LAUNCH SPEECH for John Kinsella's THE VISION OF ERROR : A Sextet of Activist Poems (Five Islands Press, Melbourne), given November 20th, 2013, Visual Cultures Resources Centre, John Medley Building, University of Melbourne
[The italicised section below was conceived &/or drafted but omitted from the speech]
The words & thoughts in my head, when I began this take on John Kinsella's new collection, The Vision of Error : A Sextet of Activist Poems (Five Islands Press), included such things as a line by Jack Clarke (one of Olson's students & friends, from the Institute of Further Studies in upstate New York) : "I want all my learning to go into this one" --a classic temptation!
[And I thought of Kinsella as similar to Richard Grossinger, introduced as prodigy to the yet kicking New American Poetry by Robert Duncan ca 1970, and whose one man band attracted & awed 40 years ago as he virtually created his own curriculum…
And thinking of JK as an international poet/figure, I serendipitously came upon the references to him from Harold Bloom & Paul Kane in Cassandra Atherton's In So Many Words : Interviews with Writers, Scholars and Intellectuals (ASP, '13); one of only a handful of Australian writers recognised overseas…
The Political Imagination issue of Southerly magazine (Vol 73, #1, '13), which had already fired me up, seemed a relevant context for JK; paradoxically, given my objections to the former how explain my accepting the brief to usher into the world his new collection? Incidentally, despite appearing to be a prime candidate for such a context, Kinsella's not included in that symposium...
Shirley Clarke's portrait of Robert Frost, made in 1962, seen during the Shirley Clarke season of documentaries at ACMI in Melbourne, October '13, was also strongly in mind regarding the discussion of the public if not political role of the poet in, more or less, our time…]
And from a first flick through the book in hand, p114, in the Hero section,
Our four-year-old, in the delirium
of fever, said: 'Dad, write a poem
to make them stop, to stop
them tearing down the tree'.
He has more faith in poetry
and people than I have,
though I'd like to honour his wish.
Finally, regarding his version of Milton's Comus, JK offered that this work is "tormented by its own celebration --the tension is in the need for constraint, a fear that the darkness of humanity will overwhelm the telling of the tale." --ditto, this collection too (perhaps). ]
So I started doodling, noodling, reading here & there--for example, Harsh Hakea (p9) --
This morning, to fire the day, a large golden fox
sprinted the fenceline along the reserve. Watched
by me, perched on the largest granites. Left be.
Instead of the natural or conventional observational authority, whereby "I" would have watched the fox --how would it go? -- : "This morning, to fire the day, a large golden fox / sprinted the fenceline along the reserve. Perched / on the largest granites, I watched it. Left it be." --And nothing wrong with that at all as poem. But instead of that, Kinsella has it : "Watched / by me, perched on the largest granites. Left be." --which maintains fox as arbiter --after all it is the golden fox that 'fires the day' --even though one understands the human watcher mediates it, --but so gently --sublimates normal authority to the fox's activity, as though fox & day is the superior relationship. The syntax facilitates the lovely rhyme (as rhyme can be lovely) --"by me" at the beginning of the line & "left be" at the end. Given Kinsella's philosophy, this begs the question as to whether "watching" isn't of the same terrible order of things an anarchist (& poet as natural anarchist) could also indict. And this is a book of many indictments.
