Sunday, 30 September 2007

Talking in Bed by Philip Larkin

(Greek translation)

Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.

Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside, the wind's incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us.
Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

Home by Spiros Doikas

Beauty without the beloved
Is a sword through the heart
Gabriel Dante Rossetti

Every house which is not my home
Is a house of sorrow
Every house which is not her
Is a house of sorrow
For she is my home of homes
She is today, yesterday, and tomorrow

And every brook, or tree, or flower
All beauty that would not know her
That doth appear on my sight
must fail to give delight

For each and every one of them
Serve only as a reminder:
that none of them is,
or ever will be, kinder.

Letterbox relationships by Spiros Doikas

I have conducted my relationships through letterboxes,
(words aspiring to eterochronous orgasms
marked by the obvious absence of both participants);
through stamps, in which the Queen
has been the sole receiver of my most passionate kisses;
through envelopes, that were my skin upon her skin
(carefully sealed and calligraphically addressed
as if a work of art: communication?)

I have conducted my relationships through letterboxes,
(always the sender but never the receiver)
Vainly trying to encode cerebralised affection
And through my diaries I have lived my life.
Have I “lived”, my “life”?

Epidermis by Spiros Doikas


Some of the most sublime things
Are plainly surface
As nobody would willingly admit

A scar, a broken tooth, a crooked nose
Hair: too long or too short
– pheromone compatibility –
Could draw the line between
Passion and indifference.

Love for the last time? by Spiros Doikas

[I wrote this in Manchester in 1996 and it is a poem that keeps moving me with the way it captured the eternal Liebestod theme.]

Love for the last time?

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds.
Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

How is it possible to make love for the last time?
How can such mysterious intimacy be dislocated
into such unsuspecting indifference?

(Is it an anachronism of the soul?
A stale acceptance of unreviewed impossibilities?)

But still, how can touch evoke touchlessness?
How can wholeness be dismembered into separateness?
What has intervened between the last time
and the next time that never took place?

An answer, vainly, my mind strove to find
As, somehow, I felt confronted with a mystery

Even more profound than death.

You are not here by Spiros Doikas

You are not here

you are not here
and every flower I encounter
has lost its value:

it cannot be made an offering

to you

Anywhere Out of the World by Charles Baudelaire

One of my favourite poems. You can also read the French original here. It expresses for me a kind of world ennui, where the soul aches for the sublime and experiences constant pain and disappointment in a mundane existence. Oh yes, it also reminds me of Albatross also by Baudelaire...

Anywhere Out of the World

This life is a hospital where every patient is possessed with the desire to change beds; one man would like to suffer in front of the stove, and another believes that he would recover his health beside the window.

It always seems to me that I should feel well in the place where I am not, and this question of removal is one which I discuss incessantly with my soul.

'Tell me, my soul, poor chilled soul, what do you think of going to live in Lisbon? It must be warm there, and there you would invigorate yourself like a lizard. This city is on the sea-shore; they say that it is built of marble and that the people there have such a hatred of vegetation that they uproot all the trees. There you have a landscape that corresponds to your taste! a landscape made of light and mineral, and liquid to reflect them!'

My soul does not reply.

'Since you are so fond of stillness, coupled with the show of movement, would you like to settle in Holland, that beatifying country? Perhaps you would find some diversion in that land whose image you have so often admired in the art galleries. What do you think of Rotterdam, you who love forests of masts, and ships moored at the foot of houses?'

My soul remains silent.

'Perhaps Batavia attracts you more? There we should find, amongst other things, the spirit of Europe married to tropical beauty.'

Not a word. Could my soul be dead?

'Is it then that you have reached such a degree of lethargy that you acquiesce in your sickness? If so, let us flee to lands that are analogues of death. I see how it is, poor soul! We shall pack our trunks for Tornio. Let us go farther still to the extreme end of the Baltic; or farther still from life, if that is possible; let us settle at the Pole. There the sun only grazes the earth obliquely, and the slow alternation of light and darkness suppresses variety and increases monotony, that half-nothingness. There we shall be able to take long baths of darkness, while for our amusement the aurora borealis shall send us its rose-coloured rays that are like the reflection of Hell's own fireworks!'

At last my soul explodes, and wisely cries out to me: 'No matter where! No matter where! As long as it's out of the world!'

T. S. Helot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Gogglebox by Spiros Doikas (Parody of T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

The following is a parody I wrote on T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and is part of my satire on the British.

