Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chopin's Piano
for David Ranger ...

Music is a strange thing !
- Lord Byron

Art ? ... is Art - and so,
there, everything.
- BĂ©ranger

By you I spent my misspent days of youth
a perspective now impenetrable - -
- Big as a Myth,
Holy as a ceremony ...
- it seemed like falling night spoke to the dawn :

"I won't erase you. I'll make you shine !"

By you I spent my misspent days of youth
and so assumed your traits,
assimilated you
A lyre rejected by anguished Orpheus
and who, struck and bleeding, never stopped vibrating
under the force of that blow
that song.

Four strings, still hurting, I hear them
their fragile playing,
the two-two-time,
take up anew their old argument :

"And so you are made,
a so-called sound?
What Master has made you
played you ...
and more, who will refute you ?..."

By you, Frederik, when your hand
was engraving scintillating sounds
white as an albatross, burning in its centre
with a touch as light as a feather
a dawn upon my eyes,
a white mist
the ivory of your keyboard ...
to believe in your being, so low
to presume
this form; like a vein, deep in marble
unplumable, assiduously hidden
forever digging - the burden of genius -
eternal Pygmalion !

And what you played - and what the sound said
and will say forever,
even if those echoes take on other voices
what you began with your own fingers
each chord -
and what you played was so pure
periclean perfection
such that when we heard it we believed
in ancient virtues.

Blessed visitor
keeper of the ancestral hearth
the sacred vow which says :

"By Heaven, I am made young again
the clairvoyant gate - a shining harp
the ashes and dust of laughter sharp
I see a pale Eucharist of golden grain
Emmanuel is there, already in the Grail !"

And it was Poland - its typical sound - eternal -
Taken at the height of its time, in the ribs of a rainbow --

Land of transfigured coal-miners !
Poland, unequalled
Abundant, abuzz with bees
I know you to the limits of your being !

And here, your song is you and is fading
your image, vanishing before my eyes
I cannot hear anything but babble - a conflict among children
these are the touched - see -
all around your seat,
worried that they have unravelled themselves
moaning at the very bottom of
their possibilities
interpolating once more
in thirds, in fourths, together :
"Did he teach himself ?
How will we grow another ?"

Oh, you sublime screen, or shadow of Love,
Love, the true name of accomplishment
With which, in Art, we give the noble name of "style"
see form and shape and penetrate the song ...

You, for whom we cannot say "History" but "Legend"
it is what we say it is ...

We can never trap time, the loosed arrow
the perfect sign agrees : Spirit and Word
and "Consummatum est ..."
Oh you, perfect achievement, such fullness -
no matter when, you will be born again
and again
Where were Phidias ? and David ? and Chopin ?
On the stage of Eschyle ? a destiny
fell upon you, avenge yourself with your mistakes !
A stain upon this world,
a final stigmata
Achievement is revenge !
The endless argument, in a flux of disparate opinions !
The time, before it is ripe
the comet's tail
a contact softer than a held breath
delivers the unconscious
and causes the seeds to weep
they grow too full
and are fit only to burst -

Look Frederik ! ... see this calm sea
beneath a flashing star, see your Capital
it is Warsaw - listen to the organ in the Basilica.
Here are the old hotels, beneath a raw light
Patriotic and proud like the Republic !
The pavement - grey and deaf
and above them, in the sky
the sceptre of Sigismond the king
points up to the naked angels !

See column upon column
of dark horses
adorned for their tiny flights
in places razed and ruined
in the silence of death
lean, mean and ferocious,
in every part debauched
again - again - again
the building has taken fire
then sputters out,
but the ferocious flames re-take her.

I can see on it's rooftop
children and their shades
pushed by blows in criss-cross flames
and then I see them again
O sinister winking eye !

At the topmost balcony
on that high vantage point perched
something heavy, and black as night :

it readies itself, steadies itself
and falls - your piano !

The same one sings eternal Poland
taken at the zenith of its time
in the ribs of a rainbow --
O land of transfigured coal miners !
The same.
They have risen from knees of stone !

Here they are - defenceless, delivered
from the insults of men, from base anger,
from sacrilege, demented destructive hands !...
There was the always honest counsel,
like the source of all time;
all that it gave is gone !
There, such is the agonized body of Orpheus
delivered, all penitent to the rage of the Furies,
Ripped to shreds by their hands
despite its protests
"It wasn't me ! ... Not me !"
each time he cries --


And what of you ? and what of me ?
not one judicious song ?
cry "Play it again, oh rejected king !"

Listen to the pavement, deaf and grey
our ideals have hit rock bottom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

from "North Wind"

by Cyprian Kamil (1821-1883)
transl into French by Feliks Konopka
and into English by Colin Joseph Wolfgang Mahar
September 2008, Krakow

Mary, Queen of Angels

A loudness only my Lord can silence
Where once was lost,
searching for love.
that work up-holds.

Patience - infinite patience
Quiets the soul.

- St Francis of Assisi - 1230

Mary, Queen of Angels - oh press
Your attending heart to the saints
the bones of God -

And may the will of your acompliss son,
be on Earth as it is in the Heavens.


And that he may forego a great pathos
from your high mount to the deaf poles

Would that we were shades of
the crucifixion.

And my God ! My God ! we cry now
help us, Lord...




Mary, Queen of Angels - oh press
Your attending heart to the saints
the bones of God. - -


And may the will of your acompliss son,
be on Earth as it is in the Heavens ...
The Fall of Juliette, Captive of Verona

Montaigus - Capulets, two enemy houses ...

Beneath a sky, swollen with storm,
washed with rain
beneath blue savaged clouds,

the rival factions consider their options.

Above the lawn, the soft dark eye of the sky
lets fumble a star.

The trees feel it is meant for Romeo
and Juliette.

That it was they who brought this tear
from above
to soak the lovers' tomb;

but good human sense knows
it is the fashion
of tears which fall from on high, not to fall on stones

but on no one

no one

who is not

waiting ...