From the Seashore, by Anna Petrovna Bunina (1806)

Pelican Sunrise, by LouFCD @ Flickr

Pelican Sunrise, by LouFCD @ Flickr

In 1806, a Russian poet by the name of Anna Petrovna Bunina wrote something strange, and dark, and beautiful. She titled it, “С ПРИМОРСКОГО БЕРЕГА”, roughly translated “From the Seashore”. We read a translation by Pamela Perkins (in the Norton Anthology) early in our semester in my World Lit II class, and honestly it took a while to grow on me.

When it came time to begin work on our creative project for the semester, I turned to this piece for my inspiration. Since I’d been working on my photography it seemed natural to blend the two and see what happened.

The photo above is an outtake from that project. (As usual, all images in this post are linked to their respective Flickr page. For desktop-sized versions, click through to Flickr and then click the “All Sizes” button above each photo.)

I’m very tickled. In fact, I’m so tickled that although it’s usually my policy not to put my school work on the blog until after it’s graded and returned to me, I just can’t wait any more. You’re getting this before it’s even due. (This Thursday, for the record.)

The poem in its original Russian, an English translation by me, my photos from the project, and a few more outtakes are below the fold. (If you have religious nudity-related neuroses, no need to tell me about them, just move along. I don’t really care.)

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To the Virgins, to Make Much of Wooden Horses

My Instructor's remark.

My Instructor's remark.

This is my second reading and response for Paul Verlaine (read the first here). The poem I chose to read and respond to was “Wooden Horses”  (1874), wherein Verlaine takes aim at using a carousel as symbolic for life. While this could have been his best of the lot, the didacticism of his Victorian mores is as sophomorically simplistic as it is blatant. “Wooden Horses” has all the subtlety of a sixteen-pound sledgehammer wielded by a bridge troll.

He uses gross stereotyping to create a strawman version of hedonistic pleasure, with as much negative imagery as humanly possible. I was particularly annoyed by “… the fattest maid / riding your backs as if in their chamber”, roughly translated into modern English as “the big fat ho / fucking the wooden carousel horse like nobody’s business”. Could he be anymore derisive or crass? I found it offensive in the extreme, what with my modern feminist sensibilities and all. That kind of crap is uncalled for in any time period, though it’s pervasive in the writings of fuckaphobes throughout history.

Fuck you in your dead ass, Paul.

I cannot stress enough how much I disliked reading Verlaine. Trite and unimaginative, puritanical and offensive. These are not the traits I look for in a decent writer, much less a poet. Fortunately, we have moved on through Mallarmé and now we’re on to Chekhov, writers with a bit of sense and perspective.

The poem by Verlaine (again translated by C. F. MacIntyre) and my response in rhyming couplets lies below the fold.

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Sir, You Do Not Know the Moon

My instructor's remarks.

My instructor's remarks.

Paul Verlaine was a French poet whose 19th century work sort of straddled the Romantic and Symbolist movements. Critics seem to love the guy, but I found his stuff rather uninspiring. While the case has been forwarded that Verlaine only sounds trite and prosaic now because it’s old and been done over and over since then, I would argue that it had all been done before by better poets (The Bard of Avon comes to mind).

Our assignment for World Lit was to read two of the five offered (translated by C. F. MacIntyre) selections and write a paragraph in response to each. As I was bored to tears with him and his shallow fling, I went a bit creative with my responses. About the only thing I found interesting about Verlaine was the progression of his style over time.

For my first response, I actually read and addressed two related poems, “Moonlight” (1869) and “The White Moonglow”  (originally untitled from 1870). Those poems and my Sonnet in response lie below the fold. (Read the second reading and response here in another post.)

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For the Love of Frost

An essay I turned in this morning for English 113.

