Saturday, April 24, 2010

More from Pavel in honor of Shakespeare's Birthday:

"A few years ago I suggested sonnet 74 for Shakespeare's traditional birthday, also death-day. That is an optimistic one about the survival of his ideas beyond the grave as "the better part of me." I imagine it to be the poet's own epitaph. More typical of the sonnets' gloomy meditations on evanescence, and the grieving for loss of friends, and the small consolations of memorial, is the equally excellent sonnet 65. Here, in all its originally printed glory, with unexpurgated long-s's that look like f's:


SInce braſſe,nor ſtone,nor earth,nor boundleſſe ſea,
But ſad mortallity ore-ſwaies their power,
How with this rage ſhall beautie hold a plea,
Whoſe action is no ſtronger then a flower?
O how ſhall ſummers hunny breath hold out,
Againſt the wrackfull ſiedge of battring dayes,
When rocks impregnable are not ſo ſtoute ,
Nor gates of ſteele ſo ſtrong but time decayes?
O fearfull meditation , where alack,
Shall times beſt Iewell from times cheſt lie hid?
Or what ſtrong hand can hold his ſwift foote back,
Or who his ſpoile or beautie can forbid ?
O none,vnleſſe this miracle haue might,
That in black inck my loue may ſtill ſhine bright.

Happy 446, Bill!"

Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm 39 right now, for all those who are innerested. I love my crow's feet and my smile lines. I honestly think, too, that I'm a much nicer person then I was at, say, 13 or 26 (marriageable, then old-maidish at the time of the poet).


When forty winters shall beseige thy brow,

And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask'd where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use,
If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,'
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.

Yes, this is a classic theme and, yes, it's fodder for further posts this month. Just wanted to have my, sigh, all too prosaic rebuttal out there for posterity.

(Happy Birthday, Bill, by the way. How old would you be now?)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mid Fourth Month, the birds have been starting their mating rituals. Au petit matin, I'm woken up by the mocking birds and robins. This Spring, this has sort of been making me think about lost partners and resulting holes in hearts.

212. Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking


OUT of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the mocking-bird’s throat, the musical shuttle,
Out of the Ninth-month midnight,
Over the sterile sands, and the fields beyond, where the child, leaving his bed, wander’d alone, bare-headed, barefoot,
Down from the shower’d halo,
Up from the mystic play of shadows, twining and twisting as if they were alive,
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
From your memories, sad brother—from the fitful risings and fallings I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon, late-risen, and swollen as if with tears,
From those beginning notes of sickness and love, there in the transparent mist,
From the thousand responses of my heart, never to cease,
From the myriad thence-arous’d words,
From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
From such, as now they start, the scene revisiting,
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing,
Borne hither—ere all eludes me, hurriedly,
A man—yet by these tears a little boy again,
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves,
I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter,
Taking all hints to use them—but swiftly leaping beyond them,
A reminiscence sing.


Once, Paumanok,
When the snows had melted—when the lilac-scent was in the air, and the Fifth-month grass was growing,
Up this sea-shore, in some briers,
Two guests from Alabama—two together,
And their nest, and four light-green eggs, spotted with brown,
And every day the he-bird, to and fro, near at hand,
And every day the she-bird, crouch’d on her nest, silent, with bright eyes,
And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never disturbing them,
Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.


Shine! shine! shine!
Pour down your warmth, great Sun!
While we bask—we two together.

Two together!
Winds blow South, or winds blow North,
Day come white, or night come black,
Home, or rivers and mountains from home,
Singing all time, minding no time,
While we two keep together.


Till of a sudden,
May-be kill’d, unknown to her mate,
One forenoon the she-bird crouch’d not on the nest,
Nor return’d that afternoon, nor the next,
Nor ever appear’d again.

And thenceforward, all summer, in the sound of the sea,
And at night, under the full of the moon, in calmer weather,
Over the hoarse surging of the sea,
Or flitting from brier to brier by day,
I saw, I heard at intervals, the remaining one, the he-bird,
The solitary guest from Alabama.


Blow! blow! blow!
Blow up, sea-winds, along Paumanok’s shore!
I wait and I wait, till you blow my mate to me.


Yes, when the stars glisten’d,
All night long, on the prong of a moss-scallop’d stake,
Down, almost amid the slapping waves,
Sat the lone singer, wonderful, causing tears.

He call’d on his mate;
He pour’d forth the meanings which I, of all men, know.

Yes, my brother, I know;
The rest might not—but I have treasur’d every note;
For once, and more than once, dimly, down to the beach gliding,
Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with the shadows,
Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the sounds and sights after their sorts, 65
The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing,
I, with bare feet, a child, the wind wafting my hair,
Listen’d long and long.

Listen’d, to keep, to sing—now translating the notes,
Following you, my brother.


Soothe! soothe! soothe!
Close on its wave soothes the wave behind,
And again another behind, embracing and lapping, every one close,
But my love soothes not me, not me.

Low hangs the moon—it rose late;
O it is lagging—O I think it is heavy with love, with love.

O madly the sea pushes, pushes upon the land,
With love—with love.

