Thursday, October 8, 2020
Saturday, October 3, 2020
Why Can’t I Be Your Body?
By Elias Nandino
Translated by Don Cellini
Why can’t I be your body
on top of my naked body
to hug myself
and feel the fire traveling
up my thighs through you?
Why can’t I be your eyes
so they can cry with mine
in the shade of my chest
and crack the silence
with beads of water?
Why can’t I be your hands
to play with mine
and run them across my body
like toys pushed by the wind
to invent a new caress?
Why can’t I be your mouth
to kiss myself in the fire
you have sparked on my lips
and feel that I am the one
pouring himself into the other?
Why can’t I live your life
to feel what I feel
deep within your chest
and watch you approaching me
like an image in the mirror?
I want to be both glass and wine,
the roots and the branches,
the riverbank and the current,
the bell and its sound,
the fuel and its flame.
Keep sleeping without seeing me,
awake here beside you.
I fly into the flight of your dream
to be so close to you
I breathe through your body.
Elias Nandino (1900-1993) was a Mexican poet who made his living as a surgeon and physician. He published twenty volumes of poetry in his lifetime, work often focused on solitude, eroticism, and love. In recognition of his dedication to teaching and assisting young writers, the National Young Poets Prize in Mexico is named in his honor.
Because his love poems are not addressed to any particular individual, they have sometimes been labeled narcissistic and this poem has echoes of it though its source is the memory of an encounter with his lover. When Nandino writes that he wants to see his beloved “like an image in a mirror,” One might conclude that this label is correct. The theme of love is often addressed in contrasting pairs of presence and absence in many of his poems. For example, in another poem titled “My First Love,” he writes, “And in the blue that hides the evidence/I discover your unforgettable face,/ and suffer the presence of your absence.”
Source : Elías Nandino: Selected Poems, in Spanish and English
by Elías Nandino,Don Cellin (Translator)
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Roger Greenwald attended The City College of New York and the Poetry Project workshop at St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery, then completed graduate degrees at the University of Toronto. He has won two CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) Literary Awards (for poetry and travel literature), the Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Prize, and many awards for his translations from Scandinavian languages. He has published three books of poems: Connecting Flight, Slow Mountain Train, and The Half-Life.
His several translations in poetry include The time in Malmö on the earth by Jacques Werup (Toronto: Exile Editions, 1989), North in the World: Selected Poems of Rolf Jacobsen (University of Chicago Press, 2002), Guarding the Air: Selected Poems of Gunnar Harding (Black Widow Press, 2014), and Through
Naked Branches: Selected Poems of Tarjei Vesaas (Revised Edition, Black
Widow Press, 2018). His translation of Rolf Jacobsen’s poems won him
the Lewis Galantière Award from the American Translators Association.
Other translation awards include the American Scandinavian Foundation
Translation Prize (twice), the Inger Sjöberg Translation Prize, the F.
R. Scott Translation Prize, and the Richard Wilbur Prize.
The speaker in the above poem begins by narrating the torpor and clutter that permeate his home. The home cum office atmosphere reflects the speaker’s state of mind ( ‘we’re surviving the same way’) .Routine activities are deferred or are not done with the same frequency as earlier. Everything tends to decay and disintegration.
The second stanza is a continued meditation on the first and it says that some things besides what is mentioned in the first stanza may also fall apart though not at the same pace. The poem doesn't say what that is, but the title is a hint. Some of the luster in his home still prevents it. The paint that stays bright frustrates the crumbling project. The paint molecules and those of the mattress springs preserve memories for a long time; so that's what doesn't crumble away (Molecules/have long memories) . There used to be "someone" jumping on the mattress -- no more. There used to be music in the house -- no more. The finger-streaked windows are the same sort of detail as the dusty plants. A person can be tanned. But "someone" is no longer there, only dust motes; and the memory of a tan can be projected only onto the air.Objects can be seen, touched, felt, heard, tasted and felt and they are more than just physical objects. This poem powerfully recognizes it and presents them as reminders of loss and sorrow.
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
By Wislawa Szymborska
Translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak.
I'll bet you think the room was empty.
Wrong. There were three chairs with sturdy backs.
