By Eugenio Montale
Translated by Samuel Beckett
I have willed the life drained
in secret transfusions, the life chained
in a coil of restlessness, unaware, self-angry.
When time leans on his dykes
be his allconsciousness
and memory flower forth in a flame
from the dark sanctuary, and shine
more brightly, as now, the rain over, the dragon's-blood
on the walls and the green against the branches.
I know nothing, only
the tidings sustaining my going,
and shall I find
thee shape or the fumes of a dream
from the river's fever boiling darkly
against the tide.
Of thee nothing in the grey hours and the hours
torn by a flame of sulphur,
the whistle of the tug
whose prow has ridden forth into the bright gulf.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in the March 27th Washington Post Book World, on a new anthology of Italian modernist Montale in English. "Among modernist poets from other countries, Montale's contemporary Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) has in some ways provided a hero of the explicit and the inclusive. In contrast, Montale during the same period has been for American poetry something like a hero of the implicit and the suggestive," Pinsky writes. "In other words, Montale is a great poet of the ineffable, tracing spiritual longings and forces that have no ready label, feelings that are powerful yet glancing."
Once again I can barely keep my eyes open and it's not even 11 p.m. yet -- my body is still somewhat in Greenwich time. Still swimming in clothing, souvenirs and power converters, am very proud of having managed to get three articles written today when my eyes were refusing to focus, and had to take a walk before dinner despite all the things I have to do because it went over 80 degrees and the scent of springtime outside was irresistible. Also had to run out to Target for some necessities, wandered into Barnes and Noble next door and discovered that B&N has the hardcover edition of The Making of 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World' on the bargain rack for less than $6 (still going for nearly $30 on the web site unfortunately so you'd have to find it in your local store). The web site and store both have Clint Willis' High Seas, which contains excerpts from both O'Brian and one of the Hornblower novels, for $3.98, here. So that's my PSA for the day.
Meanwhile I have an urgent question for transplanted Brits: is there anywhere in the US where one can obtain Kendal Mint Cakes? We had them in Yorkshire and now I am dying for one and the only place that carries them on Yahoo! Shopping is out of stock and I can't find anyone in Britain who will ship just a few rather than by the caseload (and I can't find whatever retailers in the US buy those caseloads and sell them!) We brought enough Cadbury back with us that I am not craving the high-butterfat variety of chocolate yet, and I know I can get that from British Traditionals on the web.
Loved this week's episode of The West Wing (was that the season finale?) but my eyes were crossing from being tired and the funky camera work was not helping any -- the Blair Witch Democratic National Convention! I was happy with the outcome but, having missed the last two weeks without even reading summaries, the VP nomination came completely out of left field for me -- was that foreshadowed or was it a total bombshell for everyone? I was utterly lost on the storyline with the astronauts because I missed the first six minutes getting older son's reading project in order, so need to be filled in on that, too, when I am more awake.
Still haven't dared try to make a crack in my friends list. Come tell me your news of the past couple of weeks!
The Nereid Monument, a tomb from Xanthos in southwest Turkey, now in the British Museum.