Posts filed under ‘Warya’

I Would Like to Describe

Zbigniew Herbert

Listen (to Warya read)

I would like to describe the simplest emotion
joy or sadness
but not as others do
reaching for shafts of rain or sun

I would like to describe a light
which is being born in me
but I know it does not resemble
any star
for it is not so bright
not so pure
and is uncertain

I would like to describe courage
without dragging behind me a dusty lion
and also anxiety
without shaking a glass full of water

to put it another way
I would give all metaphors
in return for one word
drawn out of my breast like a rib
for one word
contained within the boundaries
of my skin

but apparently this is not possible

and just to say — I love
I run around like mad
picking up handfuls of birds
and my tenderness
which after all is not made of water
asks the water for a face

and anger
different from fire
borrows from it
a loquacious tongue

so is blurred
so is blurred
in me
what white-haired gentleman
separated once and for all
and said
this is the subject
this is the object

we fall asleep
with one hand under our head
and with the other in a mound of planets

our feet abandon us
and taste the earth
with their tiny roots
which next morning
we tear out painfully

(Translated by Peter Dale Scott & Czeslaw Milosz)

Warya writes,

“honestly, quite incredible.
and here my two paisa:

I love Zbigniew Herbert, and it’s not just because his name begins with a Z. Although admittedly, that helps. With Milosz and Szymborska, he peaceably begins and completes my canon of fucking brilliant Poles (it is a small canon).
And I love this poem, for its exhausting pursuit of that elusive morsel of perfection, of perfect comprehension, which mirrors our own. It is the poem that paints us everything a writer has ever wished, asked, lamented; only who knew that from shuffling sands in the mind, crystal could pour out so, drenching paper? Oh but it does, and there’s your hand, in a mound of planets. ”


October 9, 2006 at 6:37 pm 8 comments

How Many Devils Can Dance on the Point…

Dennis Joseph Enright

Listen (to Warya read)

Why, this is hell,
And we are in it.
It began with mysterious punishments
And the punishments led to the crimes
Which are currently being punished.
The more rational you areg
(What you have paid for
You will expect to obtain
Without further payment)
The less your chances of remission.
Only the insane and saintly
Who kiss the rod so hard they break it
Escape to a palliated hell.
For the rest, why, this is it,
And we are in it.

Then what of those
Whose punishment was such they
Never lived to carry out their crimes?
Children, say,
More than whose fingers were held
For more than a second in more than
The flame of a candle;
Though not exclusively children.
(No need to draw a picture for you:
The chamber, the instruments, the torture;
Forget the unimaginable, the
Imaginable suffices for present purposes.)
If the other was hell
Then what is this?–
There are gradations of Hades
Like the Civil Service
Whereby the first is paradise
Compared with the last;
And heaven is where we are
When we think of where we might have been.
(Except that when we think,
We are in hell.)

Can this be heaven
Where a thoughtful landlord
Locates the windows of his many mansions
To afford you such a view?
(The chamber, the instruments, the torture.)
Can it be
The gratifying knowledge of having pleased
Someone who derives such pleasure
From being thus gratified?

Moves, then,
In a mysterious way . . .
Except that
Lucid, strict, and certain,
Shining, wet, and hard,
No mystery at all–
Why, this is hell.

As Warya says, “you cannot help but despairingly chuckle with him at the horror of life. heh…

And goes on to add,

it is not one of my huge favourites, but it’s a splendidly theatrical poem; enright is witty as ever, full of cunning flourishes and sly humanity. he does draw a picture for you: the chamber, the instruments, the torture. why, this is hell.

I personally loved the lines, “There are gradations of Hades/ Like the Civil Service/ Whereby the first is paradise/ Compared with the last;”. Reminds one of Sir Humphrey Appleby. If this were indeed hell and there were gradations – like the Civil Service. Then I would say, Appleby is probably in paradise. There is something so deviously innocent about British comedy and I guess it jumps out at you the same way in this poem by Enright.

Welcome Warya!


September 1, 2006 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment