Sunday, March 17, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

While walking the dogs past the large stand of eucalyptus trees a few streets over, I heard him again:  rat-t-tat-tat.  A woodpecker.  Haven't heard that sound for a few years when the birds showed up to pound away at the half cut--down pine tree in the front of my house.  Do any woodpeckers live here full time or did he just breeze in on his way to somewhere?

This posem is by Wistawa Szymborska, from her book, "Poems New and Collected."

Returning Birds

This spring the birds came back again too early.
Rejoice, O reason; instinct can err, too.
It gathers wool, it dozes off -- and down they fall
into the snow, into a foolish fate, a death
that doesn't suit their well-wrought throats and splendid claws,
their honest cartilage and consientious webbing,
the heart's sensible sluice, the entrails' maze,
the nave of ribs, the vertebrae in stunning enfilades,
feathers deserving their own wing in any crafts museum,
the Benedictine patience of the beak.

This is not a dirge -- no, it's only indignation.
An angel made of earthbound protein,
a living kite with glands straight from the Song of Songs,
singular in air, without number in the hand,
its tissues tied into a common knot
of place and time, as in an Aristotelian drama
unfolding to the wings' applause,
falls down and lies beside a stone,
which in its own archaic, simpleminded way
sees life as a chain of failed attempts.


Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Hmmmm. Jury is out on this one.

Alon Perlman said...

I donno Tunes. I know of one Los Osos artist who makes use of found birds (Carcasses) to good effect.

As with other Szymborska poems I always wonder what would it be like if there was another novel translation.
And there is !-
“The birds return” “Przylot”
This spring the birds have again come back too early.
Rejoice, O reason, instinct can also err.
It dozes off, it overlooks--and down they fall into the snow,
and perish senselessly, perish with scarce justice to
the structure of their throats and arch-claws,
the solid cartilage and conscientious webbing,
the estuary of the heart , the labyrinth of innards,
the aisle of ribs and vertebrae in splendid enfilade,
the feathers worthy of a pavilion in a museum of all the crafts,
and the beak of monkish patience.

This is no dirge, its only an outrage
that an angel of real albumen,
a flighty fidget with glands from the Song of Songs,
singular in air, uncountable in hand,
tissue after tissue woveninto a unity
of place and time like classical art
to the applause of wings—
Falls and lies near a stone,
which in its archaic and boorish way
looks on all life as attempts repeatedly failed.

You may have to hold them side by side.
Spread them in the light, wingtip against wingtip
Examine them cupped like birds in each hand,
Compare their beaks, the little heads lolling, resting on your thumbs.
Turn them over, so that their legs and claws,
peak from between your little fingers, beneath.
Subtle differences, yes.

Alon Perlman said...

It grows, it takes my place
It pushes me aside.
It throws me out of the nest,
The Poem is ready.

By Thomas Transtromer

Back to Szymborska -Seems that March 3.14 was Pi day π

The admirable number pi:
.three point one four one.
All the following digits are also initial,
five nine two because it never ends.
It can't be comprehended six five three five at a glance,
eight nine by calculation,
seven nine or imagination,
not even three two three eight by wit, that is, by comparison
four six to anything else
two six four three in the world.
The longest snake on earth calls it quits at about forty feet.
Likewise, snakes of myth and legend, though they may hold out a bit longer.
The pageant of digits comprising the number pi
doesn't stop at the page's edge.
It goes on across the table, through the air,
over a wall, a leaf, a bird's nest, clouds, straight into the sky,
through all the bottomless, bloated heavens.
Oh how brief - a mouse tail, a pigtail - is the tail of a comet!
How feeble the star's ray, bent by bumping up against space!
While here we have two three fifteen three hundred nineteen
my phone number your shirt size the year
nineteen hundred and seventy-three the sixth floor
the number of inhabitants sixty-five cents
hip measurement two fingers a charade, a code,
in which we find hail to thee, blithe spirit, bird thou never wert
alongside ladies and gentlemen, no cause for alarm,
as well as heaven and earth shall pass away,
but not the number pi, oh no, nothing doing,
it keeps right on with its rather remarkable five,
its uncommonly fine eight,
its far from final seven,
nudging, always nudging a sluggish eternity
to continue