Friday 28 September 2018

Erik Gustaf Geijer: 'Ensam i bräcklig farkost'

På nyårsdagen 1838

Ensam i bräcklig farkost vågar
seglaren sig på det vida hav,
stjärnvalvet över honom lågar,
nedanför brusar hemskt hans grav.
Framåt! så är hans ödes bud,
och i djupet bor som uti himlen Gud. 

On New Year’s Day 1838

His vessel frail, the lonely seaman dares
to venture out upon the mighty wave,
the firmament of stars above him flares,
beneath him the dread roaring of his grave.
His destiny’s behest is: Onward ply!
and God dwells in the depths as in the sky.

Thursday 27 September 2018

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Part 2 of Klaus Høeck's 'Metamorphoses' (1983) (Byron)


If thou regrett’st thy youth, why live?
The land of honourable death
Is here: – up to the field, and give
Away thy breath!

Seek out – less often sought than found –
A soldier’s grave, for thee the best;
Then look around, and choose thy ground,
And take thy rest.


Tired of general assemblies, tired of
     consultants, tired of the colour
     white I took flight number OY 621
To Athens. At the airport I could see
The aircraft standing on the cement like
     a blue dragon or a fallen angel
     that had got its wings slightly soot
Ed in its fall. I didn’t drink any export
Beer in the departure lounge cafeteria
     or buy any cigarettes. Once on
Board I fastened my safety belt and
     concentrated my thoughts on the pil
Grimage to the dreadful
     Caput Mortuum in Missolonghi.


Just come to Missolonghi if you dare.
     This place is still abandoned by all
     and sundry in the midst of its salt marsh.
Here there is only room for burnt-out
Poets and utterly failed rebels.
     Here there is room for those who have
     To do their military service for
Satan every fourth year, or for those
Who are to die. The mornings smell of silver
     sulfadiazine and avens and a
Trumpet of crushed porcelain resounds
     because the emblems of this town par
Excellence are the playing cards ace of spades,
     nine of diamonds and the black cocks.


Right opposite my room lies the Garden
     of Heroes. And at its centre stands
     Byron forgotten for ever. For it
Is our own image we have raised there in
Marble, it is our own vanity.
     And tell me why are so many stones shaped
     like hearts in Missolonghi and decor
Ated with white medal ribbons of flint?
Because we are celebrating our own de
     feat and reconciliation with death.
But among the dark fire of the four cy
     presses that are blazing from the Under
World his heart is being purified three
     times in his emerald’s secret solstice.


God Almighty, I say. Is it here I
     am to find you, God, under this mercur
     y column. Are you here, God! I cry out
On this Ash Wednesday in Missolonghi
The town of the expelled green with mala
     ria. Can you see the dog in the oil
     barrel and the sheep that I eat with re
Lish for dinner in some Greek hotchpotch or
Other of a dish. Do you see what I
     caught sight of this morning: the sawn-through
Bones and the king of the insects.
     Are you here, God! I cry out once more. Is
It here among the apple-coloured
     walls that I shall at long last find you?


When I stand at the centre of the square’s
     pythagorean rectangle paved with
     the shards of the dead, I can see it. it
Is de Chirico’s painting: Morning
Meditation, that here has gained real
     ity. The inner image projected
     from the sluggish shadows of the hypo
Physis. Or conversely, only now does
Reality manage to catch up with
     its visions and its blue metaphysics.
That is the reason why time always re
     veals us as being the bitter
Argonauts who sooner or later are
     shipwrecked in a town like Missolonghi.


Outside the town in the large areas
     of reclaimed land you can in these salt
     marshes sometimes suddenly come across
Satan’s mirror. It is framed by certain
Flowers that I choose not to name by
     name, and you can find the signs of the
     fallen angels chiselled into its
Surface or on a rather odd stone
That I threw out into its centre.
     I have reflected myself in it today
The nineteenth of April in Byron’s honour,
     but I will not tell you precisely where
It can be found. Only this one last in
     dication: God’s breath also clouds it.


I went to Greece in order to get to
     know about the light and the first ax
     ioms. I arrived in my blue bomber
Jacket in order to purloin the fire.
But I became initiated into the dark
     into sleep and into death. For I
     slept in the Pullman coach through the Eleu
Sinian labyrinth, which was blocked by
Cobwebs. I later took these black gossamer
     embroideries to be a sure sign.
Through the Elusinian labyrinth I these
     black. And I became convinced when
On the fifth night I dreamt about a
     veiled head that had an averted face.


The regular Lord Byron café does not exist
     in Missolonghi, so you have to go
     right out into the marshes to find him,
There where he rode in all weathers like a
Whirlwind, a waterspout of the spirit
     along the salt expanses. Though mostly
     through rain that poured down like rice grains
From the urns of the dead and that certain
Ly cost lives. There where he rode like
     a god of war without territory
And only his horse left any impression
     on the naked republic, while he
Himself disappeared in these labyrinths
     in which he lost the thread of his love.


Then the rain also came to Greece. Huge drops
     full of secrets are falling in the
     darkness over the oxalic acid
And formaldehyde of the lagoons that
Bubbles inside the meander border of the
     great dam. I remain seated in
     my own megaric circles and listen
absent-mindedly. Byron, what
Would he have done with a rainy
     evening like this one. Would he also
Have transformed it into a sonnet.
     Or would he have stayed on sitting there
Until late at night and have speculated
     on what one does with fallen angels?


Shall I smear my forehead and nose with
     mussel blood or with Greek butter
     rub them with camphor or with hair cream
To alleviate this searing sunburn.
The sun of the dead has been crueller to
     my skin than that of the living. I’m so
     badly sunburnt it’s as if I was wearing
A mask of clay and bitumen. Hell’s sun
Has stung me during this exact
     opposition to Jupiter. And
As yet I have not found any foot
     prints here in the marble of immortal
Ity only a statue that has been
     raised in honour of the public.


But no other path to Byron’s heart
     exists than this beautiful and danger
     ous outermost embankment, where a
Swallowtail butterfly (with Elusinian
Signs on its wings) entices you further
     and further out towards the nothing
     ness. Here where the king of madness has a
Gleam that’s almost black with salt and blindness.
Out here you can find the morning star
     that has plunged down into the breakers.
‘Hercules’ made for the shore this way towards
     the mirages of Missolonghi. The town from
Here resembles a huge catafalque
     that is covered with white silk damask.


Look, this broken white column – do you
     think that the other end of it reaches
     all the way down to Hades? – Perhaps
It bores a path right through Persephone’s
Garnet throne. The marble columns you
     see as white are the underworld’s shadows.
     Our statues, temples only mirrored only
From their there there. Plaster casts only re
Flections and the appearance of shadow ima
     ges. And the eagle there resplendent in
Its basalt in immortality only
     flying and in its flying in
And its. Are we ourselves the living
     shadows of the dead, their dreams?


It is true that we have to consult the
     dead if we are to get any further.
     The busts (even the black one of Byron
In your imagination) and the mauso
Leums have their significance. Are not
     in vain. In onyx does humanity
     carve the experiences it has gained.
We see ourselves staring out of white
Marble. We see the stones of our errors
     and the granite towers of our conquests.
And ourselves in our numerous monu
     ments. And and also the statue
Here on the plinth of defeat that is
     whirled around by butterflies. Also is.


The poet’s answer to the future
     is to a question from the past. In the
     middle of this double piece of obsidian
He wrote his poem after the fault lines.
Do not be afraid of the urns’ ala
     baster of the crosses’ sardonyx.
     They are also answers. And but and. Living
And and new questions from old and
To young living their their
     not perhaps perhaps. But poets
Also exist who have velvet fists
     in gloves of iron, that answer
The past by asking the future.
     Or they write the present in stone.


