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Tag Archives Hitler

HINDSIGHT

From Moscow to London, Stockholm to Venice

the world froze at 10, 12, 15 below

for three months. Wine froze in bottles, cows in byres,

and wolves came down to villages scavenging.

Tree trunks shattered. Church bells once rung fractured.

Travellers crossed the Baltic on horse-back,

skaters glided under the Rialto.

 

The War of Spanish Succession was paused

for more clement weather – and regiments

of Swedish soldiers died in Russian blizzards,

ceding victory in the Great Northern War

to Peter the Great almost by default.

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OF VANITY

‘…a very stable genius…’

DONALD J. TRUMP, Tweet 6.1.18.

 

One of the prints hanging in my grandmother’s

bedroom was Waterhouse’s ‘Echo

and Narcissus’. In a bosky, rather

English landscape, Narcissus and Echo –

before he became a flower and she a sound –

lie and sit respectively: she entranced with him,

and he with himself in the slow brook.

 

As a boy I thought it a picture

of a good looking chap and a pretty girl

with water and lilies,

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ACHILLES’ HEELS

On the short strand where the Red Wharf Bay Sailing

and Water Sports Club has its clubhouse,

the salvaged HMS Thetis was grounded

the day Chamberlain declared war on Hitler.

 

The last human remains were slow marched,

with muffled drums, up the narrow, high banked lane.

For want of an escape drill and a pinhole

ninety nine men had died from carbon monoxide.

 

Raging Achilles, scion of the Greeks,

prince of the Myrmidons, slayer of Hector,

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TRIUMPH OF THE WILL

‘Half winged-half imprisoned, this is man!’
PEDAGOGICAL SKETCHBOOKS, Paul Klee, 1925

 

Cruising from Westminster to Greenwich, we passed
Tate Modern, the old Bankside power station –
art as regeneration. The current show
was ‘Paul Klee – Making Visible’. “Making
a fool of himself, more like!” called the captain
over the tannoy. There was much laughter
and some applause. The 02 Arena
and the Thames Barrier came into view –
two works of abstract art as engineering.
In the Royal Hospital’s Painted Hall
are Thornhill’s baroque maritime murals –

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CIVIL WARS

After the horsemen and the slaves, before
the Stalins and the Hitlers, were the skilful
cities – cosmopolitan, pragmatic,
loud and solemn with towers, spires, domes.

There are some who would reprise a fictive past,
revert from countries of convenience
to imaginary nations, ignore
the corrupting legacy of empire,
the corrupted remittance of colonies,
oil trumping Crusades and martyrdom.

Europe could break like a slate across old
fault lines – a slate smudged with alphabets.
Europe could rub out its history.

There are swastikas in Brick Lane and Berlin,

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SILENT POOL, MARCH 2013

The pool is off the Dorking-Guildford road,

at the foot of the North Downs; is fed

from a spring, which seeps through chalk and flint;

is so-called for allegedly no birds sing

in this glade of ash, oak and yew;

a place of legend, of Druidic worship,

rumoured deep enough to drown secrets.

A sharp March wind rattles twigs and branches.

 

By the side of a flint pathway – that leads

to the top of the Downs with its Pilgrims’ Way,

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MUSIC OF THE SPHERES

Curtains drawn against late October twilight,

working on verses about burgeoning flocks

of raucous, emerald Ring-necked Parakeets

in the Surrey Hills, I hear the murmur

of girls. It is Halloween. The bell rings.

There is a bevy of neighbours’ daughters –

one with a painted face, all on the cusp

of womanhood – lovely, ingenuous.

 

From habit, I watch them safely down the street

and then, before I shut the door, look up

at the night sky,

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ONLY ONE IN STEP

i

 

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is

somehow very ‘Thirties: lots of chaps in

the dark behind high walls; much shadow-play

with unidentifiable voices;

belated, blinding suddenness of light.

The decade’s putative worthies (who all,

by the way, seem to have been chaps) go forth

unknowingly in parallel: e.g.

Hitler in Berchtesgarten, Wittgenstein

(Adolf’s erstwhile peer from Linz) in Cambridge.

Did Wittgenstein walk with Blunt, Philby,

Burgess and Maclean as the fifth man?

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ONLY ONE IN STEP

 

 

 

 

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

 

 

 

 

 

i

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is

somehow very ‘Thirties: lots of chaps in

the dark behind high walls; much shadow-play

with unidentifiable voices;

belated, blinding suddenness of light.

The decade’s putative worthies (who all,

by the way, seem to have been chaps) go forth

unknowingly in parallel: e.g.

share

ONLY ONE IN STEP

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Plato's Allegory of the Cave


Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is

somehow very ‘Thirties: lots of chaps in

the dark behind high walls; much shadow-play

with unidentifiable voices;

belated, blinding suddenness of light.

The decade’s putative worthies (who all,

by the way, seem to have been chaps) go forth

unknowingly in parallel: e.g.

Hitler in Berchtesgarten, Wittgenstein

(Adolf’s erstwhile peer from Linz) in Cambridge.

Did Wittgenstein walk with Blunt, Philby,

share