Monday, 24 November 2008

Two new links

Scottish poet Eleanor Livingstone has a new website here (and about time too!). There's poetry, links, and even YouTube footage of Eleanor reading, so take the time to have a browse. Eleanor's excellent HappenStance pamphlet, The Last King Of Fife, was launched the same night as mine, and I also read with her last year, and she's always good to hear. Her poems are a lot steelier than they sometimes appear at first glance, too - they always repay a bit of close attention.

I also came across this superb blog, Fades In Slowly, while browsing earlier. It contains all manner of things related to John Peel, so it's essential for anyone who, at this time of year, sets about compiling their own Festive 50.


Background Artist said...

Hi Matt.

. i saw your White Goddess enquiry at poets on fire. Coincidently enough, my current research lead me to the central argument of Graves position, which i posted on a Javier Huerta piece at the Poetry Foundations Harriet blog,

. i am not a member on the poets on fire or would have replied there.

Basically, Graves gives a short few paragraph precis of his position in the foreward. It is that Poetry in its purest form:

"the language of poetic myth....was a magical language bound up with popular religious ceremonies, in honour of the Moon-goddess, or Muse, (The White Goddess) some of them dating back to the Old Stone Age, and that this remains the true language of poetry - *true* in the nostalgic sense of the unimporovable original, not a synthetic substitute.*

This poetic - he claims - was extant in Minoan civilisation in ancient Crete, which ran from 2700 - 1500BC, until the Mycenaen invasion from mainland Greece in 1500BC. Mycenaen culture was based on an aristocratic warrior class at its heart.

Minoan civilisation however, had no warrior class and traded with Greece (notably Mycenae), Anatolia, Cyprus, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria and as far west as Spain. Religious frescoes and statuary depictions of Minoan goddesses and/or priestesses, far outnumber those of anything which could be remotley akin to a Minoan god, with the consensus being these represent at least several cthonic (earth) goddesses, including a great fertiltiy Goddess, a Mistress of Animals, the protectress of cities, the household, the harvest, and the underworld, and more.

The frescoes also show men and women engaging in the same sports, the most prominent of which was the Minoan bull leaping ceremony, in which men and women leaped over a bull torso first. Due to this absence of a warrior caste, the female religion and the physical and pictoral evedience, and from what is known of other cultures of that time, it is specualted that matrilinaeal succession was the norm, as opposed to what we have now, patrilineal succession.

Mycenaen culture imploded in 1100BC at the start of the Greek Iron Age, when there was a prolifiration of new war material made from the new iron technology, and over the next 300 years all the various ancient civilisations of the Levante, including Egypt, Greece and everywhere else, suffered from a holocaust of war due to the new iron weapons.

The Greek Dark Ages then run from 1100 - 800BC and then slowly things get better, until we come to the Greek Golden Age of 6C BC, when writing reappears and the narratives we have now as the ancient Greek mythic base supporting the modern English poetic, were first written down.

As it currently stands, the 8C BC oral poet Hesiod's 1022 line creation myth poem - Theogony (trans. seed of the gods) is an 8C BC synthesis of local Greek myth on which the entire 500 yr old modern English poetic tradition is founded on and currently rests. This poem gives the lineage of the gods and is one in which the male aspect, as opposed to the female deities which Graves argues are at the heart of the *unimprovable original*.

Graves argues that the original myth was tampered with by the Mycenaen's when they became top dogs, elevating Zeus and Appollo over the orginal White Goddess. Basically a lot of hard men, say no, you lot are soft, this is the real poetic, men fighting.

And the Iliad of Homer, is set in the time of the holocaust and Drak Ages, so when Homer and Hesiod come along, their whole culture for the previous three hundred years, has been a post-apocolyptic Iron Age one, and for 500 years before that, the slow grind of continual regional wars, and 1000 years before that, on Crete at least, the 50/50 female Moon-goddess as Muse magical language unimprovable original Poetic.

He argues that the 6C BC Greek Poetic is therefore a pied version of the real poetic, and in 6C BC greece, Plato, Aristotle and Socrates are the father son and wholly ghost on which the religious philosophy underpinning the Western aesthetic, but which Graves argues - blaming Socrates for rejecting the purer poetic of 1000 years before - is one of *intellectual homesexuality*, and we see this still now.

