Posts Tagged ‘Dave Margoshes’

Leon Retief. Twee Kanadese digters: Dave Margoshes & Jan Zwicky

Sunday, October 30th, 2016




Hendrik Botha se inskrywing oor dokter-digters en sy opmerkings oor mediese poësie in die besonder het my herinner aan die onderstaande gedig deur Dave Margoshes. Die intense situasies waarin dokters in sommige dissiplines hulself van tyd tot tyd bevind, sowel as die interaksies met pasiënte en hul families – soms amusant, soms gespanne, soms aangrypend – moet beslis ryk stof vir skrywers en digters bied. Margoshes laat die digkuns dalk makliker lyk as wat dit is – almal van ons, nie net dokters en digters nie, het ondervindings en gedagtes in ons koppe en harte wat kan oorsprong gee aan romans, gedigte of fabels maar om dit op papier neer te skryf is natuurlik iets anders.




What could be easier than learning to write?

Novels, poems, fables with and without morals,

they’re all within you, in the heart, the head,

the bowel, the tip of a pen a diviner’s rod.

Reach inside and there they are, the people

one knows, their scandalous comments,

the silly things they do, the unforgettable feeling

of a wet eyelash on your burning cheek.

This moment, that, an eruption of violence,

a glancing away, the grandest of entrances,

the telling gesture, the banal and the beautiful,

all conspire with feeling and passion to transport,

to deliver, to inspire. Story emerges

from this cocoon, a crystalline moment, epiphanies

flashing like lightbulbs above the heads

of cartoon characters. All this within you

where you least expect it, not so much in the head

as under the arms, glistening with sweat, stinking

with the knowledge of the body, the writer

neither practitioner nor artisan but miner, digging

within himself for riches unimagined, for salt.


(c) Dave Margoshes


Dit herinner my ook aan Octavio Paz: “The gush. A mouthful of health. A girl lying on her past. Wine, fire, the guitar, tablecloth. A red plush wall in a village square. Cheers, glittering cavalry that enter the city, the people in flight: hymns! Eruption of white, green, fiery. The easiest thing, that which writes itself: poetry!”

Jan Zwicky

Jan Zwicky

Jan Zwicky het die volgende geskryf: “the nature poet is not simply one whose subject matter lies out of doors. The nature poet is, first and foremost, someone who does not doubt that the world is real – or, more precisely, someone who would resist the suggestion that the world is a human construct, a thing that depends on humans speaking or knowing to exist.”




For performance with Bach’s E Minor Partita for Solo Violin, BWV 1006




There is, said Pythagoras, a sound

the planet makes, a kind of music

just outside our hearing, the proportion

and the resonance of things – not

the clang of theory or the wuthering

of human speech, not even

the bright song of sex or hunger, but

the unrung ringing that

supports them all.


The wife, no warning, dead

when you come home. Ducats

in the fishheads that you salvage

from the rubbish heap. Is the cosmos

laughing at us? No. It’s saying


improvise. Everywhere you look

there’s beauty, and it’s rimed

with death. If you find injustice

you’ll find humans, and this means

that if you listen, you’ll find love.

The substance of the world is light,

is water: here, clear

even when it’s dying; even when the dying

seems unbearable, it runs.




Why is Bach’s music more like speech than any other? Because of

its wisdom, I think. Which means its tempering of lyric passion by

domesticity, its grounding of the flash of lyric insight in domestic

earth, the turf of dailiness.


Let us think of music as a geometry of the emotions. Bach’s

practice, then, resembles that of the Egyptians: earth’s measure as a

way of charting the bottomlands of the Nile, the floodwaters of the

heart, as a way of charting life. Opera, Greek tragedy, Romantic poetry

tell us that sex and death are what we have to focus on if we want to

understand any of the rest. Bach’s music, by contrast, speaks directly

to, and of, life itself – the resonant ground of sex and death.


And it does this not without ornamentation, but without fuss:

the golden ratio in which the whelk shell lying on the beach, the leaf whorl

opening to sun, the presence of the divine in the chipped dish drying

in the rack, that miracle: good days, bad days, a sick kid, a shaft of

sunlight om the organ bench. Talk to me, I’m listening.




E major: June wind

in the buttercups, wild

and bright and tough.

Like luck – a truth

that’s on the surface of a thing,

not because it’s shallow, but because

it’s open: overtoned.

Because it rings.

Fate, too

Is character. But it’s

the shape – the cadence

and the counterpoint. Luck

lives in the moment, and it

looks at you: the clear eye,

gold, when being sings.


Menuet I & II


There’s nothing special in it. All you have to do

is hit the right key at the right time. Time:

that stream in which we do and do not,

live, just practice diligently, it will all go well. You have

five fingers on each hand, just as healthy as my own.

Unison, the octave; the fifth, the fourth, the third.

Of the strings? The viola, if I have a choice.

At the keyboard, don’t forget to use your thumb.

God’s glory and the recreation of the mind.

What I really need to know:

Does the organ have good lungs?

The partita of the world, the dance of being: everything

has to be possible.




Partita, partie – a whole of many parts. Pythagoras, who is said to have studied with the Egyptians, is also said to have taught that enlightenment meant solving the problem of the One and the Many, of coming to grasp the divine unity of the world through its bits and pieces, as these come to us in language.

This may also be thought of as the problem of metaphor: that metaphor’s truth, its charge of meaning, depends on assertion of identity and difference, on erotic coherence and referential strife, on meaning as resonance and meaning revealed through analysis.

Lyric poets are always trying to approach the issue by forcing speech to aspire to the condition of music. Bach comes at it from the other end: he infuses music with a sense of the terrible concreteness, the particularity, of the world. And enlightenment? – Acceptance of, delight in, the mystery of incarnation.




There is a sound

that is a whole of many parts,

a sorrowless transparency, like luck,

that opens in the centre of a thing.

An eye, a river, fishheads, death,

gold in your pocket, and a half-wit

son: the substance of the world

is light and blindness and the measure

of our wisdom is our love.

Our diligence: ten fingers and

a healthy set of lungs. Practice

ceaselessly: there is

one art: wind

in the open spaces

grieving, laughing

with us, saying



(c) Jan Zwicky