Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Apologise for Any Inconvenience, but


Due to factors beyond my control for the immediate future The Parrish Lantern, will be closed. I hope to at some point in the future to reopen this blog but at the moment I’m not sure when or in what way. Thanks to all that have been on this journey with me, and I hopefully will see you around this world of word & web in some presence or another.


All The Best



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Season’s Greetings to one & all.

Christmas Poems. 


Noël ~ Anne Porter

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows

We hear and sing
The customary carols

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common

But there are carols
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.


Anne Elizabeth born November 6, 1911, in Sherborn, Massachusetts, Ms. Porter grew up with a love of poetry. Her mother always read poems to her children, which “gave us the idea that poetry was perfectly natural,” Ms. Porter said in 2006. Before she could write or spell, her great-uncle Laurence Minot would write down her poems and illustrate.

poetry foundation - Anne porter


Trio ~ Edwin Morgan

Coming up Buchanan Street, quickly, on a sharp winter evening

a young man and two girls, under the Christmas lights -

The young man carries a new guitar in his arms,

the girl on the inside carries a very young baby,

and the girl on the outside carries a Chihuahua.

And the three of them are laughing, their breath rises

in a cloud of happiness, and as they pass

the boy says, "Wait till he sees this but!"


The Chihuahua has a tiny Royal Stewart tartan coat like a teapot-holder,

the baby in its white shawl is all bright eyes and mouth like favours

in a fresh sweet cake,

the guitar swells out under its milky plastic cover, tied at the neck

with silver tinsel tape and a brisk sprig of mistletoe.

Orphean sprig! Melting baby! Warm Chihuahua!

The vale of tears is powerless before you.

Whether Christ is born, or is not born, you

put paid to fate, it abdicates

******************************under the Christmas lights.

Monsters of the year

go blank, are scattered back,

can't bear this march of three.


-- And the three have passed, vanished in the crowd

(yet not vanished, for in their arms they wind

the life of men and

beasts, and music,

laughter ringing them round like a guard)

at the end of this winter's day


Born Glasgow, Edwin Morgan lived there all his life, except for service with the RAMC, and his poetry is grounded in the city. He was Glasgow's first Poet Laureate 1999-2002, and the first to hold the post of 'Scots Makar', created by the Scottish Executive in 2004 to recognise the achievement of Scottish poets throughout the centuries.

Edwin Morgan Archive


This seasons joy to one and all from The Parrish Lantern.


merry xmas

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dub be good poetry.


Back in the early 1990’s I worked in a small town called St Georgen, in Southern Germany, and whilst working there I met this bloke called Dave, who became a really good mate. Mainly I believe because we were both single & had no reason to go home regularly so we used to go out on the town together & soon became friendly with the locals, attending their parties and becoming a part of their world. The other reason was that we had a shared love of reggae music, Dave who was nicknamed KitKat, because of four fingers on one hand, was the biggest fan of that genre of music that I had ever met; he adored it in all its forms - from lover’s rock to the most spaced out dub you could imagine, and was never happier than when it was sound tracking some part of his day, preferably some Gregory Isaacs or Barrington Levy forming some part of his courtship ritual as he danced with some girl he’d recently met. Although I also liked these artists, where KitKat and I really agreed (the rest being open to debate) was over the dub poets, people like Linton Kwesi Johnson, Michael Smith, Macka B and Benjamin Zephaniah. When one of us went home, we’d bring back our latest finds and annoy all whilst we played, analysed and just rocked out to the latest sound. It was only later that I realised that this was not just a musical format, but artists such as Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zephaniah were “bona fide poets”, meaning that they published poetry in books!! Yeah I know! But back then I was under the perception that to be a successful poet, you had to be sandwiched between two chunks of cardboard, it was the like of artists such as these that taught me that it was the message that was important, not in what format it is delivered.

The Men From Jamaica Are Settling Down

From de land of wood an water
Came they to where de air waz cold,
They come to work wid bricks an mortar
They heard de streets were paved wid gold,
From de land of fish an ackee
To de land of fish an chips came they,
Touching on a new reality
Where de sky wz white an grey.

Came they to here wid countless dreams
Came they to here wid countless fears,
In dis drama of many themes
Each one of dem were pioneers,
Eacho one of dem a living witness
Each one of dem truly profound,
A newspaper said people hear dis
The men from Jamaica are settling down.

The men from Jamaica had come wid their music
The men from Jamaica had come wid their vibe
The men from Jamaica had come wid their prophets
To help keep their past an their future alive,
So to de great future they went dedicated
De great mother country waz begging for more,
De prophets had warned it may get complicated
They said dat there waz no equality law.

There waz no ackee an there waz no salt fish
There waz no star apple an no callaoo,
Soon there waz no time to dream, wonder or wish
There waz so much community building to do,
An back in Jamaica they waited for letters
Where there were no letters, rumours were abound,
But de newspaper said it was going to get better
The men from Jamaica are settling down.

They went to the foundries, they went to de factories
They went to de cities these true country folk.
An when they got down to de true nitty gritty
These true country lungs were soon covered wid smoke,
Some dreamt of Jamaica, some dreamt of their wives
Some dreamt of returning to bring something home,
Some prayed to de God, an they asked de God why
The men from Jamaica should struggle alone.

De struggle waz human, de struggle waz being
De struggle waz charting unchartered territory,
De struggle waz opening up an then seeing
De struggle ahead for de community,
De struggle waz knowing de here an de now
An what kind of struggles were now to be found,
Still nobody knew just exactly how
The men from Jamaica were settling down.

Officially four hundred an ninety two came
On June twenty one nineteen forty eight,
But officials were playing a false numbers game
Now it's up to de people to put records straight,
We now know there were more than eight stowaways
An now we know women amongst dem were found,
Still a newspaper said after just a few days
That the men from Jamaica were settling down.

We know that there were other lands represented
An de women survived just as well as de men,
An we know that our history will be re-invented
If we do not write truthfully wid de Black pen,
Consider de struggles that took place before us
Tune into de bygone an try to relate
To the brave folk that came on de Empire Windrush
On June twenty one nineteen forty-eight.

Soon there were more ships, an more ships an more ships
Peopled wid colourful Caribbean folk,
Men, women an children were making these trips
Each one of dem carrying ship loads of hope,
From all of de islands they came to dis island
De National Health Service waz so welcoming
An de movietone voice said that things were quite grand
As the men from Jamaica were settling in.

Dis waz de new world, dis waz de white world,
Dis waz de world they had been fighting for,
Dis they were told waz de righteous an free world
Dis waz de reason they had gone to war,
Dis waz de land of de hope an de glory
Dis waz de land of pleasant pastures green,
Dis waz de royal land, dis waz democracy
Where many Jamaicans were proud to be seen.

But it did not take long for de racists and fascists
To show ugly heads as de wicked will do,
Quite soon de arrivants had learnt to resist
An quite soon they were dealing wid subjects taboo,
Blacks in de unions, blacks in de dances
Whites wid black neighbours an black civil rights,
The men from Jamaica were taking no chances
The men from Jamaica were not turning white.

Race riots in Notting Hill Gate said de headline
De cameras were there as de flames burnt about,
De fighters for race were establishing front lines
As de great British welcome just seemed to fall out,
Race riots in Nottingham City an Bristol
Race riots in Cardiff an sweet Camden Town,
De newspapers said it was dreadful and shameful
But the men from Jamaica were settling down.

The men from Jamaica would not die in silence
The men from Jamaica just got radical,
To counter de negative Teddy Boy violence
They created blues dances an carnival,
The men from Jamaica were steadfast and growing
Despite commonwealth immigration controls,
They learnt a few lessons an soon they were knowing
That there were no streets paved wid silver or gold.

A new generation rose up from these fighters
A new generation wid roots everywhere,
A new generation of buildings an writers
A new generation wid built in No Fear,
They too fought de Nazis, they too put out fires
They too want to broaden their vision an scope,
They too need fresh water for burning desires
The men from Jamaica are so full of hope.

