Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The absynth and the doubt

Poetry is something strange. Some words put together that make totally different sense from the one they make separately. I have always liked poetry. But not contemporary. Please, everyone can be a poet in the modern sense. I don't like Baroque poetry either, with its ornaments and concepts. It was a word-play, nothing more.
I've read many poems that moved my heart back then (yes, I have that organ, despite what people say), but after some time, I came to notice how childish they were. And as almost every kid, I tried to write my own, firmly believing I'm following the path of Elders. But, eventually, the reason found its way to me and I stopped, seeing all nonsense of it. Perhaps they were good poems, but I don't think so. Now I almost regret I'm not a poetess, so I could put my words with finesse and grace just to sing an antiphone for someone.
The only words I'm left with are cursing ones... ekhem...
But I would like to present some good poetry:
Jean-Arthur Rimbaud, E.A. Poe, Rainer Maria Rilke, Lee Su Ik...
The other problem: translation. I'm fortunate enough to be able to read poetry in 4 languages (Korean is on its way to join), so maybe that is why I enjoy it. My first biggest love is Rimbaud, I had even fragment of the Season In Hell as a pronunciation test while I studied French (yes, for a year, I'm a really messed up kid). I love the rhytm of his poems that is lost in translation. And I know, I hate French, but this is the only exeption. Or maybe Baudelaire also...

Arthur Rimbaud:
The Sleeper In The Valley

It’s a green hollow where a river sings
Madly catching white tatters in the grass.
Where the sun on the proud mountain rings:
It’s a little valley, foaming like light in a glass.

A conscript, open-mouthed, his bare head
And bare neck bathed in the cool blue cress,
Sleeps: stretched out, under the sky, on grass,
Pale where the light rains down on his green bed.

Feet in the yellow flags, he sleeps. Smiling
As a sick child might smile, he’s dozing.
Nature, rock him warmly: he is cold.

The scents no longer make his nostrils twitch:
He sleeps in the sunlight, one hand on his chest,
Tranquil. In his right side, there are two red holes.

And the French original:
Le dormeur du val
C'est un trou de verdure où chante une rivière,
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D'argent ; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit : c'est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort ; il est étendu dans l'herbe, sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme :
Nature, berce-le chaudement : il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine ;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.


On the calm black water where the stars are sleeping
White Ophelia floats like a great lily ;
Floats very slowly, lying in her long veils…
- In the far-off woods you can hear them sound the mort.

For more than a thousand years sad Ophelia
Has passed, a white phantom, down the long black river.
For more than a thousand years her sweet madness
Has murmured its ballad to the evening breeze.

The wind kisses her breasts and unfolds in a wreath
Her great veils rising and falling with the waters ;
The shivering willows weep on her shoulder,
The rushes lean over her wide, dreaming brow.

The ruffled water-lilies are sighing around her ;
At times she rouses, in a slumbering alder,
Some nest from which escapes a small rustle of wings ;
- A mysterious anthem falls from the golden stars.


O pale Ophelia ! beautiful as snow !
Yes child, you died, carried off by a river !
- It was the winds descending from the great mountains of Norway
That spoke to you in low voices of better freedom.

It was a breath of wind, that, twisting your great hair,
Brought strange rumors to your dreaming mind ;
It was your heart listening to the song of Nature
In the groans of the tree and the sighs of the nights ;

It was the voice of mad seas, the great roar,
That shattered your child's heart, too human and too soft ;
It was a handsome pale knight, a poor madman
Who one April morning sate mute at your knees !

Heaven ! Love ! Freedom ! What a dream, oh poor crazed Girl !
You melted to him as snow does to a fire ;
Your great visions strangled your words
- And fearful Infinity terrified your blue eye !


- And the poet says that by starlight
You come seeking, in the night, the flowers that you picked
And that he has seen on the water, lying in her long veils
White Ophelia floating, like a great lily.


Sur l'onde calme et noire où dorment les étoiles
La blanche Ophélia flotte comme un grand lys,
Flotte très lentement, couchée en ses longs voiles…
- On entend dans les bois lointains des hallalis.

Voici plus de mille ans que la triste Ophélie
Passe, fantôme blanc, sur le long fleuve noir;
Voici plus de mille ans que sa douce folie
Murmure sa romance à la brise du soir.

Le vent baise ses seins et déploie en corolle
Ses grands voiles bercés mollement par les eaux;
Les saules frissonnants pleurent sur son épaule,
Sur son grand front rêveur s'inclinent les roseaux.

Les nénuphars froissés soupirent autour d'elle;
Elle éveille parfois, dans un aune qui dort,
Quelque nid, d'où s'échappe un petit frisson d'aile:
- Un chant mystérieux tombe des astres d'or.

O pâle Ophélia! belle comme la neige!
Oui, tu mourus, enfant, par un fleuve emporté!
- C'est que les vents tombant des grands monts de Norwège
T'avaient parlé tout bas de l'âpre liberté;

C'est qu'un souffle, tordant ta grande chevelure,
A ton esprit rêveur portait d'étranges bruits;
Que ton coeur écoutait le chant de la Nature
Dans les plaintes de l'arbre et les soupirs des nuits;

C'est que la voix des mers folles, immense râle,
Brisait ton sein d'enfant, trop humain et trop doux;
C'est qu'un matin d'avril, un beau cavalier pâle,
Un pauvre fou, s'assit muet à tes genoux!

Ciel! Amour! Liberté! Quel rêve, ô pauvre Folle!
Tu te fondais à lui comme une neige au feu:
Tes grandes visions étranglaient ta parole
- Et l'Infini terrible effara ton oeil bleu!

- Et le Poète dit qu'aux rayons des étoiles
Tu viens chercher, la nuit, les fleurs que tu cueillis,
Et qu'il a vu sur l'eau, couchée en ses longs voiles,
La blanche Ophélia flotter, comme un grand lys. 

Rainer Maria Rilke
You, only you, exists

You, you only, exist.
We pass away, till at last,
our passing is so immense
that you arise: beautiful moment,
in all your suddenness,
arising in love, or enchanted
in the contraction of work.

To you I belong, however time may
wear me away. From you to you
I go commanded. In between
the garland is hanging in chance; but if you
take it up and up and up: look:
all becomes festival!  

How my body blooms from every vein
more fragrantly, since you appeard to me;
look, I walk slimmer now and straighter,
and all you do is wait-:who are you then?

Look: I feel how I'm moving away,
how I'm shedding my old life, leaf by leaf.
Only your smile spreads like sheer stars
over you and, soon now, over me.

Whatever shines through my childhood years
still nameless and gleaming like water,
I will name after you at the altar,
which is blazing brightly from your hair
and braided gently with your breasts. 

Edgar Allan Poe
Valley of Unrest

Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sunlight lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley's restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless-
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye-
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:- from out their fragrant tops
Eternal dews come down in drops.
They weep:- from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.

Lee Su Ik:
(yes, a modern poet)


First God
made the ocean.
From God's heart a river curving
and flowing like a vein
soon reached the appointed place,
where it lifted up thousands and thousand of hands
in an image of ardent pleading to heaven,
as God
made the ocean of motherhood.

Next God made the dry land.
In the image of his
moving muscles the dry land stretched gasping
tangled together
awaiting the appearance of the shape of sacred Eros,
as God
made the dry land.

After which, following several days of thought,
blushingly covered the land with forests
to hide its projecting organs of desire
a few islands here and there as consolation
for the sea that throbbed endlessly in blind desire.

Only then did God smile in satisfaction
as he made the last touch
to his creation.

Download some, in case of Rimbaud, also in French. E.A. Poe - stories.