I recall a conversation with Tasmanian poet James Charlton at Collected Works Bookshop, in the '90s. We were discussing other poets, as poets always do. It transpired neither of us were, or were any longer, ruffled by the supposed sins attributed to our more newsworthy friends & colleagues, and didn't particularly care for the kind of mischievous commentary that does the rounds --knocking off the 'tall poppies', older figures like Murray, Tranter, Gray, Adamson & younger ones --John Kinsella criticised for prolific writing & publishing --too young, too much, that sort of thing --And Anthony Lawrence for something or other --swank & swagger? --I cant remember. And after we'd shared memories of meetings &/or dealings with either of them, James said : Well, you look after John & I'll look after Anthony! Heaven forbid gross patronage & egotism be attributed since we only meant that we, who'd come of age in the '60s & '70s, could hold & critically embrace those young tyros only born around that time. (Such 'looking after' relates to one's sense of nurturing in the literary culture; a nurturing which of course includes resistance…)
Now it is true that John Kinsella has published forty-odd books --indeed it would have been perfect if this collection from Five islands Press, The Vision of Error : A Sextet of Activist Poems were his fiftieth --his fiftieth book in his fiftieth year! Even greater symmetry : Englishman in Australia launches Australian in England's fiftieth book in the poet's fiftieth year! But further to the 'writing too much' problem : I remember how screamingly funny we found Gilbert Sorrentino's description, in his novel The Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, of the rampantly fecund Robert Kelly writing a novel in his bath before breakfast! --funny because without wanting to side with Blake's 'destroyers' one's beholden to the restrained if not repressed psychology &, therefore, culture, which many of us were schooled in, thus the occurrence of over-careful & even timid attitude & style. Yet most creative practitioners would love to have the publishers queuing up, as indeed they seem to do for JK's writings. If it was a single & simply defined audience, there'd be more point to the criticism Kinsella receives. But that's not, or is no longer, the case. John Kinsella's publishers & publications are literally all over the place --different types of writing, different kinds of publication.
Five Islands Press's author's bio notes Armour (published by Picador) & Jam Tree Gully (Norton) as recent publications. But as or more recent is his collaboration with Niall Lucy (the co-dedicatee, with Tracy Ryan, of this book) in The Ballad of Moon Dyne Joe (FACP), & the collaboration with Forest Gander, Redstart : An Ecological Poetics (published by University of Iowa Press). Now, Redstart is particularly apropos for both essayistic style & content & for its caveats, for example from Kinsella's Note on Ecopoetics (which might yet characterise The Vision of Error) : "I have grave doubts that an 'ecopoetics' can be anything but personal. And a luxury that few have…" / "In reaching a desire to record one's own coordinates in a damaged ecology, an ecology trying to cope, I realise how much of the data of background is contrary to any idea of 'nature'. There's some grim stuff in there. Most of our own biographies have grim stuff. Place is about event as much as location. place is interstice. Place is also a reckoning of intrusion and damage and the labeling of forces (greed, security, self and communal empowerment, spiritual materialism) that seem adverse to the health of a biodiversity…" Redstart in its register might be the reflective half of the project which bursts into the rattier, testier, aktion of The Vision of Error ("activist poems" after all)!
Thinking all this or about this, I was suddenly reminded of Olson's Projective Verse essay, which one read in the '60s, in Melbourne, before the super highway to Buffalo or San Francisco or Cambridge,UK for that matter --and not the typewriter as stave or the head, ear, syllable / heart, breath, line passages but this from the essay's second part, how the human "conceives his relation to nature, that force to which he owes his somewhat small existence. If he sprawl he shall find little to sing but himself [we understand : nudge, nudge Walt Whitman]… But if he stays within himself, if he is contained within his nature as he is participant in the larger force, he will be able to listen, and his hearing through himself will give him secrets objects share [this is predicated upon Olson's understanding of objectivism, "the getting rid of the lyrical interference of the individual as ego, of the 'subject' and his 'soul'" etc] --Olson continues, "For a man's problem the moment he takes speech up in all its fullness is to give his work his seriousness, a seriousness sufficient to cause the thing he makes to try to take its place alongside the things of nature…"
An aside : that the basic difference between the Olson poetic & Kinsella, or between Kinsella & any number of others, is political, philosophical, and might all reduce to the fact that War is not his father (after Heraclitus) --he doesn't seem to politically accept the life & death cycle he's caught in for he suffers for want of equanimity but will not, like Robinson Jeffers, "go down the dinosaurs' way" before trying all possible alternatives…
Addressing The Vision of Error one cant help but address the poet as per his accumulated production, his massive & multivalent project, and his international reputation current as he is in Australia, the British Isles & the USA. Do we read it or read John Kinsella in it? --tracking him, as apparently one can do with a wrist-banded felon, a micro-chipped dolphin or Tasmanian devil or an English badger?