O night! do I not see my love fluttering out there among the breakers?
What is that little black thing I see there in the white?

Loud! loud! loud!
Loud I call to you, my love!

High and clear I shoot my voice over the waves;
Surely you must know who is here, is here;
You must know who I am, my love.

Low-hanging moon!
What is that dusky spot in your brown yellow?
O it is the shape, the shape of my mate!
O moon, do not keep her from me any longer.

Land! land! O land!
Whichever way I turn, O I think you could give me my mate back again, if you only would;
For I am almost sure I see her dimly whichever way I look.

O rising stars!
Perhaps the one I want so much will rise, will rise with some of you.

O throat! O trembling throat!
Sound clearer through the atmosphere!
Pierce the woods, the earth;
Somewhere listening to catch you, must be the one I want.

Shake out, carols!
Solitary here—the night’s carols!
Carols of lonesome love! Death’s carols!
Carols under that lagging, yellow, waning moon!
O, under that moon, where she droops almost down into the sea!
O reckless, despairing carols.

But soft! sink low;
Soft! let me just murmur;
And do you wait a moment, you husky-noised sea;
For somewhere I believe I heard my mate responding to me,
So faint—I must be still, be still to listen;
But not altogether still, for then she might not come immediately to me.

Hither, my love!
Here I am! Here!
With this just-sustain’d note I announce myself to you;
This gentle call is for you, my love, for you.

Do not be decoy’d elsewhere!
That is the whistle of the wind—it is not my voice;
That is the fluttering, the fluttering of the spray;
Those are the shadows of leaves.

O darkness! O in vain!
O I am very sick and sorrowful.

O brown halo in the sky, near the moon, drooping upon the sea!
O troubled reflection in the sea!
O throat! O throbbing heart!
O all—and I singing uselessly, uselessly all the night.

Yet I murmur, murmur on!
O murmurs—you yourselves make me continue to sing, I know not why.

O past! O life! O songs of joy!
In the air—in the woods—over fields;
Loved! loved! loved! loved! loved!
But my love no more, no more with me!
We two together no more.


The aria sinking;
All else continuing—the stars shining,
The winds blowing—the notes of the bird continuous echoing,
With angry moans the fierce old mother incessantly moaning,
On the sands of Paumanok’s shore, gray and rustling;
The yellow half-moon enlarged, sagging down, drooping, the face of the sea almost touching;
The boy extatic—with his bare feet the waves, with his hair the atmosphere dallying,
The love in the heart long pent, now loose, now at last tumultuously bursting,
The aria’s meaning, the ears, the Soul, swiftly depositing,
The strange tears down the cheeks coursing,
The colloquy there—the trio—each uttering,
The undertone—the savage old mother, incessantly crying,
To the boy’s Soul’s questions sullenly timing—some drown’d secret hissing,
To the outsetting bard of love.


Demon or bird! (said the boy’s soul,)
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it mostly to me?
For I, that was a child, my tongue’s use sleeping,
Now I have heard you,
Now in a moment I know what I am for—I awake,
And already a thousand singers—a thousand songs, clearer, louder and more sorrowful than yours,
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me,
Never to die.

O you singer, solitary, singing by yourself—projecting me;
O solitary me, listening—nevermore shall I cease perpetuating you;
Never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations,
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me,
Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what there, in the night,
By the sea, under the yellow and sagging moon,
The messenger there arous’d—the fire, the sweet hell within,
The unknown want, the destiny of me.

O give me the clew! (it lurks in the night here somewhere;)
O if I am to have so much, let me have more!
O a word! O what is my destination? (I fear it is henceforth chaos;)
O how joys, dreads, convolutions, human shapes, and all shapes, spring as from graves around me! 165
O phantoms! you cover all the land and all the sea!
O I cannot see in the dimness whether you smile or frown upon me;
O vapor, a look, a word! O well-beloved!
O you dear women’s and men’s phantoms!

A word then, (for I will conquer it,)
The word final, superior to all,
Subtle, sent up—what is it?—I listen;
Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you sea-waves?
Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands?


Whereto answering, the sea,
Delaying not, hurrying not,
Whisper’d me through the night, and very plainly before day-break,
Lisp’d to me the low and delicious word DEATH;
And again Death—ever Death, Death, Death,
Hissing melodious, neither like the bird, nor like my arous’d child’s heart,
But edging near, as privately for me, rustling at my feet,
Creeping thence steadily up to my ears, and laving me softly all over,
Death, Death, Death, Death, Death.

Which I do not forget,
But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother,
That he sang to me in the moonlight on Paumanok’s gray beach,
With the thousand responsive songs, at random,
My own songs, awaked from that hour;
And with them the key, the word up from the waves,
The word of the sweetest song, and all songs,
That strong and delicious word which, creeping to my feet,
The sea whisper’d me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Shall Never Be Different. Love Me.

I feel as though right now I should be petitioning to St. Jude, rather than to St. Cecilia. Still, the music comforts me. (Listen to the music, please. It and the words are a perfect couple.) Then there is this:

I am defeat
When it knows it
Can now do nothing
By suffering.

