What We Have Been Makes Us What We Are

Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are. –George Eliot, Middlemarch

I carried an undeveloped roll of film with me, through moves to no less than 11 houses and apartments, for at least 12 years.

I had shot it with a cheap hand-me-down Vivitar camera, for which I had never owned the flash attachment, before I went away to college. It was the first and last time I ever used the camera. There were shots of my dogs and of my favorite haunts. As much as I was interested in photography, I was painfully aware of how little subject matter I had. No travels, no close friends, lonely solitary hobbies like reading and cross-stitch. Pocket money was stashed away in hopes of a time when things would be different, so there was no cash to spare for processing photos that might not even turn out.

As you may know, the next decade was a frantic series of attempts to change, to grow, to learn, to travel, to make friends. Money got shorter than ever as I took on massive debts to make these things happen. Somehow the roll of film was always packed in the office supply box for each move I made, across town and across country. Both of the dogs photographed on the film died.

It seemed more impossible than ever to develop this film. It would hurt too much, I told myself. And who knows if it even took in the first place?

I had a vague knowledge that film expires, turns red like the glow of a memory. Finally, two years after my last move, 6 years after my beloved American pit bull terrier died, 3 years after my last international travel (my honeymoon), it felt as though the time had arrived to see what this film would look like. In some ways I am poorer and lonelier than ever, and even less accomplished at hobbies and less mentally alert than I was at 19, but I have the strength to survive a look at anything these days. Even a portrait of the sad little self I still carry inside me.

I developed the film this past weekend. With the exception of a few frames decayed beyond recognition, I think they came out rather well.

Derek Walcott | Love After Love

Love After Love
Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Luttichuys, Isaac - Still Life with Bread and ...

Luttichuys, Isaac – Still Life with Bread and Wine Glass – 17th c

Anne Morrow Lindbergh | The first days of grief are not the worst…

Contrary to the general assumption, the first days of grief are not the worst.

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The immediate reaction is usually shock and numbing disbelief. One has undergone an amputation. After shock comes acute early grief which is a kind of “condensed presence” — almost a form of possession. One still feels the lost limb down to the nerve endings. It is as if the intensity of grief fused the distance between you and the dead. Or perhaps, in reality, part of one dies. Like Orpheus, one tries to follow the dead on the beginning of their journey. But one cannot, like Orpheus, go all the way, and after a long journey one comes back. If one is lucky, one is reborn. Some people die and are reborn many times in their lives. For others the ground is too barren and the time too short for rebirth. Part of the process is the growth of a new relationship with the dead, that “véritable ami mort” Saint-Exupéry speaks of. Like all gestation, it is a slow dark wordless process. While it is taking place one is painfully vulnerable. One must guard and protect the new life growing within– like a child.

One must grieve, and one must go through periods of numbness that are harder to bear than grief. One must refuse the easy escapes offered by habit and human tradition. The first and most common offerings of family and friends are always distractions (“Take her out”–“Get her away” –“Change the scene”–“Bring in people to cheer her up”–“Don’t let her sit and mourn” [when it is mourning one needs]). On the other hand, there is the temptation to self-pity or glorification of grief. “I will instruct my sorrows to be proud,”  Constance cries in a magnificent speech in Shakespeare’s King John.  Despite her words, there is not aristocracy of grief. Grief is a great leveler. There is no highroad out.

Courage is a first step, but simply to bear the blow bravely is not enough. Stoicism is courageous, but it is only a halfway house on the long road. It is a shield, permissible for a short time only. In the end, one has to discard shields and remain open and vulnerable. Otherwise, scar tissue will seal off the wound and no growth will follow. To grow, to be reborn, one must remain vulnerable– open to love but also hideously open to the possibility of more suffering.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001 ), Hour Of Gold, Hour Of Lead: Diaries And Letters Of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1929-1932

Андрей Вознесенский | Первый лед || Andrei Voznesensky | First Frost

Андрей Вознесенский
Первый лед
Телефон-автомат советского образца

Телефон-автомат советского образца (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Мерзнет девочка в автомате,
Прячет в зябкое пальтецо
Все в слезах и губной помаде
Перемазанное лицо.

