Monday, 31 January 2011

All that's Wild and Wonderful is coming to me through electronic media

All that’s wild and wonderful
Is coming to me through electronic media

I met you over an ISDN line having found your website on
New funky poetry for the masses
And your verses are full of the anguish of the
Longing heart of
IT support techies.

That’s you
That’s me
That’s the boy on the CD
That I play on my PC
As he sings in the USA
Out of sight and an ocean away.

All that’s wild and wonderful
Is coming to me through electronic media.

I rest my hands on the ergonomic keyboard
And gaze at the brick wall outside my office window
Who puts a wall outside a window?
Avoiding my screen of e-mails I listen to you sing
Inside my headphones.

All that’s wild and wonderful
Is coming to me through electronic media

And it’s all free..

Sarah de Nordwall 1999

Written in an office in TV Centre in 1999, while working for the Top Gear Website, answering 200 e-mails a day about the Fantasy Formula One game and listening to Dave Crossland on my headphoness, singing “Looking for the Light”..

Sunday, 30 January 2011

CItizens of the Simulacrum

Part One

Citizens of the Simulacrum
Why have you deserted the Mother ship?
Has she not nurtured you at her bureaucratic table?
Has she not erected her seven corporate values
And slaughtered the competition?

Has she not called to you,
The unsuccessful,
To come and learn, from her, how to be winners?

Citizens of the simulacrum, rejoice
You have no longer blood in your veins!
Therefore you are safe from destruction.

Your death is pre-empted by this;
That you have become an everlasting image
Alive in virtuality
And digitized in perpetuity

An undifferentiated particle
Of superpossibility;
A parallel line that will meet at infinity.

Part Two

From The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 9 (Ronald Knox translation)

See, where wisdom has built herself a house,
Carved out for herself those seven pillars of hers!
And now, her sacrificial victims slain, her wine mingled, her banquet spread,
This way and that her maidens are dispatched,
To city keep and city wall, bidding her guests make haste.

Simple hearts, she says, draw near me;
And to all that lack learning this is her cry,
Come and eat at my table, come and drink of the wine I have brewed for you;
Say farewell to your childishness, and learn to live;
Follow all of you in the path that leads to discernment

Part Three

from an article on Simulation and Simulacra at the University of Chicago by Devin Sandoz

Can you really have bits of an article in a poem?
Will it make the poem more like an article or merely reveal the poetic potential of the article?

Come and see!

..According to the OED's first definition, a simulacrum is almost impossible to distinguish from a representation, but in the second and third definitions we can see that the simulacrum supercedes representation in terms of the accuracy and power of its imitation.

It is only when the viewer of the simulacrum penetrates the surface that he can tell that it differs from the thing it imitates.

Michael Camille elucidates the classical notion of the simulacrum in his article "Simulacrum" in Critical Terms for Art History. Camille analyzes Plato's opinion of the simulacrum in The Republic:

"The simulacrum is more than just a useless image, it is a deviation and perversion of imitation itself - a false likeness"

the production of an icon, results in the production of a representation that can be immediately understood as separate from the object it imitates

The simulacrum, however, is indistinguishable from the original; it is "a false claimant to being" (32).

While the simulacrum is defined as static, it nevertheless deceives its viewer on the level of experience, a manipulation of our senses which transforms the unrealistic into the believable.

Camille writes: "what disturbs Plato is...what we would call today the 'subject position' of the beholder.

It is the particular perspective of human subjectivity that allows the statue that is 'unlike' seem 'like' and, moreover, beautifully proportioned from a certain vantage point' (32).

The simulacrum uses our experience of reality against us, creating a false likeness that reproduces so exactly our visual experience with the real that we cannot discern the falseness of the imitation.

"The artwork, then, is neither an original nor a copy nor a representation. It is a simulacrum, a work that forms part of a series that cannot be referred to an original beginning" (Kelly ed., 517). When the work of art is viewed in such a way the consequences are not negative, on the model of Baudrillard’s dread at the impending death of the real, but instead reveal new possibilities of interpretation in a critical realm where sensation is the focus instead of meaning.

