Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Poem on Poetry

I haven't written many new poems since I finished my Masters last spring.  My brain just needed a break after several intense years of work on a collection of poems.  But lately, I've picked up my favorite pen again and started bleeding on the page.

Because that's what it's like, writing poems.  It's this equality of love and loathing that churns out something that's never quite finished.

I think that's why I love the poem below so much.  I took a translation course my final semester of grad school and translated this poem from Polish (with the help of some very talented Polish-speakers).  Though the author intended it to be about translating poetry, I feel it translates well (pardon me there--I had to do it) to the writing of poetry as well.

On Translating Poetry
By Zbigniew herbert
Translated From the Polish

Like a drunken bumblebee
he sits on a flower
until its slender stem droops
he bobbles into its ordered petals
like the pages of a dictionary
he struggles toward the center
where scent and sweetness live
and although he is weak
and lacks taste
he seeks
until his head bumps
the sunny pistil

He’s already at the end
it’s too difficult to pierce
through the flower’s cup
to reach the roots
so he struts off proudly
and loudly buzzes:
I was in the middle

to those who don’t believe
he shows his nose
dusted with pollen

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