Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: bob ronald
Friday, 25 February 2011 11:38

老外看花博:驚喜連連花博之旅

2010年12月底我去參觀台北花博,度過了一段美好的時光——之所以說「美好」有好幾個原因,請容我仔細說明。當時我未婚妻的爸媽從澳洲來台灣玩,她爸爸是專業園藝師,非常喜歡花草樹木,對新的農業技術如「樸門」(permaculture)(註)等也很感興趣。很幸運的,他們來台時剛好遇上花博這場盛事(雖然要錯過也很難,因為展期長達近六個月之久)。


Thursday, 30 December 2010 18:42

"I have no hang-ups"

I never met Robert Ronald S.J. The first time I stepped into the old eRenlai offices was several months after he had passed from this ephemeral world. Yet as I came for an internship I was also somewhat blindly stepping into his shoes.


Thursday, 30 December 2010 11:27

Challenged but not disabled


I met Fr. Bob Ronald when I started to work at eRenlai in 2007. I was then the network animator of the website and he was our English editor. Although we shared the same office and we were seeing each other everyday, I realised only after his passing that I had just begun to know him.

Monday, 27 December 2010 18:13

Do you know who you are or what you are? Does it matter?

'Everyone's favorite subject is themselves' so goes the saying. Yet, there is an incredible body of literature from religious figures, social scientists, psychoanalysts, mystics and writers on how to view ones own self and others.


Friday, 24 December 2010 15:17

My first 75 years: looking ahead

The time for looking back is also an opportunity for looking forward because there is still an uncertain number of years ahead of me yet to come.


Monday, 18 May 2009 23:54

白馬王子的心意(下)

難以分辨的愛情
但另有一個大問題使白馬王子的生活變得更加複雜,也使他沒有更進一步追求妙芮。

他在自己的真實生活裡,開始與威廉的妹妹瑪格莉特有比較多的相處時間,並且對她發展出和對妙芮相似的情愫,這使他陷入了兩難。他的心和頭腦迷惑了。它們不會說謊,卻也沒有一個可以清楚告訴他哪一邊才是真愛。

白馬王子並不知道妙芮和瑪格莉特其實是同一個人。其實,威廉告訴自己的妹妹王子巧扮混入民間的事,並且要她也同樣喬裝改扮去結識王子。


意外的插曲
這個計畫看起來頗為成功,因為白馬王子每次見到這這兩個她當中的一個,情感都更加增長。但威廉和妹妹卻沒有想到,白馬王子認為自己同時愛上了兩個人,所以對其中一個的愛意,同時也抵銷了對另一個人的情感。

如果白馬王子發現事情背後的真相又會如何呢?這個計謀被拆穿之後,這段感情會就此熄滅,還是更加穩固?這一點我們永遠無法得知了,因為,就在這個緊要關頭,一個意外因素在這道習題裡插了一腳。

在這一段時間裡,國王和大臣們還在持續為王子尋覓對象,而且經常派王子造訪別的宮廷或城堡,與可能的人選見面。就在這其中的一次旅途中,王子和隨行人員經過等待拯救的白雪公主所在之處。


愛上已逝之人
白馬王子發現她的美貌,深為憐憫所動,但他並沒有親吻白雪公主,只帶走了對這美麗容顏的回憶。那次回程途中,王子執意再去探望白雪公主,這次確實情苗暗茁,但王子卻把這感情和他對妙芮及瑪格莉特的感情混在一起了。

隨著時間的流逝,白馬王子對白雪公主的感情已發展成真愛,「但是愛上一個已逝之人又能怎樣呢?」白馬王子心中這麼想著,「我們雖然無法結婚,但至少我能夠坦承我對她的愛,並將這份愛好好珍藏。我將與她吻別,此後將能無拘無束的面對未來的愛情。」

於是白馬王子便這麼做了。然而他預想中結束一切的一吻,卻解除了白雪公主身上的魔咒,讓她重回人間。從此以後他們便過著幸福快樂的日子,全國上下也開始喜歡上他們的新王后。

這當中只有妙芮(瑪格莉特)幾乎無法克服這樣的震撼,不過最後她還是和一個很好的人結了婚,從此以後過著幸福快樂的日子。



翻譯/林春妙 繪圖/那瓜


本文亦見於2009年6月號《人籟論辨月刊》

2009_06想閱讀本期更多精采文章,請購買本期雜誌!

