Archive for May, 2009

Gérard de Nerval: The Disinherited

May 31, 2009

Translated by R J Dent


I’m sorrowful, widowed, disconsolate,

the Prince of Aquitaine whose tower’s in ruins;

my lone star’s dead – my constellated lute

carries a black and melancholy sun.

In the night of the grave, you consoled me;

gave me Naples and the Italian sea;

the flower that so pleased my distressed heart;

the arbour where the vine and rose entwine.

Am I Cupid or Phoebus?… Lusignan or Byron?

My forehead’s still burning from the queen’s kiss;

I’ve dreamed in the caves where the sirens swim…

Twice victorious, I’ve crossed Acheron;

modulating – on Orpheus’s lyre –

the sigh of the saint and the fairy’s cry.

The Disinherited

By Gérard de Nerval

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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Alexander Mátsas: Landscape

May 29, 2009

rock and sea

Here, in this mineral landscape

of rock, sea, sapphire and diamond

which offers nothing perishable

to the wheel of time

here in the great triumphant light

the only mark on which is your shadow

and where only your body

carries the harbinger of death

here fleetingly perhaps your idols

will vanish; perhaps once more

you may stare at your

true self in the dazzling glare

a self that is hidden by many masks

distorted by necessity and the bonds

you betray, so that everyone steals

from you using seduction or violence

your bones stripped bare, as clean

as an earthen pot, and so for a moment

your clay escapes the constant

weights of life and death


Alexander Mátsas

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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May 26, 2009

crete house

One of my favourite memories

is of our summer afternoons

at our little white Cretan house;

its balcony, its walled terrace,

its olive trees and spiky palms,

that overlooked the turquoise sea,

and as evening diffused the light

to orange, purple, then to black,

how we would burn citrus candles

and sit and watch the moon careen

across the sky towards the south

and eat our olives, nuts and bread

and drink a glass of retsina

and make love in the warm sea air –

a memory with love in it.


by Ράσελ Τζον Ντεντ

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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July Morning

May 25, 2009

july morning-sun

On this July morning

the world is again created

from the orange stare of the sun

On this July morning

the night becomes a brightly-lit room

and tiny leaves unfurl on their branches

On this July morning

the lakes take off their black cloaks

and reveal their island breasts, their lilies

On this July morning

I awaken aroused and turn to find you

looking at me and wanting me

On this July morning

I enter your soft warmth as sunlight

shines through the shutters and into our minds

July Morning

by Ράσελ Τζον Ντεντ

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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Odysseus Elytis: Drinking the Corinthian Sun

May 25, 2009

corinthian sun

Drinking the Corinthian sun

Deciphering the marble ruins

Striding across vineyards and seas

Taking aim with my harpoon

At an elusive votive fish

I find the living land that passion

So joyfully opens

In the leaves that are memorized

By the psalm of the sun

I drink water and cut open fruit

I plunge my hands into the wind’s flora

Citrus trees scent the summer’s day pollen

Green birds flit through my dreams

As I leave, my eyes are filled with a vista

An endless vista where – from the beginning –

The world is made beautiful once more

According to the heart’s capacity

Drinking the Corinthian Sun

by Odysseus Elytis

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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May 25, 2009


The calendar page has been the same for months;

you used to pull them free like ripe fruit or autumn leaves.

I saw you implode beneath a tamarisk, accompanied

by cicadas trying to find words to explain your existence.

I lie here surrounded by papers, open books, half-

finished work – wishing it would at least rain.

I’ve also imploded many times – too many to calculate.

It’s my attempt to locate you through an act of emulation.

Immolation. If I’m you, I’ll find you. My hope

burns strong. At the moment I’m strong enough

to see you as you were. Eventually you’ll be

a few selected moments of a reshaped memory –

cherished and valued for an emotional intensity.


by Ράσελ Τζον Ντεντ

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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Triandafillos Pittas: The Epigraph

May 25, 2009

night garden

In the garden of night flowers

he hid behind the dark statues

In the cistern with the bats

he became a miner of the night

…he was searching for new wine

for a delirium they had never heard of…


Still nothing

Always nothing

Only a rock looming tall

only an epigraph in chalk:

‘Bare feet crush him,

dusty sandals trample him,

trample him…’

The Epigraph

Triandafillos Pittas

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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Panos Thasites: Home on Earth

May 24, 2009

greek house

One can see the cheerful white house,

with its red roof, vegetable garden, and well.

In it the earth deposits the secrets of its fragrance;

the forest colt licks its wooden step at night;

it also brings the secret of its simple life.

The stars are low, lured into the depths

Of the sleepless water.

We can live here.

Nearby, the river flows

through the reeds and bushes with no names,

through rushes that offer all they bear with love;

it flows past us and barely notices us.

It washes the bird’s feet and quenches the horse’s thirst,

It waters the fields as best it can.

At night it has no stories or dreams;

it is water

it does its work perfectly

it tires and it sleeps.

Home on Earth

by Panos Thasites

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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Nadina Dimitriou: Idyll

May 24, 2009

Greek ravine

The light blues of shade

and coolness flee

from a ravine

towards an idyll.

Mountain slopes and fields

are witnesses.

Roots that lie near the surface

are footpaths

and intertwined shadows

are nests.

The sun talks gently

to memory, gasping

when lips are upturned

and eyelids give consent.


by Nadina Dimitriou

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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The Comic Strip Presents…

May 20, 2009

comic strip presents

The Comic Strip is a loose-knit group of British comedians, known for their television series The Comic Strip Presents…. The core members are Peter Richardson, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer and Jennifer Saunders, with frequent appearances by Keith Allen, Robbie Coltrane, Daniel Peacock and Alexei Sayle.

