Daily Archives: November 8, 2007

Konstantinos Kavafis: Ventanas

En esas habitaciones oscuras donde vivo
pesados días, con qué anhelo contemplo a veces
las ventanas.-Cuándo se abrirá
una de ellas y qué ha de traerme-.
Pero esa ventana no se encuentra, o yo no sé
hallarla. Y quizá mejor sea así.
Quizá esa luz fuese para mí otra tortura.
Quién sabe cuántas cosas nuevas mostraría.

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Anónimo: El Abad de la Cucaña

Yo me soy me el abad de la cucaña
voy de los bebedores en compaña,
por san dado mi vida se gobierna.
Quien al alba me busque en la taberna,
al véspero saldrá desnudo de ella,
lanzando a voz grito esta querella:
“¡Ay me, sórdida suerte!,
¿acaso mi despojo te divierte?
¡Tú todo mi gozo
lo tiraste al pozo!”

* Miguel Requena (traductor): Poesía Goliárdica. Barcelona. Ed. El Acantilado. 2003. pp. 432

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Cesar Vallejo: Masa

Al fin de la batalla,
y muerto el combatiente, vino hacia él un hombre
y le dijo: «No mueras, te amo tanto!»
Pero el cadáver ¡ay! siguió muriendo.

Se le acercaron dos y repitiéronle:
«No nos dejes! ¡Valor! ¡Vuelve a la vida!»
Pero el cadáver ¡ay! siguió muriendo.

Acudieron a él veinte, cien, mil, quinientos mil,
clamando: «Tanto amor, y no poder nada contra la muerte!»
Pero el cadáver ¡ay! siguió muriendo.

Le rodearon millones de individuos,
con un ruego común: «¡Quédate hermano!»
Pero el cadáver ¡ay! siguió muriendo.

Entonces, todos los hombres de la tierra
le rodearon; les vió el cadáver triste, emocionado;
incorporóse lentamente,
abrazó al primer hombre; echóse a andar…

* 10 de noviembre de 1937

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Gabriel Celaya : La poesìa es un arma cargada de futuro

Cuando ya nada se espera personalmente exaltante,
mas se palpita y se sigue más acá de la conciencia,
fieramente existiendo, ciegamente afirmado,
como un pulso que golpea las tinieblas,

cuando se miran de frente
los vertiginosos ojos claros de la muerte,
se dicen las verdades:
las bárbaras, terribles, amorosas crueldades.

Se dicen los poemas
que ensanchan los pulmones de cuantos, asfixiados,
piden ser, piden ritmo,
piden ley para aquello que sienten excesivo.

Con la velocidad del instinto,
con el rayo del prodigio,
como mágica evidencia, lo real se nos convierte
en lo idéntico a sí mismo.

Poesía para el pobre, poesía necesaria
como el pan de cada día,
como el aire que exigimos trece veces por minuto,
para ser y en tanto somos dar un sí que glorifica.

Porque vivimos a golpes, porque apenas si nos dejan
decir que somos quien somos,
nuestros cantares no pueden ser sin pecado un adorno.
Estamos tocando el fondo.

Maldigo la poesía concebida como un lujo
cultural por los neutrales
que, lavándose las manos, se desentienden y evaden.
Maldigo la poesía de quien no toma partido hasta mancharse.

Hago mías las faltas. Siento en mí a cuantos sufren
y canto respirando.
Canto, y canto, y cantando más allá de mis penas
personales, me ensancho.

Quisiera daros vida, provocar nuevos actos,
y calculo por eso con técnica qué puedo.
Me siento un ingeniero del verso y un obrero
que trabaja con otros a España en sus aceros.

Tal es mi poesía: poesía-herramienta
a la vez que latido de lo unánime y ciego.
Tal es, arma cargada de futuro expansivo
con que te apunto al pecho.

No es una poesía gota a gota pensada.
No es un bello producto. No es un fruto perfecto.
Es algo como el aire que todos respiramos
y es el canto que espacia cuanto dentro llevamos.

Son palabras que todos repetimos sintiendo
como nuestras, y vuelan. Son más que lo mentado.
Son lo más necesario: lo que no tiene nombre.
Son gritos en el cielo, y en la tierra son actos.

