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#2111 - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz

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  • Jerry Katz
    The Nondual Highlights #2111 - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz Highlights Home Page and Archive: http://nonduality.com/hlhome.htm Letter to the
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 12, 2005
       The Nondual Highlights
      #2111 - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz
      Highlights Home Page and Archive: http://nonduality.com/hlhome.htm 

      Letter to the Editors: Click 'Reply' on your email program, compose your message, and 'Send'. All the editors will see your letter.

      Issue #2106 -- http://nonduality.com/hl2106.htm -- featured poetry by Gabriel Rosenstock. Gabriel was cited as the translator, however it was not noted that he was also the author. He wrote the poems in Irish and then translated them into English. Here is a blurb I came across about Gabriel:

      What is it that makes Gabriel Rosenstock the greatest living Irish lyric poet? He is the best tailor in town, a perfect craftsman, who looks terrific in any poetic garb – from haiku to Canto – and yet exposes raw nerves, suffering words like a wounded bird ‘picking at a wino’s vomit’.

      --Peter van de Kamp, editor Irish Literature

      I asked Gabriel about the Irish language. He wrote:
      Dear Jerry,

      What it means to write in Irish is this: one is writing in one of the oldest literary languages of Europe, the oldest after Greek and Latin.

      Anybody wishing to listen to some poetry in Irish and enjoy its very sophisticated versecraft may purchase the bilingual anthology and accompanying audio-cassette A TREASY OF IRISH LOVE which I edited for Hippocrene Books, New York.

      For me it means that reality is filtered through a medium which does not have the massive exposure - and consequent contamination??? - of English.

      I do not  wish to set languages up against each other. This would be wrong. Indeed, I write in both languages. I am interested in the way the Chicano poet Francisco X. Alarcón tries to reappropriate Nahuatl, a language his grandmother knew. Such linguistic repossession of part of the soul and ritual of pre-Columbian America sounds like a salutary exercise to me.

      Isaac Bashevis Singer said he was nourished on dead languages, Hebrew, Yiddidh and Aramaic. Will Irish die? Probably ... but won't all languages die at some stage?

      Irish captivated me from an early age:

      * sagairtín: a little priest; also, an inedible periwinkle...
      * gealach: the moon; also a thin slice of raw turnip...
      * iomas gréine: sun inspiration; a sun-bubble caused on herbs which if eaten gives the gift of poetry...
      * turcaí: a turkey; also a slang word for a beast kept by a herd in mountain pasture for his own benefit with or without the knowledge
      of his master ...
      * brionglán: a beam, a shaft, a branch; also, one side of a tongs
      * aiteall: joy; also, a bright spell after rain
      * múta: one who can do nothing properly
      * donn: a prince, a chief, a judge; also, the name of a fairy inhabiting sandbanks off the coast of Clare ....

      One could go on, but I think you get the picture!

      The website you mentioned is fine ...
      This is the website: http://www.fiosfeasa.com/bearla/language/intro.htm. And this is from the website:
      Irish is a Celtic language spoken in a number of small communities, mostly in the west of Ireland, and by larger numbers of people scattered across the country. It has been the spoken language of Ireland for over two thousand years, and has an extensive literature stretching back to the seventh century. While Irish speakers are very much a minority in the Ireland of today, they have an importance to the cultural life of the nation far out of proportion to their numbers. Irish is by constitutional law the first official language of the Irish Republic, and was recently awarded official status in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland as a central part of the Good Friday Agreement.

      Here is more from Gabriel Rosenstock. I have made some selections from his recent work described below:
      He writes,
      Dear Jerry,

      My selected poems translated from the Irish will be coming out later this year in bilingual format. The translatons are by one Paddy Bushe. He arranged the titles in alphabetical order rather than in chronological order so we have duality and nonduality back and forth a bit, as one might expect over a thirty year period!
      In 1992 the poet F. X. Alarcón gave me an Aztec name, Xolotl and this is the title of one of the visionary poems in the collection...

      Rogha Dánta

                                             Selected Poems


                                          Gabriel Rosenstock

                  Translated from the Irish by Paddy Bushe






      The translator has arranged the English-language versions in alphabetical order.

      © Gabriel Rosenstock, Irish originals

      © Paddy Bushe, English translations

      © 2005 Cló Iar-Chonnachta, this edition

      Is mé an solas


      Cé thú?

