Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Detail of a ceramic frieze atop the Dragon Mother's Temple, Guang Dong Province, China. People lean over the upper balcony to tuck money into the sculptures to help lubricate the passage of their wishes to reality.Dear Gentle Reader,

It's 3WW.

This week the prompt words are amaze, frail, and sacred.

Your starter is a titled picture with, as always, descriptions if you run your mouse over the image.

Then, as usual, I serve up three haiku/senryu, each with an American Sentence title.

For dessert, I close off with a musical offering.

So, promptly, away.

Let the games begin with amaze, frail, and sacred...

Amazing Grace, Newton's sweet sound--though he'd sold men, bound, in slavery...

frail prayers waft up,
borne with sacred incense swirls;
plead amazing grace

** True, John Newton (1725-1807) did end life campaigning with John Wilberforce for the abolition of slavery, but he started life as a slaver, and, though he had changed careers to become a curate, he had not denounced slavery when he penned 'Amazing Grace' in 1779.

The British Slave Trade Act of 1807, which Wilberforce and Newton campaigned for, became law little more than 9 months before Newton's death and abolished slavery in the British Empire.

Britain would take until 1833 to determine that slavery as an institution was inherently illegal.

That said, the Western world would not see slavery as being a jus cogens, an international legal wrong, or, more specifically, that a jus cogens itself could exist until the conventions for drafting the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties were commenced in 1949 and the text finally adopted in 1969 (see Article 53). It would still take until 1980 for the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969, to enter into force.

This whole 'aside' merely is my way of pointing out the frailty of some prayers, especially those implicitly contained within 'Amazing Grace', penned at the time by an unrepentant ex-slaver and slave trader.

Forget storge, philia, and agape; give me eros each day.

frail hearts quail, tremble.
love is sacred? hah! Violent!
stunned, amazed, we pant.

** Storge, philia, agape, and eros are the four forms of love in Classical Greek thought.

Storge, στοργή, refers to loving, familial affection.

Philia, φιλία, refers to friendship--the love between friends.

Agape, αγάπη, refers to an abiding, deep love and contentment.

Eros, έρως, finally, refers to passionate love. Eros doesn't have to be sexual, but Plato's modification of love, Platonic love, a non-sexual love, is a modification of eros--which point to the importance of sexuality in the non-Platonic eros.

Crowds queued (Paris-style) for her; Quasimodo tried to save her; she died.

frail Esmeralda's
sacred sanctuary fails;
amazed Q's heart breaks

** If you haven't read Victor Hugo's (1802-1885) 'Notre-Dame de Paris', or, 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame" then this little piece will surely fail. The only thing I will point to here is the ambiguity of 'Q' in the last line.

Normally this 'Q' would clearly refer to Quasimodo, but, with the title of this poem, 'Q' could also be the Parisian crowd which 'queued' outside of Notre-Dame to show its support of Esmeralda--fabulously misread by Louis XI, the King of France, in the book....

*** As per queuing 'Paris-style', don't think Paris of Hector, or of Helen, think French Revolution.

Think Eugène Delacroix and 'La Liberté guidant le peuple', or, 'Liberty guiding the people'...

Image of painting by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) entitled ' La Liberté guidant le peuple', or 'Liberty guiding the People'. This image is in the public domain and is sourced from the Wikimedia Commons.

An aside and a query. Does "to hector" in English come from Homer's Iliad?

Hector (eldest son of King Priam [of Troy] and Hecuba), who berated his brother, Paris, with lines like "Paris, you pretty boy, you woman seducer, why were you ever born? Why weren't you killed before your wedding day"...


Ah... and the music for today is...

Hmm. My data storage site appears to be down...

I'll have to try to add the music later...


Teresa said...

Wow. Amazingly graceful, although I doubt Newton would have appreciated something as heathen and popish as incense wafting his prayers to heaven (or was he high church?). That one with the opening picture made me think of the movie we were watching last night in our graduate seminar--Lord Jim (based on Conrad's book). In one line, the indeterminate Asian woman is praying with incense to her many idols. Jim says she only has one God, and she responds, "Poor thing. How can one god be enough? There is so much work to do in the world, how can one god get it all done?"

