The red forests whisper and darken

From the Still Days (Georg Trakl)

So ghostly are these late days

Just like the look of sick people, sent here

In the light. However, the night shades the muted lament

Of their eyes, toward which they already turn.

They probably smile and recall their celebrations,

How one is moved after songs, half forgotten,

And searches words for a sad gesture,

Which already grows pale in silence unmeasured.

So the sun still plays around ill flowers

And lets them shiver in the thin, clear airs

With a death-cool delight.

The red forests whisper and darken,

And more death-nightly the woodpeckers’ hammering echoes

Just like a reverberation from airless crypts.

A smiling universe of thorns

I saw many towns as if robbed by flame

And the times accumulated atrocity after atrocity,

And saw a lot of people putrefy to dust,

And everything float into oblivion.

I saw the gods fall to the night,

The holiest harps powerlessly smashed,

And kindled anew from putrefaction,

A new life swelling to the day.

Swelling to the day and again passing,

The eternally identical tragedy,

That thus we play without understanding,

And its insanity’s nightly torture

Wreathes the soft glory of beauty

Like a smiling universe of thorns.

(#3 From Georg Trakl’s Three Dreams )

Autumn Leaves

I think, I dreamed of falling leaves,

Of wide forests and dark lakes,

Of sad words’ echo –

However, I could not understand their meaning.

I think, I dreamed of falling stars,

Of the weeping entreaty of pale eyes,

Of a smile’s echo –

However, I could not understand its meaning.

Like falling leaves, like falling stars,

So I saw myself eternally coming and going,

A dream’s immortal echo –

However, I could not understand its meaning. (Georg Trakl).

Prof Isabelle on mRNA vaccines 2020

From my 7 January 2022 blog

This morning I came across this – YES,  On 1 April 2020, ‘HORIZON: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine’ carried an article about the mRNA vaccines – first developed to fight cancer in humans, by the way.

It stressed the fact that only now (less than two years ago) are these vaccines beginning to be tested in humans, and that there are a lot of fairly basic unknowns which can only be answered through human trials. The following professor of microbiology was quoted many times in the piece:

Professor Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding –

Chair of the IMI (Innovative Medicines Initiative) Scientific Committee

Head of Microbiology at Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, Langen, Germany

Fields of expertise

§ Immunology of infection & host-pathogen interaction

§ Clinical microbiology and infectious disease

§ Pharmaceutical microbiology

§ Regulation of vaccines and biomedicines

In relation to our innate immune response system, as humans, to the mRNA vaccine, Prof Isabelle said, twenty-one months ago:


“There is still a lot of work to be done to understand this response, the length of the protection it could give and whether there are any downsides.”


“What is really the current challenge, I think, is to understand whether these vaccines will really be able to mount a sufficiently protective immune response in the human and to understand, for example, which quantities of mRNA will be needed to do this.”

Prof Isabelle also stated that the mRNA is ‘easier and faster to produce” (than traditional vaccines) and is a “very unique way of making a vaccine and, so far, no such vaccine has been licenced for infectious disease.”

FAMILY, BLOOD …  & TEARS. 19 September 2022

I’ve been reflecting this morning – after a two mile walk with our family hound Bendigeidfran – on The Crimea Conference of 1945, held in the beautiful resort of Yalta on the south coast of Russian’s Black Sea peninsula. It was a week-long meeting, at the beginning of February, when leaders of the UK, USSR and USA met to sort out the arrangements for the defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany. The global ‘powers’ of the day were basically re-drawing the global map for a future post-war world.

The world that Ann and I were born into. Ann was born at the end of that fateful year of 1945, and I a few years later. I remember playing with gas-masks in my paternal grand-parents house and being fascinated by family war medals. I will never forget the sight of my ‘Taid’ at night-time, pulling the black-out blinds down before closing the curtains – and that was in the early 60s! “But there’s no fear of bombers tonight, Taid!”

