Friday, June 24, 2011

Poem by Mebane Robertson

Driving Out of a Dry County
How much I still wish you were here to help
This dream go smoother, to help wipe off with a rag
All the bad things that went down.
You are right.  I respond best to cognitive behavioral
Therapy.  But other schools have something to offer,
And all I did was turn it on automatic and spray.
No idea of getting a medal—no, no nothing.
The cleaning lady had already come.
Intelligence can run away, but
When it comes to saving the life of a brother,
Thinking itself is my enemy, and when you were lifted out
I felt the words you could not say.
And the post trauma leaves me vacant,
Just a transcendental Jones Very ambulating around the room,
Which some call heaven swept bare of agency itself.
You know I’m a bad liar.
Truth is I wonder who has possession
Of these fingers as they jitter over the keyboard,
Waiting for her to fall into my life I don’t know why.
Truth is in the How You Been? as my heart’s bartender
Pops the top with the bar key,
And the fair lady sets things up with something sweet and dark
From the hell of her reaching
Out to me in her Scottish hair 
For something to drown out these conversations
That prattle on forever down below the well,
You know, just between us.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

From the long overdue (re)readings (VIII)

Translation of poetry is that pigheaded effort to convey in words of another language not only the literal meaning of a poem but an alien way of seeing things. Since poetic imagination cannot fully be detached from the place of origin, no two languages share identical associations. Can one truly convey in English the elements that elude the translator’s complete understanding and yet contribute to the character of the work for the native reader? In short, can one translate another person’s view of reality, which, as it happens, is already a kind of translation? If all writing is a conversion of some subjective or objective reality into language, translation is the most philosophical of all activities. To translate is not only to experience what makes each language distinct, but to draw close to the mystery of the relationship between word and thing, letter and spirit, self and world.
- Charles Simic, from ‘The Spirit of Play,’ review of works by Anne Carson, in The Renegade. Writings on poetry and a few other things (Braziller, 2009), 164-76; 167. Originally published in The New York Review of Books.