Northern Drive to St Lucy

Northern Drive to St Lucy
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Forms of Poetry: Diastic

"Diastic" is a word coined by Jackson Mac Low from the Greek words "dia" (through) and "stichos"(a line of writing, a verse). He termed it as deterministic method that relied on the use of two texts:

Seed Text
Source Text

The Matched Asymmetries are derived from their sources by "diastic reading-through procedures".

In employing such procedures, the writer reads through the source text, taking into the poem each successive unit which has the letters of the source words in corresponding places. The first linguistic unit in the poem begins with the first letter of the first word of the title or other seed, the second unit has the second letter of the first word of the seed in its second place, and so forth, possibly through multiple passes through the source string.

In the creation of the Diastic poem, Major Concern for Squatters, Major Concern I selected this article from the daily newspaper as my Source Text. You can use poems as well for the Source Text and Seed Text.

The front page story of the Nation on July 18 highlighted that some squatters had been given enforcement notice to move from Oldbury and this was followed by another article, two days later, by the same newspaper, on squatters mushrooming in a "Zone 1" area adjacent to Blenheim.

In the latter case, the water course runs into the Belle aqueduct and is then pumped to most of our reservoirs by the Belle pumping station. I compliment the newspaper for highlighting this problem relating to water region which is now likely to become a health hazard. I say this because the water table in the Belle is the country's most precious source; and Barbados is dependent on this to supply our nationals, our livestock, our tourism and our manufacturing industries.

The purity of the water must not be compromised if we are to survive physically and economically. If we know that contamination of or water supply would be irresponsible and not immediately reversible, why not be strict with our regulations? It urgently becomes necessary for the responsible powers (if there is such) to arrest this modality which is increasing and being ignored by the policing powers.

On the other side of the coin, Barbados now finds itself with a problem where persons who want to improve their social status and would like to own a residence, are unable to purchase the relevant entities. Most of them opt for the less expensive option of becoming squatters with minimal overheads.

There is an urgency associated with their need for housing; and this cannot be ignored. This is similar to a revolt since their actions continue and are being done in full view of everyone and without fear of being caught in spite of the item being highlighted in our daily newspaper.

It would be a wise move if such signals are not ignored by the authorities but are acted upon before it develops into a genuine social revolt as erupted in 1937.

The article of 20th July states that the residents have either water nor electricity but this is not true for all of them. Some of the installations of utilities were done (in my personal opinion) much faster than for non-squatters.

There still has to be concern about the disposal of faeces, other waste products, collection of garbage, use of chemicals to control weeds and pollution that occur as the population density increases. This increase in numbers is inevitable especially when others requiring similar commodities realize that no action will be taken to arrest the potential disastrous circumstance in the Belle.

I would like therefore to, enquire on the status and requirements needed to build in this area as I do not believe our Town & Country Planning Department should/would allow such circumstances to prevail.

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with the squatters' goals of wanting to have their own home but should this be done at the detriment of our water resource which can ruin our economy if/when it affects any (if not all) of our sectors. This type of venture needs to be regulated.

I will conclude with this quote from the July 22 SUNDAY SUN article One World which give the social studies panacea: "At first, a few violate the social norms, but as more people violate them, the actions become the norm."


Then, after reading it through the Source Text I selected my Seed Text, Major Concerns for Squatters, Major Concern. This Seed Text in essence becomes the title of the poem.

In crafting the poem I read through the Source text, taking into the poem each successive unit which has the letters of the source words in corresponding places. The first linguistic unit in the poem begins with the first letter of the first word of the title or other seed, the second unit has the second letter of the first word of the seed in its second place, and so forth, until the seed text is completed through the source string, these I have numbered to show how the Diastic structure evolves.

As you will readily see the Diastic is contrasted to "Acrostic." (from "akros" (an extreme, such as the letter at the beginning or end of a verse line). "Acrostic" reading-through procedures draw words and other linguistic units from source texts by "spelling out" their titles with linguistic units that have the letters of the words in the titles as their initial letters. One reads through a source text and finds successively linguistic units spelling out the title as follows: the units spelling out individual words comprise single lines (often long ones) and the series of lines spelling out the whole title comprises a stanza. (The "asymmetries" are nonstanzaic but still partially acrostic.)

Major Concern for Squatters, Major Concern
1 2345 1 23 4 567 123 1 2 34 567 89 1 2345 1 23 4 567

(Diastic)

1 Move
2 was
3 adjacent
4 Into
5 reservoirs'

1 Complement
2 for
3 manufacturing
4 which
5 increasing
6 authorities
7 residents

1 for
2 some
3 were

1 Still
2 squatters
3 studies
4 panacea
5 first
6 violate
7 violate
8 squatters
9 squatters

1 Mushrooming
2 latter
3 adjacent
4 into
5 water

1 Case
2 social
3 runs
4 circumstances
5 Belle,
6 electricity,
7 planning...

Click here to read the poem


Source Text

Don't uproot them!
Brief
by TREVOR YEARWOOD
NO BULLDOZERS, please!
Government's adviser on eradicating poverty, Hamilton Lashley, made this plea yesterday in the wake of notices the Town Planning Department sent to several squatters in Oldbury, St Philip, to move on.
"To bring the bulldozers in and uproot so many persons at one time is inhumane and not in sync with Government's commitment to help the poorest of the poor," Lashley told the SATURDAY SUN.

"I am not one to encourage people to squat, but it would be sociological madness, pure and simple, just to uproot them like that, to send in the bulldozers and lick down their houses. "There must be a more palatable solution, there must be a more humane solution."

Lashley said Government needed to "sit down and talk" with Oldbury's more than 60 squatters to find practical solutions, which could include "regularising" their status or helping them to find alternative sites.
"You just can't wake up one morning and give people notice to move like that, especially people who have been living on the same spot for many years," the former Minister of Social Transformation argued.
"I have talked to some of these people and I know that in that 28-day period more than half of those people will not be able to find alternative sites. "The irony of it is that many of these same people now facing the threat of being pushed off the land would have applied to the National Housing Corporation many years ago for a house-spot or a unit to rent and never heard one word from the NHC."

Vast demand

The Member of Parliament for St Michael South East charged that the NHC, by its inability to respond adequately to the vast demand for low-income housing "solutions", and a short-sighted state building programme that failed to anticipate that Government units would be "bursting at the seams" within two decades of being built, were partly to blame for some of the squatting. You think there is only squatting in Oldbury and The Belle? There is squatting in almost all Government housing schemes, where people are adding on to the original structures to accommodate family and close friends," Lashley declared.

"When you are building, you have to build with a vision, you have to build with a plan for the future, but the people responsible for construction of a lot of the Government units, especially those in The Pine, never foresaw that within two decades you would have massive overcrowding there. "In some cases we have 14 to 16 people living in one small two-bedroom unit and sharing one toilet. They have to sleep on the chairs, they have to sleep on the ground, some have to sleep close to the toilet." Lashley said these people found themselves between a rock and a hard place, forced to endure such conditions at home or to venture out to squat because they could not get land or houses to rent or buy.

"Therefore Government has to make houses available in a massive way to the poorest of the poor," he added. He said in the case of The Belle, a vital source of water for Barbadians, the solution might lie in establishing a waste treatment plant and allowing the squatters to stay. "It is time to stop the talk and get on with the job," he added.
Nation News.com
Barbados Leading Newspaper/July 28, 2007


Poor
1 2 3 4

(Diastic)

Poverty notices poorest poor

1 2 3 4

People to people years

1 2 3 4

People more those years

1 2 3 4

Parliament for short-sighted there

1 2 3 4

People too close over-crowding

1 2 3 4

People toilet ground there

1 2 3 4

Click here to read the poem


Squatters Paradise
1 2 3456789 / 123 4 5678

(Diastic)

Simple squatters squat palatable solutions squatter Minister squatters squatters
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Programme failed bursting decades building especially decades sentence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Said squatters found squatters squat department declared therefore Oldbury's
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Palatable Barbadians hard demand bulldozers especially persons inhumane
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Click here to read the poem

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Forms of Poetry: Categories of the Acrostic

Lately, I'm referred to as a sage poet, for whatever reason. Anyways, as the creator of the site, Poetrynest I do feel comfortably in my skin proffering definitions for various aspects found in poetry. Once you are logged on to the site, you see a list of the various forms of poetry from which poems have been created to exemplify them. This list keeps on changing so you are well advised to subscribe to the feed so as to be alerted when the list is updated. Now, since poetry is the overarching theme for all my blogs you do expect me to come up with a definition for poetry and the various aspects of this literary genre. However, let me say this before I go any further. When we speak of genre we mean the specific form. Style and content are embedded in all forms of poetry which poets select to captivate the audience. All poets use language within a concentrated blend of sound, meaning, and imagery to create an emotional response from the audience. In essence then, genre and form can be used interchangeably.

