Tuesday, July 12, 2011
“Ashes of the destroyed ancient temples knock in my heart.” (me)
See more illustrations for the quotation:
"Ashes Klaas knocked in his heart." (Charles-Theodore-Henri De Coster (1827-1879)
"My father's sacred ashes I collected
Into a pouch to wear it on my chest,--
So that these ashes knocking at my chest
Kept calling me to vengeance and perdition!" (Eduard Bagritsky (1895-1934), translation is not mine.)
TILL ULENSPIEGEL. A Monologue 1,
by Eduard Bagritsky
[ Note: The famous French writer Romain Rolland (1866-1944) wrote in his article, dedicated to Ulenspiegel: "Ulenspiegel is a Flemish Geus (a rebel against Spain), son of Claes, a skilled artisan, a freedom fighter and protector of his people. He avenges his people by using laughter, and he avenges his people by using a battle-axe." ]
They burned my father at the stake. Insane
My mother went from torture, and at that
In tears I abandoned my dear Damme.
My father's sacred ashes I collected
Into a pouch to wear it on my chest, —
So that these ashes knocking at my chest
Kept calling me to vengeance and perdition!
I travel wide: from Damme to Ostende,
And then to Antwerp from both Liège and Brussels.
With my fat Lamme we are riding donkeys.
I'm known to all: the ever-wandering fowler,
Who caged birds is carrying to the market;
The cantinière, who hands me with a smile
A mug of golden effervescent beer,
Accompanied by hot and juicy ham.
At city fairs I perform my songs
About Flanders and good old Brabant,
And all the Flemish feel down at their hearts,
Which long had grown fat and so much used to
The dreams of fragrant soups and amber beer,
The freedom spirit and the nation's pride.
I'm Ulenspiegel. There's no single village
Where I'd have not been to, no single town
Whose squares wouldn't have heard my ringing voice.
And Claes' ashes still tap at my heart,
I follow their beat by singing calmly
My lingering songs. In them will every Fleming
Discern the languid motion of the channels,
Where there are silence, swans, and wooden barges.
With comfortable fire in the hearth
Before him crackling gaily, he remembers
The hours of contentment, peace and languor,
When feeling tired of a day of work
He sniffs the smells of beer and roasted meat
While steeping in a lazy golden slumber.
I sing, “Hey, butchers, you don't need to kill
More calves and piglets! Choose a different stock.
A different prey awaits you. Stick your knifes
Deep into different animals. Their blood
Let spill onto your racks. Go stick those monks
And hoist them upside down like slaughtered pigs
Above your meat row counters for display.”
And I go on, “Hey, blacksmiths, you don't need
To shoe workhorses and to mend saucepans!
Good battle swords and pointed spearheads
Are wanted now so much more than horseshoes,
Do slowly pour the streams of molten lead
Into the throats of ruddy, lardy monks,
It will be so much more to their taste
Than Burgundy or finest Xeres wine.
Hey, shipwrights, you don't need to build more boats
For carrying beer barrels to and fro.
Take seasoned timber: planks of pine and spruce,
Use braces of cast-iron and of steel
To build the liberation man-o'war!
The Flemish women for its sails shall weave
Of finest threads the whitest, strongest cloth,
And like a bull preparing for a fight
With an enraged pack of hungry wolves,
This battleship will put out to the sea,
Its canons pointing at the riotous coast.”
And Claes' ashes still tap at my heart.
And my heart is now bursting, and my song
Acquires vehemence, and I am short of breath,
A burning sore comes closer to my tongue, —
I sing no more, but, like a vulture, wail,
“Hey, Flemish soldiers, for how long have you
Your steeds forgotten, striding in their stead
The public house benches? You don't need
To use your daggers just for cracking nuts,
Or with the spurs to scratch your itching heads
And reek of booze in vilest harlots' dens!
Lo! Swords are flashing, cities are aflame
Prepare for battle! The last hour has struck.
And everyone, who to lark's trill responds
With rooster's crow, is in our battle ranks.
The Duke of Alba!
Your fatal fall does portend;
The crop is ripe, and the reaper
The sickle on his sole does whet.
The tears of orphans and widows,
Which flow from their lifeless eyes,
Are weighing like drops of lead
On cups of the judgment scales.
The sword is our only hope,
In it our spirit trusts.
The skylark begins his song,
--The rooster returns the call.