8.21.2010

Geoffrey Hill 1 Camões 0

Pavana Dolorosa

Loves I allow and passions I approve:
Ash-Wednesday feasts, ascetic opulence,
the wincing lute, so real in its pretence,
itself a passion amorous of love.

Self-wounding martyrdom, what joys you have,
true-torn among this fictive consonance,
music's creation of the moveless dance,
the decreation to which all must move.

Self-seeking hunter of forms, there is no end
to such pursuits. None can revoke your cry
Your silence is an ecstasy of sound

And your nocturnals blaze upon the day.
I founder in desire for things unfound.
I stay amid the things that will not stay.

Geoffrey Hill, Tenebrae

I rhyme / I write / / Heaney/Hill

XXIII

Not all palimpsests are this eroded
to mý mind. A late sun buffs the granite.
Autumn lies lightly earthed, her funerals
the yellowed reddle blown bare, still abundant.
Should I say só much for Elijah's
chariot blessing these banked fires? If that
were even half-true I could give my name
to rehabilitation. Bien-aimées,
this calls for matching alchemies to make
gold out of loss in the dead season:
Petrarch revived by CHAR, though not
in so many words, la flamme sous l'abri,
the curfew-flame, uncovered. Frénaud,
bleakly resplendent. Where are you fróm?
I said; and he said, Montceau-
Montceau-les-Mines.

Once you ask that you can direct this,
objectivy fear, sorrow; the well-placed
lip-readers of failure now succeed.
Last days, last things, loom on: I write
to astonish myself. So much for all
plain speaking.
Enter
sign under signum, I should be so lucky,
false cadence but an ending. Not there yet.

Geoffrey Hill, The Orchards of Syon



Personal Helicon

for Michael Longley

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.

One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.

A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.

Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.

Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.


Seamus Heaney, Death of a Naturalist. Faber&Faber. 1991

8.20.2010

It's A Book

Digam lá se não basta para persuadir.

Lachrimae Antiquae Novae

There are certainly other elements at play that prevent the high esteem for Hill from translating to the poetry arriving in readers’ well-prepared hands. Notable among them, I believe, is Hill’s honest, intellectual, and unfashionable engagement with religion and the Christian tradition. His unabashed faith is a faux pas in the age of postmodernism. It is an element to be dismissed, or questioned, or patronized, but not to be given justice as a meaningful basis for poetry. This irreligious posture is a bias that is stronger in circles of “serious poetry” than in the culture at large, but, within that subgroup of critics, is acceptable and widespread: in an April 2009 review of Paul Mariani’s Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life, Denis Donoghue in The New Criterion scolds Mariani for not scrutinizing whether Hopkins’ vocation hampered his poetic gifts. One can infer that Donoghue’s opinion was in the affirmative, and I believe a “flaw” similar to that of Hopkins would be found by many critics in the work of Geoffrey Hill.

I admit that Hill’s unabashed expressions of faith were an obstacle for me as well. Because of the religious themes, I was disinclined to return to the poems, to struggle with the difficulties of a poet whose philosophical premises were so unlike, even antithetical to, my own. However, I did eventually come to realize that my irreligious disposition is a prejudice to be overcome, not unlike any other. It is foolish to wish that the work were otherwise, as Donoghue seems to do of Hopkins. Hill’s work can as little be separated from his religious nature as wetness could from water: one is the essence of the other, the texture of its existence. What I happily discovered, once I overcame that dissonance in myself, was the sheer power of his work. This is not the story of a religious conversion. I remain now the way I began, but I had to forcibly open myself to the possibility of an engagement — intellectual, emotional, aesthetic — with such spiritual and religious poetry. Like his great influence Gerard Manley Hopkins before him, the value of Hill’s work is as much in the elaboration of a brilliant mind considering matters of faith as it is in his poetic language and its willfully crafted power.

Still, it is true that the poems are extremely dense, difficult, and complex. What ought to give readers hope in the face of their confusion is that the density one finds in this work is not ad hominem, does not refer to an inaccessible interior life. As W.H. Gardner wrote in his Introduction to the Fourth Edition of Hopkins’ complete poems, “His dark passages are never entirely opaque, and the meaning, when it is made out, will usually (as he said it should) ‘explode’.” It was true of Hopkins as it is of Hill, and in this way Hill's work stands apart from that of his contemporaries: the impenetrability of many modern poets is due in large part to the use of language as an abstract medium like paint, clay, or music; Hill remains emphatic that the fundamental role of language is communication and expression, no matter how difficult the form.


