Horatius, Hervey Allen, James Thurber, Carmen Martín Gaite, Nikos Gatsos, Jura Soyfer, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Joel Chandler Harris

De Romeinse dichter en schrijver Quintus Horatius Flaccus werd geboren op 8 december 65 v. Chr. Zie ook alle tags voor Horatius op dit blog.

Ode II.18

Geen elpenbeen en geen verguld plafond
blinkt in mijn huis. Geen balkwerk van albast
rust daar op een porfieren zuilenrij.

Ik heb niet van een onbekenden neef
een Pergameenschen koningsburcht geërfd.
Op mijn klandizie drijft geen purperzaak.

Maar trouw van hart en niet van geest ontbloot
eert mij de vriendschap van een edelman.

Neen noch den goden noch mijn rijken vriend
vraag ik om meer, gelukkig en voldaan
met mijn geliefd Sabinum. Zie, de dag
volgt op den dag, de maand volgt op de maand,
en gij bestelt een marmermozaiek,
alsof de dood niet aldoor nader kwam,
bouwt huizen midden in het golfgeklots,
alsof het zeestrand niet toereikend was.

Ja zelfs het dubbel heilig grondbezit
van arme buren waagt uw hand te schenden.

Daar gaan zij, man en vrouw, van huis en haard
verdreven, met hun eenig eigendom,
hun havelooze kindren op den arm.

Maar ook den rijken heer wacht geen paleis
zoo zeker als dat van den wissen dood.
Wat wilt gij altijd meer? Voor arm en rijk
ontsluit de aarde zonder onderscheid
haar duistren schoot. Zelfs voor Prometheus’ goud
was geen retour aan Charons veer te koop.

Daar zuchten Tantalus en zijn geslacht,
daar vindt een arme stakker eindlijk rust.
De dood verhoort wie roept, en wie niet roept.

 

Vertaald door Dr. A. Rutgers van der Loeff


Horatius (8 december 65 v. Chr. – 27 november 8 v. Chr.)
Standbeeld in Parijs

 

De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver William Hervey Allen werd geboren op 8 december 1889 in Pittsburgh. Zie ook alle tags voor Hervey Allen op dit blog.

The Sea-Islands

Shadows

There is deliberateness in all sea-island ways,
Outlandish to our days as stone wheels are.
The islands cannot see the use of life
Which only lives for change;
Their days are flat,
And all things there move slowly.
Even the seasons are conservative—
No sudden flaunting of wild colors in the fall,
Only a gradual fading of the green,
As if the earth turned slowly,
Or looked with one still face upon the sun
As Venus does; Until the trees, the fields, the marshes,
All turn dun, dull Quaker brown, And a mild winter settles down,
And mosses are more gray.

All human souls are glasses which reflect
The aspects of the outer world.
See what terrible gods the huge Himalayas bred!—
And the fierce Jewish Jaywah came
From the hot Syrian desert
With his inhibitory decalogue.
The gods of little hills are always tame;
Here God is dull, where all things stay the same.

 
Hervey Allen (8 december 1889 – 28 december 1949)

 

De Amerikaanse schrijver James Thurber werd geboren op 8 december 1894 in Columbus, Ohio. Zie ook alle tags voor James Thurber op dit blog.

Uit: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

“We’re going through!” The Commander’s voice was like thin ice breaking. He wore his full-dress uniform, with the heavily braided white cap pulled down rakishly over one cold gray eye. “We can’t make it, sir. It’s spoiling for a hurricane, if you ask me.” “I’m not asking you, Lieutenant Berg,” said the Commander. “Throw on the power lights! Rev her up to 8,500! We’re going through!” The pounding of the cylinders increased: ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa. The Commander stared at the ice forming on the pilot window. He walked over and twisted a row of complicated dials. “Switch on No. 8 auxiliary!” he shouted. “Switch on No. 8 auxiliary!” repeated Lieutenant Berg. “Full strength in No. 3 turret!” shouted the Commander. “Full strength in No. 3 turret!” The crew, bending to their various tasks in the huge, hurtling eight-engined Navy hydroplane, looked at each other and grinned. “The Old Man’ll get us through,” they said to one another. “The Old Man ain’t afraid of Hell!” . . .
“Not so fast! You’re driving too fast!” said Mrs. Mitty. “What are you driving so fast for?”
“Hmm?” said Walter Mitty. He looked at his wife, in the seat beside him, with shocked astonishment. She seemed grossly unfamiliar, like a strange woman who had yelled at him in a crowd. “You were up to fifty-five,” she said. “You know I don’t like to go more than forty. You were up to fifty-five.” Walter Mitty drove on toward Waterbury in silence, the roaring of the SN202 through the worst storm in twenty years of Navy flying fading in the remote, intimate airways of his mind. “You’re tensed up again,” said Mrs. Mitty. “It’s one of your days. I wish you’d let Dr. Renshaw look you over.”
Walter Mitty stopped the car in front of the building where his wife went to have her hair done. “Remember to get those overshoes while I’m having my hair done,” she said. “I don’t need overshoes,” said Mitty. She put her mirror back into her bag. “We’ve been all through that,” she said, getting out of the car. “You’re not a young man any longer.” He raced the engine a little. “Why don’t you wear your gloves? Have you lost your gloves?” Walter Mitty reached in a pocket and brought out the gloves.”


James Thurber (8 december 1894 – 2 november 1961)
Cover DVD

 

De Spaanse schrijfster, vertaalster en journaliste Carmen Martín Gaite werd geboren op 8 december 1925 in Salamanca. Zie ook alle tags voor Carmen Martín Gaite op dit blog.

Uit: La reine des neiges (Vertaald door Claude Bleton)

« Pour la première fois, disaient-ils, on voyait comment la terre et les êtres humains sont réellement. Ils couraient de tous côtés avec leur miroir et bientôt il n’y eut pas un pays, pas une personne qui n’eussent été déformés là-dedans.
Alors, ces apprentis sorciers voulurent voler vers le ciel lui-même, pour se moquer aussi des anges et de Notre-Seigneur. Plus ils volaient haut avec le miroir, plus ils ricanaient. C’est à peine s’ils pouvaient le tenir et ils volaient de plus en plus haut, de plus en plus près de Dieu et des anges, alors le miroir se mit à trembler si fort dans leurs mains qu’il leur échappa et tomba dans une chute vertigineuse sur la terre où il se brisa en mille morceaux, que dis-je, en des millions, des milliards de morceaux, et alors, ce miroir devint encore plus dangereux qu’auparavant. Certains morceaux n’étant pas plus grands qu’un grain de sable voltigeaient à travers le monde et si par malheur quelqu’un les recevait dans l’œil, le pauvre accidenté voyait les choses tout de travers ou bien ne voyait que ce qu’il y avait de mauvais en chaque chose, le plus petit morceau du miroir ayant conservé le même pouvoir que le miroir tout entier. Quelques personnes eurent même la malchance qu’un petit éclat leur sautât dans le cœur et, alors, c’était affreux : leur cœur devenait un bloc de glace. D’autres morceaux étaient, au contraire, si grands qu’on les employait pour faire des vitres, et il n’était pas bon dans ce cas de regarder ses amis à travers elles. D’autres petits bouts servirent à faire des lunettes, alors tout allait encore plus mal. Si quelqu’un les mettait pour bien voir et juger d’une chose en toute équité, le Malin riait à s’en faire éclater le ventre, ce qui le chatouillait agréablement. »
(…)

Il lui sembla que les vagues lui faisaient signe, alors [Gerda] enleva ses souliers rouges, ceux auxquels elle tenait le plus, et les jeta tous les deux dans l’eau, mais ils tombèrent tout près du bord et les vagues les repoussèrent tout de suite vers elle, comme si la rivière ne voulait pas les accepter, puisqu’elle n’avait pas pris le petit Kay. Gerda crut qu’elle n’avait pas lancé les souliers assez loin, alors elle grimpa dans un bateau qui était là entre les roseaux, elle alla jusqu’au bout du bateau et jeta de nouveau ses souliers dans l’eau. Par malheur le bateau n’était pas attaché et dans le mouvement qu’elle fit il s’éloigna de la rive, elle s’en aperçut aussitôt et voulut retourner à terre, mais avant qu’elle n’y eût réussi, il était déjà loin sur l’eau et il s’éloignait de plus en plus vite.
Alors la petite Gerda fut prise d’une grande frayeur et se mit à pleurer, mais personne ne pouvait l’entendre, excepté les moineaux, et ils ne pouvaient pas la porter, ils volaient seulement le long de la rive, en chantant comme pour la consoler : ” Nous voici ! Nous voici ! ” Le bateau s’en allait à la dérive, la pauvre petite était là tout immobile sur ses bas, les petits souliers rouges flottaient derrière mais ne pouvaient atteindre la barque qui allait plus vite.”

