Sunday, August 21, 2011

Stephen Dobyns

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From Velocities.

1 comment:

  1. Modest, organized friend, underground worker, let me give you the wing of my song, the thrust of the air, the soaring of my ode: it is born of your invisible machinery, it flies from your tireless confined mill, delicate powerful entrail, ever alive and dark.
    While the heart resounds and attracts the music of the mandolin, there, inside, you filter and apportion, you separate and divide, you multiply and lubricate, you raise and gather the threads and the grams of life, the final distillate, the intimate essences.

    Submerged viscus, measurer of the blood, you live full of hands and full of eyes, measuring and transferring in your hidden alchemical chamber.

    Yellow is the matrix of your red hydraulic flow, diver of the most perilous depths of man, there forever hidden, everlasting in the factory, noiseless.

    And every feeling or impulse grew in your machinery, received some drop of your tireless elaboration, to love you added fire or melancholy, let one tiny cell be in error or one fiber be worn in your labor and the pilot flies into the wrong sky, the tenor collapses in a wheeze, the astronomer loses a planet.

    Up above, how the bewitching eyes of the rose and the lips of the matinal carnation sparkle!

    How the maiden in the river laughs!

    And down below, the filter and the balance, the delicate chemistry of the liver, the storehouse of the subtle changes: no one sees or celebrates it, but, when it ages or its mortar wastes away, the eyes of the rose are gone, the teeth of the carnation wilted and the maiden silent in the river.

    Austere portion or the whole of myself, grandfather of the heart, generator of energy: I sing to you and I fear you as though you were judge meter, implacable indicator, and if I can not surrender myself in shackles to austerity, if the surfeit of delicacies, or the hereditary wine of my country dared to disturb my health or the equilibrium of my poetry, from you, dark monarch, giver of syrups and of poisons, regulator of salts, from you I hope for justice: I love life: Do not betray me! Work on!

    Do not arrest my song.

    Pablo Neruda
    Translation by Oriana Josseau Kalant, 1975
    Ode to my liver