Приморский сонет (Seaside Sonnet) by Anna Akhmatova

Everything here will outlive me,

Even the houses of the stare

And this air I breathe, the spring air,

Ending its flight across the sea.

 

Unearthly invincibility…

The voice of eternity is calling,

And the light moon’s light is falling

Over the blossoming cherry-tree.

 

It doesn’t seem a difficult road,

White, in the chalice of emerald,

Where it’s leading I won’t say…

There between the trunks, a streak

Of light reminds one of the walk

By the pond at Tsarkoye.

 

by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

(1958, Komarovo)

from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)

translation by D. M. Thomas


Fun Facts: Here is a blog account, with photos, of the walk along the shores of the great pond in Tsarskoye.

Akhmatova reciting her poem:

Original Russian cyrillic version of the poem:

Приморский сонет

Здесь все меня переживет,
Все, даже ветхие скворешни
И этот воздух, воздух вешний,
Морской свершивший перелет.

И голос вечности зовет
С неодолимостью нездешней,
И над цветущею черешней
Сиянье легкий месяц льет.

И кажется такой нетрудной,
Белея в чаще изумрудной,
Дорога не скажу куда…

Там средь стволов еще светлее,
И все похоже на аллею
У царскосельского пруда.

1958
Комарово

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Nightride by Gillian Clarke

The road unwinding under our wheels

New in the headlamps like a roll of foil.

The rain is a recorder writing tunes

In telegraph wires, kerbs and cats’ eyes,

Reflections and the lights of little towns.

 

He turns his head to look at me.

“Why are you quiet?” Shiny road rhythm,

Rain rhythm, beat of the windscreen wipers,

I push my knee against his in the warmth

And the car thrusts the dark and rain away.

 

The child sleeps, and I reflect, as I breathe

His brown hair, and watch the apple they gave him

Held in his hot hands, that a tree must ache

With the sweet weight of the round rosy fruit,

As I with Dylan’s head, nodding on its stalk.

 

by Gillian Clarke

from The Sundial, Gwasg Gomer, 1978)

A Working Homunculus Heart

I walked to work in the early morning and the air seemed to be on fire burning my nostrils with every breath made visible by expelled water vapour. I can still taste the dull mint of the toothpaste from twenty minutes ago as the ground beneath me seems to ripple, on the verge of perception, undulating beneath the frost of mid-Winter. I arrive at work and hear no one speaking while we wait to be let in. I feel my homunculus heart sink. I touch the machine switching it on and the static electricity stings me as it has done every day but I do not react.

Our marionette minds are not taxed by the labour. It is a simple, repetitive, task and in the dying days of this year it is only we who are expected to work though there is no urgency in the completion of our task. They are, however, more than willing to find us more to do so we are not ‘just sitting there twiddling our thumbs’ vacantly.

I recall being unemployed years ago and being told I should not pursue a job in publishing or any creative industry even as behind-the-scenes office staff. I was told this by an advisor in a government funded recruitment agency who would soon be fired but regain his job when the company that won the contact subcontracted it to their failing predecessors. It was two years later I finally got a job having to live with that comment. My heart was replaced by this homunculus sometime back then.

I do not work the whole day. I leave after six hours though I am told we can do just five in order to get a full day’s pay. It is the only act of defiance I can muster without cutting the red strings that bind me to this society down the road.

I had once been skilled in drawing but, with time preoccupied fulfilling others agendas for low pay, I found I had no time to do this and my marionette mind was enslaved by the puppet masters whose lives are their careers. I attempt to doodle occasionally but find where once there was scale and texture there is only a caricature line art not even worthy of being crossed out. My mind is plagued by the demons and dark thoughts accumulated through the passage of time. Nothing is done once work is finished. I lie rotting on the floor sheathed in the blue glow of the television in power saving mode as it rests.

I feel nothing. I care for nothing.

I am not living but merely existing nowadays.I am not human. I am not even humane. I am a homunculus.

A little man made less by society’s demands.

My homunculus heart is incomplete.

And yet it moves.


There is a PS2 game called ‘Haunting Ground‘ (‘Demento‘ in Japan) and a character in it called Daniella who is an artificially created servant (everyone else seems to be some sort of homunculus made by the alchemist, Lorenzo, so I assume she is too) who goes crazy and chases the main character around as the second stalker ‘boss’ of the ‘Clock Tower’ style game (Which it was initially going to be part of the series of before being made a stand alone title). It’s based on the sort of Gothic Romanticism in novels written by Anne Radcliffe (1764 – 1823) amongst others. Long story short the alchemist, Lorenzo, has kept himself alive via cloning/homunculus creation and wants to be reborn in the womb of the main Character Fiona. (Who he kidnapped and is his last living descendant so there is a bit of a creepy incest aspect to it too in thhe grand tradition of Gothic literature). In one of the bad endings one of his clones, Riccardo actually achieves it and you see Fiona sat docile in a chair about 8 months pregnant having apparently lost her will to resist…

People really liked the character of Daniella as a sort of tragic villian because although she was insane and trying to kill Fiona it was Lorenzo’s fault due to her maltreatment in his service by Riccardo. Unfortunately I can’t find a comprehensive video of all the scenes of dialogue but this one has a few of the key ones before Daniella starts chasing the main character around the castle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nkhy16_zsAQ

Oddly I have watched play throughs of it a few times but never played it myself. Sometimes I feel the urge to get an old copy and do so but I just don’t have time.

… and that is what inspired this vignette as silly as it may seem.