 
Carmen Martín Gaite (8 december 1925 – 22 juli 2000)  

 

De Griekse dichter en schrijver Nikos Gatsos werd geboren op 8 december 1911 in Kato Asea in Arcadië. Zie ook alle tags voor Nikos Gatsos op dit blog.

Amorgos (Fragment)

So! my pallikari with wine in your kisses and leaves on your lips
I want you to plunge naked into rivers
to sing to Barbary like the carpenter hunts out the woodgrain
like the viper passes through gardens of barley
with its proud ferocious eyes
like the lightning threshes the young.

And don’t laugh and don’t cry and don’t rejoice
don’t uselessly lace up your shoes like you were planting platans
don’t become FATED
because the lammergeier is not a a closed drawer
it is not a tear from a plumtree or a smile from a waterlily
nor is it an undershirt for a dove or mandolin for a Sultan
nor a silk bonnet for the head of a whale.
It is a saw from the sea that slaughters the gulls
a carpenter’s cushion a beggar’s clock
a fire in a gypsy’s forge who seduces priests’ wives and sings a lullaby for lilies
a marriage for Turks a celebration of Australians
a lair of Hungarians
where the hazelnut trees go to meet secretly in fall
they see the wise storks dying their eggs black
and they weep too
they burn their nightgowns and put on ducks’ petticoats
they spread stars on the earth for kings to walk on
with their silver amulets with the crown and the purple
they spread rosemary on beds
so the mice will go to another cellar
go to other churches to eat the Holy Table

 

Vertaald door Anita Sullivan

 
Nikos Gatsos (8 december 1911 – 12 mei 1992) 

 

De Oostenrijkse dichter en schrijver Jura Soyfer werd op 8 december 1912 in Charkov, Oekraïne, geboren. Zie ook alle tags voor Jura Soyfer op dit blog.

Einheitsfront

Die Sowjets bedrohen, wie jeder weiß,
Den Klassenfrieden, den Erdölpreis,
Die Baumwollkurse, die Religion,
Moral und Zündholzproduktion!
Drum reichen Deterding, Vanderbilt,
Ford, Morgan und Thyssen einander die Hände:
»Hoch die Kultur, die’s zu schirmen gilt,
Dreimal so hoch die Dividende!«
Um Leichenbeute wird später gestritten –
Jetzt feiern die Herren Honigmond.
»Auf denn«, ruft Krupp, »gen Ostland geritten,
Es lebe die goldene Einheitsfront!«

»Ich träumte einst von Arbeiterpartei«,
Sprach Hitler, »doch das ist längst vorbei.
Mögt ruhig sein, die ihr schafft und rafft:
Fest steht und treu die Zinsknechtschaft!«
Und neue Aufschläge gab es im Nu
Zu Uniformrock samt Hose,
Und neue Anschläge gab es dazu
Auf Krüppel und Arbeitslose.
So einten sich Hitler und die Barone.
Schon steigen glorreich am Horizont
Hohenzollernschnurrbart und Krone.
»Es lebe die braune Einheitsfront!«

Von Warschau bis Schanghai, von Süd bis Nord,
Von Essen bis Neuyork, von Thyssen bis Ford,
Von Hitler bis Horthy steht er geeint,
Der imperialistische Klassenfeind!
Sie greifen an, sie marschieren geschlossen!
Können denn wir nicht, was die gekonnt?
Die Zeit ist knapp. Zeit ist Blut, Genossen!
Genossen, schließet die Einheitsfront!

 
Jura Soyfer (8 december 1912 – 16 februari 1939) 

 

De Noorse dichter, schrijver, journalist en politicus Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson werd geboren op 8 december 1832 in Kvikne bij Tynset. Zie ook alle tags voor Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson op dit blog.

When Comes The Morning?

When
comes the real morning?
When golden, the sun’s rays hover
Over the earth’s snow-cover,
And where the shadows nestle,
Wrestle,
Lifting lightward the root enringèd
Till it shall seem an angel wingèd,
Then it is morning,
Real, real morning.
But if the weather is bad
And my spirit sad,
Never morning I know.
No.

Truly, it’s real morning,
When blossom the buds winter-beaten,
The birds having drunk and eaten
Are glad as they sing, divining
Shining
Great new crowns to the tree-tops given,
Cheering the brooks to the broad ocean riven.
Then it is morning,
Real, real morning.
But if the weather is bad
And my spirit sad,
Never morning I know.
No.
When
comes the real morning?
When power to conquer parries
Sorrow and storm, and carries
Sun to the soul, whose burning
Yearning
Opens in love and calls to others:
Good to be unto all as brothers.

Then
it is morning,
Real, real morning.
Greatest power you know
-And most dangerous, lo!-
Will you
this
then possess?
Yes.


Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (8 december 1832 – 26 april 1910)

 

De Amerikaanse schrijver Joel Chandler Harris werd geboren op 8 december 1848 in Eatonton, Georgia.Zie ook alle tags voor Joel Chandler Harris op dit blog.

Uit: Free Joe and Other Georgian Sketches

“The name of Free Joe strikes humorously upon the ear of memory. It is impossible to say why, for he was the humblest, the simplest, and the most serious of all God’s living creatures, sadly lacking in all those elements that suggest the humorous. It is certain, moreover, that in 1850 the sober-minded citizens of the little Georgian village of Hillsborough were not inclined to take a humorous view of Free Joe, and neither his name nor his presence provoked a smile. He was a black atom, drifting hither and thither without an owner, blown about by all the winds of circumstance, and given over to shiftlessness.
The problems of one generation are the paradoxes of a succeeding one, particularly if war, or some such incident, intervenes to clarify the[4] atmosphere and strengthen the understanding. Thus, in 1850, Free Joe represented not only a problem of large concern, but, in the watchful eyes of Hillsborough, he was the embodiment of that vague and mysterious danger that seemed to be forever lurking on the outskirts of slavery, ready to sound a shrill and ghostly signal in the impenetrable swamps, and steal forth under the midnight stars to murder, rapine, and pillage—a danger always threatening, and yet never assuming shape; intangible, and yet real; impossible, and yet not improbable. Across the serene and smiling front of safety, the pale outlines of the awful shadow of insurrection sometimes fell. With this invisible panorama as a background, it was natural that the figure of Free Joe, simple and humble as it was, should assume undue proportions. Go where he would, do what he might, he could not escape the finger of observation and the kindling eye of suspicion. His lightest words were noted, his slightest actions marked.”

 
Joel Chandler Harris (8 december 1848 – 3 juli 1908)
Portret door Lucy May Stanton, ca, 1914

Louis de Bernières, Bill Bryson, Mary Gordon, Delmore Schwartz, Jim Morrison, James Thurber, Hervey Allen

De Britse schrijver Louis de Bernières werd geboren in Londen op 8 december 1954. Zie ook alle tags voor Louis de Bernières op dit blog.

Uit: Corelli’s Mandolin

‘Only my finger,’ replied Stamatis.
‘And how long have you been deaf in this ear?’
‘Since as long as I can remember.’
Dr Iannis found an absurd picture rising up before his imagination. It was Stamatis as a toddler, with the same gnarled face, the same stoop, the same overmeasure of aural hair, reaching up to the kitchen table and taking a dried pea from a wooden bowl. He stuck it into his mouth, found it too hard to bite, and crammed it into his ear. The doctor chuckled, ‘You must have been a very annoying little boy.’
‘He was a devil.’
‘Be quiet, woman, you didn’t even know me in those days.’
‘I have your mother’s word, God rest her soul,’ replied the old woman, pursing her lips and folding her arms, ‘and I have the word of your sisters.’
Dr Iannis considered the problem. It was undoubtedly an obdurate and recalcitrant pea, and it was too tightly packed to lever it out. ‘Do you have a fishhook, about the right size for a mullet, with a long shank? And do you have a light hammer?’
The couple looked at each other with the single thought that their doctor must have lost his mind. ‘What does this have to do with my earache?’ asked Stamatis suspiciously.
‘You have an exorbitant auditory impediment,’ replied the doctor, ever conscious of the necessity for maintaining a certain iatric mystique, and fully aware that ‘a pea in the ear’ was unlikely to earn him any kudos. ‘I can remove it with a fishhook and a small hammer; it’s…”

 
Louis de Bernières (Londen, 8 december 1954)

Doorgaan met het lezen van “Louis de Bernières, Bill Bryson, Mary Gordon, Delmore Schwartz, Jim Morrison, James Thurber, Hervey Allen”

Louis de Bernières, Bill Bryson, Mary Gordon, Delmore Schwartz, James Thurber, Hervey Allen

De Britse schrijver Louis de Bernières werd geboren in Londen op 8 december 1954. Zie ook alle tags voor Louis de Bernières op dit blog.

