Poems on Poland
By Adam Zagajewski
I read poems on Poland written
by foreign poets. Germans and Russians
have not only guns, but also
ink, pens, some heart, and a lot
of imagination. Poland in their poems
reminds me of an audacious unicorn
which feeds on the wool of tapestries, it is
beautiful, weak, and imprudent. I don't know
what the mechanism of illusion is based on,
but even I, a sober reader,
am enraptured by that fairy-tale defenseless land
on which feed black eagles, hungry
emperors, the Third Reich, and the Third Rome.
Another from Sunday's Washington Post Book World in Robert Pinsky's Poet's Choice column on political poetry. Zagajewski, he observes, writes "from the viewpoint of the mythologized -- how it feels to be part of a nation that others perceive as more like a unicorn than an actual country." Zagajewski, he adds, is "coolly ironic about a rapturous account of Poland as a fairy-tale, a defenseless creature, [and] also recognizes the truth in the fable: His country is no unicorn, but neither is it a 'Third Rome.'"
I had a quiet Monday -- discovered that various family members had eaten or taken with them all the things I was thinking about having for lunch, and we were almost out of milk, so I ran out to get food and realized I had coupons for free chili and free chips at California Tortilla and, well, who can resist such temptation? And the Cal Tort is right near a Starbucks, which meant I could sit at the outdoor tables and use T-Mobile's hotspot to read the news while eating. Then I went to get groceries and ran into a woman I have known since my first day of seventh grade -- our last names were right next to each other in homeroom for all six years of junior high and high school -- she was with her four-year-old, our nine-year-olds are in Hebrew school together, we got to talking about how my son is going to be a Bar Mitzvah and we suddenly realized we have known each other since we were younger than he is. It's bizarre -- she and I were never really friends, we had very different interests and ran in different circles, but she has always been nice and I have known her for so much of my life at this point.
Younger son had Mad Science and made some kind of rubber band-powered race car, so came home in a good mood; older son came home happy because he had fencing in the evening. While he and hubby were out, younger son and I watched this week's Doctor Who after having had a conversation about the gerbil and whether he would bring it back to life if he was a necromancer like the ones in Necromancer Class in AdventureQuest or some online game he plays -- he said Aragorn might be a skeleton now so it would not be a good idea to bring him back to life but Boromir might be all right, which is his new way of coping. Then we ended up talking about Inferi, the Dead Marshes and other related subjects which brought us around to watching and discussing "Father's Day" which has the classic horror set-up where someone brings someone back from the dead with consequences that are so vastly awful that death ends up seeming greatly preferable.
Watching it again, I get the impression that the Doctor already knows everything that is going to happen -- that Rose will try to save her father and will come to accept his death only after learning what his life was like and seeing him choose to die -- though the Doctor also seems genuinely angry that Rose wants to use time travel for stupid selfish ends instead of to see the universe. "My whole planet died...do you think it never occurred to me to go back and save them?" And the idea that an ordinary man can change everything...the tears in the universe are a little too Buffyesque for me, with demons coming through from beyond, but the intense way the philosophical becomes personal is just superbly done, and reminds me of how "The Body" tore me up when I first saw it, though what is really remarkable about Doctor Who here is that a character we've only just met manages to have nearly the same impact as Joyce because of his interactions with Rose. He's just heartbreaking explaining that it isn't Rose's fault because it's his job as her father for it to be his fault. "I never took you on those picnics, I was never there for you but I can do this." All the cutesy stuff -- Mickey meeting Rose when he's a little boy -- turns sinister and paradoxical. But the thing that really matters to Rose does change -- her father doesn't die alone.
And tonight Casablanca was on TCM. That movie really does not ever get old. My kids had never seen it and younger son in particular watched it, to my surprise because it's much more love story than war story; he was interested anyway, particularly in the WWII politics. They recognized a lot of the famous lines from SpongeBob, Fairly Odd Parents, etc.! (Whereas hubby and I were saying, "...but this is our hill, and these are our beans!") This is one of those films where the sum of the elements is so much greater than the parts.
Here are Cisne Branco's masts rising above the stern chaser fired twice a day on the Constellation when the harbor isn't quite so crowded with ships as during the Baltimore Waterfront Festival.
Constellation's guns aim at Gazela! This isn't a great photo but some of the most interesting views of the harbor are aboard the Constellation -- from the great cabin, the gun ports and the upper deck.
This is my son's favorite spot on the Constellation -- belowdecks swinging in one of the hammocks.
apaulled linked me to this article about how last week's Commander in Chief had pissed off Hyattsville by portraying it as this center of Maryland crime when in fact the crime rate on the series was utter fiction, which amused me because so much of that show's portrayal of things in and around Washington are crack. News Monday was Patrick Stewart playing Alexander Dane from Galaxy Quest some more, still not as sexily as Alan Rickman nor as humorously since he's serious ("I played Richard III!"), and George Takei yet again explaining all the ways amendments to prevent gay marriage are anti-American, unconstitutional and just plain idiotic. I love him.
I'm still not even close to caught up, and just babbling, and I need to get to bed!