Friday, 30 May 2008

wings of desire

It's bedtime, and my long hair plaiting tightly -
As though it mattered!- out the window I,
No longer sad, my heart a little lighter,
Stare at the sea, the sandy slopes, the sky.

What power has he, one who will refrain
From asking for so much as tenderness!
I cannot lift my eyelids when my name
He speaks, and am all pain and weariness.

Anna Akhmatova

Soneto XXVII

Desnuda eres tan simple como una de tus manos,
lisa, terrestre, mínima, redonda, transparente,
tienes líneas de luna, caminos de manzana,
desnuda eres delgada como el trigo desnudo.

Desnuda eres azul como la noche en Cuba,
tienes enredaderas y estrellas en el pelo,
desnuda eres enorme y amarilla
como el verano en una iglesia de oro.

Desnuda eres pequeña como una de tus uñas,
curva, sutil, rosada hasta que nace el día
y te metes en el subterráneo del mundo

como en un largo túnel de trajes y trabajos:
tu claridad se apaga, se viste, se deshoja
y otra vez vuelve a ser una mano desnuda.

Pablo Neruda

(Love Sonnet XXVII)
Naked you are simple as one of your hands;
Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round.
You've moon-lines, apple pathways
Naked you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.

Naked you are blue as a night in Cuba;
You've vines and stars in your hair.
Naked you are spacious and yellow
As summer in a golden church.

Naked you are tiny as one of your nails;
Curved, subtle, rosy, till the day is born
And you withdraw to the underground world.

As if down a long tunnel of clothing and of chores;
Your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves,
And becomes a naked hand again.

the rose for him, the perfect one maybe, because it was the only one tamed. tell me nothing of the changeless and the eternal, sings the poet, and her body is a running flame, emerging and flowing off. in the misty mirror, her most precious gift, she tries to see the invisible. her beauty contemplates itself, her being faces the non-being. gold glimmer on her white skin. in the ageless mirror, time is lurking on its knees.

"I'll never make it tonight.
no trapeze in full moon nights.

once again, night falls in my head. Fear. Fear of death.
Why not death?
The only important thing sometimes is just being beautiful

already there is a flutter of wings on the other side of the world.

she doesn't know yet. his gaze, from behind the glass.

oh tell me, why have you changed in the space of a night? what are fifteen seconds when we dance in the space of the mirror, when our time is the time of the world before the world? take the rose, it's for you. hold my hand. I am afraid. the dark reflection. is it you?

the shadow moves, the wings open up, the snow glows, he becomes her mirror.
she thinks that if she wishes hard enough for something it might come true. a child, after all. she lifts her hand, unfolding the rose into the waters of the invisible world. will the hand reach back to her?

on the other side of the mirror, his tired wings, covered with ashes. she holds her breath and tries to listen, to listen hard enough to all the whispers of the earth. before even knowing it, she listens to his silence, flooding her from the backside of the mirror, flowing into her thoughts like a river in dim moonlight. she listens to the death within life, to the life within death. soon enough, the last circus show. where are the clowns, she wonders. where are you? am I alive? is this real? she talks to herself:

"You're not blind yet. Your heart is still beating. And now you're crying".

her fear of nights which are not the sun, of wounds, of frozen cristals, of dying roses, of re-vision, of lances quivering there still today, thousands years after being thrown against the tree. her desire for nights which are not the sun, for skies remembered, for broken shells and praying flesh, for lances quivering there still today, in the thousand-year-old heart of the tree.

what she doesn't know yet, is that on the other side of the mirror:

he is already

out of grace,
heavier and heavier
falling into her
deep down
falling away
from her
a dead star

in her sleep, she moves like a golden ocean. in her dream the longing - only human, after all - for words that have never been spoken before, floating between the moon and the earth:

"Something happened

It is still going on

It binds me

It was true at night, and it's true in the day

Even more so now

Who was who?

Who in the world can claim that he was ever together with another being?

I am together

It happened once

Only once, and therefore forever.

The picture that we have created will be with me when I die.

I will have lived within it."
In her dream, her lips open to a ripe death: is it really you?

In his sleep, he awakes. He sees her hair waving beyond the blue horizon, into the black of the gold, he sees the face that spoke the words. He sees her first and last kiss on the angel's mouth.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

dolls, lances, roses and foxes

One should always be careful when handling a porcelain doll.

Are you a doll?

