Diana Kuprel and Marek Kusiba in their translation of selections form the poetry of Ryszard Kapuściński (I Wrote Stone) render a stanza from “The Laws of Nature” with economy and attention to the sparseness of the gesture being described. We can sense the stretch of the reach:
an attempt to grasp
This is the middle stanza of a poem devoted to silence and the failure of words or at least to the tendency of words to lead to temptation and dead ends. I like how the middle is about the attempt and it is only later that judgement intervenes about success or failure.
The Kapuściński, especially this particular stanza, reminds me of a passage in J. Edward Chamberlin’s If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground which is more positive in tone and yet equally fascinated by the wonder that is word use.
We recognize the strangeness of reality in the strangeness of our imaginations; and this recognition comes to us in moments of wonder.
All this happens within the traditions of words and images and sounds and movement in the arts and the sciences that together constitute our cultures and give shape and character to our communities. It is these traditions that have permanence, that define what is worthwhile in our lives, and that prevent us from being immobilized by a dumb despair or (what may be worse) mobilized into a blind fury. The only education that matters is the one that teaches us how to watch and listen to them, for it is the ear that is sensitive to sound and rhythm, and the eye that is attentive to pattern and design, that make available their imaginative resources and the nourishment they provide, and that show us how to take comfort in contradiction.
One is lush. The other spare. And in both we have the eye and the ear working together but not necessarily in tandem.
And so for day 904