      Is mé Khepéirí ar maidin

      Rá um nóin

      Is mé Atúm um thráthnóna.

      Tríonóid an tsolais mé.

      Níl sa doircheacht ach díth solais.

      Is mé Khepéirí-Rá-Atúm

      An ga a thollann Sí an Bhrú

      An chéad drithle sa chéad fhuaim

      An siolla lonrach deireanach.




      I’m sorry to have to say

      That I didn’t really get your poem.

      Maybe the fault was my own.

      I understood every word of it.

      Nothing at all in the syntax

      Threw me, I must admit.

      Rhythm and expression, needless to say,

      Were spot on for the times we’re in.

      What’s wrong with free verse?

      Formality, after all, has bowed out.


      But what I didn’t quite get was this:

      Why did you write it in the first place?

      It carries no trace at all of midnight

      Sweat, or terror, or exuberance

      Nor of your being unable to touch base again

      Until your poem was safely on paper

      And you had hoarsely called back

      Your soul, that, like a Daddy Long Legs,

      Had gone cavorting high up in the firmament.



      as soon as it’s named

                  the lungwort scatters itself

                              all over the place


      luaitear a ainm

                  agus siúd an crotal coille

                              ar fud na bhfud


      those faces

                  in the roaring fire

                              are also fated to change



                  sa bhéilteach thine

                              is dual dóibh siúd athrú, leis



      a single magpie

                  swallows a beakful

                              of its reflected self


      snag breac

                  ólann lán a ghoib

                              dá íomhá féin



      Triúr fear sa leabharlann.

      An teas a thug isteach iad.

      Duine acu ag míogarnach

      an leabhar tite ar a ghlúine.

      Boladh múin ón dtriúr acu.

      Scuaine ag fanacht ar an Idirlíon a úsáid,

      mic léinn Shíneacha den chuid is mó.

      Dírbheathaisnéis Hakuin, manach Zen, atá uaim.

      Aimsím sa deireadh í

      i measc na leabhar garraíodóireachta –

      tá an áit seo trína chéile.


      Nach geall le manaigh iad ina slí féin iad an triúr?

      Bocht. Díomhaoin.

      Léim fé Hakuin ar thuirling saithe muiscítí air

      is é i mbun rinnfheithimh.

      Níor chorraigh sé.

      Tar éis dó idir cholainn agus aigne a tharchéimniú

      chuimil sé na muiscítí de féin

      gur thiteadar go léir ina bpiotail mhíne ar an talamh fé.


      Leabhair ag imeacht.

      Leabhair ag filleadh go maolchluasach.


      Ní dúil sa léinn, sa ghaois, ná sa mhachnamh

      a ghríosaigh mo thriúr

      ach bheith istigh ón bhfuacht.

      Ní ciclipéidí, úrscéalta, nuachtáin ná filíocht atá uathu

      ach bearradh gruaige, bearradh féasóige

      athrú éadaí cnis

      focal sóláis

      an beannú féin

      babhla súip.


      Cé hiad?

      Ní maith liom stánadh orthu.

      An bhfeicfear fós i bpáirc phoiblí iad

      ag léamh na haimsire

      ar theacht na dea-uaine?


      Níl faic na ngrást le rá agam leo.

      Tá Hakuin, leis, ina staic. Balbh.



      Three men in the library,

      coaxed in by the heat.

      One of them yawns

      as wide as the book on his knees.

      All three stinking of piss.

      A queue for the Internet,

      mostly Chinese students.

      I’m looking for Hakuin’s autobiography, the Zen monk.

      I find it at eventually

      among the gardening books –

      this place is in a fierce rírá.


      Aren’t the three a class of monks themselves?

      Mendicant. Idle.

      A swarm of mosquitoes, I read, settled on Hakuin

      while he was meditating.

      He never stirred.

      Having transcended mind and body

      he stroked the mosquitoes off

      and they fell from him as softly as petals.


      Books going out.

      Books coming back, dog-eared.


      It was no grá for learning, or wisdom, or philosophy

      that brought in the three buckos,

      only to be inside from the cold.

      They don’t want encyclopaedias, fiction, newspapers or poetry,

      only a haircut, a shave

      a change of underwear

      a kind word

      a blessing even

      a bowl of soup.


      Who are they?

      I don’t like to stare.

      Will they be noticed yet in a public park

      divining the weather

      at an auspicious time?


      I haven’t a blessed thing to say to them.