It doesn't look like I am.

Are you porcelain then?

I guess you shall never know.

But knowing is not everything, didn't we agree to that?

Als das Kind Kind war,

war es die Zeit der folgenden Fragen:

Warum bin ich ich und warum nicht du?

Warum bin ich hier und warum nicht dort?

Wann begann die Zeit und wo endet der Raum?

Ist das Leben unter der Sonne nicht bloß ein Traum?

Ist was ich sehe und höre und rieche

nicht bloß der Schein einer Welt vor der Welt?

Als das Kind Kind war,

warf es einen Stock als Lanze gegen den Baum,

und sie zittert da heute noch.

Peter Handke

When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?

When the child was a child,
It threw a stick like a lance against a tree,
And it quivers there still today.

When the little prince arrived on the Earth, he was very much surprised not to see any people. He was beginning to be afraid he had come to the wrong planet, when a coil of gold, the color of the moonlight, flashed across the sand.

But it happened that after walking for a long time through sand, and rocks, and snow, the little prince at last came upon a road. And all roads lead to the abodes of men.

"Good morning," he said.

He was standing before a garden, all a-bloom with roses.

"Good morning," said the roses.

The little prince gazed at them. They all looked like his flower.

"Who are you?" he demanded, thunderstruck.

"We are roses," the roses said.

And he was overcome with sadness. His flower had told him that she was the only one of her kind in all the universe. And here were five thousand of them, all alike, in one single garden!

"She would be very much annoyed," he said to himself, "if she should see that . . . She would cough most dreadfully, and she would pretend that she was dying, to avoid being laughed at. And I should be obliged to pretend that I was nursing her back to life--for if I did not do that, to humble myself also, she would really allow herself to die. . ."

Then he went on with his reflections: "I thought that I was rich, with a flower that was unique in all the world; and all I had was a common rose. A common rose, and three volcanoes that come up to my knees--and one of them perhaps extinct forever . . . That doesn't make me a very great prince . . ."

And he lay down in the grass and cried.

It was then that the fox appeared.

"Good morning," said the fox.

"Good morning," the little prince responded politely, although when he turned around he saw nothing.

"I am right here," the voice said, "under the apple tree."

"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."

"I am a fox," the fox said.

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."

"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."

"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.

But, after some thought, he added:

"What does that mean--'tame'?"

"You do not live here," said the fox. "What is it that you are looking for?"

"I am looking for men," said the little prince. "What does that mean--'tame'?"

"Men," said the fox. "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"

"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean--'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties."

"'To establish ties'?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ."

"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower . . . I think that she has tamed me . . ."

"It is possible," said the fox. "On the Earth one sees all sorts of things."

"Oh, but this is not on the Earth!" said the little prince.

The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.

"On another planet?"


"Are there hunters on that planet?"


"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"


"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox.

But he came back to his idea.

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . ."

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

"Please--tame me!" he said.

"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . ."

"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.

"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me--like that--in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . ."

The next day the little prince came back.

"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . ."

"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.

"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all."

So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near--

"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."

"It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . ."

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"Then it has done you no good at all!"

"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields." And then he added:

"Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret."

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world."

And the roses were very much embarassed.

"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.

And he went back to meet the fox.

"Goodbye," he said.

"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."

"It is the time I have wasted for my rose--" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . ."

"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


And then the soul is breaking.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Janus Bifrons

El Desdichado

Je suis le ténébreux,- le Veuf, - l'inconsolé,
Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie:
Ma seule étoile est morte, et mon luth constellé
Porte le soleil noir de la Mélancolie.


I am the dark one, the widower, the unconsoled,

The prince of Aquitaine whose tower is destroyed:
My only star is dead, and my constellated lute
Bears the black sun of the Melancholy.

Clown in the Moon
My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.

I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.

Dylan Thomas

Saturday, 24 May 2008

my mind is dazzled

The Ise Shrine Priestess writes:

My mind is dazzled --
Did you come to visit me?
Did I go to you?
Was our night a dream? Reality?
Was I sleeping? Or was I awake?

through the blackest shadow

Narihira answers:

Through the blackest shadow

Of the darkness of the heart I wander
In bewilderment --
You who know the world of love, decide:
Is my love reality or dream?
from Kokinshu

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

the festival of the cherry blossoms (last)

Towards the end of the Second Month, the festival of the cherry blossoms took place in the Grand Hall. The empress and the crown prince were seated to the left and right of the throne. ... It was a beautiful day. The sky was clear, birds were singing. Adepts at Chinese poetry, princes and high courtiers and others, drew lots to fix the rhyme schemes for their poems.