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.”
“Baba!”
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)

Doorgaan met het lezen van “Louis de Bernières, Bill Bryson, Mary Gordon, Delmore Schwartz, James Thurber, Hervey Allen”

Louis de Bernières, Bill Bryson, Mary Gordon, Delmore Schwartz, James Thurber, Hervey Allen

De Britse schrijver Louis de Bernières werd geboren in Londen op 8 december 1954. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008 en ook mijn blog van 8 december 2009. en ook mijn blog van 8 december 2010.

Uit: Birds Without Wings

„Yusuf the Tall strode up and down the room, waving his hands, protesting and expostulating, sometimes burying his face in his hands. Kaya had not seen him so anguished and begrieved since the death of his mother three years before. He had painted the tulip on the headstone with his own hands, and had taken bread and olives so that he could eat at the graveside, imagining his mother underneath the stones, but unable to picture her as anything but living and intact.
Yusuf had passed the stage of anger. The time had gone when these patrollings of the room had been accompanied by obscenities so fearful that Kaya and her children had had to flee the house with their hands over their ears, their heads ringing with his curses against his daughter and the Christian: “Orospu çocu¢gu! Orospu çocu¢gu! Piç!”
By now, however, Yusuf the Tall was in that state of grief which foreknew in its full import the horror of what was inescapably to come. His face glistened with anticipatory tears, and when he threw his head back and opened his mouth to groan, thick saliva strung itself across his teeth.
Overtaken, finally, by weariness, Kaya had given up pleading with him, partly because she herself could see no other way to deal with what had occurred. If it had been a Muslim, perhaps they could have married her to him, or perhaps they could have repeated what had been done with Tamara Hanim. Perhaps they could have kept her concealed in the house, unmarried for ever, and perhaps the child could have been given away. Perhaps they could have left it at the gates of a monastery. Perhaps they could have sent her away in disgrace, to fend for herself and suffer whatever indignities fate and divine malice should rain upon her head. It had not been a Muslim, however, it had been an infidel.

Yusuf was an implacable and undeviating adherent to his faith. Originally from Konya, he was not like the other Muslims of this mongrel town who seemed to be neither one thing nor the other, getting converted when they married, drinking wine with Christians either overtly or in secret, begging favours in their prayers from Mary Mother of Jesus, not asking what the white meat was when they shared a meal, and being buried with a silver cross wrapped in a scrap of the Koran enfolded in their hands, just because it was wise to back both camels in salvation’s race.“

Louis de Bernières (Londen, 8 december 1954)

Doorgaan met het lezen van “Louis de Bernières, Bill Bryson, Mary Gordon, Delmore Schwartz, James Thurber, Hervey Allen”

James Thurber, Hervey Allen, Georges Feydeau, Horatius

De Amerikaanse schrijver James Thurber werd geboren op 8 december 1894 in Columbus, Ohio. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008 en ook mijn blog van 8 december 2009.

 

Uit: The Last Clock

 

„In a country the other side of tomorrow, an ogre who had eaten a clock and had fallen into the habit of eating clocks was eating a clock in the clockroom of his castle when his ogress and their ilk knocked down the locked door and shook their hairy heads at him.

“Wulsa malla?” gurgled the ogre, for too much clock oil had turned all his “t”s to “l”s.

“Just look at this room!” exclaimed the ogress, and they all looked at the room, the ogre with eyes as fogged as the headlights of an ancient limousine. The stone floor of the room was littered with fragments of dials, oily coils and springs, broken clock hands, and pieces of pendulums. “I’ve brought a doctor to look at you,” the ogress said.

The doctor wore a black beard, carried a black bag, and gave the ogre a black look. “This case is clearly not in my area,” he said.

The ogre struck three, and the doctor flushed.

“This is a case for a clockman,” the doctor said, “for the problem is not what clocks have done to the ogre but what the ogre has done to clocks.”

“Wulsa malla?” the ogre gurgled again.

“Eating clocks has turned all his ‘t’s to ‘l’s,” the ogress said. “That what clocks have done to him.”

“Then your clockman may have to call in consultation a semanticist or a dictionist or an etymologist or a syntaxman,” the non-clock doctor said, and he bowed stiffly and left the room.

The next morning, the ogress brought into the clockroom a beardless man with a box of tools under his arm. “I’ve brought a clockman to see you,” she told the ogre.

“No, no, no,” said the beardless man with a box of tools under his arm. “I’m not a clockman. I thought you said clogman. I’m a clogman. I cannot ethically depart from my area, which is clogged drains and gutters. I get mice out of pipes, and bugs out of tubes, and moles out of tiles, and there my area ends.” The clogman bowed and went away.“

 

 

James Thurber (8 december 1894 – 2 november 1961)

 

 

Doorgaan met het lezen van “James Thurber, Hervey Allen, Georges Feydeau, Horatius”

Louis de Bernières, Bill Bryson, Mary Gordon, Jim Morrison, Delmore Schwartz, James Thurber, William Hervey Allen, Georges Feydeau, Horatius, Carmen Martín Gaite, Nikos Gatsos, Jura Soyfer, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Joel Chandler Harris

De Britse schrijver Louis de Bernières werd geboren in Londen op 8 december 1954. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.

 

Uit: A Partisan’s Daughter

 

I am not the sort of man who goes to prostitutes.
Well, I suppose that every man would say that. People would disbelieve it just because you felt you had to say it. It’s a self-defeating statement. If I had any sense I’d delete it and start again, but I’m thinking, “My wife’s dead, my daughter’s in New Zealand, I’m in bad health, and I’m past caring, and who’s paying any attention? And in any case, it’s true.”
I did know someone who admitted it, though. He was a Dutchman who’d done it with a prostitute during his national service. He was in Amsterdam and he was suffering from blue balls at a time when he was on leave and had a little money in his pocket. He said she was a real stunner, and the sex was better than he had expected. However, the woman kept a bin by her bedside, the kind that is like a miniature dustbin, with a lid. You can still get them in novelty shops. Anyway, after he’d finished he eased off the condom, and she reached out and lifted the lid off for him out of good manners. It was packed to the brim with used condoms, like a great cake of pink and brown rubber. He was so horrified by that bin of limp milky condoms that he never went to a prostitute again. Mind you, I haven’t seen him for twenty years, so he may well have succumbed by now. He liked to tell that story because he was an artist, and probably felt he had a Bohemian duty to be a little bit outrageous. I expect he was hoping I’d be shocked, because I am only a suburbanite.
I tried to go with a prostitute just once in my life, and it didn’t work out as I had expected. It wasn’t a case of blue balls so much as a case of loneliness. It was an impulse, I suppose. My wife was alive back then, but the trouble is that sooner or later, at best, your wife turns into your sister. At worst she becomes your enemy, and sets herself up as the principal obstacle to your happiness. Mine had obtained everything she wanted, so she couldn’t see any reason to bother with me any more. All the delights with which she had drawn me in were progressively withdrawn, until there was nothing left for me but responsibilities and a life sentence. I don’t think that most women understand the nature of a man’s sexual drive. They don’t realise that for a man it isn’t just something quite nice that’s occasionally optional, like flower arranging. I tried talking to my wife about it several times, but she always reacted with impatience or blank incomprehension, as if I was an importunate alien freshly arrived from a parallel universe. I never could decide whether she was being heartless or stupid, or just plain cynical. It didn’t make any difference. You could just see her thinking to herself, “This isn’t my problem.” She was one of those insipid Englishwomen with skimmed milk in her veins, and she was perfectly content to be like that. When we married I had no idea that she would turn out to have all the passion and fire of a codfish, because she took the trouble to put on a good show until she thought it was safe not to have to bother any more.”

 

louisdebernieres

Louis de Bernières (Londen, 8 december 1954)

 

De Amerikaanse schrijver Bill Bryson werd geboren in Des Moines (Iowa) op 8 december 1951. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2007 en ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.

