Monday 3 March 2008

Foreign poets

It's just 8:30 am,the blog has to be a part of morning routine or it does not get done. Now I've got to write my first monthly report based on it. That gives it more of a purpose.
Hard fight to keep the writing time intact. Gusti said Would I please visit her, she's never asked before, so must go. She looks smaller than ever.
Took out several yummy looking books on poetry from the library, including the unpronounceable Polish Nobel Prize winner. Shall get them from my bedside.

Wislawa Szymborska. The book is called View with a grain of sand, Selected poems, (Harcourt Brace and Co, translated by S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh, 1993). I read among others Conversation with a stone, which repeats:

I knock at the stone's front door
"It's only me, let me come in".

Her language is simple. The poetry is in the originality of her imagery. I recognise the feeling of knocking on the door of a stone who won't let anyone in, can't let anyone in, a person or a group, for the stone also says: "You lack the sense of taking part", writers are mostly observers rather than joiners in.

Also took out Akhmatova, since reading about her elsewhere. (Poems of Akhmatova, selected, translated and introduced by S. Kunitz with M. Hayward, Collins and Harvill Press, 1974). The first one I read is called Reading Hamlet and I don't know why she wrote it. Shall ask someone who understands Hamlet better than I do. The one called Pushkin - again, it leaves me cold. It's about him, A swarthy youth rambled... maybe the translation is too old, it reads Victorian-ly. Akhmatova was not Victorian. The next one was just as bad - "I wrung my hands...", (their quotation marks, not mine.) It's about a lover's quarrel:

He smiled at me - oh so calmly, terribly -
and said "Why don't you get out of the rain?".

I cannot like it.

I do love Amichai, maybe because I know the original language.
From Quick and bitter:

Slow and sweet were the nights
when my hands did not touch one another in despair
but in the love of your body
which came between them.

The book is entitled Poems of Jerusalem and Love Poems, A Bilingual Edition, The Sheep Meadow Press, New York, 1981.

Lovely, but nevertheless this is all wrong for my purpose, this foreign-ness. I need poems by women whose original language is English.

There is more to say, more has been read, but enough for today.

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