"I have drawn 'spring,'" said Genji, his voice finely resonant in even so brief a statement.

The poems were read. Genji's was so remarkable that the reader paused to comment upon each line. The professors were deeply moved. Since Genji was for the emperor a shining light, the poem could not fail to move him too. As for the empress, she ... reflected on her own misfortune in being so strangely drawn to him.

"Could I see the blossom as other blossoms,
Then would there be no dew to cloud my heart

She recited it silently to herself. How then did it go the rounds and presently reach me?

The festivities ended late in the night. The courtiers went their ways, the empress and the crown prince departed, all was quiet. The moon came out more brightly. ... The third door from the north was open. All was silent. Genji slipped across the gallery and up to the door of the main room and looked inside. Everyone seemed to be asleep.

"'What can compare with a misty moon of spring?'"

It was a sweet young voice, so delicate that its owner could be no ordinary serving woman.
She came (could he believe it?) to the door. Delighted, he caught at her sleeve.

"Who are you?" She was frightened.

"There is nothing to be afraid of.

"Late in the night we enjoy a Misty moon.

There is nothing misty about the bond between us.

Quickly and lightly he lifted her down to the gallery and slid the door closed.

Monday, 19 May 2008

The moon in the first suggestions of daylight was very beautiful. The cherry blossoms were past their prime, and the light through the few that remained flooded the garden silver. Everything faded together into a gentle mist, sadder and more moving than on a night in autumn. Genji sat for a time leaning against the railing at a corner of the veranda. The sapling cherry he had planted the year before sent out a scattering of blossoms, the air was soft and warm, and memories flooded back, bringing him often to tears.

all excerpts from Genji Monogatari (Murasaki Shikibu)

Friday, 16 May 2008

the cherry blossoms river - Sakuragawa (2)

VILLAGER: Yes, well, there is a way to spark her madness. If one tells her that the flowers are falling at Sakuragawa she goes crazy. I shall drive her mad for you to see.

HEAD PRIEST: Do so quickly!

VILLAGER: As you wish. (facing front) Oh no! How terrible! A sudden mountain wind has come to scatter the blossoms at Sakuragawa.

MOTHER: The evening wind of Yûyama bespeaks my helplessness as it summons the blossoms from deep in the mountains. I must catch them before they float away!

She enters the main stage as the Villager is seated again.

HEAD PRIEST: Why yes indeed, there I see the mountain wind as it courses through the branches of the trees.

MOTHER: The blossom-laden waters look

HEAD PRIEST: As waves cloaked in white fallen from above

MOTHER: of cherry blossoms

HEAD PRIEST: or snow

MOTHER: Are they waves?

HEAD PRIEST: Or are they flowers?

MOTHER: These buoyant clouds

HEAD PRIEST: in the breeze by the river

MOTHER: they scatter, like waves on Sakuragawa
They scatter, these waves on Sakuragawa.
But I shall catch the drowning blossoms.

CHORUS: Indeed, "Are we to call them clouded?

These waters which were for so many years
A mirror for the flowers
That now lay scattered there?"
And even we who know so well
That flowers fall and turn to dust
We too are nothing but dreams, fleeting
Like the flowers that we would pity so,
Like the flowers in that old poem, that
"Fall aimlessly from the branch
And turn to pitiful foam
On the water's surface"
We, ignorant of our own fate
Relish the sight of white waves of flowers,
Envious of the myriad birds at play among the blossoms
As if their fate weren't also fleeting.
Moved by the mists
And saddened by the dew
Such are our hearts.

all excerpts from Sakuragawa (The Cherry Blossoms River), a Noh play by Zeami
translation by Keith Vincent

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

mountain cherry blossoms (1)

On that far mountain
On the slope below the peak
Cherries are in flower.
Oh, let the mountain mists
Not arise to hide the scene.

Oe no Masafusa

This life of ours would not cause you sorrow
if you thought of it as like
the mountain cherry blossoms
which bloom and fade in a day.

Murasaki Shikibu

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

When they bloom they fall
When they do not bloom we yearn
For mountain cherry flowers . . .

