Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Notes on the poem I just posted

If anyone sees a book by Nooteboom in local bookstores, please let me know? Can't find him anywhere and English translations of his work in cyberspace elude me.

I like the rhythm of This Is How It Could Be, how it transforms from a narrative prose into a haiku-like stack of words.

There are various motifs occurring within this very short poem, too. For example, there's a descending motion throughout: the raindrops, the plane, the bottom of a dream, the mailman retreating down the hill, and finally the form of the poem itself mirrors this. There are also references to units of time in the form of raindrops, moments, letters, words - by which we measure life.

And, there is that wonderful phrase, "the fat of time" - time fattens itself at our expense.

I was reminded of that famous passage from The Tempest when I first read this poem:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Discovering Cees Nooteboom

"Zo kon het zijn" door Cees Nooteboom

Maar hoe helder zijn je idee├źn dan,
vroeg de postman. Op dat ogenblik
verduisterde de hemel,
maar dat had er niets mee te maken,
dat gaat hier altijd zo,
van het ene ogenblik op het andere.

Dat wordt regen, zei hij, en zo was het.
Dikke druppels. Achter hem zag ik de baai,
een vliegtuig loodzwaar in wolken,
langzaam. Het landde.

Waar blijven zulke secondes?
Hoeveel geruis kan worden gemist?
Welke gesprekken kunnen niet worden
verpulverd tegen de tijdmuur, in een gebrek
aan geheugen, ergens onderaan
in een droom?

Fictie, een huis op een heuvel,
de psalm van de regen, pagina zes,
postbode, afdaling, heuvelpad,
de vergetelheid in,
de zijne, de mijne,
het spek van de tijd,

zoals iemand een bladzij omslaat
zonder te hebben gelezen,

alles geschreven voor niets.


"This is how it could be" by Cees Nooteboom
Translated from Dutch

But then, are your ideas so clear
the mailman asked. Just at that moment
the sky darkened,
but that was another matter,
things around here happen that way,
from one moment to the next.

That means rain, he said, and it did.
Big drops. Behind him I could see the bay,
a plane leaden in the clouds,
slow. It landed.

Where do such seconds go?
How much rustling can be missed?
Which conversations cannot be
pulverized against the time-wall, in a lapse
of memory, somewhere at the bottom
of a dream?

Fiction, a house on a hill,
the psalm of rain, page six,
mailman, descent, downward path
into oblivion,
his, mine,
the fat of time

as someone might turn a page
without having read,

all written for nothing.

[From Captain of the Butterflies]