Posts Tagged ‘Christina Rossetti’

A southerly is a coming.

January 5, 2019

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Moscow University.

With the unrelenting heat finally ending with a solid promise by BOM ( Bureau of Meteorology) that the temperature is set to drop by  ten degrees over the next hour or so. It is early yet, but a southerly change is coming! We have been mainly inside during the last few hot days, spend reading or on the internet. I discovered a book picked blind-folded out of our book shelves. It is ‘Fathers and Sons’ by Ivan Turgenev. отцы и сыновья иван тургенев

It is large brown coloured hard cover bound and published by Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow, and even has coloured plates of the different characters pasted in between the pages. A beautiful book to look at even without reading the words. But talking about Moscow. Moscow’s university is so big, that even if one spent just one day in each room, your life would not be long enough to have lived in each room. The statistics are staggering.

Many years ago I visited Moscow and St Petersburg. I wrote about it in ‘Frank Story’. Here is ‘n extract from the visit to the Hermitage Museum.

“It was the next day, when we were all ready to be bundled into the bus, with Natasha our guide, and remarkably, also the two Queensland girls who came to Russia to ‘shop and drop with two enormous bags’, to do the visit of all visits, namely, ‘The Winter Palace and The Hermitage’. It seems inconceivable enough to have gone through life without having experienced those two icons, but to have visited Russia and not to have done so, an unconscionable offence. The so affable and unrelenting larrikin of our Aussie Moscow librarian took yet another turn and this time serious. He became seriously ill, out of breath and appeared to have a heart attack. Within a few minutes an ambulance arrived and he was taken to hospital. He, sadly, would miss out on his Hermitage experience, which he had told me, he had never visited during his stint at the Moscow library. We, after this short delay were whisked away and soon arrived at the Hermitage Museum. Much to our surprise we were led past a queue at least a kilometre long and invited through the gates within a couple of minutes of our arrival. Was communism with its heart supposedly embedded in the welfare of its proletariat already slipping that fast, to now give preference to rich foreign cashed-up capitalist tourists?

The Hermitage Museum with The Winter Palace defies anything that I had seen so far, even the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Not just the buildings but the space in front of it. The sense of what space can add to buildings is nowhere as clear as that of the Red Square in Moscow and the huge square in front of The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. So, by the time you reach the front of the buildings you are already in awe of whatever there might be inside. I suppose, this is also when you approach Sydney’s Opera House when viewed from the expanse of the Harbour.  The Hermitage Museum houses over 3.000.000 pieces dating from the Stone Age to the 20th century and presents the development of the world of culture and art throughout that period. You cannot possibly do justice in spending a few tourists’ hours but, alas, that is all we had time for.”

But let me finish with a beautiful poem;

Those Shadows.
Here’s a Song;

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree;
Be the green grass above
with showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

( Christina Rossetti 1830-1894 )

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I shall not hear the Nightingale. Sing on as if in pain.

November 21, 2016

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These words are part of a poem by Christina Rossetti. Last night’s effort in resisting Alzheimer or dementia, was an exercise in trying to remember the last few lines of her beautiful poem. It was harder than I thought. Why try it in the first place? It could well be this looming Christmas whereby I resort to contemplating what might be next in store. Close to another year having dropped its autumn leaves. Another ring around this aging trunk. Of course, here in the Southern world, it is the wilting of spring flowers that heralds the end of the year. A hot Christmas might well be in the offering. The Bogong moths are already trooping, getting ready for their annual migration to the much cooler Snowy mountains.

This photo from Google images.

 

Our first Christmas celebration in Australia was astonishing. I still remember that smell of beer and ripe prawns. The mid-night Mass with the congregation wearing shorts and rubber thongs. The Bogong moths swirling dangerously above my head, yet most people ignored them. The priest himself pleasantly full of the higher spirit that included pre-mass long necked lagers and brown hearty ale.

The moths were tame and just seeking each other out to form a swarm. When large enough a group would get ready for their long journey of hundreds of kilometres. Nature is so amazingly ordered and logical. In earlier times, the aboriginals, the original owners of this land used to feast themselves to a kingdom as well on these fat moths.

Another memory stuck through all those years, and probably getting richer as time passes, was a particular wedding that we went to. Again it was during summer heat. The venue was a golf course club house. A magnificent affair. The bride looked radiant, the groom suitably flustered and suited. The food all spread out on tables and fine linen. Prawns and salads, mignon steak and spinach sauté, flowing Chardonnay well oaked. As it was during those long gone years.

But then the Bogongs joined the party. Hundreds if not thousands of them. All swirling around. The overhead fans offering so treacherously the cooler air they craved for. The fans also slaughtered them. Those poor Bogongs now falling down in a spray of grey, gently landing on the food below as marital dust. No matter, the party was well on its way. Speeches were made and music flared up in between it all. The beverages had worked its magic. It was a great wedding. She was Croatian and he Australian from English background. They are still together as far as we know. A rare event, nowadays. They even had twin boys.

But here is the poem;  Christina Rossetti.

Those Shadows.

I shall not see the shadows.
I shall not feel the rain
I shall not hear the Nightingale.
Sing on as if in pain
And dreaming through the twilight
that doth not rise nor set.
Hapley I may remember
And hapley may forget.

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