Poetry

Poetry is the manifestation of literature written in meter. Literature is the body of works recognized for having merit artistically. The poem is the product that emerges out of poetry. When we look at the mode in which poetry exists or manifests itself, essentially what we are faced with, is its form.

Forms of Poetry

If you read the blog, Poetry, Forms and Genres you might recall my saying among other things that form is the structural characteristics of poetic genres. Also, that when form conforms to conventional poetic dictates we have what is known as Fixed Form. Other names for this are Closed Form, classical Form and Traditional Form. Then there is the Non-Compliant Form so termed because it breaks all the rules that govern Fixed Form poetry. The other names for which this form is known by are Unstructured Poetry, and Open Form Poetry. So what this all comes down to is, that there is something called forms of poetry.

Forms of poetry bring to our eyes the poem's shape and structure and provide the general principles upon which the literary work is organized. Once we are able to identify the forms of poetry, we are better able to describe them. In describing these forms of poetry the elements of rhyme, meter and patterns which shape their stanzas are considered.

In Poetrynest, I have a list that shows the various forms of poetry depicted in the poems I have created to serve as exemplars. You may need to subscribe to the feed to be alerted when the list is up-dated. Now let's turn our attention to the form of poetry know as the Acrostic for which they are many categories as you will find out as you read about them.

Abecedarian

This form of poetry was once associated with divinity in ancient cultures for sacred compositions, such as hymns, prayers and psalms. Numerous examples of this form of poetry can be found in the Hebrew Bible.

The Abecedarian is an acrostic poem formed by having distinct portions or verses commencing with successive letters of the alphabet. Censorship is an example of this type of acrostic poem.

Double Reversed Abecedarian

The double Abecedarian is simply the arrangement of the alphabetical letters in the lines or stanzas at the left and right sides of the poem. Then, the first letter of the first line is the same as the last letter of the first line. This forward layout is carried on until all the letters of the alphabet are used up.

When this forward movement of the alphabet letters on one of the two sides of the poem is reversed or shows a backward movement of the alphabet letters, then a double-reversed Abecedarian poem is created. Turbulent Times is an example of this type of acrostic poem.

Acrostic
Alisajs
Lighthouse
Love
News
Olives
Police Wives Association of Barbados
Saint Valentine's Day
Scott Base
The Barbados Museum
The Father of Barbados Independence
Venus goddess of love
Versification

Double Acrostic
Felony

Mesostich
Mowing

Acrostic and Mesostich
Covert Fusion

Acrostic and Telestich
Prayer
Treasures

There can be variations and mixtures in acrostized poetry. It is worthy to note that Queen Victoria was fond of the double acrostic a sort of puzzle. This art form began as puzzles so it is easy to see how varying arrangements can be applied to it for more versatility.

The telestich is formed when the last letters of last words on lines or verses spell a word or words, when taken in order.

The acrostic is formed when the first letters of lines or verses spell a word or words.

The double acrostic is formed when the first letters of words at the beginning of lines of verse and the first letters of last words on the same lines of verse spell out the title/topic or complements the theme of the poem. The poem Felony is an example of this form.

The content of all forms of acrostized poetry should tell something about the encrypted message. It should convey praise on people, cities, objects, events, and so on.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Setting the Record Straight


On my initial visit to North Island, New Zealand I was overwhelmed in an awesome way with the luxuriant bush all around. The beauty of the mountain ranges kept my ever roving eyes spell-bound. The gorgeous trees of enormous height, straighter than any arrow caught my attention. Obviously, if only to me, my geography lessons from high-school days about mountains, rivers, and the rainforest flooded my memory. My brain was on a forward drive up-dating with what I was experiencing as I drove from Auckland to Whangarei.