I was blessed to have known my Nain and Taid (he was part of the UK’s North Russia Expeditionary Force to Archangel, May 1919 – but that’s another story, although I must add, for now, that he was a non-combatant, in his white apron, busy baking bread for the troops. To this day I am still proud to be ‘of-the-family (Teulu) of’ Tom the Baker.  Yes, I was blessed to have known my Dad’s Mum and Dad, and sad to this day that I have no memory of Mam’s Dad, Shem Jones the Fisherman, although I do have slight memories of Elen, my Nain Gyffin, my maternal Grand-mother.

This funeral morning, while out walking, I was accompanied by many family memories, both happy and sad – memories that also embraced the new family that I became a part of when Ann and I met. Two families came  together when we met,  and a new ‘cloud of witnesses’ created, that has accompanied us to this day.

I didn’t know Queen Elizabeth, or members of her family, although I know some facts about them. Who doesn’t! When I heard of her death eleven days ago, I paused for a few moments to remember her seventy years of dedication to a very public vocation as the Queen of the UK and fourteen Commonwealth realms. The ‘Global Boss Woman’ as one commentator referred to her. For many of us Brits, she was the symbolic figurehead of the British state. I used to think of her as the UK’s supreme diplomat.

I remember Churchill’s state funeral on the penultimate day of January 1965. I was 15 years old. Our family watched it on our black and white TV. Years later I remember looking back on that national event as a symbol of the final passing of the British Empire. The Suez Crisis of 1956 was the beginning of the end of that Empire. I was 6 years old at the time. Although I don’t remember that event, I do remember studying its implications for us as Brits as the 1960s came to a close.

I suppose that’s why our government, to this day, likes to play the role of a sort of ‘senior-junior-partner’ to dear old Uncle Sam. It’s better than having no role at all to play on the global stage.

I’ve cried quite a bit today, off and on. Not crying – which for me is much more superficial – so much as weeping, because in my opinion the latter has more depth. Weeping is a joyful event laced with sadness: remembering my parents and ‘marriage parents,’ as I like to think of my in-laws, along with my grandparents and other favourite family members.

Some of them I know from photographs, faces forever gazing at me from the past. I may not ‘re-member’ them, although I’m privileged to be ‘a-member’ of their family.  Our family. My family.

Some of them died in wars, “doing their bit!”

I thought of the Family Windsor, another family that will also be weeping today, once they get out of the public glare. But I don’t imagine that they will be weeping for the other thing I’ve been grieving for today.

Grieving: ‘to be sorrowful, or in distress’. I have been struggling – emotionally as well as intellectually – since 24 February this year, when, after 8 years of provocation, Russia entered, invaded – call it what you will – Eastern Ukraine, in response to an operation carefully choreographed by the UK, USA and its military arm in Europe, NATO, over many years.

It’s been 11 days of gun-salutes, soldiers, uniforms, flags and banners, tears, more soldiers and officers, bright red uniforms, marching bands and more tears, politicians and celebrities, the ‘great-and-the-good’. Eleven days of intense wall-to-wall state propaganda, on TV and radio, in newspapers and magazines, in shop windows and on street-corners.

It’s also been over 6 months of a totally different kind of military dynamics, although there’s nothing ceremonial about them. These have been real guns and artillery fire, with real fighting soldiers in blood-stained uniforms: real tanks and missiles, and real offensives and retreats, with no time for slow marches and ceremonial. A military spectacle peppered daily with reporters and experts proclaiming the ‘truth’ on our TVs and laptops. Media high priests and priestesses, integral to our bombardment by an orgy of Western propaganda and misinformation, the likes of which I have never seen before in my lifetime.

A brutal war is raging in Europe. An undeclared war, in legal terms, that heralds the end of the world conjured up at that meeting in Crimea seventy seven years ago.

That ‘new’ post-war Europe, born in 1945, is literally dying before our eyes. The world of our childhood has gone for ever. With over 500 global heads of state gathered together in London today, the Queen’s funeral is also the funeral of the old Europe.

It isn’t just the Elizabethan age that’s come to an end today. In a surreal sort of way, the world designed in the beautiful resort of Yalta is also being buried today.   

