World noises

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Poems from Fahrenheit 121 (1968) and Jos suru savuaisi (‘If grief should smoulder’, 1968). Introduction by Tuula Hökkä

For truth to tell
I like horses most
creating Those
It came off best

*

Morning came to the meadow;
horses were born out of mist.
How quiet they were:
one leant a head on his master’s armour,
his breath rose warm,
his moist eye gleamed in the daybreak,
his coat a casbah carpet-weaver’s hand-woven pile,
his muzzle softer than a phallus.

*

The world noises are dwindling.
Evening is underneath the trees.
The cottonpickers’ harvest song is coming from far away
and from the river the swish of cattle wading.
So guileless: like listening to Bruckner.
First just shake off love of logic.

From Fahrenheit 121 (1968)

*

No longer can I turn back to the forest,
the meadow, the intense snow
of the horse

that let the breeze ruffle its hair
that came out from a cranny of the Taiga
(into the enlightened forest of my darkened soul)
a gallop of copper, the carving of an infatuated sun,
done with flesh, straw and incorporeal gold,
Parsifal’s horse, so a Platonic Percival
(my obsession)

that has never eaten from my hand
sought only wind and grass, a grass chevalier,
saint of the wind (a flirt or ally)
a mythical being maybe, hardly a horse, or then a hero,
a monk that cast off his Scottish armour

and returned to the sea
as if he’d come from there in fact.

*

And then again in that filthy village,
in the filthy tavern.
I bring along a street and a commotion,
hill-silence and the cries of greengrocers,
a creak of waggons.

The anise is in flower. And the nut tree –
or what was it? – they call it the maidenhair.
Gingo? Ginkgo? I don’t know,
I know interior peace,
it’s somewhere, in wrapped-up alleys:

a shadow on my wall, blue eidetic voices.
Adios, the children say, passing by,
a Dios, the old people, who have already passed by.
Schluss! Polizeistunde! The greenjacket man
from the cement forest.

A dios. Where do the days go?
The dark winters, the bright summers sleep in the trees,
into the trees they go, the leaves go back to the earth,
and when shall I go back, tired of change, I?

The trees are bare.
Autumn
is leading its mistponies down to the stream.

Dogs are barking far far away.
A tiny cart comes through a narrow gate,
alone, driverless, and disappears.

It’s the way a ghost drives, they say,
if your heart’s asleep beneath a holly.
But ghosts are mere memories.

The days are drawing in.
Soon it’ll be winter
like a well, deep and cold.

From Jos suru savuaisi (‘If grief should smoulder’, 1968; dedicated to Vaclav Havel)

Translated by Herbert Lomas

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