I go down once more to the Garden of
     Heroes: there in sunshine like a raven’s
     wing of jewels. And and or perhaps
There is no mystery. Perhaps Byron
Is simply the poet who happens to
     resemble us most. Pride, the black crest
     of our dreams, our glorious defeat.
And from the heart. And to the heart.
This epitaph over him: he wrote poetry
     about dying. He died from writing
Poetry. The peacock feathers of our
     vanity. These and not forgetting
Fame and glory Perhaps from the mystery
     echoing to the mystery. Or.


Missolonghi. The seventh bowl of anger.
     There. There. In the sun. Shouts. They shout.
     This. Me. Shouts and punishment strike
Everyone. Revenge unfailingly follows.
Ee-ow! Ee-ow! the shout soon an echo
     between. Also. Those from the heart swamp.
     Up to the ears. Pew-Pax! And chasing.
And Between the pillars, the letters. Shouts.
The stone pines. Why are they following me. Guilt.
     Chasing in this poem. My punishment. All.
All. I. Mine. Do not acknowledge guilt.
     And from the shadows this flight to
The shadows. Whose colour of Caput
     Mortuum or dead jackdaws.


Odos Kyproy: urn of marl. It.
     Odos Ladia: of quartz. And. Its.
     Shine. And Odos. Zalakosta: Dazz
Ling swallows. Soon. Odos Lord Byronos:
Lowered visors. Gleam. I walk along
     Odos Dimitrious Sideri. Glisten.
     of pink potsherds. And turn.
Odos Mavrokordati. Slants towards Odos
Afan Pasi: axe of glass. Odos
     Damaskinou. Of. There. And. Odos
Deligiorih: mask of bronze
     and hammered silver. This. Walk.
This. To Odos Pavlaton:
     transparency. Walk further. The street.


Aprilios. Mesologgion. I aniksi.
     Epono. Hotel Liberty. Kje. I
     ouzo. Psari. Kje. Kje. Kje. Line.
Afto. Afto. I stasis. Kje. Kje.
Dhia mesu. Dimarxeion. Mechri.
     Isos. Afto. Sindoma. Ine.
     Asteria. Dhamaskino. I priza.
Lamba. Ine. Choris. Zaestos. Ine.
Dhia mesu. Dhen. O dhiakoptis.
     Afto. Meta. Dhen. Ego. To kreo
Polio. Meta. Kje. To Chartapo
     lio. Sindoma. Meta. To Kozmima
Topolio. Lukanika. Afto.
     Mesa. Hotel Avra. Meta. Avra.


Aprilios. Kje. Mesologgion. Ine.
     Iatreion. Meta. Afto. Andron.
     Meta. Afto. Gynaikon. Choris. Ka
Relia. Meta. To Eksofila.
Fistaria. Afto. Apo. Dikastikon
     Megaron. Kje. Zigaretta. Kje.
     Grammotosima. Meta. Vivlio
Polio. Kje. Kolonja. Ouzo. Hotel
Liberty. Mesa. To rola. Iodio.
     Kje. Kje. Aspirini. Kje. Kje.
Afto. Ine. Meta. Kato. Sompa.
     Ine. Meta. Machaeropirona.
Kje. To parathiro. Mechri. Trapeza.
     Sinalagmatos. O niptiras. Meta.


Odos Zaphir Rapesi: damascene
     sword. Of. Odos Kosti Palama:
     the desert. Odos Pasikotrika: scorch
Ing and like boiling mercury.
Odos Komitos Roma: Lit de Parade.
     Already. Odos Christ: Kapsali:
     meridian of gold. And when then
Odos Metaia: alembic with acid.
From. And. Odos Petaludi: chapel.
     Am busy now. There lies Odos
Makri: burnt umber. Its. Oscillates.
     Twists. Odos Kleisupas: lavender
Branch despite all. On to the square:
     Ixion wheel. From. And. There. I.