Maybe Grace is in part knowing when to give up on something.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Il faut cultiver son jardin.


Si J'avais un petit jardin.

Si J'avais un petit jardin
Je m'en irais chaque matin
Dans les parfums et dans la brise
Pour voir, pendant que je revai
Si mon jardin ne m'a pas fait
Une surprise.

J'irais regarder de tout près
Si les rosiers sont en progrès
et si les bourgeons vont éclore
ou bien si les lilas frileux
trouvant qu'il fait trop froid pour eux
tardent encore!

Si j'avais un petit jardin
je m'en irais chaque matin
L'âme curieuse et ravie
Ecouter partout dans les fleurs
les fruits, les parfums, les couleurs,
Chanter la vie!


If I had a little garden,
I'd go out every morning,
into the scents mingling on the breeze
To see if, while I slept,
My garden didn't leave me
a surprise.

I'd go give a closer look
to see how the roses were coming along,
and to see if any buds emerged
or if the delicate lilies,
finding that it was too chilly,
hesitated again!

If I had a little garden,
I'd go out every morning,
Spirit curious and charmed
Listening for, among the flowers,
the fruits, the perfumes and the colors,
Their song of life!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yup, it's that time of year again!

Paul Revere's Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;=
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Happy Patriot's Day!
Happy Marathon Monday! Happy Spring!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The movements my hands were making yesterday while I picked apart a bit of knitting work brought on the oddest sensation. For a moment, was transported back 300 years to someplace far away. Was working my lace while thinking on the one who best complemented me.

(The citation that opens the scene translates roughly to 'we are searching for ourselves in one another.')


The Color of Pomegranates is Sergei Paradzanov's lyrical survey of the life of the 18th century Armenian poet/troubadour Sayat Nova; has to be one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.

(Am having a bit of a difficult time finding English translations of Sayat Nova's work; Armenian's a bit out of my reach, too. Here is one something, though:)

Esor Im Yarin Tesa

Esor im yarin tesa baghchi mechn man galov,

Today I saw my beloved walking in the garden,

Gedinen zartavetsav im yari voske nalov.

The ground was decorated by my love’s golden heel.

Blbooli pes ptut eka vardi vra dzen talov,

Like the nightingale going around the rose, calling.

Junun elav khiks glkhes, sirts tkhoor ackhes lalov.

Mad with love my mind left my head, my heart is sad, my eyes weep.

Hoys unim im Stightsoghemen mir dushmann eli es halov.

I have hope from my Creator, let our enemy be in this state.

Yar, ed koo naz oo ghamzov jans pel oo pand is ari,

Love with your grace and coquetry you have imprisoned and enchanted my body,

Khmil is eshkhov sharbatn proshnirt ghand is ari,

You drank the syrup with love, your lips became sugary.

Khatookhalov, kaghtsr lizvov shat indzpesin band is ari,

With beautiful features, your sweet tongue, you have imprisoned many like me.

Toor danakn, indzi spane, mi asi rishkhant is ari.

Stab me with the knife, kill me, don’t say that you have mocked me.

Chunki mahes yarimen e, toogh li mirnim lav gozalov.

Because my death is from my beloved, let me die with a beautiful one.

Tarin tasnerkoo amis maziret hoosats kooli.

Twelve months of the year your hair is braided.

Proshemet mighr e katoom, tooghnis yakhed tats kooli.

From your lips flows honey, if you allow your collar will be wet.

Goornan shnchi tsaghki nman karmir vardet bats kooli.

Like a spring breath your bred rose will be open.

Inch ogoot e koo baghmnchoon gharib blboolen lats kooli.

What is the use of your gardener, the wandering nightingale will be crying.

Moorvat chunis, ptut gooka baghchi vra chkchkalov.

You have no mercy, it is crying as it goes around the garden.

Yip koo sooratn kashin naghshumen shnook koo tas.

When they draw your face, you give the picture the gift.

Koo vrvras chragi pes saghcumen shnook koo tas.

You crackle like a torch, you give the gift to the torchstand.

Mshkov liken broli pes taghchumen shnook koo tas.

Full of fragrant oil like crystal, you give the gift to the shelf.

Bats koolis karmir vardi pes baghchumen shnook koo tas.

When you will open like a red rose, you give the gift to the garden.

Kamin dibchi mechn hootet gooka vrvralov.

When the wind touches your petal, your fragrance comes wafting.

Yis el oorish yar chunim, es glkhen vagh imatsi.

I have no other beloved, know this right from the start.

Angatch ara, matagh im kiz, es khoskes sagh imatsi.

Listen, I will die for you, know my entire speech.

Mtik ara koo Stightsoghin tooz-namag-agh imatsi.

Look at your Creator, know the salt.

Sayat Novin mi jegretsni eshkhemet toosagh imatsi.

Don’t make Sayat Nova angry, know I am a prisoner of your love.

Khilks glkhemen taril is koo, bemurvat, gardish talov.

You have taken away my mind, ruthless one, with your walk.

-translated by Daniel Larison