Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Flotando por el aire

Acabamos de volver de Brisbane, esa capital norteña de Australia. Nos encantaron las casas de madera --- las que se llaman Queenslanders (después el estado de Queensland) o sus semejantes --- pero claro que hay edificios de otras tradiciones.

El edificio en la foto --- está en el barrio de West End --- me cae bien. No sé por qué exactamente. Quizás sea por la ironía del gran nombre que alguién puso a un edificio tan chico. Además el nombre me trajo recuerdos de la pelí Los tres entierros de Melquiades Estrada, que obviamente no tiene nada que ver con el mundo arquitectónico de Brisbane.

No pasa nada. Me gustó la mezcla de son y sombra en la imagen y la cabeza que está flotando por el aire, aparentemente sin cuerpo.


George Manka said...

Down the Rio Grande to Mexico ...

I was listening to that old song - Mexican Divorce - reprised by Ry Cooder on his album - Paradise and Lunch.

Is this that "abrupt solution" that Slessor wrote about? Whenever I rererad Slessor, I think that he may be Australia's greatest poet, don't you think? His poems more and more stand the test of time, and even get better.


Yotro said...

I must re-read Slessor. It's been a while. I did ask Les Murray which Australian poet he thought warranted more attention. He came up with Slessor and said he'd never been able to work out why Slessor had never taken off internationally.

George Manka said...

Indeed! I have just re-read "Five Bells" and "South Country". Surely, they must rank among the most significant poems of the 20th century! Slessor is so hard to place - is he like Auden? - is he more American or British?- that he I find him absolutely unique.

And that image of the desert as a rotting corpse rendered so beautiful and timeless.

I find the "philosophy" in "Five Bells" more real, tragic and human than the Harvard musings of the later Eliot in "Four Quartets".

And how can a Howitzer "sob"? Marvelous mastery of the language!

Don't get me started!

George Manka said...

If I had to write a travel book about Australia, I would call it "The Sky's Beach".

Yotro said...

The Sky's Beach, I like that. And you could have an associated jingle --- Beachy one day, peachy the next!

PS, Did you know Slessor's middle name? Could this explain his curious neglect by world poetry?


Yotro said...

PS, As for Auden, maybe I've not read him enough but to me he comes across as hollow --- a brilliant technician --- but hollow. His love poems --- Stop all the clocks, for example --- have some wonderful lines but also false notes that make them seem exercises in caricature.

George Manka said...

Yes, I know: Adolf. I would like to think like Adolf Dassler - the founder of Adidas.

How about this marvelous poem?:

Musée des Beaux Arts
by W. H. Auden
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Brueghel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Yotro said...

Touché. I do remember reading this some time ago. It expresses a profound truth.

George Manka said...

And Auden's own epitaph in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey:

"In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise"

from "In Memory of W.B.Yeats"

Or the "Sonnets from China" - great stuff! Give him a go!

Yotro said...

OK, but the Yeats tribute has banal renderings like "What instruments we have agree / The day of his death was a dark cold day."

The sum is less than the parts.

And maybe poetry makes nothing happen but Auden's Pollitt card (showing membership of the British Communist Party) certainly worked wonders after a kerfuffle in a Madrid toilet during the heroic poet's social conscience engagement tour of the Civil War.

Yotro said...

Today I heard some captivating jazz on ABC FM radio. Saturday afternoon´s jazz and often I hear it as I´m driving to the shops (mussels with wine, parsley and chilli tonight). Anyway, the piece was back announced and I caught a reference to Slessor and Five Bells.

Tonight, I tracked down the CD. Here's the link --- http://www.newmarketmusic.com.au/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Newmarket.woa

And here's the text ---

Allan Browne’s ‘Five Bells And Other Inspirations’ NEW3219.2

Originally conceived for presentation at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival in 2005 further assisted by Newmarket Music.
The project combines the talents of John Scurry, Howard Cairns, Steven Grant,
Jo Stevenson and Eugene Ball.

The works of the great Australian poet Kenneth Slessor inspires this recording of nine new compositions. His then contemporary poem ,’Five Bells’ is represented by a Paul Grabowsky piece, Eugene Ball wrote ‘Yes Utterly’, John Scurry ‘Beach Burial’ and
‘Last Trams’, while Allan contributed ‘William Street’, ‘Polarities’, Joe’s Cakewalk and ‘Crow Country’. Most of the music is in the genre of Slessor’s time from the late 20’s, yet there are excursions into the contemporary, reflecting the expressionistic side of the poems.. There is some wonderful bass saxophone playing by Jo and echoes of the two trumpet parts of King Oliver and Louis Armstrong by Steve and Eugene.

Yotro said...

Better still, here's a link to a podcast program about the Slessor jazz project.

Scroll down to the program titled Allan Browne Saturday 3


And here's a link to Browne's website (with his own poetry and music samples) ---


George Manka said...

Belated thanks, Bernie! I see you are quite critical of Auden. These days, I just read the stuff - some poems I like, some I don't. Fuck the bio. I agree that the "dark cold day" line is contrived and even trite. But I still like the bugger mostly. I certainly like his tone - so refreshing after reading the tragic hip coolness of most US poetry written at the same time.

Have you read "In Memoriam" by Tennyson? I re-read it the other day, and it reminded me of your Buneta Blog. Tennyson is really out, now. But that never stopped me.

Yotro said...

you so out, you in, man!

George Manka said...

Like that Huey Lewis song ... it's hip to be square.