Poem of the day: W H Auden

Now what makes me think again of this poem, which has haunted me ever since I first read it at Sydney University when I was 16?

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SEPTEMBER 1, 1939

by W.H. Auden

 

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
‘I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,’
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Tomorrow when the war began…

Um, such a shame to have a loudmouth idiot in the role of #POTUS, especially given the juvenile lard-arse that “runs” North Korea! Let’s hope the Donald doesn’t get his nightmare!

US President Donald Trump has warned North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues to threaten the United States.

Key points:

  • Mr Trump made comments a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left door open for dialogue
  • President’s press briefing was supposed to be about opioid addiction
  • Washington Post says Pyongyang has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery

But within hours of Mr Trump’s threat North Korea’s military said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike the US Pacific territory of Guam with missiles.

Mr Trump’s comments, delivered to reporters at his New Jersey golf course, came after Japan said it believed North Korea could have developed the technology to miniaturise nuclear warheads — which would enable them to be put on an inter-continental ballistic missile.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Mr Trump said during a briefing which was supposed to be about the problem of opioid addiction in the US….

Meanwhile, I have been away as I am getting used to the new version of Windows 10. I find myself forced to use Edge, which I don’t really like, as weird things are happening now with Google Chrome since the Windows upgrade. For example, “log in to Twitter” on Chrome simply vanished every time I tried to link to it, but no problem in Edge. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

And further to the burger question. I am at Illawarra Leagues and can attest that the following is rather good.

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And I did get my mouth around it! Just!

Wi-fi at Illawarra Leagues

Spent some of yesterday at Illawarra Leagues Club. Just a note about the club:

The club was formed in 1947, the inaugural meeting being held on Friday, May 2.

It received it’s license later that year, one of the first clubs on the coast to do so, but it was not until December 12, 1951 that the doors were officially opened.

Illawarra Leagues is the second oldest leagues club in the world, a fact that all those associated with the club are especially proud of. The oldest, NSW Leagues Club, is located in Phillips Street, Sydney.

And here I am:

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One reason I went there was to use their excellent wi-fi (45.9 mb/s) to at last update my Windows 10. That took a while even so, but I had no chance doing it from home. Then, sharing with T and C, friends at the club.

A good afternoon all round.

Sydney terrorism raids — Surry Hills!

Right where I lived 1992-2010. From 2008:

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And here is the area:

raids

See Sydney terror raids ‘disrupted’ plot to bring down plane, Malcolm Turnbull says and Sydney terrorism raids believed to relate to ‘bomb plot involving aircraft’.

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Update

See Sydney terror raids: Bomb plotters may have already tried to smuggle device onto international flight.

Update 4 August

See Two men to appear in court over alleged jet plot.

The only place I have seen the following story on the arrested man who was eventually released is Sydney’s Daily Telegraph two days ago. The detail, based on my experience of 18 years living in “Little Lebanon,” rings true to me.

Khaled Merhi’s father, Omar Merhi, broke his ­silence yesterday to deny his son is a terrorist.

Khaled Merhi’s behaviour was said by friends to have been erratic in the days leading up to his arrest.

They said he lost his job as a van driver last week having racked up thousands of dollars in debt gambling on ­horses and failed to turn up to Botany Powder Coaters on Friday…

The Merhi family, originally from Beirut, bought their terraced Surry Hills home in 1974 and brought up their 14 children there.

Khaled was the only one who never married but he has a seven-year-old daughter after a volatile long-term relationship with a Lebanese-born woman from Canberra.

His father Omar, 76, said Khaled was christened at the Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral of St George in Redfern.

“He has never been to a mosque in his life,” Omar said yesterday.

“It’s bulls … that he wanted to blow up a plane, he works hard for his child and his girlfriend, who was always asking him for money, $150 here and there for jewellery and clothes, it was never enough, it felt like he was working to buy everything for her.

“In my 47 years in Australia, I’ve never had a problem with police and nor has any of my children.”

Hey, hang on! It appears the one who was released is Abdul Merhi, not Khaled. Latest:

Timeline of the alleged plot

April – Some of the men allegedly involved in the plot start communicating with a senior Islamic State figure in Syria who instructs them on how to make a bomb. The group allegedly order military-grade explosive components in the post from Turkey.

July 15 – Khaled Khayat, 49, allegedly escorts his unwitting brother to Sydney Airport to board an Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi with luggage containing a bomb. The bag is not checked in, possibly because it is too heavy, so Mr Khayat takes it home with him while his brother, who was unaware of the bomb, boards his flight as planned.

July 17 – Mr Khayat’s brother-in-law, Khaled Merhi, who remains in custody, sets up a business Khaleds Powder Coating Services. The men allegedly start working on a gas dispersion device.

July 26 – US and British agencies pass on intelligence picked up from Syria about the plot. Australian police start investigating immediately and put the men under surveillance.

July 27 – Security measures at Sydney Airport are enhanced on the advice of ASIO.

July 27-31 – Police create a mock IED like the one created on July 15 and test whether it would get through airport security. It doesn’t.

July 29 – Four men are arrested in five raids across Sydney.

July 30 – airport security is enhanced at all major Australian airports.

August 1 – Khaled Merhi’s brother Abdul Merhi released without charge.

August 3 – Charges laid against Khaled Khayat and Khaled Merhi