Queen Elizabeth’s funeral also allows us – if we dare look – a sedate glance at the impending death of another imperium, this time the ‘American one’. A death enacted thousands of miles away from US shores, by the bloody sacrifice of Russian and many many many many more Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

As for the politicians favourite propaganda phrase or mantra, that speaks of the Ukraine conflict as the ‘West’s proxy war,’ don’t be fooled.

It’s war! Full on war.

N.A.T.O. – the military arm of the US Empire – is at war with Russia. I think of it as the North Atlantic Terrorist Organisation.

It’s the ‘Dollar War’ as I call it: the American Empire’s fight- to- the-death to remain the global No1 super-power versus Russia’s fight for its very survival. A war planned by a very powerful US family, with a fanatical ideology that will use Europe as a stepping-stone in its bid to defeat its ‘other enemy’ further away from Europe. (More about ‘the Nuland-Kagan Family’ again. This family is the real architect of the Ukraine war, with Jo Biden their current US front-man).

It saddens me that King Charles III is the figure-head of a nation that is more than happy to be the USA’s junior partner in this war. As king he has no real power in geopolitics, although as king he would have to sign that piece of paper should the UK have the courage to formally declare war on Russia.   

It saddens me that the so-called ‘crown prerogative’ gives another Elizabeth – our PM Liz Truss’s government – the power to ‘wage war by any means’ without consulting parliament, if deemed necessary in the coming months. I wonder what Tom the Baker and Shem the Fisherman would make of it all?

Members of my extended family – as with as the millions of families watching events today – will have many different reasons for remembering the 19 of September 2022, a key date in our history. Monarchists. Republicans. The Don’t knows. The don’t cares.  

And what of the Family Windsor?

Two ‘ceremonial’ wives met yesterday in Westminster, when Teulu Windsor of London came face to face with Teulu Zelenski of Kiev. Yes, the daughter-in-law of King Charles III, the newly appointed Princess of Wales, Catherine, met Yelena, wife of Ukraine’s rich and famous comic-actor turned US appointed puppet-president, one Volodymyr Zelenski.  

Our ‘old Europe’ tried to build a new future after the horrors of Nazi-led Germany. That Nazi heritage is alive and well in 21st century Ukraine, and has, since 2014, been reeking-havoc, once again, in Europe, with US and UK assistance this time round, both militarily and economically.

The US based Nuland-Kagan Family has always been honest when talking about Europe, best summed up in the words of Mrs Victoria Nuland-Kagan, the high-ranking Jo Biden official in charge of Ukraine: “FU$K EUROPE”.

My paternal grand-mother, Mary Elizabeth, lived to within a few months short of a century. She used to joke that after she died she wanted R.I.P. carved on her gravestone. Rest-in-peace? No! ‘Return If Possible’ is what she had in mind!

There will be no return to the Elizabethan Age, that overlapped with the Era of the Yalta Conference. Ours is the age that is already bearing witness to the demise of the American Empire and a Europe lacking in maturity, vision and confidence to include Russia in its plans for the future well-being of our grand-children and great-grand-children.

If only Elizabeth the Good, as many have hailed her these last few days, had had real power to be the Global Boss Lady to the family of nations. If only that young princess in London might end up having real geo-political power, when she becomes Queen. Who knows, she could end up being remembered as another Catherine the Great.  

There will be another day of pomp and ceremony in London next Spring, when Charles III is officially crowned King. I wonder if the clown-prince of Kiev will still be in office, irritating us with his daily Big-Brother-esque comic performances.

I wonder?

Musing as I walked this morning

Georg Trakl – ‘Springtime of the Soul’ – Spring Equinox 2022 at Oak Tree House

Flowers scattered blue and white

Aspire cheerfully upon the ground.

Silverly the evening hour weaves,

Tepid wasteland, loneliness.

Life blooms dangerously now,

Sweet rest around cross and grave.

A bell rings its length of time,

Everything seems marvelous.

A willow softly hovers in the ether,

Here and there a flickering light.

