Heraclitus 124: σάρμα εἰκῇ κεχυμένον ὁ κάλλιστος, φησὶν Ἡράκλειτος, [ὁ] κόσμος
Balis’ translation: “The comeliest order on earth is but a heap of random sweepings.” (p.18)
The chapter titles of Frazier’s Cold Mountain strangely emerge from phrases from the text of each chapter. Each title has a resonance that significantly exceeds its original context, the result being that they appear on the surface at least to be but random sweepings little related to their original context. One could have easily picked other phrases from each of the chapters and achieved a similar resonance. Yet the chapter titles begin with “the shadow of a crow” and end with “spirits of crows, dancing” and generally move from mere “shadows” of the earlier chapters to expressions that are truer reflections of the later ones. They are random sweepings that take on a most comely order precisely because they are and are not random. So much of this book is about how meaning emerges from the apparent randomness of nature, these chapter titles being a case in point. From almost random associations we build patterns and structure until we almost believe this universe makes sense.
(See Post: Charles Frazier's Cold Mouintain and Heraclitus Fragment 124)
the shadow of a crow
He flipped his wrist, and the hat skimmed out the window and caught an updraft and soared. It landed far out across the playground at the edge of the hayfield and rested there black as the shadow of a crow squatted on the ground. (p. 2, a window upon the past)
the ground beneath her hands
The ground beneath her hands was dry and littered with chicken feathers and old chicken shit and the hard dead leaves of the bush. (p. 21, Ada in the boxwood)
the color of despair
You will be living fitfully. Your soul will fade to blue, the color of despair. Your spirit will wane and dwindle away, never to reappear. Your path lies toward the Nightland. (p. 59, Swimmer’s spell “To Destroy Life”)
verbs all of them tiring
To Ada, Ruby’s monologues seemed composed mainly of verbs, all of them tiring. Plow, plant, hoe, cut, can, feed, kill. (p. 80)
like any other thing, a gift
Before the war he had never been much of a one for strife. But once enlisted, fighting had come easy to him. He had decided it was like any other thing, a gift. Like a man who could whittle birds out of wood . . . You had little to do with yourself. (p. 96)
ashes of roses
Ada now remembered she had walked through the house to go upstairs to her room, she had been struck by the figure of a woman’s back in the mirror. She stopped and looked. The dress the figure wore was the color called ashes of roses, and Ada stood, held in place by a sharp stitch of envy for the woman’s dress and the fine shape of her back and her thick dark hair and the sense of assurance she seems to evidence in her very posture. (p. 111, Ada note recognizing her own reflection. The description goes on: . . . . The light of the lamps and the tint of the mirrors had conspired to shift colors, bleaching mauve to rose.)
exile and brute wandering
The night was tom-stridden for hours. They drank through boom and flash, sprawled in the straw, telling tales of exile and brute wandering. (p. 131, sharing sleeping quarters with Odell)
source and root
Ruby’s fanciful heron story of source and root reminded Ada of a story Monroe had told not long before his death. It concerned the manner in which he had wooed her mother . . . . (p. 152)
to live like a gamecock
--To live like a
gamecock, that is my target, he said in wistful voice. (p. 164. Spoken by Veasy to Junior about the pleasures of the roving life.)
in place of the truth
We might never speak again, and I don’t plan to leave that comment in place of the truth. You’re not owning up to it, but you came with expectations and they were not realized. Largely because I behaved contrary to my heart. (p. 208, Ada’s memory of her farewell to Inman going off to war.)
the doing of it
--Do you not get lonesome living here? Inman said. -- Now and again maybe. But there’s plenty of work, and the doing of it keeps me from worrying too much. (p. 221, Inman and the Goat-woman talking)
They lived in a deep cave of the mountain like freewill savages. All they wished to do was hunt and eat and lay up all night drunk, making music. (p. 226, Stobrod talking to Ruby about the cavers)
a satisfied mind
Coarse as the song was, Ada found herself moved by it. More so, she believed than an any opera she had attended from Dock Street to Milan because Stobrod delivered it with such utter faith in its substance, in its ability to lead one toward a better life, one in which a satisfied mind might one day be attainable. (. 266, comment on Stobrod’s playing of Stone Was my Bedstead)
a vow to bear
Inman set the pistol down on his bedding, for he had taken upon himself a vow to bear, never again to shoot one, though he had killed and eaten many in his youth . . . . The decision came as a result of a series of dreams he had over the period of a week in the muddy trenches of Petersburg. In the first of the dreams he had started as a man. He was sick and drank tea from bearberry leaves as a tonic, and gradually he became transformed into a black bear. During the nights the bear visions rode him, Inman roamed the green dream mountains alone and four-legged, avoiding all of his own kind and of other kinds. He rooted in the ground for pale grubs and tore at bee trees for honey and ate huckleberries by the bushful and was happy and strong. In that manner of life, he thought, there might be a lesson in how to wage peace and heal the wounds of war into white scars. In the final dream he was shot by hungers . . . he was strung from a tree by a rope around his neck and skinned, and he watched the process as from above. .. . he awoke that last morning feeling bear was an animal of particular import to him. (p. 278)
naught and grief
--That’uns come to naught and grief, he said to Stobrod. If you was to pitch in we might get somewhere. Stobrod bowed a note or two from Cindy, and then some other notes, seeming at random, unrelated. He went over them and over them, and it began to be clear that they made no sense. But he suddenly gathered them up and worked a variation on them, and then another more
precise, and they unexpectedly fell together in a tune. He found the pattern he was seeking, and he followed the trail of notes where they lead, finding the way of their logic, which was brisk, brittle, effortless as laughing. (p. 289, Pangle and Stobrod play for Teague and his gang.)