Дышит  в худенькие ладошки.
Пальцы—льдышки.   В ушах—сережки.

Ей обратно одной, одной
Вдоль по улочке ледяной,

Первый лед. Это в первый раз.
Первый лед телефонных фраз.

Мерзлый след на щеках блестит —
Первый лед от людских обид.

1959

-----------------------------------

Andrei Voznesensky 
First Frost

A girl is freezing in a telephone booth,
huddled in her flimsy coat,
her face stained by tears
and smeared with lipstick.

She breathes on her thin little fingers.
Fingers like ice. Glass beads in her ears.

She has to beat her way back alone
down the icy street.

First frost. A beginning of losses,
the first frost of telephone phrases.

It is the start of winter glittering on her cheek,
the first frost of having been hurt. 


(This was one of the first Russian poems I ever read (in translation), and I'm fairly certain
 this is the very translation. I don't know who the translator is, though--please 
contact us if you know!)

Carl Sandburg | Offering and Rebuff

Offering and Rebuff
Carl Sandburg

Sea spary.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I could love you
 as dry roots love rain.
 I could hold you
 as branches in the wind
 brandish petals.
 Forgive me for speaking so soon.

     Let your heart look
     on white sea spray
     and be lonely.

     Love is a fool star.

     You and a ring of stars
     may mention my name
     and then forget me.

     Love is a fool star.

Famous Last Words

Here’s a little Web 1.0 curiosity that for some reason always manages to stick around in my text files. It’s macabre, and I haven’t verified the authenticity of any of them, but it’s interesting nonetheless. -N
Tombstone

That old campaign was downright Victorian… (Photo credit: William Allen, Image Historian)

Thomas Jefferson–still survives…
~~ John Adams, US President, d. July 4, 1826
(Actually, Jefferson had died earlier that same day, which was of course the 50-year anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.)

This is the last of earth! I am content.
~~ John Quincy Adams, US President, d. February 21, 1848

See in what peace a Christian can die.
~~ Joseph Addison, writer, d. June 17, 1719

Is it not meningitis?
~~ Louisa M. Alcott, writer, d. 1888

Waiting are they? Waiting are they? Well–let ’em wait.
In response to an attending doctor who attempted to comfort him by saying, “General, I fear the angels are waiting for you.”
~~ Ethan Allen, American Revolutionary general, d. 1789

Am I dying or is this my birthday?
When she woke briefly during her last illness and found all her family around her bedside.
~~ Lady Nancy Astor, d. 1964

Nothing, but death. When asked by her sister, Cassandra, if there was anything she wanted.
~~ Jane Austen, writer, d. July 18, 1817

Codeine . . . bourbon.
~~ Tallulah Bankhead, actress, d. December 12, 1968

How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?
~~ P. T. Barnum, entrepreneur, d. 1891

I can’t sleep.
~~ James M. Barrie, author, d. 1937

Is everybody happy? I want everybody to be happy. I know I’m happy.
~~ Ethel Barrymore, actress, d. June 18, 1959

Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.
~~ John Barrymore, actor, d. May 29, 1942

I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.
~~ Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, d.1170

Now comes the mystery.
~~ Henry Ward Beecher, evangelist, d. March 8, 1887

Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.
~~ Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, d. March 26, 1827

I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.
~~ Humphrey Bogart, actor, d. January 14, 1957

Josephine…
~~ Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, May 5, 1821

I am about to — or I am going to — die: either expression is correct.
~~ Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian, d. 1702

Ah, that tastes nice. Thank you.
~~ Johannes Brahms, composer, d. April 3, 1897

Oh, I am not going to die, am I? He will not separate us, we have been so happy.
Spoken to her husband of 9 months, Rev. Arthur Nicholls.
~~ Charlotte Bronte, writer, d. March 31, 1855

Beautiful.
In reply to her husband who had asked how she felt.
~~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning, writer, d. June 28, 1861

Now I shall go to sleep. Goodnight.
~~ Lord George Byron, writer, d. 1824

Et tu, Brute?
Assassinated.
~~ Gaius Julius Caesar, Roman Emperor, d. 44 BC

I am still alive!
Stabbed to death by his own guards – (as reported by Tacitus)
~~ Gaius Caligula, Roman Emperor, d.41 AD

And so I leave this world, where the heart must either break or turn to lead.
Suicide note.
~~ Nicolas-Sebastien Chamfort, French writer, d. 1794

Don’t let poor Nelly  starve.
Referring to his mistress, Nell Gwynne
~~ Charles II, King of England and Scotland, d. 1685

Ay Jesus.
~~ Charles V, King of France, d. 1380

I am dying. I haven’t drunk champagne for a long time.
~~ Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, writer, d. July 1, 1904

The earth is suffocating . . . Swear to make them cut me open, so that I won’t be buried alive.
Dying of tuberculosis.
~~ Frederic Chopin, composer, d. October 16, 1849

And now, in keeping with Channel 40’s policy of always bringing you the latest in blood and guts, in living color, you’re about to see another first – an attempted suicide.
Shot herself during broadcast.
~~ Christine Chubbuck, newscaster, d. July 15, 1974

I’m bored with it all.
Before slipping into a coma. He died 9 days later.
~~ Winston Churchill, statesman, d. January 24, 1965

This time it will be a long one.
~~ Georges Clemenceau, French premier, d. 1929

I have tried so hard to do the right.
~~ Grover Cleveland, US President, d. 1908

That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.
~~ Lou Costello, comedian, d. March 3, 1959

Goodnight my darlings, I’ll see you tomorrow.
~~ Noel Coward, writer, d. 1973

Goodbye, everybody!
Last words as he jumped off the cruise ship “Orizaba.” (His body was never found.)
~~ Hart Crane, poet, d. April 27, 1932

Damn it . . . Don’t you dare ask God to help me.
To her housekeeper, who had begun to pray aloud.
~~ Joan Crawford, actress, d. May 10, 1977

That was a great game of golf, fellers.
~~ Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby, singer / actor, d. October 14, 1977

I am not the least afraid to die. ~~ Charles Darwin, d. April 19, 1882

My God. What’s happened?
~~ Diana (Spencer), Princess of Wales, d. August 31, 1997

I must go in, the fog is rising.
~~ Emily Dickinson, poet, d. 1886

Adieu, mes amis. Je vais la gloire. (Farewell, my friends! I go to glory!)
~~ Isadora Duncan, dancer, d. 1927

Please know that I am quite aware of the hazards. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.
Last letter to her husband before her last flight.
KHAQQ calling Itasca. We must be on you, but cannot see you. Gas is running low.
Last radio communiqué before her disappearance.
~~ Amelia Earhart, d. 1937

To my friends: My work is done. Why wait? Suicide note. ~~ George Eastman, inventor, d. March 14, 1932 It is very beautiful over there.
~~ Thomas Alva Edison, inventor, d. October 18, 1931

No, I shall not give in. I shall go on. I shall work to the end.
~~ Edward VII, King of Britain, d. 1910

All my possessions for a moment of time.
~~ Elizabeth I, Queen of England, d. 1603

Goodbye, my friend, goodbye
My love, you are in my heart.
It was preordained we should part
And be reunited by and by.
Goodbye: no handshake to endure.
Let’s have no sadness — furrowed brow.
There’s nothing new in dying now
Though living is no newer.
Written in his own blood, and given to a friend the day before he hanged himself.
~~ Sergei Esenin, Russian poet, d. Dec. 28, 1925

I’ve never felt better.
~~ Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., actor, d. December 12, 1939

I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.
~~ Richard Feynman, physicist, d. 1988

I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
~~ Errol Flynn, actor, d. October 14, 1959

A dying man can do nothing easy.
~~ Benjamin Franklin, statesman, d. April 17, 1790

How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? French fries.
Executed in electric chair in Oklahoma.
~~ James French, d. 1966

Come my little one, and give me your hand.
Spoken to his daughter, Ottilie.
~~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, writer, d. March 22, 1832

I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this. Executed by injection, Oklahoma. ~~ Thomas J. Grasso, d. March 20, 1995

I know you have come to kill me. Shoot coward, you are only going to kill a man.
Facing his assassin, Mario Teran, a Bolivian soldier.
~~ Ernesto “Che” Guevara, d. October 9, 1967

