Sunday, April 06, 2014

Igor Sid's Video-Poem: Voice, Word, Verb. (Голос, Логос, Глагол)

Igor Sid is a Crimean poet. He wrote a poem entitled Voice, Word, Verb in 1993. The multimedia project I share below was created by a team of artists (from both Moscow and the Crimea.) I stumbled on the video-poem through Google, when it occurred to me to write a poem of my own with a similar title in English, because the three words in Russian fit together like a Chinese puzzle: Голос, Логос, Глагол. Although I share his enthusiasm for words, my own poem is a much more subdued affair. It occurs to me that his poem may be a message from history to the present, as timely today when it was written.

Here is a fumbling attempt at a translation of the text, please excuse any mistakes:

Voice, Word, Verb.

Voice, word, verb: glossolalia from a child's cradle,
and washed over the world, vertices born spinning.

In a Cyclopian gesture of blue and azure
dividing heaven and sea, we lay without strength,
hermeneutics and frontists in the battlefield of the surf,
but old man de Kullè noticed us, and blessed
the World Tree — let rootlings sprout into a colorless
parallel world, expressed as magma under Aetna's slopes,
the Stymphalian larva of boiling stone! And Zhlya*                      *an ancient Slavic goddess
circles forest and steppe, dividing into green and more green .

Or like this: settling into the negative cone of Hades,
I said: grapes. A cubist mustache, meander,
the embryo of the Labyrinth, Thessaly, yet Thebes,
concentric terror of the square of Mytilene.

Freeze frame:

Into a fire-breathing ravine, in the iris of the poor Cyclops,
along its vast spine Europe is serving back to the New World,
made doubly lonely by loudly boiling seas,
tossing Cadmus becomes a burning Vulkanalia;
for incense-filled Sinai, where lava spilled as tablets,
and in the brine lurks the golden Black Sea sturgeon,
there is constructed in a cube consisting of termite song
a full-fledged Kaaba, a skinny Adam's Apple
of land for Basurmen *. Adobe phrases of walls.                                      *i.e. Muslims
And a double Jihad, as the land is both burned and barren.

And still farther each continent moves from the other,
yet they remain obedient, the Muslim and Proteus, many-faced,
and thus is Hera tearing her hair up in an electronic amnesia—
the way Weissmann howled from thirst to drink from the crater,
and Alyosha's tadpole freezes in the ice in the winter.
Nostalgia draws blessed paintings: we are together.
And it is not clear just who we are. Already on the way
to the metropolis we feel that something is wrong. We fly up home:
along the erased avenues--an RNA transcription won't save us—
a six-pawed brave backbone of nonverbal jazz,
three centuries of vertebrae, an injection aimed at the heart,
And yet a child continues to speak, calling: voice, word, verb.

Canonical texts are nasty in that they weave, today,
on the eve of the end; Doryphoros, an empty pyramid
and dry Baalbek, in the absence of the Holy Sepulchre
of indubitable patristics. But — no guesswork — soars
in six-jazzed colors, the continent over the holes of hell.
And inside, like a Doric order, stands a cannonade.

The black stone in the wall — it's like trying to fold
spear-bearing wings and lay down a new song
as if a medal for the motherland, suddenly turned Maltese,
proprietary lame-footed Hephaestus gestalt:
mechanical servant, mechanical servant, mechanical servant.
Still better the falcon than the copper bulls for King Tethis,
and the angry King revokes the screening machines, learning
that his treacherous daughter, tossing out Poetania,
the ocean, is once again in trousers. And a century of wolfhounds
is slept through: as in single file I leave, walking along the corridor.


--Igor Sid



Tim Buck said...

You must try to forgive me, because it's 5:30 AM. When I leave a comment this soon after waking up from a plague of dismal dreams, the comment will be a sweeping, critical thing.

I couldn't get on board with the poem. He's *telling* me history, and lacking a sense of muted awe about the mysteriousness of our far Yesterday (he seems to somehow know how it's all gone down).

He's detached himself from simple tangible bearings in order to float on a cloud of omniscient abstractions. There are so many mythological images interwoven into modern cultural references that I grew a bit vision blasted.

I did like this:

"And it is not clear just who we are. Already on the way
to the metropolis we feel that something is wrong."

I also liked listening to the voice, the sound of that language. And the video is cool. Maybe my problem with the poem itself is that I'm not Slavic or excessively intelligent. And maybe if I read it later, in a different mood, I'll have a more favorable impression.

Iulia Flame said...

Tim, m thank you for commenting. Most likely the blame lies here:

1) the poem is a bit like a surrealist word-painting (the sound is half of it and the sprinkling of images are the other half)

2) I really can't properly translate such an object -- it's just not translatable

3) if one squints a bit (in a better mood, of course) and tried to glimpse it as a eco-word-painting, with a bit of an anti-war stance--perhaps?

Iulia Flame said...

PS Glimpsed somewhere in his word-painting, in my reading of the poem, anyhow, is the image of the Crimean Peninsula, a skinny piece of disputed land along the Black Sea....

Iulia Flame said...


My translation can't do justice!

of fluid dynamics and flight In another dream, Tulugaq, the Raven, flies over the ocean. She, the sea, hungers for Chronos. A drum is ...

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