The Vision of Error may have begun its adventure as the inversion, The Error of Vision --second-guessing the common assumption that 'seeing' is most of the poet's calling --from Whitmanesque journalism to anything from the portmanteau of soothsaying, that which'll always 'walk beside you'… And 'seeing' might be named the apparent --the 'apparent' only ever what seems to be so --and the real, the harder quality which coagulates as quantity… Poet in this space (this head-space &/or physical environment) committed to a speaking which flies in the face of the assumptions. But The Vision of Error it is, and poet here will call the shots --will catalogue crime & calumny --weave it into a hair-shirt, knot it into a cat o'nine tails…
On p19, state-of-the-world diatribe, "Try living / here, you collaborating wankers / who vox populi niche markets, / stereotypical beatings of prisoners, / the bullies who make / semi-useful foot soldiers." is juxtaposed (grand simile) with esoteric lit-crit cum biog : "Please place on my grave, "he resisted , / and wasn't hoodwinked by the lyric or its digressions, remouthings / or retextings. Not by epics, / nor damned elegies." --Kinsella here, the postmodernist hussar whose juxtaposition clearly elides all human acts within the pessimistic register of the Fall. Poet therefore (& there's poetry aplenty in these poems --beautiful alliterative & onomatopoeic runs, wild & wacky imagery) --whose ability to articulate outrage cannot for a second earn favour or furlough. Po-mo mix & match : bellicose pamphleteering and exquisite permutating of sound & sense --same difference within world's valedictory. No wonder James Joyce is inscribed very early in the piece : (p11) "HARSH hake // what blossom coveted by spikes / whose calling? Flower/blossoms, / I know no Anna nor fallings into line / cause precedent matters sublime river pocks / bonding drain and gutter, though round rain sounds / anna anna anna falling into a bright new tank, we / will drink a river, we will gurgle our puns, / giraffe;…" Again on p61, "And so, I turn to St Augustine's Confessions / and the isles of the I declaimed through ontology / and a singular perfection manifest as core / of Western self-narrative, as Baby Tuckoo / or the resplendent self-damnation of Rousseau…"
What we read in The Vision of Error is the eternal if not infernal battle of the citizen, advocate, political-activist and the witness, artist, poet --and their ameliorations understood; the eternal battle between the urges of graffiti and the surges of literature --and their ameliorations understood; the eternal battle of action & reflection, of mortal living & immortal art, of infinite imagination & limited body-world --and their ameliorations understood…
I declare The Vison of Error : A Sextet of Activist Poems hereby launched!
NOTES, ADDITIONS, DELETIONS
*The mesostic, a la John Cage, on p31, spelling SOLVENCY IS MUTE, probably not the poet's/poem's secret habitat or even the secret to habitat, though it could be!
I recently heard 'solvent' mentioned on a news report about a variety of the drug GBH, and also know it as a term in the world of corporate finance. But the book does carry secrets if one accepts FIP's promo that "John Kinsella lays down his vision of an urgent and uncompromising poetics and politics of land…"
For instance, let's follow his God trail :
(p17) "maybe it's only the shape, choreography / of praying we're interested in;"
(pp35) "I need to participate, / I need the risk of being struck, / burnt to a crisp / by lightning, this devotion that forgets God / in the rush…"
(p36) "I pray compulsively, / always just before sleep and again if I wake during the night / in case I forgot before sleep"
(p65) "God is fable is duty"
(p75) "Religion is a technology"
And family :
several invocations of his son Tim;
wife (p37) "it's not order I look for in Tracy's eyes"
brother Stephen (p54);
(pp55/56) "Tracy locates the vanquished house's ache / by the fruit tree stubs, introduced like water towers, / tarred seams opening - Gleneagle, alongside / Kinsella Road, where sixty-year-old pines / were recently harvested and new plantings inculcated"
And language :
(p9) Jumping from died-and-reborn York gums to "The dead have been gathering. / And, to be frank, accruing. / They are phenomenally heavy, / like self-doubt or self-belief "
(p14) another grand simile : "Mispronunciation is a joy as great as fog / and fog lifting in tears…"
(p19) "You see, there's no getting away from sentences / all places visited, been, occupied, / even / passed /thru. // Says something about reading. / Maps and diaries not kept. / / Artifacts are not something / I need to create."
(p22) "Psychedelia is my trap. I watched wooden / finches fly and hid from spiders in a nun's / closet --that's my biography told by the / outside myself self."
