Downstairs Tom is removing cabinet doors for painting. Upstairs the cat is crouched on a windowsill, switching his tail and glowering at the sleet. Fir branches bend wearily under their ice loads.
I have begun copying out Ted Hughes's translation of Ferenc Juhasz's "The Boy Changed into a Stag Cries Out at the Gate of Secrets." Juhasz was a Hungarian poet, born in 1928, who died this past December. Here's the opening of his remarkable long poem:
The mother called after her sonThe repetitions; the metaphors--unexpected, dense, gothic--which my mind accepts as precision and truth; the crowd of images, a world of images, unified into the narrative drama of the unfolding tale . . . already I can see that this poem is a lesson in storytelling that I need to learn.
from the far distance.
The mother called after her son
from the far distance,
she went out in front of the house, calling
and she loosened her hair’s thick knot
which the dusk wove to a dense, stirring veil,
a valuable robe sweeping the earth,
wove to a stiff and heavily-flaring mantle,
a banner for the wind with ten black tassels,
a shroud, in the fire-slashed blood-heavy twilight.
She twisted her fingers among the fine tendrils
of the stars, the moon’s suds bleached her features,
and she called after her son shrilly
as she called him long ago, a small child,
she went out from the house talking to the wind,
and spoke to the song-birds, her words overtaking
the wild geese going in couples,
to the shivering bulrushes,
to the potato flower in its pallor,
to the clench-balled bulls rooted so deeply,
to the fragrant shadowy mulch,
she spoke to the fish where they leaped playfully,
to the momentary oil-rings, mauve and fleeting.