What was is … since 1930;
the boys in my old gang
are senior partners. They start up
bald like baby birds
to embrace retirement.
At the altar of surrender,
I met you
in the hour of credulity.
How your misfortune came out clearly
to us at twenty.
At the gingerbread casino,
how innocent the nights we made it
on our Vesuvio martinis
with no vermouth but vodka
to sweeten the dry gin–
the lash across my face
that night we adored . . .
soon every night and all,
when your sweet, amorous
“To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage”
“The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open.
Our magnolia blossoms.Life begins to happen.
My hopped up husband drops his home disputes,
and hits the streets to cruise for prostitutes,
free-lancing out along the razor’s edge.
This screwball might kill his wife, then take the pledge.
Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust. . .
It’s the injustice . . . he is so unjust–
whiskey-blind, swaggering home at five.
My only thought is how to keep alive.
What makes him tick?Each night now I tie
ten dollars and his car key to my thigh. . . .
Gored by the climacteric of his want,
he stalls above me like an elephant.”
Robert Lowell (1 maart 1917 – 12 September 1977)
Uit: Pardon mère
« Longtemps j’ai eu le temps. C’était quand ma mère vivait. J’étais désagréable avec elle, ingrat, méchant, je me disais : j’aime ma mère. Elle le sait ou elle finira bien par le savoir. J’ai le temps.(…) En attendant, le temps passait. Je rencontrais ma mère, je la blessais parce que tout en elle me blessait. Son esprit était droit, sa pensée juste, son élégance de bon goût, sa taille bien prise, son regard d’un bleu un peu gris était pur et me voyait. Et moi je n’étais pas digne de ce regard. » Un fils parle de sa mère, née à Vallorbe en 1910, morte le jeudi 15 février 2001, il regrette les méchantes pensées, l’indifférence, le temps de l’enfance évanouie trop vite. Sa mère, « le contraire de la vanité et du tapage », lectrice de la Fontaine au regard clair, et lui l’écrivain, l’excessif, le mauvais fils tapageur. Mais quand ce fils indigne s’appelle Jacques Chessex, alors c’est une relation forte, ambiguë, charnelle à la fois qui se noue avec sa mère. Tombeau et Résurrection, « fontaine de regret », violence et douceur, évocation pudique mais sans voile, ce livre autobiographique est l’un des plus beaux, des plus émouvants, de l’auteur. « Mère tu m’habites. Où es-tu dans ta mort ce matin ? »
Jacques Chessex (1 maart 1934 – 9 oktober 2009)
Uit: In a Grove (Vertaald door Takashi Kojima)
“The man that I arrested? He is a notorious brigand called Tajomaru. When Iarrested him, he had fallen off his horse. He was groaning on the bridge atAwataguchi. The time? It was in the early hours of last night. For the record,I might say that the other day I tried to arrest him, but unfortunately heescaped. He was wearing a dark blue silk kimono and a large plain sword.And, as you see, he got a bow and arrows somewhere. You say that this bowand these arrows look like the ones owned by the dead man? Then Tajomarumust be the murderer. The bow wound with leather strips, the black lacquered quiver, the seventeen arrows with hawk feathers—these were allin his possession I believe. Yes, Sir, the horse is, as you say, a sorrel with afine mane. A little beyond the stone bridge I found the horse grazing by theroadside, with his long rein dangling. Surely there is some providence in hishaving been thrown by the horse.Of all the robbers prowling around Kyoto, this Tajomaru has given the mostgrief to the women in town. Last autumn a wife who came to the mountainback of the Pindora of the Toribe Temple, presumably to pay a visit, wasmurdered, along with a girl. It has been suspected that it was his doing. If this criminal murdered the man, you cannot tell what he may have done withthe man’s wife. May it please your honor to look into this problem as well.”
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (1 maart 1892 – 24 juli 1927)
Ensō auf einem Balkon
Im Morgengrauen sind die Straßen still zu Schemen gefaltet.
Wild verzweigte Narben in diesem Teil der Stadt, der Mittlere
Ring: hinauswuchernde Schnittkanten (man könnte auch sagen
herein-), als wär das die richtige Form, uns zu häuten.
In diesem Moment schweben Netze aus Zufällen. Pinselhaare,
zusammengeführt zu einem kalligraphischen Schwung.
Wie der Ruderflug eines Vogels mit der Möglichkeit,
ein Irrgast zu sein auf seinem Zug. Hier das Gepäck,
übersetzt ins Gestern: es ist immer zu schwer oder zu leicht.
Unten streiten sich die Taxifahrer. Eilen Schichtarbeiter
von der Arbeit, in die Arbeit, allseits wie jetzt
nur ein leichter Schlaf, der vergessen lässt, dass man schläft.
Sabina Lorenz (München, 1 maart 1967)
A Plain Song for Comadre
Though the unseen may vanish, though insight fails
And doubter and downcast saint
Join in the same complaint,
What holy things were ever frightened off
By a fly’s buzz, or itches, or a cough?
Harder than nails
They are, more warmly constant than the sun,
At whose continual sign
The dimly prompted vine
Upbraids itself to a green excellence.
What evening, when the slow and forced expense
Of sweat is done,
Does not the dark come flooding the straight furrow
Or filling the well-made bowl?
What night will not the whole
Sky with its clear studs and steady spheres
Turn on a sound chimney? It is seventeen years
That Bruna Sandoval has kept the church
Of San Ysidro,** sweeping
And scrubbing the aisles, keeping
The candlesticks and the plaster faces bright,
And seen no visions but the thing done right
From the clay porch
To the white altar. For love and in all weathers
This is what she has done.
Sometimes the early sun
Shines as she flings the scrubwater out, with a crash
Of grimy rainbows, and the stained suds flash
Richard Wilbur (New York, 1 maart 1921)
Uit: Invisible Man
“He paused, removing the tissue paper and revealing a gleaming calfskin brief case.
“. . . in the form of this first-class article from Shad Whitmore’s shop.”
“Boy,” he said, addressing me, “take this prize and keep it well. Consider it a badge of office. Prize it. Keep developing as you are and some day it will be filled with important papers that will help shape the destiny of your people.”
I was so moved that I could hardly express my thanks. A rope of bloody saliva forming a shape like an undiscovered continent drooled upon the leather and I wiped it quickly away. I felt an importance that I had never dreamed.
“Open it and see what’s inside,” I was told.
My fingers a-tremble, I complied, smelling the fresh leather and finding an official-looking document inside. It was a scholarship to the state college for Negroes. My eyes filled with tears and I ran awkwardly off the floor.
I was overjoyed; I did not even mind when I discovered that the gold pieces I had scrambled for were brass pocket tokens advertising a certain make of automobile.
When I reached home everyone was excited. Next day the neighbors came to congratulate me. I even felt safe from grandfather, whose deathbed curse usually spoiled my triumphs. I stood beneath his photograph with my brief case in hand and smiled triumphantly into his stolid black peasant’s face. It was a face that fascinated me. The eyes seemed to follow everywhere I went.
That night I dreamed I was at a circus with him and that he refused to laugh at the clowns no matter what they did. Then later he told me to open my brief case and read what was inside and I did, finding an official envelope stamped with the state seal; and inside the envelope I found another and another, endlessly, and I thought I would fall of weariness. “Them’s years,” he said. “Now open that one.” And I did and in it I found an engraved document containing a short message in letters of gold. “Read it,” my grandfather said. “Out loud.”
Ralph Ellison (1 maart 1913 – 16 april 1994)
Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 1e maart ook mijn vorige blog van vandaag.