--diaristic, solipsistic (not that there's anything wrong with that), poet talking to himself…
(p89) "Maybe you need to know [Paul] Goodman precedes with 'Language /
is behaviour' …
Regarding headspace & physical environment : Imagine Husserl ("perception is environment") & Jung ("mind is matter"), tapping their white canes around the poet's tripping feet…
(p17) "I will learn to block out my shifts in body chemistry and reception theory / that undo the way I see" : as if natural seeing & telling were his standpoint rather than political shirt-fronting finessed with science --'objectivity' sufficient to render the lyrical porous if not specious. But I'm not convinced --undoing seeing, a la John Berger, is the blinder Kinsella seeks to play here, despite categorical anxieties, --politics & philosophy's tectonic plates squeezing, squashing, ructioning poetry…
I had thought Jack Clarke's line [quoted in launch speech above] was "I want all my knowledge to go into this one" and that it occurred in one of the sonnets, The End of This Side (Black Book, Ohio, 1979). However, I've found it isnt one of the sonnets at all but the poem The Stance We Inhabit Predisposes Our Dimension, published in the John Clarke issue of Duncan McNaughton's Fathar magazine (Buffalo, NY, June '71). And the key word is 'learning' not 'knowledge', notwithstanding a certain convergence of the reader & doer, library & world within that practice. And so it all comes back --the era of poetry & research on the wing of Olson, --and Olson dying in 1970, then George Butterick in '88, five months after Robert Duncan, & then Jack Clarke himself (1992) --of which I heard with a shock, ditto Butterick --poets I'd corresponded with, published --felt all over again as I googled for information… And what then of John Thorpe & Duncan McNaughton? Where are they now? Too many years spent in other circles, I'm embarrassed by my absence but, because of the focus upon John Kinsella, am serendipitously returned!
I quote Jack's poem here :
THE STANCE WE INHABIT PREDISPOSES OUR DIMENSION
as the sun coincides with the heart
I want all my learning to go into
this one & leaps across the Pacific
at a known spot just North of the
Solomons I am reminded it was I who
refused to believe you would join
me in the Rose garden & was wanting
proof of that Future which never
thus comes being thrust deeper into
the past which is its burden to
overcome the moment I saw that I'd
never be a True Scientist until
I believed absolutely you had not gone over
to the King of Death but had stayed
to feed me raisons and grains and
black strap molasses for iron for
energy to combat Depression so that
the only cold I had all winter was
this one from Friday to Sunday the
Day of the Equinox
[Typed up 21/27 November, '13
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
THANKING MICHAEL FARRELL
Much to thank Michael Farrell for in his article, An 'Infinitely Flexible' Space; Reading Michael Dransfield's 'Courland Penders' poems through the New Baroque and Dobrez's theory of 'the Pouch', published in The Political Imagination issue of Southerly (2013), and not least for what seems to me a rare acknowledgement of the approach & research of Livio & Patricia Dobrez. Why LD's Parnassus Mad Ward : Michael Dransfield & the New Australian Poetry (UQP, 1990) & PD's Michael Dransfield's Lives : A Sixties' Biography (Melbourne University Press, 1999) aren't better known & utilised beats me. One might also add, similarly, that after years of not so much neglect as disdain, Michael Dransfield, the true subject of Farrell's article, is circulating again as poetry & reference. I note the online appearance of the Dransfield Appreciation Society [http://www.facebook.com/groups/6075328475/] over the past year and the recent daily publications on Facebook of Dransfield poems (Justin Lowe's month long homage & Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke's seven days) which, in a perfect world, with readers constantly requesting Dransfield's poetry, might just affect the weather around St Lucia where UQP has obstinately refused to return to print its Dransfield editions, including John Kinsella's selection of 2002. Farrell's foundational debt is to Martin Harrison (after Edward Said)'s 'affiliative' approach which opposed Oz Lit's predictable 'genetic' procedures; however they're not necessarily mutually exclusive (mutual exclusivity itself a conventional deadweight trapping both traditional & apparently radical modes). The Harrison 'affiliative'/Farrell 'neobaroque' ought definitely not be regarded as antithetical to the historical-cultural-biographical strand of understandings.
