Monday, September 30, 2013

Reading Octavio Paz. Peter Semolič, Translated by Ana Jelnikar & Kelly Lenox Allan

Reading Octavio Paz
Peter Semolič, Translated by Ana Jelnikar & Kelly Lenox Allan

      Tonight I am sailing down all my rivers, borne by the stream
of words, I sail as I speak, I speak as I sail . . .

. . . rivers, glittering like a child’s laughter, the staccato of rapids, the fast
chutes over cascades, rapturous drops down waterfalls, beads
of water, the sun in each one, and finally the foam, bubbles of air
engulfing me like a great jacuzzi . . .

. . . the river, big brown god, carries me like a slumberous bough through
the height of summer, the buzzing of insects, I sail as I speak,
I speak as I sail, I can see: the blue sky, clouds and fish swimming
across, crabs hiding in treetops, in the green explosion of
joie de vivre, a flock of fry takes wing like startled quails . . .

. . . I can see: Narcissus’ perfect countenance, heavy blocks of Florentine
masonry, arcs of bridges crossed by poetry of transience (Apollinaire)
and by the lines of an epic I am reading . . .

. . . I can see myself in the turning of the seasons, and my love,
sad as a willow, bowing over me, a river, sailing
through winter, through the city de la Tour Unique du grand Gibet et
de la Roue . . .

. . . I am a river, absentmindedly receiving an unhappy lover,
a great poet, and I am not sad when I am stained with blood, and
I am not happy when ice sheets thin away, when I soar into the sky, neither
the dam nor the dyke can touch me . . .

. . . the river, the dark deity from beyond the swampy,
tangled greenery, callous mired deity, my mouth
has a name for you – the Amazon, it calls you the Nile, the Mississippi, my eyes
erect secret cities at your side (Eldorado), I
turn you into Okinawa . . .

. . . two youths, as beautiful as Hyacinthus, atremble in the dewy morning,
gazing at you, lost in themselves, gazing at you, as beautiful as Hyacinthus,
and you, you don't even spare them a glance . . .

      Tonight I am sailing down all my rivers, stars, stars
in the depths below me, tonight I am sailing through myself, I sail as I speak,
I speak as I sail, I sail through myself multiplied into countless
currents, I am a stream against which I sharpen a knife, a wild girl,
hastily making love upon the gravel, cleanses herself in me, my love
reaches into me and tells me River Kolpa and tells me River Rokava and tells me
you cool and unveil the path and tells me, you are ice, ice, ice . . .

. . . I speak and am spoken, I sail and am sailed, I am real
and an illusion, I am water flooding over myself, a swimmer
cutting sharply across the constant currents, the river's slow amble towards the sea,
I am the sea, which is the river of all rivers, I am the sky, which is the sea of all seas...

      Ljubljana, summer 1998:
In the garden of a neighbourhood pub I am reading Octavio Paz, two grey herons flitting to and fro like fine kites beneath a translucent evening sky . . .

. . . the constant roaring of the Ljubljanica by the railings, the river’s
body of light, and in it the big setting sun . . .
. . . from beneath my feet I pick up a stone the size of a child’s fist and
fling it over the fence into the water . . .

. . . don’t read me like a story, read me like concentric rings
on the water . . .

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