您可以選擇紙本版PDF版

海外讀者如欲選購,請在此查詢(訂閱全年份



Monday, 18 May 2009 00:00

白馬王子的心意(上)

破除魔咒的男子
很久很久以前的古老日子裡,世上還有著許多不懷好意的女巫和好心的教母,生活經常被魔法和咒語搞得一團糟。

就拿白雪公主當例子吧,她是毒蘋果的受害人,只能一動也不動的躺在透明的玻璃棺裡,直到多年以後,一名英勇的男子對她一見鍾情,給了她破除魔咒的一吻,從此才過著幸福快樂的日子。

白馬王子就是這名幸運男子,命中注定要破除魔咒,從此過著幸福快樂的日子。



黃金單身漢的宣言
然而我們的故事開始時,白馬王子(在他繼承王位之前,朋友們都這麼叫他)卻從來沒有聽說過白雪公主,也渾然不知他終將成為解救公主的那個重要角色,他只是成天享受奢華和特權,坐擁快樂的人生。因為他十分迷人,身邊總是圍繞著許多朋友,其中女性又特別多。

他是受萬民愛戴的國王之子,無論走到哪裡都受人無比尊崇。有無數的公主、貴族仕女和平民追求這位王儲,大家都渴望有朝一日成為他的王后。他既是個黃金單身漢,又是這片土地的下一任國王,自然也成為父母和朝臣最關切也最頭痛的問題。

大臣們全都致力為他尋求合適的婚配,希望他的婚事能夠帶來最大的政治利益,然而王子本人卻讓這問題雪上加霜——他竟公開宣稱絕不會和一個自己不愛的人結婚,也絕不會娶一個只出於政治考量而要與他結婚的人。


相信自己的直覺
奈森和威廉是白馬王子的摯友,三人經常熱切討論如何尋得真愛、又要如何分辨真愛與虛情或迷戀之間的不同,而他們的結論是:人心絕對不會說謊,只要相信自己的頭腦和心地就好了。就是基於這個忠告,白馬王子好幾次在即將陷入情網時懸崖勒馬,因為他感覺到自己直覺的警告。

最近也有這樣的事例——他對奈森的妹妹雪莉好感與日俱增,但正當一切看來都很順利,他卻留意到一些蛛絲馬跡,看出雪莉其實另有意中人。這樣的發展讓威廉很開心,因為他一直希望白馬王子能和自己的妹妹瑪格莉特結婚。


王子的偽裝
他們三人也經常討論白馬王子的人緣、財富和權力的影響。如果白馬王子偽裝出遊,以醜馬王子或無馬王子的形象出現,又會發生什麼事情呢?如果還是有人愛上他,那麼就一定不是看中他的權力或地位了吧。

因此他們決定,每個禮拜有三天,白馬王子要以無馬王子的形象混入一般民眾。這經驗帶給王子很大的啟示。

他以前從來沒有和平民百姓有過那麼多接觸,人們的智慧和關懷所具有的深度也另他印象深刻。他於是決定,當了國王以後,一定要和人民多所交流,傾聽他們的心聲。

不過白馬王子並沒有發展出什麼羅曼史,這到不是因為平民百姓不夠浪漫,而是因為他遇到的大部分人都已經尋得另一半了。直到有一天,白馬王子在酒吧裡遇上妙芮,兩人一見如故。不久後,每次他喬裝出遊都會到鎮上去找妙芮。



翻譯/林春妙 繪圖/那瓜


本文亦見於2009年6月號《人籟論辨月刊》

2009_06想閱讀本期更多精采文章,請購買本期雜誌!

