28 July 2013

The Greeks are blinding Polyphemus

                              THE GREEKS ARE BLINDING POLYPHEMUS

                                                          by György Rába

Because he is one-eyed
because his dinner his choice morsel are different
because his footpath is not known
because he shepherds it though he is a born blacksmith
because he has not heard cormorants for days
because he perks an ear to the song of the present
because he won't build he camps out in his cave
because he builds his cave adorns it with curtains of bay leaf
shines new -- bends dress and cover
they lift a red-hot pole
like the plug hole on a ship's rib
they poke ream out his eye
because his hovel is a home of death 

But news lives in him too
every seeing eye gleams alike like a sun
and in everyone there dwells a death
same as someone rowing with bare hands
he'll flex his cliff-ripping muscle
you can see the present's body
and let it trill as sweetly as it might
the future lets drop flakes of enamel
Many a seafarer will yet sail here
being taken aback will never be over
how long will you be listening
to the dialogue of because and but
lord of eternal waters

trans., Emery George

21 July 2013

Great bales of cotton rise up from the ground


by Natasha Trethewey

1. King Cotton, 1907
From every corner of the photograph, flags wave down
the main street in Vicksburg. Stacked to form an arch,
the great bales of cotton rise up from the ground

like a giant swell, a wave of history flooding the town.
When Roosevelt arrives -- a parade -- the band will march,
and from every street corner, flags wave down.

Words on a banner, Cotton, America's King, have the sound
of progress. The is two years before the South's countermarch --
the great bolls of cotton, risen up from the ground,

infested with boll weevils -- a plague, biblical, all around.
Now, negro children ride the bales, clothes stiff with starch.
From up high, in the photograph, they wave flags down

for the President who will walk through the arch, bound
for the future, his back to us. The children, on their perch --
those great bales of cotton rising up from the ground --

Stare out at us. Cotton surrounds them, a swell, a great mound
bearing them up, back toward us. From the arch,
from every corner of the photograph, flags wave down,
and great bales of cotton rise up from the ground.

2. Glyph, Aberdeen 1913
The child's head droops as if in sleep.
Stripped to the waist, in profile, he's balanced
on the man's lap.  The man, gaunt in his overalls,
cradles the child's thin arm -- the sharp elbow, white
signature of skin an bone -- pulls it forward
to show the deformity -- the humped back, curve
of spine -- punctuating the routine hardships 
of their lives: how the child must follow him
into the fields, haunting the long hours
slumped beside a sack, his body asking
how much cotton? or in the kitchen, leaning,
into the icebox, how much food? or
kneeling beside him at the church house,
why, Lord, why? They pose as if to say
Look, this is the outline of suffering:
the child shouldering it -- a mound
like dirt heaped on a grave.

3. Flood
They have arrived on the back
of the swollen river, the barge
dividing it, their few belongings 
clustered about their feet. Above them
the National Guard hunkers
on the levee; rifles tight in their fists,
they block the path to high ground.
One group of black refugees,

the caption tells us, was ordered
to sing their passage onto land,
like a chorus of prayer -- their tongues
the tongues of dark bells. Here,
the camera finds them still. Posed
as if for a school-day portrait,
children lace fingers in their laps.
One boy gestures allegiance, right hand
over the heart's charged beating.

The great river all around, the barge
invisible beneath their feet, they fix
on what's before them: the opening
in the sight of a rifle; the camera's lens;
the muddy cleft between barge and dry land --
all of it aperture, the captured moment's 
chasm in time.  Here, in the angled light
of 1927, they are refugees from history:
the barge has brought them this far;
they are waiting to disembark.

4. You are late
The sun is high and the child's shadow,
almost fully beneath her, touches the sole
of her bare foot on concrete. Even though
it must be hot, she takes the step; her goal

to read is the subject of this shot -- a book
in her hand, the library closed, the door
just out of reach.  Stepping up, she must look
at the two signs, read them slowly once more.

The first one, in pale letters, barely shows
against the white background.  Though she will read
Greenwood Public Library for Negroes,
the other, bold letters on slate, will lead

her away, out of the frame, a finger 
pointing left.  I want to caller, say wait.
But this is history: she can't linger.
She'll read the sign that I read: You Are Late.

