Posts Tagged ‘Wild Geese’

Gisela Ullyatt. Vir Mary Oliver (10 September 1935 – 17 Januarie 2019).

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

 

Junie 2007: die winterson val soos genade op die blokkiesvloer van die zendo (plek van meditasie, afkomstig uit die Zen-tradisie).

Dis skuins voor middagete en ’n klein groepie vergader hier vir die laaste sessie van ’n meditasie retreat. Ons meditasie teacher gee haar laaste dharma-praatjie en sluit af met ’n gedig. Sy sê dis deur haar gunsteling digter, Mary Oliver, geskryf. Die naam lui geen poëtiese klokkie by my nie. Soos ons teacher begin lees, sluit ek my oë, iets wat ek gereeld doen wanneer ek na voorlesings luister.

 

Die eerste drie reëls tref my soos witwater:

 

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through desert, repenting.

 

Iets groei in my terwyl ek luister na die res van die gedig:

 

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting  ̶

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

 

Min het ek toe geweet hoe “WIld Geese” my lewe daadwerklik sou begin verander.

 

‘n Jong Mary Oliver, foto deur Molly Malone Cook

 

Met Oliver se dood ’n paar dae gelede, het huldeblyke ingestroom vanuit ’n menigte oorde, iets wat die digter miskien nie eintlik ernstig sou opneem nie: sy het geglo dat haar gedigte vir hulself moes opstaan en wou nooit te veel oor een van hulle weggee nie. Alhoewel Oliver ’n uiters private persoon was (sy het slegs ’n handjievol onderhoude toegestaan in haar skryfloopbaan van ongeveer 55 jaar) het sy in die afgelope vyftien jaar of so ’n uiters gewilde voorleser van haar eie gedigte geword dermate dat bykans al haar byeenkomste stampvol was. Ook verskyn twee CD’s waarop sy haar gedigte lees.

 

Mary Oliver is gebore op 10 September 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio. Haar gesinslewe was uiters disfunksioneel: in ’n onderhoud met Maria Shriver in 2011 word dit bekend dat sy deur haar vader gemolesteer is as kind (iets wat vlugtig genoem is in die onderhoud). Haar moeder staan passief teenoor hierdie molestering. Twee gedigte in Dream Work (1986), “A visitor” en “Rage” is moontlik geskoei op hierdie bloedskande. Ek haal laasgenoemde aan:

 

Foto: Gisela Ullyatt

 

You are the dark song

of the morning;

serious and slow,

you shave, you dress,

you descend the stairs

in your public clothes

and drive away, you become

the wise and powerful one

who makes all the days

possible in the world.

But you were also the red song

in the night,

stumbling through the house

to the child’s bed,

to the damp rose of her body,

leaving your bitter taste.

And forever those nights snarl

the delicate machinery of the days.

When the child’s mother smiles

you see on her cheekbones

a truth you will never confess;

and you see how the child grows  ̶

timidly, crouching in corners.

Sometimes, in the wide night

you hear the most mournful cry,

a ravished and terrible moment.

In your dreams she’s a tree

that will never come to leaf  ̶

in your dreams she’s a watch

you dropped on the dark stones

till no one could gather the fragments  ̶

in your dreams you have sullied and murdered,

and dreams do not lie.

 

Op hoërskool bank sy skool vir ’n lang tyd en verdiep haarself in Walt Whitman se poësie en die natuur; die omgewing waar hulle bly is landelik, omring deur woude:

 

 

Walt Whitman

 

When the high school I went to experienced a crisis of delinquent student behavior, my response was to start out for school every morning but to turn most mornings into the woods instead, with a knapsack of books. Always Whitman’s was among them. My truancy was extreme, and my parents were warned that I might not graduate. For whatever reason, they let me continue to go my own way. It was an odd blessing, but a blessing all the same. Down by the creek, or in the wide pastures I could still find on the other side of the deep woods, I spent my time with my friend: my brother, my uncle, my best teacher (Blue Pastures).

