Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Looking, Walking, Being

I look and look.
Looking's a way of being: one becomes,
sometimes, a pair of eyes walking.
Walking wherever looking takes one.

The eyes
dig and burrow into the world.
They touch
fanfare, howl, madrigal, clamor.
World and the past of it,
not only
visible present, solid and shadow
that looks at one looking.

And language? Rhythms
of echo and interruption?
a way of breathing.

breathing to sustain
walking and looking,
through the world,
in it.

Denise Levertov

I shudder even now how everything
turns into syllables and prefixes when I write
and read, and spine after spine on the shelves
into books
four letters reduce a life to a single word and eight, no seven
speak of a century and
fates need even fewer letters
just one is all it takes for us to know
whether someone frowned or drowned
o this brevity of language that just can’t get it

Walther Petri
Listen to Thomas Kling read his poems:

If there are any graduate students in German literature out there, start translating his collected poetry into English.


Bill Gusky said...

Beautiful, Levertov's take on eyes. Like shovels and wailing mouths. Is there an intended link with the photographs that I should be aware of?

Martin Walker said...

There are reasons - as I mentioned in a previous note on the poem *Historienbild* Oct 2005, which *was* translatable - why Kling hasn't been (or very little) translated: his way with the German language is so idiomatic, a very special poetic genius would be needed, not the kind of sloppy translationese that passes for translation nowadays or dull avuncular Englishings like Heaney's of Beowulf.