 

Uit: In A Sunburned Country

 

Flying into Australia, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is. I am forever doing this with the Australian prime minister–committing the name to memory, forgetting it (generally more or less instantly), then feeling terribly guilty. My thinking is that there ought to be one person outside Australia who knows.
But then Australia is such a difficult country to keep track of. On my first visit, some years ago, I passed the time on the long flight reading a history of Australian politics in the twentieth century, wherein I encountered the startling fact that in 1967 the prime minister, Harold Holt, was strolling along a beach in Victoria when he plunged into the surf and vanished. No trace of the poor man was ever seen again. This seemed doubly astounding to me–first that Australia could just lose a prime minister (I mean, come on) and second that news of this had never reached me.
The fact is, of course, we pay shamefully scant attention to our dear cousins Down Under–not entirely without reason, of course. Australia is after all mostly empty and a long way away. Its population, just over 18 million, is small by world standards–China grows by a larger amount each year–and its place in the world economy is consequently peripheral; as an economic entity, it ranks about level with Illinois. Its sports are of little interest to us and the last television series it made that we watched with avidity was Skippy. From time to time it sends us useful things–opals, merino wool, Errol Flynn, the boomerang–but nothing we can’t actually do without. Above all, Australia doesn’t misbehave. It is stable and peaceful and good. It doesn’t have coups, recklessly overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities, or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner.“

 

bill_bryson

Bill Bryson (Des Moines, 8 december 1951)

 

De Amerikaanse schrijfster Mary Catherine Gordon werd geboren op 8 december 1949 in Far Rockaway, New York. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.

 

Uit: Reading Jesus

 

Is it possible that the story of the Prodigal Son is the first story I remember? Or that I remember it alongside Snow White, Goldilocks, the Three Little Pigs? Fixing it in my mind (they weren’t wrong, the iconoclasts; they knew the power of artifacts) was one of my most treasured possessions, what we would now call a sticker book. At that time what are now called stickers were referred to as “seals,” the model being Easter Seals, which you bought in order to pledge your determination to stamp out polio. They were not common, these books of seals, and certainly a book of Bible stories was not. I can recall the taste of the glue on my tongue: sharp, cutting, even painful, and the drastic importance to me of the correct placement of the sticky image onto the blank square that was meant to frame it.
The seal of the Prodigal Son presented him bare-chested among the pigs. But in my imagination, I created other costumes for him: the robe, which I saw very clearly. It was striped, magenta, orange, red. And the ring, a large signet ring
that I knew went on his index finger, although I had never seen anyone in life wear any jewelry on that digit. I saw his legs, smooth, tanned (was I confusing him with the Old Testament Jacob, as I confused his robe with Joseph’s many-colored coat?). But there were other images that were more vivid to me than these, images that I felt kinesthetically rather than saw. The first were the husks provided for the pigs; he longed for the husks, envied the pigs: even husks had not been provided for him. I imagined used-up corncobs, tossed on the ground after a summer picnic. Dried out; devoid of succulence. I understood that he would have to wait even for these until the pigs had had their fill; without articulating it, I knew that he was less valuable to his employer than the pigs were. This frightened me: that kind of hunger.
I was the child of an ardent father, so I could imagine the heat of a father’s embrace that was led up to by a yearning run: the unseemly speed of the father who could not wait to see his child. Who runs for him, unable to bear the slowness of the normal progression, the son’s ordinary pace. I could feel the warmth of the father’s ardent arms; I knew the boy’s safety, his sense of relief. Forgiveness.“

 

Gordon_Ma

Mary Gordon (Far Rockaway, 8 december 1949)

 

De Amerikaanse zanger, dichter en tekstschrijver James Douglas (Jim) Morrison werd geboren in Melbourne (Florida) op 8 december 1943. Hij was de zanger van de band The Doors en heeft verschillende gedichtenbundels geschreven. Morrison stond bekend als een intellectueel en men schrijft hem een IQ van 146 toe. Morrison ging naar de filmacademie in Los Angeles, Californië, en leerde daar Ray Manzarek kennen, met wie hij The Doors oprichtte. Deze naam was ontleend aan ‘The Doors of Perception’, de titel van een boek van Aldous Huxley, die op zijn beurt de frase had ontleend aan een gedicht van William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite”. Morrison leefde zeer intens en gebruikte verschillende en vele soorten verslavende genotsmiddelen. Zijn enorme drankgebruik was exemplarisch. Hij was gefascineerd door literatuur, las enorm veel en was fanatiek bezig met het maken van poëzie. Zijn muziek toont invloeden van jazz en blues en zijn teksten waren vaak zeer filosofisch en dichterlijk van aard. Van Morrison is een aantal dichtbundels uitgegeven, zoals “The Lords & The New Creatures”, “Wilderness” en “The American Night”. Morrison zag muziek als vehikel voor zijn poëzie en met zijn sterke theatrale persoonlijkheid en zijn beeldende gedichten werden concerten van The Doors complete seances, waarbij Morrison op geniale wijze direct contact met het publiek wist te leggen.

 

 

Between childhood, boyhood,
adolescence
& manhood (maturity) there
should be sharp lines drawn w/
Tests, deaths, feats, rites
stories, songs, & judgements

 

 

THE AMERICAN NIGHT

for leather accrues
The miracle of the streets
The scents & songs &
pollens of existence

Shiny blackness
so totally naked she was
Totally un-hung-up

We looked around
lights now on
To see our fellow travellers

 

 

 

POWER

I can make the earth stop in
its tracks. I made the
blue cars go away.

I can make myself invisible or small.
I can become gigantic & reach the
farthest things. I can change
the course of nature.
I can place myself anywhere in
space or time.
I can summon the dead.
I can perceive events on other worlds,
in my deepest inner mind,
& in the minds of others.

I can

I am

 

JimMorrison

Jim Morrison (8 december 1943 – 3 juli 1971)

 

De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver Delmore Schwartz werd geboren op 8 december 1913 in New York. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.

 

All Night, All Night 

“I have been one acquainted with the night” – Robert Frost

 

Rode in the train all night, in the sick light. A bird

Flew parallel with a singular will. In daydream’s moods and

attitudes

The other passengers slumped, dozed, slept, read,

Waiting, and waiting for place to be displaced

On the exact track of safety or the rack of accident.

 

Looked out at the night, unable to distinguish

Lights in the towns of passage from the yellow lights

Numb on the ceiling. And the bird flew parallel and still

As the train shot forth the straight line of its whistle,

Forward on the taut tracks, piercing empty, familiar —

 

The bored center of this vision and condition looked and

looked

Down through the slick pages of the magazine (seeking

The seen and the unseen) and his gaze fell down the well

Of the great darkness under the slick glitter,

And he was only one among eight million riders and

readers.

 

And all the while under his empty smile the shaking drum

Of the long determined passage passed through him

By his body mimicked and echoed. And then the train

Like a suddenly storming rain, began to rush and thresh–

The silent or passive night, pressing and impressing

The patients’ foreheads with a tightening-like image

Of the rushing engine proceeded by a shaft of light

Piercing the dark, changing and transforming the silence

Into a violence of foam, sound, smoke and succession.

 

A bored child went to get a cup of water,

And crushed the cup because the water too was

Boring and merely boredom’s struggle.

The child, returning, looked over the shoulder

Of a man reading until he annoyed the shoulder.

A fat woman yawned and felt the liquid drops

Drip down the fleece of many dinners.

 

And the bird flew parallel and parallel flew

The black pencil lines of telephone posts, crucified,

At regular intervals, post after post

Of thrice crossed, blue-belled, anonymous trees.

 

And then the bird cried as if to all of us:

 

0 your life, your lonely life

What have you ever done with it,

And done with the great gift of consciousness?

What will you ever do with your life before death’s

knife

Provides the answer ultimate and appropriate?

 

As I for my part felt in my heart as one who falls,

Falls in a parachute, falls endlessly, and feel the vast

Draft of the abyss sucking him down and down,

An endlessly helplessly falling and appalled clown:

 

This is the way that night passes by, this

Is the overnight endless trip to the famous unfathomable

abyss.

 

delmore-schwartz

Delmore Schwartz (8 december 1913 – 11 juli 1966)

 

De Amerikaanse schrijver James Thurber werd geboren op 8 december 1894 in Columbus, Ohio. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.

 

Uit: My Life and Hard Times

 

I suppose that the high-water mark of my youth in Columbus, Ohio, was the night the bed fell on my father. It makes a better recitation (unless, as some friends of mine have said, one has heard it five or six times) than it does a piece of writing, for it is almost necessary to throw furniture around, shake doors, and bark like a dog, to lend the proper atmosphere and verisimilitude to what is admittedly a somewhat incredible tale. Still, it did take place.

