Tuesday, May 06, 2014


JH: The translation of six of my Actaeon poems into Spanish was not a collaboration, but the work of Diana Magallón, who also did the illustrations. Diana, a great poet and artist, contacted me and asked if she could translate some of my poems. When I agreed (enthusiastically!), she asked which poems did I want translated. I selected a few, and the result is on weeimage.
Are words timeless when they are not received, when they are seen but not read, or when they are read but not read carefully? Lacking a fuller presence than when they are received (received fully, or more fully), do they lack time? The time is all our own, the time is each person's. A poem that is timeless lacks something, if only time; but aside from time, this lack may be what is felt in the text of certain poems, that which is evoked but not expressed, that which, though behind the word, is not found in a dictionary.
What loads a poem with time? Is a poem that is not timeless ephemeral, a poem that dates? If not timeless, then historical?

AHB: Interesting that her name is Diana. I don't know what words do when not in use. I think of the ancient Greek poems, that we have almost entirely in fragment (which is a conflictive phrase, no doubt). Sappho's poetry (for us) exists in scrids, guesswork, and the opinion of those who had greater experience of it. Her words are largely gone but somewhere her poetry is an effective living power or energy. Her poetry, then, exists in time but as we now have it, her poetry has no time. But if the scifi novel came true, and someone Went Back in Time, and fetched her work in toto, her work would have a different time.

What loads a poem with time? The ocular presence of slang or reference. I guess. Francois Villon wrote a French that differed from the modern, and he used much slang tied verily to a time. Same goes for Shakespeare. Et al. Time as barrier tho needless to say, not impermeable. It's a matter of translation, which is a loss of immediacy. For me.

The translation by time is inevitable and perhaps confusing. Hugh Kenner explained the Shakespeare's phrase “the boys of summer” as referring to dandelions. Someone used the phrase as a title for a book, and now it brings to mind Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers now reside in LA, where no trolley cars need to be dodged. And we readers are left with the tracings of intersections. Ah, well!

The latest poem I have seen by you is “Parthenius”:

Actaeon, could the hart speak; Parthenius, could the fount. The hounds, they know their names, and cannot give them. And what name would the bather give? The bather... Parthenius, I believe.

* * *

I have yet to research the name Parthenius, but it almost doesn't matter. Your Actaeon poems seem like multidimensional extensions of the figures on some Grecian urn. Do you have a sense of presentation of these gems beyond messages on a listserv? I have suggested cards a la Robert Grenier's Sentences.


Post a Comment

<< Home