Careful Now - Reflecting on the Mutations of War

Vincent Di Stefano

The nature of war has completely changed over the course of the past century. From being the domain of a trained warrior caste who lived and died face to face, it has, especially in more recent times, become an exercise in technical sophistication where decisions made and actions taken at a vast distance from the field of battle determine the fate not only of combatants, but of fathers, mothers and children who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The music that accompanies this piece was composed and performed by Nico Di Stefano. Careful Now can be streamed using the media player above. A CD quality mp3 file is available for download here.

Binsey Poplars

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Poplars near Binsey, Oxfordshire. Not the actual poplars that Hopkins wrote about in his poem. Port Meadow is just beside Binsey. The Thames divide them. So it seems that these poplars where very very close, but is not the actual ones. After-comers cannot guess the beauty been...

The Jesuit priest/poet Gerard Manley Hopkins is remembered for his exquisite use of language and the depth of his poetic regard. Binsey Poplars was written in 1879 in response to his shocking discovery that a favourite stand of aspen trees which he had long enjoyed during his days at Oxford had fallen to the axe. At another level, the poem is a lament for the destruction of the natural world without thought for the beauties that it holds and without regard for the blighting of the landscape itself and of our minds when we behold such devastation. Hopkins is acutely aware of the irreversibility of such assaults upon the natural world, and laments the loss to future generations of the mystic entrancement evoked by scenes of natural beauty. Though written over 130 years ago, Binsey Poplars is presciently anthemic of the present day Green movement and of environmentalism more generally. The music that accompanies this piece was written and performed (multi-track) by Nico Di Stefano. A CD quality mp3 audio file is available for download here.

The Centurion's Prayer. An Ignatian Remembrance

Vincent Di Stefano

This short personal reflection is offered on Good Friday 2012 as a response to the crass commercialisation and diversionary spirit that has overtaken the time of Easter throughout much of the Western world. It offers an Ignatian remembrance - an act of conscious imagining and visualisation - of the events that took place in Palestine some 2,000 years ago when the rebel Jesus of Nazareth (to use Jackson Browne's term) suffered the fate of a common criminal in the act of execution by crucifixion ordered by the Roman governors at that time. Yet the time of Easter bespeaks more than a Paschal sacrifice. It heralds the regeneration and renewal that emanates endlessly through the heart of love.

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