Photo by Dave Sidaway, Montreal Gazette
It was one hundred and seventy years ago, that 6000 Irish immigrants perished in Montreal, due to Typhus fever. They had fled their homeland, Ireland due t the great famine of 1847-1848. Most where the very poor and many were already sick on the voyage over, thus why is also called "ship fevor"
In the year of 1859, bridge workers working on the Victoria bridge uncovered the mass grave, many of them, themselves Irish. At the time they erected a memorial, so that future generations would not forget. Officially named the Irish Commemorative Stone, it is more commonly known as the Black Rock and also has been referred to as the Ship Fever Monument.
Today, the Irish community has been lobbying for a more substantial monument and better preservation of the "Irish Commemorative Stone" As the land has been purchased by Hydro Quebec, lets hope that the Quebec Government cares about preserving its patrimony and the telling of this important historical event, so that the story is never forgotten.
Photo by Dave Sidaway, Montreal Gazette
I confess, I myself was not aware of the amount of people who perished, as when I think of the Irish Famine, I always think of Grosse Île, near Quebec City, that was a quarantine station for the Irish immigrants arriving in Quebec. Indeed many a thousand perished there as well due to Typhus fever.
This is however, not just an Irish Story. Sickness Sheds had been erected to take care of and segregate those who contracted the fever. Many people helped and cared for the sick, even knowing how contagious and how dangerous this was. John Easton Mills, the then Mayor on Montreal tended to the sick and he himself caught the fever and died.
Photo taken 1898
The order of the grey nuns also tended to the sick, as did many francophone's and native Indians. Over 1000 Irish orphans were adopted by French families and helps explain why over 40% of Quebecers have some Irish ancestry. Outside of Ireland this is the largest burial ground of Irish famine victims outside of Ireland.
Notes: As this was in today's newspaper here, I read up on the topic, from various sources. Any errors in fact are mine, and if anyone wishes to either correct or provide more detailed accounts of any part of this narrative, I would love to hear from you.
A smile won and a frown lost
Well, well. Iran in yesterday’s elections chose a moderate, who wishes to embrace the world, build peace, and who rejects outright extremism. In other words, Iran voted for the opposite of Trump. What an interesting world we live in!
Moderate Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, won a decisive second term against a decidedly extremist and intolerant candidate, Ebrahim Raisi. It is my sincerest wish that Rouhani winning a second term will be a turning point for Iran. What is of great joy is that huge numbers of Iranians came out to vote, and in Tehran the number of voters was double that of the last election. Even the executive branch in Iran has limited powers; it was the only area in which the hardliners did not control. It is of course also the only area in which the people have somewhat of a true say in matters. Never the less, the people have spoken and hopefully this will lead to a more open and free society!
During Rouhani’s first term many of his promises went unfulfilled. However, he answered this best by saying, “ I have accomplished what I promised when I could, and in many cases, I could not. In other words, he was admitting to his limited powers, and we can only hope this election win will strengthen his credibility within Iranian politics.
I must remind Westerners that as a moderate, he spoke up and made direct accusations towards the torture and oppression, jailings and killings by Ebrahim Raisi. In Iran, no matter how high the status of an individual, it is always a risk to be so direct in exposing and opposing the hardliners. This is a fine line that always has to be balanced.
If you doubt me just look at Egypt. Changes must be made in small steps so that the extremists can not make excuses to simply annul democracy ad seize back power!
May 19, 2017 was a great day for Iran, for Persia and for Hafez!
It is with great irony that when Iran has made such a progressive choice, Donald Trump has chosen to visit Saudi Arabia and provide such an extremist kingdom with even more weapons.
If only Persian poets could rule the world!
Below are a few beautiful images from Iran!
First, let me say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and the author Dalia Sofer, enchants the reader from beginning to end. Lovely poetry, one can not help but be enticed by any story taking place in Persia.
Knowing so many Iranians, who have told me of the beauty of their country and culture, I have to say my dream, is to be able to visit there, to see today, and to see the ancient history told by art and poetry, both then and now.
Below you will also find a beautiful poem by Hafiz!
