One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Duckweed" as Hyperlink

Or madeleine.

Coming across the word in another text, I inadvertently "clicked" on it and within a fraction of a second I was at the edge of Leopold Staff's green-covered pond.

My only version comes from Milosz's The History of Polish Literature (and, because I find nothing in the text to say otherwise, I assume the translation is by Milosz himself):


In an old, deserted park
I stood at a pond
Covered with the thick fur of duckweed.
That the water here had once been transparent
And that it ought to be so now.
With a dry twig picked up off the ground
I began to rake away the green patina
And conduct it to the outlet.

I was found at this activity
By a quiet wise man
Whose brow was incised by thought,
And he said with a gentle smile
Of condescending reproach:
"Don't you regret wasting the time?
Every moment is a drop of eternity,
Life is the twinkling in eternity's eye.
There are so many matters of the  utmost importance."

Ashamed, I walked away
And all the day long I thought
Of life and death,
Of Socrates,
Of the immortality of the soul,
Of the pyramids and Egyptian wheat,
Of the Roman Forum and the moon,
Of the mammoth and the Eiffel Tower...
But nothing came of it.

Returning the next day
To the same place
At the pond
Covered with thick green fur,
I saw the wise man with his brow now smooth.
With the twig I had left,
He raked the duckweed from the surface of the water
And conducted it to the outlet.

The trees rustled,
In their branches, birds were singing.

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