De future is not made of ships anymore
De future is made up of what we can do,
We still haven't got all that freedom galore
An there's all those ambitions that we muss pursue,
De past is a place that is ours for all time
There are many discoveries there to be made,
An if you are happily towing de line
Be aware of de price your ancestors have paid.

Black pioneers came on de Empire Windrush
On June twenty one nineteen forty eight,
These souls were titanic, these minds were adventurous
They came from the sunshine to participate,
They are de leaders, they are de home makers
They have been upfront since their ship came aground,
But in-between lines you'll still read in de papers
The men from Jamaica are settling down.


This poem comes from a collection of poetry called “Too Black Too Strong” from Benjamin Zephaniah, which was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2001 and features poems written whilst he was the resident poet at Tooks Barrister’s chambers. This was an idea sponsored by The  Poetry Society and although it was officially sponsored to run for forty eight days, Benjamin Zephaniah became so involved with the idea that he followed, questioned and generally made use of their knowledge for about a year, the poetry written around this time forms the backbone of this collection.


‘The peace garden is opposite the War Memorial,’
Said the old soldier.

‘We had to fight to make peace
Back in the good old days.’

‘No the War Memorial is opposite the peace garden,’
Said the old pacifist.

‘You’ve had so many wars to end all wars,
Still millions are dying from the wars you left behind.’

‘Look,’ said the old soldier.
‘You chickens stuck your peace garden
In front of our War Memorial to cause non-violent trouble.
This War Memorial is necessary,
It reminds us that people have died for our country.’

‘Look,’ said the old pacifist,
‘In the beginning was peace
And the peace was with God
And the peace was God,
This peace garden is unnecessary but
It reminds us that people want to live for our country.’

Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah, was born 15 April 1958 in Birmingham, is an English writer, dub poet and Rastafarian. He writes that his poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls "street politics". His first performance was in church when he was eleven, and by the age of fifteen, his poetry was already known among Handsworth's Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities. He received a criminal record with the police as a young man and served a prison sentence for burglary.

Tired of the limitations of being a black poet communicating with black people only, he decided to expand his audience, and headed to London at the age of twenty-two.


He has won the BBC Young Playwright's Award and been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of North London (1998), the University of Central England (1999), Staffordshire University(2001), London South Bank University (2003), the University of Exeter and the University of Westminster (2006). On 17 July 2008 Zephaniah received an honorary doctorate from the University of Birmingham. He was listed at 48 in The Times' list of 50 greatest post-war writers in 2008.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf ~ Gaito Gazdanov


The Spectre of Alexander Wolf starts with the narrator describing his  memory of the day he murdered a stranger. He also goes on to say that this act has haunted him every passing day since that moment, and also that despite this fact, he could not have done anything different.

This event told by the narrator, happened during the Russian Civil War where he describes himself as a young soldier in southern Russia. After two and half days without sleep he becomes separated from the rest of his troop. 

He sets out in the direction he presumes they’ve gone and not long after is chased down by a Cossack, it is this that leads to the moment he describes as murder, but is really self defence. He was sixteen years old when this occurred, and from that moment on he will be haunted by it.

Flash forward many years and whilst in Paris, he reads a short story, that describes exactly what happened, and in such detail that it could have only been written by someone who was there. The problem is that he and the murdered Cossack were the only ones there.

This impossibility sets him out on a mission to find the author, to find out if. This will lead him……….

This book manages to pack in a lot between it’s 178 pages, it manages to be a detective tale, romance, and memoir; yet still ask those questions about existence, still points it’s metaphysical finger at the world at large. This is a book that absorbs you, makes you want to savour it. Whether it’s the opening scene, or the way the book develops this is a book for cold dark nights, read whilst cosied up somewhere warm.



Gaito Gazdanov, was born in Saint Petersburg but was brought up in Siberia and Ukraine, where his father worked as a forester.  He joined Baron Wrangel’s White Army aged just sixteen and fought in the Russian Civil War. Exiled in Paris from 1920 onwards, taking on the jobs that were available to him and sleeping on park benches during periods of unemployment. A job as a taxi driver working nights, allowed him to attend lectures at the Sorbonne and write during the day. It didn’t take him long to become part of the literary scene. His  first novel — An Evening with Claire (1930) — won accolades from Maxim Gorky and Vladislav Khodasevich, who noted his indebtedness to Marcel Proust. On the strength of his first short stories, Gazdanov was described by critics as one of the most gifted writers to begin his career in emigration. He died in Munich in 1971.

Whilst researching for this post I came across this piece in The Independent

“Writing in a Russian émigré magazine in 1927, Gaito Gazdanov – a young soldier-turned-driver-turned-novelist, recently escaped from Soviet Russia – praised his contemporary Vladimir Sirin for "the rare kind of gift he possesses": "he is outside of society, of rationality, of the rest of the world" [Rul', 18 November, 1927]. Twenty years later, Sirin began to write as Vladimir Nabokov. Few would remember the reviewer who spotted his early promise.”

Hopefully thanks to the wonderful publisher Pushkin Press, this will change and Gazdanov will join that list of not just Russian émigré writers, but that colossal pantheon of Russia’s great writers

Baron Karetnyk is an editor as well as a translator of Russian literature. He read Russian and Japanese at the university of Edinburgh, graduating in 2008 and now lives and works in London.


  Pushkin Press(Gaito Gazdanov)

Gazdanov (Wiki)

A Gaito Gazdanov Short Story


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Forced March … Miklós Radnóti

From the Introduction               George Gömöri &  Clive Wilmer       

“On the 9th of November Miklós Radnóti was executed by firing squad. He was thirty-five. He had been encamped in Serbia, attached to a forced labour battalion under German command, but as the axis armies began their retreat from the Eastern front, they drove the labourers westward across Hungary. Near the village of Abda in the north-west, those who were too weak to continue the march into Germany were shot by their guards and buried in a mass grave. When the bodies were exhumed the following year, a notebook full of poems – some written within days of his death – were found in Radnóti’s greatcoat”.


He was identified by this notebook of poetry, and they were published in 1946 under the title Foamy Sky, and secured his position as one of the giants of modern Hungarian poetry.




Garden of Istenhegy

Summer has fallen asleep, it drones, and a gray veil
  Is drawn across the bright face of the day;
  A shadow vaults a bush, so my dog growls
  His hackles bristling, then he runs away.

Shedding its petals one by one, a late flower stands
  Naked and half-alive. I hear the sound
  Of a withered apricot-bough crack overhead
  To sink of its own weight slowly to the ground.

Oh and the garden too prepares for sleep, its fruit
   Proffered to the heavy season of the dead
   It is getting dark. late too, a golden bee
   Is flying a death-circle around my head.

And as for you, young man, what mode of death awaits you?
  Will a shot hum like a beetle towards your heart,
  Or a loud bomb rend the earth so that your body
   Falls limb from limb, your young flesh torn apart?

In sleep the garden breathes. I question it in vain.
  Though still unanswered, I repeat it all.
  The noonday sun still flows in the ripe fruit
  Touched by the twilight chill of the dew fall. 

  20 July 1936                                                           

Miklós Radnóti, was born Miklós Glatter on the 5th May 1909 in Budapest into an assimilated Jewish family. At his birth he lost both his twin brother and his mother, this was obviously to have a major impact on his future self, along with the fact that a few years later his father died. He was adopted and raised from that point on by a wealthy uncle, this allowed him to receive an education and in 1934 he graduated from Szeged University with a distinction in Hungarian and French. He also had three books of poetry to his credit Pogány köszöntő (Pagan Greeting 1930 ), Újmódi pásztorok éneke (Modern shepherds' song 1931), and Lábadozó szél (Convalescent Wind 1933). This was a time of great insecurity, the nation was governed by Admiral Horthy, an ultra conservative who was distinctly inclined towards the far right of the political spectrum. Horthy guided Hungary through the years between  the world wars and in 1941 would take Hungary into an alliance with Nazi Germany, making this not the ideal climate for someone like Radnóti – a libertarian socialist and an idealistic man of letters.


Simple Song Of My Wife

As she comes in, cackles burst from the door,
The potted plants all stamp, shaking the floor,
A blond streak, small and drowsy, in her hair
Cheeps like a frightened sparrow in the straw.