In those days codified homesexuality with erastes and eremenos, old geezers having toy boys to teach and admire, was a direct result of the centuries of war, all those blokes fighting together on close quarter, like publis school fags et al, and remember, these chaps were only human, just like you and me, and did not have wiki or the internet, plus if we look at another of Hesiod's three extant works, works, Works and Days, an 800 verse poem, he details five Ages of Man; which began with

1 - Golden Age during the rule of Cronus, youngest of the 12 Titans, son of Mother Earth Gia and parthenogenitically birthed Sky Father son-husband, Uranus. Mens spirit's in this age, lived on as daemons who could help out the living.

Man and gods lived in peace and harmony and it was all smiles and happy, maybe like in Minoan times 1000 years before Hesiod?

2 - Silver Age - in the age of Zeus, who had overthrown Cronus who had overthrown his own father Uranus. Humans in this time lived a 100 years as children and a short span as adults who spent that time fighting with each other. Human spirits in this age, became blessed spirits of the underworld.

3 - Bronze Age. Men were hard and war their passion, everything forged in bronze, including houses, but undone by their violent ways, their spirits remained unamed, dwelling in a "dank house of Hades".

4 - The Heroic Age - not corresponding to any metal. Noble heroes. and demi-gods who fought at Thebes and Troy and on death went to Elysium.

5 - Iron Age. Hesiods time, a rubbish life for humans, kids don't respect their parents, no decency, immoralty patracide, brother killing brother and "there will be no help against evil."

I dunno, but is Hesiod tellin porkies? if so, could Graves be right, that the Golden Age of Hesiod's Works and Days is Minoan civilisation a 1000 years before -- Hesiod not havin wiki, writing stopped when the bronze age collapsed into the iron age proliferation of new more kill-effective implements, coinciding with the swift destruction and demise of all Egyptian, Hittite and Mycenaean culture and civilisation, including Troy at the time of the Iliad?


This is a theory which only now with the advent of IT, can we search the answers with a speed unthinkable prior to the rise of information technologies. To retrieve the relevent information would have taken ten life times, wheras now it is at our fingertips, a million libraries of Alexandria.

The ancient Greek 6C BC Poetic, is the one on which Tudor courtiers founded modern English language poetry, 500 years ago and this tradition, is very short lived, when compared to the bardic tradition native on the British Isles, for 1200 years in print. The touchstone text of the whole bardic enterprise, was first translated in 1983, and is found in a 15C Harleian (Robert Harley, 1st earl of Oxford) manuscript 3.18, one of the Irish legal codices now at Trinity College, with the identification tag: MS 1337.

This text was only translated in 1983, and when i first clapped eyes on it three years ago, thought this cannot be, as - on the face of it - it explains what poetry is, where it comes from and how it humanly works; from the point of view of a 7C bard, who had (say) 1000 years of druids behind him or her, and 1000 years ahead of them, and it has no title, i am guessing, because it needed none as it was the first poem the grade one fochloc (sapling) was given at their first day in bard school. A/the touchstone text of the whole bardic enterprise, my instinct immediately thought and after 18 months sniffing round the hugely important poet-biggers in Dublin doing their very important biz of public reading at book launches et al, asking if they knew of it, expecting the higher ups to of course know it, it became clear this text is all but unknown and it was only when Nuala NĂ­ Dhomhnaill agreed my hunch was correct after 18 months of asking, i stopped asking as that was proof enough for me.

At a stroke, this text does away with the What is Poetry? question, or rather it is a text that no TS Eliot, Pound, or any other figure in the history of English language poetry, is gonna persuade me they are speaking deeper than Amergin.

Because it was only translated into English in 1983, its significance has not yet been grasped and the older mob, won't want to know as it makes their lifes work less important than they would like to have it, but Ireland and Scotalnd and the British Isles, were the last oputpost of this pure unimprovable original poetic, and had a literate tradition that ran from proto-Old Irish of ogham (2-4 C AD), Old Irish 5-9 C AD), Middle Irish (9-12 AD) and early Modern Irish (12-17C AD).

Twice as long as the current English poetic based on a dodgy all male myth in which erastes and eremenos, an old man has a young one say he's submissive, in a warrior centric fight fight fight system of warring boring poets, and the Amergin text, is like finding a key to a locked door, behind which the answer lies and in front of which a load of poets from all the various camps and gangs, arguing on the question:

What is Poetry?

And this text comes along and says, well ..

Read it and unblock.

love and peace

gra agus siochain

entrailicus said...

Glad to have made your acquaintance. Hope lots of Peel fans can find something they like on the blog.

Sorry my comment is slightly shorter than the previous one.

Matt Merritt said...

Comments of all lengths welcome!

Kirk Wisebeard said...