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Dream Song 29

January 21, 2012

This is, for those of you who have not been paying attention, the third Saturday of January. What a sunny one it is.
Are you getting the hang of 2012 yet? How are those resolutions going? Well? Oh, not so well? Never mind, you can redeem the whole month if you read us a poem. Pick a good one, record it, send to jenny at peoplereadingpoems dot org; lay back and bask in your achievements. Go on, do.
Asim Khan did such a thing, giving us a great reading of Dream Song 29 by John Berryman. It is below, and thank you to him.


In Warsaw

January 18, 2012

Hello, and welcome to a brand new year of people reading poems! James Savage-Hanford is going to start us off with a poem by Czesław Miłosz called W Warszawie. It’s a bitter and reluctant lament, written in Poland in 1945, and James has sent us a wonderful reading:


I really do urge you to listen to this one through, even – especially – if you’ve never heard Polish poetry before; even if (like me) you can’t understand a lick of Polish. I suppose I’d echo what Jenny once said about good poetry communicating before it is understood. Eliot’s quote seems particularly appropriate to poetry from unfamiliar languages. What is inaccessible on the page can be nonetheless beautiful or moving or both when you hear it; and Polish is a particularly beautiful language.

And furthermore, to help us, James has provided both the original text and his own translation, which I have included below, in one of the great html formatting challenges of my young life.

W Warszawie

Co czynisz na gruzach katedry
Świętego Jana, poeto,
W ten ciepły, wiosenny dzień?

Co myślisz tutaj, gdzie wiatr
Od Wisły wiejąc rozwiewa
Czerwony pył rumowiska?

Przysięgałeś, że nigdy nie będziesz
Płaczką żałobną.
Przysięgałeś, że nigdy nie dotkniesz
Ran wielkich swego narodu,
Aby nie zmienić ich w świętość,
Przeklętą świętość, co ściga
Przez dalsze wieki potomnych.

Ale ten płacz Antygony,
Co szuka swojego brata,
To jest zaiste nad miarę
Wytrzymałości. A serce
To kamień, w którym jak owad
Zamknięta jest ciemna miłość
Najnieszczęśliwszej ziemi.

Nie chciałem kochać tak,
Nie było to moim zamiarem.
Nie chciałem litować się tak,
Nie było to moim zamiarem.
Moje pióro jest lżejsze
Niż pióro kolibra. To brzemię
Nie jest na moje siły.
Jakże mam mieszkać w tym kraju,

Gdzie noga potrąca o kości
Nie pogrzebane najbliższych?
Słyszę głosy, widzę uśmiechy.
Nic napisać, bo pięcioro rąk
Chwyta mi moje pióro
I każe pisać ich dzieje,
Dzieje ich życia i śmierci.
Czyż na to jestem stworzony,
By zostać płaczką żałobną?
Ja chcę opiewać festyny,
Radosne gaje, do których
Wprowadzał mnie Szekspir. Zostawcie
Poetom chwilę radości,
Bo zginie wasz świat.

Szaleństwo tak żyć bez uśmiechu
I dwa powtarzać wyrazy
Zwrócone do was, umarli,
Do was, których udziałem
Miało być wesele
Czynów myśli i ciała, pieśni, uczt.
Dwa ocalone wyrazy:
Prawda i sprawiedliwość.

Kraków, 1945

In Warsaw

What are you doing here, poet, midst the ruins of
Saint John’s cathedral,
On this warm, spring day?

What are you pondering here, where the wind
sweeping from the Vistula scatters
Red dust from the rubble?

You swore, you would never become a
Ritual mourner.
You swore, you would never touch
The gaping wounds of your nation,
Never make them holy with the
Accursed holiness that races
Through the lives of generations hence.

But the cry of Antigone,
Seeking her brother,
Is verily beyond the bounds
Of endurance. And the heart
Is a stone, in which is enclosed,
Like an insect, the doleful love
Of a most unhappy land.

I did not want to love so,
That was not my intent.
I did not want to pity so,
That was not my intent.
My pen is lighter
Than a hummingbird’s feather. This burden
Is too great for me to bear.
How can I live in this country,

Where one’s foot knocks against
The unburied bones of kindred?
I hear voices, I imagine smiles. I am unable
To write anything; five hands
Seize my pen
And demand I write their story,
The story of their lives and deaths.
Was I created for this,
To become a ritual mourner?
I want to rhapsodize about carnivals,
Radiant orchards, to which
Shakespeare drew me. Allow
Poets a moment of happiness,
Or else your world will perish.

It’s mad living in such misery
And reciting the two words
Ascribed to you, deceased,
You, whose lives
Were supposed to be a celebration
Of the mind and body, songs, banquets.
Two lasting words:
Truth and justice.

Krakow, 1945

New Year and New Poems!

January 11, 2012

Happy 2012 to all of you people – people who, I imagine, wish they were reading poems.

 

Well, good news! This site is active and running again, and we are looking forward to new readings from old and new visitors alike.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Does Heaney make you happy? Does Don Paterson fill you with delight? Do you perspire over Pope or rejoice in Rimbaud?

Then we want to know!

Put on your best reading voice, choose a poem, and read it to us.

Just email the file to jenny@peoplereadingpoems.org, and you can begin your ascendence to performative stardom!

It really is an invaluable resource for those who love listening to poetry, for gaining a fresh perspective on a work, and for being introduced to new ones.

We look forward to hearing from you very much!

 

The Day

December 21, 2010

As you can see, PRP just took another long break – I can only give as an excuse the very tiring end to my first semester in France.  However, I have certainly not forgotten you altogether, and am very pleased to present this poem by Don Paterson, read by Alice Tarbuck.


Talking In Bed

November 4, 2010

This poem by Philip Larkin recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Thanks to Gareth Burgess for reading it here:


Prometheus

October 31, 2010

This is one of my very favourite poems in German.  It’s by Goethe, and Louisa Unsin has brought out the rebellious spirit of Sturm und Drang in her interpretation.  Words below as ever.


Read more…

Warming Her Pearls

October 21, 2010

This gorgeous poem by Carol Ann Duffy is going to be discussed in my English Poetry class tomorrow.  I can’t wait, and in the meantime I thought I’d share Alice Tarbuck’s recording of it.


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