Clumsily whirling towards her through the air
The ageing light-flex too lets out a squawk:
Everything spins - to jot it down, no chance.

She has come back. She has been gone all day.
She bears an enormous poppy in her hands
To drive death, my adversary away.

5 January 1940


In 1935 Miklós Radnóti married Fanni Gyarmati who would be that one candle flame sustaining him from all that would happen and whose constancy is the optimism that, despite what is happening or will happen, there is light in this world. By 1938 - 39 things took a turn for the worse as the Hungarian Government began to legislate against the Jews, and in 1941 they granted Germany permission to cross its territory & also declared war against the Soviet Union. In March 1944 the Germans occupied Hungary and the German ambassador nominated the government.

In the course of these events the fate that Miklós Radnóti had long foreseen was gradually fulfilled – from 1940 onwards he was conscripted to serve in various labour battalions. Shortly afterwards the Nazi’s took over Budapest and he was sent to the copper mines at Bor in Serbia. There he worked on the construction of a railway-line and from there in the autumn of 1944 when Bor was evacuated he and his fellow inmates started the forced march that was to culminate in his death. During this march Radnóti recorded poetic snapshots or postcards of what he saw and experienced, it was whilst he was doing this that he was badly beaten by a militia man annoyed by his scribbling. Battered, badly weakened and unable to walk he was shot to death on the 9th of November 1944, with twenty-one others.


The Second Eclogue


Last night we went far; in rage I laughed, I was so mad.
Their fighters were all droning like a bee-swarm overhead.
their defence was strong and friend, O how they fired and fired!
Till over the horizon our relief squad appeared.
I just missed being shot down and scraped together below,
But see, I am back! And tomorrow, this craven Europe shall know
Fear in their air-raid shelters, as they tremble hidden
But enough of that, let’s leave it. Have you written since


I have. the poet writes, as dogs howl or cats mew
or small fish coyly spawn. What else am I to do?
I write about everything – write even for you, up there,
So that flying you may know of my life and of how I fare
When between the rows of houses, blown up and tumbling
The bloodshot light of the moon reels drunkenly around,
when the city squares bulge, all of them stricken,
Breathing stops, and even the sky seems sicken,
And the planes keep coming on, then disappear, and then
All swoop, like jabbering madness down from the sky again!
I write; what else can I do? If you knew how dangerous
A poem can be, how frail, how capricious a single verse…
For that involves courage too – you see? Poets write,
Cats mew, dogs howl, small fish…. and so on; but you who
What do you know? Nothing. You listen, but all you hear
Is the plane you have just left droning on in your ear;
No use denying it, friend. It’s become part of you.
What do you think about as you fly above in the blue?


Laugh at me: I’m scared. And I long to lie in repose
On a bed beside my love, and for these eyes to close.
Or else, under my breathe, I would softly hum her a tune
In the wild and steamy chaos of the flying-men’s canteen.
Up there, I want to come down; down here, to be back in
In this world moulded for me, for me there is no place.
And I know full well, I have grown too fond of my
True; but, when hit, the rhythm both suffer at is the same….
But you know and will write about it! It won’t be a secret
that I,
Who now just destroy, homeless between the earth and the sky,
Lived as a man lives. Alas, who’d understand or believe it?
Will you write of me?


If I live, if there’s anyone left to read it.

27 April 1941



Like Hans Fallada in Germany, Miklós was too sensitive a writer not to be aware of the zeitgeist, not to have noticed the writing on the wall or the fact that his identity did not fit with the promoted image of the ideal citizen being stamped upon the country's identity. According to the Hungarian view, prevalent at that time, Radnóti was not Hungarian, but a Jew, and as such could be humiliated, and destroyed and yet he stayed, witnessed, and recorded  even up to the last moment he was writing down his experience, his thoughts and feelings. It is this and the quality of what he wrote that has made him recognised posthumously as one of the greatest Hungarian writers.

forced_march Forced March is made up of poems from Miklós Radnóti’s last three books: Keep Walking, You Death Condemned (1936), Steep Path (1938) and the final collection Foamy Sky (1946), providing an introduction to his mature work, to the poetry that came to define him as not just a great writer, but as a great man, or as his friend and fellow poet István Vas, said that “Radnóti’s poems are among the rare masterpieces that combine artistic and moral perfection….. not just an exciting body of work, not just truly great poems, but also an example of human and artistic integrity, that is as embarrassing and absurd as it is imperative”.


