Wednesday, October 7, 2015

William Faulkner says

A small voice, a sound sensitive lady poet of the time of my youth said the scattered tea goes with the leaves and every day a sunset dies: a poet’s extravagance which as quite often mirrors truth but upside down and backward since the mirror’s unwitting manipulator busy in his preoccupation has forgotten that the back of it is glass too: because if they only did, instead of which yesterday’s sunset and yesterday’s tea both are inextricable from the scattered indestructible uninfusable grounds blown through the endless corridors of tomorrow, into the shoes we will have to walk in and even the sheets we will have (or try) to sleep between: because you escape nothing, you flee nothing; the pursuer is what is doing the running and tomorrow night is nothing but one long sleepless wrestle with yesterday’s omission and regrets.

1 comment:

  1. The "sound sensitive lady poet of the time of my youth" was actually Faulkner's contemporary, Djuna Barnes, who wrote "To the Dead Favourite of Liu Ch’e" (a reference to the man who was also known as Han Wu Di [156-87 BCE], the 6th emperor of the Han dynasty in China):

    The sound of rustling silk is stilled,
    With solemn dust the court is filled,
    No footfalls echo on the floor;
    A thousand leaves stop up her door,
    Her little golden drink is spilled. 5

    Her painted fan no more shall rise
    Before her black barbaric eyes—
    The scattered tea goes with the leaves.
    And simply crossed her yellow sleeves;
    And every day a sunset dies.

    Her birds no longer coo and call,
    The cherry blossoms fade and fall,
    Nor ever does her shadow stir,
    But stares forever back at her,
    And through her runs no sound at all.

    And bending low, my falling tears
    Drop fast against her little ears,
    And yet no sound comes back, and I
    Who used to play her tenderly
    Have touched her not a thousand years.

    For her part, Barnes herself was responding to "Liu Ch'e," a translation of a Chinese poem by the great 20th century poet Ezra Pound, when he regarded the emperor as a fellow imagist:

    The rustling of the silk is discontinued,
    Dust drifts over the court-yard,
    There is no sound of foot-fall, and the leaves
    Scurry into heaps and lie still,
    And she the rejoicer of the heart is beneath them:

    A wet leaf that clings to the threshold.

    (So, in this mirroring of images from Wu Di to Pound to Barnes to Faulker, we can indeed reflect on the backward upsidedown-ness of the poets' truth.)


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