Originally broadcast on Channel 4, the episodes were

Title:                                                                            Broadcast Date:

Five Go Mad In Dorset 2/11/1982
War 3/1/1983
The Beat Generation 7/1/1983
Bad News Tour 24/1/1983
Summer School 31/1/1983
Five Go Mad On Mescalin 2/11/1983
Dirty Movie 7/1/1984
Susie 14/1/1984
A Fistful Of Traveller’s Cheques 21/1/1984
Gino – Full Story And Pics 28/1/1984
Eddie Monsoon – A Life? 4/2/1984
Slags 11/2/1984
The Bullshitters 3/11/1984
The Supergrass Movie – 1985
Consuela 1/1/1986
Private Enterprise 2/1/1986
The Strike 20/2/1988
More Bad News 27/2/1988
Mr Jolly Lives Next Door 5/3/1988
The Yob 12/3/1988
Didn’t You Kill My Brother 19/3/1988
Funseekers 26/3/1988
South Atlantic Raiders 1/2/1990
South Atlantic Raiders Part 2 8/2/1990
GLC 15/2/1990
Oxford 22/2/1990
Spaghetti Hoops 1/3/1990
Les Dogs 8/3/1990
Red Nose Of Courage 9/3/1992
The Crying Game 5/5/1992
Wild Turkey 24/12/1992
Detectives On The Edge Of A Nervous Breakdown 22/4/1993
Space Virgins From The Planet Sex 29/4/1993
Queen Of The Wild Frontier 6/5/1993
Gregory – Diary Of A Nutcase 13/5/1993
Demonella 20/5/1993
Jealousy 27/5/1993
Four Men In A Car 12/4/1998
Four Men In A Plane 4/1/2000

The very first Comic Strip Presents… was Five Go Mad in Dorset, which was a parody of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. Next was War, followed by The Beat Generation, then the classic heavy metal parody Bad News Tour and then the brilliantly observed Summer School. The first three films were written by Peter Richardson and Pete Richens. Bad News Tour was by Adrian Edmondson and Summer School was written by Dawn French.

The second series started with Five Go Mad on Mescalin. Second was Dirty Movie, a brilliant visual comedy from Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall which works well with Rod Melvin’s organ accompaniment. Susie is by Richardson and Richens. A Fistful of Travellers’ Cheques has Rik Mayall collaborating with the core writing team to create a perfect pastiche of the Leone ‘Dollars’ trilogy. Gino is a brilliant film with Keith Allen in the lead. Edmondson’s Eddie Monsoon and Jennifer Saunders Slags close the second series.

The Bullshitters is a parody of the seventies TV detectives The Professionals. Other stand alone episodes at this time were Edmondson’s Private Enterprise and Consuela, a French and Saunders parody of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.

The next film was The Sugergrass, which was Peter Richardson’s directing debut. Then came The Strike, which was the first of many films to parody Hollywood through films within films of very English political films, in this case a sexing up of the miners’ strike. Next was More Bad News which continues in a similar vein as its predecessor.

Edmondson’s and Mayall’s Mr Jolly Lives Next Door is a prototype of the duo’s sitcom Bottom. Next is Keith Allen’s The Yob which mocks Allen’s own football yob persona and parodies David Cronenberg’s The Fly. This is followed by Alexei Sayle’s Didn’t you Kill my Brother? and Nigel Planer’s Funseekers.

The fourth series saw a move to the BBC and a return to the half hour format. The full ensemble appeared in the two-part South Atlantic Raiders. GLC was a sequel to The Strike with Robbie Coltrane playing Charles Bronson as Ken Livingstone in a story of the abolition of the Greater London Council. Oxford features special guests Lenny Henry and Leslie Philips. Spaghetti Hoops and Les Dogs were next, with the latter been a surreal piece featuring Kate Bush.

Three specials then came from The Comic Strip Presents stable: The Red Nose of Courage, which parodied British politics, with Adrian Edmondson playing John Major. The Crying Game was another Allen/Richardson collaboration which put some spin on the Paul Gascoigne story. Wild Turkey was a Christmas special.

The fifth series started strongly with Allen and Richardson’s Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown expanding the premise of The Bullshitters to parody all TV detectives with a few song and dance numbers. Space Virgins from Planet Sex was a b-movie pastiche that blended science fiction and James Bond in a way only the Comic Strip team could pull off. Queen of the Wild Frontier saw Richens and Richardson start the move towards straight films. Gregory was a parody of The Silence of the Lambs, whilst Demonella and Jealousy intimated that The Comic Strip Presents had perhaps run its course.

The original cast re-assembled on Channel Four for Four Man in a Car, the success of which was repeated with Four Men in a Plane.

Peter Richardson
Peter Richardson

You can now get The Comic Strip Presents… The Complete Collection on DVD, although the DVD was released before the last Comic Strip Presents… film Sex Actually was produced. Also missing is Eat the Rich and The Pope Must Die. Perhaps they could be included on the next DVD release of The Comic Strip Presents… The Complete Collection.

Despite the temporary misnomer, and although the bonus documentaries offer very little in the way of insight, one thing that very quickly becomes glaringly obvious is Peter Richardson’s vast – yet somehow still under-rated – talent as an actor, writer and director. The Comic Strip Presents… is clearly his creation. Finally, Julian Temple’s film of the initial stage revue does at least fill in some of the gaps. All in all, this is a nearly-complete, brilliant box set of a truly innovative and very funny TV show.

Here’s a clip of The Comic Strip Presents… team in action:

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