I say Dransfield is the true subject of Farrell's article because, due to what I assume is his obligation to the theoretical imperatives of his profession, Dransfield as poet & oeuvre is crabbed here by emphasis upon the 'neobaroque' as a stratagem in competition with the postcolonial, colonial, avant-garde, neoromantic, postmodern & others as the most efficacious critical tool. I'm obviously not saying that Farrell's neobaroque, drafted from Latin American criticism as he describes, isn't a nifty explicator for Michael Dransfield & contemporary Australian poetry; and of course one understands the context of the article, originally presented as a paper at the Political Imagination : Postcolonialism & Diaspora in Contemporary Australian Poetry conference at Deakin University, April 2012, --but thank heavens one's beyond the academy's reach in one's own discourses.
(Oh brothers & sisters of the 'political imagination', having ploughed through your expositions in that there journal, all I can say is come away, come away! Come away! Come back to poetry, warts & all! Come back to poets, warts & all! Be humble before the wartish facts! Warts so much better agents of understanding & liberation than the contorted vocabularies advancing or within the categories of perfection you have invented in your lofty, lefty follies! And hey! How's this for synchronicity? Flicking at Cassandra Atherton's eminently readable book of interviews, In So Many Words : Interviews with Writers, Scholars and Intellectuals (Arcadia/ASP, 2013), I find Camille Paglia, ca 2005. From that first "slap in the face [Paglia's defending her book Break, Blow, Burn] of the current poetry establishment and academic circles", fulminating against the idea "that people write poetry to do philosophy", --to which she says "Don't treat poetry as if it was a servant of some other form", thus her criticism of Ashbery (or the way that he is read) & of Jorie Graham, indeed the entire po mo shebang, -- from the first & throughout her interview I'm attracted. I realise Paglia's brush is pretty broad --for example, "Postmodernism has marginalised poetry because postmodernism is a type of cynical nihilism… it defines any reference to the sacred as sentimental. There is a kind of sanctimonious superiority that many postmodernist scholars have, regarding what people believe", & et cetera --And one has to get a handle on her prime belief in a bodily, sensual & sensory poetry against "academic sterility", --And though, as I read & think her propositions through, there are as many nays as yays, and greys in amongst the black & whites, at least I can join her discussion --that is, I care to (a version, as it happens, of the one I have with all my colleagues here, off the cuff more than in print, and over many years), whereas I'm completely disinclined & disenchanted by Southerly's politicos…)
Bethatasitmay; Michael Farrell's most suggestive device, is the pouch, borrowed from the Dobrezes, & not only as supremely subverted Aussie kitsch. He explains "we can see that through the pouch-consciousness of Dransfield's 'infinitely flexible' poetics, of which the Courland Penders poems are exemplary if not unique, Dransfield can "experience reality" without leaving the womb or house…" It seems to me this might, in another paper and from the psycho-literary or, in my terms, the fantastical or dream approach, progress to actually crossing eyes with Michael Dransfield. An encounter, it occurs to me, after Charles Buckmaster via Christopher Brennan, within th' real…
[9/10 November, '13]
Saturday, November 2, 2013
I.M. DEREK BEAN, 1924-2013
in in-between world
toes point to the sun
as head is drawn to the sea-bed
off Elwood Beach
I float in a dream
of two families of uncles
inspired by the sight of
three strolling Mediterranean men
in togs without bellies
tanned brown with glinting silver hair
profuse on chest sparse on top
clad in their natures like shimmering fish
another film rewinds then
of English summer-holiday
where ever-the-world's host my father
invites his brothers for a picnic
on the beach and whatever
parents kids nephews uncles play
postponing boredom sadness end-of-holiday
like frisky bachelors
they fetch & carry for my mother
joke swim produce sixpences for ice-creams
smoke cigarettes languorous as the officers
they'd endured all their war years in North Africa
looking back at the shore
the purpose of the world seems first & last
appeasement of the senses
self & world-knowledge
gained by simply gliding body
through water or air enveloped in sunlight
anticipating the trajectories of bathers & walkers
merging with or diverging from them
as if we're all summer's melting marionettes
absolved from guilt excused consequences
but fifty years back
i was sacked for acceding to impulse
an hilarious image ballooned in my mind
demanding an hilarious act to fulfill it
i raced the yards from soft sand
to the puddled ribbed flat
exposed by outgoing tide
where my mother stood girlishly entertaining
my father & uncles
i slapped her blooming blue-costumed behind
so perfectly my right-hand stung and the
startled seagulls and her cry was a pure pain
encapsulating my little devil's jubilation
i ran on & on
and would have cartwheeled if i'd known how
expecting our party to laugh & applaud
instead one uncle chased me down
lectured me like a policeman
marched me back to my tearful mother
& her angry retinue
i prickled red with embarrassment
was made to stew
until awarded the cold blue mercy of banishment
in in-between world
there is no nymph called Thetis
no son Achilles dipped by the heel
into magic waters
there's only ever sea & sea
no other mother's bequest
could so nearly offer immortality
those three manicured Mediterranean men
those look-alikes aliases surrogates
those also-known-as Egyptian uncles
approach the water dainty as penguins
upon the ice-flow
attracted by the laziness of my swim
which tempts their machismo
suddenly one charges & plunges in
calling his partners to join him
then my dream pops into place
and once more real world roars around me
[from DEAR TAKAMURA, 2002-03.