On all sides the traffic flowed. Trucks loaded with fresh kumara. I love kumara. Why of course, I always love sweet potato which in Maori means kumara. I was told that before European arrival in New Zealand, carbohydrates were hard to find. Maori placed great value on the kumara, a sweet potato they had brought from Polynesia. The remains of their early gardens and storage pits can still be seen around the country. Minutes after the bin-truck passed with loads of kumara an eighteen wheeler loaded with logs passed by; and boy oh boy what a racket it






Link







made. Quite naturally my queries focused on the logs on the truck that passed us by. We talked about the native trees in New Zealand. However, inquisitively I asked from what trees do you supposed those logs were cut? Most probably from the pinus radiata. The pinus radiata is the most common pine found in New Zealand. Why is that came my next question. This somewhat simple question spurred on a more detail account of the coniferous trees that grow in North Island, New Zealand.

I learned from this conversation that North Island contains significant areas of New Zealand's exotic forest, mainly of the pinus radiata. Other pines such as the pinus nigra, pinus ponderosa, pinus contorta, pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir), larix decidua are found as well. Mention was made of other pines of lesser importance of which five types were mentioned. Somehow I remembered one of them, the picea from the family of spruces. The pinus radiata growing in New Zealand produces abundant seed, and seedlings. These seedlings are easy to raise, transplanting of them is easy and they grow rapidly were reasons cited for why the pinus radiata is chief among Kiwi pine plantations.

I was fascinated and still is, by the coniferous trees that grown in North Island, New Zealand. Quite rightly so, having lived the greater part of my years on a little coral island, as flat as a pancake in the tropical zone of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Diaspora . Can you imagine a pine tree with six names. If I had six names I would be considered a nut , lol. Well this pine tree is called a monterey pine, insignis pine, radiata pine, cambria pine, guadalupe island pine, cedros island pine. I guessed tree scientist stopped this nonsense and christened it with the name pinus radiata, lol. Kiwis have retained two names for it, pinus radiata and monterey pine. Kiwis in North Island prefer the name pinus radiata. Kiwis in South Island refer to it as the monterey pine.

The monterey pine wood is light, soft and coarse. In the USA it is used for firewood. In other parts of the world it is used for general construction, flooring, furniture, joinery, plywood, reconstituted panel products and paper. When treated with preservatives it can be used for siding, decking, external trim, poles, fencing and railroad ties, just to mention a few.

There are many reasons why in New Zealand, the trees are protected with a vengeance. I read in a leading Kiwi newspaper about a Chinese who was fined $5 000 for cutting down a pohutukawa tree to make way for his driveway without the necessary Council's approval. In addition to the fine he had to replant a new potukawa tree in its space. Trees of all kinds and especially native trees are given great respect in New Zealand. My favourite native trees are the Kauri and Pohutukawa for they tell great stories.

No, no, not at all. The notion of Bobbittised insinuation never popped into my mind when I penned the Sapphic tree poem, "Pinus Under Attack Not Really" with Adonics rhyming abbc. My mind was zeroed in on trees, forestry and environmental issues New Zealanders grapple with daily. Sub-consciously perhaps my mind locked on to my using the Sapphic verse with Adonics for the poem. However, the real motivation came from a photo posted by Robb Kloss, an environment enthusiast. His spiritual place is the Ruahine Ranges in New Zealand.

The Sapphic structure of the poem celebrates the artistry of the Greek lyric poet, Sappho whose birthplace was on the island of Lesbos. This type of poem is structured with lines of eleven syllables in five feet. The arrangement for the five feet in the verses is shown below.

The first, fourth and fifth are trochees (/V)
The third a spondee (//)
The second a dactyl (/VV)

The sapphic strophe consists of three Sapphic verses followed by an Adonic.

The strophe in modern poetry is a stanza or rhythmic system made p of two or more verses arranged as a unit.