It happened, then, that my father had decided to sleep in the attic one night, to be away where he could think. My mother opposed the notion strongly because, she said, the old wooden bed up there was unsafe: it was wobbly and the heavy headboard would crash down on father’s head in case the bed fell, and kill him. There was no dissuading him, however, and at a quarter past ten he closed the attic door behind him and went up the narrow twisting stairs. We later heard ominous creakings as he crawled into bed. Grandfather, who usually slept in the attic bed when he was with us, had disappeared some days before. (On these occasions he was usually gone six or eight days and returned growling and out of temper, with the news that the federal Union was run by a passel of blockheads and that the Army of the Potomac didn’t have any more chance than a fiddler’s bitch.)

We had visiting us at this time a nervous first cousin of mine named Briggs Beall, who believed that he was likely to cease breathing when he was asleep. It was his feeling that if he were not awakened every hour during the night, he might die of suffocation. He had been accustomed to setting an alarm clock to ring at intervals until morning, but I persuaded him to abandon this. He slept in my room and I told him that I was such a light sleeper that if anybody quit breathing in the same room with me, I would wake instantly. He tested me the first night-which I had suspected he would-by holding his breath after my regular breathing had convinced him I was asleep. I was not asleep, however, and called to him. This seemed to allay his fears a little, but he took the precaution of putting a glass of spirits of camphor on a little table at the head of his bed. In case I didn’t arouse him until he was almost gone, he said, he would sniff the camphor, a powerful reviver. Briggs was not the only member of his family who had his crotchets.“

 

Thurber

James Thurber (8 december 1894 – 2 november 1961)

 

De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver William Hervey Allen werd geboren op 8 december 1889 in Pittsburgh. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.

 

Carolina Spring Song

 

Against the swart magnolias’ sheen

Pronged maples, like a stag’s new horn,

Stand gouted red upon the green,

In March when shaggy buds are shorn.

 

Then all a mist-streaked, sunny day

The long sea-islands lean to hear

A water harp that shallows play

To lull the beaches’ fluted ear.

 

When this same music wakes the gift

Of pregnant beauty in the sod,

And makes the uneasy vultures shift

Like evil things afraid of God,

 

Then, then it is I love to drift

Upon the flood-tide’s lazy swirls,

While from the level rice fields lift

The spiritu’ls of darky girls.

 

I hear them singing in the fields

Like voices from the long-ago;

They speak to me of somber worlds

And sorrows that the humble know;

 

Of sorrow–yet their tones release

A harmony of larger hours

From easy epochs long at peace

Amid an irony of flowers.

 

So if they sometimes seem a choir

That cast a chill of doubt on spring,

They have still higher notes of fire

Like cardinals upon the wing.

 

Hervey

William Hervey Allen (8 december 1889 – 28 december 1949)

 

 

De Franse theaterauteur Georges Feydeau werd geboren op 8 december 1862 in Parijs. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.

 

Uit: Fiancés en herbe

 

Henriette (après un temps relevant la tête): Ah! que c’est ennuyeux ! Ça ne veut pas entrer…

René: Moi ça commence !… Je sais jusqu’à “fromage!”, “… tenait dans son bec un fromage”.

Henriette: Deux lignes !… déjà!…

René: Oui, et toi?

Henriette: Moi, je commence un peu à savoir le titre.

René: Oh ! tu verras, ça n’est pas très difficile… c’est très bête cette fable-là… c’est pour les petits enfants…mais on la retient facilement.

Henriette : Dis donc, tu les aimes, toi, les Fables de La Fontaine?

René (bon enfant): Oh ! non… ça n’est plus de mon âge.

Henriette (naïvement): Qui est-ce qui les a faites, les Fables de La Fontaine? …

René (très carré): Je ne sais pas !… il n’a pas de talent.

Henriette (avec conviction): Non !… D’abord pourquoi est-ce que ça s’appelle les Fables de La Fontaine?

René: Pour rien…c’est un mot composé… comme dans la gram­maire, «rez-de-chaussée, arc-en-ciel, chou-fleur».

Henriette: Haricots verts.

René: Parfaitement !

Henriette: Eh bien ! moi j’aurais appelé ça Fables des animaux … plutôt que Fables de La Fontaine.., parce qu’il y a tout le temps des animaux.., et qu’il n’y a presque pas de fontaines. Voilà!

René : C’est évident… et on devrait le dire à l’auteur.

Henriette: Ah ! l’auteur, ce qu’il aurait fait de mieux c’est de ne pas les écrire, ses fables ! car enfin c’est à cause de lui qu’il faut les savoir, s’il ne les avait pas faites, on n’aurait pas à les apprendre… Et puis, à quoi ça sert-il les fables?

René: Ah bien! ça vous apprend quelque chose.

Henriette: Ah! par exemple, je voudrais bien savoir ce que nous apprend Le Corbeau et le Renard?

René: Mais cela t’apprend qu’il ne faut pas parler aux gens quand on a du fromage dans la bouche. »

 

Feydeau

Georges Feydeau (8 december 1862 – 5 juni 1921)

 

De Romeinse dichter en schrijver Quintus Horatius Flaccus werd geboren op 8 december 65 v. Chr. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.

 

Uit: Brief over de dichtkunst

Maecenas, telg van ouden vorstenstam,
mijn steun en trots, mijn blijdschap en mijn roem,
het stof der renbaan van Olympia
is menigeen tot vreugd, een mooie draai
en dan de eerepalm, een heerlijkheid,
waarbij de hemel nauwlijks halen kan.
Een ander, als het wuft Quiritendom
hem heffen wil tot een curulisch ambt.
Een derde, als hij in zijn schuren heeft
den heelen oogst van ’t Africaansch domein.
De boer, die welgemoed zijn erfdeel spit,
laat door geen fabelachtig tractement
zich lijmen om met cederhouten kiel
in duizend vreezen ’t ruime sop te kiezen.
Als stormwind worstelt met de golven, snakt
de koopman naar de landelijke rust
van zijn geboorteplaats … Dra ligt het schip
weer zeilree: zich bekrimpen kan hij niet.
Een zeker iemand prefereert Bourgogne
en ’n stevig middagdutje, uitgestrekt
onder een lijsterbes of bij een bron,
waarvan het beekje kabb’lend nedervliet.
Maar velen trekt ’t soldatenleven aan,
trompetgeschal en oorlog, voor de moeders
een vloek. Daarbuiten in de kou vergeet
de jager zijn lief vrouwtje, als zijn hond
een hinde signaleert, of een wild zwijn
de strakke koorden van het net verbreekt.
Wat mij ten hemel heft zijn lauwerkransen,
der wijsheid kroon, het koele woud waarin
de nymphen met de satyrs spelemeien,
dat is mijn adeldom, wanneer Euterpe
voor mij haar wijsjes pijpt, wanneer de luit
van Polyhymnia voor mij weerklinkt.
Mag ik een zanger van het lierdicht heeten,
dan zal ik boven alle wolken zijn.

 

Vertaling: Rutgers van der Loef

 

horatius

Horatius (8 december 65 v. Chr. – 27 november 8 v. Chr.)

 

Zie voor onderstaande schrijvers ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.

 

De Spaanse schrijfster, vertaalster en journaliste  Carmen Martín Gaite werd geboren op 8 december 1925 in Salamanca.

 

De Griekse dichter en schrijver Nikos Gatsos werd geboren op 8 december 1911 in Kato Asea in Arcadië.

 

De Oostenrijkse schrijver Jura Soyfer werd op 8 december 1912 in Charkov, Oekraïne, geboren. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006.

 

De Noorse dichter, schrijver, journalist en politicus Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson werd geboren op 8 december 1832 in Kvikne bij Tynset.  Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006.

 

De Amerikaanse schrijver Joel Chandler Harris werd geboren op 8 december 1848 in Eatonton, Georgia.

Bill Bryson, Louis de Bernières, Mary Gordon, Carmen Martín Gaite, Delmore Schwartz, Nikos Gatsos, Jura Soyfer, James Thurber, William Hervey Allen, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Georges Feydeau, Joel Chandler Harris, Horatius

De Amerikaanse schrijver Bill Bryson werd geboren in Des Moines (Iowa) op 8 december 1951. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2007.