您可以選擇紙本版PDF版

海外讀者如欲選購,請在此查詢(訂閱全年份


 

 

Monday, 18 May 2009 22:49

婦人與驢子(上)

著名的寓言故事作家伊索(Aesop)講過一個故事,說兩千五百年前,曾有一隻驢子跟主人鬥智,最後卻被主人給打敗。伊索只在小亞細亞旅行、播講智慧,所以他大概不知道那頭驢子後來又和主人鬥智而鬥贏的故事。


伊索的故事
伊索說的故事是這樣的:

有個很窮的商人靠著運送鹽巴勉強糊口。他有一隻叫做傑夫的驢子,而他總是把鹽巴一袋一袋的堆在傑夫背上。起先傑夫並不介意鹽巴的重量,但是他的主人越來越貪心,想要賺更多錢,不斷增加鹽巴袋,到後來傑夫幾乎走不動了。

他們慣走的路要越過一條小溪,只有一排很窄的石頭勉強可以充當渡橋。有一天,傑夫因為背上的鹽巴實在太重,腳步踉蹡的掉進河裡。河水很冰涼清爽,不用站著背負那麼多重擔的感覺又真是太好了,因此傑夫沒有馬上站起來,只是躺在那裡享受片刻的喘息,等到他站起來的時候,他發現有不少鹽巴已經溶在水裡,背上的重量輕了許多。

傑夫不是笨驢,他記得這件事,於是下一次再背著鹽巴經過小溪的時候,他又掉了進去。但傑夫的主人也不是笨蛋,之後一次運貨時,他裝在袋子裡的就不是鹽巴,而是海綿。這次傑夫又故意掉進溪裡,當他再站起來時,海綿吸飽了水,背上的擔子變得非常沉重。

伊索的故事就講到這裡。


傑夫的新主人
傑夫的主人不確定接下來該怎麼做。他已經連損三次利潤了,經不起再損失第四次,他必須減輕貨物的重量,或是買隻比較強壯的驢子。然而這個問題很快就被傑夫解決了,因為他心裡明白,這把戲已經不靈了,他只能聽主人的話,乖乖的背鹽巴,不然就得逃走。最後他選擇了逃走。這個商人於是改用傑夫的弟弟班來接任這項工作。

而傑夫呢,他逃走以後,背上的海綿一路都在滴水。後來他遇見一個婦人,肩膀上擔著一根棒子,上面掛著兩個大水桶。她看到滴著水的傑夫沒有主人跟著,於是知道自己遇上了大好機會,不用去小溪就可以把水桶裝滿。

她把傑夫背上的袋子打開,把水擠到桶裡,然後轉頭回家。傑夫尾隨著她回家,她給傑夫東西吃,當天晚上,傑夫就在她的院子過夜。隔天早上,這婦人看到傑夫仍然在那裡,於是帶著傑夫到小溪邊,把海綿浸濕,然後領著傑夫回家,再把水擠到水桶裡。她非常高興不用挑擔子就有水,而傑夫也很高興可以吃得很好,於是決定要留下來。


翻譯/寧默 繪圖/笨篤


本文亦見於2009年6月號《人籟論辨月刊》

2009_06想閱讀本期更多精采文章,請購買本期雜誌!

您可以選擇紙本版PDF版

海外讀者如欲選購,請在此查詢(訂閱全年份



Thursday, 29 May 2008 00:00

Take time for discernment and followup

One of the dramatic scenes in the Christian New Testament in the Acts of the Apostles is the healing of a crippled beggar by Peter and John. The poor man, disabled since birth, was carried every day to sit by a gate of the temple where he could beg alms from passersby. Seeing the two apostles approaching he extended his hands hoping for a coin or two, but instead of receiving money which they did not have, he is told to get up and walk and he does so leaping and dancing for joy at his good fortune. It is a double miracle, the crippling condition suddenly disappears and this man who never in his life had stood up or walked can suddenly prance about like a seasoned performer.