Adonic refers to a verse consisting of a dactyl (/VV) followed by a spondee (//) or trochee (/V). It is believed to be named because of its use in songs during the Adonia. The Adonia was an ancient festival in honour of Adonis. "Pinus Attack Not Really" is my first attempt at writing a sapphic poem with Adonics. Click on the title to read the poem. Please post your comments.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Afghanistan Mountains Of Our Minds
























By Bob McKerrow
Review by Patricia Hendy (aka Paterika Hengreaves)

I have travelled to many far away places. Never to Afghanistan but a New Zealander who is a mountaineer, polar traveler, family man, humanitarian, kayaker, skier, Head of Delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Indonesia, writer and poet through his book made me feel as though I was there with him in Afghanistan In 1976 amid the suffering of the people from the great devastation of an earthquake and then lingering with him on his return to Afghanistan for three years in a time-capsule of 1993 to 1996. A period punctuated by grave destruction to the lives of those mountain people caused by the invasion of the Russian Army that occupied the country for nine years.

In his book, Bob reminisces through his poetic eyes. He draws you into his mind by sharing so eloquently and in an elevated style his experiences of the destruction, sufferings of the mountain people caused by natural and man-made calamities and how the Afghans went about their daily lives picking up the pieces tempered with their undying love of their mountains and their cultural roots, shaped and hardened in every way by their natural environment; that to many outsiders such would seem to border on the fringe of modern civilization as westerners know it. I loved the feeling I got when I was transported back in time, not by gory pictures or sound-bytes that make media headlines but rather through the muse, that for centuries has shaped minds of these mountain people. The main theme of the book draws contrast of a once peaceful country where people were living in harmony with their mountain lands. It highlights the indomitable spirit and tenacity of the Afghans and to chronicle the tragedy and beauty from real journeys into their mountains through a medium the Afghans have used throughout their existence.

Here are some more reasons why I like this book. The order in which I tell you does not place on them any degrees of which is more importance than the other. Anyway, here it goes:

I don't get the feeling that I'm served with cooked-up stories. This comes from the authentic imagery I get from reading the contents of the book. The imagery flashes the doings of real people, in my mind's eye, interacting with various circumstances in their immediate surroundings. I cite just two of the many examples in the book as listed below:

(1)

Whisper wind, whisper higher
Over mosaic dome and silver spire
Blow on in a peaceful hush,
Don't disturb the Hindu Kush...


(2)

You pass my door
As bombs fall
Scuffing leaves
You've lost all

Everything in one bag
Plastic, once leather
You walk with dignity
In worsening weather

I reach for the handle
To let you in
A tank track rattles
Your body thin

Your husband was shot
Three children blown apart
I want to say sorry
But my throats parched

How do I say sorry
When I'm riddled with guilt
We supplied the weapons
For the blood that's spilt

I try to tell my friends
What you've been through
They read and say little
It's too remote to be true

So come inside
And share my food
The whole world's stuffed
Except me and you.


I like the way the book is presented. I like his style of writing. It is soft and gentle on a flowing cadence and yet forceful. It is not threatening in any way but comes across as a genuine fire-side chat as he skillfully takes me with him down memory-lane and having the courtesy to introduce me to his many friends among them Dr Abdul Samay Hamed, Ali Haider Waheed Warasta, Alberto Cairo, Nancy Dupree, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Masood Khalili and Steve Masty that have played key roles in getting him to this point…sharing wisdom about a country vastly misunderstood. His poetry stands tall, for a linear approach would not have done the job well, for key elements that feed on soul of the Afghan people would have been overlooked. Wise decision to evoke the muse in this regard.

I like the way the book cleverly draws my attention to cultural and creative minds of the people of Afghanistan that match their love of the mountains in a poetic ensemble throughout the 125 pages. This one such instance rolls off my tongue with sweet-raspberry taste tantalizingly beautiful:

Drink wine in the citadel of Kabul
Send round the cup without stopping,
For it is at once a mountain,
A sea, a town, a desert

Found on Babur's citadel in Kabul tells how the great Mogul ruler love the city of Kabul and the mountains of Afghanistan. Clearly the books alludes to the fact that poetry runs deep in the DNA of the people of Afghanistan. Their historical roots are revealed as well.

The larger theme of the book is about how the mountains shape the people, people shape the mountains. They dominate the landscape of Afghanistan and these massive ramparts have shaped the lives, culture and the minds of the Afghan people for thousands of years.