14 July 2013

You both smile, you both know


                                                     by Karl O. Knausgaard

. . . . . .
            Did she suddenly begin to cry out?
          Yes, suddenly she began to cry out. They must have thought they were so far away from people that they needn't exercise any restraint. Appalled and ashamed, Cain turned away, finished as fast as he could buttoned his fly, and tried to think about something else as he walked back, but the picture of them stayed with him, all the time he could see her flapping breasts and her swelling rump, his quick thrusts, and he thought almost with fury that that wasn't how it ought to be, not like that. It should be as it was in the dance below, where the different worlds barely touched one another, and the one glimpsed just enough of the other to want to learn more about it. The boys' world happy and arrogant or silent and determined, the girls' shy or impish, sensitive or strapping, with secretive minds and a laughter you could let yourself be completely filled with, and then dream about: their faces then! These sudden flashes of a girl's lovely features that come while working or before going to sleep, the lightness you're suffused with, the happiness that doesn't stop there, at the frontiers of the face, but goes on spreading, and at last envelopes everything there is. A pair of worn clogs standing on the doorstep, the rain that begins to fall on them, this is her, both the shoes and the rain are her, and you hurry over, pick up the shoes with sudden tenderness, put them in the hall, and run out into the rain, face turned up to the sky, for she is falling on you, and on the grass and the trees, and on the river and the hills. The green caterpillar crawling over the stone wall that isn't even aware of your finger, but crawls up it, makes you happy because it reminds you that she exists, just as smoke from a chimney that's whipped by the wind and dissolves in the gray air reminds you that she exists, and the brown water in the ruts of a cart track when the sun shines on it, and the green grass beside it, and the squirrel that each day hops along the same branches of the same trees at the same time of day, this, too, reminds you she exists, as it runs across the road with its bushy tail in the air, climbs a tree on the other side, and is gone. Everything reminds you of her, everything makes you happy, and the only thing you really want is to see her again. Perhaps she'll come walking along the road at dusk? Perhaps you'll push your plate aside, walk into the hall, put on your boots, and go out to meet her there? If so, it will be with a trembling heart. And perhaps the sun will shine on the pine barren on the other side of the river, while the sky above the meadow is gray and the air filled with soft rain, and perhaps she'll stop when she catches sign of you, because maybe she feels the same, maybe she's been thinking of you during these days and weeks, too. So it won't really matter if you haven't anything to say to each other, because you'll both be feeling the same and wanting the same: silently you'll walk side by side down the road, the grass making your shoes wet, she glancing at you now and then, you glancing at her now and then, you both smile, you both know, this is you.
          It should be like this and only like this, thought Cain, and halted at the top of the meadow.
. . . . . .

07 July 2013

For Jasus sake are'nt they getting it for nothing


by Christy Moore

How's it goin' there everybody,
From Cork, New York, Dundalk, Gortahork and Glenamaddy.
Here we are in the County Clare
It's a long, long way from here to there.
There's the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher,
the Tulla and the Kilfenora,
Miko Russell, Doctor Bill,
Willy Clancy, Noel Hill.
Flutes and fiddles everywhere.
If it's music you want,
You should go to Clare.

Oh, Lisdoonvarna
Lisdoon, Lisdoon, Lisdoon, Lisdoonvarna!

Everybody needs a break,
Climb a mountain or jump in a lake.
Some head off to exotic places,
Others go to the Galway Races.
Mattie goes to the South of France,
Jim to the dogs, Peter to the dance.
A cousin of mine goes potholing,
A cousin of heres loves Joe Dolan.
Summer comes around each year,
We go there and they come here.
Some jet off to ... Frijiliana,
But I always go to Lisdoonvarna.


I always leave on a Thursday night,
With me tent and me groundsheet rolled up tight.
I like to hit Lisdoon,
In around Friday afternoon.
This gives me time to get me tent up and my gear together,
I don't need to worry about the weather.
Ramble in for a pint of stout,
you'd never know who'd be hangin' about!
There's a Dutchman playing a mandolin,
And a German looking for Liam Óg O'Floinn.
And there's Adam, Bono and Garrett Fitzgerald,
Gettin' their photos taken for the Sunday World.
Finbarr, Charlie and Jim Hand,
And they drinkin' pints to bate the band.
( why would'nt they for Jasus sake are'nt they getting it for nothing)


The multitudes, they flocked in throngs
To hear the music and the songs.
Motorbikes and Hi-ace vans,
With bottles - barrels - flagons - cans.
Mighty craic. Loads of frolics,
Pioneers and alcoholics,
PLAC, SPUC and the FCA,
Free Nicky Kelly and the IRA.
Hairy chests and milk-white thighs,
mickey dodgers in disguise.
Mc Graths, O'Briens, Pippins, Coxs,
Massage parlours in horse boxes.
There's amhráns, bodhráns, amadáns,
Arab sheiks, Hindu Sikhs, Jesus freaks,
RTE are makin' tapes, takin' breaks and throwin' shapes.
This is heaven, this is hell.
Who cares? Who can tell?
(Anyone for the last few Choc Ices, now?)


A 747 for Jackson Browne,
They had to build a special runway just to get him down.
Before the Chieftains could start to play,
Seven creamy pints came out on a tray.
Shergar was ridden by Lord Lucan,
Seán Cannon did the backstage cookin'.
Clannad were playin' "Harry's Game",
Christy was singin' "Nancy Spain".
Mary O'Hara and Brush Shields,
Together singin' "The Four Green Fields".
Van the Man and Emmy Lou,
Moving Hearts and Planxty too!


Everybody needs a break,
Climb a mountain or jump in a lake.
Sean Doherty goes to the Rose of Tralee,
Oliver J. Flanagan goes swimming in the Holy Sea.
But I like the music and the open air,
So every Summer I go to Clare.
Coz Woodstock, Knock nor the Feast of Cana,
Can hold a match to Lisdoonvarna.


Link at:     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRYW55rFC24

With affectionate regard for County Clare, home of my ancestors,
and my descendants, and for the Clancy Festival  and Music School

carrying on this week at Miltown Malbay.