The two apostles must have gone home very pleased with themselves for the good deed they had performed in God’s name. I wonder if they ever gave a thought or felt any concern for all the troubles that lay ahead for the beggar they had cured. Think of it: all of his life he had sat on the ground or lain on a litter; he had grown up without most of the social encounters that had formed his brothers and sisters. When he first went about after his cure full of curiosity and eagerness he must have seemed like a country bumpkin entering the synagogue for the first time or trying to make friends. He would have to learn from scratch the simple etiquette of eating at table or proper social behavior, how to interact with strangers, officials and friends. He might not even have known how to use whatever toilet or bathing facilities used by non-disabled folks in those days.

All those kind of difficulties were only temporary, of course, and would pass in time, but a more serious problem lay ahead. His family must have been overjoyed at first when he came running home cured, but that would have turned to dismay when they realized they no longer would have the small but steady income from the alms he collected. And now that he could stand up straight, he was in urgent need of a new set of clothes they could ill afford. He had no education and no marketable skill. Would he have to go back to begging for alms or would some relative or friend take him in hand and teach him something that would enable him to work for a living? Or would his family kick him out forcing him to search for some Christian community that would let him in?

I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I hope and presume like the apostles that the miracle was the beginning of a better life. The point of my remarks is not about the apostles at all. They were sure that the miracle would be a blessing and for all we know, they might even have followed up sending some Christian to see how the man was now doing or to take him in hand. My point is, what are we doing? Do we discern first what possible effects our actions might have on the lives of others or do we just act on impulse scattering our favors whenever we can?

I am thinking of the time I was sitting in my wheelchair at a street corner waiting to be picked up by a friend, when a would be good Samaritan seeing me there, grabbed my wheelchair and pushed me across the street, leaving me there without a word, going off, no doubt, proud that he had just done his good deed for the day, while there I was having to find someone else to push me back across the street to my arranged place of rendezvous. Another time I had just come out of an elevator and found myself being pushed madly at high speed down a corridor and left there in the lobby near the front door of the hospital where I worked. My destination had been the dining room in the opposite direction.

There are lots of stories in fact and fiction of how the unexpected windfall of suddenly receiving a million dollars leads to a happy ending for some and to ruin for others. I guess that what I am trying to say by bringing up the story of the cured beggar is that next time you give away a million dollars or bestow some favor on someone you consider first what effects it might have on that person’s life. And it would be a very good idea to follow up what happens so you can intervene if things start to turn sour.

Most people would agree that morality is concerned with right and wrong. Do what is good and avoid what is evil. A person is good if he/she does what he/she believes is morally good and avoids what he/she believes is morally wrong. A person is bad if he/she does what he/she believes is morally wrong. Is a person still good if he/she does something morally wrong thinking it is morally justified? Is a person still bad if he/she does something morally wrong thinking it is morally right?
 

Friday, 28 March 2008 00:00

A Matter of Poetry

Bob Ronald rhymes and Benoit Vermander's poems

A rhymer like myself finds beauty and harmony in the sounds and rhythms of words which he or she crafts into written melodies ready for recitation and enjoyment. There is a message hidden in the rhyme, but it was born giving life and purpose to the composition and versification.

A poet like Benoit Vermander, on the other hand, sees first the beauty and harmony in some insight and transforms it into a moving, stimulating expression of truth that we ordinary mortals have probably overlooked or did not appreciate. An eye on the world has been offered us without which we would go through life oblivious of the realms and the meanings deep down things. Sometimes the poet also instills the composition with rhythm and rhyme, making it even more striking.



Here are some examples. First some rhymes of my own.

The Way To Bounce

The adage is that
When falling, a cat
Will land on its feet.
No way that I can.
I’m only a man.
I’d land on my seat.

It’s the way that you bounce
Not the landing that counts.
If still you can stand
Right after you fall,
Not hurting at all,
Then the landing was grand.


Sky’s Secret

I look at sky
And wonder why
It doesn’t fall.
I know a lot,
But God I’m not.
My mind is small.
I know a bit
How some things fit.
I don’t know all.

I wish I knew
What makes sky blue.
I don’t know yet.
So much to know
Where does time go?
I mustn’t fret.

It’s not God’s plan
That people can
Become so wise
That they can find
What’s on His mind
Or in his eyes.