"Signs are not about the communication of meaning but rather about the learning of the affects, perceptions, and sensations to which we can be subject" (518).

This fits perfectly with the conception of simulation as a process which affects our experience and not (as the image is) a signification of a fundamental reality.

David Cronenberg's film eXistenZ engages the concept of the simulation and presents us with a vision of the future in which impression is valued over content. The film follows the first experience of a bodyguard uninitiated in the world of virtual reality videogames with a new product created by the videogame designed he was hired to protect.

Speaking directly to Baudrillard's concerns, the film leaves the viewer uncertain as to when the characters are in a virtual world (see: virtuality) and when they are experiencing the real. The self-referentiality within the film, with its framing of a virtual reality videogame inside of another videogame, portrays the simulated world as not only tied directly to the experience of emotion and sensation, but as a world in which logical action is rewarded and meaning sublimated.

Any moral or allegorical conclusion that could be drawn from what appears to be the film's initial conclusion, that simulations create a system which precipitates its own demise, is invalidated by a further expansion into another reality in which the real videogame designer is congratulated for having created a really fun game. The simulation in the film is reduced to the status of a ride or a contest, containing its own rules and raising the status of the videogame to deific proportions. The port into which the gamepods are plugged (directly into the player's spine) becomes a metaphor for desire and oblivion in its simultaneous recollection of sexual intercourse and intravenous drug use. This is the realm of the simulation, a process whose responsibility lies only in what it makes us feel.

The simulation, as we can see by contrasting the philosophies of Baudrillard and Deleuze, can be interpreted in nearly opposite ways, as either the death knell for meaning and the "real," or conversely as an avenue to new methods of interpretation.

For Deleuze, the simulation raises the work of art beyond representation to a level where it is on equal footing with the original, and hence the original is destroyed. Plato's fear of the simulacrum as described by Michael Camille is based on the distortion of real experience that the convincing image causes.

The terms simulation and simulacrum are important to media study, as the simulation is total mediation without meaning. The content is shifted to a surface level, into the realm of experience

rather than communication of truth,

..the way that the medium affects us

becomes our main interpretive focus.

Part Four

Citizens of the simulacrum, rejoice
You have no longer blood in your veins!
Therefore you are safe from destruction.

Your death is pre-empted by this;
That you have become an everlasting image
Alive in virtuality
And digitized in perpetuity

An undifferentiated particle
Of superpossibility;
A parallel line that will meet at infinity.

But See, where wisdom has built herself a house,
Carved out for herself those seven pillars of hers!
And now, her sacrificial victims slain, her wine mingled, her banquet spread,
This way and that her maidens are dispatched,
To city keep and city wall, bidding her guests make haste.

Simple hearts, she says, draw near me;
And to all that lack learning this is her cry,
Come and eat at my table, come and drink of the wine I have brewed for you;
Say farewell to your childishness, and learn to live;
Follow all of you in the path that leads to discernment

Part Five

from the Gospel of the Day

Blessed are the pure in heart
For they shall see God.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Escape Velocity

In order to achieve escape velocity
I reduced my speed to zero.

It didn’t take long;
No time at all
Plus 20 years of dithering about

When suddenly, when I slowed down
And all the buildings, cars and pseudo-opportunities sped up
I stood still in the searing silent blur
And all of it was gone.

Miraculously fallen into sheer irrelevance
And all the sky above was laughing wild
And the hills un-concreted
Tore off their urban clothes
And glowed with glory at the rising moon.

When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage
It seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter
On our lips there were songs.

The heathens themselves said
‘What marvels the Lord works for them!’
What marvels the Lord worked for us
Indeed we were glad.

If the Lord does not build the house
In vain do its builders labour.
If the Lord guards not the city
In vain do the watchmen stare.

Oh you who toil for the bread you eat
In vain is your endless labour
When the Lord pours gifts on those he loves
As they go to their beds and slumber.