Yes, it’s tough, but not as tough as doing comedy.
When asked if he thought dying was tough.
~~ Edmund Gwenn, actor, d. September 6, 1959

Let’s see if I’ve got one for me.
Accidental suicide as he shot himself with a blank-loaded pistol on the set of TV spy show “Cover Up.” The concussion forced a piece of his skull into his brain; he died six days later.
~~ Jon-Erik Hexum, actor, d. October 18, 1984

God will pardon me, that’s his line of work.
~~ Heinrich Heine, poet, d. February 15, 1856

Turn up the lights, I don’t want to go home in the dark.
~~ O. Henry (William Sidney Porter), writer, d. June 4, 1910

All is lost. Monks, monks, monks!
~~ Henry VIII, King of England, d. 1547

I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.
~~ Thomas Hobbes, writer, d. 1679

I see black light.
~~ Victor Hugo, writer, d. May 22, 1885

Oh, do not cry – be good children and we will all meet in heaven.
~~ Andrew Jackson, US President, d. 1845

Let us cross over the river and sit in the shade of the trees.
Killed in error by his own troops at the battle of Chancellorsville during the US Civil War.
~~ General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, d. 1863

Is it the Fourth?
~~ Thomas Jefferson, US President, d. July 4, 1826

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.
From Luke 23:46
~~ Jesus Christ

Does nobody understand?
~~ James Joyce, writer, d. 1941

Such is Life
Executed by hanging.
~~ Ned Kelly, Australian bushranger, d. 1880

Why not? Yeah.
~~ Timothy Leary, d. May 31, 1996

Now I have finished with all earthly business, and high time too. Yes, yes, my dear child, now comes death.
~~ Franz Leher, composer, d. October 24, 1948

They tried to get me – I got them first!
Suicide by drinking Lysol.
~~ Vachel Lindsay, poet, d. December 4, 1931

A King should die standing.
~~ Louis XVIII, King of France, d. 1824

Why do you weep. Did you think I was immortal?
~~ Louis XIV, King of France, d. 1715

I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France.
Executed by guillotine
~~ Louis XVI of France, d. January 21, 1793

I am a Queen, but I have not the power to move my arms.
~~ Louise, Queen of Prussia, d. 1820

Too late for fruit, too soon for flowers.
~~ Walter De La Mare, writer, d. 1956

Let’s cool it brothers…
Spoken to his assassins, 3 men who shot him 16 times.
~~ Malcolm X, Black leader, d. 1966

Farewell, my children, forever. I go to your Father. Monsieur, I beg your pardon.
Spoken to the executioner, after she stepped on his foot.
~~ Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, d. October 16, 1793

Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.
To his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity.
~~ Karl Marx, revolutionary, d. 1883

I forgive everybody. I pray that everybody may also forgive me, and my blood which is about to be shed will bring peace to Mexico. Long live Mexico! Long Live Independence!
~~ Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico, (Archduke Maximilian of Austria), d. June 11, 1867

Nothing matters. Nothing matters.
~~ Louis B. Mayer, film producer, d. October 29, 1957

It’s all been very interesting.
~~ Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, writer, d. 1762

Shoot me in the chest!
To his executioners.
~~Benito Mussolini, Italian dictator, d.1945

I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room – and God damn it – died in a hotel room.
~~ Eugene O’Neill, writer, d. November 27, 1953

Good-bye . . . why am I hemorrhaging?
~~ Boris Pasternak, writer, d. 1959

Get my swan costume ready.
~~ Anna Pavlova, ballerina, d. 1931

I am curious to see what happens in the next world to one who dies unshriven.
Giving his reasons for refusing to see a priest as he lay dying.
~~ Pietro Perugino, Italian painter, d. 1523

Lord help my poor soul.
~~ Edgar Allan Poe, writer, d. October 7, 1849

I love you Sarah. For all eternity, I love you. Spoken to his wife.
~~ James K. Polk, US President, d. 1849

Here am I, dying of a hundred good symptoms.
~~ Alexander Pope, writer, d. May 30, 1744

I owe much; I have nothing; the rest I leave to the poor.
~~ François Rabelais, writer, d. 1553