For the Love of Frost

One of my wishes is that those dark trees,

So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,

Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,

But stretched away unto the edge of doom. (Frost, “Into My Own”)

With these words in 1913, an awkward, gangling farm boy inexpertly expressed his interest in the most popular girl in school, the one all the poets wanted. Robert Frost had made written acquaintance with the American public some years prior but it was not until he moved to England that we took notice of our would-be suitor. His adolescent flirting would rapidly mature to the lingering kisses of a timeless affaire d’amour. Though there were some lovers’ quarrels through the years, his voice still whispers the little nothings we love to hear as we think back on relaxing in those peaceful moments of intimate connection. Our relationship with Frost began as an awkward courtship, tarried in sensual consummation, and now drifts restfully in the memories of half-conscious pillow talk.

Though his initial overture was unpolished and inelegant, our débutante’s attention was captured and our interest piqued. We had previously been courted by a boy named Edgar, but he was a bit too brooding for our collective taste. Edgar was fine enough to sigh over but not much fun to date, and we were looking for someone new with whom to share our evenings. We commented in our diary about our new beau, “Mr. Frost’s [A Boy’s Will] is a little raw, and has in it a number of infelicities; underneath them it has the tang of the New Hampshire woods, and it has just this utter sincerity” (Pound – emphasis in the original). Ezra Pound perfectly captured the country’s enchantment with Robert Frost. What set Frost apart from other poets was his skillful use of modest language to talk about everyday life. Grand pronouncements on cosmic-scale themes he left for other poets, and it was exactly those sincere infelicities that won America’s heart and soul.

(Continues below the fold)

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I Have Now Been De-Listed

The heavy hand of Mark, the head of the McCarthy Censorship Board at WordPress has now silenced me, too.

Not for objectionable content, there is none on my blog, but for speaking up for the girls.

I have been de-listed.

Mark is obviously on a power-trip. Seems to be a lot of that going around lately.

On a brighter note, he’s stopped blocking the girls on the friend surfer.

I’m happy for them, but it’s a small victory.

Digg This 

WordPress Censors The Erotica Tag

Stop Censoring Our Blogs

Janie was just checking, and all the posts have now disappeared from the erotica tag (only two very recent ones are there, apparently added after the purge by Mark and WordPress’ McCarthy Censorship Board).

We can now only assume that Mark has suddenly decided to go on a Holy Crusade against erotic literature on all blogs, and we are apparently the cause because we mentioned the tag when we were bitching about being blacklisted.

For that, we are truly sorry.

But please, don’t just stop writing it, don’t roll over and just accept his whimsical crusade.

Do everything you can to stop the WordPress Purge.

Post the graphics, make your own, blog about it, comment about it on other blogs, email WordPress Support and tell them how unhappy you are about these McCarthy era tactics of censorship in 2007.

Do not allow WordPress to continue censoring our blogs.

This must stop now.

West By God

Wild, Wonderful,

West Virginia.

Beautiful state.

Lovely place.

I live my life

in this mountainous haven,

day to day,

watching,

the trees turn in autumn,

the bud in spring,

shroud in summer.

Winter set in some time ago.

October was blustery,

November was wet,

December,

January,

February,

now March.

all the stunning snow.

It fell,

it wafted,

it blew,

it sailed,

it covered,

it melted,

it returned again and again.

I think I’ll move to Florida,

and watch West Virginia on TV.

L.

3/21/96

Who Am I?

i feel like,

i’m not sure.

the words just aren’t there.

.

maybe just an ephemeral spirit

in an etherial plane of quasiexistence

maybe.

.

sort of a plasma

inside a plasma.

.

it’s not so much i’m scattered,

more like fuzzy at the edges.

like a pencil drawing

erased and smeared at the borders.

.

just a few months ago,

i was apathetic.

but vehemently apathetic.

i could scream

i don’t care.

.

now i’m just kind of

apathetically apathetic.

.

i can’t say who i am,

i’m not even sure what i am.

L.

2/13/96

This Morning

Sleepy,

Bleary eyed.

The sun streaming in the window,

Wakes me with its warmth.

I’m dragging,

Unmotivated,

Much to do,

But bored to tears.

My neck is sore,

and my back aches.

The children won’t be here this weekend,

they are snowed in.

I want to be excited,

to feel alive,

so long as there isn’t much effort to it.

Amuse me.