black bark in winter
Such was Ada’s hope for her own construction, that someday a tall locust would stand to mark Pangle’s place, and that every year into the next century it would tell in brief a tale like Persephone’s. Black bark in winter, white blossoms in spring. (p. 302, Ada’s has constructed a cross for Pangle’s grave out of the limbs of a locust tree. Ruby had commented before that locust had such will to live that you could split fence posts from the wood of its trunk and they’d sometimes take root in the postholes and grow.)
footsteps in the snow
You could be so lost in bitterness and anger that you could not find your way back. No map nor guidebook for such a journey. One part of Inman knew that. But he knew too that there were footsteps in the snow and that if he awoke one more day he would follow them to wherever they led as long as he could put one foot in front of the other. (p. 315, Inman’s following footsteps in the snow up into the mountains to find Ada.)
the far side of trouble
Inman thought about it, but then he let himself imagine he had at last come out on the far side of trouble and had no wish to revisit it, so he told only how along the way he watched the nights of the moon and counted them out to twenty-eight and then started over . . . . (p. 343, Inman and Ada are talking in bed like Odysseus and Penelope.)
spirits of crows, dancing
When she reached the place, the boy had already gathered up the horses and gone. She went to the men on the ground and looked at them, and she found Inman apart from them. She sat and held him in her lap. He tried to talk, but she hushed him. He drifted in and out and dreamed a bright dream of a home. It had coldwater spring rising out of rock, black dirt fields, old trees. In his dream the year seemed to be happening all at one time, all the seasons blending together. Apple trees hanging heavy with fruit but yet unaccountably blossoming, ice rimming the spring, okra plans blooming yellow and maroon, maple leaves red as October, corn tops tasseling, a stuffed chair pulled up to the glowing parlor hearth, pumpkins shining in the fields, laurels blooming on the hillsides, ditch banks full of orange jewelweed, white blossoms on dogwood, purple on redbud. Everything coming around at once. And there were white oaks, and a great number of crows, or at least the spirits of crows, dancing and singing in the upper limbs. There wassomething he wanted to say.
An observer situated up on the brow of the ridge would have looked down on a still, distant tableau in
the winter woods. A creek, remnants of snow. A wooded glade, secluded from the generality of mankind. A pair of lovers. The man reclined with his head in the woman’s lap. She, looking down into his eyes, smoothing back the hair from his brow. He, reaching an arm awkwardly around to hold her at the soft part of the hip. Both touch each other with great intimacy. A scene of such quiet and peace that the observer on the ridge could avouch to it later in such a way as might lead those of glad temperaments to imagine some conceivable history where long decades of happy union stretched before the two on the ground. (p. 353, Inman is dying in Ada’s arms.)
I love the initiative of this kid, who is now my age.
From James Joyce's Ulysses:
O wonder! Coolsoft with ointments her hand touched me, caressed: her eyes upon me did not turn away. Ravished over her I lay, full lips full open, kissed her mouth. Yum. Softly she gave me in my mouth the seedcake warm and chewed. Mawkish pulp her mouth had mumbled sweetsour of her spittle. Joy: I ate it: joy. Young life, her lips that gave me pouting. Soft warm sticky gumjelly lips. Flowers her eyes were, take me, willing eyes. Pebbles fell. She lay still. A goat. No-one. High on Ben Howth rhododendrons a nannygoat walking surefooted, dropping currants. Screened under ferns she laughed warmfolded. Wildly I lay on her, kissed her: eyes, her lips, her stretched neck beating, woman’s breasts full in her blouse of nun’s veiling, fat nipples upright. Hot I tongued her. She kissed me. I was kissed. All yielding she tossed my hair. Kissed, she kissed me.
Me. And me now.
Stuck, the flies buzzed.
. . . . the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said I was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I could get always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldn’t answer first only looked out over the sea and sky I was thinking of so many things he didn’t know of . . . .
I am looking for a literal or poetic translation of the either the original Bembo or Cervantes's translation, even perhaps offering commentary, annotations or ideas about the place of this madrigal in the larger work. I am not interested in already published translations.
