Posted by: ktzefr | July 21, 2017

Poetry and Petunias

I read poetry and watch my petunias bloom.  One of the things I like most about poetry is the feeling of being close to the writer’s heart, even when separated by great distances in time and/or space.  I love the aha! moments in poetry.  It’s especially powerful when it appears that the poet is surprised, too.  I like to think of a poem walking through an almost impenetrable jungle, through tangles that must be cleared away one step at a time, to reach the soul, the essence of the host person.  Jorge Luis Borges said, “All poetry is the confession of an I, a personality, a human adventure.”

The Maya believed when someone died the soul slipped through a “window” — a diamond-shaped window that is a recurring theme even today in jewelry and fabrics made by Maya artisans.  Perhaps this is where good poetry comes from — it slips through this soul window while the poet is living and creates extraordinary moments of inspiration, bringing words that seem to appear from “nowhere.”

I’m reading Federico García Lorca and collecting words…”only metaphor, not merely sentiment, makes poetry last,” he said. 

from “Merry-go-round”

“Holidays/travel on wheels/the merry-go-round brings them/and takes them away.”

“Now hear this, Marco Polo/from this fabulous wheel/children see far-off places/nowhere in this world…”

(Every summer the carnival came to our Kentucky hill town for a week and it was a marvelous adventure to ride the merry-go-round at night in a swirl of bright lights and music and possibilities.) 

*****

from “New Heart”

“Like a snake, my heart/has shed its skin./I hold it here in my hand,/full of honey and wounds.”

*****

from “Trees”

“…your music springs from the soul of birds,/from the eyes of God,/from perfect passion.”

*****

from “Hour of Stars”

“A thousand butterfly skeletons/sleep within my walls.”

*****

from “The Sun Has Set”

“…and the houses will hear/love songs they’ve long known/by heart.”

(Imagine if an old house could reveal all of the songs it has heard, the different voices, different dreams.)

*****

from “Replica”

“Only a single bird/is singing/the air is cloning it. /We hear through mirrors.”

In another poem, Lorca calls the earth an “unsilvered mirror”

(Imagine coming up with that image!)

 

 

*****

Some things are lost in translation — not only the meaning, but also the sheer beauty of the words. They are sometimes prettier in one language than in another.

from “Hour of Stars”

“El silencio redondo de la noche/sobre el pentágrama/del infinito.”

“The round silence of night/one note on the stave/of the infinite.”

(I don’t like the translation to “stave” here…doesn’t seem quite what the poet meant.)

*****

When I was 22 years old and walking down the street in Copenhagen, Denmark one night a woman hurried past me with a little white dog on a leash.  She was speaking to the dog in Danish and the dog perked his ears, turned his head, listened.  It had never occurred to me that foreign dogs “spoke” a foreign language.  Nowadays, when I recall mornings in the Kentucky hills I remember the early “cockadoodledoos” of the roosters; in Mexico the roosters say kikirikí. 

*****

Have a good weekend.  I hope it’s cooler there than here!

 

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Responses

  1. Another lovely article. And informative. I had only known Garcia Lorca’s plays. Long ago t the Magic Theatre in Omaha, NE, I performed as Belisa in “The Love of Don Perlimplin”. I was 21 and challenged by having to play a scene in which I mourned. Now, I understand grief.

    Sent from my iPad

    >


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