Something happen, please.

My God,

I’ve become lazy,

Fat,

Brain dead.

I think I must have gotten old last night.

L.

2/3/96

Her Emblazoned Mane

I do not know her name,

nor dare I ask it.

I have laid eyes this night

on the most enchanting hue of blaze,

to ever cross man’s field of vision.

These magic, curling locks,

could belong to none

save a Celtic lass

of purest spritely blood.

And I have no doubt

that she is of the race

that so enchanted Odyseus, Hercules,

and Sinbad of lore.

Nor would I swear

that she is not in fact the very one,

the selfsame siren

whose enrapturing spell was cast

so very long ago.

To ask her name,

by legend her most intimate possession,

would be to risk,

to gamble,

perchance to shatter,

the very sorcery

to which I cling.

L.

1/23/96

Stone

Stone.

A stone idol

to the goddess Life.

Hard.  Unforgiving,

Enslaved by a diety

he adores but cannot touch.

She waits for his worship,

Worship he can no longer give.

She yearns for his passion,

Passion he cannot possess.

She longs for his kisses,

Kisses that are but stone.

And she listens for his heartbeat,

But it does not.

In her unnecessary enslavement

of her one true disciple,

She has enslaved

herself.

L.

10/13/95

Condemnation

Why do you hate me,

and threaten me with Hell,

when my only wish

is to strive to do my best?

I desire but to live free,

exert myself to my fullest potential,

and die well,

as any mortal should.

Do you find my rejection

of your brand of mythology

so offensive,

that you simply can’t see me?

Is there an almighty god

who claims his hand is just

that denies all that I stand for

all that is free

all that is beautiful,

all that is true and fair

because I don’t follow his liturgy?

And because I despise solitude,

Because I shall not starve myself,

And because of my love for woman,

Am I doomed to eternal torment?

Is this then

what he calls justice?

Is this fair or true?

Can this be beauty?

Will equity condemn the young,

the ignorant,

the sweet of soul,

for not reciting the proper words?

If this is what your god proposes,

then I must needs pass judgement,

on the arrogant,

egocentric,

unfair,

unjust,

Evil

of your god,

and give pity to his lonely soul.

L.

10/13/95

The Labor

Lou FCDFor five days,

and five nights,

I have toiled to the brink of exhaustion.

Sweat has poured

in buckets from my skin.

My mind has raced

and twisted and turned.

Blood has dripped

from my battered fingers.

And tears have flowed

from my bloodshot eyes.

My unseen foe,

myself,

has pushed me to the edge,

and I am weary to the bone.

My body shakes in fatigue,

and I feel I can continue no longer.

Were there a god

upon whom I could call

I believe I would be tempted

to pray for merciful Death.

I would be hard pressed

not to beg for her comfort,

her solace,

her rest.

But for now my race is over,

my work is done,

my toil now suspended.

I sit before my computer screen

and let escape a gasp of relief.

Thank God,

there is no school on weekends.

L.

10/13/95

Woman

Lou FCD“Why?”

you ask,

“do you write so much

about woman?

Her soft lips,

blazing eyes,

tender touch,

flaming spirit,

and burning soul?

Why her throat,

bared to your teeth?

Why her breast,

filled with passion?

Why her hips,

shaped to entice your lust?

Why her person,

wild as untamed horses?

Why her chin,

more high and noble than any king?

Why her kisses,

more honest and devious

than any manchild ever born?

And why her song,

the hypnotic song

of the siren?”

.

And I,

in humility,

must answer,

.

“My good friend,

It seems to me,

You have answered

your own question.

What more stunning creature,

could enchant such a man as I,

.

As Woman?”

L.

10/12/95

Rendezvous

Lou FCDLit up by the shining full moon,

Enwrapped by the biting October wind,

Roofed by the clear bright stars,

Standing with the hard, cold concrete

beneath my feet of ice,

I wait.

Time passes in circles,

Each breath is hours from the last,

Each heartbeat stumbles before the next.

There is no traffic,

this time of night,

No passerby to break the silence,

No owl in this city

to keep me company.

