Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunrise: they slip away into the wood

Early this morning before they left, they did a lot of gamboling or dancing in the dawnlight. It was very playful and spontaneous and went on for a long time. Just full of joyous play! It was thrilling to watch! Makes me want to stay here in Northern Michigan, but S pointed out they won't be dancing in the snow! True enough. I cannot get enough of Adam Zagajewski! Here's a life enhancing tree poem from Tremor.

In the Trees

In the trees, in the crowns of the trees, under rich
robes of leaves, under cassocks of splendor,
under the senses, under wings, under wands,
a peaceful, sleepy life is hiding in the trees,
it breathes, it circles, a sketch of eternity.
Kingdoms of plenty gather in the lecterns
of the oaks. Squirrels are running, motionless
as the little russet sunsets hidden
under eyelids. Invisible hostages
swarm under the husks of acorns.
Slaves bring in baskets of fruit and silver,
camels sway like an Arab scholar
over a manuscript, wells drink
water and vinegar, sour Europe
drips like the resins from cut wood. Vermeer paints
robes and a light that doesn't subside.
Thrushes are dancing under the circus tents.
Slowacki has moved to Paris already; he buys
and sells stocks fervently. A rich man
squeezes through a needle's eye,
he groans and moans, oh what pangs, Socrates
explains to prospectors of gold what
the lie is, what is right, what is virtue.
Oarsmen row slowly. Sailors sail
slowly. The survivors of the Warsaw
Uprising are drinking sweet tea. Their laundry
dries on the branches. Where is my country,
somebody asks in sleep. A green schooner
lies at rusty anchor. A choir of immortal
souls rehearses Bach cantatas, in complete silence.
Nearby, Captain Nemo takes his nap
on a narrow couch. A woodpecker cables
an urgent report on the capture of
Carthage and on the Boston Tea Party.
A weasel has no intention of changing
into Lady Macbeth, the the crowns of the trees
there are no qualms of conscience. Icarus
drowns serenely. God rewinds the reel. Punitive
expeditions return to the barracks. We shall live
long in the lines of the arabesque, in the hooting
of a tawny owl, in desires, in the echo which is
homeless, under rich robes of leaves,
in the crowns of the trees, in somebody's breath.

Adam Zagajewski translated from the Polish by Renata Gorczynski in Tremor, FSG, 1985, pp.17-18.

I love this poem for its breadth of natural imagery, cultural baggage (CaptainNemo!,) historical and artistic references, speed, jollity and merry language-play. The English version has great linebreaks, too, well worthy of study.

As for Slowacki, He's in Wikipedia, and if you click on the link in his article you can find out about the emigre job he had for an entity called Congress Poland, a sort of puppet state to the Russian Empire of which I had never heard and which maintained offices in Paris, where Slowacki lived as an emigre, having been forced to leave his homeland because of his political activity early in 1831. How the struggle for control of other people and resources repeats itself, over and over; at least that's how it seems to me.

Get a good rest, and get out in the woods as soon as you can! Love, June

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