The day I achieved escape velocity
I stood on your Holy Hill
And lifting my eyes to the Hill of the Moon
I heard Your Holy Will.

Sarah de Nordwall September 12th 2007

Written at Holy Hill Hermitage, County Sligo, Ireland, just beside the Hill of the Moon, under Ox Mountain.

‘Escape velocity’ is the speed needed to "break free" from a gravitational field without further propulsion. In practice the escape velocity sets the bar for any rocket aiming to bring a satellite beyond the orbit of the earth. (Wikipedia)

The verses from ‘When the Lord delivered Zion’, to ‘as they go to their beds and slumber’ are a very slightly re-worked version of Psalm 127.

Milly Molly Mantra

Milly Molly Mantra was assured of her success.
To her own emerging universe she thrilled and uttered, 'Yes!'

She knew she was a winner
She knew she had a choice
She knew she was a person with a real free person’s voice.

And Milly Molly Mantra had two mottos that could thrill
They went 'Each day I’m better' and 'I will, I will, I will'.

Life, captured her, exalted her
And each day she’d repeat
'Today in every way I’m growing more and more replete'.

Her diet purged her, by her will
She knew that she could do it;
And all her fears of daily life she’d face
And battle through it.

But when at home as years advanced
She found she’d sometimes sigh
And face the stark encroaching dark
With 'No, I will not die'.

But though Milly Molly Mantra
Lived with all her psychic juices
The hour of death left Milly very quiet
Without excuses.

And through death’s marvellous doorway
She saw another face
And wondered if she hadn’t seen it
In some other place.

And Milly Molly Mantra
Felt distinctly awed and numb
And for the first time ever
Milly’s mantra,
left her

Sarah de Nordwall

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Angel Coast or Unexpected Gold

Bright heaven has let down her guard
And falls be-dazzled on the winter sea

The torrent breakers grey and wild
Erupt in scintillating cries of light

Bright platinum flashing white and
flecked with unexpected gold.

How came this glorious gift
To such a cold stone shore?

The whitening chalk cliffs, tender
Honoured yet, breathe phantom like
and mute
Beside excoriating power volcanic
Bursting from the home of light
In unrelenting bliss.

Kiss now our homely earth
And fling your star falls in the lucid air

As throngs of birds in undulating joy
Pitch up
and fall and
Rise again
Against the anguish of the blistering gales

Leaving with the myriad plays of light.

Lightless birds, heightening the air with cries

Fine soundings of an infinite wealth of time and turning space
frothed and breakered
in the drenching roar of sound

out, far beyond the realm of all our pinpoint shore-bound
this too much turmoil of unmeasurable beauty
pierces forth in
unreciprocal power.

Unending and unbearable glory
tears and sweeps away
the last of all my heart’s defences

And all this so
unmeasured glory
enters in.

Sarah de Nordwall October 27th 2002

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Swimming in the Falling Star Cave

You can only reach the cave by boat.

I was excited by that.

And once you enter in
You leave the brilliant sun outside
And so, the water although crystal pure
Is dark,
But all the same, I longed to dive right in.

Just then, I looked up
To a tiny opening in the roof of the cave
Where a ray of light pierced through
And shot like a heavenly visitor
Into the water,
with miraculous effect.

The light fell like a falling star
And for some reason no one could explain
Deep in the water, formed a bright green star
That sparkled 15 feet beneath the waves.

I dived into the sea
And swam through cool dark water till I saw the green star
With her luminous blue tail
And suddenly brilliant light was on my hands.

I, moving through my darkened underwater cosmos
Struck upon this vein of brilliance.

Utterly transfigured, all my being flowed with light.
I, joyous, rose up through the water in the star's bright tail
Till bursting through the surface into air
I felt the light fall radiant on my laughing face.

And treading water in this unexpected glory
Laughed again and reached up into light transfiguring
And cried out to the captain of the boat
"Is this how we arrive in heaven,
Emerging from the watery dark whilst following the star
Unique to us?"

