Thursday, December 12, 2013

wrong side of the tapestry

"I mean that we here are on the wrong side of the tapestry," answered Father Brown. "The things that happen here do not seem to mean anything; they mean something somewhere else. Somewhere else retribution will come on the real offender. Here it often seems to fall on the wrong person." --G.K. Chesterton

Here I am borrowing a quote from a fictional character, because my own words fall short. Today I've been reading more excerpts from

Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry: Sergey Stratanovsky
Translated by J. Kates

"dein goldenes Haar Margarete
dein aschenes Haar Sulamith"

Paul Celan1
O  the holocaust in Oświęcim2 
The accusation of a documentary film
  is interrupted by an advertisement
for the very latest cosmetics
  from the collection of a screen diva
A fashionable caprice 
  shoves its way into the death zone

What's in the collection?
  Eau de cologne for behind the ears
henna for the hair of the Lorelei
  powder for the cheek of Marguerite

Little bottles of nail polish,
  and compacts with the cremated ashes
Ashes of the bones of the Shulamite


What's with Russia? A turn to the West?
Will the smell of the back stairway 
Finally dissipate,

The smell of the psychiatric ward,
 the depression of those faces
That wasting gloom 
 finally disappear?


Philemon and Baucis
 in their own creaking hovel,
On their own burnt-over patch of land
 across from the new mcmansion,
Wait to be swept away by a storm -
 a private liquidation,
To clear the countryside.

1 "Your golden hair Margarete / Your ashen hair Shulamite"
2 The Polish name for Auschwitz.

Reading the poem above led me to the original Paul Celan poem, translated here at the blog, Poems found in Translation:

Paul Celan: Death Fugue (From German)


And here is another quote from Fr. B., for my own repentance purposes:  

"You see, I had murdered them all myself... I had planned out each of the crimes very carefully. I had thought out exactly how a thing like that could be done, and in what style or state of mind a man could really do it. And when I was quite sure that I felt exactly like the murderer myself, of course I knew who he was."

--G.K. Chesterton, Father Brown

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