The Deaths of Farzana Parveen and Maya Angelou

This week, the week that the famed poet and pioneer of women’s rights Maya Anjelou died, Farzana Parveen was stoned to death for marrying a man against her family’s wishes.   She was 25 and 3 months pregnant.  There is so much fear and suffering in the world, it seems that women are an easy target for vengeful hatred.  How much longer is going to take to let all women live in freedom, without fear?

Maya Anjelou wrote “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and brought tears and hope into the lives of thousands of oppressed people. At this low moment for women everywhere, her poem: Still I Rise encourages and restores us.  Maya Angelou had a glorious voice –  rich and full of music, you can hear joy, dispair and sadness intermingled.  Listen to her reciting her poem Still I Rise by clicking on her photo below.

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

RIP Farzana Parveen


The Great Dylan Thomas

Tom Hollander as Dylan Thomas in the recent television play A Poet in New York, portrayed the seeds of Dylan’s genius in the scenes at home with his mum and dad in Cwmdonkin Drive.  Young and fresh and vigorous.  Later with his own family in Laugharne, the magical seaside house where he wrote so much of his work, we saw his exultant happiness, tinged with the harness of practical living.  Tom Hollander captured the way Dylan wrote by speaking the words out loud before writing them down.  Spoken music.   Now on the Radio 4 Extra programme, “Quite Early One Morning” it’s such a joy to hear the real Dylan Thomas’s formidable rendition of his poetry.  Strong and clear. Not a vestige of a John Major drone. He uses his prodigious RP English accent to read words written with the musical Welsh rhythm lifting and thrusting forward.   The programme is a celebration of his genius.  What a tragedy that he died so young.  Not from drink as in A Poet in New York but from a fatal injection of morphine given when he already had pneumonia.  Thank you Tom Hollander for giving us such a fine performance as Dylan Thomas.  There were many layers of Dylan’s character left untouched in  A Poet in New York – script by Andrew Davies – but it was the dramatic cataclysmic end of Dylan’s life.  You can access Dylan speaking through the British Library site. The programmes celebrating Dylan Thomas are being aired at the moment on BBC Radio 4 Extra.  One more reason for paying the license fee  – it’s hard to imagine what adverts they’d play on Radio 4 Extra?  Kindles? Innocent smoothies?…well…perhaps…but that’s another blog.

Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas


From Noces / L’Eté by Albert Camus

“ I do not believe firmly enough in reason to subscribe to the idea of progress or some philosophy of history.  But at least I believe that men have not ceased to make progress in becoming aware of their own situation.  We have not risen above our human condition, but we understand it better.  We know that we are the victims of a dilemma; that we must refuse to accept it and do what is necessary to eradicate it.  Our task as men is to find some formulas to pacify the great anguish of human kind.  We must put together what has been torn apart; make justice a possibility in an obviously unjust world, render happiness meaningful to peoples poisoned by the suffering of our age.
(Do you know that over a period of twenty five years, between 1922 and 1947, 70 million Europeans – men, women and children – have been uprooted, departed and killed?)
This is of course a superhuman task, yet one simply calls “superhuman” those tasks which men take a very long time to accomplish”.

Albert Camus lived through childhood poverty, the first and second world wars and the Algerian war.  He embraced then rejected Communism, was an existentialist before becoming a humanist.  His writing encompasses the willingness for us to believe that the power of the spirit will always prevail over the power of the sword.

Albert Camus
Albert Camus