The surface of the water, crossed by light,
Refracted on the cave's roof,
Danced with accompanying delight

And I, returning to my boat once more
Moved off into the dark baptismal water of the cave

and from the benediction of the falling star
Found all the sparkling sea, cold on my flesh,
Preparing me for resurrected life
And tingling with the brightening salt of grace.

Sarah de Nordwall July 2006

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Instead I Will Stand in the Fire

I could run round the fringes of amusing people's lawns
I could laugh at dinner parties and be considered quite a catch
I could find my way to the top of a tree
To the top of THE tree and look down at the grass-skimmers
From my quite imposing height.

I could dig in the annals of world knowledge
And find treasures that would release humanity from pain and despair
I could visit stars and return before the earth was formed
And be present at the birth of the species

I could visit every person
And experience all desire

Instead I will stand in the fire.
Instead I will stand in the fire.

I could work extensively at becoming particularly convincing
I could employ my intellect on a range of worthwhile projects
I could ask you many questions
and be energised with delight at the astonishing range and exponential charm of your responses

Instead, I will stand in the fire
And then let come what may.

Sarah de Nordwall    October 28th 2010

Monday, 24 January 2011


I require something of you
Which I cannot acknowledge

So I ask it of you in terms of
Making you an offer
You can't refuse.

You take the bait
And I wait
For the goods to arrive

But they don't

For the offer left my hand
like a satellite
On an elliptical orbit

Curving sharply back
To the centre of gravity;


And what comes back
Is not free
Not a gift from you to me

But the unspoken sense
Of your unseen resentment

And the outworking
of my own

How is it
That even the most unnatural dealings
All seem to follow the same natural law?

Sarah de Nordwall  May 2003

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Love is like the changing room in Mr Benn's shop

Love is like the changing room
In Mr Benn's shop.

You know, "As if by magic, the shop-keeper appeared"
And let you choose the costume you desired
And led you to the room
Where all roads change.

And stepping out beyond the door
The world is entirely new
The landscape and the sky transformed
And so are you.

Love is like a window
In an office wall.

You must have been mistaken
But suddenly the view
No longer looks out on a Croydon Car Park
No, in every hue,
Segments of exquisite glass
Have suddenly made bright
With promise and transfiguring joy
An ordinary sight.

And every vehicle merely parked
Seems now poised or at rest
A tiny pause before "they're off"
On some heroic quest.

Love is not blind
It sees the world
As it was first intended
When intimacy, joy and grace
Were passionately blended.

The world is as a Burning Bush
And that Celestial fire
That sometimes hides from
World-worn eyes
Is the source of your desire.

From Holy Joy and Holy Chaos
The spiritual world arises
As Love itself breathes destiny in
And sprinkles in surprises.

Awake North wind and Come thou South
And blow upon my Garden
And see where the vine is flourishing
The pomegranates growing.

Who is this
That comes up from the wilderness
Leaning on her Beloved?

I am come into my Garden,
My love shall not be hurried.

I am my beloved's
And my beloved is mine.
From a well of living waters
Let us drink Celestial Wine!

Sarah de Nordwall November 2007

Mr Benn is my favourite cartoon character, who sprang upon the world in 1971. The following article about him is pure delight.. how could it not be; beginning as it does with the words "Mr Benn lives at No. 52 Festive Road...". Thank you, illustrator David McKee for your joy and wisdom in animated form.

The final verses of the poem reference different quotations from the Song of Songs.  Ch7 v13, Ch3 v6, Ch8 v 5, Ch 5 v1, Ch6 v3 and Ch4 v15.   If you want a gorgeous treat you can hear it being sung in Hebrew here, where it also appears written in Hebrew and English. Thank you  for all your work, singing and glorious proclaiming.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Our Lady of the Pirates

I saw the Oleander and the Tamarisk tree beside the shore.

You took me there at night,
Where the shutters of the old stone houses
Creaked with age beneath the yellowing moon.