The English uncles are Derek & Dennis Bean; the Egyptian uncles, Gaby & Cesar Tawa. It was the gallant Uncle Derek who ran me down]
What curious symmetry brings bad news from either side of the family within an hour of each other? English uncle, Egyptian cousin --though, as my brother elaborates, Pierre was only a couple of years younger than our mother, his aunt, who better related to him as her cousin.
An old man, tanned Mediterranean to oblige this recitation, grey hair, open necked white shirt, brown jacket & trousers, deliberates for half a minute before continuing his shuffle along the pavement. I'm reminded of my cousin but the dawdler's probably a closer resemblance to my Uncle Cesar, thirty years passed.
After my son died, his doppelgangers appeared and for several years following --jumping out of the pages of the music papers, occasionally & startlingly in the flesh. The hesitating Mediterranean is my cousin Pierre's first posthumous herald.
In England, Uncle Derek is apparently dying --the nuance or substance of the epithet 'terminal'. The age he's achieved doesn't diminish one's shock. He's always been a figure of energy & creativity. Walking, climbing, making or teaching music, driving, travelling, socialising --Derek appeared to guarantee the promise of ebullient longevity on our paternal side.
Suing for immortality was Dad's conceit, somehow hobbled by abstraction & timidity; fortunately for Derek it's his character. Perhaps because he never harped upon age, Derek's ageless. The man of wit we've always known --at home with himself --identical with his language --pilgrim's miles in his legs --newspaper beneath arm --tree, shrub or flower in his eye --a piano in his head.
Kris Hemensley JOURNAL + Notebook
23/24 April, '13
[re Ringwood/Fordingbridge visit]
(…) Big hiccup at Ringwood --I realised too late after alighting from the National Express coach & mooching about in search of Pam, that I wasn't supposed to be meeting her in Ringwood at all but Fordingbridge, a short hop away on another bus. I'd attempted several calls to Bernard but for once he wasn't home --I thought he'd be able to phone Pam & tell her I was still in Ringwood. However once I did realise the mistake I caught next local bus to Fordingbridge! And there she was, at the bus-stop, waiting for me.
We drove fast, first leg to a local store to pick up newspaper for Derek & beer & cheese for lunch, & then on to their home.
Uncle Derek in red checked shirt (or pyjama top?), fawn slacks, blanket around middle down to his feet --blue socks, one of which loosened & after an hour or so Pam pulled it up for him.
Uncle Derek's familiar smile & soft, smooth-skin handshake, more hand hold than grip.
"I bring greetings from [siblings] Bernard & Monique & Robin!" Later on I repeat Monique's best wishes. Derek says, And mine to her.
How are you? I ask --Very well, & yourself?
He alternates attention between the television & The Times crossword. Pam tells him it was my idea to get the paper (""you've got Kris to thank for it"). Derek smiles & keeps working. He's watching Question Time from Parliament. Looks fascinating. I asked him what he thought of the prime minister, David Cameron. He ponders before replying. I think he's doing a pretty good job, he says.
Was the answer contained or encouraged in the question? Pam told me she's learned to conduct just that kind of conversation with him --confusion is not what she wants to foment.
