1 My Mum would have been 100 years old today. She loved the fact that she had been born on Bonfire Night and for years as a child, thought everyone was celebrating her birthday by letting off fireworks. She was such a source of wisdom and kindness and I always thought, if I could be half as good a Mum as she was, I would have done a pretty good job.
2 Our white Poppies for Peace arrived today to be worn with our red ones – the red ones to commemorate all those killed in wars past and present around the world and the white ones to show our commitment to peace. White poppies were first distributed for Armistice Day in 1934 and were an expression of concern that WW1 would be followed by an even worse war, voiced particularly by the women who were wives, mothers, sisters, widows and sweethearts of men who had died, been injured or imprisoned for refusing to participate in the 1914 war.
3 This beautiful poem, On Living, by Nazim Hikmet came my way today. Thank you Sallie and Harold.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example–
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must take it seriously,
so much so and to such a degree
that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
your back to the wall,
or else in a laboratory
in your white coat and safety glasses,
you can die for people–
even for people whose faces you’ve never seen,
even though you know living
is the most real, the most beautiful thing.
I mean, you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you’ll plant olive trees–
and not for your children, either,
but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier.
Let’s say you’re seriously ill, need surgery–
which is to say we might not get
from the white table.
Even though it’s impossible not to feel sad
about going a little too soon,
we’ll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we’ll look out the window to see it’s raining,
or still wait anxiously
for the latest newscast …
Let’s say we’re at the front–
for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
we might fall on our face, dead.
We’ll know this with a curious anger,
but we’ll still worry ourselves to death
about the outcome of the war, which could last years.
Let’s say we’re in prison
and close to fifty,
and we have eighteen more years, say,
before the iron doors will open.
We’ll still live with the outside,
with its people and animals, struggle and wind–
I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
we must live as if we will never die.
This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet–
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space …
You must grieve for this right now
–you have to feel this sorrow now–
for the world must be loved this much
if you’re going to say “I lived” …
Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)