Tuesday, June 01, 2010

with deer-shy sensitivity...


"our encounter with nature is an encounter with life, with what is. if anyone knew what art was, it would be intolerable, as if we knew what nature was, that might just be as intolerable. what we meet in nature is its mystery, and in approaching it, a measure of what might be called "shyness" is required... one who depicts nature should advance towards what he wishes to describe with deer-shy sensitivity. it won't do to lock the description into heavy, cumbersome facts."

late-born swarms of flying beings
make their way under leafless trees.
they stop suddenly at places in the lee of the wind
and are seen dancing up and down
where the autumn sun can still warm them.
no one can utter their names or their species
before the fall wind thrusts them out of the year
towards homeless seas of air.

if each one could be called a word,
then a life-language blows away there on the wind.
life and death, the two great squanderers,
play a bold game at night.
uncounted, countless, most of what we see whirls
forever away, permanently dispersed.

(a drawing, quote, and poem by harry martinson - the quote and poem from "wild bouquet: nature poems by harry martinson", the drawing is undated and scrawled with an inscription on the endpaper of my copy of utsikt fran en grastuva)

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Blogger Hanne Katrine said...

A beautiful poem, -do you know more Swedish poets? I will recomend Pär Lagerkvist.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hadn't heard of Martinson - typical anglocentric lack of knowledge of a non-anglo Nobel winner! The drawing is striking - catching the essence of a flower in so few strokes - thanks for sharing your possession (did you ask him to scrawl something in your endpaper or was it there [presumably the former as you know who did it] - when did you meet him?
Are the translations yours (unusually unattributed but then you usually admit your own)

10:08 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

hi hanne, yes i love lagerkvist,one of my favorite writers... unfortunately not many of his poems have appeared in english, which led me to do a project in hommage with his work, you can see it here:

hi jeremy, i would highly highly highly recommend seeking out martinson's views from a tuft of grass, published by green integer. if you search martinson on airforms you will find some things related to sounds in nature. the writings in tufts are incredible. it's one of my favorite books in the world. the drawing was in the book when i found it, martinson died when i was 14, so we never met :-) and i believe the drawing is from the 60's. i know it is his because it is part of a dedication on the endpaper to a friend of his. i'm very grateful for your thinking the translations are mine - the book has three translators but doesn't give specifics for the poems or the longer texts that are part of the introduction, but some of them were done by w.h. auden... martinson also wrote a strange book length poem called aniara about a huge ark/spaceship hurling through space after earth has been destroyed, it's an early ecological sci-fi themed book, also pretty wonderful, though for me, it was the most difficult to get inside of. i forgot the composer's name but there was a piece of classical music made based on the piece that includes electronics, i think from the 70's, but i've never heard it... ok, probably enough martinson geeking out... :-)

10:35 PM  
Blogger Leora Lutz said...

perfect to read today as i do some last minute writing and image collaboration today.

thank you.

2:55 PM  
Blogger rob said...

Brought to mind this Charles Blanc quote, "[The artist] imitates nature not precisely as nature exists, but as he himself exists. . . . Each artist impresses his personal character on his imitations . . . the temperament of the painter modifies the character of things . . . and nature is for him what he wants it to be." Thanks for turning me on to Martinson's writing.

3:03 AM  
Blogger Moon River said...

what a beautiful drawing!

2:59 AM  

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