Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On Rainy, cold Monday 5/16: Tu Fu, an epithalamium, Neruda and Hirshfield

Open discussion: 5/16
According to Gerard Manley Hopkins “Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds in wheels shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens…”

There is indeed an “echoing timber” in the birds, that “rinses the ear”
With a heightened sense of “juice and joy”. But, Spring can also be filled with other tones. Fresh rings for royal weddings, or thinking of old friends, or keeping quiet in those hours before the business of birds announce the morning.

Before the Discussion of :
Tu fu: Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the River
Carol Ann Duffy: Rings
Pablo Neruda: Keeping Quiet
Jane Hirshfield: The Supple Deer

I read outloud: ee Cummings

there are so many tictocclocks everywhere telling people
what toctic time it is for
tictic instance five toc minutes toc
past six tic

Spring is not regulated and does
not get out of order nor do
its hands a little jerking move
over numbers slowly

we do not
wind it up it has no weights
springs wheels inside of
its slender self no indeed dear
nothing of the kind.

(So,when kiss Spring comes
we'll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss
lips because tic clocks toc don't make
a toctic difference
to kisskiss you and to
kiss me)
I Also read my poem that appeared in Nimrod: Spring 2011 issue called Growing Season. “When the sun shines on the windowpane in spring”.
It’s a splendid issue – and if you’d like a copy, they are offering the issue for $6.
Let me know if you are interested.

Tu Fu : Emily mentioned “no mono aware” an empathy toward things," or "a sensitivity to ephemera," is a Japanese term used to describe the awareness of impermanence (Jap. 無常 mujō), or the transience of things, and a gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing.
The two translators I know who have worked with Tu Fu are Sam Hamill and Kenneth Rexroth, but I don’t know who did the translation.

How much is the translator and how much the poet? The words alone, empty, endure, frail, bamboo quiet, shrouding create wonderful tension with profusely, vociferous glories, impetuous, red blossoms glaring with white;
Although not oxymorons, frail splendor and crush of peach blossoms opening ownerless create a mood of the opulent energy of spring independent of any of human doings which contrasts with full fear of spring. The last stanza combines
Tu Fu’s fear and wish, the passing of blossoms scattering by the branchful although I doubt Tu Fu would have anthropomorphisized with the adverb “gladly.”
On the other hand, the adverbs for the way the conversation between Tu Fu and the buds will be conducted is perfectly believable: delicate, sparingly.

Carol Ann Duffy’s occasional poem – the over-use of “ring”, repeat of “I might” with variations on line-break for emphasis, the “wring in pain” that comes to mind
With the sonics associated with fingers “ringed in rain”, makes you wonder if she should have declined to write this epithalamium.

“She is best at – perhaps the best at – writing the intensely private emotion, the silent moment of unshared grief that turns a life inside out, the kept secret, the undercurrent, the edge of the lie inside the truth we set our lives by. In other words, we have found ourselves in the odd position of having a poet laureate who writes the kind of poetry that tackles the least public of all our feelings. Instead of a poet of public noise we have a poet of private disquiet.”

You might enjoy reading this poem by her:
Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
 Carol Ann Duffy

or you might enjoy Robert Graves’ poem, A Slice of Wedding Cake:

Why have such scores of lovely, gifted girls
Married impossible men?
Simple self-sacrifice may be ruled out,
And missionary endeavour, nine times out of ten.
Repeat ‘impossible men’: not merely rustic,
Foul-tempered or depraved
(Dramatic foils chosen to show the world
How well women behave, and always have behaved).
Impossible men: idle, illiterate,
Self-pitying, dirty, sly,
For whose appearance even in City parks
Excuses must be made to casual passers-by.
Has God’s supply of tolerable husbands
Fallen, in fact, so low?
Or do I always over-value woman
At the expense of man?
Do I?
It might be so.

Keeping Quiet: Pablo Neruda, from Extravagaria.
Again the problem of a poem in translation.
Any crafting of sound will be at risk; the idea is to match the feeling, tone and convey any cultural implication…
We don’t count to 12, but to 10, or to 3..
Even if we don’t like something, or do something differently, aiming for understanding of what the original is trying to convey is important.
The idea of not speaking, not in any language, and being still, is good advice for any age. Neruda does not preach this. He paints a vision of what this would look like.
He allows the reader in, and the “I will go”, can refer to the counting (as in my turn to count) while the other waits, or the speaking, or the leaving.
Often we look at something and dismiss it. Like a spring branch, not yet in bloom.
But if we wait… keep still, listen, the surprise of new leaves will dumbfound us.
The idea of a “huge silence” that “might interrupt this sadness/ of never understanding ourselves” pins both the personal and collective roles of being human.

The Supple Deer.
An ecstatic experience told in carefully chiseled language. The tension between exact, and possible, exact and an undefined territory such as envy set in the motion of deer pouring through a fence, where deer, fence, observer can feel porous,
So full of “such largeness” of stag turning to stream. This small paragraph detracts from the awe Jane Hirshfield creates in just a few brushstrokes of words.

No comments: