terça-feira, abril 05, 2016

Dass nur im Grab ich Frieden finden kann: "Poesias" by Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage

Published 1943.

Many eons ago, I was delighted with a book selling girl behind one of the counters in a book pavilion at the Lisbon Book Fair. Because of that I wrote a poem that I gave to her. Distant times those were. To tell you the truth, the girl did not deserve that poem, and the poem itself was not that great, well, the usual. In any case, the thing went down like this: in order to have a natter with her, I bought from her this same Bocage edition that I now got from a friend. Who would have thought that many years later I’d hold this same book in my hands? As soon as I picked it up, memories came flooding back. I still remember almost being taken from a thief as I perused books at her bookstand, touching them without really looking at them while at the same I kept looking at her eyes that could be seen from any place in the fair, as a “model like you’re…but oh sadness!”.

I can now hear some of my learned friends saying, after having read the above paragraph, “you expose yourself too much!” What they really wanted to say is, “I admire your courage.” Since I started publishing stuff on my blog, those are the kind of comments I hear more often. Who cares about what I write? No one. I’ve always believed that one shouldn’t remove the personal from the texts. That’s why I said, somewhere else, that what I write is (almost) always embedded in my own personal history. That’s what makes what I write intelligible to me.

And just because I can, below an attempt at translating the untranslatable into German of one of my favourite poems by Bocage:

“Camões, großer Camões, wie ähnlich
Ist mein Geschick dem deinen, wenn man sie vergleicht!
Der gleiche Grund ließ uns vom Tejo weggehn
Und frevelhaft dem Meer-Giganten trotzen.

Wie du am Ganges-Strome dich befandest,
Befind ich mich im Elend einer grauenhaften Not.
Ich sehne mich wie du umsonst nach eitlen Freuden
Und weine so wie du, sehnsüchtig Liebender.

Gleich dir vom harten Schicksal hintergangen,
Erflehe ich vom Himmel meinen Tod, in der Gewissheit,
Dass nur im Grab ich Frieden finden kann.

Mein Vorbild bist du, doch oh Jammer
Mag ich dir auch an bösem Schicksal gleichen,

Ich gleich dir nicht an Gaben der Natur.”

This is one of the reasons why I think German is not only the most beautiful language I learned, but it’s also the love of my life. Much more than Portuguese and English. The German language makes me organize things in my head in a way very different when compared with the Latin and English languages. There’s an enormous cognitive benefit by installing this “tool” in our brains. When installed, the doors of consciousness that open up are tremendous. I’m not only talking about the possibility of reading Rilke, Celan, Hölderlin, Goethe, Kafka in the original. The point is that what these writers put on paper are thoughts inseparable from the language itself in which they were written. No one, I repeat no one, having read Rilke in Portuguese or English has any idea what this represents in terms of the insurmountable geniality of Kafka, Celan and of course Rilke (my favourite trio of German writers). Some translations are simply ludicrous. Lately I've been on a winning streak...

Do we want to live without the real dimension of what these Men left to the world? It’s never too late. Trust me. Learn German. And now, my beloved readers are thinking, "But he just read a book of Poetry of one the most distinguished Portuguese Poets, but he's still haranguing us on the fact that we all should learn German! How can that be??" Well my friends, you should have been paying close attention to what I've been writing for almost 10 years on this very same blog, i.e., for those of you who are still with me after all are these years...

NB: "Dass nur im Grab ich Frieden finden kann." This is "Hamlet" tapping into Bocage...I won't bother explaining. Go read your "Hamlet" please.

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