Uit: A Walk In The Woods

 We hiked till five and camped beside a tranquil spring in a small, grassy clearing in the trees just off the trail. Because it was our first day back on the trail, we were flush for food, including perishables like cheese and bread that had to be eaten before they went off or were shaken to bits in our packs, so we rather gorged ourselves, then sat around smoking and chatting idly until persistent and numerous midgelike creatures (no-see-ums, as they are universally known along the trail) drove us into our tents. It was perfect sleeping weather, cool enough to need a bag but warm enough that you could sleep in your underwear, and I was looking forward to a long night’s snooze–indeed was enjoying a long night’s snooze–when, at some indeterminate dark hour, there was a sound nearby that made my eyes fly open. Normally, I slept through everything–through thunderstorms, through Katz’s snoring and noisy midnight pees–so something big enough or distinctive enough to wake me was unusual. There was a sound of undergrowth being disturbed–a click of breaking branches, a weighty pushing through low foliage–and then a kind of large, vaguely irritable snuffling noise.
Bear!

I sat bolt upright. Instantly every neuron in my brain was awake and dashing around frantically, like ants when you disturb their nest. I reached instinctively for my knife, then realized I had left it in my pack, just outside the tent. Nocturnal defense had ceased to be a concern after many successive nights of tranquil woodland repose. There was another noise, quite near“.

 

Bill_Bryson

Bill Bryson (Des Moines, 8 december 1951)

 

De Britse schrijver Louis de Bernières werd geboren in Londen op 8 december 1954. De Bernières ging op 18-jarige leeftijd in het leger, maar vertrok daar al na vier maanden. Een grote verscheidenheid aan baantjes volgde daarop. Hij vertrok naar Zuid-Amerika, waar hij onder andere werkte als monteur en als cowboy in Colombia en Argentinië. Zijn eerste drie romans The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts (1990), Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord (1991) en The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman (1992) werden naar eigen zeggen geïnspireerd door zijn ervaringen in Colombia en door de schrijver Gabriel García Márquez. In 1993 werd De Bernières gerekend tot de 20 beste jonge Britse romanschrijvers. Het jaar daarop verscheen Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, waarmee hij de Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book won. Het boek werd een groot succes, werd in vele talen vertaald en in 2001 ook verfilmd. Het succes van het boek leidde tot een grote toename van het toerisme naar het Griekse eiland Kefalonia (Cephalonia), waar het verhaal zich afspeelt. Zijn roman, Birds Without Wings (2004), speelt zich af in Turkije en verhaalt over de lotgevallen van een kleine gemeenschap tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog.

 

Uit: Birds Without Wings

 

Yusuf the Tall loved all his children equally
, with a passionate adoration that, when he thought about it, sometimes made him lachrymose. If his life were like a garden, then his daughters would be like the roses growing alongside its walls, and his sons would be like young trees that formed a palisade against the world. When they were small he devoted happy hours to their entertainment, and when they grew older he hugged them until their eyes bulged and they thought that their ribs would crack. He had grown to love his wife too, partly because this is what happens when a wife is well chosen, and partly because from her loins had sprung these brooks and becks of happiness.

But now Yusuf the Tall did not know what to do with his hands. It seemed as though they were behaving on their own. The thumb and middle finger of his left hand stroked across his eyeballs, meeting at the bridge of his nose. It was comforting, perhaps, for a scintilla of time. There was no comfort longer than that in this terrible situation. Sometimes his hands lay side by side on his face, the tips of his thumbs touching the lobes of his ears. He had thrown off his fez so that they could stroke his hair backwards, coming to rest on the back of his neck. The maroon fez lay in a corner on its side, so that his wife Kaya kept glancing at it. Despite this awful emergency, and the drama in which she was caught up, her instinct was to tidy it away, even if it were only to set it upright. She sat on the low divan, kneading her fingers, biting her lip and looking up at her husband. She was as helpless as one who stands before the throne of God.”

Louis_de_Bernieres

Louis de Bernières (Londen, 8 december 1954)

 

De Amerikaanse schrijfster Mary Catherine Gordon werd geboren op 8 december 1949 in Far Rockaway, New York. Zij is de dochter van een Italiaans-Ierse moeder en een joodse vader die overgegaan is naar het katholicisme. Gordon kreeg een opleiding aan de The Mary Louis Academy, het Barnard College en aan de Syracuse University. Aan het Barnard College is zij tegenwoordig docente Engels. In 2007 verschenen haar memoires Circling My Mother. Ander werk o.a: The Company of Women (1981), Men and Angels (1985), Spending (1998).

 

Uit: Pearl (2005)

 

We may as well begin with the ride home.

It is Christmas night, 1998. The ending of a day that was not unseasonable, except in its failure to fulfill the sentimental wish for spur-of-the moment snow. The sky: gray; the air: cold, with a high of 33 degrees Fahrenheit. Palpable winter but not winter at its worst. Fewer of the poor than usual died on that day of causes traceable to the weather. Perhaps the relatively unimpressive showing of weather-related deaths was due to the relative clemency of the air, the relative windlessness, the relative benevolence that could be counted on by the poor to last, perhaps, eight days, December twenty-fourth through the first of January.

Ten o’clock Christmas night. Four friends drive south on the way home after a day of celebration. They have had Christmas dinner at the house of other friends, a weekend and vacation house in the mountains north of New York. One couple sits in the front of a brown Honda Accord, the other in the back. They are all in their fifties. All of their children are on other continents: one in Brazil, working on an irrigation project; one in Japan, teaching English; one in Ireland studying the Irish language at Trinity College. They were determined not to have a melancholy Christmas, and for the most part they have not.

They leave Maria Meyers off first since she lives in the most northerly part of the city or, as they would say, the farthest uptown.

She opens the door of her apartment on the sixth or top floor of a building on the corner of La Salle Street and Claremont Avenue, a block west of Broadway, a block south of 125th Street, on the margins of Harlem, at the tip end of the force field of Columbia University. Before she takes off her brown boots lined with tan fur, her green down coat, her rose-colored scarf, her wool beret, also rose, she sees the red light of her answering machine.”

 

Gordon

Mary Gordon (Far Rockaway, 8 december 1949)

 

De Spaanse schrijfster, vertaalster en journaliste  Carmen Martín Gaite werd geboren op 8 december 1925 in Salamanca. Zij studeerde filologie in Salamanca, waar zij ook de schrijver Ignacio Aldecoa leerde kennen. Later besloot zij naar Madrid te verhuizen om daar haar proefschrift over Galicisch-Portugese dichtkunst van de 13e eeuw te schrijven. Daar kwam zij in contact met een hele groep van schrijvers, zoals  Medardo Fraile, Alfonso Sastre, Jesús Fernández Santos, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio en Josefina Aldecoa. Zij stopte met het schrijven van haar dissertatie en schreef in plaats daarvan verhalen en artikelen. In 1978 ontving zij de Premio Nacional de Literatura voor haar roman El cuarto de atrás. Zij vertaalde werk van Gustave Flaubert, Charles Perrault, Virginia Woolf, Emily Brontë en Natalia Ginzburg in het Spaans en schreef draaiboeken voor de Spaanse televisie. Een van haar meest gelezen boeken is Usos amorosos del dieciocho en España uit 1972.

 

Uit: The Back Room (Vertaald door Helen Lane)

 

… AND YET I’D swear that the position was the same-I think I’ve always slept this way, with my right arm underneath the pillow and my body turned slightly over onto that side, my feet searching for the place where the sheet is tucked in. What’s more, if I close my eyes – and I end up closing them as a last, routine resort – I am visited by a long-familiar apparition, always the same: a parade of stars, each with a clown’s face, that go soaring up like a balloon that’s escaped and laugh with a frozen grin, following one after the other in a zigzag pattern, like spirals of smoke gradually becoming thicker and thicker. There are so many of them that in a little while there won’t be any room left for them and they’ll have to descend to seek more space in the riverbed of my blood, and then they’ll be petals that the river carries away. At the moment they’re rising in bunches. I see the minuscule face drawn in the center of each one of them, like a cherry pit surrounded by spangles. But what never changes is the tune that accompanies the ascent, a melody that can’t be heard yet marks the beat, a special silence whose very denseness makes it count more than it would if it could be heard. This was the most typical thing back then too. I recognized that strange silence as being the prelude to something that was about to happen. I breathed slowly, I felt my insides pulsing, my ears buzzing, and my blood locked in. At any moment – where exactly? – that ascending multitude would fall and swell the invisible inner flow like an intravenous drug, capable of altering all my visions. And I was wide awake, awaiting the prodigious change, so lightning-quick that there was never a night when I managed to trap the very instant of its sudden stealthy appearance as I lay in wait there, watching for it eagerly and fearfully, just as I’m doing now.