So the heart be right, it is no matter which way the head lieth.
Executed by beheading.
~~ Sir Walter Raleigh, d. October 29, 1618

I have a terrific headache.
He died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
~~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, US President, d. 1945

Put out the light.
~~ Theodore Roosevelt, US President, d. 1919

They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist-
Killed in battle during US Civil War.
~~ General John Sedgwick, Union Commander, d. 1864

Sister, you’re trying to keep me alive as an old curiosity, but I’m done, I’m finished, I’m going to die.
Spoken to his nurse.
~~ George Bernard Shaw, playwright, d. November 2, 1950

When I am dead, and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.
For I shall have peace. As leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough.
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.
Suicide note to her lover who left her.
~~ Sara Teasdale, poet, d. 1933

I’ve had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that’s the record…
~~ Dylan Thomas, poet, d. 1953

Moose… Indian…
~~ Henry David Thoreau, writer, d. May 6, 1862

God bless… God damn.
~~ James Thurber, humorist, d. 1961

I feel here that this time they have succeeded.
~~ Leon Trotsky, Russian revolutionary, d. 1940

Don’t worry chief, it will be alright.
~~ Rudolph Valentino, actor, d. August 23, 1926

Woe is me. Me thinks I’m turning into a god.
~~ Vespasian, Roman Emperor, d. 79 AD

Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.
~~ Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary, d. 1923

I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.
~~ Leonardo da Vinci, artist, d. 1519

I die hard but am not afraid to go.
~~ George Washington, US President, d. December 14, 1799

Go away. I’m all right.
~~ H. G. Wells, novelist, d. 1946

Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.
~~ Oscar Wilde, writer, d. November 30, 1900

I am ready.
~~ Woodrow Wilson, US President, d. 1924

I feel certain that I’m going mad again. I feel we can’t go thru another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices
Suicide note
~~ Virginia Woolf, author, d. March 28, 1941

Curtain! Fast music! Light! Ready for the last finale! Great! The show looks good, the show looks good!
~~ Florenz Ziegfeld, showman, d. July 22, 1932

Анна Ахматова | Меня, как реку… | Anna Akhmatova | This Cruel Age has Deflected Me…

Анна Ахматова

beaver dam Lama river, Russia, Moscow region

(Photo credit: Gnilenkov Aleksey)

                Меня, как реку,
Суровая эпоха повернула.
Мне подменили жизнь. В другое русло,
Мимо другого потекла она,
И я своих не знаю берегов.
О, как я много зрелищ пропустила,
И занавес вздымался без меня
И так же падал. Сколько я друзей
Своих ни разу в жизни не встречала,
И сколько очертаний городов
Из глаз моих могли бы вызвать слезы,
А я один на свете город знаю
И ощупью его во сне найду.
И сколько я стихов не написала,
И тайный хор их бродит вкруг меня
И, может быть, еще когда-нибудь
Меня задушит…
Мне ведомы начала и концы,
И жизнь после конца, и что-то,
О чем теперь не надо вспоминать.
И женщина какая-то мое
Единственное место заняла,
Мое законнейшее имя носит,
Оставивши мне кличку, из которой
Я сделала, пожалуй, все, что можно.
Я не в свою, увы, могилу лягу.
Но иногда весенний шалый ветер,
Иль сочетанье слов в случайной книге,
Или улыбка чья-то вдруг потянут
Меня в несостоявшуюся жизнь.
В таком году произошло бы то-то,
А в этом – это: ездить, видеть, думать,
И вспоминать, и в новую любовь
Входить, как в зеркало, с тупым сознаньем
Измены и еще вчера не бывшей
Морщинкой…
Но если бы оттуда посмотрела
Я на свою теперешнюю жизнь,
Узнала бы я зависть наконец…
1945. Ленинград