There’ll be no quiz
About what is
Or how or when.
But when I rest
From all my quest,
I’ll know all then.

Do what I ought.
It’s not my thought
That makes me true.
Just do my best,
I’ll pass the test
When life is through.

Every Second Needs A First

No fruit at the top
Is found on a crop
With nothing below.
Before that, indeed,
There must be good seed
To make it all grow.

The way to be bolder
Is stand on the shoulder
Of someone who’s already bold.
You’ll only be taller,
If once you were smaller.
For only the golden are gold.

No letter, no mail.
There’s only a sale
If something is sold.
No moisture, no hail.
There’s only a tale
If a story is told.

Numbers

Two plus two
Is quite a few.
Four plus four
Is twice as more.
Six plus six,
You’re in a fix,
For two hands then
Make only ten.
The proper sum
From toes must come.

The range of numbers has no end,
What each one means you cannot bend.
And then to add to all your cares,
There’s plus and minus, roots and squares.
How much nicer would it be
If there were only one, two, three.

Those are my rhymes. Here are Benoit’s poems.

Ghosts and angels

I will not wait on the threshold.
I will wander into wet fields and ghost mountains
Until I lose my way.
I will then call for help,
Hoping for the coming of green and grey angels
Escorted by wild beasts which they tame
If no other mission requires them.

We will all stay in the incandescent shadow
That covers and burns these bounties,
Watching over the luxuriant desert
Where one’s path is found once it’s lost.


Pocket landscape

The soul - as misty
As the winter hills -
Lies down, and the breeze
Soon bares her chest.
Once clouds are gone
Where will be hiding
The soul, the soul just as misty
As are the mornings on the hills?


Moving away

Be the curve of my sight and the touch of my hand,
You, crest of the Southern mountains
That floats from one ocean to the next
With the easy melancholy only mastered
By things that don’t need to stand firm,
The things in which dwells the spirit
Who knows how to move volumes and lines
Till they picture music to the eyes and the breath
- The breath that moves along the crest
of the Southern mountains.


Not moving anymore

Trees and peaks go briskly on the road
As I stand still. The tunes they hum,
I perceive them only vaguely, such is the speed.
The birds are at pain to follow, and finally decide
To gather around the salty dream I have become.
Fruits fallen on the way nourish me, and fonts
Born in my throat flow down towards the roots
Of the ground that transfixes me.


Speak low

A night as blue as a bird’s tail
Speaks low to the ear of the leaves,
Telling of immensurable spaces that are buried
- So says the night - into the cells,
the sand and the foam.

There is a well that collects the white secrets
The night is breathing away,
A well as deep as the palm and the pupil.

Purple is the sound of the sea
When morning comes
– the sea that at dawn returns to the caves
The secrets sung low to the leaves.


The biggest difference between my verse and Benoit’s poems is that strip the rhyme and meter from mine and there is practically nothing left, whereas his thoughtful inspiration without any rhyme achieves its high level of meaning and emotion.

As rhymer, I hope the readers will get a kick out of my plays with sounds and words. As poet Benoit hopes that others will encounter the realty and feel the throbbing pulse throbbing beneath the surface trappings that camouflage what lies below.

Actually, I am more than just a rhymer. I also compose poems that I hope are more than grand sounding songs, as the following suggests:

Some are quite funny;
Some of them sad;
Some full of wonder;
Some of them glad.
Some are pretentious
And meant to impress,
In others I try
To plainly express
The feelings that I
Found deep in my heart.
And sometimes depart
From meter and rhyme
To echo and show
The ebb and the flow
Of my mood at the time.

 

 

Published in
Focus: Poetry and Song

Saturday, 08 December 2007 00:00

The Appeal of poetry

People express and communicate ideas and messages through language. Before the invention of alphabets and hieroglyphs and other symbolic ways of preserving and communicating, such as the pounding on hollow logs by African natives, the smoke signals of American Indians and pictographs drawn on cave walls, language was expressed only by gestures and spoken sounds. Nowadays we are bombarded not just by conversations, but by barrages of words spewing out of radios, TV sets, and phones and an endless array of newspapers, magazines and books. Some of these communications are mainly utilitarian, relating news events, imparting information, recording data, instructing, etc. Others are intended for pleasure or amusement, like stories, humor, drama, musical lyrics and finally poetry, which is what this is mostly about.
 
