Uit: Birds Without Wings
“Yusuf the Tall regarded such people with disdain. Moreover, it is one of the greatest curses of religion that it takes only the very slightest twist of a knife tip in the cloth of a shirt to turn neighbours who have loved each other into bitter enemies. He had lived serenely among Christians for most of his life, but now that she had despoiled and defiled herself with an infidel, this was the worst in all that tormented him.
Yusuf stopped pacing the room, and at last called his sons together. His other daughters assembled too, standing silent and cowed at the back of the darkened room.
When his sons were before him, Yusuf took his pistol from his sash, weighed it in his hand, took it by the barrel, and handed it to his second son, Sadettin. Sadettin took it by the butt, and looked at it in disbelief. At first his voice seemed to fail him. “Baba, not me,” he said.
“I have tried,” said Yusuf,”and I can’t. I am ashamed, but I can’t.”
“Not me, Baba. Why me?”
“You have courage. Great courage. And you are obedient. This is my command.”
Yusuf beheld the spiritual and moral agony of his second son, and the surprise, but he would not relent.
“It should be Ekrem,” pleaded his second son, gesturing towards the first-born. “Ekrem is oldest.” Ekrem held out his hands as if to push his brother away, shaking his head vigorously.
“Ekrem will take my place when your mother dies,” said Yusuf. “He is the first-born. You are all used to obeying him. He will be head of the family. It is you who must do this thing.” He paused. “I command it.”
Father and second son looked at each other for a long moment. “I command it,” repeated Yusuf the Tall.
“I would rather kill myself,” said Sadettin at last.
“I have other sons.” Yusuf placed his hand on Sadettin’s shoulder.
“I am your father.”
“I will never forgive you,” replied his second son.
“I know. Nonetheless, it is my decision. Sometimes . . .” and here he hesitated, trying to name whatever it is that takes our choices away, “. . . sometimes we are defeated.”
Louis de Bernières (Londen, 8 december 1954)
Uit: The Love of My Youth
“In those days, he couldn’t speak to anyone about his pain over the fact that Miranda seemed entirely taken up by the problems of the world. The things that absorbed him no longer captured her attention. Not that he ever wanted to capture her attention; her attention was not a bird he was trying to snare, a ﬁsh he was netting. For that was what he loved most about Miranda: her mind’s speed, but not only her mind, her quickness in everything. Darting, swooping, leaping, thrilling to him, who moved so slowly, whose every gesture was considered. Those who criticized his playing of the piano accused him of being incapable of lightness. She was a bright thing, a shimmering thing, a kingﬁsher, a dragonﬂy. Thirty-six years later she would be no longer young. Had she kept her quickness? Her lightness? Which would he have preferred, that she had kept or lost them?
Is that why he’s agreed to it, to seeing her after all these years, at this dinner Valerie has arranged? Out of simple curiosity? Along with lacking lightness, he has been charged with lacking curiosity. But perhaps both had always been untrue. That curiosity has in this instance triumphed over shame: this must be a sign of strength. For if his soul is, as he’d learned in Sunday school, a clear vessel that could be blackened by his sins, what he did to Miranda was among the blackest. When he told himself he couldn’t have helped it, that he had done the best, the only thing he could have done under the circumstances, the words rang false. He would be tempted to say that to her now, but he would never say it. He is hoping there will be no need. That they will see each other once again, no longer young but healthy, prosperous, intact. That he will see the proof: that he did not destroy her.”
Mary Gordon (Far Rockaway, 8 december 1949)
Uit: A Walk In The Woods
“I cautiously shouted at it: “Hey! You there! Scat!” The creature blinked again, singularly unmoved. “You shout,” I said.
“Oh, you brute, go away, do!” Katz shouted in merciless imitation. “Please withdraw at once, you horrid creature.”
“Fuck you,” I said and lugged my tent right over to his. I didn’t know what this would achieve exactly, but it brought me a tiny measure of comfort to be nearer to him.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m moving my tent.”
“Oh, good plan. That’ll really confuse it.”
I peered and peered, but I couldn’t see anything but those two wide-set eyes staring from the near distance like eyes in a cartoon. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be outside and dead or inside and waiting to be dead. I was barefoot and in my underwear and shivering. What I really wanted–really, really wanted–was for the animal to withdraw. I picked up a small stone and tossed it at it. I think it may have hit it because the animal made a sudden noisy start (which scared the bejesus out of me and brought a whimper to my lips) and then emitted a noise–not quite a growl, but near enough. It occurred to me that perhaps I oughtn’t provoke it.
“What are you doing, Bryson? Just leave it alone and it will go away.”
“How can you be so calm?”
“What do you want me to do? You’re hysterical enough for both of us.”
“I think I have a right to be a trifle alarmed, pardon me. I’m in the woods, in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, staring at a bear, with a guy who has nothing to defend himself with but a pair of nail clippers. Let me ask you this. If it is a bear and it comes for you, what are you going to do–give it a pedicure?”
Bill Bryson (Des Moines, 8 december 1951)
From The Graveyard By The Sea
This hushed surface where the doves parade
Amid the pines vibrates, amid the graves;
Here the noon’s justice unites all fires when
The sea aspires forever to begin again and again.
O what a gratification comes after long meditation
O satisfaction, after long meditation or ratiocination
Upon the calm of the gods
Upon the divine serenity, in luxurious contemplation!
What pure toil of perfect lightning enwombs, consumes,
Each various manifold jewel of imperceptible foam,
And how profound a peace appears to be begotten and
When upon the abyss the sunlight seems to pause,
The pure effects of an eternal cause:
Time itself sparkles, to dream and to know are one….
Love And Marilyn Monroe
Let us be aware of the true dark gods
Acknowledgeing the cache of the crotch
The primitive pure and pwerful pink and grey
Wincing, marvelous in their sweetness, whence rises
Therefore let us praise Miss Marilyn Monroe.
She has a noble attitude marked by pride and candor
She takes a noble pride in the female nature and torso
She articualtes her pride with directness and exuberance
She is honest in her delight in womanhood and manhood.
She is not a great lady, she is more than a lady,
She continues the tradition of Dolly Madison and Clara
When she says, “any woman who claims she does not like
to be grabbed is a liar!”
Whether true or false, this colossal remark
states a dazzling intention…
It might be the birth of a new Venus among us
It atones at the very least for such as Carrie Nation
For Miss Monroe will never be a blue nose,
and perhaps we may hope
That there will be fewer blue noses because
she has flourished —
Long may she flourish in self-delight and the joy
A nation haunted by Puritanism owes her homage and
Let us praise, to say it again, her spiritual pride
And admire one who delights in what she has and is
(Who says also: “A woman is like a motor car:
She needs a good body.”
And: “I sun bathe in the nude, because I want
to be blonde all over.”)
This is spiritual piety and physical ebullience
This is vivd glory, spiritual and physical,
Of Miss Marilyn Monroe.
Delmore Schwartz (8 december 1913 – 11 juli 1966)
Uit: The Dog Department
“The next crack that Mr. Walker makes is to the effect that the dog is “cousin to the wolf.” (He doesn’t even say what wolf.) Now, the dog is no more cousin to the wolf than I am niece to the horse. I am aware that until very recently, until this year, in fact, the preponderance of authority has held that the dog is cousin to the wolf. But it happens that remarkable and convincing disproof of this old wives’ theory has just been adduced by two able and unimpeachable specialists in the field, Charles Quintus Harbison in his Myths and Legends of the Dog (Curtis, Webb ‘ $ 5.00) and D. J. Seiffert in his The Canidae, a History of Digingrade Carnivora (Green Barton ‘ $3.50). This disposes of this old superstition in a manner that brooks no contradictions. So much for that.
“The history of the dog,” Mr. Walker asserts, “is one of greed, double-crossing, and unspeakable lechery.” Mr. Walker, who writes with a stub pen, frequently mislays his spectacles, and is inclined to get mixed up now and then, undoubtedly meant to write, “The history of man is one of greed, double-crossing, and unspeakable lechery.” If you stopped ten human beings in the street and said to them, “The history of what animal is one of greed, double-crossing, and unspeakable lechery?” seven would say “man,” two would walk on hastily without saying anything, and the other would call the police. If you put this same query to ten dogs, none of them would say anything (they are much too fairminded to go around making a lot of loose charges against men) and none of them would phone the police. (I am reminded to say here, speaking of the police, that no dog has ever held a lantern while a burglar opened a safe belonging to the dog’s master. A dog’s paw is so formed that he cannot hold a lantern. If your burglar is smart he holds the lantern while the dog opens the safe.)”
James Thurber (8 december 1894 – 2 november 1961)
Sea-island winds sweep through Palmetto Town,
Bringing with piney tang the old romance
Of Pirates and of smuggling gentlemen;
And tongues as languorous as southern France
Flow down her streets like water-talk at fords;
While through iron gates where pickaninnies sprawl,
The sound floats back, in rippled banjo chords,
From lush magnolia shade where mockers call.
Mornings, the flower-women hawk their wares–
Bronze caryatids of a genial race,
Bearing the bloom-heaped baskets on their heads;
Lithe, with their arms akimbo in wide grace,
Their jasmine nods jestingly at cares–
Turbaned they are, deep-chested, straight and tall,
Bandying old English words now seldom heard,
But sweet as Provençal.
Dreams peer like prisoners through her harp-like gates,
From molten gardens mottled with gray-gloom,
Where lichened sundials shadow ancient dates,
And deep piazzas loom.
Fringing her quays are frayed palmetto posts,
Where clipper ships once moored along the ways,
And fanlight doorways, sunstruck with old ghosts,
Sicken with loves of her lost yesterdays.
Often I halt upon some gabled walk,
Thinking I see the ear-ringed _picaroons_,
Slashed with a sash or Spanish _folderols_,
Gambling for moidores or for gold doubloons.
But they have gone where night goes after day,
And the old streets are gay with whistled tunes,
Bright with the lilt of scarlet parasols,
Carried by honey-voiced young octoroons.
Hervey Allen (8 december 1889 – 28 december 1949)
Pittsburgh in de sneeuw
Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 8e december ook mijn vorige blog van vandaag.