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My translation of Peter Handke’s Gedicht an die Dauer is the first English translation of the poem, published in German in 1986.
Philip Baber instigated the translation, edited and designed the book. It is part of his Cannon Magazine project and can be ordered at their website.
A couple of pages here.
The poem is strikingly simple, I thought again last night as I read it in this new form. Simple and profound. It is remarkably personal for a writer whose plays and novels and essays draw heavily from his own experience but do so in the third person or from some formal narrative distance. This is a philosophical poem, that rarest sort of philosophy: personal and poetic philosophy.
When the already eclipsed moon slips out of the shadow of the mountain that rises abruptly to the east of where I sit on our deck with my companions Blue and Bella (Lyn is in Fairbanks, Alaska and has shoveled 7 inches of snow today from her sister’s long driveway), I can hear Neil Young’s “because I’m still in love with you . . . on this harvest moon” in my mind and I think “one of these days I’m gonna sit down and write a long letter to all the good friends I have known, and it won’t be long, won’t be long.”
The moon rises in the V between two peaks, still occluded, not bloody red like I had been led to expect but more orange. We should call this a pumpkin moon, I think, but that is more Charlie Brown than apocalyptic and what’s the fun in that?
My son Sam texts that we have made a mistake and should all be together for the portentous even and I reply that we’re better spread out so some may survive and he says he’s going to make a bacon sacrifice and I tell him bacon isn’t kosher and doesn’t he have a lamb?
I raise my glass to the moon as it starts to lighten around the bottom left edge, sniff the peaty smoke lifting off the Laphroaig single malt Lyn gave me for my birthday, sip the sharp and mellow distillation from the Isle of Islay and think the scent and the taste and the sight of the dark moon are a single complex body.
A car has stopped on Oak Drive, maybe 100 yards below where I sit. The driver doesn’t know, I surmise, how sound travels in this elbow of the mountains, and she talks to someone on her phone while her lights burn through the scrub oak and I hear her explain that “Heavenly Father doesn’t . . .” and I can’t make out the rest although the conversation continues.
My son Nate texts: “Speaking of blood moons, Ellie’s belly just went through the new moon phase and is moving toward full” Sam texts “Does that mean she’s pregnant?!!” And I ask “Pregnant under a blood moon?”
Nate confirms all our suppositions and I think I’m lucky to be a father and grandfather and my son Joe texts “God Bless the Moon / and God Bless me, / And God Bless the / one that I can’t see” and I add to the glow with another sip of the rare whiskey and Blue stirs and Bella climbs on my lap and the woman below quits talking and puts her car in gear and drives down off the mountain and with the moon more than half lit I turn in.
Richard Gate took this photo from his deck while I gazed through binoculars and tried to get my own photos with a cellphone. White blur after white blur. Thanks Rick.
Zarko just sent the catalogue for the show, featuring our discussion with Nina over good Greek food. Click on the pages for larger images.
From Amsterdam, Phil Baber has just sent a photo of our joint project, a translation of Peter Handke’s Gedicht an die Dauer. Can’t wait to to touch, see, and smell the book itself.
If you would like a copy, you can order the book HERE
Flowerville has some beautiful photographs of the book HERE (her book didn’t have to cross the Atlantic!)
There are lunar eclipses of the sun. Last night there was a filial eclipse of the Sonosopher, Alex Caldiero.
The event was the TV broadcast of stages 2, 3, and 4 of American Ninja Warrior. Isaac Caldiero, Alex’s son, was one of the finalists. This is the seventh year of the competition and no one had ever finished the course. Last night there were two finishers. Isaac made the last climb faster than the other man, Geoff Britten, and won the prize: $1,000,000.
HERE is a link to the last two stages.
What an athlete Isaac is. I once commented to Alex that, given Alex’s pronounced non-athletic lifestyle (he does all his physical training with a pen and notebook in hand), Isaac is no chip off the old block.
Au contraire, Alex replied. When I was growing up in Brooklyn I was one of the best ‘builderers’ in the neighborhood. We climbed buildings as sport. And I was damned good at it.
[photo from THIS SITE]
… lunch with Alex today. He claimed there was no eclipse involved, that Isaac had always been the more famous member of the family.
Today in the New York Times, for Simon Critchley’s piece on whether a grand theory of everything is possible or necessary or even interesting, Tucker Nichols created this image that explains my mind/body perfectly: