Imago lacus

The picture above was taken by a dear friend, the American poet Debra Kang Dean (please do not use it without permission). I met Debra three years before, when I went to Walden to work with his late husband Brad, a great Thoreau scholar. Once we spent hours tracking this quotation: "Some men go fishing all their lives without ever realizing it's not fish they are after." We concluded that Thoreau never wrote it, but si non è vero...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ramiro Pinilla in memoriam

Ramiro Pinilla me escribió un día a propósito de Walden con esa letra grande que, dicen, empleaba para escribir sus novelas sobre el envés de viejos carteles. A partir de entonces intercambiamos más cartas y algunos libros; a mí me gusta especialmente la trilogía Verdes valles, colinas rojas (2004-2005), donde recurre a nuestros mitos sin sacralizarlos, demostrando que se puede necesitar y respetar el mito y, a la vez, recrearlo, enriquecerlo y actualizarlo. Pero no quiero acabar hablando de mis cosas, que es en lo que suelen dar las necrológicas; para recordar a Ramiro prefiero seguir leyendo y, de paso, ceder la palabra a Martín López-Vega, que lo dice mejor:

Henry David Thoreau

Las personas que conocí
nunca enseñaron cuando hablaban
más de lo que enseña el silencio roto.
No hay palabras que enseñen a vivir,
porque ninguna podría enseñarnos a morir;
a vivir nos enseñan las hojas,
la estela que los ánades dejan en el lago
y que al instante se borra, los escaramujos
del camino que tienen el color
de los corazones que dejaron de latir.
¿Hay mayor felicidad que la del ave
que elige volar hacia una isla?
Mirad lo que está escrito en mi tumba: “Henry”.
Y aun eso me parece innecesario. A veces
encuentro un motivo de rara felicidad:
paseo por el bosque, y no voy conmigo.

Publicado originalmente en La emboscada (1999), este poema aparece en la antología personal Retrovisor (2013), que es el libro que nos reuniremos para comentar el 12 de noviembre en la tertulia literaria de Hernani, moderada por José Luis Cancho.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes (Billy Collins)


First, her tippet made of tulle, 
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair. 

And her bonnet, 
the bow undone with a light forward pull. 

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back, 
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric, 
like a swimmer's dividing water, 
and slip inside. 

You will want to know 
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom, 
motionless, a little wide-eyed, 
looking out at the orchard below, 
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor. 

The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off, 
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings, 
catches, straps, and whalebone stays, 
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness. 

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night, 
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything -
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard, 
how her hair tumbled free of its pins, 
how there were sudden dashes 
whenever we spoke. 

What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon, 
nothing but a carriage passing the house, 
a fly buzzing in a windowpane. 

So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset 

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed, 
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers, 
that reason is a plank, 
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.

Billy Collins
Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes: Selected Poems (Picador, 2000)