Saturday, March 12

What can we do?

 I'm sitting here in my safe environment,  living as I learnt at school, in this "temperate land",
I don't know what to do.
There are lots of poems being written at the moment about the Japanese tragedy.  And some are very moving.   I started to put one together myself.
People are philosophising about whether it is significant in the short or the long term future of this earth that we all inhabit.

I'm drawn to Hokusai's wonderful but terrible painting of The Great Wave.
The fragile tiny boat, the size of the wave, the beauty of Mount Fuji in the backround.

Ben Macintyre writes very insightfully in the Times today about this painting and what lies behind it.

I have a painting which I bought some time ago from an Irish artist called Veronica Wallis, and it's simply a woman's handbag, of the Margaret Thatcher type. On the front is a copy of Hokusai's wave.
 Every thing in the painting is 21st C.
Bright saturated colour, simple image of a Craig-Martin type....
.... and then this wave.

I've thought about the earth and how fragile it is and therefore how fragile we are as well.
We move through our every day existence.... like the hand bag!
And the wave is there to remind us ....we are all in this together.
I am but one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do.
What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.
Did Sting get it right all those years ago with his song.."Fragile"?

[ The verse was posted today by..." prayers for the oft travelled road .]


  1. Beautiful and thoughtful post. I too feel we are so lucky in this country but feel it is our earth but the earth sometimes has a differnt agenda.

  2. I've just posted this poem on Facebook:

    In the Wake

    ( for Japan )

    There is no poetry here.
    This is the real world.

    Poems can’t dig through rubble.
    or tend the injured.

    Poetry can’t sign cheques or
    operate heavy

    machinery in the dark.
    Poems don’t know how

    to comfort the bereaved since
    they can’t explain why

    the wave took their daughter or
    son or brother or

    sister or their father or
    mother and left them.

    Poems will come much later,
    like tourists, to stare

    at the devastation from
    the comfort of their

    safe, air-conditioned coaches
    with nothing to say.

    Sunday, 13 March 2011

  3. thankyou for your comment Jim. And for the not-poem. I know that we all have to work out tragedy in our own way and therefore if some are writing poems I believe that is alright.
    Perhaps that's why Hokusai painted what he did that day.
    It was art for the people and prints two-a-penny...often used to wrap up china for the western market. So is life at times,ephemeral and fragile all wrapped up together.
    Lyn...thankyou for coming by and commenting.

  4. Japan, Christchurch, Brisbane; city after city, country after country. I end up in Revelation. The views not pretty here either.

  5. I live a few hundred yards from the sea and yesterday it was at its sparkling best - such tragedy was hard to imagine. I find it fruitless to search for 'meaning' in dreadful events but it is often in the aftermath that human show themselves at their best. I love Jim's poem - although I disagree with it. Poetry might not be able to save lives but it saves life...

  6. @Liz – You’re quite right. All I’m really saying here is that there is a time for poetry and the time is not now. Of course people will process their feelings about what has happened here just as they do with ever disaster – just think how much art 9/11 generated – but can you just imagine if I turned up in Japan today and said, “What can I do to help? I’m a fully-qualified poet. Is anyone in desperate need of a sonnet?”

  7. I believe it's the signs of the times Gerry - the earth is groaning.

    Luke 21:25 "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,

  8. There are no words that I can say!


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