 

Ander groot invloede op haar werk sluit in: William Blake, Percy Shelley, John Keats, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, en Edna St Vincent Millay en in later jare, Rumi. Oliver skryf ’n essay oor Emerson ter inleiding van die 2000-uitgawe van The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Die volgende aanhaling uit hierdie inleiding kan ook as opsomming dien van Oliver se lewensuitkyk en oeuvre:

 

The one thing he is adamant about is that we should look  ̶-  we must look  – for that is the liquor of life, that brooding upon issues, that attention to thought even as we weed the garden or milk the cow.

 

In 1953 besoek sy Steepletop, die tuiste van die digter Edna St Vincent Millay, waarna sy later teruggaan om daar in te woon as assistent van Norma Millay, Edna se suster, wat aangestel is as Millay se literêre eksekuteur. Nadat Oliver terugkeer na Ohio, studeer sy vir ’n jaar onderskeidelik aan die Ohio State-universiteit en Vassar-kollege, nadat sy ’n beurs ontvang. Sy voltooi egter nie haar studies nie, maar dit verhoed haar nie om in 1980 ’n Mather besoekende professorskap te ontvang aan Case Western Reserve-universiteit nie. Sy word ook aangestel as die poet-in-residence by Bucknell-universiteit in 1986. Vele ander aanstellings volg.

 

 

Edna St Vincent Millay

 

 

Haar eerste bundel, No Voyage and Other Poems, verskyn in Engeland in 1963; sy werk indertyd by die Mobile Theatre Ltd in Londen. Die volgende aanhaling uit die flapteks wys dat sy as jong digter reeds die invalshoek van haar latere bundels intuïtief aangevoel het:

 

 

No Voyage and Other Poems. Foto: Gisela Ullyatt

 

She believes that an “affirmation” of life is just as justifiable as an affirmation of despair”. She has also attempted to “marry technique and emotion in order to express simple human truth in such a way that it should be conveyed with purpose and clarity to the listener and the reader”.

 

Oliver is ’n bekroonde digter: hoogtepunte is in 1984 wanneer die Pulitzer-prys vir American Primitive aan haar toegeken word asook in 1992 met die National Book Award vir New and Selected Poems (Volume1).

 

Dis moeilik om reg te laat geskied aan ’n digter soos Mary Oliver. “Wild Geese” het my oopgebreek op daardie wintermiddag in 2007 toe my kop vol donkerte was; toe ek nie meer gedigte kon skryf nie. Maar soos ek meer van haar gedigte begin lees het, het die lig deur ’n skrefie begin val wat stadigaan ’n luik vol helder lig geword het. My eerste blog op Versindaba handel oor Mary Oliver (sien asseblief die bibliografie wat die skakel insluit):  Stadig maar seker het ’n doktorale tesis vorm begin aanneem en op 11 September 2013 het ek my Ph.D. ontvang vir “Bride of Amazement”: A Buddhist Perspective on Mary Oliver’s Poetry. Die gedig waarop my titel geskoei is, is “When death comes”:

 

Foto: Gisela Ullyatt

 

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

 

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox;

 

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

 

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

 

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

 

and I think of each life as a flower, as common

as a field daisy, and as singular,

 

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending, as all music does, towards silence,

 

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth.

 

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

 

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

If I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

 

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

 

(New and Selected Poems, Volume One)

 

Dankie, dogter van Ohio, digter van Provincetown; Bruid van Verwondering.

 

New York Times

 

BIBLIOGRAFIE

 

Atkinson, B. ed. 2000. The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Modern Library (Random House).

Oliver, M. 1963. No Voyage, and Other Poems. Londen: J.M. Bent.

Oliver, M. 1986. Dream Work. New York: Atlantic Monthly.

Oliver, M. 1992. New and Selected Poems, Volume One. Boston, MA: Beacon.

Oliver, M. 1995. Blue Pastures. New York: Harcourt.

Ullyatt, G. 2013. “Bride of Amazement”: A Buddhist Perspective on Mary Oliver’s Poetry. Ongepubliseerde doktorale tesis. Potchefstroom: Noordwes-Universiteit.

Gisela Ullyatt. Mary Oliver se Blue Horses.

Gisela Ullyatt. Mary Oliver en die Zen van aandagtigheid