Archive for August 9, 2012

Postcard from Brumleby

Posted in Biographical with tags , , on August 9, 2012 by telescoper

The last few weeks having been a bit chaotic, it’s probably a good idea to mention that I’m currently in the fine city of Copenhagen. This may come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, and it’s a long story how I ended up here at this time. I won’t bore you with the details, except to say I needed to get away for a while and with the help of friends and colleagues here I’m convalescing and trying to get back to doing some research at the Niels Bohr Institute, where I’ve been a visitor on many occasions.

As a matter of fact I’m staying in a very nice part of Copenhagen, called Brumleby, “an enclave of terraced houses” in many ways not dissimilar to Pontcanna, the part of Cardiff where I usually live. Incidentally the -by ending (pronounced “be” in English) which also can be found in many English place names, especially along the East coast, is pronounced more like “bue” in Danish. Footballer Jan Mølby’s name was constantly mispronounced by English commentators…

Brumleby has an interesting history. It was one of a number of social housing developments constructed in the mid-19th century in Copenhagen in response to a cholera outbreak caused by chronic overcrowding and insanitary conditions in the old city. The original name for Brumleby was Lægeforeningens Boliger, which means the “Medical Association’s Buildings” for it was set up by the Danish Medical Association, Den Almindelige Danske Lægeforening. Most of the other similar developments have now been demolished, but Brumleby is now listed and preserved as a conservation area. The apartments are small, but very cosy, and as an added convenience for me only about 5 minutes walk from the Niels Bohr Institute.

Thanks once again for all the kind and concerned emails and other messages I’ve received over the past few days and weeks. I’m definitely on the mend and will start on a `permanent’ programme when I return to Wales. I also apologize yet again to my work colleagues, visitors, students, etc, for being so erratic recently. One day, perhaps, you’ll understand and maybe even forgive.


The Cool Web

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on August 9, 2012 by telescoper

Children are dumb to say how hot the day is,
How hot the scent is of the summer rose,
How dreadful the black wastes of evening sky,
How dreadful the tall soldiers drumming by,

But we have speech, to chill the angry day,
And speech, to dull the roses’s cruel scent,
We spell away the overhanging night,
We spell away the soldiers and the fright.

There’s a cool web of language winds us in,
Retreat from too much joy or too much fear:
We grow sea-green at last and coldly die
In brininess and volubility.

But if we let our tongues lose self-possession,
Throwing off language and its watery clasp
Before our death, instead of when death comes,
Facing the wide glare of the children’s day,
Facing the rose, the dark sky and the drums,
We shall go mad, no doubt, and die that way.

by Robert Graves (1895-1985)