Friday, August 31, 2018

cats

tes beaux yeux,
Mêlés de métal et d’agate. --Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)



we at Revue Blanche are fond of cats. Read the citations from the book
LÀ-BAS (DOWN THERE) by J.K. HUYSMANS (1891) --

Bed was a good place, he added, smiling, for he saw his cat, a creature with a perfect time sense, regarding him uneasily as if to remind him of their common convenience and to reproach him for not having prepared the couch. Durtal arranged the pillows and pulled back the coverlet, and the cat jumped to the foot of the bed but remained humped up, tail coiled beneath him, waiting till his master was stretched out at length before burrowing a little hollow to curl up in.

CHAPTER VI
Next morning Durtal woke later than usual. Before he opened his eyes there was a sudden flash of
light in his brain, and troops of demon worshippers, like the societies of which Des Hermies had spoken, went defiling past him, dancing a saraband. "A swarm of lady acrobats hanging head downward from trapezes and praying with joined feet!" he said, yawning. He looked at the window. The panes were flowered with crystal fleurs de lys and frost ferns. Then he quickly drew his arms back under the covers and snuggled up luxuriously.
"A fine day to stay at home and work," he said. "I will get up and light a fire. Come now, a little courage—" and—instead of tossing the covers aside he drew them up around his chin.
"Ah, I know that you are not pleased to see me taking a morning off," he said, addressing his cat, which was hunched up on the counterpane at his feet, gazing at him fixedly, its eyes very black.
This beast, though affectionate and fond of being caressed, was crabbed and set in its ways. It would tolerate no whims, no departures from the regular course of things. It understood that there was a fixed hour for rising and for going to bed, and when it was displeased it allowed a shade of annoyance to pass into its eyes, the sense of which its master could not mistake.
If he returned before eleven at night, the cat was waiting for him in the vestibule, scratching the wood of the door, miaouing, even before Durtal was in the hall; then it rolled its languorous green-golden eyes at him, rubbed against his trouser leg, stood up on its hind feet like a tiny rearing horse and affectionately wagged its head at him as he approached. If eleven o'clock had passed it did not run along in front of him, but would only, very grudgingly, rise when he came up, and then it would arch its back and suffer no caresses. When he came later yet, it would not budge, and would complain and groan if he took the liberty of stroking its head or scratching its throat.
This morning it had no patience with Durtal's laziness. It squatted on its hunkers, and swelled up, then it approached stealthily and sat down two steps away from its master's face, staring at him with an atrociously false eye, signifying that the time had come for him to abdicate and leave the warm place for a cold cat.
Amused by its manœuvres, Durtal did not move, but returned its stare. The cat was enormous, common, and yet bizarre with its rusty coat yellowish like old coke ashes and grey as the fuzz on a new broom, with little white tufts like the fleece which flies up from the burnt-out faggot. It was a genuine gutter cat, long-legged, with a wild-beast head. It was regularly striped with waving lines of ebony, its paws were encircled by black bracelets and its eyes lengthened by two great zigzags of ink.
"In spite of your kill-joy character and your single track mind you testy, old bachelor, you are a very nice cat," said Durtal, in an insinuating, wheedling tone. "Then too, for many years now, I have told you what one tells no man. You are the drain pipe of my soul, you inattentive and indulgent confessor. Never shocked, you vaguely approve the mental misdeeds which I confess to you. You let me relieve myself and you don't charge me anything for the service. Frankly, that is what you are here for. I spoil you with care and attentions because you are the spiritual vent of solitude and celibacy, but that doesn't prevent you, with your spiteful way of looking at me, from being insufferable at times, as you are today, for instance!"
The cat continued to stare at him, its ears sticking straight up as if they would catch the sense of his words from the inflections of his voice. It understood, doubtless, that Durtal was not disposed to jump out of bed, for it went back to its old place, but now turned its back full on him.
"Oh come," said Durtal, discouraged, looking at his watch, "I've simply got to get up and go to work
on Gilles de Rais," and with a bound he sprang into his trousers. The cat, rising suddenly, galloped across the counterpane and rolled itself up into the warm covers, without waiting an instant longer.
"How cold it is!" and Durtal slipped on a knit jacket and went into the other room to start a fire. "I shall freeze!" he murmured.
Fortunately his apartment was easy to heat. It consisted simply of a hall, a tiny sitting-room, a minute bedroom, and a large enough bathroom. It was on the fifth floor, facing a sufficiently airy court. Rent, eight hundred francs.
It was furnished without luxury. The little sitting-room Durtal had converted into a study, hiding the walls behind black wood bookcases crammed with books. In front of the window were a great table, a leather armchair, and a few straight chairs.