Our Lady of the Pirates -
What a tale you told of the old church
At the far point of the bay
As we came to the stone well.

The pirates, many years ago,
Had stolen a painting of the Mother of God.

Their ship had sunk
And all that was drawn up from the wrecked boat
Was this image.

When the fishermen carried it here and placed it on the ground
A spring burst forth
And here the well was build and now the church.

The image in the candle-lit interior
Is enhanced by many prayers in polyphonic voices
Richly sung by fishermen
And women dressed in black.

I wonder that the pirates had the nerve.
How little they must then have known
Of how the universe was woven,

As another fisherman's poet wisely said
"Of a thread too bright for the eye".

Take now into your hands this simple cloth,
Your life,
The one you weave
Of hempen homespun or of gold

And as we sit and spin our tale,
Feel tenderly the texture of this cloth
Beneath your hand.

And seek within its warp and weft
The thread too bright for the eye
Divinely planned.

For as the last door opens and you leave this world of time,
This cloth will be the robe you wear
As the last bell chimes.

Sarah de Nordwall July 15th 2006

Friday, 21 January 2011

I shall dig a Well

I shall dig a well in
The dark earth

And I shall fling with glee
The sharp stones at the spade’s edge.

I shall hear with joy the
Clang of metal on stone
And breathe with fervour
the smell of cut moss and wriggling soil.

Ahh, I shall dig a deep well

And the striking spade will sing on the cavern’s roof,

There where I bore my hole in the rock
The light will enter for the first time in
Ageless ages

Into the sleeping cave

Revealing colour
and air

Water of purple
and green
And deep, deep gold

I will source my well at the earth’s heart
Far from the sight of men
And up into fragrant heavens will its vapour rise

Mist-like until dew-fallen
Into the greening forest

Refresh me

Well of my own digging

For we have been friends for many years
But soon

We meet.

Sarah de Nordwall 1999

Thursday, 20 January 2011

One January I saw the Spring outside with a pickaxe in her hand

One January, I saw the Spring outside, with a pickaxe in her hand.

She stood there in her Boticelli gown
Industrial gloves pulled on
Hands on hips
Long handled axe hung down at side

And she surveyed the scene
With piercing eye.

“Those trunks need scrubbing;
And the frost from every bough
And leaf must be scraped off..

No slacking now!

We’ve every tree and surface
On a planetary hemisphere to clear
And only 2 months left.

I’ll start to hew the glaciers in the north
But the garden ponds are yours.

The lakes and rivers we will do in ranks.
God knows if we will ever get the thanks
That we deserve,

But just think!

What would happen if this great work
Were not done by us?”

But, as the frosty air with which she spoke
Curled up to freeze her nose,

High Summer,
overhearing, far above
in a work of unearned grace

And in an act of kindness
Placed her warm hand on Spring’s heart.

The frost,
in melted handshape
On her tender muslin dress
Was wet, as if with tears.

The pickaxe, slipping from her hand,
Fell clanging on the ground

She sighed a long breath
in the ringing air

And turning to invisible Summer,
Felt the loving warmth
Upon her brow.

Gloves off,
She wiped new moisture from her skin

And tenderly
She let
The Spring-time in.

© Sarah de Nordwall
Thursday June 23rd 2005

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

On first writing out the opening lines of the Hebrew Scriptures with a reed pen and a Chinese ink block

This reed pen is joy,
traversing water and stone,
trailing destiny.

How can the dark dust
Learn the Holy Tongue and speak
Of our ecstasy?

Faith in the bright words
Radiant without gold or wealth
Burns us to cinder.

Sarah de Nordwall 2010

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Fertile Field

Even the explosion of an atom bomb
Makes no impact on a mind that's closed.

When it's locked on the inside,
Fastened in fear,
The thoughts that you've proposed,
Sound wild and vicious as the force 9 gale
That blows down the turrets
And sweeps in the hail.

So when you hear the hollow shock
And a breathless gasp as you gently knock
then leave the house in its own disorder,
Spare your heartache,
Break for the border.

