Threshold by R S Thomas

I emerge from the mind’s

cave into the worse darkness

outside, where things pass and

the Lord is in none of them.

.

I have heard the still, small voice

and it was that of the bacteria

demolishing my cosmos. I

have lingered too long on

.

this threshold, but where can I go?

To look back is to lose the soul

I was leading upward towards

the light. To look forward? Ah,

.

what balance is needed at

the edges of such an abyss.

I am alone on the surface

of a turning planet. What

.

to do but, like Michelangelo’s

Adam, put my hand

out into unknown space,

hoping for the reciprocating touch?

.

by R. S. Thomas

from Later Poems (1983)

Blog Update 2020

Usually I post these updates on 1st January but there was a delay this year.

Last year I posted once a week instead of every day as I had in 2018. The result? The same number of readers but less viewing of multiple pages per visitor. Translation: regular readers were not ‘catching up on previous posts’ when checking in once or twice a week while there were the usual ‘looking for one thing then leaving’ types too but in lower numbers. Another thing I did was that, in contrast to 2018, I limited posts to once a week to see what the downturn would be. Fortunately it seems those who follow the blog have stuck with it which is nice to learn.

This year, if the regular readers don’t mind, I will be posting reviews of various films and such alongside the poems. The poems will remain being posted on Sunday 8:30AM BST barring any issues so that’s isn’t’ changing. I just never felt there was a good time to post the reviews without posting multiple times a day during 2018 and then I became overly busy in 2019 so I couldn’t do the long form reviews I’ve done previously.

The reviews I’ve done in the past tend to include long synopses but they never felt satisfying. The reviews I will be posting will be much briefer and likely only a few paragraphs in length compared to past efforts. I won’t include header images as I am always a bit concerned about the upload limit we have for file storage like that (hence why many previous images have likely been on the smaller side).

Along side those I hope to write some vignettes too. Short stories and the such. I got into watching a series called Yamishibai which comprises of 5 minute long Japanese ghost stories. It’s quite enjoyable and available for free in high quality on the Crunchyroll website. So I might type things like that too to experiment with some styles of short writing exercises.

Any comments or suggestions are welcome.

Эхо (Echo) by Anna Akhmatova

The roads to the past have long been closed,

and what is the past to me now?

What is there? Bloody slabs,

or a bricked up door,

or an echo that still could not

keep quiet, although I ask so…

The same thing happened with the echo

as with what I carry in my heart.

_

by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

(1960)

translation by Richard McKane

A reading of the poem by http://www.staroeradio.ru

Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.

Эхо

В прошлое давно пути закрыты,
И на что мне прошлое теперь?
Что там? — окровавленные плиты,
Или замурованная дверь,
Или эхо, что еще не может
Замолчать, хотя я так прошу…
С этим эхом приключилось то же,
Что и с тем, что в сердце я ношу.

From A Suburban Window by Dannie Abse

Such afternoon glooms, such clouds chimney low –
London, the clouds want to move but can not,
London, the clouds want to rain but can not –
such negatives of a featureless day:
the street empty but for a van passing,
an afternoon smudged by old afternoons.
Soon, despite railings, evening will come
from a great distance trailing evenings.
Meantime, unemployed sadness loiters here.

Quite suddenly, six mourners appear:
a couple together, then three stout men,
then one more, lagging behind, bare-headed.
Not one of them touches the railings.
They walk on and on remembering days,
yet seem content. They employ the décor.
They use this grey inch of eternity,
and the afternoon, so praised, grows distinct.

by Dannie Abse
from A Small Desperation (1968)

Импровизация (Improvisation) by Boris Pasternak

I was feeding the flock of keys out of my hand
To a beating of wings. I was standing on tiptoe,
My hands reaching out to the splashing and screaming
My sleeve was rolled up and night brushed my elbow.

And it was pitch dark. And there was a pond
And waves. And the love-birds and suchlike, it seemed,
Would surely be pecked to death long before those
Whose black, strident, savage beaks screamed.

And there was a pond. And it was pitch dark
Except where the lilies like torches were flickering.
A wave was gnawing the planks of the dinghy.
And birds at my elbow were snapping and bickering.

Night rattled like phlegm in the throats of the ponds.
The fledgling had yet to be fed, it seemed,
And the females would peck it to death long before
The roulades would cease in the gullet that screamed.

by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
(1916)
from Поверх барьеров
(Over The Barriers)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France

A reading of the poem in Russian.

Beneath is the original, Russian Cyrillic, version of the poem.

Импровизация  
 
Я клавишей стаю кормил с руки
Под хлопанье крыльев, плеск и клекот.
Я вытянул руки, я встал на носки,
Рукав завернулся, ночь терлась о локоть.

И было темно. И это был пруд
И волны.- И птиц из породы люблю вас,
Казалось, скорей умертвят, чем умрут
Крикливые, черные, крепкие клювы.

И это был пруд. И было темно.
Пылали кубышки с полуночным дегтем.
И было волною обглодано дно
У лодки. И грызлися птицы у локтя.

И ночь полоскалась в гортанях запруд,
Казалось, покамест птенец не накормлен,
И самки скорей умертвят, чем умрут
Рулады в крикливом, искривленном горле.  

Carol by R. S. Thomas

What is Christmas without
snow? We need it
as bread of a cold
climate, ermine to trim

our sins with, a brief
sleeve for charity’s
scarecrow to wear its heart
on, bold as a robin.

by R. S. Thomas
from Later Poems
(1983)

The Fridge by Boris Slutsky

What a sturdy square block of a thing you are!
Such a fine, white, self-satisfied creature!
 
Sometimes you stand dumb as a boulder
or drop off into a cold sleep, or
Sometimes your metal belly rumbles, but there's
no point in working out your meaning.
 
Of all machines the fridge must be the
most good-natured; hog-fat and
roomy as a snow-drift, it
must be said to hold the purest heart.
 
Firmly under human domination
even the cold that creeps out from it
is only a small cold blast, too small
to threaten any freeze-up of our future.
 
If ever robots rise in revolution,
if ever they attack the human race,
at least you refrigerators won't be
amongst the ones to break the peace.
 
For you are the house-dog of machinery
a faithful and contented animal;
so give your door a docile wag for Man,
your living friend, and show him how you smile.
 

by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий
(Boris Abramovich Slutsky)
(19??)
translated by Elaine Feinstein