T. S. Helot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Gogglebox

O quam te memorem televirgo!

Let us go then you and I
When the evening spreads out
Like a potato etherized upon a couch
Hence, in etherization, may commence holly communion
with the Couch Potato Union.

In the room women talk about Home and Away
Terry Christian, Chris Evans - with no dismay.

No! I’m not Prince Charles,
nor was I meant to be;
and I won’t have a big wedding on TV.
I’m just an attendant horde, whose vision
Is espoused to the television.

In the room women talk about Brookside
Pamela Anderson, Take That - joking aside

I have measured out my life with visions of the telly
precious sights of pneumatic bliss
gazes in inter-embracement,
and opticopro-

In the room women talk about Top of The Pops
Neighbours, Cantona - chewing on their lolipops

Do I dare eat a leech? Do I dare suck a nipple?
I shall were the tackiest union jack trousers
and jerk off upon a ripple.

I have seen the sluts shagging in the showers:
I do not think that they will take more than a tickle.

We have lingered by the chambers of the screen
By screen-girls wreathed with screen-weed red and brown
‘Till human voices wake us, and we frown.

Piano Trio in E-Flat by Franz Schubert

Along with Albinoni's Adagio, this is one of the most romantic pieces I have ever heard. It moved my heart so profoundly, as if a divine truth, which was until then hidden from me, was suddenly revealed. And this truth, is the truth of unconditional love.

The second excerpt is from what I consider a very romantic movie about eternal love, The Hunger.

Adagio in G minor by Albinoni

This is a piece of enormous personal significance to me. Since I heard it for the first time (I was about 13) and for years thereafter, I would end up in tears every time I heard it. Eventually (I was about 22 I think), I got over it. Since then I bought the piano transcription by Ricordi Editions.

For me it represents the feeling of deep, ever-faithful, romantic love, which holds strong until the moment of death. Perhaps, the absolute and eternal declaration of love. If you like this piece, perhaps you would also like the Piano Trio in E-Flat by Franz Schubert.

And, for some strange reason, it does remind me of Endymion by Keats:
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkn'd ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits

Tea and the British: Vera Drake

[Originally published at translatum]

I saw Mike Leigh's new film yesterday "Vera Drake" which I consider a masterpiece. English actors I think are the best in the world and the performance of Imelda Staunton is extraordinary and suffused with humanity. Indeed, this kind of cinema with its profound sensitivity and humanity, acts as a foil to the pretentious, pseudo-intellectual, melodramatic ravings of something like Lars von Trier's movies (my apologies to his fans).

On the other hand, the funny side of British realistic cinema, and this movie in particular, is the exhaustive number of references to "tea", "pot", "kettle" (read the script of Vera Drake) as well as the scenes involving tea-making and tea-drinking (It seems to me that if tea was out of the way the movie would have been 30-40 minutes shorter). Indeed, the process of tea-making and tea-drinking runs as a leit-motif, and at times it is presented as a panacea for all known human ailments - be they physical or psychological. Or perhaps the embarrassment of being and existence in the UK is ideally covered with a brew...

The Greek translation was brilliant throughout with an excellent rendering of colloquialisms.

Interesting translations:

in a family way - σε ενδιαφέρουσα
she can't help it - δεν το κάνει επίτηδες
ta-ra! - γεια χαρά
clot - χαζοπούλι

Withnail and I

Tonight at Aavora at 8.50.
A film of strange, poetic decadence. Two thespians on drugs trying (?) to find meaning in a dreary life in London, where rats are as big as dogs and they infest the oven and money is scarce.

Some excellent scenes:

1. When, whilst in Penrith, they were given a live chicken and one of them had to slay it in order for them to eat.
2. When fat uncle Monty made a pass on highly homophobic Marwood in his room late at night [see video below].
3. The Camberwell carrot (a monster-sized joint).
4. The ending scene where Withnail, alone and forlorn, enacts Hamlet (Act 2). (My emphasis on the last sentence). [View full script]

I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame the earth seems to me a sterile promotory; this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this mighty o'rehanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire; why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a God! The beauty of the world, paragon of animals; and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dusk. Man delights not me, no, nor women neither, nor women neither.

[View full script]
Interesting translations:
That's what you'd say but that wouldn't wash with Geoff
...δεν θα έπιανε με τον Τζεφ.