Friday, July 1, 2016

the bare heels of my aunt

"About the Gravel of the Earth"

          ...and the sergeant bellowed: You are the gravel of the Earth. And when the gravel comes to the end, where shall the Express between Sofia and Burgas travel, bellowed the sergeant. After that he slapped one, two on the neck and again: Have no fear, he bellowed, the gravel will never come to an end...And it is likely it never came to an end.
          (Memoirs of the Meto Pioneers, in the train, shortly before Chirpan)

From the gravel between the rails I'm speaking
from the filthy stones under the train
from the rusty stones
from those things that forever remain beneath
from their lost landscapes
their worn edges
from those things which never
will be praised by anyone
from those things which the camera doesn't capture
from gravel, all full
of piss from the herd
from gravel
         from gravel
from gravel
         between the rails
and Grandfather has never seen the sea
from gravel
         from gravel
three packs of cigarettes for my father
from gravel
         from gravel
my mother cooked the summer down
behind the block into canning jars
from gravel
         from gravel
the bare heels of my aunt
every evening she ran away from the house
and on the rails climbed the ladder to Heaven
from gravel
         from gravel
from gravel
         between the rails

Another Georgi Gospodinov poem in my translation from the German, from his book Kleines morgendliches Verbrechen. I don't know the story of the Meto Pioneers. This little post is part of Thomas Hubner's Bulgarian Literature Month. The month is over in a couple of hours, so this is likely the last of these translations from Mr Gospodinov's fine little book.

6 comments:

  1. Curious! We need notes. Well, the Chirpan Heights are east of Plovdiv... that tells little to me! Чирпан. A little town in the Chirpan Highlands... Home to that tragic figure, poet Peyo Yavorov. Still gets me nowhere...

    Anaphora and epiphora. Or symploce, I suppose. Somehow I am feeling inspired to learn (to remember for more than five minutes) the rhetorical terms. To know them from gravel.

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    1. Yes, I need a critical edition of the poems. Or of this poem, anyway.

      I had to look up those terms. I think you mean epistrophe for epiphora? Epiphora is a wonderful word, an overflow of tears; I'm going to use it soon in some bit of writing, I don't know which.

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    2. Hmm, I thought anaphora was repetition at the start of lines, epiphora at the end--and symploce when you have both. Oh, I get it. Epistrophe is just another name for epiphora.

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    3. Google and I are stupid. I only saw the medical term, not the other uses from rhetoric and logic. I really should have remembered the use of epiphora in syllogisms. Were I younger, I'd be embarrassed.

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  2. I like that all the froms retain the initial f of the German. In the original Bulgarian, I suppose "from gravel" is ot chakul, and if you repeat that phrase you get something like the rhythm of train wheels: ot chakul, ot chakul, ot chakul. I'm guessing.

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    1. Mmm, I've done that very same thing--use sound for an accelerating train. Great sounds for it in the Bulgarian.

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