Thursday, November 28, 2013

956. Words In A Certain Appropriate Mode - Hayden Carruth

It is not music, though one has tried music.

It is not nature, though one has tried

The rose, the bluebird, and the bear.

It is not death, though one has often died.

None of these things is there.

In the everywhere that is nowhere

Neither the inside nor the outside

Neither east nor west nor down nor up

Where the loving smile vanishes, vanishes

In the evanescence from a coffee cup

Where the song crumbles in monotone

Neither harmonious nor inharmonious

Where one is neither alone

Nor not alone, where cognition seeps

Jactatively away like the falling tide

If there were a tide, and what is left

Is nothing, or is the everything that keeps

Its undifferentiated unreality, all

Being neither given nor bereft

Where there is neither breath nor air

The place without locality, the locality

With neither extension nor intention

But there in the weightless fall

Between all opposites to the ground

That is not a ground, surrounding

All unities, without grief, without care

Without leaf or star or water or stone

Without light, without sound

anywhere, anywhere. . .

Thursday, November 21, 2013

955. Going To Horse Flats (excerpt) - Robinson Jeffers

Amazingly active a toothless old man
Hobbled beside me up the canyon, going to Horse Flats, he said,
To see to some hives of bees. It was clear that he lived alone
    and craved companionship, yet he talked little
Until we came to a place where the gorge widened, and
    deer-hunters had camped on a slip of sand
Beside the stream. They had left the usual rectangle of fired
    stones and ashes, also some crumpled
Sheets of a recent newspaper with loud headlines. The old man
    rushed at them
And spread them flat, held them his arm's length, squinting
    through narrowed eyelids—poor trick old eyes learn, to make
Lids act for lens. He read "Spain Battle. Rebels kill captives
    City bombed Reds kill hostages. Prepare
For war Stalin warns troops." He trembled and said, "Please
    read me the little printing I hardly ever
Get to hear news." He wrung his withered hands while I read;
    It was strange in that nearly inhuman wilderness
To see and old hollow-checked hermit dancing to the world's
    echoes. After I had read he said "That's enough.
They were proud and oppressed the poor and are punished
    for it; but those that punish them are full of envy and hatred
And are punished for it; and again the others; and again the
    others. It is so forever, there is no way out."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

954. The Fix-Up - Judith Viorst

I have this friend Muriel who is attractive and intelligent and
    terribly understanding and loyal and
My husband has this friend Ralph who is handsome and witty and
Since they weren't engaged or even tacitly commented
The least we could do, I said, is fix them up.
So I cooked this very nice boned chicken breasts with lemon-cream
    sauce and
Put on a little Herb Alpert in the background and
Before Muriel came I told Ralph how she was attractive and intelligent
    and terribly understanding and loyal and
After Muriel came I drew out Ralph to show how he was witty and
    very sincere and
When dinner was over my husband and I did the dishes
Leaving Ralph and Muriel to get acquainted
With a little Petula Clark in the background and
We listened while they discovered that they both loved Mel Brooks
    and hated Los Angeles and agreed that the Supremes had lost
    their touch and
He insisted on taking her home even through she loved in the opposite
    direction and
The next day he phoned to ask is that what I call attractive, after which
She phoned to ask is that what I call sincere
And from now on
I cook lemon-cream sauce
For young marrieds.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

953. Theatre Impressions (2) - Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

For me the tragedy's most important act is the sixth:
the raising of the dead from the stage's battlegrounds,
the straightening of wigs and fancy gown,
removing knives from stricken breasts,
taking nooses from lifeless necks,
lining up among the living
to face the audience.

The bows, both solo and ensemble––
the pale hand on the wounded heart,
the curtsies of the hapless suicide,
the bobbing of the chopped-off head.

The bows in pairs––
rage extends its arm to meekness,
the victim's eyes smile at the torturer,
the rebel indulgently walks beside the tyrant.

Eternity trampled by the golden slipper's toe.
Redeeming values swept aside with the swish of a wide-brimmed hat
The unrepentant urge to start all over tomorrow.

Now enter, single file, the hosts who died early on,
in Acts 3 and 4, or between scenes.
The miraculous return of all those lost without a trace.

The thought that they've been waiting patiently offstage
without taking off their makeup
or their costumes
moves me more than all the tragedy's tirades.

But the curtain's fall is the most uplifting part,
the things you see before it hits the floor:
here one hand quickly reaches for a flower,

there another hand picks up a fallen sword.
Only then, one last, unseen, hand
does its duty
and grabs me by the throat.

Translated from the Polish by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

For me a tragedy's most important act is the sixth:
the resurrecting from the stage's battlegrounds,
the adjusting of wigs, of robes,
the wrenching of knife from the breast,
the removing of noose from neck,
the lining up among the living
to face the audience.

Bow's solo and ensemble:
the white hand on the heart's wound,
the curtsey of the lady suicide,
the nodding of the lopped-off head.

Bows in pairs:
fury extends an arm to meekness,
the victim looks blissfully into the hangman's eyes,
the rebel hears no grudge as he walks beside the tyrant.

The trampling of eternity with the tip of a golden slipper.
The sweeping of morals away with the brim of a hat.
The incorrigible readiness to start afresh tomorrow.

The entry in single file of those who died much earlier,
in the third, the fourth, or between the acts.
The miraculous return of those lost without trace.
The thought that they've been waiting patiently backstage,
not taking off costumes,
not washing off makeup,
moves me more than the tragedy's tirades.

But truly elevating is the lowering of the curtain,
and that which can still be glimpsed beneath it:
here one hand hastily reaches for a flower,
there a second snatches up a dropped sword.
Only then does a third, invisible,
perform its duty:
it clutches at my throat.