Thus, the book gives authentic proof of how their natural environment influences their lives, culture and their aspirations. I get the sense of how one can go about bridging the cultural divide that seems to separate the east from the west. Take this instance cited in the book for what it is worth, young soldiers armed to the teeth, but keen to share their poems composed between periods of transient calmness.

The main theme and sub-theme of the book are captured alluringly in the well crafted quatrains full of tone, texture in streams of rhythm and rhymes that not only reflect sadness, joy, longing, anguish, desperations, hope, love and of course, romance that mirror the essence and spirit of these mountain people. And here, I quote you yet another extract from the book, "Acorn and the Horse" . The imagery I get from it is that of romance that bloomed in a war-torn country in the region of Turkmenistan and it is painfully beautiful. I get the feeling too that the voice in this book found his beautiful mountain flower. I have emboldened those lines that have led me to draw that conclusion. Here it goes:

An acorn plucked from a dry dusty tree
Has no meaning really
But in the crumbling mountains
Separating Turkmenistan from Iran
Symbolism is strong as blood
Now in the hand of a Kazakh women
Whose ancestors have ruled the steppes since
Chenghis galloped through with his hordes

As we strode towards the mountain stream
Shoulder to shoulder

Kazakh, Uzbek, Russian, Afghan Turkmen and Scot
Blood meant nothing at that moment
But it has been spilt for centuries
Across this very stretch of land
Once Parthian, Persian, Mongol now Turkman
Like a green acorn, a brief oasis of peace

Two green acorns were casually passed
Symbolism of cultures apart
Yours is the horse, mine the oak and kauri
Spars for ships of the great oceans
Can I not give you something for yours?
Like bridle, whip or stirrup
When you ride east and I sail south
Conquering the wandering white horses


I'm glad I read this book. It has erased my negative attitude to that part of the world through my own lack of understanding of their cultural heritage. And from reading this book which came to my home on January 2009, my sixth sense tells me that no conquering nation will ever drive these Afghan people from their lands and mountains they love, their poetry handed down to them through time in memorial. The metaphoric language in the book supports my contention and this is but one such example,

East is east and west is west
And never the twain shall meet
It was Kipling at his best
The words rang clear and deep


You don't have to be a connoisseur of poetry to find this book appealing. Also you'll find many useful gems sitting on the lines that can help one to reach into the minds of the Afghan people. The cultural route is the only way, in my opinion, to traverse their mountains, the book concurs.

This book, therefore, is a must read for all those brave men and women taking up base camps in Afghanistan. Trust me, you have to read the book to experience what I have experienced or even more; and to feel its full impact on your mind, for no amount of my words will suffice.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Historical Underpinning of Valentine's Day

According to British history which I find never boring to say the least, Henry V was one of the great warrior kings of medieval England. He was very much loved by his subjects. He was born September 16, 1387 so his astrological sign placed him at Virgo. His father was King Henry IV (Bolingbroke) and Mary Bohun, daughter of the Earl of Hereford was his mother. He was their eldest son.

The Prince of Wales, for that was his title before he became King Henry V, fought many wars successfully. He was adept with the bow and arrow. He became King of England at the tender age of 26 years precisely in the year 1413. However, he was very experienced in raging and fighting wars from a very early age. His expansionist ideas moved him into recapturing the lands in France held by his ancestors and laid claim to the French throne. His fame skyrocketed with his victory against the French at the Battle of Agincourt, a chapter in his life immortalized in Shakespeare's play. This battle led the French into agreeing to the Treaty of Troyes in May 1420. Thus, he was recognized as heir to the French throne and he married Catherine, the daughter of the French king, Charles VI of France. This marriage was an important part of the alliance agreed to with the Burgundians, culminating in the Treaty of Troyes which recognized King Henry V as heir to the French Throne. King Henry V returned to England with Catherine after a period of three and a half years, the time frame was February 1421. In June he returned to France and died suddenly on 31 August 1422. His nine month old son succeeded him as King Henry VI. John Lydgate continued his close association with the new King of England, Henry VI.