Author Dalia Sofer
I will provide a brief “wiki” summary of the plot. Suffice it to say, I loved the book, and am sure you will too.
During the first months after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, wealthy Jewish Iranian gemologist Isaac Amin is suddenly arrested at his office in Tehran by the Revolutionary Guards who take him to prison. During his prison days, he meets fellow prisoners of different backgrounds, who are tortured and finally prosecuted. In interrogation sessions, his interrogator Mohsen, once torturing him with a lit cigarette and having him lashed, refers to the injustice of being affluent and to the justice that the revolution is bringing to the oppressed. After the guards scare him by putting him before a firing squad and shooting around his body, he says to Mohsen that he has realized the truth and is ready to pay all his savings as his debt to the revolution. After emptying his bank account, Mohsen declares him free and leaves him alone in the street.
Below is a poem of which part was quoted in the book! Enjoy
Poems from the Divan of Hafiz, by Getrude Lowthian Bell, 1897
I CEASE not from desire till my desire
Is satisfied; or let my mouth attain
My love's red mouth, or let my soul expire,
Sighed from those lips that sought her lips in vain.
Others may find another love as fair;
Upon her threshold I have laid my head,
The dust shall cover me, still lying there,
When from my body life and love have fled.
My soul is on my lips ready to fly,
But grief beats in my heart and will not cease,
Because not once, not once before I die,
Will her sweet lips give all my longing peace.
My breath is narrowed down to one long sigh
For a red mouth that burns my thoughts like fire;
When will that mouth draw near and make reply
To one whose life is straitened with desire?
When I am dead, open my grave and see
The cloud of smoke that rises round thy feet:
In my dead heart the fire still burns for thee;
Yea, the smoke rises from my winding-sheet!
Ah, come, Beloved! for the meadows wait
Thy coming, and the thorn bears flowers instead
Of thorns, the cypress fruit, and desolate
Bare winter from before thy steps has fled.
Hoping within some garden ground to find
A red rose soft and sweet as thy soft cheek,
Through every meadow blows the western wind,
Through every garden he is fain to seek.
Reveal thy face! that the whole world may be
Bewildered by thy radiant loveliness;
The cry of man and woman comes to thee,
Open thy lips and comfort their distress!
Each curling lock of thy luxuriant hair
Breaks into barbèd hooks to catch my heart,
My broken heart is wounded everywhere
With countless wounds from which the red drops start.
Yet when sad lovers meet and tell their sighs,
Not without praise shall Hafiz’ name be said,
Not without tears, in those pale companies
Where joy has been forgot and hope has fled.
This blog was written while tasting a wonderful Shiraz wine, Sonovino from Sicily!
The Falklands War
I found this book in a used book store in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia! I was surprised and intrigued as to the connections with France and New France. The book is very detailed and thus may be boring to some; however, I found this to be a unique and interesting part of history. The devil is in the details, and this book certainly takes a reader through the war, day by day. I think what is also interesting is no one at the time thought such a small insignificant peace of land would cause such a conflict. Argentina learned this the hard way.
Now, I know most will not have the time to read the book and may not be interested in that moment in history. However, one of the things I try to do when writing poetry is to see things from the human element, or a particular person's point of view. I think humanizing these events helps us to create empathy and understanding of all things, not in terms of right or wrong, but in terms of realizing that humans inflicting pain on humans is a terrible thing. And by no means do I have any answers, only by viewing problems with lots of empathy, may one soften his thoughts towards any perceived enemy.
I have included a short video of Simon Weston, a veteran of the Falkland War, with the Welsh Guards. This is a short one but he has appeared on many shows and has given many interviews. He is a man who currently advocates for better treatment for War Veterans. This is an issue that most countries fail to recognize. It was interesting to hear him speak and added the human touch to the book.
This Blog is also thus dedicated to Simon Weston and the Welsh Guards!
Guard of honour, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards by Thomas Plunkett
Below are a few paintings of the Falklands War.
Hi there, the blog has been running for almost a year, and as you can see I try to keep up a few posts a month. More about poetry and fellow poets, but also about current events, social issues as well as art and music. I look forward to any suggestions from readers and fellow poets!