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Butterfly
By Nelly Sachs
Translated by Ruth and Matthew Mead


What lovely aftermath
is painted in your dust.
You were led through the flaming
core of earth,
through its stony shell,
webs of farewell in the transient measure.

Butterfly
blessed night of all beings!
The weights of life and death
sink down with your wings
on the rose
which withers with the light ripening homewards.

What lovely aftermath
is painted in your dust.
What royal sign
in the secret of the air.

--------

From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in The Washington Post Book World. Sachs, who died in 1970, "is one of the great poets of lamentation in the German language," according to Hirsch. "'The frightful experiences that brought me to the edge of death and darkness are my tutors. If I couldn't have written, I wouldn't have survived...my metaphors are my wounds,'" she wrote, having moved to Sweden in 1940 where she lived out the rest of her life. "Sachs bore the burden of writing in German during the dumbfounding horrors of the death camps. She carried the lifelong weight of continuing to write in the language of Goethe and Schiller in the wake of the Final Solution," Hirsch observes.




The Old North Church where the lanterns hung, warning of the coming of the British in 1775, seen from the deck of the Liberty Clipper sailing in Boston Harbor.


Paul Revere's house, North End, Boston. Some of his original furniture and silverware he made is on display inside. We ate lunch in Paul Revere Mall, actually a park across from St. Stephen's Church where Rose Kennedy was christened.


The Old North Church from Copps Hill Cemetery, where the oldest graves are from the 1670s.


Aboard the Liberty Clipper. During this two-hour sail, the crew instructs passengers about how to man the ropes and enlists volunteers to raise the sails...


...then a group of performers reenacts the Boston Tea Party near the spot where it actually happened, with help from the passengers.


Bunker Hill Bridge and Old Ironsides from the Liberty Clipper, moving through the harbor.


The Union Oyster House, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in America, where the lovely [livejournal.com profile] ghazalah accompanied us for dinner! Now she knows that my children can quote O'Brian and Yu-Gi-Oh with equal ease, and she has seen my hair after a two-hour harbor cruise, so hopefully she is not overly traumatized. [livejournal.com profile] ghazalah says the Bell In Hand Tavern across the way, circa 1795, is surely the tavern Stephen Maturin visited in The Fortune of War. I love this idea.


The Holocaust Memorial in the park across from the oyster house, which is unlike any other I have seen: the tattoo numbers of the victims are etched into these six glass pillars, which stand over heated pits that send steam into the pillars, a tangible reminder of the gas chambers. There are also quotes from survivors, victims and liberators.


Samuel Adams behind Faneuil Hall. During the Tea Party recreation on the ship, when the actor playing Samuel Adams asked everyone what his name was associated with -- hoping for "insurrection" or perhaps at least "smuggling" -- everyone of course shouted, "Beer!"


Because the remains of Hurricane Charley are expected to cause bad weather tomorrow, we are planning to do indoor things in Salem instead of Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution, which we will see up close on Tuesday instead. Now that I've seen the latter from the water, I am not so impatient, and I have always wanted to see the unofficial Wiccan capital and historical sites from the bad old days.

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