Saturday, June 29, 2013

Afternoon light at Goatsbeard Farm

This is my daughter's pasture a couple of days ago. You can see some of her Shetland sheep grazing there. I wrote about them in another post.  They are quite sweet. She locks them up at night because of the coyotes. Coyotes have to live, too, but we don't have to make it too easy for them. Are you a sheep or a coyote, or do you sometimes change your pelt??

One of the great poets of Brazil was Carlos Drummond de Andrade. He lived from 1902-1987, which makes him a member of the generation of my father, Jack H. Hopper (1906-1987) Tonight's poem was translated by Elizabeth Bishop, who is one of our great poets, who spent many years of her life living in Brazil, and translated Brazilian prose as well as poetry. The headnote is by Czeslaw Milosz, from The Book of Luminous Things, page 8.

This poem is like a joke and we are inclined, first, to smile. Yet a moment of thought suffices to restore a serious meaning to such an encounter. It is enough to live truly intensely our meeting with a thing to preserve it forever in our memory. (CM)


In the middle of the road there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
there was a stone
in the middle of the road there was a stone

Never should I forget this event
in the life of my fatigued retinas.
Never should I forget that in the middle of the road
there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

(Translated from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Bishop)
When I first read this poem, I said, "Huh?" But Milosz, a very smart poet, must have chosen it from all of the poems in the world to be the fourth of four poems in the anthology's short first section "Epiphany."  So I read it again, and the headnote, again, and thought some more. I was still pretty much at a loss--no epiphany yet--so I read it aloud a few times. Now I could begin to follow the repetitions, and the rhythm of the phrases as they assume differing places in the poetic line. I liked the sound of that. There are six road phrases and seven stones. The actual fact of the stone's hard existence is, I think, the important thing. I like that it is an inanimate stone, rather than a bone, or a tree or a fox. It can just sit there as a hard fact.

Right now Robert Aubry Davis is hosting his late evening music program on Sirius XM Radio's Symphony Hall. Satellite radio (there is only one now) cramped itself from three to two classical music stations. There are hundreds of other stations; it makes me feel disregarded. Boy sopranos are singing some early Polophony. S is sure that music has improved since then; this makes his brain WEEP! But he lets me listen because of my RAD fanship. Good night.

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