I just LOVED your second poem. Very, very good.

And the third is brilliant, too.

Thanks for all the footnotes and research. You have managed a marvelous tour de force today.

I hope you, the Heroine and Pommes are well and thriving. I will be back to sample the music when it is up and running.

Nara Malone said...

Amazing. I can't think of when I learned so much from one post. Thanks.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hi Teresa,

My music site is still down, but I did add a little extra footnote on Paris-style queuing, and a theory on Hector that just came up.

(I ought to be careful of 2:30 am postings... ...I suspect I wrote too much as is my wont when tired.)

Interesting comment on John Newton, Teresa.

My instant response was that Amazing Grace is one of the Olney Hymns, as in Olney, Buckinghamshire.

And that John Newton would have been a High Anglican with censors and a great deal of popishness.

But, then again, I think Newton was one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society, although I am not sure of that, and I do recall that he was a strong evangelical.

So maybe he was a low Anglican.

Or a low Episcopalian as my American cousins call the Anglicans in America.

As per the Hero, Heroine, and I, we are all doing OK. The Heroine is in Germany this week, Pommes is stalking the suitcases to ensure that I don't leave, and I am doing some renovation work on our new apartment as a client is no more.


Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Nara,


Sorry about that.

I tend to loquaciousness and I am too tired to edit properly...


Stan Ski said...

Excellent - deep and full of irony.

ThomG said...

Your grace with words leaves me stunned sometimes.

Cloudia said...

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Thomma Lyn said...

I learn so much from your posts, and they brim over with creativity and brilliance! :)

Teresa said...

Well, that picture is "bustin' out the q's"!

Sorry to hear of the demise of your client. No wonder you are in the mood for "Amazing Grace." Even my Irish Catholic grandmother requested that it be sung at her funeral.

Do be careful with the remodeling at 2:30 am. When one is tired, one tends to hit one's thumbs instead of the nails...

So glad that Pommes is taking care of the suitcases. And I do hope the Heroine enjoys her visit to Germany. I really liked Germany in the springtime (better than Paris with its buxom q's and cancan lines, although you may not think so...)

I look forward to the return of your music.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

You always pack so much into your 3WW posts! I enjoy all the little extras. The second haiku was what gave me the biggest smile, though.

JulieJordanScott said...

The history of the author of Amazing Grace stirred me, just as your haiku and senryu did. I know a lot of people who would prefer taking the "wretch" from the lyrics. I don't understand it. It is truthful, I think. Perhaps the abolitionist leanings were brewing long before the action happened?

Intriguing. Thank you.

Andy Sewina said...

Hi Chris, you're a mine of information. Thanks!

one more believer said...

amazing grace is everything and more... slavery yesterday slavery today.... love the foto...could not help but be surprised that there isn't robbery..but then again sacred prayers respected...and french revolution to boot!!! thank you chris for the efforts taken in your posts...we all learn so much and more

Dee Martin said...

Wonderful post Chris. I love the song and the story behind it. Maybe the frailty isn't in the prayers so much as the "prayee". One more example of how the best that we humans have to offer at a given moment is a sad excuse for God's greatness. The big picture should always humble us. Hugs!

Tumblewords: said...

Awesome post! Each section is incredibly informative and intriguing!

Tim Remp said...

Incredible post! All the great information, poetry and music selection leaves me reeling.

Bravo, bravo!

My 3ww:

murat11 said...

Subversive measures no doubt, hermano, but I love, too, the vulnerable surfaces here. Even your color palette seems to reflect a gentle beauty, all the double-meanings notwithstanding. Quite lovely, all.

The United Statesian said...

Fantastic post!

Amazing Grace is a classic that shall never die. It is one of those songs that even non-believers seem to love.

A German athiest I used to know joined a gospel choir because of great songs like this one.

Maybe your next post can be about your new abode.

Richard said...

Well, my friend, I think you have surpassed yourself, and it's your chap book I'll be looking for.