Saturday, May 17, 2014

Zora Neale Hurston

One of the most unusual, and lyrical novels I've ever read is Their Eyes Were Watching God, written by Zora Neale Hurston. This is how it begins:

Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. 

Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.

Click here to listen to Ruby Dee read an excerpt from the first chapter. (Oops! I realized the first link I provided--went to a different recording.)

This is good medicine.

Thurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in seven weeks, while performing anthropology research in Haiti. Although she was a prolific and successful author for a brief period, she died penniless, and was mostly forgotten, until Alice Walker wrote an article about the search for her unmarked grave, which was published by Ms. Magazine in 1975.

How could the reader fail to fall in love with the voice of the protagonist of this novel?

...The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh. Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness. 

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her...

--Zora Neale Hurston

On this mid-May Saturday, the local dryads are surrounded by the giddy gladness of gazillions of leaves. 

The bark of some birch trees forms into scrolls. 

It was used by the local Natives for all sorts of purposes, especially baskets. But I sometimes imagine them as scrolls filled with the most marvelous wordless poetry.

This morning, I had a dream -- it contained an image as if it were a white page, or blank sky, or a screen--

in the center, appeared a light or flash or form, and from it, in concentric geometric shapes--beginning with triangles--scrolling words emerged, I didn't notice in which language, but perhaps English, it didn't matter. Most remarkably, the word-shapes shifted and revolved kaleidoscopically, yet symmetrically, constantly changing. As if taking part in a cosmic dance, filled with joy. 

And then I awoke.

Black-currant blossoms

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Земфира - Кукушка (Zemfira - Kukushka)

A Viktor Tsoi song. Zemfira really does a good job. Tsoi is a hard act to follow.

The message is as timely as ever.

How many songs remain unwritten,
tell me, cuckoo? Sing....
should I live in the city or in exile,
lie as a stone or burn as a star, as a star?

My sun, look at me:
my palm has become a fist.
If there is powder, give it fire.
That's the way it is.

Who will follow the trail of the loner?
The strong and yes the bold laid down their heads
in the field of battle....

Only a few remain in bright memory,
sober in mind and with a firm hand
within the ranks, in the ranks...

Where are you, wild freedom?                          (воля волная -- nearly untranslatable phrase)
With whom are you now meeting,
sweet dawn? Answer me.

It's good with you, and bad without you.
My head and shoulders are patient
under the lash, the lash....

My sun, look at me:
my palm has become a fist.
If there is powder, give it fire.
That's the way it is.

(Originally written as protest song by Viktor Tsoi in the 1980's.)

(for erin) when i ask, where have the redpolls gone, and why the silence at my seed station your eyes, unbidden twin candles startle ...

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