Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Hi. Happy New Year. Today I wanted to post a poem that had something or other to do with a "new year" but didn't find anything appropriate asides from this gigantic rubber duck. Instead here is a very long Friedrich Holderlin poem ("In the Forest" said to be a fragment, i.e. an unfinished poem written not too long before he went a little nutso and stopped writing, 1805), translated by Richard Sieburth, and at times, by Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover (two translations mixed together, sorry if this is against some kind of translation orthodoxy), and slightly edited by me. Though it's not really a new years poem, it's what I found most interesting today. It's quite long (keep scrolling) and there's lots of space in it. Also, in the middle section there are many many names from many languages (Tip: they sound good read out loud). Holderlin was into names, the act of naming things, be it people, places or more broadly, giving shape to narratives. He thought that names/words were where humans and gods / god found a middle ground / neutral channel through which to communicate. And sure, why can't this also be true? But I love the little patches of lucidity that appear amongst the monuments he describes. And how the poem ends is one of my favorite little bits of poetry. Always on my mind. May the year go well,
In the Forest (Im Walde)

Noble deer.
But man lives in huts, wrapped in the garments of his
shame, and is the more inward, the more alert for it, and
that he tend his spirit as the priestess tends the heavenly
flame, this is his understanding. Which is why recklessness
and the higher power to fail and achieve are given him,
godlike creature, and language, most dangerous of
possessions, is given man so that creating, destroying,
perishing and returning back to her, eternal mistress and
mother, so that he might bear witness to what he is, having
inherited and learned form her the godliest of her attributes,
all-preserving love.  

He remains nowhere.
No sign
Not ever 

A vessel to contain him.

Good things are three.

I have no wish 
to destroy your images

                            and maintaining the sacrament
Holy keeps our souls
Together, the ones that God has given us, life-light
To our end

By all means, 

                                differences are
                  good. Each
                                    and every
Has its own existence. 

                                         the dark leaf
                             And the growth
Was perceptable
           and                             the Syrian soil
   shattered, and flames underfoot
and queasiness coming
Over me from raving hunger
Friedrich with his bitten cheek
The renowned



Heaven's ladder

                The farewell of Time
                         and in peace they part 

Thus Mohammed, Rinaldo
Barbarossa, qua free spirit

Emperor Heinrich,
But we confuse
our dates
                  Demetrius Poliorcetes
Peter the Great
Crossing of the Alps and that
with his own hand he gave the people
food and drink and his son Conrade died of poison
Perfect visionary
Conradin, etc.

all significant
as relations.

Tende   Stromfield    Simonetta.
Teufen    Amyclae    Aveiro on the river
Vouga    the family    Alencstro its
name therefrom    Amalasuntha Antegon
Anathem Ardinghellus Sorbonne Celestine   
and Innocent interrputed the dis-
quisition and dubbed it (the Sorbonne)
the nursery of the French bishops
Aloisa Sigea differentia vitate
urbaanae et rusticae Thermodon
a river in Cappadocia Val-
telino Schonberg Scotus Schonberg Tenerife 

Sulaco        Venafrom
of Olympos.    Weissbrunn in Lower
Hungary. Zamora    Jacca    Baccho
Imperiali.    Genoa    Larissa in Syria

When there are flames above the vineyard
Which looks black as coal
Around the time
In autumn, because
The reeds of life breathe fire
In shadows of the vines. But
How pretty when the soul unfolds
And this brief life.

And the sky becomes a painter's house
With all his pictures on display.

Like the man who eats men
Is he who lives without

               and describing shadows, his eyes
Would fill with anger

                                       Quite simply
                                       this time, but often
Something happens inside one's head, impossible
To understand, but when a freeman
Goes out for a walk, he finds
the path waiting.

As for the horses, an endless desire
For life, as when nightingales
Sing their sweet-home-song or the snow goose
Sets the tone, high above
The globe, longing.

                                         stripes of blue lilies
Do you know              of the work
Of artists alone or like
The stag rambling in the heat. Not
Without limitations.

Narcissi, ranunculi and
Syringas from Persia,
Flowers, carnations, cultivated in pearl
And black and hyacinths,
As when instead of music heralding an entrance
There's the scent of an evil thought,
My son should forget to enter
Loving relationships and this life
Christopher's        dragon has exactly
Nature's walk and spirit and shape.

He should take
Except the long ones
To a pure place
Where someone
Scatters ashes
And burns the wood with fire.

From pagan
Io Bacche, let them learn to work with their hands
And, by the same means. Be
Forward or avenged. Vengeance,
In fact, should return to its source.
While we are raw, don't let God
Lash us with
                     waves. To be sure,
We are godless,
Common folk all,
Whom God tests
Like nobility,
Yet it's forbidden
To boast about this. But the heart knows
A hero. It's for me
To speak of my homeland. Don't
Begrudge me that. In the same way,
A carpenter makes
A cross.

and hidden knife, when
                                more or less well,
But don't let our native land become
Too small a place. Heavy is the              to lie
at rest, feet and hands outstreched.
Only air.

I want to build

and raise new
the temples of Theseus and the stadiums
and where Perikles lived

But there's no money, too much spent
today. I had a guest
over          and we sat together.