* living, dreaming & apples

Between living and dreaming
there is a third thing.
Guess it.

— Antonio Machado

I look at this quote and see much of the poetic craft summed up in it.

There is the living of everyday life – work, chores, relationships, food, tying your shoelaces – all the things that make up routine, the background to who we are.

Then there’s dreaming – both the idealizing of the future as well as the literal act of what is seen when we sleep.  The unspoken times.

Between these two things – the background and the unspoken – we do our best to do the guessing that Machado encourages.

*manzananza*
*manzananza*

In the poem below, Jay Leeming takes an everyday thing – in this case, an apple – and pushes it into dream.  The image of the apple’s core as a “little room” is a guess towards what the act of eating an apple suggests beyond the everyday.  You get the usual connotations of Adam and Eve, the Fall – but there’s something more to it.

The turn for me here is at the end, how the poem leaves you with enough image to keep on talking inside of you.  Just watch what happens when you get to the powerful compound word “tear-shaped.”

Apple – Jay Leeming **

Sometimes when eating an apple
I bite too far
and open the little room
the lovers have prepared,
and the seeds fall
onto the kitchen floor
and I see
that they are tear-shaped.

***

Happy appling!

Jose

p.s.  Jay Leeming is also the editor of Rowboat: Poetry in Translation, a great journal you can find out more about here.

* photo found here.

** published in the book Dynamite on a China Plate, The Backwaters Press.

* translation 3/3 on the friday influence

(from Proverbios y Cantares – Antonio Machado) *

XXXII.

Oh faith of meditation!

Oh faith after deep thought!

When a heart returns to earth,

the human cup overflows, and the sea swells.

***

This week, The Friday Influence presents the work of the great Spanish poet Antonio Machado.

I first ran across the above poem during my first trip to Powell’s in Portland two years ago.  I spied Machado’s Poesias Completas on the shelf and immediately flipped through to these lines.

I was moved by the tension between the mind and the senses implied in these lines.  I mean, that’s what it’s like to be overwhelmed, to be interrupted and taken from thought to body.  The sea swells!  I fell in love and took the book home with me.

I see in these lines the days when I am so focused on the page that to be taken away or distracted hurts – mainly it makes me fussy.  Phil Levine once said: when a poem comes, the phone can wait, the knock at the door can wait, it all can wait.  Ignore it.  I respect the necessity for that kind of attention.  I figure: it’s my poetry – if I don’t make time for it and give it the attention it deserves, who will?

I believe this is a shade of what Keats meant when he spoke of the poet as being “the most unpoetical of any thing in existence.”

***

I have enjoyed this three part stint of translating.  I guess four, if you count my riffing around with Goethe.

For this week’s post, I collaborated with Andrea Schreiber, a self-styled polyglot and linguist with a true love of language.  She is also my girlfriend.  Meaning, she puts up with me when I get fussy.  And she has seen Machado’s Spain, the roads he saw, the sea…  She helped steer my translations towards the spirit of the poems.  I thank her.

Here are a few more from Machado:

XXI.

Last night I dreamed that I saw

God and that I spoke with God;

and dreamed that God listened…

later I dreamed I had dreamed.

XXVIII.

Everyone has two

battles to fight:

in dreams, you wrestle with God;

awake, with the sea.

XLI.

It is common knowledge that cups

are used for drinking;

Sadly, it is unknown

what use we have for thirst.

XLIV.

Everything moves on, and everything stays;

it is our lot to move on,

move on making roads,

roads over the sea.

XLV.

To die…and fall like a drop

of ocean back to the ocean?

Or, be what I never could be:

a man, without shadow, without dreams,

a man that goes forward

without roads, without mirrors?

***

Happy forwarding!

J

* all poems translated by Jose Angel Araguz and Andrea Schreiber.  (word to your late night conversations!)