Showing posts from April, 2024

Thơ Từ Vực Thẳm

Bản tiếng Việt của Bác Gúc Poems from the Abyss Charles Simic When asked about his home, Czesław Miłosz said that he came from another planet, another time November 23, 2017 issue Facebook Twitter Mail to Print page Submit a letter: Email us Reviewed: Miłosz: A Biography by Andrzej Franaszek, edited and translated from the Polish by Aleksandra and Michael Parker Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 526 pp., $35.00 One of the finest poems by Czesław Miłosz is the four-part sequence  A Treatise on Poetry , a kind of elegy for pre-war Poland, which he wrote in France in the mid-1950s. Its first part, “Beautiful Times,” describes the glamorous society life in Kraków before World War I, and concludes with these lines: “The laughter in cafes/Echoes about a hero’s grave”; its second part, “The Capital,” ends with this little scene in Warsaw the night before the German invasion on September 1, 1939: On Tamka Street a girl’s heels click. She calls in a half whisper. They

Sebald Tribute I

    The Other Side of Silence:          Rereading W. G. Sebald         I MET W. G.  SEBALD almost twenty years ago, in New York City. He spoke with me for a public interview at the PEN American Center. Afterwards we had dinner. It was July 1997. He was fifty-three; the brief blaze of his international celebrity had been lit a year before, by the publication in English of his mysterious, wayward book The Emigrants. In a laudatory review, Susan Sontag had forcefully anointed the German writer as a contemporary master.    Not that Sebald seemed to care about that. He was gentle, academic, intensely tactful. His hair was grey, his almost-white moustache like frozen water. He resembled the photographs of a pensive Walter Benjamin. There was an atmosphere of drifting melancholy that, as in his prose, he made almost comic by sly self-consciousness. I remember standing with him in the foyer of the restaurant, where there was some kind of ornamental arrangement that involved leaves floating in

The Sound of the Tide

Because civilizations are finite, in the life of each of them there comes a moment when the center ceases to hold. What keeps them at such times from disintegration is not legions but language. Such was the case of Rome, and before that, of Hellenic Greece. The job of holding the center at such times is often done by the men from the provinces, from the outskirts. Contrary to popular belief, the outskirts are not where the world ends—they are precisely where it begins to unfurl. That affects language no less than the eye. Derek Walcott was born on the island of Saint Lucia, in the parts where “the sun, tired of empire, declines.” As it does so, however, it heats up a far greater crucible of races and cultures than any other melting pot north of the equator. The realm this poet comes from is a genetic Babel; English, however, is its tongue. If at times Walcott writes in Creole patois, it’s not to flex his stylistic muscle or to enlarge his audience but as an act of homage to what he spo