(from LÀ-BAS by J.K. HUYSMANS. Translated by KEENE WALLACE [Transcriber's note: Original published 1891, English translation privately published 1928.])







Sunday, November 26, 2017

green peace for ever

green peace for ever.
всегда охреновевая от стихотворения А. Блока «Болотный попик» (Пузыри Земли), я написала это маленькое эссе на английском. Творческие люди наших дней, художники, абсолютные уроды, если упустили образ персонажа этого стихотворения и ни разу не адаптировали, не развили культовый персонаж из его темы. Это могла бы быть Симфония. Сейчас, поздно, время упущено, для вас, а для меня, это не мой жанр.
A long time ago (April, 1905), in the land far far away from yours, St Petersburg, an outstanding poet by the name of Alexander Blok (1880-1921) wrote a poem whose title may be translated as “The Little Priest of Marshland” or “The Marsh Little Priest.” This is the poem’s ending in my translation:

…He takes off his hat and prays
for the blade of grass that sways
for every animal’s bad paw
and for the Pope.
Don’t fear the quagmire --
the little black cope can save everywhere.

Reading the poem I though why the name Marsh Little Priest? And I quickly could answer the question: in Russian the “duckweed” (болотная ряска) that covers stagnant water is the word that can be translated as “the little cope” or “the little vestment” or “the little cassock”. So, as I think, the Poet says to himself: if there is the little vestment of a priest, then there should be the little priest (болотный попик) himself, a mythical, fantastic creature akin to an elf or a woodgoblin or brownie or nix, who dwells in the marshland, saying his prayers among the hillocks and stagnant water all over with duckweed. And the Poet invents the Marsh Little Priest. The poem that depicts this fairy entity and his environment is from the cycle of poems with the title Bubbles of the Earth. In THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH by William Shakespeare we can read: “BANQUO. The earth hath bubbles as the water has, And these are of them. Whither are they vanish’d?” And the city of St Petersburg, as my reader knows, was built on the marshland.
Original:
Болотный попик
На весенней проталинке
За вечерней молитвоюмаленький
Попик болотный виднеется.

Ветхая ряска над кочкой
Чернеется
Чуть заметною точкой.

И в безбурности зорь красноватых
Не видать чертенят бесноватых,
Но вечерняя прелесть
Увила вкруг него свои тонкие руки.
Предзакатные звуки,
Легкий шелест.

Тихонько он молится,
Улыбается, клонится,
Приподняв свою шляпу.

И лягушке хромой, ковыляющей,
Травой исцеляющей
Перевяжет болящую лапу.

Перекрестит и пустит гулять:
«Вот, ступай в родимую гать.
Душа моя рада
Всякому гаду
И всякому зверю
И о всякой вере».

И тихонько молится,
Приподняв свою шляпу,
За стебель, что кланится,
За больную звериную лапу,
И за римского папу.

Не бойся пучины тряской —
Спасет тебя черная ряска,

(17 April, 1905)

для особо одаренных, tак выглядит болотная ряска, from author Jasoncg :

https://www.dpreview.com/galleries/1131858405/photos/2616073/frog-in-the-duckweed