—-

This cruel age has deflected me,
like a river from its course.
Strayed from its familiar shores,
my changeling life has flowed
into a sister channel.
How many spectacles I’ve missed:
the curtain rising without me ,
and falling too. How many friends
I never had the chance to meet.
Here in the only city I can claim,
where I could sleepwalk and not lose my way;
how many foreign skylines can I dream,
not to be witnessed though my tears.
And how many verses have I failed to write!
Their secret chorus stalks me
close behind. One day, perhaps,
they’ll strangle me.
I know beginnings, I know endings, too,
and, life-in-death, and something else
I’d rather not recall just now.
And a certain woman
has usurped my place
and bears my rightful name,
leaving a nickname for my use,
with which I’ve done the best I could.
The grave I go to will not be my own.
But if I could step outside myself
and contemplate the person that I am,
I should know at last what envy is.
Enhanced by Zemanta

„Ale książki” | And Yet the Books | Czesław Miłosz

And Yet the Books | Czesław Miłosz

Bible translations to polish language by Czesł...

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are,” they said, even as their pages
were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
licked away their letters. So much more durable
than we are, whose frail warmth
cools down, with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley,
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

Burning pedigree books in 1682.
——-

Czesław Miłosz | „Ale książki”

I dotykane, pieszczone trwać zaczęły
Mimo łun na horyzoncie, zamków wylatujących w powietrze,
Plemion w pochodzie, planet w ruchu.
Jesteśmy – mówiły, nawet  kiedy
wydzierano z nich karty .
Albo litery zlizywał buzujący płomień,

O ileż trwalsze od nas,których ułomne ciepło
Stygnie razem z pamięcią, rozprasza się, ginie.

Wyobrażam sobie ziemię kiedy mnie nie będzie
I nic, żadnego ubytku, dalej dziwowisko,
Suknie kobiet, mokry jaśmin, pieśń w dolinie.

Ale książki będą na półkach, dobrze urodzone,
Z ludzi, choć też z jasności, wysokości.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Snow Man | Wallace Stevens

The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens

Frosted Pine

(Photo credit: msn678)

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Przedmowa / Dedication | Czesław Miłosz

Przedmowa

Ty, którego nie mogłem ocalić,
Wysłuchaj mnie.
Zrozum tę mowę prostą, bo wstydzę się innej.
Przysięgam, nie ma we mnie czarodziejstwa słów.
Mówię do ciebie milcząc, jak obłok czy drzewo.

To, co wzmacniało mnie, dla ciebie było śmiertelne.
Żegnanie epoki brałeś za początek nowej,
Natchnienie nienawiści za piękno liryczne,
Siłę ślepą za dokonany kształt.

Oto dolina płytkich polskich rzek. I most ogromny
Idący w białą mgłę. Oto miasto złamane
I wiatr skwirami mew obrzuca twój grób,
Kiedy rozmawiam z tobą.

Czym jest poezja, która nie ocala
Narodów ani ludzi?
Wspólnictwem urzędowych kłamstw,
Piosenką pijaków, którym ktoś za chwilę poderżnie gardła,
Czytanką z panieńskiego pokoju.

To, że chciałem dobrej poezji, nie umiejąc,
To, że późno pojąłem jej wybawczy cel,
To jest i tylko to jest ocalenie.

Sypano na mogiły proso albo mak
Żywiąc zlatujących się umarłych – ptaki.
Tę książkę kładę tu dla ciebie, o dawny,
Abyś nas odtąd nie nawiedzał więcej.

English: Średnicowy Bridge in Warsaw Polski: M...

Most Średnicowy w Warszawie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dedication
(tr. by Czesław Miłosz)

You whom I could not save
Listen to me.
Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another.
I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.

What strengthened me, for you was lethal.
You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the beginning of a new one,
Inspiration of hatred with lyrical beauty;
Blind force with accomplished shape.

Here is a valley of shallow Polish rivers. And an immense bridge
Going into white fog. Here is a broken city;
And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your grave
When I am talking with you.

What is poetry which does not save
Nations or people?
A connivance with official lies,
A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,
Readings for sophomore girls.
That I wanted good poetry without knowing it,
That I discovered, late, its salutary aim,
In this and only this I find salvation.

They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds
To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds.
I put this book here for you, who once lived
So that you should visit us no more.

Warsaw, 1945

* As Clare Cavanagh points out, the English translation loses something very important: the singular you. This is not an address to all the victims of the war, but to one person.