A lamp, good for fighting the dark.
A desk, and on the desk a wallet, some newspapers.
A carefree Buddha and a worried Christ.
Seven lucky elephants, a notebook in a drawer.
You think our addresses weren't in it?
No books, no pictures, no records, you guess?
Wrong. A comforting trumpet poised in black hands.
Saskia and her cordial little flower.
Joy the spark of gods.
Odysseus stretched on the shelf in life-giving sleep
after the labors of Book Five.
The moralists with the golden syllables of their names
inscribed on finely tanned spines.
Next to them, the politicians braced their backs.
No way out? But what about the door?
No prospects? The window had other views.
His glasses lay on the windowsill.
And one fly buzzed---that is, was still alive.
You think at least the note could tell us something.
But what if I say there was no note---
and he had so many friends, but all of us fit neatly
inside the empty envelope propped up against a cup.
Wislawa Syzmborska, 1996 Nobel Laureate, was one of the great masters of Modern Polish poetry. Wislawa approach the topic of suicide in a quieter language. In this poem, the speaker makes an inventory of items that he sees upon visiting the apartment of possibly a friend who committed suicide.She seems to be seeking the reasons his choice to kill himself. She initially examines the victim’s circumstances ( I'll bet you think the room was empty./Wrong. There were three chairs with sturdy backs./A lamp, good for fighting the dark.).
The striking feature of this poem is that it contains no statistics, no quotes from experts, no discussion of antidepressants, none of the sound-bite analysis. It methodically progresses with unremitting detachment in the interrogation. In its analytical inventory, it offers little of conventional sympathy or pathos we might expect from the situation. It is rather forensic and deals more with facts than feelings. Considering the man’s desperation, she writes:
No way out? But what about the door?
No prospects? The window had other views.
The poem goes on to describe the room of the dead man, a place filled with photos, records, books, "a carefree Buddha and a worried Christ," a notebook that held the addresses of his friends. A richly furnished room. Szymborska’s irony is prevalent, allowing her to portray the scene with penetrating coldness.
Ultimately, the speaker wishes to force us to look harder
and more closely, more skeptically at the facts, and the evidence suggests the
suicide was mismatched n the things of the world around him. It is interesting to observe
how conventional and automatic our own default instincts for psychological
reading are. Our tendency is to read through the surface of the poem for traces
of the speaker’s “actual” feelings of bitterness or grief. Yet that wounded
surface is not there for us to shed tears. I like that poetic coldness and
absence of melodrama and withdrawal of empathy. Yet the last lines hit us hard
and make us wonder about humans around him.
Even though he had so many friends to rely on, he finally found them inadequate to help him. Sometimes, just because there are friends out there there doesn't mean we can talk to them. And just because we can talk to them doesn't mean that they'll understand.
The empty envelope enveloping his friends shows the vacuity of everything when confronted by utter desperation, defeat and surrender.
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Notes (source Wiki) :
Delacroix was a great painter and a friend of Chopin. The first stanza sounds both ironic and tender, and fills me with joy when thinking of the modesty of a great artist like Chopin. The love affair between the novelist George Sand and Chopin is quite famous. The bucolic landscapes of the black valley that surround the George Sand family château in the village of Nohantis where they spent long summers for seven years, from 1839 to 1846, skipping only 1840, when she was upset by the failure of her play, Cosima, and he was ill. They separated two years before his death for a variety of reasons. And it was at Nohant that the musician composed most of his works for piano, from the Third Sonata to the last of the Grand Polonaises.
Delphine Potocka (March 1807 – 2 April 1877) was a Polish countess and a friend and muse to Chopin . In 1825 she married Count Mieczysław Potocki (thereby becoming a countess), with whom she had two daughters. Unhappy in her married life, she eventually divorced Potocki. After parting with her husband, Potocka went abroad, where she maintained close contacts with Chopin. She studied piano with him, and their friendship continued throughout Chopin's life; two days before his death in 1849, at his request, she sang for him an aria from Handel's Dettingen Te Deum.
Cummerbund: It’s a pleated waist sash worn with single-breasted tuxedo jackets. Traditionally black, they are also available in other colors, most notably burgundy, bottle green, rich gold, and even white.