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, June 4, 2016

Reading

Bouncing around (why ask why): Herbert (drank from the same glass as Eliot), Roth (him on him -- so-so), J. F. Powers (found via Roth -- also so-so, but I'll keep trying), Macbeth (because I want to revisit Leskov's Lady). Also, just finished my second Penelope Fitzgerald novel (about spring and Russia; not as good as Blue Flower).

Anyway, from Zbigniew Herbert:

To Ryszard Krynicki -- A Letter

   Not much will remain Ryszard in truth not
much
of the poetry of our mad century Rilke Eliot
sure
a few other worthy shamans who knew the
secret
of word spells time-resistant forms without
which
no phrase deserves memory and speech is
like sand

  our school notebooks subjected to earnest
torture
with their traces of sweat tears and blood
will be
to the eternal proofreader a song without a
score
nobly righteous and all too self-evident

  we came too easily to believe beauty does
not save
that it leads wantons from dream to dream
to death
none of us was able to wake the dryad of a
poplar
or to decipher the handwriting of the clouds
that is why no unicorn will stray across our
tracks
we'll raise up no ship in the bay no peacock
no rose
nakedness was left to us and we stand here
naked
on the right the better side of the triptych
The Last Judgment

  we took public affairs onto our lanky
shoulders
the battle with tyranny lies the recording of
pain
but our foes -- you admit -- were despicably
small
and so was it worth it to bring down holy
speech
to rostrum gibberish to a newspaper's black
foam

  so little joy -- sister of the gods -- in our
poems Ryszard
too few glimmering twilights mirrors
wreaths ecstasies
nothing just obscure psalmodies the whine
of animulae
urns of ash in a burned-out garden

  what forces do we need -- in spite of destiny
the decrees of history and human iniquity --
to whisper a good night in treason's garden
  what forces of the spirit do we need
blindly beating despair against despair
to ignite a spark a word of atonement

  that the dancing circle might last on the
soft grass
blessed
the gifts of the air of the earth of fire and of
water

  I don't know -- my friend -- and that's why
I send you these owl's riddles in the night
a warm embrace

a bow from my shadow
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