Thursday, July 14, 2005

Neruda! Thou shouldst be living in this hour....

In the immor(t)al words of Alan Jackson, "I'm not a real political man." Nevertheless, even I have noticed a few stories in the news the last few days.

Hence, last night, rereading Neruda's Spain in our Hearts, these lines leapt out: "Y por las calles la sangre de los ninos / corria simplemente, como saangre de ninos": "and through the streets the blood of the children / ran simply, like children's blood."

(Viva la muerte, those fascists cried on their way to Madrid. "You love life, and we love death," said the new ones, after Madrid no less. Neruda would have recognized the line.)

I liked this poem, last night, too, from Mahmoud Darwish:

I Have a Seat in the Abandoned Theatre

I have a seat in the abandoned theatre
in Beirut. I might forget, and I might recall
the final act without longing . . . not because of any thing
other than that the play was not written
skillfully . . .
as in the war days of those in despair, and an autobiography
of the spectators’ impulse. The actors were tearing up their scripts
and searching for the author among us, we the witnesses
sitting on our seats.
I tell my neighbor the artist: don’t draw your weapon,
and wait, unless you are the author!
- No.
Then he asks me: and you are you the author?
- No.
So we sit scared. I say: be a neutral
hero to escape from an obvious fate.
So he says: no hero dies revered in the second
scene. I will wait for the rest. Maybe I would
revise one of the acts. And maybe I would mend
what the iron has done to my brothers.
So I say: it is you then?
He responds: you and I are two masked authors and two masked
I say: how is this my concern? I’m a spectator.
He says: no spectators at chasm’s door . . . and no
one is neutral here. And you must choose
your part in the end.
So I say: I’m missing the beginning, what’s the beginning?

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