My thoughts have traveled

a million light years and back,

and again,

they rest on you.

Reality swirls

and is an extension of imagination

From the dark alleyway

a stone rattles against a brick,

From the black shadow

your form explodes into the light.

Your passionate greeting

leaves me bonless

trembling,

aroused.

We walk to the river,

along the bank,

Saying much,

but nothing on our common mind.

L.

10/10/95

The Three Bears

Lou FCDCute,

Funny,

Is how the exercise began.

She was reading from a book,

The Three Bears.

As I listened,

Amused,

I began to recall.

There was a day,

a time to be more precise,

when I told this story to my daughter,

Kayla,

Each and every night.

I spoke the parts,

Papa was gruff,

Mama was motherly,

and Baby was small.

Her eyes were wide,

Expectant,

Like each time

was the very first.

“Hot stuff will burn you, Daddy,”

“Porridge is like oatmeal,”

“She broke it on accident, Daddy,

That’s ok, isn’t it?”

Though I am not given

to public grief,

The tears flowed beyond my control.

Not that I attempted to control them,

That would have meant futile madness.

I make no apology,

for apparent melodrama,

I simply explain my loss,

my grief,

my pain.

L.

10/6/95

Jane

Lou FCDHer Cherokee blood,

Her dark hair and eyes,

Her wild intelligent spirit,

Fighting to break the chains

Shackled on her in childhood.

Knowing what freedom was,

Yet afraid to test the water,

Fearful of the mythology

and superstition of her youth.

In my haste and excitement,

I pushed her into freedoom,

And in terror,

in shame,

She huddled back into her prison,

and ran away from me.

L.

10/4/95

Untitled about my Father

Lou FCDI walked along the shore,

Thunderous crashing of surf,

against the rocky cliffs below,

Cold wet spray of water

against my face,

Salty smell of the mighty Atlantic

burning in my nose.

Out over the water

I could see the proud ships

of my homeland’s navy

Coursing through the waves.

I sat upon a rock

and thought a while,

Remembering times

when I was quite young

And my father brought me here.

I miss my father.

We were great friends,

He and I.

We still speak,

every few weeks.

I drive the many hours,

Once or twice a year,

to see him,

hoping to recapture that something

That doesn’t seem

to still be there.

L.

10/4/95

Questions

Lou FCDQuestions,

fill my wandering mind.

Where do I go?

What do I do?

Where have I been?

What have I done?

Junctures and crossroads,

Backstreets and alleys,

Highways and byways,

Life.

There has been much pain,

much sorrow,

loneliness,

and gloom.

But, too,

there has been happiness,

joy and contentedness.

Days of sun as well as rain.

There will be more of all,

I suspect.

Though I face the future,

with all its fearful consequence,

I just can’t wait to go on.

L.

10/4/95

Heaven and Hell

Lou FCDWild.

Stormy.

Emblazoned with electric flashes,

The blue flames streaking across the sky.

Thunderous silence of pouring rain.

By the strobe-like lightning

she danced across the field.

With her hedonistic pleasure

she compelled me to follow.

A silent zombie,

I traced her steps,

to the edge of the abysmally black forest.

Without thought or hesitation

I shuffled into the yawning deep.

Stumbling,

Falling,

Rising again,

to follow the dancing spectre.

There,

and there again,

the glimpse of her form,

Enticing me,

in this midnight game of follow the leader.

For hours she led,

For hours I followed,

Til at last,

beyond all time,

we came to her abode.

In a perfect circle,

In a break amongst the trees,

Where the rain crashed,

and the lightning flashed,

Where the moon was black,

We stopped.

Centered in the circle of trees,

Within her now concentric dance,

An altar beckoned me forth.

As I approached the marble slab,

Her movements transformed,

From the insane,

to the insanely erotic.

I, the sacrificial lamb,

and she the acolyte.

I lay upon the stone,

Obedient,

Subservient,

Expectant.

It was here,

the spawn of Hell was conceived,

And here,

the concept of Heaven was born.

L.

10/4/95