Crucified Lord, so naked to the world,
you live unseen within that nakedness,
consigned by proxy to the judas-kiss
of our devotion, bowed beneath the gold,

with re-enactments, penances foretold:
scentings of love across the wilderness
of retrospection, wild and objectless
longings incarnate in the carnal child.

Beautiful for themselves the icons fade;
the lions and the hermits disappear.
Triumphalism feasts on empty dread,

fulfilling triumphs of the festal year.
We find you wounded by the token spear.
Dominion is swallowed with your blood.

Geoffrey Hill, in Tenebrae

Ainda a propósito de flores e de neve

Veni Coronaberis*

A Garland for Helen Waddell


The crocus armies from the dead
rise up; the realm of love renews
the battle it was born to lose,
though for a time the snows have fled

and old stones blossom in the south
with sculpted vine and psaltery
and half-effaced adultery
the bird-dung dribbling from its mouth

and abstinence crowns all our care
with martyr-laurels for this day.
Towers and steeples rise away
into the towering gulfs of air.

Geoffrey Hill


* "Vem e serás coroada"

8.14.2010

Neve em Flor


Metade da Vida

Com pêras douradas pende
E repleta de rosas bravas
A terra sobre o lago,
Vós queridos cisnes,
E ébrios de beijos
Mergulhais a cabeça
Na água sacra e sóbria.

Ai de mim, onde encontrarei eu, quando
For inverno, as flores, e onde
A luz do sol
E a sombra da terra?
Os muros stão
Silenciosos e frios, com a ventania
Guincham os cataventos.

Hälfte des Lebens

Mit gelben Birnen hänget
Und voll mit wilden Rosen
Das Land in den See,
Ihr holden Schwäne,
Und trunken von Küssen
Tunkt ihr das Haupt
Ins heilignüchterne Wasser.

Weh mir, wo nehm' ich, wenn
Es Winter ist, die Blumen, und wo
Den Sonnenschein,
Und Schatten der Erde?
Die Mauern stehn
Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde
Klirren die Fahnen.

Friedrich Hölderlin. Tradução minha.



A Primavera começou, então, a surpreender os hóspedes que davam os seus passeios regulamentares pelo vale, produzindo fénomenos maravilhosos, dignos de um conto de fadas, coisas nunca antes vistas. No sopé do Schwarzhorn, cujos cumes em forma de cone, ainda completamente nevados, formavam o cenário de fundo da paisagem, estendia-se um prado amplo. À direita, quase pegado, erguia-se o glaciar da Scaletta, igualmente coberto de neve espessa, tal como todo o campo, com a sua meda de feno ao meio, apesar de a camada já se ter tornado um pouco mais fina e rala, salpicada aqui e ali de montículos toscos e escuros da terra e perfurados em todo o lado por erva seca. Contudo, durante a caminhada, os pacientes notaram que a neve não se distribuia uniformemente pelo prado - à distância, vista contra a encosta das montanhas, contra a floresta que se erguia, a camada parecia bastante densa, mas quando olharam mais de perto, quando a neve surgiu diante dos seus olhos, perceberam que a erva que no Inverno ressequira e descurara e apenas estava pintalgada, estremeada, floreada pelos flocos de neve... Debruçaram-se, curiosos, para ver melhor, para ver de perto, e aperceberam-se de que não era neve mas sim flores, flores de neve ou neve às flores, pequeninos cálices em talos curtos, brancos e azulados. Eram crocos, sem tirar nem pôr, milhões de crocos que haviam despontado no prado resumbrante, tufos e tufos cerrados de crocos que facilmente se confundiam com neve e com a qual, na verdade, também se misturavam pelo campo fora.

Thomas Mann, A Montanha Mágica, Dom Quixote, Gilda Lopes Encarnação (trad), 2009



À hora de jantar fui passear à beira-rio, porque não tinha fome. Tudo à minha volta me parecia tenebroso: um vento frio e húmido de Leste soprava das montanhas, e nuvens negras e pesadas espalhavam-se pela planície. Eu observava à distância um homem com um casado esfarrapado: caminhava por entre os rochedos, e parecia estar à procura de plantas. Quando me aproximei, virou-se na direcção do meu barulho; e eu reparei que ele tinha uma rosto interessante no qual era predominante uma melancolia resignada marcada intensamente por benevolência. Visto que as suas vestes denunciavam alguém duma ordem menor, pensei que ele não se importaria se eu lhe perguntasse ao que andava; e perguntei-lhe então o que é que ele procurava. Ele respondeu, com um suspiro profundo, que estava à procura de flores, e não conseguia encontrar nenhumas. "Isso é porque não estamos na estação delas," fiz-lhe eu notar.

Goethe, Werther