Now let's back peddle a bit here. Before the Prince of Wales ascended to the throne of England he met John Lydgate who studied at Gloucester College, the Benedictine house at Oxford. The Prince of Wales recognized Lydgate's potential as a Lancastrian propagandist . Before he became King Henry V a year later, in 1412 he commissioned John Lydgate to work on his "Troy Book" (1412-1420). It was a translation and expansion of "Guido delle Colonne' Historia destructionis Troiae". This was the Prince of Wales' way of ensuring that the great epic about the Trojan War would live on as it were in "oure tonge". By literary circles, the "Troy Book" is rarely viewed as an epic , per se, but rather a collection of information about the political and moral counsel laced with mythical thought that linked England with Troy. Lydgate's poetic structure has some semblance of the Chaucerian iambic pentameter verses, but varied in some cases by Lydgate's improvised poetic devices as the structure demanded. John Lydgate who was in addition to being a writer, poet, translator was a Benedictine monk and rose to the rank of a Benedictine Priest. He was educated at the Benedictine Monastery of Bury St. Edmund's. The archives shows the year of his birth at 1370 but I'm hard pressed to find the months of his birth and death. However, the records do show that he died in 1451.

Essentially one could not be wrong in saying that King Henry V looked upon John Lydgate as his Poet Laureate. Why, we have the historical framework that shows King Henry V employed him to be his writer, translator and poet. John Lydgate was a prolific poet and wrote many love poems. Hence, it would be no fallacy in believing that Prince of Wales soon to be King Henry V of England instructed Lydgate to write for him love letters, poems and notes. Throughout the time he was engaged in wars with France and courting Catherine Valois, the daughter of the French King, Charles VI it is purported that he instructed John Lydgate to write a love note and send it to her on Valentine's Day. One might well say that this act of King Henry V triggered the practice of sending love notes to friends and loved ones on February 14, handed down from medieval times and still persists in the 21st Century. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.

Well as I prepare this blog, it is Saturday, February 7, 2009 and Valentine's Day is seven days away. Even though it is not a public holiday in Barbados that does not diminish its impact on the general activities of all Barbadians. Barbadians of all walks of life relish Valentine's Day. Barbados was once a British colony so whatever transpired in England found its way to our shores. And being called "Little England" said it all. Traditions handed down from England still hold true even though Barbados looks after its own affairs since 1966. With that said, in England, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. Then, by the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged - so typical of the Victorian Era. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings.

So yes, Barbadians are gearing up for this day of love and romance; romance for the fortunate, I'm smiling. Students across the island are busy preparing their valentines to be distributed to shut-ins on Valentine's Day along with the many red roses they will be handing out. Schools do have their Valentine's Day project well organized. Across the island stores are well stocked with all types of candy, chocolates, red roses and gifts for all types of shoppers for their various valentines. There are many valentine fetes organized by various social groups, religious organizations, individuals and lovers, all in the name of Saint Valentine. The question that comes to mind is this. Who is this mysterious Saint and why do we celebrate this holiday. History does not give any guarantee as to the origin of Valentine's Day. There is the consensus though, that the history of Valentine's Day and its patron Saint - is shrouded in mystery. What is known is that February has long been acclaimed the month of romance and goes back to a pagan festival known as Lupercalia.

In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleaned by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout the interior. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman funders Romulus and Remus. The festival got on its way when members of the luperci, an order of Roman priests, gathered at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome were believed to have been cared for by lupa, a she-wolf. The priests sacrificed a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. The boys sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently they slapped both women and fields of crops with the goat-hide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. The legend goes on to say that later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial which probably occurred around 270 A.D, others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'Christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival.

Now the puzzling questions in your mind perhaps are these. Who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? We do know though, that even today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus all of whom were martyred. However, we are again left with a number of legends. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men--his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Another legend would have it that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

This other legend about Valentine is my favourite. According to this legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl--who may have been his jailer's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and , most importantly, romantic icon. It is perhaps no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular Saints in England and France.

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Haiti Under Rubble from 7.0 Earthquake

Natural disasters whenever and wherever they occur impact on all of our lives. The Good Book says we are our brothers and sisters keepers lead by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we must do our part when disaster shows its ugly face. Any assistance, great or small, given from generous and loving hearts has equal weight. I'm passing on this information I received that Barbadians can go to First Caribbean Bank to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti. The banking information is shown below:

First Caribbean Bank Account--2645374-- Cheques can be written to: HELP #2645374

For more information click on this link

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti.

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