Don Quijote (II, 68):
Amor, cuando yo pienso
En el mal que me das terrible y fuerte,
Voy corriendoa la muerte,
Pensando asi acabar mi mal inmenso.
Mas en Ilegandoa l paso,
Que es puerto en este mar de mi tormento,
Tanta alegria siento,
Que la vida se esfuerza, y no le paso.
Asi el vivir me mata,
Que la muerte me torna a dar la vida.
iOh condici6n no oidal
La que conmigo muerte y vida trata!
Bembo: Gli Asolani, o Los Asolanos (1515)
Quand'io penso al martire,
Amor, che tu mi dai gravoso e forte,
Corro per gir a morte,
Cost sperando i miei danni finire.
Ma poi ch'io giungo al passo Ch'?
porto in questo mar d'ogni tormento,
Tanto piacer mi sento,
Che l'almas i rinforza,o nd'ion ol passo.
Cost il viver m'ancide:
Cosi la morte mi ritorna in vita.
O miseria infinita,
Che l'uno apporta e l'altra non recide.
A Reading of the Bembo madrigal by Vincenzo De Cristofano:
DEATH SHALL HAVE NO DOMINION
by Dylan Thomas
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.
THE SONG OF WANDERING AENGUS
by: W.B. Yeats
Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into this solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying to-night or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.
The Cherry Trees
The cherry trees bend over and are shedding,
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.
In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)
The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.
Nazik al-Malaika, 83, Poet Widely Known in Arab World, Is Dead
By ALISSA J. RUBIN
Published: June 27, 2007
BAGHDAD, June 26 — Nazik al-Malaika, one of the Arab world’s most famous poets, an early exponent of the free verse movement in Arabic, died last Wednesday in Cairo. She was 83.
She had Parkinson’s disease for many years but died of unspecified natural causes related to old age, Nizar Marjan, the Iraqi consul in Cairo, told The Associated Press. In a country riven by sectarian strife, her life and work as a poet and a literary critic were poignant reminders of Iraq’s cultural renaissance in the mid-20th century. Baghdad was then considered the Paris of the Middle East, and poets and artists flocked here to work.
Ms. Malaika was one of a small group of Iraqi poets who broke away from classical Arab poetry, with its rigid metric and rhyme schemes. Influenced by the writing of Shakespeare, Byron and Shelley as well as by classical Arabic poets, these poets took up modern topics and used lyrical language that spoke with the immediacy of life on the Arab street.
In a searing poem about honor killings, “To Wash Disgrace,” in which a woman is killed by her father or brother for having dishonored the family by having a love affair before marriage, Ms. Malaika used simple language to convey the terrible loneliness of such a death.
Oh mother, a rattle, tears and darkness
Blood gushed out, and the stabbed body trembled.
“Oh mother!” Heard only by the executioner
Tomorrow the dawn will come and roses will wake up
Youth and enchanted hopes will ask for her
The meadows and the flowers will answer:
She left to wash the disgrace.
The brutal executioner returns
And meets people
“Disgrace!” He wipes his knife
“We’ve torn it apart.”
And returned virtuous with a white reputation.
She also wrote essays on the constraints imposed on women in Arab society and as an early feminist questioned the patriarchal structure that deprived many women of choices in marriage and career.
Born in Baghdad in 1923 to a mother who was also a poet and a father who was an editor and teacher of Arabic, Ms. Malaika was one of seven children. She wrote her first poems, in the classical Arabic form, when she was 10. She graduated from the Higher Teachers Training College in Baghdad, where she studied the classical Arabic poets and the modernists of the early 20th century, as well as learned to play the oud, an Arab lute, and attended classes in acting.
She learned English and French and won a scholarship to study at Princeton University. In 1954 she continued her studies at the University of Wisconsin, earning a master’s degree in comparative literature. She returned to Baghdad and married a fellow student in the Arabic language department, Abel Hadi Mahbouba, and with her husband and others helped found the University of Basra.
Later she moved to Kuwait, where she taught for many years, but like many Iraqis was forced to return to Iraq when Saddam Hussein invaded the country in 1990. Soon after the gulf war ended in 1991, she fled to Cairo.
Her husband, whom she described in an autobiographical essay as “the best colleague, companion and friend,” died in 2005. She is survived by a son.
In 1949, Ms. Malaika published her first volume of free-verse poetry, “Ashes and Shrapnel.” Earlier 20th-century Arab poets had already begun controversial experiments outside the rigid classical form, in which each verse ends with the same rhyme scheme and each line has the same number of beats. But it was her writing and that of a handful of contemporaries that popularized free verse, and she gradually became a celebrated figure and her poems the subject of academic studies.
Much of her work dealt with alienation and the fear of fading into oblivion. Her poem “Lament of a Worthless Woman” (1952) suggests the universal fear of being forgotten after death:
She left, no cheek turned pale, no lip trembled.
The doors did not hear the story of her death...
The news tumbled down the avenue its echo not finding a shelter
So it stayed forgotten in some hole, its depression the moon lamenting.