I am not here following the caretaker Prime Minister who has resigned but not. He appears to live in some sort of borderland theatre which has become boring beyond belief; I am referring to Boris Drayluk’s collection of poems My Holywood published by Paul Dry Books. I have just finished Jonathan Coe’s Mr Wilder and Me and am currently reading Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist which seem to form a suitable background on which to project Drayluk’s moving collection.
His collection begins with a mixture of recollection and nostalgia-
This much is clear :the good old days have passed
Some giant fig trees, a few pygmy palms
deep broken shade on disenfranchised grass;
This magnificent collection by the Editor-in-Chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books has many lovely poems. Dralyuk has a stirring feeling for the dilapidated landscape of Los Angeles and a wide understanding of the hinterland of European Culture. He is a skilled translator and his poems have a deep moving quality appropriately relieved by wit and humour. Here is one short example-
Above the tongue-tip is an air so blue
I can compare it only to how you
who once consumed me in a yellow heat,
now scarcely singe me when we meet.
Dralyuk writes of loss and passing time and of memory under the condition of exile. I particularly enjoyed Stravinsky at the Farmer’s Market; here are two stanzas.
Christopher Isherwood is a disciple, slipping
off to the Viertals on the weekends far from Swami,
swimming naked. In Brentwood, Schoenburg lobs grapefruits
and insults at Feuchtwanger’s wife.
Herr Doktor Faustus, exile is no bargin.
You move von heute auf morgen.
Stravinsky lunches at the Farmer’s Market.
The Firebird is plucked, Petrushka’s henpecked.
Here there are layers of sorrow portrayed in a dream-like landscape. Here is a photograph of the poet and a YouTube interview on this collection.
Here Sean O’Hagan mentions,”This sense of spiritual as well as cultural displacement was evoked, too, by the poet Patrick Kavanagh, who walked the streets around Ealing Broadway in 1953 willing himself to remember his native Monaghan “until a world comes to life – morning, the silent bog”. In the second half of that same decade, an estimated half a million people left Ireland to begin their lives all over again, abroad.” There is spiritual exile, linguistic exile and the sense of personal exile when someone close dies or moves away, in an emotional or geographical sense.
European Commission in Brussels as a senior information officer. He also worked with Randolph Churchill on the biography of the latter’s father. In fact the book centres around a small port near Toulon. It makes much mention too of Aldous Huxley, Somerset Maugham,H.G.Wells, Muggeridge and Mosley. The French writers, Malraux and Gide are included in this account of the émigré community which provides an introduction to the intellectual drama and the tragic zeitgeist of this seven year period. The major figures are naturally Thomas, whose wife Katia came from a wealthy Jewish family of mathematicians, and his francophile brother Heinrich Mann, as well as Thomas’s son Klaus who engaged in a bitter battle of words at one stage with the Berlin based, Gottfried Benn- before the latter was to realise the full implication of Goebbel’s authoritarian drive from 1933 to achieve the synchronisation of the arts (Gleichschaltung) from his Ministry of Propaganda as Weimar collapse. Directed against Bolshevism it engendered militarism and focussed on anti-semitism taking in gypsies and homosexuals on the way and ending in the horrors of the Holocaust. This was all under the title of popular enlightenment. The account by Mauthner lacks the stylistic verve of George Klaar’s biographical account which affords an insight into the historical development of fascism upon Jewish life in Vienna.
Many Jews who were physically harassed and otherwise threatened by the Nazis and travelled to many locations and were exiled to Amsterdam, Stockholm, Zürich, London, Prague, Moscow as well as across the Atlantic to both North and South America. Martin Mauthner’s book seems to have three great strengths. It shows the wide variety of responses of individual refugees and their attempts to organise opposition to Hitler and the hampering difficulties other countries governments and other organisations presented. There is considerable detail about individuals like Feuchtwanger and Schwarzschild, famous at the time and now unfortunately neglected as well as journalists, publishers, cartoonists and illustrators. This book confines itself to writers, poets and playwrights but is particularly intriguing on the splits with the communists and within the United Front. The cruel trials under the auspices of Stalin proving a profound sticking point; also the different approaches in the Spanish Civil War.
Just this morning I recieved an interesting posting concerning classical antiquity from http://poemsintranslation.blogspot.co.uk/ with a version of Ovid’s Tristia and the mortifying effects of having to leave his wife behind in charge of his posessions.
Illa dolōre āmēns tenebrīs nārrātur obortīs sēmjanimis mediā prōcubuisse domō,
utque resurrēxit foedātis pulvere turpī crīnibus et gelidā membra levāvit humō,
sē modo, dēsertōs modo complōrāsse Penātēs, nōmen et ēreptī saepe vocāsse virī,
nec gemuisse minus, quam sī nātaeve meumve vīdisset strūctōs corpus habēre, rogōs,
et voluisse morī, moriendō pōnere sēnsus, respectūque tamen nōn periisse meī.
Vīvat, et absentem, quoniam sīc fāta tulērunt, vīvat et auxiliō sublevet usque suō.
Translated by A.Z.Foreman as:-
I’m told she fainted from grief, mind plunged in dark, And fell half-dead right there in our house. When she came round, with disheveled dust-fouled hair, Staggering up from the cold hard ground, She wept for herself, for a house abandoned, screaming Her stolen man’s name time after time, Wailing as though she’d witnessed our daughter’s body Or mine, upon the high-stacked pyre; And longed for death, to kill the horror and hardship, Yet out of regard for me she lived. Long may she live! And in life give aid to her absent Love, whose exile the Fates have willed.