Haiku: To Be English

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This desperation
The English generations
We’ve known nothing else

copyright Francis Barker 2019

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England’s Heritage: Peterborough Cathedral Part 1

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The west gate of Peterborough Cathedral.

Put simply, Peterborough Cathedral is one England’s best churches, though it is often not as well regarded as some others, like Lincoln, Ely and York.

This might be due in part to Lincoln’s prominent setting, Ely’s architectural distinctiveness and York’s admitted supreme grandeur.

Peterborough, by comparison, lies on the edge of the flat fens, yet in one of the primary areas of England for monastic development because of the remoteness of location. In its day, Peterborough Abbey was one of the most prominent in the whole of eastern England.

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The wonderful west front of Peterborough Cathedral, completed in the 13th century.

Originally the abbey church of Saint Peter’s Abbey, Peterborough, in the east of England, the present church was granted cathedral status (and thereby preserved) by Henry VIII, self appointed head of the Church of England, during the Reformation in the 1530s, which saw many former monastic buildings taken down and sold off. For this at least we should be grateful to England’s most notorious monarch.

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words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019

William Cecil, Statesman Supreme – Astrology Musings

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William Cecil (1520-1598) is perhaps the epitome of the true statesman. He was chief adviser, counsellor, Secretary of State, Lord High Treasurer and Lord Privy Seal under Queen Elizabeth I of England, her number one ‘go to’ man.

He could not be called a true politician in the modern sense of the word, but proceeded always with extreme caution and wisdom. Perhaps this is how he, and Elizabeth, usually avoided danger.

So what made him tick, astrologically speaking?

Caution and Diplomacy personified

I was not at all surprised to find that this very careful and deliberate man had Capricorn rising. Not only that, his ruling planet, Saturn, is found in Capricorn (its own sign) in house 1 (approach/personality), in good aspect to a Sun in Libra in house 10 (career) and also to Venus in Virgo (love of detail, method) in house 9 (higher mind).

So here we see a courteous, though cautious, calculating, highly responsible and dutiful person but with also a high degree of ambition, with the patience and prudence to reach the top, regardless of time. He did indeed reach the top, both politically and academically, being also a principal individual at Cambridge university.

Not only that, his Moon also in Libra in house 10 indicates his natural, innate sense of courtesy and diplomacy, put to good use in his career.

He would tend to see both sides of any argument to the nth degree and come the most reasoned, conservative solution possible, in an attempt not to offend anyone.

Courteous, Diplomatic… but tiresome?

I am quite sure that at times he would have come across as a tiresome person, and if Shakespeare is to be believed, where in the play ‘Hamlet’ the character of Polonius is thought by some to be a kind of caricature of Cecil, then the ‘tedium’ of his personality might have become quite legendary or notorious at Elizabeth’s court.

Saturn’s difficult aspect to Mercury in house 10 might have only added even more weight to the mental caution (fussiness), a primary trait of Polonius, exhibited throughout the play ‘Hamlet’.

His Moon is also square Mars in Cancer in house 7, indicating that diplomatic and marital affairs were often difficult and emotional to deal with and would have caused much emotional disturbance for him.

Very difficult, trying decisions

So if his well developed house 10 implies success in his political and diplomatic ambitions, Jupiter close to his midheaven puts the seal on this, aided by supportive aspects from Venus and Mars.

However, Jupiter is also closely opposed by Uranus hovering around the nadir (bottom angle) of the chart, indicating, I am sure, some of the horrific decisions and sudden changes he had to make working with his queen, namely dealing with the ups and downs regarding Mary Queen of Scots, her eventual execution, the Spanish Armada, and all the secrecy, intrigue and espionage involved throughout her tumultuous reign. His home and family life would also have been deeply affected.

Nevertheless, the good aspects from this tight opposition to Venus in Virgo in house 9, I am sure, would have led him to find an easy release of this tension and upheaval through greater involvement in his love of detail and efficiency, something in which he excelled.

*If you are interested in getting your own astrological report, or would like one created for a loved one or a friend, please contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

Poem: Chomolungma

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Only half an hour earlier
George had placed her picture on the summit,
as promised, then posed for the photograph,
the proof that they had made it,
exhausted, breathless,
though more overcome by the view,
that vast panorama, daunting and deadly.
Sandy had been certain he saw in George
the same chilling sense he felt, that this was
no place for Man.

It had caught up with them, quickly,
while they began the long descent.
George must have slipped.
Sandy had tried to hold the rope, to get some grip,
but his friend was gone before he knew it.
Even all those years rowing at Merton
didn’t give him the strength to hold on, for long,
the kinetic weight tearing at his muscles.
He crashed onto the slope and slid
until a rock severed his speed,
his chance of survival.
Fate had deemed this gully of shadows
was to be his grave.
The pain, though intense, was eased by
the creeping cold through his torn clothes.
Hadn’t George told him, be mindful
on the descent, of its dangers?
Only last night they’d talked
about Edward Whimper, conqueror
of the Matterhorn, how tragedy
struck on that other treacherous face.
But Sandy knew it was tales like these
that first fired up George, made him
into the man he was.

He thought of George’s wife, Ruth,
apologising to her for their predicament,
his broken body and his dwindling life,
the fact that he couldn’t make out her husband
anywhere in that eerie, receding light.
At least there was time to collect his thoughts,
acquaint himself with the Mother of the World,
as the Sherpas knew this place.
Sandy heard it said that they believed to die
peacefully, mindfully, was a good thing.
He asked that Chomolungma might bless
his migrating soul.

In memory of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine, who died on Mt. Everest, June 1924. Here I speculate what might have happened.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Tanka: By The Sea

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A few summer weeks
Punters head for crowded coasts
Overindulgence!
The sun, sea and sand play games
Make September quite daunting

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

The Proms: An Extraordinary British Tradition

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The Proms begin today, July 19, perhaps the quintessential British cultural event, held each year in several venues in London between July and September, though most notably at The Royal Albert Hall.

The word proms is in fact a shortening of the term Promenade Concerts, a cultural phenomena which had its origins in 18th century London, which took place in pleasure gardens where the spectators were allowed to move around the orchestras. The word promenade is a borrowing from the French language, meaning to walk.

Music for the masses

In the 19th century this style of concert moved indoors as well, leading eventually to the establishment of ‘The Proms’ on August 10 1895 at the Queens Hall, Langham Place by the well known impresario, Robert Newman.

The idea was to offer the experience of classical music to the general public, with lower ticket prices in an informal setting. It has to be said that the idea worked, with a comprehensive schedule of performances spanning over two months.

Too English?

However, the Proms do have their detractors. For instance, I have heard it said more than once that they are too English. Whilst there is certainly a great deal of flag waving, a cursory look at the famous ‘Last Night of the Proms’, will reveal flags from all over the world.

What is more, much time and energy has been put in to diversifying the content, with the inclusion of world music, as well as folk music from all over Great Britain and Ireland.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

Poem: ‘Dark’

Dark

Rook on the roadside straight ahead
you step aside casually
only just avoid my wheels.
Is that why I smile at the mirror
see you promptly step back
to continue to pick and prod
and pull at roadkill entrails
some straitjacket driver provides?
Like the crow, the raven, the jackdaw—
few are as bright as you, so dark
in colour and reputation

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019