Born in his own mists of time in Glastonbury - the Avalon of Somerset - to a Welsh mother and an English father, Ian David Lukins has been living for many years in the Mols Region of Jutland, Denmark, where he has primarily been teaching, writing, translating and doing photography...
A COMMENT ON CAMBODIA:
My wife and I have Cambodian friends of long standing; people who were in Europe studying when Pol Pot raged in their home country - killing nearly everyone in their families. We have for years had an invitation to visit their country, and finally did so this November.
It has proved to be an unforgettable experience - one that has increased our awareness of what Cambodia is today, as it tries to recover from its recent all-too-bloody history, and given us a better understanding of our friends and why the husband chose to return as soon as the war and unrest was over in order to help rebuild Khmer society and culture. We saw a country making noticable headway, but also dogged by corrupt monopoly and inefficiency. A country trying to salvage and repair its rich historical heritage while seeking full recovery and a modern identity.
We saw many places, many things - things and places we knew nothing about before arriving, but also the magnificent Angkor temples that we had longed to see. Many of these were truly impressive - beautiful, sometimes glorious. However, nothing has affected us so powerfully as the cruelty and madness of "The Killing Fields" felt at Choeung Ek, and the knowledge that such genocide will happen yet again elsewhere ... is perhaps already happening.
A COMMENT ON SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS:
This year (2016) many events are being organised to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. I'm one of a small group who chose to read some of his sonnets for discussion. Afterwards, I chose to go further by reading all 154 sonnets in sequence. This proved so fascinating that I have re-read them all several times since.
I have consciously tried to disregard the many wild-brewed academic theories about: who Shakespeare really was, the 'correct' sequence of these sonnets, who the young man being addressed actually was, whether or not Shakespeare was a homosexual etc. etc. and have read them closely at face value for their beauty and craftsmanship.
The read has been stunning, and revealing both as a thorough-going study of the intricate, complex character and nature of love, and as a reflection of Shakespeare's own creative, sensitive character.
The 154 sonnets - comprising two sequences: the first one, of 125 sonnets and an 'epilogal'12-liner(no.126), that I choose to call 'the beautiful youth', attempts to comprehensively characterize ideal, spiritual love; a direct 'I'voice address from Shakespeare to a man; the second sequence, comprising the final 28 sonnets, that I call 'the dark woman', at times using third-person address, portrays the character of physical desire and its detrimental effect on pure, untainted love.
In my view the irregularities, particularly in the first sequence, reflect natural changes of emotion arising out of any intimate love relationship, and enhance the constant flux of intense emotional passion and helpless insecurity any lover might feel. Shakespeare's creative genius and sensibility presents the full gambit of conflicting feelings reflecting how affected, devoted and dependent the 'I' voice is. His object of love is reverenced, urged, chastised, worshipped; receives tributes and jealous warnings.
It is in this first sequence that I sense the presence of Shakespeare; the insecure human being, full of sensibility and imagination. He lives for me so that I sense a thrill at knowing him spiritually in a way I've never discovered in his plays. In contrast, I find the wit, bitterness and distanced tone of the second sequence much more akin to that of his plays. These sonnets reveal a close relationship between Shakespeare's poetry and his passion.
Unlike the Petrarchan commentary on the meaning of love, I find myself presented in these sonnets with the direct,dramatic, vocally-witten, Shakespearean feeling of love; highlighted so masterfully by the contrastive presentation of carnal love in the final 28 sonnets, where the mistress is a lusty, luring temptress threatening - even desecrating - the ideal of pure love. In this second series the mistress is distanced and dangerous; the 'I' voice wary, feeble, subjected to her powers of seduction. The 'I' voice also expresses irony and sharp-tongued bitterness, suggesting that this 'dark woman' might well compete with him for the love of the 'beautiful youth';Shakespeare seems doubly betrayed by his two 'loves'.
I have found these sonnets not only a fascinating presentation of the multifacetted character of love, but a further aid in appreciating Shakespeare's dramas; particularly his astute understanding and awareness of human nature.
"So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee." (final couplet:sonnet xviii)'
Shakespeare has done it. In these love sonnets truth and beauty have in their way defied death and the ravagement of time. We're still reading and being enriched by the insight and beauty in them more than 400 years after they were written!
I hope you'll now wish to read them yourself; aloud, of course.*
* FOOTNOTE: Now, near the end of this Shakespeare commemorative year (with four full readings of the 154 poems, plus a public reading of 14 of them in 'dialogue' with six pieces of music by Dowland under my belt), I reiterate the joy and enrichment his love sonnets have given me.
Should you wish to buy a copy of my poetry or comment constructively about any poem, please contact me via my e-mail: "ian at lukins dot dk"