Friday, 6 February 2009

From Thomas Bernhard's Under the Iron Moon (part 3)

As we approach the 20th day of the passing of Thomas Bernhard, one of the best writers never to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, or for that matter never to have won the *Gro├čer Austrian State Prize for Literature, Poet-in-Residence is pleased to publish another newly translated poem from Under the Iron Moon.

Thomas Bernhard won the °Kleinen Austrian State Prize for Literature; a prize supposedly awarded to encourage young and up-and-coming talent. Bernhard was over 40 years of age when he was awarded the prize. He was already an established writer. To add insult to injury the prize was given for his first novel Frost left at the porter's lodge on the closing date for entries, presumably as a joke, by his brother Peter Fabian.

Once again it must be pointed out that these Poet-in-Residence translations are not word-for-exact-word but rather that they are intended to capture the spirit and essence of Bernhard's poetry.

*great
°small

The recent rain

The recent rain reached
only to the rusty heart of the night
and the dark gangways of the dead

who hang from the beams with the bats
and whose creaky fingers
draw angels in the dark between the stars

and who dance over the pigs and haunt the cows
in their restless slumber
with groans and murmurs of milk between white limbs.

One often stretches an abandoned leg out of the bed
and lets chin and world dream
on the dusty planks of the trailer

where the moon trembles before the canvas
to the tiresome talk of unprotected sisters
who praise God in sweetmeats and long sides of speck

till wine overfills their brains with a heaven
rolled-up from the ash and the grass
under their wayward feet

and they swim on yellow breasts
through the transcience of sad springtimes
girls in black cloaks full of apple aroma

and from their marvellous mouths the poverty
of their mad lamentations flows
over my face of stone and tears.

----
Gwilym Williams
6th February 2009

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