Friday, May 23, 2014

Fez Heads, Untie

Loosen your shoe-strings, shirt collars, bodice laces, whatever is keeping you back, and shimmy with Suheir Zaki:


Or just settle into your settee, and read Issue 67 of Red Fez.

Hat optional.





Monday, May 19, 2014

Brodsky on Akhmatova



While YouTubing (my version of inner-tubing, I suppose), I found this wonderful fragment of an interview with Joseph Brodsky, describing his acquaintance with Anna Akhmatova. If all goes as planned, this clip will open at the recitation (by Akhmatova) of one of her later poems, translated below.

OK. It didn't work. Please fast-forward the clip to 1 minute 34 seconds for the recording of Akhmatova's voice.

The Last Rose

I've bowed down with Morozova, *                           *persecuted Old Believer leader, ex-aristocrat
Danced with Herod's stepdaughter,
Flown up with the smoke of Dido's fire,
Only to return on Joan of Arc's pyre.
O Lord! You see, I am tired
Of resurrecting, and dying, and living.
Take everything, but grant to me to feel
the freshness of this crimson rose again.

August 9, 1962
Komarova


Последняя роза

Мне с Морозовою класть поклоны,
С падчерицей Ирода плясать,
С дымом улетать с костра Дидоны,
Чтобы с Жанной на костер опять.
Господи! Ты видишь, я устала
Воскресать, и умирать, и жить.
Все возьми, но этой розы алой
Дай мне свежесть снова ощутить.

1962
Комарово

What really struck me about this conversation with Brodsky (remembering his early twenties) is that he wasn't even quite an Akhmatova enthusiast, until he heard her recite this poem in person, when he was invited by a friend to visit her dacha, and then it was as if her entire body of work was opened to him, as if a curtain had suddenly lifted. They became friends.

Brodsky also said that there was something inside the both of them that recognized the other's kindred spirit. From his description, it sounds like they treated one another off-handedly, like comradely curmudgeons. I think Brodsky actually looks happy in the above still.

"...During those 2-3 years of acquaintance with her....a great deal was given to me. It wasn't so much, how to write poems.....but how to live....for example, (those people who had betrayed her)...when she met them in the street, she bowed and acknowledged them. ...If she could forgive, then who am I, not to forgive, right?"

Bernadette (Judy Collins)


I like the fact that Leonard Cohen had something to do with this song. And--well...Judy Collins. She falters a bit in the lyrics, so I'll supply them below:

There was a child named Bernadette
I heard the story long ago
She saw the queen of heaven once
And kept the vision in her soul
No one believed what she had seen
No one believed what she heard
But there were sorrows to be healed
And mercy, mercy in this world

So many hearts I find, broke like yours and mine
Torn by what we have done and can't undo
I just want to hold you, won't you let me hold you
Like Bernadette would do

We've been around, we fall, we fly
We mostly fall, we mostly run
And every now and then we try
To mend the damage that we've done
Tonight, tonight I just can't rest
I've got this joy in my breast
To think that I did not forget that child
That song of Bernadette

So many hearts I find, broke like yours and mine
Torn by what we've done and can't undo
I just want to hold you, won't you let me hold you
Like Bernadette would do

--Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warren

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