Missolonghi. Death’s head. Of.
     Salt. Arsenic. Seven suns and light so
     I burn. Seven angels. Throughout
Morning. Burn with anger. And the day
Of red sulphur. Only the night cool
     ing. Which. I. This. Or. Or.
     Or. Clarity. Bitter purity to
The bone. Town of purgatory. Here.
Seven trumpets from Heaven and seven from
     Hell blow down the poem. Ruins.
Walls. These. Blow over. My.
     Blow: Words. Sentences. Entire son
Nets over. With statues of Byron. And
     Castrum doloris of alabaster. To.


These sonnets have also already become
     a memorial park. The fieldstone of the
     letters their colour like aloe. And the
Paths through the sentences that lead
Nowhere. The name: butterfly and
     the monuments of the proper nouns. If
     you lift here, the woodlice rush
Out to the side. Scorching. The syntac
Tical sky as pure as alcohol.
     turning blue in one maze after maze.
And between the words: the cobwebs
     of death that fill up and the emer
Alds in the palm trees, the half
     cannon muzzles cast in the semantics.


Can it be oleander leaves here in
     the empire of grass. Can they bring my
     answer to the other side. Somewhat
Rusty ships laden with insects
That nevertheless are soon to leave?
     But to what side, to what far shore.
     Do the asphodels bloom in both places?
If I have returned, there are swallows
In Hades. That my shadow, the
     shadows did not flee from me.
And and the shadow of the shadows not.
     Shadows cast no shadows. So goodbye,
And only return with your own
     Answers in our green dialectics.


Can a fruit of the olive fall from
     the tree of sleep onto the hard soil
     of reality. Can you wake up with
The fresh fruits of the dream between
Your lips. Why then all this talk of the
     flaming black cypresses of the Under
     world? Because the poem is the gateway
To the land of the dead. Among these words
You can find the way down if you seek long
     enough. Among the vines of the sentences
From which a forgotten king stares at you.
     The message, this entering among
The stones, the letters, the shadows of the
     columns that point into the stillness.


I sit throughout the afternoon beneath
     this palm tree and wait. I must have
     fallen asleep from time to time
For suddenly the light has become
Completely peacock-coloured and strange
     echoes reach me from the far side
     of the soul, the side that turns out
Wards towards the mighty heptagon of the
Salt marshes. Hardly or between. I
     observe the fate line that also ends
Out there, full of salt and sweat.
     From this but to I run or.
And I almost believed that I had been
     forgotten until I got this reply.


It is one of those days when I am
     enclosed within myself like an
     urn in a locked cupboard or a bust
That is wrapped in black gauze and string.
I do not know what day it is. I have
     no idea at all what colour my
     socks are and there is a faint stench
Of paraffin in my sinuses.
God! – I then say, bloody hell how I
     hate this life you have created, where
Everything devours each other. And I know
     this is blasphemy. And I hear the
Black cock crow thrice. And I know that I
     am standing with one foot in Hell.


The boundary of madness lies on O
     dos Kyproy! From here the expanses
     begin violet like polecat fur
Beneath the quartz light. The arum lilies stand
Full of rabies in the small gardens
     mirroring each other to death in the
     whiteness. And when I ask a young
Fisherman the way, he answers: Filippa!
I look up at the sky, which today is
     once more infected with radiant
Purity: not a merciful cloud.
     Then I go out once more into the
Salt hell to carry out my task as a poet:
     to bring down God’s wrath on my head.


In a foreign country you will find yourself,
     but not your home. That is the law of the
     spirit, that bluishly evaporates like
Meths from the great hellenic mirrors.
Conversely George Gorden Noel Lord
     Byron found in one sense his home
     on the death-bed of vine leaves and black
Laurel leaves in Missolonghi, but not
Himself. And whether or not he thus
     ever managed to find his way
Home is doubtful, even though his body
     was brought back to England on
Board the brig Florida through the
     collapsed Doric portals of exile.


