of his beloved wife; Catherine, promising he would be with her always. Then he died that day.
On the day of Catherine’s death in October 1831. She was heard to call out to him, she would be coming, and it would not be long before they could be together once again.
William Blake in his early years claimed to have seen visions: He saw God, put his head to the window, and another time in Peckham Rye, claimed to have seen a tree filled with angels, and angelic wings upon each bough as stars.
It is said; William experienced many visions throughout his life, often associated with religious themes. These have been an inspiration for his poetry and artistic forms.
“There was no doubt that the poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott,” words spoken by William Wordsworth.
William Blake’s work has left its mark on the beat poet’s of the 1950’s -1970’s. Songwriters most influenced by his work include ; Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison of the Doors and Van Morrison.
If you take the new Dorchester bypass across the water meadows in the direction of Weymouth, you pass through a little slice of Dorset, which is to millions of people the most sacred piece of England. For this is the land of Thomas Hardy where, against all the odds, the 20th century is held at bay.
On the 2nd June 1840, Thomas Hardy was born here at Upper Bockhampton, and today some 170 years later, it is almost as nothing has changed. Hardy’s novels have spawned quite an industry – films, radio, television and stage adaptations, plus an inexhaustible stream of books about him, his works, and about the brooding landscape of Wessex which he loved.
It seems at first unlikely that a ghostly spirit should still inhabit the lanes and woodlands which formed so much part of Hardy’s writings. Yet, surprisingly, there is still much of Wessex that does hold an essence of his writing. It is in the landscape of Dorset itself that the real celebration of Hardy is to be found. And in the centre of the maelstrom of public attention that this literary anniversary has whipped up, a still centre lies waiting for the more thoughtful literary pilgrim at Mellstock.
Mellstock, as a word, is like so many of Hardy’s names, fictious. There is, however, no doubt at all as to where it is – Upper and lower Bockhampton, Stinsford, three tiny hamlets lying in a wooded cluster between Puddleton and Dorchester. These are the villages of Thomas Hardy’s childhood and early life. They are likewise the settings for many of the poems, and in particular one of the novels, Under the Greenwood Tree. And they are the places to which Hardy returned until his last years, reliving and preserving his own personal heritage…He asked that he should be buried in Stinsford churchyard, but official pomp and national pride decreed otherwise, and his ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey. Only his heart made it to the family grave near the quiet rivers of the River Frome.
Hardy’s birthplace is everything the seeker of old England longs for: in the fragrant garden of the cottage, lavender southern wood and rosemary grow, sweet scented mock orange, and near the door honeysuckle. There are roses, too, everywhere a profusion of flowers, herbs, shrubs, and between them gently curving paths. Come here at the right time of year, and it will seem that for every plant there is a butterfly dancing in attendance. And behind it all, nestling under Thorncombe Wood, quietly dominating this peaceful acre of ground, stands the cottage itself…a long building. Just a room deep, with a thatch that gives you the feeling that it grew organically out of the surroundings so much does it seems to be part of the natural scheme of things.
The Beech trees of Thorncombe rush and roar in the gentlest of weather. This is another of the wonders of Hardy, for he is much loved – some would say more loved – in places like America as in Britain. To enter the cottage is to step at once into Hardy’s life and times and into the novels too. For here it is not only the room where he wrote Under the Greenwood Tree, but also the parlour where many scenes, including the famous Christmas party at the books start occurred. Upstairs is the room in which he was born, a sickly child by all accounts, who on his first appearance in the world was given up for dead by the doctor, and was only saved by a local nurse who is reputed to have said: Dead? Stop a minute; he’s alive enough, sure! He was indeed, and lived on for a venerable 88 years. Looking from the window, we see the view he saw whilst pondering on Far from the Madding Crowd and many of the early poems. His very first poem Domicilium is as clear a portrait of the cottage as you could wish; the garden flowers, the verdancy of the wood – is still there. But the house stands, as it were, on the edge of two landscapes, for as the poem continues:
Behind, the scene is wilder, Heath and Furze
Are everything that seems to grow and thrive
Upon the uneven ground. A stunted thorn
Stands here and there, indeed; and from a pit
An oak surprises, springing from a seed
Dropped by a bird a hundred years ago.
This is Egdon Heath, a haunted place for Hardy, and is still today. Fir plantations now stands where once was just heath and furze, but they retain in their own way, the brooding quality of this place. On summer mornings, the sun lights the dew, through the grasses of the heath, and the beauty is breathtaking. Nevertheless, there is a starkness which is vivid contrast to the richness of Bockhampton woodlands.
After the birthplace, the most significant spot in Melstock is down the lane at St.Michael’s Church, Stinsford. This little church with its gentle view across the shallow Frome Valley, was built in the early part of the 13th century. In Hardy’s younger day’s there was a gallery where local musicians – including his grandfather, his father and his uncle played – in the days before the coming of the organ. Today, the gallery is gone, although some idea of what it was like can be gained on a larger scale in nearby Puddletown Church. All the Hardy’s were fine fiddle players, and their notebooks are on show today in the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester. On the wall of St.Michael’s is a plaque, placed there by Hardy himself.
Sacred to the memory of Thomas Hardy, the father of James and Thomas, the sons who formerly in this church for forty years (1802-1841) performed the office of string players.
The brass plate is in latin which, Hardy felt, was likely to change less for the worse than the English in the future. In Stinsford Church, Hardy’s father and mother fell in love, as he played his violin in the gallery, and she turned and caught his eye. The incident is caught most touchingly in a sonnet,
A Church Romance – 1835:
She turned in the high pew, until her sigh
Swept the west gallery, and caught his row
Of music men with viol, book and bow
Against the sinking sad tower – window light.
She turned again; and in her pride’s despite
One strenuous viol’s inspirer seemed to throw
A message from his string to her elbow,
Which said: “I claim thee as my own forthright!”
Thus their hearts bond began, in due time signed.
And the long years thence, when age had scared romance,
At some old attitude of his or her glance
That gallery-scene would break upon her mind,
With him as minstrel, ardent, young and trim,
Bowing “New Sabbath” or “Mount Ephraim”.
The high pews have, like the gallery, long gone, but the loving ghosts remain. How could they not? After all, this is the home of the prototype of the Mellstock Quire of Under the Greenwood Fire. In middle age, Hardy wrote a poem called The Dead Quire, which tells how phantom singers passed along the river path and up to the church at Christmas, and disappeared into the churchyard. There is very little here that has not had his eye upon it.
In Stinsfird Churchyard, the Hardy family graves lie in a dignified row, and nearby, the grave of Poet Laureate Cecil day Lewis, whose love for Thomas Hardy was such that for him, this earth was an appropriate place in which to make an end. In the peace of this place, it is easy to agree with him. It seems in many ways, so near yet so far from Dorchester, in truth a short walk away with its market town bustle and self-importance. When Hardy built Max Gate, the house that represented his success as a writer, he chose a site where he could look across the valley to Mellstock. Ironically, such was his fame that to thwart the visitors, who came to peer at him, he was forced to surround himself with tall trees, which in time blotted out the view…
Meanwhile, at Dorchester’s top of the town, the man himself in the shape of Eric Kennington’s 1931 statue, looks out on it all with remarkable detachment. When the statue was unveiled, among those present was another great writer; Llewelyn Powys.
For, in the words of one of his poems: “He was a man who used to notice such things.”
George Mackay Brown was born on the 17th October 1921 in Stromness, Orkney, Scotland to parents John Brown and Mhairi Mackay.
His writing career started in his twenties, working as a journalist for the Orkney Herald. In 1951 he left, and attended Newbattle Abbey College and Edinburgh University, graduating with an MA in 1960.
His early works were influenced by one man; Edwin Muir, Warden of Newbattle Abbey College, he wrote the introduction to Mackay Brown’s first book; “Hamnavoe” a book of poems and stories.
His second book was exclusively poems; “Loaves and Fishes” published in 1959, and in 1961 was accepted into the Roman Catholic Church, a great source of inspiration for his works.
In the latter part of the 1980’s returned to Orkney and Stromness, due to ill health, and continued writing poems, until his death on the 13th April 1996.