a moment of change

Why don’t we do a moment of action? Why don’t we do a moment of change? Kelly Clarkson

Le monde doit penser que nous sommes fous. Toutes les richesses de l’Amérique, et nous ne pouvons pas garder nos écoles en sécurité. Nous ne faisons rien pour arrêter la violence. Rien!

Appel à l’action, appel à compte

Call to Action

There have been too many moments of silence this year, at too many schools, for too many students, and too many teachers, for too many lives lost senselessly.

At the 2018 Billboard Music Awards Sunday, television viewers were prepared for the traditional recognition of the tragic school shooting in Texas two days earlier a moment of silence. Instead, Host Kelly Clarkson called for a moment of action, a moment of change.

hands-apart

 

But as Kelly says, it is time, long past time, to do something and change the course America is on.

Please, won’t you be part of the change?

pray

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Basho – the Scent of the Plum

blossoms-2

The scent of the plum

The scent of the plum (ume)
Chased again and again
By winter’s wind

Japanese

梅が香に 追いもどさるる 寒さかな

Ume ga ka ni/ Oimo dosa ruru/ Samusa kana

Meaning of Basho’s Scent of Plum Blossoms

Who does not recall an early spring, the scent of the plum blossom, chased away by the cold, again and again?

Until spring is here to stay.

Line one, 梅, ume, the Japanese plum tree symbolizes spring’s start, because its early blossoms flower in February and March.

Line two, 追いもどさ is a bit of a struggle for me. Chased, pursued, run after, driven away are all candidates as the action verb. るる may be translated as continuously, but I have chose “again and again”. Line three 寒 is “cold”, but I used winter’s wind to keep Basho’s 4-7-4 pattern.

This simple haiku’s beauty lies in the ending rhyme of the three lines:

kani – ruru – kana

Land of Oz

Wonder of wonders, I came across a small grove of “ume” trees blossoming and bearing fruit in the sandy soil of a pond created out of an old sand pit. The tree is more akin to an apricot and the fruit is tart and sweet. The birds and the local animals enjoy the fruit, but I get my share.

blossom-bird

frog in water

The sound of water

The Sound of Water, in English

An old pond and

A frog leaps in,

Sound of water!

frog in water

Basho’s poem

A well known poem by Matsuo Basho (松尾 芭蕉, 1644–1694) describing the sound of water. Even this simple haiku can have multiple translations. Sometimes the last line,  水の音, Mizu no oto, is simplified to “splash”. If one tries to be literal, then the line goes 水, mizu, water and の音, no oto, of sound. This works out to be “water’s sound” or the “sound of water”. Gramatically this is reverse of the French construction, “Le bruit de l’eau!”

We all interpret poems differently. My take is that Basho is laughing at the idea of water speaking when a frog jumps in.

Late in life, overcome with the loss of his mother and life in general, Bashō left Edo (Tokyo) and took to traveling alone on the Edo Five Routes. In 17th century Japan, these higways were thought to be full of thieves and bandits and considered dangerous. At first Bashō expected, if not hoped, to die in some forgotten spot. However, as his journey progressed, his mood improved, and Bashō met friends and grew to enjoy the scenery along the route.

Eventually, Basho returned to Edo where in 1686, he wrote this poem.

 

Japanese

古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音

Furuike ya/ Kawazu tobikomu/ Mizu no oto

French

Un âgé étang et
Une grenouille bonde,
Le bruit de l’eau!

I am Welsh


Nothing I cared in the lamb white days, that time would
take me up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand, in the moon that is always rising, nor that riding to sleep I should hear him fly with the high fields and wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means, time held me green and dying, though I sang in my chains like the sea.

Fern Hill, Dylan Thomas

What it means to be Welsh

Did I mention that I am Welsh?

I am not sure that it means anything anymore, for the Welsh language and culture are pretty much forgotten these days, forgotten like a dream of old. In Scotland you are Scottish and in England you are English. In Great Britain you are Welsh if you say you are, and you are not if you don’t want to be, and for the most part most people don’t care.

I do.

Though it is in part, I feel I am Welsh in my heart and in my blood. Now, if someone should strike up a song, the valley shall ring with the sound of voices – for singing is in the heart of my people as sight is in the eye.

welsh flag

Welsh Lyrics

They flout me as half-English—a disgrace
For which scarce all your virtues can atone,
Mother, in whom I find no flaw but one,
That you are Saxon!—but this fault of race
Fell not on me nor yet, I fear, your grace
EDMUND O. JONES.
VICARAGE, LLANIDLOES,
July 23, 1896.

Read more…

Qui veut lire

Qui veut lire, disait mon Prof?

Qui veut dire, dit-je?

Qui voit comme moi?

Parfois aucun qu’un.

.

Why translate?

My daughter asked me what’s up with the translation, why the fascination? The answer lies in the complexity of communication and the difficulty of understanding.

Qui veut lire?

“Qui veut lire?” said my French professor. His question was generally answered with a deafening silence.

Translation, my French professor said, is a conversation first with the author, then with one’s self, and finally with the reader. Along the way, the translator struggles with a dictionary, looking up various interpretations and readings.

What was intended, what was meant, and what is understood, may vary like the parlor game where the party forms a circle. Someone starts by whispering a phrase into the next person’s ear, and this continues to go down the line, until it comes back to the original speaker, who hears something  differentl.

That is a lot to handle and quite amusing.

Cinderella

Nous savons comment l’histoire va.

 

In a far, far away, long, long ago kingdom, Cinderella lived happily with her mother and father until her mother died. When Cinderella’s father remarries a cold, cruel woman who has two daughters, Drizella and Anastasia, Cinderella becomes a servant suffering in her own house.

One day the King announces that there will be a fancy dress ball…

WW I black and white video of an American soldier, a little girl and her French village.

Verba in ventum

A bit of gafufferal: ‘Once they leave the lips, Words in the Wind are less than a Will o’the Wisp’

Les mots qui sont partis sou le vent comme une volonté du feu follet

evening-milky-way

Verba in ventum

Homer’s poetry was originally composed as words to be recited not written. It is now generally agreed that the Illiad was first written down in the 8th century BC. Those who date the Trojan War, generally agree that it took place in the 11th or 12th century BC. This means that the poetry that became the Illiad was developing for three or four hundred years before it took definite form.

During this time the words of the Illiad were verba in ventum, words in the wind that ever changed depending on the speaker, the place, and the moment.

I suppose to be fair and accurate, I should use the Greek λέξεις στον άνεμο, rather than the Latin. The Greeks do not have a direct saying for words in the wind, but they do have όπου φυσάει ο άνεμος, which translates as “where the wind blows” which implies that our views and positions depend on prevailing interests or views.

Homer

Did Homer exist?

Was he one individual or a collective composition of the musings of dozens or hundreds of poets who appeared in Greek City States and entertained the citizens with stories of long ago?

Was he a Will o’the Wisp, divine and inspired?

I have toiled over this line in the Illiad. It deals with Agamemnon, son of Atreus, leader of the Greeks, who contemplates the campaign against the Trojans in pursuit of Helen, his brother’s wife.

Late as I slumber’d in the shades of night,
A dream divine appear’d before my sight;

Homer explains, it was a phantom, a will o’the wisp that appeared o’er his head and said:

‘And, dost thou sleep, O son of Atreus?
Ill befits a chief who mighty nations guides,
In council directs and war presides;
To whom its safety a whole people owes,
To waste long nights in indolent repose.’

Something borrowed something blue

All of this gafufferal leads me to the conclusion that words belong to no one. They are part of the collective common, like the air, used as we wish, borrowed, then replaced to be used again and again. They are blue or yellow or red or green depending on our mood, meant to color the world and create images from words.

Gafufferal, I repeat. It is a made up word, as all words are, and if used enough, some day it may be written down and become part of the collective.

green bananas

Are you what you eat?

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.”
Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1825

Often, I have uttered this phrase to myself, to my children when they eat kunk food, and anyone who would listen, never fully understanding what it means. Is it metaphysical, metaphorical, physiological, or paradoxical, for how does one, by any magical art, turn a banana into a monkey?

green bananas

Wann sagst du mir, was du isst, werde ich dir sagen, was du bist.