Mister! – a girl calls out from a parked
     lorry. – You speak English? – It must
     clearly be visible in me like some
Disease: idiotic tourist. I look up from
Under my broad-brimmed Hermes Tris
     megistos hat (bought cheap in the Lord
     Byron Street) and try to look mys
Terious. – Me Olga, and you – name?
But nothing really succeeds today.
     Suddenly there is a crowd of spectators.
All right! – Me Klaus. Where is Sideri
     Street? – She shakes her iron siren
Curls and smiles. – Goodbye! – I must
     be off again on my psychopompish walk.


Why I have to go all the way to Hellas
     to visit the dead, I do not know,
     where every night I sink down into
Their realm. But now at any rate I have
Been photographed standing in front of
     Byron’s statue in the second quad
     rant, which is full of red admiral
Butterflies. And I have never seen so
Many gathered together on one spot. They
     carry the night’s falling stars on their
Wings in honour of him who gave everything.
     For what can a human ultimately
Give more than his personal fortune,
     his health, his love and his life?


Was it in this ruin of a pa
     trician villa that Byron died. There are
     faeces everywhere on the floor, but
On the ceilings strange dragons have
Been drawn as well as completely empty
     coats of arms: the Devil’s signature. Visit
     it when evening approaches when the
Sunset is in the west like a smoking
Paraffin lamp and a breeze
     from the modern pumping
Station adds a faint whiff of fin
     de siècle to the scene as well as of
Soda. Was it in this placenta-coloured
     house that Satan fetched his favourite.


I cannot tell you why these marshes
     exert such an attraction on me.
     These great reservoirs in Ha
Des, these great tanks in the sub
Conscious full of evil, these e
     normous fixation vats that are full
     of blindness and acid. I cannot
Tell you why, but each and every day
I search further out in this system
     of sea walls. Perhaps so as to find a
New Lernaean hydra, or perhaps so as
     to see this mysterious red colour that
Only exists in Missolonghi at the
     bottom of Hell’s large retort.


Even though the swallows are building their
     nests right outside my window at Hotel
     Liberty, I do not have any feeling of
Having returned home. And even though
Itacha is practically lying
     at my feet bathed in violet
     salt. But the sea is not any bluer
Nor is the sky any bluer than
It is anywhere else, so is there any
     reason why death should be as blue
As it people claim that it is in Greece.
     Even so there is something holy
About the light down here perhaps because
     It originates from geometry?


If he refuses to come to me, I will have
     to come to him. That is how I reason
     things on this last day here and place
Two copper drachmas under my tongue.
They taste of arsenic and on the
     one side there is a ship and on the
     other there is a portrait of Konstanti
Nos Kanaris, whoever the hell he is.
The boat I am crossing on has three
     blue stripes on its stern, just like
The toy boat I had as a child. And just
     as then the trip is nerve-racking,
By which I mean it is truly dangerous.
     There is only my own shadow on the sea wall.


To anyone who has been fired to clay
     in the marshes of Missolonghi, nothing is
     the same any longer. To anyone who on
The Devil’s anvil has had his brain transformed
Into ochre, there is only one essential
     thing left: the sun, salt and
     your own singing pain. Out here
The potash of your worries is spread out
Across the great expanses. Spurge quenches
     your thirst and cockles provide you
With food. The shadows are welded
     away from beneath the sun’s flaming zenith.
To anyone who has been in Hell,
     there is only the Kingdom of Heaven left.


I have been in the Underworld
     (with one leg in Hades and the other in
     Hell, split between the Greek and the
Christian spirit) and sought him here. But
Byron was not there, neither in Greece.
     So God must have fetched him home at
     the last moment. That is why I also
Fly calmly home once more with Conair
OY 622. It soars like a white eagle
     on niobium wings over the Acro
Polis in a converse, heliacal spiral.
     But what poet could do without
The stigmatisation of the spirit
     or a deal with the Devil?