      Hakuin, too, is stumped. Struck dumb.


      Sometimes I’m a scarecrow


      Sometimes I’m a scarecrow,

      Scared of my self –

      My own lies torment me.


      Strip me of my clothes

      Tear them to pieces

      Burn my entrails

      That I may hear the agonised

      Cry of my birth.

      I would move then as a flame through life

      I would speak in tongues of fire

      I would dance at fairs

      I would frighten children

      What would I not do!

      Traverse the sky as northern lights

      As shooting stars from the Milky Way.

      Sometimes …



      Let the raven come

      Let it pluck out my eyes

      I would make a black comedy of a wedding

      I would jump out of my skin at a christening

      I would eat grass!

      I would drink hare’s piss!

      I am a scarecrow

      Between heaven and earth

      Blind to my fate

      My provenance unknown

      From my soul’s furnace

      Sparks break free

      Through my eyes.

      Sometimes I’m a scarecrow …



      My head doesn’t matter

      Any more –

      But leave me my hat.

      At Confirmation

      I would steal the bishop’s ring

      I would buy loaves

      And two salt fish

      And wait for a miracle

      Until I was famished.

      Sometimes I’m a scarecrow

      Scared of myself –



      Who tarred my tongue

      And feathered it?

      Who cares!

      The wind will speak through me


      From all points

      Icy stories


      Stories of refugees, of the homeless.

      Sometimes I’m a scarecrow,

      Scared of myself –

      My own lies torment me.



      Bear me to the river

      The Boyne

      The Nile

      Immerse me in the Ganges

      Or in the Jordan:

      I have travelled through fire

      Through desert

      And across ice

      Headless and faithful.

      By Heaven!

      I claim a final haven!


      The Buddha


      How far did you travel, Buddha,

      Or how far can you be followed?

      You immolated yourself in Nirvana, far on the other side,

      The other side of yourself, Gautama,

      And with the height of compassion

      You left your gentle image after you

      A smile that comprehends yuga after yuga

      An image that says you were not there

      To burn in the first place –

      There are the blackberries

      The pooka shat on

      The world’s loneliness


      You went beyond yourself

      That all might be threshed in the haggard of their karma

      You should not be adored

      Because you are not a god

      You banished all the gods

      Fleeing, they dropped in a faint

      As flowers at your feet, your unmoving feet

      Burn the words, Buddha, gently



      An Búda

      Cén fhaid a ghabhais, a Bhúda,

      Nó cén fhaid is féidir tú a leanúint?

      Loiscis thú féin in Nírvána, lastall ar fad,

      Lastall díot féin, Gautáma,

      Is le teann comhbhá

      D’fhágais d’íomhá chaoin id dhiaidh

      Aoibh a chuimsíonn yúga i ndiaidh yúga

      Íomhá a deir nach rabhais ann

      Le loisceadh an chéad lá -

                  Siúd thall na sméara dubha

                              Ar chac an púca orthu

                                          Uaigneas na cruinne

                                                      Níl aon ní buan

      Ghabhais tharat féin

      Chun go gcáithfí cách in iothlainn a gceárma

      Ní le hadhradh ataoi

      Mar nach dia thú

      Chuiris an ruaig ar na déithe go léir

      Theitheadar thiteadar ina bpleist

      Ina mbláthanna ag do chosa, do chosa nach gcorrraíonn

      Dóigh na focail seo, a Bhúda, go séimh


      Thank God it’s raining


      rain pitches into roofs

      scours television aerials,

      gives a new lease of life

      to grass poking through tarmacadam.

      not even the tiniest germ, you’d think,

      could survive this intense purity:

      drainpipes and channels

      sing celestial cantatas.


      Wind song


      He would take off with the clouds before they froze in the sky: the world’s last dreamer. Before the birds shrivelled, before the worms abandoned their dumb rootings. Searching for his own reflection in a nib of frost.


      Amhrán i mbéal na gaoithe





      I was born

      once again

      last night.


      This time

      in the shape of

      Xolotl –

      twin brother

      of the Morning Star.


      The other died

      a sudden death

      neither peaceful

      nor unpeaceful

      as an ending.


      It was sudden

      without sorrow

      or pain


      or separation.


      In the blink of an eye

      we can


      in truth

      there is no way

      but this

      to our salvation.


      [This is the beginning, a fragment of a long poem, which will appear in the next of the Highlights which I edit. --Jerry]

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