(anonymus, early Japanese Poetry)

Monday, 12 May 2008


Susan Kruse, a wonderful artist, decided to give away her works, in a splendid gesture of joy and freedom. She chose something for me, something she thought I would love above all, something so simple and yet essential in my floating world. The tea bowl. She wanted me to have her tea bowl, the beauty and the silence reflected on the bridge between me and the other. Preparing and serving tea is the calm embrace of love.

She also sent me this shell. On the shell, it's written: the tide withdraws leaving cowries and our minds filled to overflowing. Untranslatable into words, the richness and yet lightness of the spirals, the frailty of the human touch bestowing sense upon life and world. Gentle, who took these pictures for me, saw the shell floating on bird wings towards light. She also saw the broken shell, the wound each one of us carries inside forever. Also the wound helping us to be. Our overflowing being, until we disappear in the immense, more and more free, as the poet sings for all of us, the silent, the searching ones.

Friday, 9 May 2008

softly waving

softly waving
the heart wondering

is it the river
is it me
containing the river

is it the flow
containing me
containing the river

Thursday, 8 May 2008

im Gewitter der Rosen

Wohin wir uns wenden im Gewitter der Rosen,
ist die Nacht von Dornen erhellt, und der Donner
des Laubs, das so leise war in den Büschen,
folgt uns jetzt auf dem Fuß.

Wo immer gelöscht wird, was die Rosen entzünden,
schwemmt Regen uns in den Fluß. O fernere Nacht!
Doch ein Blatt, das uns traf, treibt auf den Wellen
bis zur Mündung uns nach.

Ingeborg Bachmann, Im Gewitter der Rosen
Wherever we turn in the storm of roses,
the night is lit up by thorns, and the thunder
of leaves, once so quiet within the bushes,
rumbling at our heels.

Wherever the fire of roses is extinguished,
rain washes us into the river. O distant night!
Yet a leaf, which once touched us, follows us on waves
towards the rivers' mouth.

In the Storm of the Roses,
translated by Peter Filkins

Où que nous allions sous l’orage de roses
la nuit est éclairée d’épines, et le tonnerre
du feuillage, naguère si faible dans les buissons,
est maintenant sur nos talons.

Où toujours on éteint ce qu’enflamment les roses
la pluie au fleuve nous emporte. Ô nuit plus lointaine !
Une feuille pourtant, qui nous toucha, sur les ondes dérive
derrière nous jusqu’à l’embouchure

Dans l'orage des roses,
Traduit de l’allemand par Francoise Retif

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

toco tu boca

Toco tu boca, con un dedo toco el borde de tu boca, voy dibujándola como si saliera de mi mano, como si por primera vez se entreabriera, y me basta cerrar los ojos para deshacerlo todo y recomenzar, hago nacer cada vez la boca que deseo … y que por un azar que no busco comprender coincide exactamente con tu boca que sonríe por debajo de la que mi mano te dibuja.

Julio Cortázar, Rayuela (Capítulo 7)

I touch your mouth, I touch the edge of your mouth with my finger, I am drawing it as though it sprang forth from my hand, as if your mouth opened slightly for the first time, and it is enough to close my eyes to undo it all and begin anew, each time I make the mouth that I desire … and that by some chance I don't seek to understand coincides exactly with the mouth that smiles beneath the one my hand draws on you.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

show me your face

Show me your face
said he
Stand before me
your fear wounded
by my sun-heavy bow
Bend down your beauty
said he
Don't hide, it's no use
Red will ripen
Your hair will bleed
through the skin of the tree

I suddenly saw the time
like a raven upon his heart

Saturday, 3 May 2008


hair cannot possibly bear fruit
said he
red fruit even less
hair cannot possibly fly
said he
when the clouds are moist and heavy
even less

I suddenly wished the rain
upon his lips

Friday, 2 May 2008

tree of mystery

The sacred tree, the sacred stone are not adored as stone or tree;
they are worshipped precisely because they are hierophanies,
because they show something that is no longer stone or tree but sacred,
the 'ganz andere' or 'wholly other.'

Mircea Eliade, Myths, Dreams and Mysteries

Hear the voice of the Bard,
Who present, past, and future, sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walked among the ancient tree

William Blake

Thursday, 1 May 2008


and then the day came when I had to give up change and started to multiply instead. overpowered by the dazzling infinity of my face, you wept, vanquished and softly tired. the liquorice-scented air and many a broken god between us.