Somewhere on a higher plane
You'll find a vantage point again
And looking down on roofs and towers
Drink in deeply higher powers..

Then return with soul in tact
Before proposing any pact.

Seek no comfort
Ask no pardon
Work in silence
In your garden.

Let the ivy only cling
Need no person
Need no thing

Let the summer breeze convey
Scents of what you'd wished to say.

Unspoken yet
The flowers yield
And die so gently
In the field.

Till the fruits in silence dare
To ripen in the autumn air.

Matured in time
At last to feed
The heart within
Accedes to need

And as you tend the crop in peace

The prisoned mind
Steps out released

And tender
Towards the fertile tree
Will step in courage

When you're free.

Sarah de Nordwall 1994

Monday, 17 January 2011

Among the Fields

Walking in the fields,
You find the way.

No path
But here an almond tree
The nut-shell green
And soft like cheap velour.

But the taste is bitter.

The amazing fact
That here, yes, in this very field
A shepherd boy
With a single sling-shot
Killed Goliath

Philistine insurmountable,
The terror of the Jews.

Walking through the orchard
Where the furrowed soil is dry
You find the way.

No one to follow.
He keeps slipping out of view.

But now you sense
You know the way yourself.
Ah, there he is again; the task renewed.

The courage comes with each discovery.

The people I must help
I do not know.

My skills untutored
Yet you say
The finding of the way
This is the plan.

Don't ask for more
you never liked straight roads.

I know you glimpsed the caves along the valley.

Since so much lies around us
Just enjoy the clues

He chose them
And we choose
To find the way
With Him.

Walking on the hill
We found the cave
As the rain fell.

Now dry, inside, we look out
And remember
He saw this very sea
From here, 2000 years ago.

And all the wheat we ran through
It was growing still
When He was walking here
Among the fields.

Sarah de Nordwall, November 28th 2009

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Grief and Sorrow Like a long sword slew the Dragon

Grief and sorrow like a long sword slew the dragon

The blade removed
No mark was left behind
Like a bloodless sacrifice

at the death of the monster of the deep

And the sea returns to wholeness

The patient walks again

Grief and sorrow have
Destroyed in me
The whirlwind of the day

One moment at a time
Returns to me
And I walk free.

Sarah de Nordwall December 5th 2009

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The True Drama

The true drama is not this

surface tension.

It lies beyond

within the

Calm below

Where life and Glory



Exploration and the capacity to


a never-ending


Delight is the True Drama.

January 14th 2011

Friday, 14 January 2011

On trying to get the 12 levels of being through Security

A man on a goat farm in Israel had told me
About a rabbi
Who knew everything
about the 12 levels of being.
I sensed they were badly needed here in London.

So when he went to the Holy land again I asked him to bring them back for me.
He was worried about getting them through security.

And indeed they spotted him with repentance in his rucksack
She was sewn deep into the lining – the tenth level of being-
But repentance had burst through, revealing
the capacity to create;
The eleventh level. 
There for all to see.
 But would they?
It was a tense moment by the conveyor belt.

And still they searched for the twelfth.

When you tried to pass through customs
They sensed you had something to declare.
Did you really think that no one would notice your lack of the customary reticence?
Did you not think that your unbounded spontaneity would act as a kind of a giveaway?
‘If he is carrying the 12th level of being we will have to be very careful.’
They were told on their security warning system

‘He is not like One of Us
He is utterly incomparable.
 He is beyond the furthest horizon of our imagining.
He is off the scale of our comprehension.
 We have merely known the shallows of the mighty deep.’

And so they searched the soles of your shoes to avert an explosion of joy
They shook out your gloves for something to grasp onto
But your intellectual depths were incapable of detection
By  the penetrating scanning  of their implacable machines.

Resolved into simplicity and sheer invisibility
You revealed only tenderness in the sublimity of your smile

They mistook your comprehension for stupidity
And foolishly
They let you through.

Sarah de Nordwall November 2010