Written language is generally divided into “prose” and “poetry”. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “prose” as “ordinary speech or writing, without metrical structure.” It is the type of expression generally found in books and newspapers. Some prose, however, is considered to be “literature” in the sense of “imaginative or creative writing, especially of recognized artistic value (American Heritage Dictionary).” This kind of literature does more than just narrate facts. By its choice of words and the way it describes a scene or event, it portrays colors and evokes feelings and moods and brings out a wealth of subtle, hidden meanings between the words. It is a pleasant aesthetic experience.
 
Take for instance the famous first paragraph of Charles Dickens’ novel “A Tale of Two Cities”:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Contrast that with the way a journalist or reporter might have put it:

It was the year 1775. To some people everything was as good as it could get. To others things were as bad as ever. Those who had it good wanted nothing to change. Those who had it bad wanted to overthrow everything. There was hope on one side and despair on the other. Just like modern times it generated a lot of tension and uneasiness.
Both versions express more or less the same idea, but Dickens is much more graphic and sensitive and moving. The second one could serve as introduction to a book or article and who knows it might eventually receive a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, but ordinarily literature that is acclaimed artistically is full of color and vivid descriptions and feelings. The reader is left not just with a mass of detailed information, but a sense of pleasant aesthetic experience arising from images created by the writer’s choice and crafting of words.
Take another example, this time the first part of the first paragraph setting the scene for the first episode in the famous novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. An unimaginative writer might have begun like this:

Two men are sitting in a forest. The trees are so close to each other the sun’s rays barely pass through, but there are some open sections through which a person can easily see for some distance.

Contrast that with what the novelist wrote:
In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest, covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster. …

The sun was setting upon one of the rich grassy glades of that forest, … Hundreds of broad-headed, short-stemmed, wide-branched oaks, which had witnessed perhaps the stately march of the Roman soldiery, flung their gnarled arms over a thick carpet of the most delicious green sward; in some places they were intermingled with beeches, hollies, and copewood of various descriptions, so closely as totally to interrupt the level beams of the sinking sun; in others they receded from each other, forming those long sweeping vistas, in the intimacy of which the eye delights to lose itself, while imagination considers them as the paths to yet wilder scenes of sylvan solitude. Here the red rays of the sun shot a broken and discoloured light, that partially hug upon the shattered boughs and mossy trunks of the trees, and there they illuminated in brilliant patches the portions of turf to which they made their way. …

The human figures that completed this landscape, were in number two, partaking, in their dress and appearance, of that wild and rustic character, which belonged to the woodlands of the West-Riding of Yorkshire of that period.

Sir Walter’s description is much more vivid. A mood is created and we have details with which to create a mental picture of the scene.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “poetry” as “a piece of literature written in meter; verse”. There are several things that distinguish poetry from prose. Traditionally poems are written as a series of lines in each of which the words are arranged in more or less identical patterns of accented and unaccented syllables (the meter), which gives the poem a cadence when read aloud. The last words of each line are usually expected to rhyme. Another important thing that distinguishes poetry is its choice and use of words. To fit the meter, the order in which words are presented is often different from that in ordinary prose, but even more significantly, the words are often selected for the way they sound or they are given underlying meanings and nuances or evoke images that create a mood or symbolically express ideas about reality that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Poetic diction often uses verbal devices like assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia and rhythm, which often leave the poem deliberately vague, ambiguous, suggestive, mysterious, ironic, or symbolic.
The reader of a poem is not only entertained by the poet’s literary style, but is moved to see reality in a new light. As one expert put it (Polish historian of aesthetics Vladyslaw Tatarkiewicz in an article “The Concept of Poetry”, quoted in “Poetry,” Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia) poetry is “an art based on language” and “expresses a certain state of mind”. According to poet Archibald MacLeish (same source) “A poem should not mean / but be”.
Here are several examples illustrating the differences between prose and poetry. In the first, look at a brief observation someone might make about trees:
No poem is as nice as a tree, which rooted in the ground lifts its branches to the sky, alternately washed by rain or covered with snow. Sometimes birds build their nests in it. Anybody can write a poem, but only God makes trees.