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Christina Patterson: When equality means giving in to extremists

The trouble with miscellaneous job-lots is that they tend to be rather messy. Like the conveyor-belt of consumables in that apogee of Seventies super-camp, The Generation Game, you find kitchen knives nestling against pink fluffy toys, and the spiked forks of a fondue set next to a Teasmade. And so it is with quangos.

Take the Equality and Human Rights Commission. An amalgam, since 1 October, of the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission, it aims to “eliminate discrimination”, “reduce inequality” and “champion equality and human rights for all”.

In the absence of David Cameron’s (alleged) one-legged Lithuanian lesbians, this means balancing the interests of all sorts of groups. Sharia-seeking Muslims, for example, with that long-established oppressed minority (51.4 per cent of the population, actually) known as women. (Yes, here we don’t yet believe in killing or aborting babies on grounds of gender, which is marvellous.)

But, as Nat King Cole so memorably intimated, there may be trouble ahead. The appointment by Trevor Phillips, the commission’s chairman (naughty, naughty), of an evangelical Christian leader as a leading light in the battle for universal justice might just set the cat among the (physically, mentally or genderly challenged) pigeons. For the Rev Joel Edwards, the general director of the Evangelical Alliance, has been a vocal campaigner against legislation banning discrimination against gay men and women. Christians, he has said, do not want to find themselves “coerced” by law into aiding the promotion of homosexuality.

One of his “primary responsibilities”, he added, would be to ensure that “important issues such as respect and tolerance” played “an effective role” in the commission. Indeed. Respect and tolerance for the views of hard line, anti-gay evangelicals, or bikini-banning, burkha-brandishing Muslim clerics, or for the men and women who simply want to be free to acknowledge that they love who they love?

I have been an evangelical Christian. I saw the light, thank God. In that tortured period before I did, when a riotous, multi-prismed world was drained of all colour and shrunk and squeezed into a tiny box, like an early television set in the dainty front room of a 1950s family, I learnt all about homosexuality. To sum up, God hated it. Sodom and Gomorrah was not a metaphor. If people had these “feelings” then they must control them.

Luckily, however, God heals. He healed a homosexual (nothing gay about sin) in my congregation and an ageing spinster snapped him up. For a while, I helped, too. On Friday nights, I would roam the gay pubs of Earl’s Court and tell the leather-clad, moustachioed masses about Jesus. Yes, really.

For all kinds of historical reasons – not that dissimilar to those which drive young men into jihadism – the so-called “black community” is, to use the jargon, “over-represented” in evangelical and Pentecostal churches. Their members may not be threatening a violent war on Western decadence, but you can see why Trevor Phillips might want them on board. And I have no doubt that Mr Edwards, a former probation officer, is as good a spokesperson as any.

But, but, but. I have a dream. That one day our national institutions – Crown (if it’s still limping on), Government, universities and schools – will not only be secular but free not to pander to the views of nutters. Baby, as the Queen didn’t say when opening Parliament this week, dream on.

Clash of the Teutonic titans

All art, said John Ruskin, aspires to the condition of music. He didn’t add that life sometimes does, too. Most notably, perhaps, in the Wagner clan, which is currently locked in a dynastic struggle on a truly Wagnerian scale.

In the real-life version, the Rheinmaidens are no longer happy to share the Ring but are locked in an epic struggle to grab it. Katharina, the daughter of the current director of the Bayreuth Music Festival, Wolfgang Wagner, is the anointed heir, but the Richard Wagner Foundation favours Wolfgang’s eldest daughter, Eva, or his niece, Nike. It can only end in trouble – or perhaps, like Brunnehilde, pinioned to a mountain top, surrounded by fire.

* My grandmother used to send my mother a pound note, with the charming suggestion that she might like to get my father “a nice steak”. My aunt, who has three sons, used to send me flowery nylon knickers. The rest of us get by with bubble bath, socks and the Big Fat Book For Babyish Boys or Gullible Girls.

As part of a new Campaign for Decent Christmas Presents, Dame Helen Mirren has launched an appeal on behalf of the “millions of people who suffer every year from receiving rubbish presents”, urging them to splash out instead on fertiliser, medicines and school books. For people who need them, of course. It’s a worthy idea, and one that a friend already honours by buying his friends and family assorted goats and cows. I can’t, however, help clinging to the idea that charity is something you choose for yourself. And anyway, there’s one gift which nearly always brings delight – 75 years old next week. A portal to a virtual world.Yes, it’s called a book token.

* © The Independent
* http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/christina_patterson/article3138339.ece

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