Derek enjoyed (or at least he chuckled) when I referred to Uncle Dennis's appreciation of Ray Monk's biography Wittgenstein. Oh yes, Derek said, Dennis did like Wittgenstein.
Pam had brought out ham for our lunch, the traditional English fare. When I declined she laughed it off. Salad & a chunk of cheese will be fine, I said. I don't know how much a chunk is, she said. Lunch was good, accompanied by several glasses of ale.
Pam showed me WW2 snaps of Derek --Rodger [Derek's son, my cousin] had brought them to show her and in the 45 minutes before he departed for the airport & the flight back to Australia she had them copied. Northern Germany, Hamburg for example. Very interesting was a Forces bulletin advertising a piano recital to be given by Derek Bean --Schubert & Schumann. Signalman Derek Bean.
Pam described Derek watching the broadcast of Mrs Thatcher's state funeral, and how he was impressed by the choir. I sang in St Paul's Cathedral, he said. Hmm. When footage of the Falklands War was shown he remarked he'd fought in that war. You weren't in the Falklands, derek, she laughed. Yes I was, he insisted. So what did you do in the Falklands then? I carried a rifle, he said.
Signalman Derek Bean, holding his rifle, World War 1, World War 2, the Falklands...
Uncle Derek, indomitable, incorrigible…
"TWO HEARTS UNITED"
Pam Adams :
Email / July 25, '13
Preparations for Derek's service on the 31st... I am typing up the order of the service for the printer and have reached an impasse - I am wondering if you can make a beautiful translation of this - am I correct in thinking you know German? - I think I am...
Der Abend dammert, das Mondlicht scheint,
Da sind zwei Herzen in Liebe vereint,
Und halten sich selig umfangen.
This excerpt was included in the score by Brahms to accompany or throw light (mondlicht?) on the second movement of his Sonata in f minor, which Derek loved and played magnificently, and which will be played in his service by Gwenneth Pryor. Derek loved languages, Derek loved German literature, and I just thought it would be nice to include the excerpt in the order of service, that he would appreciate that, but I would like to add a translation as well. I can make out the words, but I can't put them beautifully - help?
Dawn of the evening, the moonlight glistens (?), the moon shines (I'm no good at this!)
Two hearts united in love (there are two hearts?)
stand in blessed embrace HELP!!! (stand? stop? stay? Aaaargh!)
Kris Hemensley :
Email / 26 July, '13
Hi Pam, I sent two urgent messages to 'my people' with German language : poets Cecilia White & Petra White. Cecilia, Sydney based poet, often in Europe, has responded with this 'translation' which she says is also an interpretation. She thinks it might have the musical feel you need.
Evening arrives softly
In love, two hearts united
Holding each other in blessed embrace
I hope this either assists you in yr translation or does the job entirely...
All best, in haste, Kris
Email/ 27 July, '13
Thank you so much for throwing yourself into the task at hand! Urgent! I like it. And thank your people! Amazingly, I needn't have worried, the printer had a translation in her vast store of everything she's ever printed, and apparently that excerpt has come up on many an occasion! Here's what she printed and I said, okay -
Through evening's shade,
The pale moon gleams
While rapt in love's ecstatic dreams
Two hearts are fondly beating.
Okay. Somebody took tremendous liberties, but whatever.... gleams and dreams rhyme so okay.
The Order of Service looks good, I'm happy. Now I have the weekend to do the outer cover.
Found some very interesting things! A box of pictures - one of you and Derek - do you have a copy of it? from his visit [to Melbourne] at Christmastime 1997, I believe, in your shop. Will send that if you don't have it. (There were two copies of most of the pictures in that set, but only one of that photo, so you may already have it.) Also the sweetest picture - which will go on the inside back cover, along with a couple of pictures of young Derek, soldier - of Derek crouching opposite, and feeding/petting a baby kangaroo. Sweet. Also found a letter I had written him while he was in Australia, detailing what he was missing in a particular class at Morley College. He was class secretary, and in his absence it was quite chaotic - and someone turned to me and asked when Derek would be back. "Morley doesn't stand if Derek isn't here," he said. "It's like the ravens in the Tower."
Petra White :
Email, July 28, '13
Evening grows dark, the moonlight shines, two hearts are made one in love, holding each other in happiness.
Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)