Water, water oraloor e.a. clichés

Albatros

Albatros

Synde die digter van ‘n bundel met die titel Wat die water onthou, is dit seker verskoonbaar dat ek dit nie kon weerstaan om via ‘n skakel op die Poetry Foundation se webtuiste ‘n berig op The Miami Herald na te lees nie; die opskrif by die skakel is immers “Water, water everywhere and other misused cliches”.

Nietemin, dié berig handel toe oor twee beroemde – en dikwels aangehaalde reëls – uit Samuel Taylor Coleridge se klassieke “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner“; meer spesifiek oor hoe gereeld Amerikaanse politici dié reëls aanhaal en dit dan boonop binne verkeerde konteks gebruik. En as sulks is dit eintlik héél vermaaklik.

So word daar byvoorbeeld na die Kaliforniese Senaats-verteenwoordiger, Tom McClintock, verwys wat tydens ‘n onlangse debat oor die gebrekkige watervoorsiening deur die Obama-regering die volgende kwytgeraak het: “”This is insane,”  het McClintock glo gesê. “Coleridge’s lament, ‘Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink,’ appears to have become the policy of this administration.”

Volgens die beriggewer was dit egter nie die eerste keer dat politici hul retoriese oog op dié gewilde reëls gevestig het nie. Ek haal aan: “There is literally water, water everywhere in Alaska,” Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski once said, speaking of an Alaskan water project.” En ook:  “‘If we follow down the path the Republicans are leading us, there will be water, water everywhere, but not a drop of it to drink,’ House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi once said, speaking of environmental legislation.” En ‘n laaste voorbeeld: “‘Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink; that’s my biggest fear,'” a Rhode Island town council member named Dale Grogan once said, discussing a proposed port.”

Uiteraard is hierdie almal voorbeelde van ‘n totale waninterpretasie van Coleridge se reëls waar dit immers gaan oor ‘n seevaarder wat, na hy ‘n albatros gedood het, verlore op ‘n windstil see ronddryf met geen (vars) water om te drink nie.  “When the lines are quoted out of context, I’ve heard them misrepresented as if they referred to want in the presence of abundance,” het Frederick Burwick, redakteur van The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Taylor Coleridge verduidelik. “Rather, the Mariner is deprived of fresh water and is surrounded by undrinkable salt water. […] The Ancient Mariner, moreover, had brought his parched fate upon himself through his slaughter of the innocent albatross. Elusive water couldn’t simply be tapped through renewed political will. He’d put it beyond his reach through his own heedless act against another species.”

Maar nou, ja. Hiervan is die opportunistiese gebruik van poësie deur politici en ander jagters van ‘mooiklinkende’ versreëls natuurlik salig onbewus en so word die cliché inderdaad die albatros om ons nek.

Vir jou leesplesier volg die toepaslike gedeelte uit Coleridge se veel langer vers onder aan vanoggend se Nuuswekker.

***

Vanoggend se Nuuswekker moes ek vooruit skeduleer aangesien ek tans elders is waar ek nie toegang tot die internet het nie. Dit beteken dus dat ek ongelukkig nie plasings wat sedert gister bygekom het, soos gebruiklik kan aankondig óf blikvangers op die hoofblad aanbring nie. Ek vra om verskoning en beloof om later vandag weer op my pos te wees …

Mooi bly.

LE

 

Part II

“The sun now rose upon the right:
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariners’ hollo!

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work ’em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

Nor dim nor red, like God’s own head,
The glorious sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down,
‘Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch’s oils,
Burnt green, and blue, and white.

And some in dreams assured were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.”

 

© Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Uit: Deel II, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

 

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