Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Behind the Seen


Mermen. Russian lubok. circa 1866

این جا پشت پرده ی رندان


Rainer Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926)

What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us. Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.

Selected Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke (1960)


Samuel Beckett: April 13, 1906 – December 22, 1989

“I grow gnomic. It is the last phase.” - The Letters of Samuel Becket 1929–1940 (2009), p. 209


From an interview Beckett granted to a French newspaper:
- I never read philosophy.
- Why not?
- I don’t understand it.
- Why did you write your books?
- I don’t know. I’m not an intellectual. I just feel things. I invented Molloy and the rest on the day I understood how stupid I’d been. I began then to write down the things I feel.

Robert Bly, poet, translator (Tomas Tranströmer, among others), masculinity guru, abysmal taste in neckties and waist-coats:

Born Dec. 23, 1926 - 83 today!

Driving through Minnesota During the Hanoi Bombings - Robert Bly

We drive between lakes just turning green;
Late June. The white turkeys have been moved
A second time to new grass.
How long the seconds are in great pain!
Terror just before death,
Shoulders torn, shot
From helicopters. “I saw the boy
being tortured with a telephone generator,”
The sergeant said.
“I felt sorry for him
And blew his head off with a shotgun.”
These instants become crystals,
The grass cannot dissolve. Our own gaiety
Will end up
In Asia, and you will look down in your cup
And see
Black Starfighters.
Our own cities were the ones we wanted to bomb!
Therefore we will have to
Go far away
To atone
For the suffering of the stringy-chested
And the short rice-fed ones, quivering
In the helicopter like wild animals,
Shot in the chest, taken back to be questioned.

Robert Bly, “Driving through Minnesota During the Hanoi Bombings” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1967 and renewed 1995 by Robert Bly. Reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Photo by Chris Felver


Juan Ramón Jiménez, Spanish Nobel Laureate of Literature (1956), was born Dec. 24, 1881 (d. 1958). An advocate of ‘pure poetry’ Jiménez was awarded the Nobel “for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity”…

Nonetheless, Jiménez also wrote erotic verse about his poetic alter ego dallying with a number of nuns…

Three verses

Sister! We stripped off our ardent bodies
In endless and senseless profusion….
It was autumn and the sun - don’t you remember?
Added sweet sadness to the white splendour of our abode
Sister Pilar, are your eyes still so black?
And your mouth so fresh and red?
And your breasts…? How are they?

Oh, do you recall how you would come into my room late at night, calling to me like a mother, telling me off like a child?

When she fled, in a flight of deranged wimples,
from the impetuous will of my desire
she would seek shelter in a corner, like a cat …
but her nails were sweeter than my kisses.

— Juan Ramón Jiménez


Matthew Arnold (Dec. 24, 1822 - 1888), Victorian poet with spectacular sideburns, was the type of writer who liked to chastise and instruct the reader on contemporary social issues… Not surprisingly he also had an influential career as a critic.

A Caution to Poets

What poets feel not, when they make,
A pleasure in creating,
The world, in its turn, will not take
Pleasure in contemplating. (1867)

Photo of Arnold, 1863


Charles Olson reading at an art museum, San Francisco, CA, US - February 1957, LIFE

Poet-giant and giant poet, Charles Olson, was born Dec. 27, 1910, and robbed from us prematurely by cancer in 1970.

Charles Olson, Song 1, from The Songs of Maximus


Daniil Kharms (Dec. 30, 1905 – 1942) was an early Soviet-era surrealist and absurdist poet, writer and dramatist. He signed his name in Latin alphabet as Daniel Charms…

Splendid photo of Kharms, plus unknown - possibly Alisa Poret

Kharms text:

“Once Orlov overate on mashed peas and died. And Krylov, having found out about it, died too. And Spiridonov died on his own accord. And Spiridonov’s wife fell off the cupboard and died too. And Spiridonov’s children drowned in the pond. And Spiridonov’s grandmother took to drink and went off panhandling. And Mikhailov stopped combing and got sick with dandruff. And Kruglov drew a lady with a whip and lost his mind. And Perehrestov was wired 400 roubles and therefore acted with such self-importance that he got fired from his job.

These are all decent people, but they just can’t get on in life on a firmfooting.”

Daniil Harms (Incidences #2)

Transl: Roman Turovsky - Source


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