Thursday, October 23, 2014

Revisiting September's Battles

Spent a couple of glorious days in mid-September watching these fellows 
have at it in my front yard. No one really got hurt, sort of like TV-wrestling, 
and the younger bucks tripped around outside the ring looking fascinated by the event. 
I have felt incredibly lucky this year to be where I can see deer, turkeys, 
the changing light and the changing seasons.
But I was getting slightly tired of the rain!

It was overcast today on Day Two of the westward trip, but not raining.
What have you been reading recently??


They say he read novels to relax,
But only certain kinds:
nothing that ended unhappily.
If anything like that turned up,
enraged, he flung the book into the fire.

True or not,
I’m ready to believe it.

Scanning in his mind so many times and places,
he’d had enough of dying species,
the triumphs of the strong over the weak,
the endless struggles to survive,
all doomed sooner or later.
He’d earned the right to happy endings,
at least in fiction
with its diminutions.

Hence the indispensable

silver lining,
the lovers reunited, the families reconciled,
the doubts dispelled, fidelity rewarded,
fortunes regained, treasures uncovered,
stiff-necked neighbors mending their ways,
good names restored, greed daunted,
old maids married off to worthy parsons,
troublemakers banished to other hemispheres,
forgers of documents tossed down the stairs,
seducers scurrying to the altar,
orphans sheltered, widows comforted,
pride humbled, wounds healed over,
prodigal sons summoned home,
cups of sorrow thrown into the ocean,
hankies drenched with tears of reconciliation,
general merriment and celebration,
and the dog Fido,
gone astray in the first chapter,
turns up barking gladly
in the last.

Wislawa Szymborska

Translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak.
This translation first appeared in Poetry, April, 2006

This is a nice example of the usefulness of listing (in this case behaviors from novels) to build up the idea of the poem. Notice that the list here is all in one lengthy stanza, increasing the effect of the listing. In this case, we find it quite funny, as we recognize many of the stock-events of fictions. And what better than to end with than the return of the dog??

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