bladderwrack: (look up)
How hard for a dead man to pretend to be
alive and lusty among living ones!
But he must worm his way into society
hiding, for his job's sake, the rattle of bones.

The living sleep. The dead man climbs from his coffin,
and goes to the House, the bank, the bar...
The paler the night, the blacker his chagrin,
and pens scratch triumphantly hour by hour.

All day the dead man drafts a memorandum.
The office doors are closing. Watch him, hear
him whispering -- wagging his bottom --
whispering smut in a deputy's ear.

Evening draws on, with rain and soot splashing
the passers-by, houses, and all that trash...
To other filth the dead man is dashing
in a taxi-cab with a creaking spring.

The dead man hurries to a ballroom full
of people and pillars. He is wearing tails.
His hostess, a fool, and her husband, a fool,
receive him at the door with gracious smiles.

He is tired by a day at the office slaving,
but the rattle of bones is drowned by the band...
He must pretend to be one of the living!
Firmly he takes hold of a friendly hand --

Beside a pillar his eyes encounter
those of his partner -- she, like him, is dead.
Behind their conventional party banter
you can hear the truth that remains unsaid:

'Exhausted friend, in this room I feel foreign.'
'Exhausted friend, the grave is cold as snow.'
'It's twelve already.' 'You haven't asked N.N.
to waltz with you, and she loves you so...'

And there is N.N., searching with a wild look
for him, for him. There's thunder in her blood
and in her face, beautiful but childlike,
the meaningless rapture of living love.

He whispers words that have no meaning,
enchantments that the living so desire,
and he observes how her head is leaning
on her shoulder, how her cheeks catch fire...

The old familiar and malicious poisons
he pours into her ear with more than malice.
'How much he loves me. How clever he is!'

She hears a strange unearthly clatter -- his
castanet rattle of bones on bones.
bladderwrack: (zen evasive action)
posted by [personal profile] bladderwrack at 09:01am on 04/06/2009 under ,
iow I /cannot/ read this without thinking of Zetsubou Sensei XD


I Think I Will Not Hang Myself To-day

A Ballade of Suicide by G. K. Chesterton

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours--on the wall--
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay--
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall--
I see a little cloud all pink and grey--
Perhaps the rector's mother will not call--
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way--
I never read the works of Juvenal--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

The world will have another washing-day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall,
Rationalists are growing rational--
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray
So secret that the very sky seems small--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even to-day your royal head may fall,
I think I will not hang myself to-day.
bladderwrack: (look up)
wordsofastory posted this a while ago. Putting it here for personal reference.

Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say there are no halos
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
bladderwrack: (look up)
posted by [personal profile] bladderwrack at 08:13am on 18/05/2009 under
William Butler Yeats. b. 1865

863. When You are Old

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

I'd probably not like this poem nearly as much had I not come across it while I was writing an essay on the poem it is based on, Quand vous serez bien vieille, which consists basically of the poet telling the object of his affections that one day he'll be an immortal star and she'll be an old hag, and she'll regret not having slept with him then, the frigid bitch. XD The latter poem is one that rewards study, actually -- it has a beautiful depth of construction -- but it's hard to get past how explicitly Ronsard shows that his poetic mission is to talk about himself, and how much he seems to hate the (mostly imaginary) women he addresses*. The Yeats is less demanding, less corporeal in tone -- quieter on both ends.

*You hear this a /lot/ in certain types of song lyrics. The tentacles of culture run deep, sigh.


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