Spring whispers and promises

And the damp ivy trembles.

Lushly bread and wine are green,

The organ sounds full of the power of wonder.

And around cross and passion

A ghostly light gleams.

O! How beautiful are these days.

Children go through the dusk;

Already the wind blows bluer.

Far away thrushes mock.

(Translator unknown. My favourite translator of his work is Will Stone)

Georg Trakl 1887 Salzburg – 1914 Krakow

1914 – Osip Mandelstam

The Greeks planned for war
On the delightful island of Salamis.
From the harbor of Athens, you could see it
Seized by the enemy’s hand.

And now our friends the islanders
Are fitting out our ships.
Earlier the English didn’t love
The sweet European soil.

O, Europe, new Hellas,
Save the Acropolis and Pireus.
We do not need the island’s gifts,
A forest of uninvited ships

Osip 1891 Warsaw (then a part of Russia) – 1938 Died a political prisoner in Siberia

A diehard

One of Russia’s greatest poets, Osip was a diehard nonconformist, his attempts to maintain his artistic independence after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 resulted in ostracism, exile, and ultimately, death in Stalin’s labour camps. After Stalin’s death in 1953 (and long after his own death), Mandelstam was “rehabilitated” and his work has undergone a revival. He described his ethnic background as “Jewish chaos,” 

Mandelstam sped his own demise when he wrote, in 1933, a satirical poem characterizing Stalin as a gleeful executioner with a cockroach moustache. This sixteen-line poem, known as the “Stalin Epigram.” 


Sunbeam – Anna Akhmatova left it untitled in 1909

I pray to the sunbeam from the window –
It is pale, thin, straight.
Since morning I have been silent,
And my heart – is split.
The copper on my washstand
Has turned green,
But the sunbeam plays on it
So charmingly.
How innocent it is, and simple,
In the evening calm,
But to me in this deserted temple
It’s like a golden celebration,
And a consolation.

‘Why Is This Age Worse?’ Anna Akhmatova – and a message to ALL of us this Lent.

Why is this age worse than earlier ages?
In a stupor of grief and dread
have we not fingered the foulest wounds
and left them unhealed by our hands?

In the west the falling light still glows,
and the clustered housetops glitter in the sun,
but here Death is already chalking the doors with crosses,
and calling the ravens, and the ravens are flying in.

( Stanley Kunitz, with Max Hayward)

Last Toast by Anna Akhmatova

I drink to our ruined house
To the evil of my life
To our loneliness together
And I drink to you—
To the lying lips that have betrayed us,
To the dead-cold eyes,
To the fact that the world is brutal and coarse
To the fact that God did not save us.

( Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky)

Trenches, trenches – You could lose your way! Of old Europe A scrap remains, Where in clouds of smoke, Towns burn … Now the ridges of the Crimea Grows dark. And I am leading a flock Of my own mourners. Oh, blue cloak Of a tranquil land! … Over a dead medusa.

(From Anna Akhmatova’s ‘The Way of al the Earth, tr. Judith Hemschemeyer)

Of old Europe a scrap remains‘ – Yes, ALL our C21st leaders are culpable, and everyone of us, as well, for allowing them to ruin our lives. And for preventing a new Europe to emerge. Europe is rapidly becoming ‘the foulest of wounds’, alas, with no healer in sight.

‘I drink to our ruined house. I drink to our ruined house’.

Anna was born at Bolshoy Fontan, near the Black Sea port of Odessa in 1889 – the same year as my paternal grand-mother Mary.

USA has ‘exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good.’ Harold Pinter.

So sad. And tragic. It could have been a source of so much good for humanity in the last 70 years or so.

My contention here is that the US crimes in the same period (as USSR) have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now. Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet Union, the United States’ actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked.

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America’s favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as ‘low intensity conflict’. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer.

The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love.

The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn’t give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it ‘bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East’.

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.

If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us – the dignity of man.

From Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature 2005.

Read all of Harold Pinter’s Nobel Lecture

Harold Pinter 1930-2008 (by Martin Rosenbaum)