not a pretty picture. not a good. not a bad. picture. but an argument.

Monday, February 9, 2015

the angel handed me a book


The Angel Handed Me a Book by Paul Valéry (translated by Carolyn Forché)

Placing a book in my hands, the angel said, “It holds all you would wish to know.” And he vanished.
    So I opened the book, which wasn’t thick.
    It was written in an unknown alphabet.
    Scholars translated it, but produced very different versions.
    They disagreed even about their own readings, agreeing neither upon the tops or bottoms of them, nor the beginnings, nor the ends.
    Toward the close of this vision, it seemed to me that the book
melted, until it could no longer be told apart from the world that surrounds us.


8 comments:

  1. Interesting poem that seems to hint at culture context of interpretation... I have a book of poems by Carolyn Forche', the translator. Oh, and I like your photo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sage, i'm curious what you mean by cultural interpretation. are you suggesting that the translator has swayed the meaning of the original poem? i'm only familiar with this version and am not able enough in french to manage myself. (and i wonder now of Forché's own poetry...)

      Delete
  2. Can we agree about this image? Without consulting scale it could be a colony of white seals, basking upon one another, mountain ranges being born, the surface of creme caramel after being tapped with a spoon. What do you see?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, amanda, we can agree to be fooled. (i couldn't help but think of lemon meringue pie and so smiled at your creme caramel:) but very seriously this is why the photo means anything to me. for me it is possibility. meaning might emerge or fall back at any point, its body not as relevant as whatever it is that moves into it.

      Delete
  3. love your wintry capture but to me it spoke also of a baron landscape of what it must have been when first the book was written

    gracias

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i suppose, nene, the barren aspect of the world must always be contended with. it lurks, doesn't it. i guess i move along the scale of being in wonder of it, to sometimes being afraid of it. perhaps you too(?) i had considered bringing a jaccottet quote to this because it seemed obvious, a moment when he considers absolute barrenness in terms of ice or cold. i'm not sure if it is the day that i am in or the day that is in me, but i don't feel that fear with this particular photo. i can't be sure why. perhaps it is only projection. it was such a pure moment for me to stand before (inside) this quiet immensity. there was so much variation in form and light. i was breathless. it seemed infinite.

      Delete

"Words at the limit of hearing, attributable to no one, received in the conch of the ear like dew by a leaf." (philippe jaccottet) or even a quiet presence is appreciated))