That is all very true, but so dull and ordinary, no one will ever remember it or quote it. Not so the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

As a second example, look at what this person who is not a poet might have written in a letter to his mother:

I was walking along and came upon a lot of flowers on the edge of the lake under the trees. There were thousands of them blowing in the wind. It was a very pleasant sight that I recall with pleasure.

Contrast that with the poem “Daffodils” written by William Wordsworth:

I wander’d lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the Milky Way, They stretch’d in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Finally, here is how a rather dull preacher might express himself about man’s disregard for God’s creation:

Why don’t men recognize or heed the signs of God’s presence in the world like the flashes of lightning, the reflections of light or the properties of oil? Men are spoiling and destroying the world by the senseless ways they act. In spite of all this God continues to renew and bless nature with his loving care.

Compare this with the way that the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins says the same thing in his moving poem “God’s Grandeur”.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Not everyone appreciates poetry. Collections of poems seldom, if ever, rate high on bestseller lists. Many readers of fiction and non-fiction and subscribers to magazines that cater to special interests look down on poetry, consider poets as idyllic dreamers at best or soft and unmanly at worst. They lack the patience and the inclination to waste time on such pretension for playing around with words.
 
They don’t know what they are missing and have no desire to find out.
 
The earliest poetry that has survived to the present is the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamish from the 3rd century B.C. There were many epics in ancient times. The poetic form might have made them easier to remember and recite by storytellers. Since then poetry has evolved into many forms including free verse, that is, poems with lines of unequal length, no rhyming and sometimes no meter. Their emphasis is on expressing ideas in a poetic way. There are also examples of prose that are considered poetic because of the way the ideas are expressed in language similar in style or content to what is found in poems.
 
There are many kinds of poems. Some tell stories; some are meant to instruct; some are meant to convey the writer’s feelings or reflections about reality; some just use meter and rhyme as ways to entertain saying things that are clever or satiric or are whimsical or funny.


Thursday, 18 October 2007 23:19

Overcoming Handicaps

Which one of us has no handicap? Which one of us can say that he or she enjoys the full potential that nature has allotted to us? We all have to recognize limitations in what we can accomplish, and recognizing our limitations is part of the process of growing and maturing as a person.
 
At the same time, it is true that some of us are more severely impaired and that the rest of us recognize that these people are “handicapped”, that they cannot live a normal existence such as organized by social rules and conditions. Social progress is recognized by the way laws, regulations and norms take special care of handicapped, show respect for their special burden, provide them with special assistance and care. Of course, laws are not enough: sometimes, social conditions are very much advanced but overall coldness and indifference make handicapped people’s life hard. In other contexts, the law system may not be so developed, but family, friends and neighbors surround handicapped people with affection and comfort. Social protection and personal care must progress together!
 
This issue has for main feature the testimony of Bob Ronald. He is a special person in Taiwan, as he is established here since fifty years and has been instrumental in founding one of the prominent association dedicated to handicapped people, “Deshandicap.” Here he tells us his life story in simple and moving words, and reflects upon it with much wisdom and sense of humor. His testimony is furthered by the other interviews and features that we reproduce here.
 
The central point of our issue is very clear: by sharing stories about how they deal with their problems, handicapped people have much to tell us about ourselves: they tell us what are our difficulties and successes in dealing with other peoples; they help us to recognize our own handicaps and to accept them; they tell us how we can live life to the fullest within the limitations that are ours. They tell each of us and the society in general how to grow in humaneness.
For helping us in such a way, they deserve our admiration and gratitude. Or, to put it in a better way: when each one of us is honest about his or hew own handicaps as well as on his or her reasons for loving life , we have to mutually express one to another our admiration and our gratitude…

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