Alexander Averin

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Humans and Avians

Dear Diary,

Just a quick post tonight.  My time is being taken up in the garden just lately. I am a fair weather gardener and the weather has been very fair so….out I have been.

I  haven’t seen any otters since the last time (see previous post) but I did see two wild ducks swimming in the river this morning which was exciting.  I stood stock still for about ten minutes on the bank and they didn’t notice me there.  Usually the ducks fly off if they catch sight of humans.  They spent a long time swimming up and down as if they were looking round our little bit of river; I got the (probably stupid) feeling that they were ‘house-hunting’ and I prayed they would like our little piece of heaven for their home.  They both ducked under the water in the end and disappeared - I like to think they went behind the old tree stump and a huge mess of branches that sits on the bank and that they are setting up home there or have done so already.  I will keep you posted.

Talking of posts I just have to post this poem for you from the new Neil Astley Bloodaxe poetry anthology Being Human.  I borrowed it from the library, it’s brand new and I am the first to borrow it but  will no doubt end up buying a copy. I already own and love Staying Alive and Being Alive.   I've only read a few pages of this one so far but have fallen in love with one poem.  I wonder if you will like it too?  It is funny (sorry that was unintentional but Funny happens to be the title) how poems still often translate so beautifully into English.  It must depend a lot on the skill of the translator I guess.   It’s funny too that the subject matter of the poem is also avian.  I shall have to read more by this poet.

Here it is.

(There is no punctuation)


What's it like to be a human
the bird asked

I myself don't know
it's being held prisoner by your skin
while reaching infinity
being a captive of your scrap of time
while touching eternity
being hopelessly uncertain
and helplessly hopeful
being a needle of frost
and a handful of heat
breathing in the air
and choking wordlessly
it's being on fire
with a nest made of ashes
eating bread
while filling up on hunger
it's dying without love
it's loving through death

That's funny said the bird
and flew effortlessly up into the air

 Anna Kamienska

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Claire Cavanagh

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Vee said...

Oh and now I want to know what it's like to be a bird. This would be a great poem to write response poems to...

Enjoy your fair weather garden, Cait. I am seeing you even now standing on the river's edge watching and hoping that the ducks might stay.

Mark said...

I do like the publsiher Bloodaxe and have both the 'alive' books. 'Poetry with an edge' is very good too.

I'm off to Ty Newydd next week ona writing reteat with the poet David Constantine.

CAMILLA said...

Hello Cait,

The weather is truly lovely at the moment, I do so love Spring time.

I love the Ducks, we have a Duck Pond about two miles away from the cottage which is nestled beside a Church. Wonderful spot to dream life's dream on the little old bench outside.

Thank you for the info on the Poetry Book, Cait, shall check it out at my local Library.

Happy Gardening Cait.!


Frances said...

Hello Cait. I do love this poem, and once again thank you for encouraging me to read more poetry. You are a good influence on me!

Best wishes. xo