 

CARMEN_MART_N_GAITE

 Carmen Martín Gaite (8 december 1925 – 22 juli 2000)  

 

 

De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver Delmore Schwartz werd geboren op 8 december 1913 in New York. Zijn eerste gepubliceerde werk was het korte verhaal uit 1937, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, dat later samen met andere verhalen in een bundel werd opgenomen. In de daarop volgende dertig jaar verschenen talrijke gedichten, verhalen en stukken. In 1959 kreeg hij voor Summer Knowledge: New and Selected Poems de Bollingen Prize. Het eind van zijn leven werd gekenmerkt door alcoholisme en waanzin. De geschiedenis van deze neerwaartse spiraal ligt ten grondslag aan Saul Bellow’s Roman Humboldt’s Gift uit 1975.

 

 

At This Moment Of Time

  

 Some who are uncertain compel me. They fear

The Ace of Spades. They fear

Loves offered suddenly, turning from the mantelpiece,

Sweet with decision. And they distrust

The fireworks by the lakeside, first the spuft,

Then the colored lights, rising.

Tentative, hesitant, doubtful, they consume

Greedily Caesar at the prow returning,

Locked in the stone of his act and office.

While the brass band brightly bursts over the water

They stand in the crowd lining the shore

Aware of the water beneath Him. They know it. Their eyes

Are haunted by water

 

Disturb me, compel me. It is not true

That “no man is happy,” but that is not

The sense which guides you. If we are

Unfinished (we are, unless hope is a bad dream),

You are exact. You tug my sleeve

Before I speak, with a shadow’s friendship,

And I remember that we who move

Are moved by clouds that darken midnight.

 

 

 

Late Autumn In Venice

  

(After Rilke)

 

The city floats no longer like a bait

To hook the nimble darting summer days.

The glazed and brittle palaces pulsate and radiate

And glitter. Summer’s garden sways,

A heap of marionettes hanging down and dangled,

Leaves tired, torn, turned upside down and strangled:

Until from forest depths, from bony leafless trees

A will wakens: the admiral, lolling long at ease,

Has been commanded, overnight — suddenly –:

In the first dawn, all galleys put to sea!

Waking then in autumn chill, amid the harbor medley,

The fragrance of pitch, pennants aloft, the butt

Of oars, all sails unfurled, the fleet

Awaits the great wind, radiant and deadly.

 

Schwartz

Delmore Schwartz (8 december 1913 – 11 juli 1966)

 

De Griekse dichter en schrijver Nikos Gatsos werd geboren op 8 december 1911 in Kato Asea in Arcadië. Hij bezocht het gymnasium in Tripoli.Later verhuisde hij naar Athene, waar hij filosofie studeerde. Daar kwam hij in conact met literaire kringen en raakte hij bevriend met de dichter Odysseus Elytis. In 1943 publiceerde hij zijn verzamelde gedichten Amorgos, een belangrijke representatie van het Griekse surrealisme.

 

 

Rosewater

  

When you reach that other world, don’t become a cloud,

don’t become a cloud, and the bitter star of dawn,

so that your mother knows you, waiting at her door.

Take a wand of willow, a root of rosemary,

a root of rosemary, and be a moonlit coolness

falling in the midnight in your thirsting courtyard.

I gave you rosewater to drink, you gave me poison,

eaglet of the frost, hawk of the desert.

 

 

Vertaald door Jon Corelis

 

nikos_gatsos

Nikos Gatsos (8 december 1911 – 12 mei 1992)

 

De Oostenrijkse schrijver Jura Soyfer werd op 8 december 1912 in Charkov, Oekraïne, geboren. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006.

 

Uit: So starb eine Partei

 

Am nächsten Tag… wurde offensichtlich, dass Dollfuß nicht umfiel. Der Zwerg erklärte in seiner Radiorede, seine Ziele wären: Erweiterung der Rechte des Bundespräsidenten, Einführung eines Ständerates, Geschäftsordnungsreform im Parlament und Schutz der Ruhe und Ordnung. Er hatte in einer endlich gewährten Unterredung den Unterhändlern ungefähr dasselbe mitgeteilt. Diese hatten erwidert, man könne darüber mit sich wohl reden lassen. Daraufhin hatte Dollfuß für Ende des Monats eingehende Verhandlungen in Aussicht gestellt. Aber das Parlament könne er am 15. keinesfalls zusammentreten lassen; er sei nach wie vor entschlossen, diese Sitzung zu verhindern. Gewaltsam? Unter Aufrechterhaltung der Ruhe und Ordnung.

(…)

Wir haben noch am 7. der Regierung unsere ehrliche Mitarbeit angeboten! Wir haben anerkannt, dass außergewöhnliche Zeiten außergewöhnliche Maßnahmen erfordern, und waren bereit, der Regierung die Möglichkeit zu solchen Maßnahmen zu geben! Was war der Dank? Was war die Antwort? Ein Verfassungsbruch! Genossen!

 

soyfer

JuraSoyfer (8 december 1912 – 16 februari 1939)

 

 

De Amerikaanse schrijver James Thurber werd geboren op 8 december 1894 in Columbus, Ohio. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006.

Uit: The Dog Department

I am not a dog lover. A dog lover to me means a dog that is in love with another dog. I am a great admirer of certain dogs, just as I am an admirer of certain men, and I dislike certain dogs as much as I dislike certain men. Mr. Stanley Walker” in his attack on dogs brought out the very sound contention that too much sentimental gush has been said and written about man’s love for the dog and the dog’s love for man. (This gush, I should say, amounts to about one ten-thousandth of the gush that has been printed and recited about man’s love for woman, and vice versa, since Shelley wrote “0′ lift me from the grass! I die, I faint, I fall! Let thy love in kisses rain on my lips and eyelids pale.”) It is significant that none of the gush about dogs has been said or written by dogs. I once showed a copy of Senator Vest’s oration to one of my dogs and he sniffed at it and walked away. No dog has ever gone around quoting any part of it. We see, then, that this first indictment of dogs ‘ that they have called forth so much sentimental woofumpoofum ‘ is purely and simply an indictment of men. I think we will find this to be true of most of Mr. Walker’s indictments against the canine world: he takes a swing at dogs and socks men and women in the eye.

Mr. Walker began his onslaught with a one-sided and prejudiced account of how a little red chow on a leash (the italics are mine) pulled a knife on Mr. Gene Fowler, a large red man who has never been on a leash in his life. Neither the dog nor the woman who was leading the dog are quoted; we dont get their side of the brawl at all. The knife was not evenexamined for paw prints. Nobody proved anything. There isnt a judge in the world who wouldn’t have thrown the case out of court, probably with a sharp reprimand for Mr. Fowler. So far, then, Mr. Walker hasn’t got a leg to stand on.“

 

James_Thurber

James Thurber (8 december 1894 – 2 november 1961)

 

De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver William Hervey Allen werd geboren op 8 december 1889 in Pittsburgh. Bekend werd hij door zijn fictioele oorlogsdagboek Toward the Flame uit 1926 en door Israfel, een biografie over Edgar Allan Poe. Zijn ontwikkelingsroman Antonio Adverso uit 1933 maakte hem echter wereldberoemd. Het werk bestrijkt in negen delen het tijdvak 1780 tot 1840 en beschrijft het leven van de held vanaf zijn jeugd in een weeshuis in Livorno, via het keizerlijke Frankrijk naar Zuid-Amerika, zijn reis naar Afrika als slavenhandelaar, tot uiteindelijk zijn vestiging in El Paso.

 

 

VOICE OF LIFE

 

Dear bird, you are the voice of life itself,
A living melody that calls to us
With untaught ecstasy; that sings a joy
Inherited with being, glorious.
Like girls at play, like laughter of a boy,
Your song derides the tired and baffled brain
That thinks itself to death; you sing again
With the immortal freshness of a breath
From morning stars above the mist of pain
That clings to song about the fields of earth.

 

What dusty thresholds to what vacant ears
Your ecstasy might sweep with song; what dearth
Of music starves them through long, silent years,
Who are eclipsed from you by birth!
Now from this lonely moor you have sprung up
Beyond our need, to pour; pour higher yet
Your melody into that tilted cup
Which all about with clustered gems is set.
Now I can hear it spilling back again,
Melodious excess through my casement bars,
Oh, what delirious madrigals are these
To wither out to nothing twixt the stars!
Such perfect music, and no ideal ear?
Listen! It is the earth that needs to hear.

