sábado, 26 de outubro de 2013


'Thus the sound of speech strives to "express" subjective and objective happening, the "inner" and the "outer" world; but what of this it can retain is not the life and individual fullness of existence, but only a dead abbreviation of it*.' Literature can transcend this dilemma only by keeping faith with unsocial, banned language, and by learning to use the opaque images of broken rebellion as a means of communication.

W. G. Sebald, "Strangeness, Integration and Crisis: On Peter Handke's Play KasparCampo Santo, Anthea Bell (trad.), Sven Meyer (ed.), Penguin Books, 2005, p.67.

*Citação de Ernst Cassirer, Sprache und Mythos (Leipzig e Berlim, 1925, pp-6-7).

segunda-feira, 21 de outubro de 2013

Mycenae Lookout

Cities of grass. Fort walls. The dumbstruck palace.
I'd come to with the night wind on my face,
Agog, alert again, but far, far less

Focused on victory than I should have been -
Still isolated in my old disdain
Of claques who always needed to be seen

And heard as the true Argives. Mouth athletes,
quoting the oracle and quoting dates,
Petioning, accusing, taking votes.

No element that should have carried weight
Out of the grievous distance would translate
Our war stalled in the pre-articulate.

The little violets' heads bowed on their stems,
The pre-dawn gossamers, all dew and scrim
And star-lace, it was more through them

I felt the beating of the huge time-wound
We lived inside. My soul wept in my hand
When I would touch them, my whole being rained

Down on myself, I saw cities of grass,
Valleys of longing, tombs, a wind-swept brightness,
And far-off, in a hilly, ominous place,

Small crowds of people watching as a man
Jumped a fresh earth-wall and another ran
Amorously, it seemed, to strike him down.

Seamus Heaney, 'Mycenae Lookout', The Spirit Level, Faber & Faber, 1996.

domingo, 20 de outubro de 2013

Mycenae Lookout

The ox is on my tongue

Aeschylus, Agamemnon

2. Cassandra

No such thing
as innocent 

Her soiled vest,
her little breasts,
her clipped, devast-

ated, scabbed
punk head,
the char-eyed

famine gawk -
she looked

and simple.
could feel

a missed
trueness in them

a homecoming
in her dropped-wing,

No such thing
as innocent.

Old King Cock-
was back,

King Kill-

What Comes,
King Agamem-
non's drum-

balled, old buck's
stride was back.
And then her Greek

words came,
a lamb
at lambing time,

bleat of clair-
voyant dread,
the gene-hammer

and tread
of the roused god.
And a result-

ant shock desire
in bystanders
to do it to her

there and then.
Little rent 
cunt of their guilt:

in she went 
to the knife,
to the killer wife,

to the net over 
her and her slaver,
the Troy reaver,

saying, 'A wipe
of the sponge
that's it.

The shadow-hinge
swings unpredict-
ably and the light's

blanked out.'

Seamus Heaney, 'Mycenae Lookout', The Spirit Level, Faber & Faber, 1996.

quarta-feira, 16 de outubro de 2013

Todo o paradoxo é desadequação?

He used to speak in oracular riddles about the three paradoxes of his life: he was a Gaul who spoke Greek, a eunuch who was prosecuted for adultery, a man who had quarreled with the emperor and was still alive.

Maud Gleason, Making Men, 'Chapter 1: Favorinus and his Statue', Princeton University Press, 1995.

sábado, 12 de outubro de 2013

To a Dutch Potter in Ireland

Then I entered a strongroom of vocabulary
Where words like urns that had come through the fire
Stood in their bone-dry alcoves next a kiln

And came away changed, like the guard who'd seen
The stone move in a diamond-blaze of air
Or the gates of horn behind the gates of clay.


The soils I knew ran dirty. River sand
Was the one clean thing that stayed itself
In that slabberyclabbery, wintry, puddled ground

Until I found Bann clay. Like wet daylight
Or viscous satin under the felt and frieze
Of humus layers. The true diatomite

Discovered in a little sucky hole,
Grey-blue, dull-shining, scentless, touchable -
Like the earth's old ointment box, sticky and cool.

At that stage you were swimming in the sea
Or running from it, luminous with plankton,
A nymph of phosphor by the Norder Zee,

A vestal of the goddess Silica,
She who is under grass and glass and ash
In the fiery heartlands of Ceramica.

We might have know each other then, in that
Cold gleam-life under ground and off the water.
Weird twins of puddle, paddle, pit-a-pat,

And might have done the small forbidden things -
Worked at mud-pies or gone to high in swings,
Played 'secrets' in the hedge or 'touching tongues' -

But did not, in the terrible event.
Night after night instead, in the Netherlands,
You watched the bombers kill; then, heaven sent,

Came  backlit from the fire through war and wartime
And ever after, every blessed time,
Through glazes of fired quartz and iron and lime.

And if glazes, as you say, bring down the sun,
Your potter's wheel is bringing up the earth.
Hosannah ex infernis. Burning wells.

Hosannah in clean sand and kaolin
And, 'now that the rye crop waves beside the ruins',
In ash-pitts, oxides, shards and chlorophylls.

2 After liberation


Sheer, bright-shining spring, spring as it used to be,
Cold in the morning, but as broad daylight
Swings open, the everlasting sky
Is a marvel to survivors.

In a pearly clarity that bathes the fields
Things as they were come back; slow horses
Plough the fallow, war rumbles away
In the near distance

To have lived it through and now be free to give
Utterance, body and soul - to wake and know
Every time that it's gone and gone for good, the thing
That nearly broke you -

Is worth it all, the five years on the rack,
The fighting back, the being resigned, and not
One of the unborn will appreciate
Freedom like this ever.

from the Dutch of J.C. Bloem (1887-1966)

Seamus Heaney, The Spirit Level, Faber & Faber, 1996.

sexta-feira, 11 de outubro de 2013


It looked like a clump of small dusty nettles
Growing wild at the gable of the house
Beyond where we dumped our refuse and old bottles:
Unverdant ever, almost beneath notice.

But, to be fair, it also spelled promise
And newness in the backyard of our life
As if something callow yet tenacious
Sauntered in green alleys and grew rife.

The snip of scissor blades, the light of Sunday
Morning when the mint was cut and loved:
My last things will be first things slipping from me.
Yet all things go free that have survived.

Let the smells of mint go heady and defenceless
Like inmates liberated in that yard.
Like the disregarded ones we turned against
Because we'd failed them by our disregard.

Seamus Heaney, The Spirit Level, Faber & Faber, 1996