Forced March

A fool he is who, collapsed,       rises and walks again,
Ankles and knees moving          alone, like wandering pain,
Yet he, as if wings uplifted him,          sets out on his way,
And in vain the ditch calls him           back, who dares not stay.
And if asked why not, he might answer     - without leaving his path -
That his wife was awaiting him,         and a saner, more beautiful death.
Poor fool! He's out of his mind:          now, for a long time,
Only scorched winds have whirled       over the houses at home,
The wall has been laid low,                the plum tree is broken there,
The night of our native hearth             flutters, thick with fear.
Oh if only I could believe                   that everything of worth
Were not just in my heart -                 that I still had a home on earth;
If only I had! As before,                  jam made fresh from the plum
Would cool on the old verandah,        in peace the bee would hum
And an end-of-summer stillness        would bask in the drowsy garden,
Naked among the leaves                would sway the fruit-trees burden,
And Fanni would be waiting,             blonde, by the russet hedgerow,
As the slow morning painted            slow shadow over shadow -
Could it perhaps still be?               The moon tonight's so round!
Don't leave me friend, shout at me:                I'll get up off the ground!

15 September 1944

This book began as a series of literal translations by George Gömöri from Hungarian Clive Wilmer's task was to turn his prose into something that could be read as English verse. They then would work together to create a finished version as close to the Hungarian as possible, without losing the qualities as readable English verse. The translators state categorically that these are not imitations, or free variations, although they have regarded form and content as equals, where this proved unworkable, they allowed themselves minor liberties.

Miklós Radnóti (Wiki)

Penniless Press (M.R)

Enitharmon Press

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fairground Magician – Jelena Lengold


Fairground Magician, is an exploration of love told through a series of thirteen tales. Via these short stories the author examines, probes and delves into its various guises, revealing the conflicts that tear people asunder and the moments that, although go unnoticed, bind two individuals so that: “Soul and body have no bounds” * . Jelena Lengold uses various genres from realism through the use of thriller & eroticism to shade the nuances of the relationships, whether it’s the cold loss of a love unfulfilled, or that heat that first burns before leaving a tranquil euphoria in its wake.

On reading the blurb on the back cover, I was slightly worried with the idea of eroticism, purely because of the likes of fifty shades of grey & its ilk, I needn’t have been - although several tales explore the nature of sexuality - they do so as an integral part of existence & the erotic elements are like love, they have no safety net or get out clause. This is a sensuous, sexy, intelligent collection of tales that may shock, but will make you think, it has already won a number of European prizes including The European Union Prize for Literature (2011)3_the-fairground-magician-front-cover

Fairground Magician is a collection of thirteen tales revolving around the various faces of the Gods of love, whether this is Eros, who represents love, sexual passion and naughty thoughts or Yue-Lao, who binds two people together with an invisible red string - it  doesn’t matter, they will find themselves reflected within this book’s pages.



Jelena Lengold (1959) is a storyteller, novelist and a poet. She has published five books of poetry, one novel (Baltimore, 2003, 2011) and four books of stories, including Pokisli lavovi (Rain-soaked Lions, 1994), Lift (Lift, 1999) as well as Vašarski mađioničar (The Fairground Magician, 2008, 2009). She has been represented in several anthologies of poetry and stories, and her works have been translated into several languages. Lengold worked as a journalist and an editor for ten years in the cultural department of Radio Belgrade. She worked as a project coordinator in the Conflict Management programme of Nansenskolen Humanistic Academy in Lillehammer, Norway. She taught topics such as dialogue, interethnic tolerance, discrimination, negotiations, human rights and peaceful conflict resolution. She lives in Belgrade.



Istros Books

Jelena Lengold

European Prize for Literature 2011 PDF, containing  Wanderings a story from the collection.

 * W. H Auden