 

hervey-allen-sm

William Hervey Allen (8 december 1889 – 28 december 1949)

 

De Noorse dichter, schrijver, journalist en politicus Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson werd geboren op 8 december 1832 in Kvikne bij Tynset.  Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006.

 

 

Ballad Of Tailor Nils

  

If you were born before yesterday,

Surely you’ve heard about Tailor Nils, who flaunts him so gay.

 

If it’s more than a week that you’ve been here,

Surely you’ve heard how Knut Storedragen got a lesson severe.

 

Up on the barn of Ola-Per Kviste after a punchin’:

“When Nils heaves you again, take with you some luncheon.”

 

Hans Bugge, he was a man so renowned,

Haunting ghosts of his name spread alarm all around.

 

“Tailor Nils, where you wish to lie, now declare!

On that spot will I spit and lay your head right there.”–

 

“Oh, just come up so near, that I know you by the scent!

Think not that by your jaw to earth I shall be bent!”

 

When first they met, ’t was scarce a bout at all,

Neither man was ready yet to try to get a fall.

 

The second time Hans Bugge slipped his hold.

“Are you tired now, Hans Bugge? The dance will soon be bold.”

 

The third time Hans fell headlong, and forth the blood did spurt.

“Why spit you now so much, man?” — “Oh my, that fall did hurt!”–

 

Saw you a tree casting shadows on new-fallen snow?

Saw you Nils on a maiden smiling glances bestow?

 

Have you seen Tailor Nils when the dance he commences?

Are you a maiden, then go!–It’s too late, when you’ve lost your senses.

 

bjornstjerne_2

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (8 december 1832 – 26 april 1910)

 

De Franse theaterauteur Georges Feydeau werd geboren op 8 december 1862 in Parijs. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006.

Uit : Le dindon

Acte I

À Paris, chez Vatelin. Un salon élégant. Porte au fond. Deux portes à droite, deux à gauche. Mobilier ad libitum. Au lever du rideau, la scène reste vide un instant. On ne tarde pas à entendre des rumeurs au fond, et Lucienne, en tenue de sortie, son chapeau un peu de travers sur la tête, fait irruption comme une femme affolée.

Scène I

Lucienne, Pontagnac. LUCIENNE, entrant comme une bombe et refermant la porte sur elle, mais pas assez vite pour empêcher une canne, passée par un individu qu’on ne voit pas, de se glisser entre le battant et le chambranle de la porte. – Ah ! mon Dieu ! Allez-vous en, monsieur !… Allezvous en !…

 

PONTAGNAC, essayant de pousser la porte que chaque fois Lucienne repousse sur lui. – Madame !… Madame !… je vous en prie !…

LUCIENNE. – Mais jamais de la vie, monsieur !… Qu’est-ce que c’est que ces manières ! (Appelant tout en luttant contre la porte.) Jean, Jean ! Augustine !… Ah ! mon Dieu, et personne !… PONTAGNAC. – Madame ! Madame !

LUCIENNE. – Non ! Non !

PONTAGNAC, qui a fini par entrer. – Je vous en supplie, madame, écoutez-moi !

LUCIENNE. – C’est une infamie !… Je vous défends, monsieur !… Sortez !…

PONTAGNAC. – Ne craignez rien, madame, je ne vous veux aucun mal ! Si mes intentions ne sont pas pures, je vous jure qu’elles ne sont pas hostiles… bien au contraire. Il va à elle.

LUCIENNE, reculant. – Ah çà ! monsieur, vous êtes fou !

PONTAGNAC, la poursuivant. – Oui, madame, vous l’avez dit, fou de vous ! Je sais que ma conduite est audacieuse, contraire aux usages, mais je m’en moque !… Je ne sais qu’une chose, c’est que je vous aime et que tous les moyens me sont bons pour arriver jusqu’à vous.

LUCIENNE, s’arrêtant. – Monsieur, je ne puis en écouter davantage !… Sortez !…

PONTAGNAC. – Ah ! Tout, madame, tout plutôt que cela ! Je vous aime, je vous dis ! (Nouvelle poursuite.) Il m’a suffi de vous voir et ç’a été le coup de foudre ! Depuis huit jours je m’attache à vos pas ! Vous l’avez remarqué.

LUCIENNE, s’arrêtant devant la table. – Mais non, monsieur.

PONTAGNAC. – Si, madame, vous l’avez remarqué ! Une femme remarque toujours quand on la suit.

 

Feydeau

Georges Feydeau (8 december 1862 – 5 juni 1921)

 

De Amerikaanse schrijver Joel Chandler Harris werd geboren op 8 december 1848 in Eatonton, Georgia. Bekend werd hij vooral door zijn Uncle Remus vervolgverhalen, zoals Uncle Remus and His Friends (1892), and Uncle Remus and the Little Boy (1905) die eerst in de krant verschenen en na de opheffing van de rassenscheiding snel populair werden. Door het gebruik van dialect waren ze ook vernieuwend. Harris schreef ook novelle-achtige verhalen over het landleven in Georgia.

 

Uit: Stories of Georgia

 

„So far as written records tell us, Hernando de Soto and his companions in arms were the first white men to enter and explore the territory now known on the map as the State of Georgia. Tradition has small voice in the matter, but such as it has tells another story. There are hints that other white men ventured into this territory before De Soto and his men beheld it. General Oglethorpe, when he came to Georgia with his gentle colony, which had been tamed and sobered by misfortune and ill luck, was firmly of the opinion that Sir Walter Raleigh, the famous soldier, sailor, and scholar, had been there before him. So believing, the founder of the Georgian Colony carried with him Sir Walter’s diary. He

was confirmed in his opinion by a tradition, among the Indians of the Yamacraw tribe, that Raleigh had landed where Savannah now stands.

There are also traditions in regard to the visits of other white men to Georgia. These traditions may be true, or they may be the results of dreams, but it is certain that De Soto and his picked company of Spaniards were the first to march through the territory that is now Georgia. The De Soto expedition was made up of the flower of Spanish chivalry,–men Used to war, and fond of adventure. Some of them were soldiers, anxious to win fame by feats of arms in a new land; some were missionaries, professing an anxiety for the souls of such heathen as they might encounter, but even these men were not unfamiliar with the use of the sword; some were physicians, as ready to kill as to heal; some were botanists, who knew as much about the rapier and the poniard as they did about the stamens, pistils, and petals of the flowers; and some were reporters, men selected to write the history of the expedition.“

 

Harris

Joel Chandler Harris (8 december 1848 – 3 juli 1908)

 

De Romeinse dichter en schrijverQuintus Horatius Flaccus werd geboren op 8 december 65 v. Chr. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2006.

 

Oden I.7

 

Laat andren ’t roemrijk Rhodos, Mytilene
of Ephesus bezingen of Corinthe,
waar zee van Oost en West den mu
ur bespoelt,
of ’t Bacchisch Thebe, ’t Apollinisch Delphi,
het lieflijk dal, waar de Peneios vloeit.
De stad der Jonkvrouw zij het levenswerk
van menig dichter, die van heind’ en veer
olijvetakken tot een krans vergaart.
In veler mond leve tot Hera’s eer
Mycene rijk aan goud, Argos aan paarden.
Mij heeft noch Sparta met zijn zwarte soep,
noch ook Larissa met zijn vette klei
zoo ’t hart geroerd als ’t ruischend Tivoli
met steilen waterval en duister woud,
met weelgen boomgaard langs de slingerbeek.
Zooals ’t Zuidwesten soms geen regenvlagen,
maar blauwe lucht brengt, die het zwerk verscheurt,
laat zoo uw droefheid, Plancus, en uw zorg
verlichten door de wijsheid van den wijn,
te velde nu, straks thuis in Tivoli!
Teukros, die door zijn vader was verstooten,
heeft bij een laatst festijn op Salamis
geklonken met zijn treurende trawanten:
“Waar beter lot, dan hier in ’t vaderhuis,
ons wenkt, daar gaan wij heen, mijn kameraden!
Vertwijfelt niet!
Ik zal uw leider zijn.
Apollo waarborgt ons Nieuw-Salamis.
Helden, die met mij stondt voor heeter vuur,
drinkt thans den beker der vergetelheid!
Morgen begint opnieuw de groote reis.”

 

 

Vertaald door Dr. A. Rutgers van der Loeff.

horace

Horatius (8 december 65 v. Chr. – 27 november 8 v. Chr.)